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Post Posted: Sun Sep 04, 2011 4:01 am 
 

I recently acquired a copy of the OSRIC RPG rules.

I see names like Matt Finch, Allan Grohe, David Prata and Stuart Marshall on the inside cover.  

It says that Matt Finch and Stuart Marshall own the name "OSRIC" and that Marshall was building on Finch's work.

It also says that Prata and Grohe did the initial work on OSRIC.

I am wondering...could you guys take a moment to describe your work on OSRIC?  

It would be interesting to know how the project started, what it was intended to do, legal hurdles to be cleared and how OSRIC evolved as it passed through different hands.

Would you mind explaining?


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Post Posted: Mon Sep 05, 2011 2:24 pm 
 

FormCritic wrote:I recently acquired a copy of the OSRIC RPG rules.

I see names like Matt Finch, Allan Grohe, David Prata and Stuart Marshall on the inside cover.  

It says that Matt Finch and Stuart Marshall own the name "OSRIC" and that Marshall was building on Finch's work.

It also says that Prata and Grohe did the initial work on OSRIC.

I am wondering...could you guys take a moment to describe your work on OSRIC?  

It would be interesting to know how the project started, what it was intended to do, legal hurdles to be cleared and how OSRIC evolved as it passed through different hands.

Would you mind explaining?


Probably better of asking on the K&K forums, but can you handle the answers?


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Post Posted: Mon Sep 05, 2011 4:38 pm 
 

JasonZavoda wrote:
Probably better of asking on the K&K forums, but can you handle the answers?


LOL. No real need to ask; just find the several threads where they beat the topic to death with various esoteric polearms.


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Post Posted: Thu Sep 08, 2011 12:20 am 
 

MetamorphosisSigma wrote:
LOL. No real need to ask; just find the several threads where they beat the topic to death with various esoteric polearms.


I don't know if I can handle the answers.  :cry:


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Post Posted: Thu Sep 08, 2011 1:17 pm 
 

I think Matt Finch did some explaining here last year some time, but I haven't looked very far for the posts yet. I may also have only been linked here to the posts elsewhere, but it did seem a sad end to the project from what I recall....


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Post Posted: Thu Sep 08, 2011 2:16 pm 
 

The ending was sad?


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Post Posted: Thu Sep 08, 2011 4:51 pm 
 

I can't help authoritatively, but can offer a few pointers and minor info:

FormCritic wrote:I see names like Matt Finch, Allan Grohe, David Prata and Stuart Marshall on the inside cover.  

It says that Matt Finch and Stuart Marshall own the name "OSRIC" and that Marshall was building on Finch's work.

Here's a post where Stuart briefly describes the early history of OSRIC wrt his and Matt's work:
http://www.dragonsfoot.org/forums/viewt ... 8&start=15

It also says that Prata and Grohe did the initial work on OSRIC.

On my copy, they're listed as "Initial Developers." I believe this means they provided some mechanical refinements, key suggestions, and/or other fine tuning during Matt Finch's authoring period. (I'm drawing this conclusion from the similar "Initial" part of Matt's "Initial Author" credit.)

It would be interesting to know how the project started, what it was intended to do, legal hurdles to be cleared and how OSRIC evolved as it passed through different hands.

If you're willing to dig through a pile of text, can glean more insights here:
http://swordsandwizardry.blogspot.com/2 ... ame-i.html
http://www.dragonsfoot.org/forums/viewt ... 20&t=18307

(There is also a dragonsfoot post from Stuart Marshall explaining why it's legally beneficial for a UK resident to be the owner/publisher, but I can't find it at the moment.)


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Post Posted: Thu Sep 08, 2011 5:30 pm 
 

Guy Fullerton wrote:There is also a dragonsfoot post from Stuart Marshall explaining why it's legally beneficial for a UK resident to be the owner/publisher, but I can't find it at the moment.

Found it. Being a citizen of the UK, he's more protected (compared to a US citizen) from being financially bullied via a lawsuit by WotC:
http://www.dragonsfoot.org/forums/viewt ... 8&p=514295

Other interesting tidbits include the mention of previous OSRIC-related contact with a WotC brand manager:
http://www.dragonsfoot.org/forums/viewt ... 0&p=514132
http://www.dragonsfoot.org/forums/viewt ... 0&p=969441

...admittedly cryptic, but suggestive of the idea that WotC knows that OSRIC has solid legal footing.


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Post Posted: Thu Sep 08, 2011 5:41 pm 
 

FormCritic wrote:I recently acquired a copy of the OSRIC RPG rules.

I see names like Matt Finch, Allan Grohe, David Prata and Stuart Marshall on the inside cover.  

