I make it no secret that I’m a fan of the simple Deathbringer rules. They are simple without being too rules lite. They are pretty much compatible with any edition’s adventures. And it’s really easy to hack. One thing that I find is a feature is that there’s no spell list nor any monsters. Why? Well, why add the same old monsters and magic again? Really. Just use the version you want.
There’s tons of books of monsters and spells and since I’m an old-school kind of guy I figure I should dig around a pick a few that are off the beaten path.
Shadowdark/Cursed Scroll Zine: The core book will be released soon but I’ve got my hands on the beta rules, the quick start, and Cursed Scroll. Sure there’s the usual spells but there’s also a few that take a bit of grim dark turn. The spell descriptions are to the point. No extra blah. And it uses zoned combat and a roll-to-cast system. This is what I’m using in my current campaign.
Black Libram of Naratus: While this one is designed for Castles & Crusades, it’s not hard to convert. And yes there is a warning that these aren’t meant for player characters since they are pretty evil but then making a few available could an interesting and corrupting touch.
Realms of Crawling Chaos: You want some Lovecraftian monsters and spells. Well here you go.
Teratic Tome and Lusus Naturae: Both by Rafael Chandler. If you want weird, gory, and completely out there and usual not safe for work and some adults. Then take a look. Really, there’s some crazy, dark stuff in there.
Check out the Dark Arts series by Kai Putz. You get a bit of everything monsters, magic items, and spells. And all dirt cheap.
Yeah, I know I didn’t include probably someone’s favorite. And just maybe right now, I’m getting in the mood for a weird, grim dark type of campaign. But more about that later.