A TED talk that has the soul of the OSR

Larry Lessig on laws that choke creativity | Video on TED.com

Most of this isn’t particularly relevant but two things are:

1. A lot of people complain using the OGL to create the retro-clones is just laziness at best and parasitism or piracy at worst. I think Lessig has a better interpretation in that the OGL has created a remix culture. While the first few out of the gate hew close to the original newer games like Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Roleplaying and Emprise are certainly going new (and very different) directions. My Chest of Wonders, which I haven’t discussed much, will hopefully be a new direction for another part of the family tree.

2. The core of roleplaying, to my mind, is expressed in Lessig’s “Read Write Culture”. Late last year I actually wrote a mission statement for this blog, the short version of which is now the subtitle. The long version, the elevator pitch is, “Places to Go, People to be champions tabletop role-playing games as the most accessible form of public creativity and self-expression. We provide reviews, ideas, rules, inspirational sources, and other guidance and encouragement for people to play tabletop role-playing games in a traditional manner. We prefer homebrew settings and mix-and-match rulesets. We want each game-master to build a unique game that tells the stories he and his players have in them instead of acting out stories already written. Are you ready for old fashioned adventure?”

Mix and match rule sets and telling the stories you and your players have in you are the essence of the OSR for me. While I do again with JER IV in that all it takes to be a member of the OSR is to play one of our games honestly and without irony I see that as lay membership. Initiate membership is when you start remixing the pieces of our games (and other games for that matter) to create your own (for those curious about Rune Lord membership see Grognardia for how it’s done…for Rune Priests, get busy creating your own material that becomes part of the common vocabulary).

So as a closing note, let me make two recommendations, one of which I pledge to follow with any products I produce and the other as another suggestion on where to find not only new players but plain fellow travelers:

1. Embrace open gaming via the OGL or Creative Commons. You don’t have to give up the farm but at least give back 10% of the total you have drawn from the open gaming world.

2. Meet and talk to the kinds of people doing the video and music remix culture. Listen to Paul’s Boutique (20th Anniversary Edition) and Fear of a Black Planet, two of the greatest sample albums of all time. When you meet a local remixer or YouTube video maker, invite them to your game. The ReadWrite culture is our culture and they are our people.

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