It says that Matt Finch and Stuart Marshall own the name "OSRIC" and that Marshall was building on Finch's work.

It also says that Prata and Grohe did the initial work on OSRIC.

I am wondering...could you guys take a moment to describe your work on OSRIC?  

It would be interesting to know how the project started, what it was intended to do, legal hurdles to be cleared and how OSRIC evolved as it passed through different hands.

Would you mind explaining?


Sure.  There's nothing very mysterious about this; the only reason I've never typed it out in detail on a public forum is because so few have cared enough to ask.  :)  (I have explained it in private correspondence a few times, most recently to Frank Mentzer, who was curious.)

Matt Finch had the original idea for OSRIC.  Matt seems to have been inspired when he was writing for C&C (he was a C&C contributor before it was published).  OSRIC's starting point was to achieve what Matt wanted C&C to achieve.  I think that initial work was done in 2004-5.

Matt has periods of boundless enthusiasm, energy and creativity, but they don't last forever.  I don't think he'll mind me saying that he's bipolar, and that his condition is why he had to give up practicing law.  He'd shared his work with me behind the scenes.

When Matt entered the downswing of his disorder, he felt he couldn't continue and asked me if I would like to take over.  I did.  The document later released as OSRIC v0.01 was largely done at that point, but it wasn't in a very publishable state, because it had sort of poured out from Matt's brain onto the paper in a huge stream of consciousness.  I rewrote, reformatted, and then released OSRIC v0.01.

Allan Grohe was always involved, I think almost from the very beginning.  His advice and editing skills were invaluable in the period just before release of 0.01 and thereafter.

David Prata became involved after v0.01 was released.  I think he was rather inspired by OSRIC, and he did a really enormous amount of proofreading and corrected an astonishing number of inconsistencies, typographical errors, and instances of unclear language.

OSRIC went from its v0.01 to v0.04 under David and Allan's guidance.  The other authors joined in later, although I don't want to minimise their contributions, because some of them (while OSRIC was being expanded to v2.00) were very substantial indeed.

So to put it very simply:-

Matt wrote an initial manuscript;
I turned that into the published first draft;
Allan advised me and made suggestions;
David Prata proofread and developed.

I'm afraid there are limits on what I can say about the legalities.  I'll just say that I took an appropriate amount of legal advice and the advice I received is both specific to me as a citizen of the United Kingdom, and confidential to me.

Very shortly after v0.01 release, a member of WOTC staff did contact me and he asked me to cease distribution of OSRIC.  I politely declined.  (It was all very courteous.  The guy was a veteran, and I'm respectful towards those, and he was respectful to me.)  After some correspondence in which the WOTC representative said various things which led me to suspect he may not have fully understood OSRIC's relationship to the OGL, I suggested that he get his legal department to contact me.

He said he would forward the papers to a WOTC attorney.  That was my last contact with the corporation, just over five years ago now (specifically on 11 August 2006).  OSRIC's been distributed uninterrupted for that entire period.

If you're interested in the history of OSRIC, you may find this Dragonsfoot thread enlightening, or possibly bloody hilarious.  :)

  

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Post Posted: Thu Sep 08, 2011 7:01 pm 
 

PapersAndPaychecks wrote:Very shortly after v0.01 release, a member of WOTC staff did contact me and he asked me to cease distribution of OSRIC.  I politely declined.  (It was all very courteous.  The guy was a veteran, and I'm respectful towards those, and he was respectful to me.)  After some correspondence in which the WOTC representative said various things which led me to suspect he may not have fully understood OSRIC's relationship to the OGL, I suggested that he get his legal department to contact me.

He said he would forward the papers to a WOTC attorney.  That was my last contact with the corporation, just over five years ago now (specifically on 11 August 2006).  OSRIC's been distributed uninterrupted for that entire period.


That's very, very interesting. Although I've followed some of the discussions about OSRIC over the years in a desultory fashion (and haven't read the rulebook), I was under the impression that you had never been contacted by WotC. I suppose I was under the impression that you were covered because of the OGL, and it would seem that WotC's legal department agrees. He who remains silent is understood to consent, and all that rot.

I'm sure this has been covered elsewhere, but I'm lazy and I'll ask here since you've been kind enough to respond to FormCritic query succinctly and eloquently. What would you say are the major differences between OSRIC and AD&D (say, pre-Unearthed Arcana, which I gather is basically the cutoff)? Are most/many of the AD&D Monster Manual monsters detailed in the book? Which rules from the PHB are dropped, if any? (I'm "Nerelas" at K&KA, but I have to admit I don't drop in too often).

