Thursday, November 11, 2010

More Resources for the OSR Curious

This is, and forever will be post number ten for the DBloC Challenge. I'm 1/3 of the way there and it has been smooth sailing!

In a recent post, I talked about about the Old School Renaissance (OSR) and identified some blogs for those interested in learning more. In this post, I'm going to clue you into the actual games. The games simulations, recreations, modifications or emulations of classic D&D editions. Wizards of the Coast placed an Open Gaming License on the their games in 2000, which permitted other companies to create content using intellectual property owned by WotC, as long as they adhere to the OGL. Since all of the original products are out of print, and often go for high prices on the collectors market, this might be the only way for newer players to experience this style of game play.
S&W Core

All the games listed here are free or exist in a free edition. Just click the links I listed below and dig around on the site. You should be able to find a free PDF. They are also for sale in print from the sites, RPG vendors, and print on demand companies like and often in deluxe PDF editions from vendors like RPGNow. I've mentioned it a few times already, but I think it's worth saying again: I don't actually have much experience with these games yet. I've read read the rules for a couple, skimmed the rules for others, and played one of them one time. we go:

Old School Reference & Index Compilation (aka OSRIC)
OSRIC, published by the First Edition Society, is a 1st edition AD&D clone. The product identifies and documents the original, non-copyrightable portion of the old-school rules and puts them into an open license, as permitted by law. The original intention of OSRIC was to act as a reference for publishers interested in creating materials  of 1st edition products.

S&W White Box
I have skimmed the 400 pages worth of rules covered by OSRIC. Every class, monster, spell, magic item, and rule not protected by copyright is covered. It may not be the most readable document, but it definitely covers every aspect of gameplay you could ever possibly consider or imagine.

Labyrinth Lord
Swords & Wizardry
Swords & Wizardry Core Rules and Swords & Wizardry White Box are two products released by Mythmere Games. The core rules recreate the the original 1974 edition of Dungeons and Dragons. The White Box takes the old-school flavor one step further, covering only the original three little brown books.

I've read the core rules and skimmed the White Box rules. I'm completely unfamiliar that original edition, but this version of that game makes a lot of sense. I'm certainly interested in checking out a game using this rule set, be it a new adventure or a run through a classic module.

Advanced Edition Companion
Labyrinth Lord
Goblinoid Games, has released two free core D&D retro-clone products, Labyrinth Lord and the Advanced Edition Compainion. Labyrinth Lord emulates the rules and feel of the 1981 "red box" edition of D&D rules revision edited by Tom Moldvay. The rules compile the content from the Basic and Expert set into one book. The Advanced Edition Companion allows players and DMs to incorporate rules from the the 1978, first edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons rules.

I just started playing in a Labyrinth Lord campaign at GASP Game Day. We've only had one session, but it was a blast. The DM has created a megadungeon for extra old-school flavor. I'll be playing in two LL one-off games at GASPCon this weekend, so I'll be sure to report back on how they go.

Mutant Future
Mutant Future comes from the same company as Labyrinth Lord, Goblinoid Games. The game recreates the rules for the classic post-apocalyptic RPG, Gamma World. I only just discovered this product and only had a few minutes to skim the rules, but they look good.
Mutant Future

I never played Gamma World back in the day, but the concept is interesting. We're going to be playing the new edition at our regular game night starting in two weeks, so it might be an opportunity to try it out Old School style.

Dark Dungeons
Dark Dungeons references the Chick Tract of the same name. In the tract, Marcie, playing Black Leaf, fails to discover a poison trap, and her character is killed. Instead of just making a new character, poor Marcie is booted from the game. Losing her character was too much and poor Marcie takes her own life. But even stranger things are afoot, as we discover that Marcie's Dungeon Master is a practicing Satanist, who inducts her players into her cult, starting with the cleric, Elfstar, played by Debbie.

Dark Dungeons
The game clones the D&D Cyclopedia, which contained rules from the Basic, Expert, Master, and Companion box sets, published by TSR from 1983-1985. Again, I've only skimmed the rules, but I like the concept. The Rules Cyclopedia represented the end of the two pronged approach of AD&D and D&D for TSR. Dark Dungeons includes original fiction and examples of play using the characters from the original Chick tract, which is pretty amusing in and of itself.

Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Role-Playing
Lamentations for the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Role-Playing (aka LotFPWFRP) is probably the most highly anticipated OSR release for the second half of 2010. The game, designed by the highly opinionated and often controversial James Raggi IV, is not a true clone, but based on rules from various editions and James' personal house rules.

I picked up the Deluxe Edition Boxed Set, because it was too cool to pass up. It contains the rule book, the magic book, referee book, tutorial book, a couple adventures, a mini set of dice, a golf pencil, character sheets, recommended reading list and graph paper (square and hex) -- everything you need to play. It contains a solo adventure to help get the flavor. James is known for his ruthlessly deadly adventures like Grinding Gear and Death, Frost Doom, and this flavor is not lost on the box set. Even the example of play ends with a total party kill. Amazing. I'll be playing LotFPWFRP at GASPCon this weekend and will be sure to report back on my experience.

Hopefully, this has been helpful for folks interested in Old School gaming. There will be more OSR content on the blog as I continue to explore this type of gaming.

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