Tuesday, August 14, 2007

OSRIC Part One: The Idea and the Controversy

Perhaps, having been involved with OSRIC on the sidelines, I shouldn't be the one writing this... but I don't see anyone else doing it, so what the hell. It's certainly generated some interest and controversy for almost a year now, so perhaps a slightly retrospective cover of the OSRIC document is in order.

For those of you who just didn't know about it, OSRIC stands for Old School Reference Index Compilation, and is basically the 1st edition AD&D rules brought back to life. Originating with Matt Finch (better known as Mythmere) and finishing up with Stuart Marshall (aka Papers & Paychecks), OSRIC strives to provide a platform for publishers to create modules and supplements compatable with 1st edition.

I can say that. The developers cannot.

OSRIC springs from WOTC's SRD and OGL and proposes that a) game rules themselves cannot be copyrighted (which is true), and b) the twin documents noted above allow for the creation of something that smells a whole lot like 1st edition. Artistic presentation had to be taken into consideration, of course, and that's why you don't see the Monk in OSRIC... the order of ability gains skirted to close to the original author's personal expression.

As far as I know, right now OSRIC exists in version 1.00... which supersedes earlier test runs. Over the past year, it has been heavily proofread, edited, and checked to make sure it coincides with the real deal as closely as possible. The current PDF can be downloaded here.

Inevitably, and as planned, publishers came forward to answer the call... there are many OSRIC based works available (some of which I've covered on this blog already). The most notable publisher to date would have to be Expeditious Retreat Press. XRP, already established with d20 products, took up the reins and has published three OSRIC-based works to date (two of which happen to be mine, but this isn't a plug or anything).

There have been some statements made over time as to the legality of OSRIC. I won't call names here...yet... that's not the point... but it's worth pointing out that the development of OSRIC was supervised... ahem... by individuals who would know more on the subject than most of those who've shot their mouths off.

I'll have more to say in the near future about OSRIC past this small introduction: its viability as a publishing platform, its usefulness as a stand-alone game, existing and upcoming supplements, and other things. It's certainly not going away anytime soon, despite the wishes of others, and I think the handlers of OSRIC need to find an angle to push their creation even further into the limelight.