Tag Archives: OSR Retrospective

OSR Retrospective: Runequest

I’m meant to do this one later but I saw something on my Facebook feed that me think it would be a good time rant about Runequest & Basic Roleplaying.

I have a real fondness for old Runequest and its cousins; Call of Cthulhu, and especially the Magic World that was part of the Worlds of Wonder boxed set.

The thing is that when I was running it, I never ran Glorantha.  I was adapted it as a more Sword & Sorcery type game than D&D. It really worked well.  It was dangerous and characters were easy to make and didn’t have follow any strict class restrictions.  Oh and yes I did throw in some Cthulhu into the mix since it’s all basically compatible.

Thanks to the various open gaming licenses, there’s already some good clones of the system.   Most notably  Mythras by The Design Mechanism and OpenQuest by d101 Games.  Both of these are solid games.  And of course, Chaosium has release their own version of an OGL. So there’s more clones on the way.

But back to Runequest.  In my earlier reviews of the latest editions of both Runequest and Call of Cthulhu, I did mention that there were a couple of things that I disliked.  I dislike the flow chart to determine if your character is dead and more specifically my old 2nd edition of Runequest has roughly 1/4 the  page count of the current edition but still manages to have twice as much gamable content. So I much prefer the old editions of Runequest.  Which leads me back to where I started.  I guess I missed the Kickstarter but you can buy reprints and PDF’s of the old Runequest stuff.  This is all great news and worth checking out.

OSR Retrospective: Delving Deeper

This week it’s Delving Deeper, a cool little retroclone of the Little Brown Books.

Delving Deeper is another clone of the original (little brown books). as compared to Swords & Wizard White Box or White Box Fantastic Medieval Adventure Game, Delving Deeper is a much more accurate recreation of the original.  So Delving Deeper doesn’t have the Ascending AC, Single Saving Throw, or simplified Thief of the others.

Delving Deeper comes in 3 volumes as we’ve grown accustomed over the years (Adventurers’ Handbook, Monsters & Treasures, and Referee’s Guide).   I’ll admit that I don’t actually play Delving Deeper.  I’m fonder of the aforementioned white box clones.  But that doesn’t mean that I don’t use it.  While I do still have copies of my original Little Brown Books, I find PDF’s like Delving Deeper are good for research and just plain inspirational.  Much the way I was using Old School Essentials (when it was BX Essentials) while I was running Labyrinth Lord.  And like that, any minor differences were inconsequential.

You can grab the PDF’s up at DrivethruRPG. Oh, and did I mention that it’s free?  You can grab up a hard copy over on Lulu for really cheap. And you can find out more information on Immersive Ink’s website.

OSR Retrospective: Tunnels & Trolls

You know whenever people talk about old-school games, they always talk about old D&D but there’s a lot more than that out there. Heck, even here I do that but those non-d20 games are also on my mind and on my shelf. This time I want to rant a little bit about Tunnels & Trolls.

Tunnels & Trolls is special for many reasons. First, it was one of the first games to come out that wasn’t just D&D reskinned. Second, it’s the only old game that I can think of that is still with original publisher and still being supported by the original creators. I know this is the Internet, if I’m wrong some one will tell me. Plus Flying Buffalo was the pioneer of online gaming such at was back in the day of a BBS.
So what about the actual game itself. Tunnels & Trolls does keep the class/level dynamic and has similar attributes and that’s about all. Races and separate from class and uses a multiplier type system for any racial bonuses. Classes are generally familiar if you’re used to gaming. The only real oddity is the Rogue because this class isn’t a Thief but a Rogue wizard. No guild bennies for you. For dice, it just uses d6’s. That’s it. But it does use a lot of them.
At it’s most basic, combat works like this. Player rolls a bunch of d6’s based on their character and weapon. The GM rolls a bunch of d6’s based on the monster’s rating. Compare results and the difference is the damage to the loser. When multiple characters are attacking the same monster add the player’s totals together and compare the monster’s result. Of course, chances are it’s a pretty tough monster so it’ll be a lot of dice. If the monster wins then the damage is distributed between the player characters. Yes, it is abstract but it’s up to the players and GM to narrate what’s going on.
There have been other changes and innovations to the game over the years and editions. Things like spell casting, saving throws, and talents have evolved over time but the basics of the game has generally remained the same. So if you’re tired of rolling d20’s and just want to do something completely different then it’s well worth a look.
And there’s a whole selection of stuff on Drivethru.

OSR Retrospective: The Franken Game

This is the best game you will play. Which one is it? All of them? Sort of.
Most of the retro-clones are largely compatible. Sure each one has its own little tweak or modification but when the dice hit the table, there isn’t much difference. And that dear reader is what makes the modern plethora of old school games so cool.
Like an adventure then run it. It doesn’t matter for which specific clone it’s for. Just run with it. Like the way one spell is worded or an extra rule or the way a class works. Then use it. Modify it to your game of choice. Find a neat class. Use it. There is just so much material out there. Look around and there will probably be something you like. There are hundreds of settings, adventures, supplements and zines out there. Take advantage of them. And if you can’t find what you want then make it yourself and share it back with the community.
If you’ve followed the blog for a while then you’d know that I’m a big fan of Swords & Wizardry. One of those reasons is that it’s so damned easy to convert stuff into. Sure I run “Swords & Wizardry” but it’s actually very much my own game.
For me, this is just as much part of the hobby as painting miniatures or writing up your own adventure. It’s just something you do. Remember, you are not beholden to any game designer on the way you play the game. Rules As Written is just guide line. That doesn’t mean that the GM just does whatever they want. Talk stuff out with the players. If something isn’t working then change it. Get feedback. You know act like an adult. Play it your way.

Don’t worry folks. I’m not done in the series. There’s more on the way.

OSR Retrospective: Low Fantasy Gaming

Well, up this week is Low Fantasy Gaming. Ive already done a couple of more indepth reviews of the Free and Deluxe editions. It’s a damned good game and bears another rant in this series.
LFG Cover
First like many others, it doesn’t attempt to emulate a specific old edition. Instead it takes a lot of the best various editions and retroclones and throws them together in a coherent and fun game. Low Fantasy Gaming takes a much more Sword & Sorcery approach than High Fantasy. Magic is dangerous. The world is a little rougher and tougher. You know the drill.
Low Fantasy stands on its own as a game but of all the one’s I’ve ranted about so far, it does have the most amount of material that can be imported into your game of choice. The Dark and Dangerous Magic system and random charts are a fun and simple additional. Luck mechanics. Yep. Got those too. And the neat thing is the “Unique Feature” for player characters. In a nutshell, take some feat or feature from another game and convert it. It sounds simple but it’s the easiest way to customized characters without having a long list of specific abilities. Like I said, it’s a really nice addition to any game.
The classes are all geared more towards the Sword & Sorcery vibe. Instead of Clerics, there’s Cultists which are handled in a much neater way. Instead of normal spells and such, the Cultists has Blessing plus specific benefits and restrictions based on their god. Sure most of the Blessing do emulate the most common Cleric spells and abilities but they are handled differently than the standard pseudo-Vancian cleric magic. Races are pretty much the standard except for Half-Skorn which are basically Half-Orcs.
If you haven’t added this your collection, I highly recommend it. You can grab Low Fantasy Gaming at DrivethruRPG. If you want to just check it then there’s the original Free PDF available.