Monday, April 4, 2011

Grognardlings Are Our Future

A new old school gaming blog called Grognardling just came to my attention. I definitely recommend it as a very cool blog that deserves more attention. In addition to simply having great material, one of the striking things about the blog is the explanation of its title on the side bar:
What is a "grognardling?"
I've only been role-playing for a few years, which isn't surprising when you're in your twenties, but is rare when you play the kind of games that were published in the 70's. I'm a grognardling- someone who is young, has never even seen a copy of the LBBs, a Red Box or a 1st Edition book, but is avidly in the process of learning the "Old Ways."
Staples, the proprietor of Grognardling, is representative of a new breed of twentysomething gamers that is specifically attracted to old school RPGs - games that they never actually grew up playing and therefore have no nostalgic bias for. I think this is great because I actually care about old school D&D, you see, and I love to see new gamers getting into it.

I've noticed a recurring sentiment on many old school forums and gaming blogs along the lines of "I don't care if old school roleplaying is dying out, I'll just keep playing what I've always played and ignore the rest of the world". I don't subscribe to this point of view at all. I think old-style RPGs are crazy and beautiful things that inspire creativity, imagination, and camaraderie in a very unique way. I firmly believe that this pastime of ours adds a tiny bit of fragile beauty to the world. I don't want to see it die. I want to see it live and grow. I want more people to play classic RPGs.

The fact that some new gamers are skipping over trendy new rules-heavy games to go for the quirky classic stuff is very heartening to me. If our hobby is going to survive another generation - and I hope it does -  we NEED enthusiastic and articulate younger voices like Staples, Evan of In Places Deep, and Oddysey of How to Start a Revolution in 21 Days or Less (any others I'm missing?). Please visit their blogs and support their endeavors!


  1. "adds a tiny bit of fragile beauty to the world"

    A good way of putting it.

    It's reassuring to think the things we love can be shared with people living or growing up in different circumstances, and potentially outlasting us. We shouldn't have them feel they're locked in to any one way of doing things of course, but rather trust them to run with the basics and feed their own thinking into it, just as we all do now.

  2. We shouldn't have them feel they're locked in to any one way of doing things of course, but rather trust them to run with the basics and feed their own thinking into it

    Indeed, I see this as the main modus operandi of the old school way!

  3. I've picked up four new converts to old-school roleplaying by starting up an LL campaign with volunteers from my weekly 3.5E game. So far there seems to be more excitement for the LL-style gameplay than for the plodding rules-heavy 3E style.

    I'll also probably start running some monthly LL demo games at a local shop once my schedule straightens itself out--I will ALWAYS want there to be more people playing the kinds of games I'm playing. People burn out, so if you're not introducing more then eventually you'll end up just playing with yourself.

    Which is fun and all but I don't want to end up with hairy knuckles.

  4. I fall into the 'grognardling' category, despite it sounding like a 2nd grade insult. :)

    I started playing these wacky games in the late 90s, started my first serious campaign in 2nd edition, then burned out on 3rd edition in the early 2000s. Just recently came back and am going with a 1st edition feel...

  5. twentysomething gamers that is specifically attracted to old school RPGs

    From all I've seen on forums and blogs, this is a fast growing group.

    Thanks for the tip about Staples' blog.

  6. Nice! I am constantly "discovering" new blogs here.

    Rest assured the rpg hobby is far from dying. A few years ago when I first started DMing I was basically alone on an island. 3 years later there are groups everywhere with new gamers ranging in age from middle school to college students.

    It doesn't stop there as I've been meeting a lot of old gamers who have been out of it for awhile, were it not for the high costs of living here and having to work multiple jobs, they'd be gaming as well.

  7. I'm quoting that second-to-last paragraph on my blog. Very well put.

    As someone who's always felt strongly drawn to music of years and decades prior to my birth, I can definitely sympathize with the "grognardling" approach. Here's to many more!

  8. See, I guess I fall into the Grognardling category, but my interest in old-school games and gaming is by no means exclusive. I'm fascinated by the old-school attitude and the rulings, not rules style of Basic-style D&D, but I also love games like Inspectres, Savage Worlds and D&D4E. I don't really know how I fit on this axis.

  9. This is what I keep talking about guys. We're not getting smaller, we're getting larger.

    Neo-Grognard is another one to follow and I like that term as well, young folks finding the freedom of being able to do anything with the old school as a launch pad.

    It just keeps getting better :)

    Oh-for anyone who hasn't seen this yet our beach head just got larger too:

  10. I'd add Pierce over at The Rusty Dagger to your Grognardling list.

  11. I just talked about something like this on my blog. I guess that makes me a grognardling too. (I kind of like the name. It implies... halfling grognard!)

  12. I suppose I'd say I'm on the verge of becoming a Grognardling. I started with 3rd, played a ton of 4th, but now I'm going back to the Old School stuff. I've been reading tons about Old School games, and designing for them, but still haven't gotten to play yet. No Old School groups out where I live... might try to find some folks on line who can run a PbP and break my Old School Cherry.

  13. @Shinobi: start one up! Nearly everyone I game with are/were complete newbs. I sort of prefer gaming with newbs, less assumptions to deal with and full of interesting ideas born in the void. Good luck bro!

  14. Wow. Thanks for the shout out! I appreciate it a lot.

  15. Ian from Magician's Manse appears to fit the bill. Though I prefer the term "Young School Gamer." "Grognard" implies someone opinionated and stuck in their ways, while the Young School have in fact shown their open-mindedness by choosing these games.

  16. I think I have to throw in with this Grognardling thing as well. I get a lot of inspiration for my 4E game from the OSR. This stuff is just great!

  17. There is another Grognardling of the future - the children of Grognards. Maybe they too will love to play what their Dads do - and share the love with their friends.


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