Sunday, 22 January 2012

OSR research notes

The crowdsourcing gave me a good starting point for my quest for a quick and dirty fantasy system. After having followed some of the leads I was given, I have dismissed a few, and marked a couple for further research.

The first system I checked out was Microlite20. The pros here were that it was free, and that it offered compatibility with the slew of 3.X material in the house. The con, and what made me dismiss it after about ten minutes with the PDF, is that the writing is a bit heavy, and the editing is poor. The PDF clocked in at well above 600 pages, and while it contained a bakers dozen of individual supplements, it just made the process of getting under the skin of the system too inconvenient. While this may be construed as judging the book by it's formatting, it was enough for me.

The reviews I read about Green Ronin's Dragon Age tickled me, but I'm not ready to purchase another system just yet - there are cheaper options that must be explored first. Among these is Barbarians of Lemuria. I can't really say why, but after having skimmed the PDF there was nothing there that made me want to penetrate deeper into that particular subject matter.

The next system I checked out was Labyrinth Lord. As with the rest of the them, I first googled it, and where possible I would read the Wiki before looking at websites, reviews and blogs. The LL Wiki-entry had the following quote from The Escapist:
"Labyrinth Lord feels like a Vietnam War movie, where the dungeons are dark, wet, and terrifying goblins murder all your friends with spiked-pit traps and crossbow bolts from the shadows, and you start to develop a thousand yard infravision stare from the spell shock.[1]"
This had me hooked. As I went deeper into the search I became even more convinced, and having skimmed the PDF I am ready to prep for play test. First I will have to actually read the system though, and I haven't taught myself a new system in a decade now. 

Once more into the breach, dear friends, once more.

[Picture source: A Characther for Every Game]


  1. Dragon Age for me was the best option along these lines, but the drawback was ... I don't like the Dragon Age core setting. The video game was semi-entertaining but its really a very vanilla setting with a tiny beastiary, etc. and there are only 3 starting classes (with some options to play them differently but still). No way to play Dragon Age with a standard D&D game unless someone is willing to do work and alot of poking around on internet forums, etc. HOWEVER ... problems there ... might be solved. GR has recently announced that they plan to put the system out as a generic, stand alone fantasy RPG, and they are putting out the last portion of the Dragon Age material (lvls 11-20) so that game will now also be complete.

    For me I want to stay with a simple mechanic but I have no illusions anyone I know is going to want to go back and mess with 1st ed ... Thaco ... funky AC ... I don't mind that stuff but everyone I game with pitches a fit when its even mentioned. So I've had to look for stuff that isn't truly OSR. I think long term Dragon Age is my groups salvation, once the new stuff is out (2013 sadly, though they are releasing some stuff this year ... don't know what yet).

    As for paying for the rules ... Age is pretty cheap ... but for me if I'm going to spend hundreds of hours doing something I never mind spending a little money on it. Besides these types of games cost nothing compared to Pathfinder/4e/3.5 ... those games at least as the GM end up costing $$$. I've dropped probably 200-400 on Pathfinder and 4e. I don't even want to think about how much I spent on 3.5 era and 2nd ed era stuff ... I have a veritable library of that and White Wolf, Warhammer Fantasy RP 1st, 2nd (I'm out on 3rd) ... sigh ...

    Anyway interesting post and looking forward to hearing of your exploits with LL!

  2. I agree with you on the pay-for-play aspect, but as I see it, I should at least explore the free stuff before putting my cash on any particular barrel head. One of the things that made me opt for LL at this junction was that I get to read through the rules, and even play the game, before I actually pay for it - and if it works for me I definitely will. After all, there's nothing quite like having a neatly bound and illustrated tome between your hands. For me PDF's are stopgap measures, not permanent solutions.

  3. I think you're going a good route, and Labyrinth Lord is a good place to start, solid and clear. Hereticwerks have been putting it through its paces with a lot of weird material you might want to look at. There have a very good lower-level adventure as well, Zilgor's Repose.

  4. I have to add a correction here...Microlite20 is ONE page...the 600 pages are a compilation of variations built on the original. Even with the actual extra material that can be added M20 is still super lite. Plus you can run pretty much anything ever published with it, system or adventure wise. The Rosetta Stone is helpful:

  5. I have to agree with ADD Grognard. The new Microlite74 has been a godsend for me. I use the Extended Edition which clocks in at some 30-odd pages, and only half a dozen are actually "rules". Adaptation from existing old-school material is stupid easy (I use my AD&D 2E books with impunity). And everything else, all the OSR systems, just work with it. I use it as my base and add in whatever else I might need, and it just works.

  6. Hmm, it would seem I judged M20/74 a little soon. I will certainly look at it again.

  7. M20 = Bolt-On Lego System.

    Start stripped down and add only what you want.

    My MX83/FSE20 is based around the core and many variations along with my own personal touches to flesh it out and create something a little...different...:)

    It brought me back into TRPGs...

  8. ADD Grognard, where can I see your system?