Showing posts with label old-school. Show all posts
Showing posts with label old-school. Show all posts

Friday, October 23, 2020

Remembering Len Lakofka

Just got word a bit ago that Lenard "Leomund" Lakofka passed away this morning. 

Len and I got along well even when we had a difference of opinion.  I likely talked about him more than any other old-school designer, save for Gary, Tom Moldvay, and Eric Holmes.

I had just picked up a copy of L3 and had mentioned to him I wanted to get it signed if he ever came to Gary Con or Gen Con.

I have a stack of his notes for the Town of Ulek he wanted me to go over and scan.  Now I am not sure what to do with them.

I'm going to miss the guy. 


Monday, October 5, 2020

The Official Music of the OSR is Run-DMC

Seriously. It is. 

Like Old-School D&D was a pioneer of gaming,  Run-DMC was a pioneer of old-school rap and hip hop.  Many hip-hop groups cite Run-DMC as their primary influence and for many of us Run-DMC was out first exposure to the wider world of rap and hip-hop.  Could there have been a Public Enemy without Run-DMC? Wu-Tang Clan? NWA? Snoop-Dogg? Outkast? Salt-n-Peppa, De La Soul? Cypress Hill? US3? Digable Planets? TLC? (damn, I still love TLC).

We owe it all to Run-DMC.



Silly?  Yeah, a little. But my love of Run-DMC is pure and true. And yeah I know all the words to these songs. 

But making a claim, any claim, about the OSR is pointless.  While there are trends, there are no main drivers here. No one setting policy or dictating terms save for collective memory of a time when you could turn on your radio and hear "It's Tricky."

Consequently, the claim that OSR is conservative only track because the OSR is as has been often pointed out, full of old fucks.

I am pretty far left and get more liberal and more left and more blue with each passing year. 

I shouldn't need to say this, but here it is.

Like THAC0 BLOG and The Elf Game, I don't just reject Nazis and White Supremacists, I utterly reject them and condemn them, and they are not welcome in any part of the games I play, write or enjoy.  They can take their orange shitgibbon Trump with them. 

Oh. 

And Black Lives Matter. 

And fuck Trump.

Don't like it? Get the fuck out of the OSR.

Friday, October 2, 2020

Kickstart Your Weekend: Bitchin Chimera and the Jaquays' Archive

Quite the collection today!

Lost Tomb of the Bitchin' Chimera - Dead Milkmen RPG Module


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/justinsirois/lost-tomb-of-the-bitchin-chimera-dead-milkmen-rpg-module?ref=theotherside

The Dead Milkmen are releasing a D&D adventure about a "Bitchin Chimera." Do I really need to tell you more than that? No idea if Tony Orlando and Dawn, Beelze-bubba, Mojo Nixon, or a Punk Rock Girl will appear. 

Judges Guild Deluxe: Dark Tower, Caverns of Thracia, & More


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1409961192/judges-guild-deluxe-dark-tower-caverns-of-thracia-and-more?ref=theotherside

Ok, first and foremost this Kickstarter will not benefit any of the current racist owners of the Judges Guild.  This collects some of the best material of the early days of JG and all written by Jennell Jaquays. Some very, very solid stuff here, and Goodman Games puts out a solid product.

and finally one more look at this one now that it has made it's funding goal.

Hellbringers: The Sacred Heart


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/hellbringers/hellbringers-the-sacred-heart?ref=theotherside

All are ending soon!

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

The Craft of the Wise, now in Hardcover

The customers asked for it and so I am going to deliver.

The Craft of the Wise: The Pagan Witch Tradition is now available in A5 Hardcover version.


The Softcover version is Letter-sized, 8.5" x 11".  This works with your B/X, BECMI, or other OSR books.

The Hardcover is A5 sized, 148mm X 210mm, (8.3" x 5.8").  This is the same size as the OSE books and roughly the same size as my Warlock book (which is Digest size 6"x9").




The content and art are the same for each, so the layout is different.



This is an experiment.  If the sales on this are good then I will consider A5 or Digest sized versions of my other Basic Era Witch series books.

You can get it now at DriveThruRPG.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Kickstart Your Weekend: Wilderlands, Witches and Advanced Fantasy

HUGE Kickstart Your Weekend today. So let's get to it!

Old-School Essentials: Advanced Fantasy

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/exaltedfuneral/old-school-essentials-advanced-fantasy?ref=theotherside

Old-School Essentials is becoming the game of the year, and the Advanced Fantasy rules are only going to add to that.  There are different pledge levels to join depending which books you already have or which ones you want. Already funded it hardly needs me to sell you on it. Gavin did a fantastic job with his last Kickstarter and I see this one being even better.

