Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

The OSR’s Fourth Wave: Cirsova, Dungeon Grappling, and Appendix N!

Venger Satanis recently suggested that the OSR has a fourth wave and sketched out what he thought set it apart from the earlier phases within the scene:

4th wave OSR incorporates the spirit, tone, objectives, aesthetics, play-style, rules philosophy, mechanical principles, and hobbyist attitude from the 70’s, 80’s, and early 90’s into RPG material that does it’s own thing.  Many consider these products neo-OSR, OSRish, OSR adjacent, or quasi-OSR because they’ve taken the next logical, evolutionary step away from original D&D, Traveller, Call of Cthulhu, Gamma World, Ghostbusters, Toon, Vampire: the Masquerade, etc.

I think he’s right that this did in fact happen.

Dungeon Grappling is of course a fusion of the best ideas of the old school D&D scene mixed together with one of the most innovative designers to come out of the GURPS side of the hobby. Cirsova takes the “git it done”, “do it yourself” approach to ‘zines that fueled magazines like Fight On! and applies it to an effort to create a science fiction and fantasy magazine that is more in line with the sort of thing that inspired fantasy role-playing in the first place. My own Appendix N takes the sort of gaming commentary that typified the second wave of the OSR (and which was subsequently repudiated by third wavers), gives it a first class treatment, and then takes outside of the OSR scene and into an entirely new audience.

That’s just the stuff that I have on hand here, but there is of course more on the way. The Mixed GM’s Demons In Space fuses a popular video game franchise with a reskin of a very familiar game. And Autarch’s Heroic Fantasy & Barbarian Conquerors supplements promise to take some of the discoveries of the pulp revival and consciously apply them to one of the best retroclones on the market. (Adventure Conqueror King System, natch!)

The OSR didn’t simply declare victory and call it day when 5th edition back away from some of the more mind-splitting elements of 4th edition. A new wave of designers came along that took what the OSR had proven to work, returned to the roots of the hobby, and then went forward with their own way of doing things.

And it’s just getting started!

8 responses to “The OSR’s Fourth Wave: Cirsova, Dungeon Grappling, and Appendix N!

  1. Douglas H Cole July 23, 2017 at 5:36 pm

    Thanks for the mention! When Dragon Heresy comes out, I’ll be very interested to see what you make of the final product – it’s a 5e base, but with lethality and risk and morale and other concepts tightly integrated. Well, I think tightly integrated – seemed to work well in playtest, anyway.

  2. Robert James Eaglestone July 23, 2017 at 5:54 pm

    Does Cepheus Engine count as 4th Wave?

  3. The Mixed GM July 23, 2017 at 7:41 pm

    Thank you for mentioning my game. Hopefully, when it is finished, it will be worthy of the title of a 4th Wave OSR product.

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  6. zombienomiconr July 30, 2021 at 4:20 am

    So I guess we’re up to Fifth Wave now?

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