OSR Deep Tracks - A Curious Volume of Forgotten Lore (Greyhawk Grognard)
I've been meaning to do this for a while - start an irregular series of posts about influential yet often overlooked releases in the OSR. This is THAT first post for OSR Deep Tracks.
Joe Bloch, often known as the Greyhawk Grognard (and man behind the Greyhawk Grognard blog) is probably best known for his OSR megadungeon release: Castle of the Mad Archmage. In many ways, CotMA is Joe's imagining of what Gary Gygax's megadungeon would have looked like, assuming he hadn't been forced out of TSR back in the day. Its very much an Old School dungeon and I ran it for over a year with one of my groups to great success.
Therein lie's Joe's strength, the "What if Gary had...?" I was never a huge Marvel comics fan as a kid but I picked up every issue of What If? I could get my hands on. I enjoyed the alternate takes. They made me think.
Joe's other major project is Adventures Dark & Deep, very much a "What if Gary had gotten to do AD&D 2e as he had planned?" So, Joe dug deep with the hints Gary had published and later spoke about and he designed and published AD&D - The What If Edition ;) If I weren't neck deep in Swords & Wizardry Light its probably the OSR edition I'd pull out for my next campaign - it really does hit the notes that Gary hinted at back in Dragon Magazine.
Often overlooked is A Curious Volume of Forgotten Lore. The precursor to Adventures Dark & Deep, I often see it as an unofficial Unearthed Arcana II. These are the classes Gary hinted at. This is the book that led to Adventures Dark & Deep.
New and revised classes - the bard, jester, mystic, savant, and mountebank. I remember reading about plans for these in Dragon, but alas, it never would be until A Curious Volume of Forgotten Lore.
The book is modular too, so you can take parts that you want - classes, and maybe only one or two, and leave the spells. Pick and choose among the monsters. Want to use the alternative combat presented? Do so. If not, don't. Looking for seaborne adventuring rules? Got you covered. Whatever you need to do. Its a supplement, not a system, and its easy enough to use with the OSR system of your choice with minor conversions (and often not even that).
The Minotaur for Old-School Essentials
*Requirements:* Minimum STR 9, Minimum CON 9
*Prime Requisite:* STR and CON
*Hit Dice:* 1d10
*Maximum Level:* 8
*Armor:* Leather, including shield...