The Majestic Fantasy RPG

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/batintheatticgames/the-majestic-fantasy-rpg?ref=theotherside

Rob Conley has been a fixture in the Old-School scene for a while now. He is pulling together all the work he has done for a new ruleset compatible with Swords & Wizardry.  It has a solid late 70s vibe to it and it looks like it will be quite a lot of fun.

The Great American Witch

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/greyauthor/the-great-american-witch?ref=theotherside

This one is a bit different, but it really hits all my buttons.  Based on The Great American Novel RPG this one deals with the secret world of witches.  Honestly, that is all I need to know.  Funded quickly it is also way above their goal.  It just looks like a lot of fun.

There you have it! So much great stuff coming out!

Friday, May 15, 2020

Kickstart Your Weekend: DCC RPG: Fred Saberhagen's Empire of the East

A new Kickstarter from Goodman Games and good friend of the Other Side Jason Vey!

DCC RPG: Fred Saberhagen's Empire of the East


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1409961192/dcc-rpg-fred-saberhagens-empire-of-the-east?ref=theotherside

So what do we have here?  Goodman Games.  Dungeon Crawl Classics AND Mutant Crawl Classics.  Jason Vey of AFMBE, Castles & Crusades, AND Night Shift fame.

I always enjoyed the work of Fred Saberhagen and discovered him at the same time I was getting into AD&D, so in a way I always associate him with AD&D even though I can't point to a single thing of his I imported into my games.

This might change that.

Jason has had a solid game design career.  He worked on a number of great AFMBE books for Eden, LOTS of Castles & Crusades and Amazing Adventures (which he is the line developer) and of course OSR games with Elf Lair Games.  And yes we worked together on Night Shift.

So these reasons alone are enough to get this. 



Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Night Shift Pre-Orders are Open

Well. The books are off to the printers and we will start sending out copies to our Kickstarter backers.

But if you missed our big Kickstarter last fall I have some good news. We are now taking preorders of Night Shift: Veterans of the Supernatural Wars.

The shipping date for the hardcovers from the Printer is June 10, and we will then be sending copies out to the Kickstarter backers. After that, we will fulfill all pre-orders.

Night Shift: Veterans of the Supernatural Wars

Pre-orders of the Night Shift: Veterans of the Supernatural Wars rpg are OPEN! Grab a hardcover/PDF bundle and get your PDF right away! https://elflair.com/nightshift.html 


Get your pre-order in here: https://www.elflair.com/nightshift.html

If you want to "try before you buy" there are the Quick Start rules here.

I plan on having a lot of fun with this over the Summer.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Monstrous Mondays: Horror of the Hodag for NightShift and more!

Been wanting to do this beastie for a while!



The Hodag

In the wilds of Wisconsin there lives, or rather lived, the fiercest to ever run on stubby little legs.  The Hodag.  This monster has a wide face full of razor-sharp fangs. Its head is topped with a pair of horns and spikes running down it's back.  It's four legs are short (and it has no knees) and also end in razor-tipped claws.  It is fierce, vicious, and mean-spirited.

The hodag is seven feet long and about two-and-half feet tall. It is almost supernaturally strong, but are not fast runners.  They have to sleep leaning against a tree since it has no knees and their own spikes would impale them if they were to lie down. Because of this, they can't be surprised. This also might explain why they are so cranky.

Hodags are believed to have died out due to a lack of their primary food source, pure white bulldogs.

Hodag (NightShift)
No. Appearing: 1
AC: 4
Move: 30ft.
Hit Dice: 6
Special: 4 attacks (2 claws, bite, 1 tail spike), can't be surprised
XP VALUE: 150


Hodag (Old-School Essentials)
Armor Class 4 [16]
Hit Dice 6 (27 hp)
Attacks [2 × claw (1d6), 1 × bite (2d6)] or 1 × tail spike (1d6) or 2 x horn gore (1d4+1)
THAC0 14 [+5]
Movement Rate 90' (30')
Saves D10 W11 P12 B13 S14 (6)
Morale 11
Alignment Chaotic
XP for Defeating 500
Number Appearing 1 (1)
Treasure Type None

  • Horns. The hodag can rush an opponent to attack.  The horns are sharp and cause piercing damage.
  • Nasty Mood. Hodags are always in a foul mood. They can't be charmed nor subdued. They always attack.
  • Tooth and nail. The preferred attack of a hodag. Razor-sharp claws and fangs.