EDIT: Also, is the book itself a good read? I'm unfortunately mostly a rulebook reader, who doesn't play all that much. I've always enjoyed dipping into the three main books for AD&D, even when I'm in a dry spell playgroup-wise (which has been fairly often and at times for prolonged intervals).


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Post Posted: Thu Sep 08, 2011 7:37 pm 
 

MetamorphosisSigma wrote:That's very, very interesting. Although I've followed some of the discussions about OSRIC over the years in a desultory fashion (and haven't read the rulebook), I was under the impression that you had never been contacted by WotC. I suppose I was under the impression that you were covered because of the OGL, and it would seem that WotC's legal department agrees. He who remains silent is understood to consent, and all that rot.

I'm sure this has been covered elsewhere, but I'm lazy and I'll ask here since you've been kind enough to respond to FormCritic query succinctly and eloquently. What would you say are the major differences between OSRIC and AD&D (say, pre-Unearthed Arcana, which I gather is basically the cutoff)?


OSRIC omits things.  There are three main types of thing it leaves out.

1.  Things the lawyers said I shouldn't put in.  This includes the monk and bard class, and certain monsters which are WOTC's IP.
2.  Things Gary didn't use at his gaming table.  This includes psionics, weapon speed factors, weapons v AC type, and so on.
3.  Things not necessary for running a game at ordinary levels.  Thus the unique demons and devils, and the artifacts, were omitted.  Also missing are rules for construction and siege, territory development and followers for higher level player characters.

MetamorphosisSigma wrote:Are most/many of the AD&D Monster Manual monsters detailed in the book?


Many are detailed, including (I think) almost all the ones you will remember.  Certain psionic creatures were omitted because there are no psionics in OSRIC; certain creatures had their names changed and their serial numbers filed off; none of the unique creatures made the cut; and a few (notably the mind flayer) were omitted because there was no way to use them without creating a violation.

Entries about animals were updated and consolidated.  The Monster Manual describes 28 kinds of dinosaur and uses five pages to do it; OSRIC describes 47 kinds of dinosaur in four and a half pages.  The Monster Manual has separate entries for Buffalo, Bull, and Cattle; OSRIC covers all three in half a page.  And so on.

OSRIC also includes everything I thought was important from the Fiend Folio and the Monster Manual II.

MetamorphosisSigma wrote:Which rules from the PHB are dropped, if any? (I'm "Nerelas" at K&KA, but I have to admit I don't drop in too often).


Err, well, see above.

MetamorphosisSigma wrote:EDIT: Also, is the book itself a good read?


Speaking as the author of about half of it, I am pleased to be able to tell you that OSRIC is absolutely the best-written rulebook ever published.  It's perfect in every possible respect and reading it will enrich your life.  You should stop what you're doing and read it instantly, pausing only to send me money as a token of your appreciation every time you come across a good bit.

You may also find that if you actually purchase a print copy of OSRIC, people will start to admire and respect you, and offer you promotions at work.  After a few weeks you might notice that you've become taller, thinner and more attractive to the opposite sex too.

  

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Post Posted: Thu Sep 08, 2011 7:53 pm 
 

PapersAndPaychecks wrote:Speaking as the author of about half of it, I am pleased to be able to tell you that OSRIC is absolutely the best-written rulebook ever published.  It's perfect in every possible respect and reading it will enrich your life.  You should stop what you're doing and read it instantly, pausing only to send me money as a token of your appreciation every time you come across a good bit.


I'll be sure to do that :). I realize Gygax's style is inimitable, and even were such imitation possible, wouldn't necessarily be desirable for clarity's sake. I guess I was just curious whether the book attempts to be engaging in a similar way.

You may also find that if you actually purchase a print copy of OSRIC, people will start to admire and respect you, and offer you promotions at work.  After a few weeks you might notice that you've become taller, thinner and more attractive to the opposite sex too.


For one, no one respects me, except possibly my wife and older child (my younger child, even at age 6, is an iconoclastic, disrespectful little hellion, so he's a lost cause like me and I wouldn't have it any other way :)). As a stay-at-home dad, I find your workplace claims equally unlikely, as I don't really know where I can go from here (Chief chief cork and bottle washer, waiter, launderer, seamstresser, carnifex, accountant, playground enforcer, etc.?), but anything that makes me even prettier sounds just fine ;).


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Post Posted: Thu Sep 08, 2011 8:39 pm 
 

No, I'm not Gary Gygax and I haven't tried to be him.  There's no pretence at the Gygaxian prose style at all.

