Friday, 20 January 2012

I need me some OSR

Last weekend I ran a one shot dungeon crawl, and I realised that my tool-box is insufficiently stacked. So, on the off chance that I still have some readers, I'll try my hand at a little crowdsourcing.

I went with Pathfinder, and while it worked, the system is far too labour intensive for something like that. To save time at the table, my wife, a friend of mine and myself did (most of) the char-gen before the dinner, but since two of the four players had never played any D&D derivation there was too much crap on their sheets for a one-nighter. The other two weren't too familiar with 3.5/Pathfinder either, and while we all had fun, it left me thinking there has to be an easier way.

While I've been lurking on the fringes of the OSR for a few years, I do not know the difference between Labyrinth Lord and OD&D. Hell, I've never even played 1st Ed. What I would like is to get a system that allow my players to create their characters in no more than 20-30 minutes, and that will support more than just hack'n slash. I have no interest in minis, but I do have a love for skills and roleplaying. So my question to you is: Which system should I go for?


  1. Hey, Harald, long time no see. :)

    Well, any of the older (older than 3e) versions of D&D afford fairly quick character generation. The degree to which they support "more than hack 'n' slash" largely depends on what you bring to it, i.e. there aren't a lot rules for things which role-playing alone is sufficient to cover. They're also not skills-based systems.

    GURPS Dungeon Fantasy is skills-based and has advantages and other options, but strips down/focuses the more complicated GURPS system to replicate old school dungeoncrawling. For first timers, it still might push the time limit though, but wouldn't once you knew it.

    Robin Laws's HeroQuest ain't old school (being more on the narrativist side) but could be used for a similar sort of game (there was an RPGNet actual play thread, I think, of a guy running a D&D-esque world with it), has no set skills but anything can be an ability, and is as robust for resolving a debate or a cook-off as it is a combat.

    That's just off the top of my head.

  2. Barbarians of Lemuria could be your perfect choice. A character can be created in 5 minutes and it has a interesting skill system. I love it!

  3. Green Ronin's "Dragon Age" is very quick and the Player's Guide, which contains 90% of the rules, is a refreshingly short 64 pages. It has a "traditional" elf/dwarf/human feel, character gen is probably about 15 minutes. There's a system of cool things you can do in combat if you get double (on 3d6) with a cheat sheet to give the players - my players picked this up in no time, and it's one of the fastest combat systems I know, without being boring and repetitive. We've been playing a campaign for a few months and everyone loves it. The first boxed set gives you everything you need up to level 5, and includes an adventure, and there's a free quickstart guide, with some ready-made PCs, cut down rules and an adventure, if you want to give it a go before buying. And no, I don't work for the company, I just think it's one of the simplest, most elegant RPG systems I've seen in a long time! :-)

  4. Check out Microlite20 - everything you already know about D20 D&D trimmed down to its essence - there are even Pocket Mod versions... very nice. Plus it's already D20 so you can integrate it in with everything else.

  5. Advanced Fighting Fantasy? Either version's good although the current one is arguably more robust. Generating characters is as quick as four die rolls and a few bits of points buying for skills. No character classes though so there isn't that definition of role that you get with D&D, necessarily.

  6. I would also take a look at Green Ronin, but I have noe experience with Dragon Age...Sifrp are pretty good though:)

  7. You can download Barbarians of Lumuria for free at

    Most of the OSR games are also available for free download. On my blog the whole left sidebar is free games and resource links.

    Dragon Age is a decent system. Here's the link to the quick start:

  8. Thank you all for your input! I'll have to do some blog-/google-fu over the weekend. I have to say though, the free download bit is a plus, but I kinda knew that already. Microlite20 also sounds neat, just based on the compatibility factor.

    I am looking forward to diving deeper into the murky waters of the OSR over the next weeks.

    By the way, I'm still most open for suggestions.


    An error in this post has been brought to my attention:

    I wrote: The other two weren't too familiar with 3.5/Pathfinder either. This can only be read to imply that she is a n00b whereas these systems are concerned. My wife is in fact very familiar with 3.5, and probably also knows Pathfinder better than me.

    I'm sorry, baby.

  10. Labyrinth Lord is a very approachable retroclone of Basic D&D. Character creation is on the order of 10-15 minutes for first-timers. Roll 3d6 in order, choose class, 3d8 for gold, pick starting equipment, done.