Hodag (shadow creature) (Blue Rose)

Abilities (Focuses)
3 Accuracy (Claws)
1 Communication
3 Constitution
2 Dexterity (Stealth)
1 Fighting (Fangs)
-1 Intelligence
2 Perception (Smell)
3 Strength
2 Willpower

Speed 16
Health 40
Defense 14
Armor Rating 0

Weapon Attack Roll Damage
Claws +3 1d6+1
Fangs +2 1d6+2
Horns +1 1d6

Special Qualities
Favored Stunts: Defensive Stance, Lightning Attack

Threat: Moderate


Night Shift: Veterans of the Supernatural Wars

Pre-sales of the Night Shift: Veterans of the Supernatural Wars rpg are OPEN! Grab a hardcover/PDF bundle and get your PDF right away! https://elflair.com/nightshift.html 



Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Magic Item: The Witch Whistle

This image has been floating around the net for about a year.  Figure I should do something fun with it.  So here it is for Old-School Essentials.



Witch Whistle (Witch Flute)
Summons an army of rats when blown.

  • Summons 10-100 (10d10) normal rats when blown (usable 2x per day)
  • Or summons 5-30 (5d6) giant rats when a short tune is played (1 per day)
  • Or summons 1-4 (1d4) wererats when a longer song is played (1 per day)

These whistles are created by Pagan Witches and Death Pact Warlocks. Crafted from the bone of a wererat and petrified paw of a rat.  They keep the songs well hidden but allow the magic to be used to summon normal rats.  If the songs are learned the player can use one of any of the powers once per day.
Under any circumstance, the player does not control the rats that are summoned.
They arrive within one round.


Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Reviews: Conversion Guides to Caldwen

I am still spending a Virtual Vacation in Calidar's beautiful Caldwen.  But you know what every tourist needs?  A tour guide.  Thankfully our thoughtful travel agent Bruce Heard has supplied us with not one, but two new "tour guides" for anyone traveling to Caldwen.

CAL2a Conversion Guide to Caldwen for Vintage Roleplaying and CAL2b Conversion Guide to Caldwen for the OSRIC System.

Both books follow the same format. The only differences are the systems they are being converted too.  The books cover both CAL2 Calidar On Wings of Darkness and CA2 How to Train Your Wizard.  Knowledge of PG2 A Players' Guide to Caldwen and Game Mechanics for the World of Calidar is helpful.  (links are to reviews, not the products themselves.)

The books are 30 pages with full-color covers and color with black & white interior art. Prices at $3.95, but currently $2.95.  You do not need both, but I find it nice for my own system analyses.
Unlike the main Caldwen/Calidar books the art here is sparse, but that is by design since the focus of this book is the stats.  Here Heard make explicit the conversions he discussed in the main books using the Calidar game stats.  Depending on the system book you grab, you get easily familiar stat blocks and guides on how to use the books.  Now obviously the "vintage roleplaying" can be used with any 70s and 80s circa version of the World's Greatest Role-Playing Game. Or as I have called here, any Basic-Era edition.  It is labeled for "Labyrinth Lord" but any game similar enough to Labyrinth Lord can be used (ie. only a Law-Chaos alignment axis, race-as-class), or adapted.  The OSIRC-labeled version can also be used with any Advanced-era version of the game.

One of the main features of these books is the Mage Knight class. I am quite fond of this class so I wanted to try it out.  Now I have choices, a "Basic" or an "Advanced" version.  Now the class has been converted faithfully, so don't expect them to look exactly the same between the Basic and Advanced versions.  There is no description of the powers the Mage Knight has, you still need the Caldwen book for that, but this is expected.

After the Mage Knight, we get into the How to Train Your Wizard material. 

Throughout the book, page references to the sourcebooks are given. 
So the great thing about these books is if you play a particular system then you only need one conversion book.  True, it does mean you need two books, but for me the flexibility more than outweighs this minor issue.  I am a system guy, so I like being able to have multiple versions of the same material to blend between my games.  So yeah for 3 bucks it is totally worth it for me, hell it is worth it for 6 bucks to have both versions. 

There is an obvious logical extension here. CAL2C for Pathfinder and CAL2D for D&D5.

Up next, I try out a Mage Knight.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Monstrous Monday: The Jackalope

There are few creatures that say "Americana" than the Jackalope.  Created from the same tall tales that gave up Paul Bunyan, Captain Stormalong, Piasa Bird and the Hodag. Stories I enjoyed as a kid.

The Jackalope, of course, has had the "advantage" of taxidermy where several stuffed Jackalopes can be purchased across the US.  I have lost track of the number of truck stops, gas stations or diners I have stopped in from California to New York that had at least one stuffed Jackalope for sale.  Though I admit I have never had the desire to own one.

Though having a Jackalope in my games?  Yeah, that is doable.

