To the many and varied OSR publishers, I offer one comment. As Grognardia marks its fourth anniversary in 2012, the OSR has re-published a plethora of variants on the core D&D concepts. The target customer is offered no shortage of retro-clones, adventures centered on goblin raiders, excursions into the underdeep, and genre-based campaign settings. I started work on the volume you hold in your hand because I believe the time has come to break the chains of D&D convention and step back one era further, to the original inspiration of Appendix N, beyond the confines of genre assumptions. DCC RPG offers a free license to third party publishers who wish to publish compatible material. Even if you choose not to take advantage of this license, I ask you to consider moving past the boundaries of “TSR mimicry.” The time has come to offer our shared customer something both new and old-school.What Joseph Goodman says above is a sentiment I regularly hear in various quarters. I don't exactly disagree with what he says, but I do think, based on experience, that it's a little naive. Firstly, here's an awful truth RPG designers don't want to hear: a significant majority of gamers only care about D&D. It was the first RPG and, nearly 40 years later, it's still the most popular (I consider Pathfinder to be D&D for the purposes of this discussion). Whether they play LBB-only OD&D or multi-splatbook, computer-assisted 4e, D&D -- and, more importantly, its broad conventions -- is what people think of when they think of "roleplaying games." Heck, that's as true of video games as it is of tabletop ones, so I don't expect there's a huge demand for games that challenge the prevailing paradigm. That's not to say no one wants something different; I simply don't think there's anything wrong with sticking with and preferring an approach that's deeply, deeply ingrained in the hobby.
Secondly, I think people misunderstand nostalgia. These people throw the term around dismissively -- "Oh, you only like that out of nostalgia." Now, even if that criticism were true, so what? People can and do like things for all kinds of reasons. Ultimately, all that matters is that they like them. If someone likes D&D and its conventions (or anything else) because it reminds him of early days in the hobby, what's so wrong with that? Underlying the critique of nostalgia is the notion that we should only like things for "serious" reasons, which is to say, reasons that others can not only understand but agree with. It's an odd criticism in my opinion, since I suspect most of us like all sorts of things for no reason other than that we like them. When I say I like the taste of a certain food or the way a certain piece of music makes me feel, I have no expectation that anyone else will agree with me. At the same time, I'm not deluded in using words such as "like" or "feel" to describe what I'm experiencing.
Thirdly, and lastly, I think the word "new" gets overused, mostly by the jaded. By that I mean that the cry for "the new" is often a function of what one has experienced. Sure, for many gamers who've been playing for three decades, "goblin raiders" or "excursions into the underdeep" may be old hat, but not everyone has been playing for that long. For a lot of younger and/or less experienced folks, The Keep on the Borderlands or The Village of Hommlet is new. And, for us older and more experienced players, seeing a new spin on these old adventures can be just as fun. This isn't intended as a rebuke to anyone seeking something different, but I do think the cult of the new is frequently selfish and myopic.
I suspect this post has gotten a bit away from me. I really appreciate what Joseph Goodman did with DCC RPG. I think it's a fantastic game and a big part of its fantastic-ness is that he made a game that appealed to him. That's why I find the paragraph I quoted above a little grating. I'm sure there are some folks involved in the OSR who've written stuff not out of personal interest but because they thought it's what others wanted them to write, but their numbers are probably very, very small. There's not enough fame or fortune in this to not follow your heart and do what it commands of you. My advice to anyone who feels that there's "too much" of X and "too little" of Y in the OSR is to go ahead and make it themselves. That's why Joseph Goodman did, to great success, and that's what nearly everyone else in this corner of the hobby is doing, so why not you too?