If you are a regular OSR blog-follower, you've probably noticed a marked decline in posting frequency throughout the community. During my first year or so of blogging I had so much to say it was hard to find time to write it all, and I and my peak I was posting a lengthy essay about every two days. Now that I'm into year three, however, I'm finding it a struggle to make one post per week and only about half of those have any substantial content. The others are lazy fluff pieces (e.g. my last two posts).
It's easy to make excuses: I'm busy, it's summer time and July's extreme heat sapped my will to live, and so on, but the real reason is that I'm finding it harder and harder to come up with anything interesting to say. The curious thing is that it isn't just me burning out, this trend is pretty much pandemic across the OSR blogging community. Once, not so long ago, I had to strictly limit the blogs that I followed and even then, such was the furious pace of posting, I had a hard time keeping up with them and if I didn't check my blog roll at least a couple of times a day, I missed posts. Now I can skip a couple of days and find only a few new posts.
Even James Maliszewski, the Energizer Bunny of OSR blogging, is slowing down. Of course, this is a relative observation; he's now 'only' posting at a frequency that equals or exceeds what I achieved at my peak instead of the unbelievably prolific two to three essay-length posts per day that we used to see on Grognardia. James is also writing about gaming less these days and is more focused on reviews, and discussions of pulp fiction, suggesting that he, too, is running out of steam. This is hardly surprising, and by no means a criticism. I am amazed that he was able to sustain his posting rate for as long as he did.
Nonetheless, this community-wide slow-down is an interesting phenomenon. Have we run out of things to say? Is our great Renaissance losing momentum? Or are we merely shifting our creative output to other fora?
My suspicion is that we are shifting our focus away from blogs and onto other media. First message boards and then blogs were the principle venues of communication in the early years of the OSR, during the 'getting to know you' phase of the relationship, when we were passionately discussing old school gaming, sharing house-rules and posting myriad random tables. But now we seem to have moved on to more sophisticated projects and blogs really aren't the best format for sharing them. The honey-moon is over and it's time for this relationship to grow and mature.
There has been a lot of great material posted on people's blogs over the years, but it was read only by people who were following that blog at the time a particular article was posted. Blogs are great for the immediate dissemination of information, but not for preserving and making material available over the long term.
So, I think - I hope - that much of the energy that the community used to put into blogging is now being directed at bigger projects that are being published as PDF or print products that won't languish in the obscurity of a blog archive. New 'zines are springing up left and right, such as Tim Short's recent start-up, The Manor, and they contain much of what used to be posted on people's blogs. This is probably a good thing, because back-issues will be available for a good long time, ensuring that past issues are readily available. While I certainly miss the exciting hey-day of old school blogging, there is no way that level of output and energy could be sustained indefinitely.
So where does that leave blogs? In my case it means doing what I originally intended when I first started this blog: posting session reports to create an ongoing history of my campaigns for player reference, posting house rules and, of course, letting off steam with occasional rants and musings, like this one.
I may be wrong, but I think that what we are seeing is not so much a decline or slow-down in the OSR, but rather a shift in how we do things as we mature and grow as a community.
Welcome Back to the Labyrinth
"We have been away far too long, my friends," Ashoka declared, his face lit by the eldritch green glow of his staff. "But we have finally returned to the labyrinth whence our adventures first began."
"Just imagine the treasures that lie within," said Yun Tai, flexing his mighty muscles. "Wealth enough to live in luxury the rest of our days."
"And arcane artifacts of great power," added Ashoka his words dripping with avarice. "All ours for the taking!"
"Umm...guys?" Nysa interrupted. "Do you hear something dripping?"