Sunday, May 10, 2009

DIY Culture and the Old School

As a precocious kid, one of the things that attracted me to D&D circa 1980 was its DIY ethos. Sure there were plenty of published modules, supplements, campaign settings, and canonical rule books to fall back on and take imagination short cuts with, but on the whole what was exciting was the overall sense that we were creating entire worlds of our own from the ground up.

This attraction to DIY culture carried with me long after leaving behind tabletop roleplaying somewhere around mid-high school. Instead of merely reading Spin or even Maximum Rock n' Roll as good little consumers, my friends and I would put out our own scrappy little photocopied 'zines jammed filled with stories on hardcore punk shows, political diatribes, quirky commentaries, and the like--all reflecting and reinforcing other DIY cultural efforts around us. Before nestling down later in actual--gasp--paying journalism desk jobs, I would be involved in other DIY "grown-up" efforts from starting alternative campus papers to community radio stations.

Which is all a rather long-winded autobiographical wind-up for saying why--after returning again to playing RPGs last year after an almost 20-year hiatus--I have felt so utterly thrilled and inspired to see an immensely creative and participatory DIY movement afoot again in the hobby I loved so much back in the day. One can just take a look at Jeff Rients' recent long list of old school RPG publishing outfits to get a sense of how this is snowballing.

And I'm doubly stoked that I have had an opportunity to be able to participate myself by way of one of the finest DIY outfits on Jeff's list: Basic Fantasy RPG. A cleaned-up version of the quick character generator system I have been riffing on here at the HC blog has been published and released under that system. It can be downloaded as a PDF or Open Office document here (scroll down the screen a few entries).


  1. I say follow the KISS rule (Keep it Simple Stupid). Otherwise this is a great idea.

  2. Scott, I don't exactly get what you are referring to here. But I am definitely a fan of the KISS principle and its ally, "less is more".