It may be precisely that the “OSR” as a community developed some novel ways to play old systems, and that these are lacking in the RPGnet play reports. I says ways and not mechanics because largely I think I’m referring to design principles and ethics of play. Here’s what I’m not seeing in the RPGnet reports:
Exploration play - Engagement with the environment and puzzle aspects of it as a primary focus of play. This is perhaps impossible because of the random methods of location design used. It’s hard for a GM to build puzzles of any sort into an adventure when generating it entirely on the fly. This appears to lead to the singular obstacle in play being direct confrontation with randomly derived monsters. It also remove the larger puzzle of level based design, where spatial orientation is a key part of game play - figuring out how the location works as a fiction space becomes impossible when the GM doesn’t even know because the structure is being constantly revised and invented during play.
Direct Confrontation - “Combat as sport” is you will, the appeal to the RAW to resolve combats and monster encounters without fictional positioning of even a tactical variety, let alone the strategic.
Lack of social and moral play - It doesn’t seem like reaction mechanics are being consistently used, or if they are the players are electing to attack almost every creature encountered. Again this likely comes from the random nature of dungeon generation, lack of a dungeon ecology or factions.
Together these create a game that doesn’t feel like what I know from using the same system, or what I see in say those ASE reports (the dungeon they are using is the author’s setting - but yes it was later published). Now if pointing out a lack of those things is being uncharitable I doubt I can meet your definition of charity - but they are things which I find are key to understanding classic play, at least as I enjoying playing it.
I mention the Dungeon World past of the RPGnet play reports because I am trying to understand where the players and GM in them got their design principles and play ethics? It’s not that they are bad or having the wrong kind of fun, it’s that it’s not my experience with “OSR” and I don’t think I’m alone in that or that my experience with these kind of games is very atypical.
As described it really does seem much similar to an early (also D&D derived I think) Roguelike ASCII CRPG, and one without the complexity of say Nethack or ADOM. Now there’s a chance this is just from the similarity of using randomly generated dungeons - but the main CRPG constraint of a lack of tools for parley and social puzzles isn’t shared? Where does the combat focused play style come from, because I do think it’s conscious, if not fully intentional. Did the RPGnet players set out to play a certain kind of game?
If not, how do did their experiments with B/X end up so differently then say Pat Wetmore’s (linked above: Henchmanabuse & ASE)? So different from Chris’ Hill Cantons? So different from Brendan’s with Pahvelorn and 0E? So different from mine?
If it’s simply that the constraints involved (random dungeon generation) create a certain sort of game experience that’s interesting, but it doesn’t change that these play reports don’t feel typical to someone who has played a lot of that style of game. Should I say they do simply to be “charitable”? 'Cause I can lie to you in the service of comity.