Welcome to Broken Arch Publishing – focusing on small indie publications for the Old School Renaissance (OSR) and Contemporary Sword and Sorcery (S&S) genres. While I’m starting with a small roster of OSR works, we are hoping to expand into S&S soon.
Old School Renaissance
The Old School Renaissance, Old School Revival, or OSR, is a play style movement in tabletop role-playing games which draws inspiration from the earliest days of tabletop RPGs in the 1970s. It consists of a loose network or community of gamers and game designers who share an interest in a certain style of play and set of game design principles.
The general ethos of OSR-style play emphasizes spontaneous rulings from the referee, or Game Master, over set rules found in a book. The idea is for the players to engage with the fantasy as much as possible, and have the referee arbitrate the outcomes of their specific actions in real time. The idea of game balance is also de-emphasized in favour of a system which tests players skill and ingenuity in often strange or unfair situations. The players should expect to lose if they merely pit their numbers against the monsters, and should instead attempt to outwit or outmanoeuvre challenges placed in their way. Keeping maps comes highly recommended.
Contemporary Sword and Sorcery
Defined by Scott Oden (https://scottoden.wordpress.com/2022/04/20/putting-a-new-edge-on-an-old-blade/) and excerpted here:
In Howard Andrew Jones’ own words: “We can find inspiration from the old tales without slavishly duplicating every aspect of them. Specifically I mean setting aside the sexism and racism and the suspect politics but embracing the virtues of great pulp storytelling: The colour. The pace. The headlong thrill and sense of wonder. The celebration not of the everyday and the petty, but of those who dare to fight on when the odds are against them. We can create new characters. Not homages, or ironic send-ups. We can craft fascinating, living settings rather than faux REH or generic game fiction backdrop number 9. We need to make our own worlds and look past the seemingly unbreakable moulds set in place by the big names and gaming manuals. We must restore the sense of fantastic. Once magic is banal or easy, once magic rings can be found at the corner market and wizards are everywhere, sense of wonder goes straight out the window.”
Howard goes on to write: “Great sword-and-sorcery is usually moving at a fast clip. It takes you somewhere interesting in the company of fascinating characters, exposing you along the way to scenes of dread and wonder. There are great action set pieces that actually count for something, entertaining side characters and villains, surprises and sometimes twists, and a conclusion that satisfies.
“If a sword-and-sorcery tale has a message, it doesn’t smack you over the head with it. Most times it may seem to lack a message entirely, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing redeeming in a story where characters are shown overcoming terrible challenges with wit and brawn. Sword-and-sorcery is part and parcel of the mythic cycles we’ve been sharing around the campfire since the earliest days of our species. We’d hear how our ancestors chased down the elusive stag, or fended off the clawed thing in the dark, or guided the tribe to safety through a land of enemies. In listening, we were inspired to emulate courageous action and to not stand idle when times were dark and our people were in danger.”