I figured it might be helpful to add a little glossary for those few readers not intimately familiar with the OSR or only somewhat familiar with roleplaying games. I use a lot of terminology (out of neccessity) when I review shit and rather then strapping an explanation to every term with each review I figured I might as well dump them here. This blog does assume familiarity with the basics of roleplaying games, if you don’t know what those are, most of the stuff here is going to make very little sense to you but thanks for playing nonetheless (and you can always just read the flavour text and talk about that in the comments section or with your significant other or your cat or whatever). If you consider yourself too much of an rpg tough guy to need a glossary it’s safe to skip this page.
Old School Gaming: Nobody knows what this really means and no one agrees but in general it means those games or game styles that have the characteristics of the older editions of Dnd (i.e halfway up to 2nd edition). This generally means high lethality, slim ruleset, few character building options (feat selection, class abilities, skill points etc.), crummy balance, a focus on exploration rather then story, the ability to make a character within half an hour and a good deal of randomness. It also means fun*. Contrast with: New school?
Xe(as in 1e, 2e etc.): Shorthand for Dungeons and Dragons of a particular edition. If the author means to describe or discuss a particular edition of another game(Dark Heresy for example), one should proceed like so; ‘Dark Heresy is pretty cool. I particularly like the 2nd edition core ruleset,’ to avoid bewildering prospective readers and thus invoking their righteous wrath.
d20: Even though pretty much every fucking edition of dungeons and dragons uses a lot of twenty sided dice, the 3rd edition of dungeons and dragons is often referred to as the D20 system for using even more fucking 20-sided dice to resolve conflicts in its game mechanics. Generally considered terrible by grognards and old people, the author considers it a valiant but flawed effort that nevertheless may have saved Dungeons and Dragons. It is enjoyed by many even to this day, in the form of its spiritual successor, mighty Pathfinder. Famous among other things for making its rules more or less open domain, thus spawning a veritable legion of 3rd party supplements, some of which are great.
White Wolf: A Gaming Company that makes angsty horror roleplaying games about being a sad werewolf or a vampire and whatnot. Fairly well known, infamous among some for its pretentiousness, insane amount of increasingly useless supplements and baroque naming conventions. Very popular in the 90s. With a few noted exceptions, the author is not overly fond of White Wolf games, not even the unintentionally silly ones, but you can like them if you must.
OSR: Shorthand for Old school Revolution. An informal group of twats that started making games that emulated the old editions of dnd or were based around the mindset of old school play. Noun, adjective or verb. As in: Ich bin OSR, This blog is OSR, what a bunch of OSR, Prince is one OSR sonofabitch, I OSR’d your girlfriend last night etc etc.
Retro-clone: A game (usually OSR) based on an old ruleset with only minor modifications. You might ask, why don’t people play the original game? Usually its because the old game went out of print and this is an easy way to get it back in circulation and make new content for it. I’m told there might also be tens of dollars at stake. Some retro-clones like to mix it up a bit by adding rules, streamlining shit, finally making managable encumberance rules that remove the need for painstaking recordkeeping or going medieval on your ass. Examples: Labyrinth Lord(Basic), Lamentations of the Flame Princess(Basic), Swords and Wizardry(Original edition DnD). Contrast with: Old-school games that have an oldschool feel but are too divergent from their parents to really be called clones. Examples: Castles & Crusades, Dungeon Crawl Classics, Stars without Number.
Hexcrawl: You know how a dungeoncrawl is a thing where you crawl through dungeons? Hexcrawls are a thing where you crawl through hexes. Generally one uses Hexes for large area maps, thus the term Hexcrawl. An overland adventure.
4e: A terrible edition of Dungeons and Dragons that split the fanbase, leading to the coming of Pathfinder. Some people like it for its streamlined minature combat based gameplay, but some people like Michael Bay and huffing paint. People will like anything.
You should be good now.
* = New School can also mean fun.