I'm an Englishman, and OSRIC is written in the Queen's English (with all those lovely English spellings with the diphthongs, like "manoeuvre" and "aether").  I aimed at crisp, clear language without dumbing it down at all.  There are terms for which some readers might need a dictionary ("ambit", "rouncey") but I've avoided mashing them together into phrases like "antithesis of weal".

Basically, OSRIC presents the non-copyrightable parts of its source material in fresh language.  So, yes, there is a Wandering Prostitute table, but there's no "aged madam" or "sly pimp" (you get options like "expensive callgirl" or "foppish bawd" instead).  There are random dungeon generation tables but they produce slightly fewer diagonal passageways and slightly fewer empty rooms.    There are sages with major and minor fields, but the exact options are a bit different.

Let me quote you a few passages from OSRIC, so as to give you a flavour of it.

"Magic users are a rare breed -- practitioners of the mysterious art of arcane spell casting.  A lengthy apprenticeship of study and practice allows these somewhat eerie individuals to store arcane energy within their minds and to release it in the form of spells.  Magic users cast spells by speaking a few magic words, weaving complex gestures in the air, and employing rare and magical materials.  While magic users (with illusionists) are the weakest character class in combat, this weakness is balanced by possessing the most powerful and versatile spells in the game." -- p. 16.

"OSRIC is a game of adventure, and the primary activity in adventures is exploration.  Even though the rules for combat take up more space in this rulebook, play tends to focus more on exploration than combat.  Whether the party is investigating an old ruined shrine, delving into an abandoned dwarfish mine, traversing an unknown wilderness, sailing uncharted waters, or venturing beyond the physical world into the planes of existence, exploration is central to adventure and thus to the game." -- p. 138.

"The degree to which dungeon ecology matters is up to the individual GM.  Some GMs give thought to food sources, water sources and latrine facilities; others do not bother.  The authors recommend the following golden rule: Dungeons don't have to make sense, but they do need to be full of variety.  Having said this, a little thought on the placement of creatures doesn't go amiss -- if there's some logic behind the dungeon, then it's easier for skilled players to work out what's going on and use it to their advantage, and rewarding player skill is an important aspect of the OSRIC system." -- p. 162.

Hope that helps!

  

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Post Posted: Thu Sep 08, 2011 9:17 pm 
 

PapersAndPaychecks wrote:No, I'm not Gary Gygax and I haven't tried to be him.  There's no pretence at the Gygaxian prose style at all.

I'm an Englishman, and OSRIC is written in the Queen's English (with all those lovely English spellings with the diphthongs, like "manoeuvre" and "aether").  I aimed at crisp, clear language without dumbing it down at all.  There are terms for which some readers might need a dictionary ("ambit", "rouncey") but I've avoided mashing them together into phrases like "antithesis of weal".

Basically, OSRIC presents the non-copyrightable parts of its source material in fresh language.  So, yes, there is a Wandering Prostitute table, but there's no "aged madam" or "sly pimp" (you get options like "expensive callgirl" or "foppish bawd" instead).  There are random dungeon generation tables but they produce slightly fewer diagonal passageways and slightly fewer empty rooms.    There are sages with major and minor fields, but the exact options are a bit different.

Let me quote you a few passages from OSRIC, so as to give you a flavour of it.

"Magic users are a rare breed -- practitioners of the mysterious art of arcane spell casting.  A lengthy apprenticeship of study and practice allows these somewhat eerie individuals to store arcane energy within their minds and to release it in the form of spells.  Magic users cast spells by speaking a few magic words, weaving complex gestures in the air, and employing rare and magical materials.  While magic users (with illusionists) are the weakest character class in combat, this weakness is balanced by possessing the most powerful and versatile spells in the game." -- p. 16.

"OSRIC is a game of adventure, and the primary activity in adventures is exploration.  Even though the rules for combat take up more space in this rulebook, play tends to focus more on exploration than combat.  Whether the party is investigating an old ruined shrine, delving into an abandoned dwarfish mine, traversing an unknown wilderness, sailing uncharted waters, or venturing beyond the physical world into the planes of existence, exploration is central to adventure and thus to the game." -- p. 138.

"The degree to which dungeon ecology matters is up to the individual GM.  Some GMs give thought to food sources, water sources and latrine facilities; others do not bother.  The authors recommend the following golden rule: Dungeons don't have to make sense, but they do need to be full of variety.  Having said this, a little thought on the placement of creatures doesn't go amiss -- if there's some logic behind the dungeon, then it's easier for skilled players to work out what's going on and use it to their advantage, and rewarding player skill is an important aspect of the OSRIC system." -- p. 162.

Hope that helps!


