I randomly decided to check how long I’ve been on the NSR Cauldron, only to find my 3-year anniversary of joining the server was yesterday! If you’re okay with humoring me, I’d like to reminisce on my time here.
When I joined the NSR, it had been nearly half a year since I had quit 5e altogether, and, frankly, I was still recovering from the fallout. Before that snap, my persona largely revolved around running a lot of games, and being good at that. After that snap, I still had the want and skill to run games, but had a severe lack of player base, considering over 50% of the players dipped, few of them sharing kind sentiments.
Enough of the backstory, though, I don’t want to be a hypocrite when I tell a player I can’t read their novella. At the time of joining, I was newer to the ideas that made other games tick—and while that was exciting, I still hadn’t exactly found my place in the spheres. Thankfully, the server was one that really helped me find where I wanted to be, and encouraged the exploring of ideas that would help me learn where I’ve wanted to be all along.
Early in 2021, I thought I had the NSR figured out, and was quick to type up my own manifesto of sorts on what it meant to me. It never got published, and for good reason. Not that it was a particularly hot take on things, but my opinion at the time became that it wasn’t personal enough, for a personally-charged document. It was a lot of bark and no bite; I made a lot of graniose statements without standing by them myself.
Early in 2022, I thought I had my own style figured out, and was quick to type up my own manifesto of sorts on what it meant to me. It never got finished, and for good reason. Not that I didn’t have good ideas, but I still didn’t really ‘get’ what made me tick, nor was it helpful to approximate how I play in broad definitions.
Early in 2023, while I had been told this critique in the past, it finally clicked for me—The NSR is the community. This was really reinforced by me opening a game store in rural NC, and seeing what a community felt like. As it turns out, trust transcends social mediums. It just feels nice to talk to people you trust, whether it be in-person or through a random Discord thread.
Labels become ultimately unhelpful after they’re exposed to a wider audience, or is ultimately fed to the Fell Beast of Capitalism to poop out money. While striking new ground was exciting at first, and discourse as to what was found was also exciting, I liken it to bigfoot—the allure is that it’s never found.
I’ve more recently talked to people that have an idea in their head that the NSR is a sure thing. I either have to stop myself from intervening, or, in a weaker mental state, remind everyone that it ultimately doesn’t matter. If we give it a definition, people will argue about it or misuse it. If we tell people there’s a rule to follow when making an NSR game, people will be exlcuded.
To quote Oz Browning of Rook’s Press,
There are no apolitical spaces; there are spaces that loudly welcome the oppressed, and spaces that quietly welcome the oppressor.
While that might be a bit of an extreme way to describe a weird internet label, I think the connection holds true. You HAVE to take a stance, one way or another, right? I’ve started to cringe a bit inside when there’s a flashy new thing with NSR slapped to it—It’s pretending that someone has the answer to what NSR is and what it applies to. That advertising, ultimately, even subconciously, makes people assume that NSR has a unified meaning. I’ve been in enough lengthy midnight Discord chats to know that’s not true.
I didn’t really intend on this post being so philisophical, in hindsight, and more about an actual ‘celebration’ of what the NSR is and what it means to me.
That said, we as people critique what we love, no? So, despite my roundabout way of complaining, MAN, do I love this community. I love the NSR, but at this point, I wouldn’t even say I love its games. I’m enough of a designer, that, most of the time now, I buy something not to run it, but just because I want to support the individual it’s behind. When I first started on itch, I got a couple payments here and there. There’s nothing that lit my day up more than seeing someone like my work enough to spend money on it. So, every time I Pay What I Want, I think about that. I liken it to holding the door for someone. One thoughtful act at a time, we can change what’s around us into something better.
That’s what I love about this community. I’m not the only one doing that. I’ve paid it forward, but someone paid it forward to me.
I’m rambling at this point, so anyway. You guys are awesome. Keep up the good work!