I know, I'm not supposed to talk about "Forge" topics without an awful lot of details and mandatory caution, but I won't. I simply don't have the time/energy anymore to go into such extend of gaming theory, especially since it sucks a little bit of the very same energy I  use to write and to play. This post is thus bound to fail Forge-wise but still, I'd like to point at a few things in it.

You know, the Big GNS Model and its implied truths: games are different because they address different Creative Agendas, they should be tuned to a specific agenda, Color and Setting instead of the fantasy heartbreakers/kitchen sinks they've become, their system, which matters, should have teeth, and the like.

In my own experience, going through The Forge and participating there was key in bringing me back to the Old-School systems through Matt Finch's Quick Primer for Old-School Gaming and I've come to consider whatever I did on The Forge as a pre-OSR training of sorts.

Yet, when we look at what the OSR is, it turns all The Forge principles head over heels: specific Creative Agenda? No way. Fantasy heartbreakers are bad? No, they're awesome. System Matters? Hell, yes, but not like you think. Having teeth, resolution mechanics implying a specific way of playing, deeply embedded into the system's mechanics? Of course not, these games are about freedom, goodbye Luke Crane. Strong theory backing our designs? We have the Quick Primer, thank you.

Oddly, it's the OSR that manages to fulfill all what The Forge somewhat failed to accomplish in its days of glory: punk venues, open source, PDF & POD, internet coverage, conventions, a hell of a buzz, reaching everyone, mature gaming, ashcans everywhere, etc. I could say that The Forge is actually an ancestor of the OSR. I could.


  1. You lost me on the 2nd paragraph, but I found you again on the 4th. Great post. :-)

  2. From a FB comment of mine: I really think there would have been no OSR without The Forge. Old-School, yes, OSR, no.

    Thanks, Davicus!

  3. Well, not entirely true.

    Strong theory in the OSR? Sure, just not Ron Edward's one.

    Forge conventions? Yes, Forge Midwest and 10/10/10.

    Open source? Have you seen TSoY?


    There are a lot in common between the Forge crowd and the OSR.

    Are we rocking? You bet! I don't dispute that.

    Are we related and the one have inspired cool shit from the other? You bet!

  4. I suspect we're saying the same thing, Andreas. We, OSR *giggles*, share the same goal and maybe, to some extend, methods as The Forge. I do own TSoY, which is amongst my favorite "Forge" games with IAWA and S/Lay W/Me, it's almost the game that sent the Creative Commons idea spinning viral: groundbreaking and awesome. I've read the Ashcans idea, everything Big Model, had it explained to me again and again, and even pondered buying a spot on the "Forge" GenCon table at some point.

    Yet, we stand on a very different ground as far as theory is concerned, we're not looking for anything unified and we base everything on actual play and design. I know that The Forge intended this as well, but they somewhat failed at it and ended up with bibles and cumbersome useless debates while they were looking for shared language tools. It goes the same way for conventions and ashcans. We don't so much talk/write about it, we just do it, and it works just fine. Don't you see how ashcan/DIY-like most OSR products are? And they sell and spread a bit.

    We are The Forge's illegitimate children, fulfilling the dreams of our father and killing him at the same time.

  5. Yeah, maybe we are saying the same thing, although it wasn't clear at first.

    I think the worst of the Forge people who did more talking than gaming have dispersed now. They drive me nuts, btw.

    Still I wonder about that "killing the father" bit but, what the heck. We seems to be on roughly the same page anyway.

  6. The Forge always struck me as go nowhere artsy liberal garbage and pseudoscience. The OSR works because it appeals to a segment of gamers totally ignored by the 90s+ shift toward lowest- common denominator orientation and artsy, mechanically incoherent bullshit like White Wolf. Chaosium and a few other publishers catered to this niche all along, but like most media the RPG market is dominated by products aimed at illiterate morons and hipster douches.

  7. forge and indy kids are like hipster band fans - they dont really want to be popular even if they say everyone should be evolved like them