Thanks, that does give me a sense of the flavor (flavour, sorry) of the prose. The only cavil I have is with the use of the term "dwarfish"... "Dwarvish" or even "dwarven" would be preferable, but I guess not all Englishmen can be Tolkien :).


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Post Posted: Fri Sep 09, 2011 12:03 am 
 

OSRIC, Matt's Sword & Wizardry, and Dan Proctor's Labyrinth Lord I consider the three pillars that prop up the entire OSR foundation.  We owe all these guys a real debt for creating the "2nd wave" of old school gaming.

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Post Posted: Fri Sep 09, 2011 1:05 pm 
 

MetamorphosisSigma wrote:Thanks, that does give me a sense of the flavor (flavour, sorry) of the prose. The only cavil I have is with the use of the term "dwarfish"... "Dwarvish" or even "dwarven" would be preferable, but I guess not all Englishmen can be Tolkien :).


"In English the only correct plural of dwarf is dwarfs, and the adjective is dwarfish." -- J R R Tolkein, 1966.

  


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Post Posted: Fri Sep 09, 2011 7:09 pm 
 

Basically the legal theory of a retro-clone (OGL + non-copyrightable portion of game rules) came from me, and so did a draft of, I think, 76,000 words.

That draft had some things in it that were cut later -- mainly involving how to play. At the beginning, OSRIC had sort of a dual personality because it wasn't clear in my mind if it was to be played or if it were solely a resource for publishers. As the project gelled, we decided that since it wasn't really intended for playing, just as a tool for new AD&D publications, we would cut the "how to play" material.

I also did a lot of the illustration, which is a bit embarrassing since I've gotten better since then, but basically I taught myself to draw while working on OSRIC and Monsters of Myth. Several of those illustrations remain in the later editions of OSRIC; I think I was the only illustrator on OSRIC 1.0, though.

So I'm basically responsible for coming up with the initial concept, and for the creation of an unedited mass of words that restated the AD&D rules. It has been much expanded since then with the jump from OSRIC 1.0, which was maybe 70% my words, to OSRIC 2.0 and later, in which my work is a much smaller percentage of the enlarged whole. Stuart took over the OSRIC 1 draft and turned it into something that was sufficiently polished and edited, together with doing his own work to fill in the remaining gaps in the manuscript. I was no help whatsoever with that second phase -- basically I had shut down into one of my cyclical depressions by that point.

When I say that OSRIC 1.0 was mostly my words, it's crucial to keep in mind that the remaining 30%, which Stuart wrote, were the harder words - the editing, the gap-filling, and the sections that were too hard to write during the initial assault. Even on OSRIC 1.0, Stuart put in as much time as I did, and then the jump to OSRIC 2.0 was entirely him and the volunteers he brought together. I was out of that entirely -- I think I might have written a few monster descriptions, but that's all.

(edit - I should mention that I'm Matt, since it's not my username).

  

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Post Posted: Fri Sep 09, 2011 7:34 pm 
 

PapersAndPaychecks wrote:
"In English the only correct plural of dwarf is dwarfs, and the adjective is dwarfish." -- J R R Tolkein, 1966.


Yeah, I know. But I'm a fantasy enthusiast, and therefore the only correct plural of dwarf for me is however Tolkien spelled it... I predict that the dictionaries (Oxford and otherwise) will eventually come around. Plus "dwarfs" is far too reminiscent of that horrible Disney film, and therefore I reject the Queen's English in this instance and substitute my own.

EDIT: Astonishingly enough, my prediction has already come true.
--------
Dictionary.com defines "dwarves" as:

dwarves   /dwɔrvz/  Show Spelled[dwawrvz]  Show IPA
noun
a plural of dwarf.
--------
meriam-webster.com lists "dwarves" as one of the two plural forms of "dwarf" (along with "dwarfs").
--------
oed.com (Oxford English Dictionary) requires that I subscribe to look up a word, so its usefulness as an Internet reference, and the likelihood of its survival beyond another decade or so, both approach nil.
--------

So it might not be the Queen's English, but it is the Internet's :).


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Post Posted: Fri Sep 09, 2011 11:52 pm 
 

Mythmere1 wrote: it wasn't clear in my mind if it was to be played or if it were solely a resource for publishers. As the project gelled, we decided that since it wasn't really intended for playing, just as a tool for new AD&D publications, we would cut the "how to play" material.


This is an intriguing thought.  Is it still your concept that the OSRIC rules are a tool for publications rather than something to be played?

Or, is it possible that your concepts differ from each other at this point?


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Post Posted: Sun Sep 11, 2011 7:18 am 
 

OSRIC v1.00 was a tool for publishers.  OSRIC v2.00 was intended to play.

  
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