For those of you who look at Twitter far too much and you are in some of the same circles I am, you have probably see posts about the #BROSR. Somehow, a bunch of bros posting jokes and session reports is influencing conversations about tabletop RPGS. There are even #BROSR haters!
If you don’t know, a quick description can be found here:
A description I would offer is gaming that is dedicated to the rules in the rulebook (playing rules-as-written, RAW) and not taking worldbuilding seriously. #BROSR campaigns tend to have lots of jokes and joke characters (a city whose economy is based on trollops, swolecerors, references to pulpy action literature, and more professional wrestling gifs than you can shake a bottle of steroids at), but they are deadly serious with the rules and their interpretation. Other than the core rulebooks, the #BROSR does not need endless supplements or adventure modules. Players, Game Masters, and even Patrons work together to play the game, CHANGE THE STATUS QUO OF THE GAME WORLD*, and decide the next course of action. It is a high trust way to game!
Contrast this with a lot of other tabletop gaming (even in the OSR!) that goes the opposite. Rules are not taking seriously (not tracking time, food, encumbrance, etc), but the worldbuilding is deadly serious, with pages and pages on nations in the world, full descriptions of pantheons, etc. This kind of gaming often requires more supplements and premade adventures and, unfortunately, is full of people who do not trust each other to keep the game going. Thus the need to buy more supplements.
Before I go any further, I cannot forget to say the name of Jeffro Johnson. He is, perhaps, the biggest name in the #BROSR and the biggest proponent of its ideals. HIs legendary Trollopulous campaign (which I have participated in a little bit) is legendary and still ongoing!
My own campaign, which has only run for 3 years, pre-dates the #BROSR and there are still some things I do wrong. I don’t have 1-to-1 time, I still roll full hp for 1st level characters, and there are rules I routinely forget or mess up. I am the least of the #BROSR.
Yet, I have not been exiled from the #BROSR. They still allow me to be a part of it all. I can’t say precisely why, but I suspect it has to do with the fact that I am improving.
Movie montages lied to you.
Change is hard, but it comes bit by bit, not all at once. You must put in the work.
Having men around you who push you to do better is critical. As Proverbs 27:17 says, “iron sharpens iron”. I am telling you that you can do better. Clear those pronouns from your bio, email signature, and button you wear on your shirt. Then, study that rulebook! Implement rules as needed. I like physical books, but pdfs can be great, too. searching them for a specific word or spell name can save a lot of hassle!
Strict timekeeping with in-game time, even with pausing between sessions is huge. Because we have started tracking rations, last night, the players had to make a decision about where to go. Their resources directed them to make a certain decision. Instead of just wandering off to explore, they went back to town, bought a bunch of food and discovered some rumors that will now change what they want to do.
Embrace the principles of the #BROSR, even if you don’t play AD&D or ACKS. Your game will improve… and so will you.
* This probably deserves its own blog post