Saturday, September 20, 2014

Planning a Series of OSR Posts for the Lapsed Gamer

I've gotten a number of emails recently from folks "coming back to the hobby" after 20 or 30 years and looking to reignite the fires. Say what you will about 5e, but it is certainly bringing attention back to the hobby of RPGs. I can't say it's going to grow the hobby as a whole (but it should, at least initially), but I have noticed an uptick in lapsed gamers looking to find their old love. 5e might have stirred the spark, but the OSR is where they feel at home.

The problem with the OSR is the sheer number of choices and flavors one can find. Heck, it's not just systems themselves, but subsystems, as both Labyrinth Lord and Swords & Wizardry both come in three flavors each.

Now, for those of us immersed in the OSR, this isn't daunting, it's exciting. For a lapsed gamer whose old gaming books are long since gone and is looking for a current version of the rules, in PDF or print, there's a crapload to sift through.

I'm planning to start a series of posts highlighting the various OSR systems and point out the classic sources they seek to emulate as well where they differ. I'll be starting with the systems that are available in one form or another for free in PDF and then move on to the ones that have a cost involved in the basic rules. The end of the series will wrap up with the more extreme variants that are drawing inspiration from the old school games but may have stepped a bit further afield.

The initial list I plan on looking at includes:

Labyrinth Lord
Swords & Wizardry
Delving Deeper
Basic Fantasy RPG
LotFP Weird Fantasy
Mazes & Perils
BLUEHOLME Prentice Rules
Dark Dungeons
Seven Voyages of Zylarthen

I'm open to further suggestions I may have missed. The free Myth & Magic Starter Guide is NOT on this list, as I have no idea how well the system will be supported.

As always, open for input :)


  1. Replies
    1. after i finish the D&D clones, I'll move on to the other clones

      good choices tho'

  2. I second ACKS. It's the one that "completed" D&D for me.

    1. Eastmark and ACKS will be the second round of games - those that don't have free options

    2. Awesome.

      Members of the ACKS messaging board are working on an online SRD, so at some point the core book of ACKS will be free. It's online now, but it's unformatted; so it's kind of hard to recommend it for reading :)

  3. I recommend adding to that second list Blood and Treasure, unless there's a free version I'm missing. Adventures Dark and Deep and Beyond the Wall are also in that second list.

  4. Fantastic Heroes & Witchery (already mentioned: ACKS and Eastmark)

  5. I second Beyond the Wall. I've been having great fun with it, and using it to introduce newbies as well as play with returning lapsed players...

  6. This has been done before but it's worthwhile repeating it. I think you could improve on the previous efforts by writing a hyperlinked family tree of the OSR games, so people can look at the tree and click on a game to be taken directly to your review.

  7. Looks like you have most of the most of the free ones down.

    Second round I'd go Adventures Dark & Deep and Astonishing Swordsmen &Sorcerers of Hyperborea. Great covers of 1st Ed

  8. Just look at all these great games! I'm totally into Eastmark, C&C, Blood & Treasure, and ACKS right now.

  9. For the second round how about AS&SH, C&C and DCC?


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