March 4, 2023

Gaming Labels





These are all titles that describe a style of play or community of RPG people. Honestly this is not the deepest of dives into the various titles and descriptions, there is so much out on the internet about this topic that it could be the topic for a doctoral thesis, maybe someday someone will write that, but for this article we will just examine a few of the major players and hopefully bring some modicum of meaning to the different terms.

Humans seek labels as a way to define who they are and where they belong. Are they necessary? No, but can they be beneficial? Yes, I think so. Lets learn a bit more about each of these labels.

First off there is a reason that the labels have been created. Largely this started as a way to help people identify the styles of games that are out there. It grew as an identity for those who were gaming through the different styles of play and ultimately evolved to help be more inclusive and weed out the bad eggs from the crowd. There is a good amount of literature on these different concepts and they do follow from one another and while some things carry over from one to another, each distinction has been made to help solve a problem. I do not care to get into each of the problems necessarily but know that largely groups break off when there are others that are being left out or discriminated against. The RPG community is very diverse and there are bad actors out there I am looking in this article to mostly (hopefully) shine a light on those that are positive in the community. (If I miss please feel free to leave a comment or contact me and let me know where I may have misstepped.)

Label Descriptions (to the best of my knowledge)

OSR (Old School Revival/Renaissance/Revolution):A movement that largely follows along the lines that Old School works were the best way to play. This was largely at the 3.5 to 4th Ed. break. Many people joined a G+ group that worked on creating some of the first retro-clones back in the early 2000’s. Principals lean towards Matt Finch’s Primer on Old School Play. Nothing too much of note besides, procedures are important, characters are not heros and referee rulings are final. Most feel that 0 Ed., Holmes Basic, or B/X edition (maybe even some BECMI) are the places to lay their laurels. There was some issues with some uncouth members of the community were exposed some years ago and many would agree that the OSR as a whole is dead and the leftovers are people coming in from outside more mainstream gaming sources. It is an entry point for the independent and DIY scene of RPG. From here many people move into PBTA communities or settle somewhere in the FKR/NSR/ASR spaces.

FKR (Free Kriegspiel Revival/Renaissance/Revolution): Harkening back to the early days of the hobby when the game was played using house rules and the referee was a neutral arbiter of the game and had only the job of deciding how the world would interact with the players playing the game. It originates with wargamers dumping a bunch of rules and simplifying the rules to rulings. The player need not know the rules because they are just experiencing the world for what it is as their player. the Judge or Referee will determine when things needs to happen as a ruling. The FKRs guiding principal is Play Worlds not Rules (Classless Kobold’s take on the whole thing, it’s a pretty good breakdown).

NSR (New School Revival/Renaissance/Revolution): This is more a group of people who foster open communication among gamers. The NSR is a community of people, not necessarily a play style in and of itself but more as a place for people to gather and talk through different play styles. They celebrate diversity and practice inclusion (as a central pillar of their community if I am not mistaken). It is a wonderful place to find wonderful people, share stories, and work together to create a better RPG space to live in. More info can be found here on Yochai’s post, What is the New School Revolution but the best place to really look to understand the community falls with Pandatheist’s post on BoneBoxChant New School Revolution. This community in my eyes also includes PBTA and other story gamers. as they are welcome here I include them in my thoughts when looking at the NSR and its community.

Edit: links with more relevance to the community and play style of the NSR. Perhaps a revisit of the NSR would be prudent in the future after I dig a tad bit further into this info!

Community information:

Play style information:

ASR (After School Revival/Renaissance/Revolution): the After School philosophy has a bit of a well we’ve been there and done that feel to it. It is the people who no longer feel the tie to OSR and want to just game. The rules that are being created are there for the people to use and fill in the blanks, though who cares what rules you’re playing as long as you’re playing. This is where we fit in the games that leave purposeful holes. Holes to be filled by the game table. Whether it is through GM fiat or conversation amongst the players, the rules leave holes to focus the game on the groups needs. This is a space for people to play games. It is different in that it allows people to just play the games they want to play. Also supplements are where it is at, when you create something create something that matters to everyone not just for a single system. I don’t know fully what this thing is about, but here is what Chris from Loot the Room had to say about it on his blog. I think with this takeaway it really can mean whatever to whoever. I don’t know that it needs to be a stand alone thing. It just is. I think this is largely where I stand at the moment honestly. I want to just play games and enjoy the time I get to spend with others at the table, in conversations around the table, playing the games we play around the table and make sure everyone gets a chance to enjoy their time while together.


I hope you have enjoyed reading about these different labels. I also understand that I may have wandered from my original thoughts on this article. I did go back and rewrite some of it, and I understand that there may be some stuff here that is out of date or even outright wrong. I do not even know that the labels we have here fully capture the diverse ecosystem that is the indie RPG community. I think there is a lot of overlap and where we stand now is as a group of people who are wanting to play games. So join me in playing games, however you feel you identify in these spaces.

I play in games when I can in the Epic of Dreams Discord, find myself in the NSR discord frequently, as well as the PlusOneExp discord. These are not the only spaces but if you’re reading this then there is a good possibility you already know where to find me.

Derek Bizier, the Halfling Just Play Games” Master


This was not a post I was planning on writing. I’m not even sure if i really understand the labels as well as I should for writing this. I hope that it is an exercise in understanding the different worlds we gamers play in. Also here is a description for an additional revolution” but know that it is one that I do not promote in any way nor do I enjoy, I only write this as a caution against anyone becoming a victim of their wiles. I think their general outlook is world minimizing and could be harmful to many, this may not be the case for all living in this world, but as a general rule anyone who I have seen or heard from that I know follows this principal has not been a person I would want to hang out with inside or outside a gaming situation.

BroSR (I don’t really care what it stands for): A movement that cannot get out of its own way. Looking for the one True Dragon Game that everyone should play and none can agree on how that should actually be done or what it even looks like. Largely they feel that AD&D was the end all be all and should be the only game played. Everyone who is not playing that game is wrong. This truism approach has been adopted by many Alt Right players seeking to cleanse the world of all of the games that take feelings” into account. Not for me and enough said about them.

Previous post
Bastards. The game. I have been quiet for a while now. This is due to an inordinate amount of stress in my life. I get stressed and forget that this is actually
Next post
Creating Jam I missed the window for the cheap affinity purchase… oops. So I have not been creating things like I started a few months ago. This is unfortunate