This is going to be a real ranty rant. First, let me get the disclaimer out of the way. This nothing against any publisher or anybody else. Nor is it an attempt to “gate keep” or growl about new folks to the hobby. You can play the game however you want to. So just relax a bit.
Alright, so I see this often enough that it started sticking in my head, mostly on Facebook. “What else is compatible with…?” Sigh. Lot’s of stuff. “But it doesn’t say that it’s compatible..” I know there are lots of games that are unique that this doesn’t apply. Here, I ‘m talking about the d20 base retro-clones. I see this mostly in Old School Essentials groups. I’m glad that a lot of folks are picking it up and diving into the old school style of play. That’s a good thing. And yes, I do see it in other groups too like Basic Fantasy. Both of OSE and Basic Fantasy are cool games.
I think one the things thing that new folks to old school gaming don’t quite realize the quantity of material that is out there. One of the things that I’m going to go into here is that how compatible means a slightly different thing when it comes to much of the old school material. One of the maxims of old school play that doesn’t get enough air time is that player characters and monsters/NPC’s don’t have to follow the same rules. IMHO, compatibility when talking about old-school games is it mainly applies on the DM side of the screen. So it’s perfectly fine that the player characters are using one rules set and the monsters are using another that’s pretty close. Remember, there ain’t no perfectly balanced encounters in old school play.
Since Old School Essentials is the popular clone right now, I’m going to use this one as base. So as a DM running OSE where can you go. Lots of places. Anything written of Labyrinth Lord, Lamentations of the Flame Princess, OSRIC, and anything saying “Basic Era Game”. Yes, I know there are even more retro-clones out there. This is with virtually no conversion or work on the DM’s part. You can take Swords & Wizardry stuff and do minor conversions in your head or just run as is. No problem. And don’t forget the actual TSR adventures. When it comes to tools and random tables for the DM to use. The field grows even larger. To put bluntly, I don’t think I could possibly list all things that are out there and good. I will admit that some would take more work than others. Dungeon Crawl Classics has great adventures. But if want to convert, it would take a little more work but it could easily be done.
I welcome new folks to the old school games. It’s makes my little grognard heart happy. But what I do think is that the new folks just don’t understand the volume of material and options that they have available. Just takes a little research and understanding of the basics of the intent of the game design.
Roll dice. Kill monsters. Take their stuff. Level up.