Tuesday, September 10, 2013

What is Your Favorite OSR "Clone" Ruleset?

I have a fairly decent list of OSR ruleset to the right of this post, but I'm sure it's incomplete.

Anyhow, my favorite OSR "Clone" (and a clone is in no way needs to be a prefect copy of the source material in this definition I'm using - it's more flavor and spirit than rule and letter) would be Swords & Wizardry Whitebox Edition if you are going by the actual boxed set. There is something about the box itself that just makes it special. The Deeper Delving Boxed set fails to recapture the same magic.

If I want an AD&D feel without the clutter, I'd go S&W Complete. Labyrinth Lord AEC comes damn close, but the need of two rulebooks compare to the one of S&W Complete is the tie breaker for me, if you will.

So, what are your preferred "clones"?


  1. If it fits the definition I'd say Old School Hack by Kirin Robinson, hands down. Brilliant re-design.

  2. Lamentations of the Flame Princess. Setting aside completely his DM advice/recomended play style, the little tweaks to the B/X game are brilliant. The D6 based specialist skills, Fighters getting +1 to hit per level with no bonus ever for the other classes, Languages, Encumbrance... It's really well done.

  3. Labyrinth Lord, it has all the bases covered.

    If I want Basic D&D I play LL straight; if I want OD&D, I add Original Edition Characters; if I want AD&D I add Advanced Edition Companion; if I want Lovecraftian, I add Realms of Crawling Chaos; if I want post-apocalyptic or gonzo sci-fi, I add Mutant Future; if I want hard sci-fi, I add Starships & Spacemen 2nd Edition. And there's all the rules expansions added by third party publishers in a huge range of products, as well as 2nd and 3rd wave clones based on LL.

    While I love the huge variety of clones and OSR rulesets out there, I could happily game the rest of my life with just the Labyrinth Lord clones.

    1. Wow - I had no idea there were so many expansions for LL. I've used Advanced Edition Companion for a game I've run, and I'm aware of Mutant Future, but the others you list are all new to me. Thanks!

  4. I love different ones for different reasons. S&W:WB is probably the best framework. The Specialist from LotFP is a revelation. ACKS did great things to the economics and background detailing. Dark Dungeons brought a lot of great things together, from Spelljammer and some pseudo-gunpowder weapons to the Immortals rules, and made them open content. Labyrinth Lord brings a ton of other things together, from gonzo mutant sci-fi to space opera to Lovecraftiana. Adventures Dark and Deep brings in all the things that we were waiting for from Gary Gygax that he never got a chance to give us because of corporate politics. And so on.

  5. If I had to pick one, I'd lean towards LotFP, mostly due to my preference for darker, weirder, lower fantasy. Having said that, I think ACKS and S&W: Complete are both outstanding, and I'd add C&C to the list as well if one were inclined to include it in the OSR (which I do).

  6. I looked carefully at S&W Core, LL, OSRIC, Basic Fantasy Role Playing and a handful of other rules sets before settling on Swords & Wizardy: White Box, and I couldn't be more pleased with my decision. I like all the tweaks (ascending AC option, unified saving throw, etc.) and love the physical product itself (POD hardcover from lulu). With the addition of my favorite supplements: the S&W: Monster Book, Salavatore Macri's White Box Heroes, and the spell lists from S&W Core (packaged conveniently as "Book of Wizardry" and "Book of the Divine" at lulu), I feel my search for the perfect old school rules set is over. It's just so easy to turn into the exact game I want.

  7. My favourite rule sets are LotFP and Monsters & Magic although the latter isn't really a "clone". I hate the world "clone" anyway-- I feel LotFP isn't a clone either, as it introduces plenty of neat, new ideas.

  8. I am still rather partial to Basic Fantasy myself. It doesn't do everything, but it does what I want and that is good for me.

  9. Basic Fantasy is what I run. Swords&Wizardry is cool. I use OSRIC as a resource.

  10. ACKS. Perfect re-imagination of BECMI.

  11. I have two that I love best: S&W Whitebox has been the framework upon which I built my own house game - it is the perfect set for building your own game, whereas S&W Core Rules is what I'm using to introduce my daughter to roleplaying - it's more fleshed out than Whitebox without adding complexity.

  12. If i could only ever use ONE 'Clone' OSR rulebook for the rest of my life i would say: OSRIC. (with Blood & Treasure as a very close second)
    Since i luckily can use more than one OSR rules set i will say...

    I prefer the originals, B/X and AD&D...(though i know that's not the question) And therefore also as 'clones' i prefer Labyrinth Lord and OSRIC, for using besides/as substitutes for the originals. Though OSRIC wins over LL for me, though only because the original B/X books are so good, that i can do well enough without LL, whereas OSRIC really is a GREAT thing to have while playing AD&D, in addition to/beside the AD&D core books.

    I also greatly love Labyrinth Lord for the enourmous wealth of B/X (or LL) material that has been created for it: Stonehell Dungeon, Barrowmaze, ASE, Lesserton & Mor, The Red Tide and several more of course.

    Besides this my preferred OSR "clones" (and these are surely much less direct clones) are: ACKS and Blood & Treasure. Both are WONDERFUL rulesets, and i think i will be basing my next long megadungeon campaign on one of these two rulesets (im partial to Blood & Treasure at the moment, but LOVE ACKS too). And right now im reading Adventures Dark and Deep, and im liking that a lot too.

    And, as an aside, im running our current megadungeon campaign in another good clone - though by no means OSR - Pathfinder ;)

  13. Whitehack, while not a "clone", is absolutely fantastic. It feels OSR just enough to scratch the itch, and is really well organized and presented. 32 pages and some GM fiat, and you can craft any flavor game you want. No magic world? Don't allow Wise characters. Etc.

  14. Labyrinth Lord is the only one I've really used frequently, though I've GM'd some OSRIC, Mutant Future etc. So LL, I guess - I'm playing a LL campaign currently and it's good fun.

  15. Lamentations for me. The rules changes and bleak outlook appeal to my Clark Ashton Smith and HP Lovecraft filled brain.

    Though I've given Labyrinth Lord a lot of consideration since it has so much support.


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