Jackalope
These creatures seem to be a magical crossbreed of a large rabbit and either a deer or antelope.  The jackalope is a large creature, larger than a rabbit, about the size of a large dog.  Its head comes up to about 2-3 feet, with its antlers adding another 12-18 inches.  Some are smaller but rarely larger.
The jackalope is an intelligent creature, capable of speech and is even known to sing.  It is fond of singing in the evening just as the stars are coming out.
When relaxed the jackalope is a cordial creature and good company. It will even share stories of other magical animals it has met in its life.
When hunted, the jackalope is a fierce opponent.  He will run towards hunters to attack with its antlers. The jackalope is also very fast and can outrun most opponents.


Jackalope (Old-School Essentials)
A large jack-rabbit like creature with antlers and intelligent eyes.
Armor Class 2
Hit Dice 3 (13)
Attacks 1 antlers (1d6+2)
THAC0 17 (+2)
Movement Rate 120' (40')
Saves D12 W13 P14 B15 S16 (3)
Morale 10
Alignment Neutral
XP for Defeating 50
Number Appearing 1
Treasure Type none (Jackalopes have no need for treasure)
  • Antlers. The jackalope can rush an opponent to attack.  The antlers are sharp and cause piercing damage.
  • Fast. Jackalopes are very fast when escaping they can double their speed once per day.
  • Speaking. Jackalopes can speak and sing.

Jackalope (Rhy-creature) (Blue Rose)

Abilities (Focuses)
1 Accuracy (Antlers)
3 Communication (Performance)
2 Constitution
2 Dexterity (Stealth)
1 Fighting (Antlers)
2 Intelligence
2 Perception (Hearing)
1 Strength (Jumping)
2 Willpower

Speed 16
Health 30
Defense 12
Armor Rating 0

Weapon Attack Roll Damage
Antlers +3 1d6+1

Special Qualities
Favored Stunts: Defensive Stance, Lightning Attack
Arcana: Calm, Illusion, Psychic Contact

Threat: Moderate

Jackalopes could be considered Rhy-Rabbits if there were such a thing, but they are a unique sort of creature. All Jackalopes are Rhydan. In this respect, they are more like unicorns or griffins, though some would contend as more humble and even "rustic".
Jackalope rhydan love nothing more than to hop through the land, sing and tell stories.  All jackalopes are natural storytellers.  Not for epics involving dragons and great queens or kings, but simple tales like the luck of widow's sons, or small clever creatures that most heroes would ignore.


Of course, the best Jackalopes sound like Bud Luckey from Boundin'.


Monday, March 9, 2020

Monstrous Mondays: Acolytes to Initiates

I think if I was hard-pressed into it I could recall all of the monsters from the Moldavy Basic D&D book.  I read that section over and over.  In my pre-adolescent mind, I felt I had to memorize the monsters so I could properly run a D&D game.

"Acolyte, Ape (white), Bandit, Bat, ..."  I didn't try to memorize the order, but it came with the territory.  I would pour over the Monster Manual with the same enthusiasm and likewise the Cook/Marsh Expert book.   But they did not "attach" themselves to my psyche the same way that the Basic book did.  The Monster Manual did so in different ways and the Expert monsters provided me with some of my all-time favorites.

Largely due to something called "The Serial Position Effect" in psychology it was easiest to remember the endpoints; Acolytes and Zombies.  So my earliest games had a lot of these.  Sometimes, oftentimes, in the same encounters. 

I grew rather fond of acolytes to be honest.  Not only did they have more flexibility than veterans (the "monster" type for fighters) but they could be used in a variety of ways.  Devotees on pilgrimages, wandering friars or monks, cultists, and yes, these guys.

With the Craft of the Wise: The Pagan Witch Tradition on the way, why not do the same with witches?

Image by Enrique Meseguer from Pixabay
Initiates
Initiates are 1st level witches on personal quests.  They usually travel in small groups, but larger groups can have higher level witches.  Groups of 4 or more are led by a higher level witch (1d10: 1–4: 2nd level, 5–7: 3rd level, 8–9: 4th level, 10: 5th level).

These witches will typically all be from the same coven and tradition.  For example, a coven of Bandrui witches can be Pagan Witch and/or Green Witch Traditions.

Initiates
(Labyrinth Lord)
No. Enc.: 1d6+1  (2d6+1)
Alignment: Any
Movement: 60' (20')
Armor Class: 9 [10]
Hit Dice: 1* (3 hp)
Attacks: 1 (dagger)
Damage: 1d6
Special: Witch spells
Save: Witch 1
Morale: 8
Hoard Class: IV
XP: 10

Initiates
(Blueholme Journeymanne Rules)
AC: 9 [10]
HD: 1d4
Move: 60
Attacks: 1 (dagger, 1d6), Witch spell
Alignment: Any
Treasure: 0 (3)
XP: 10

Initiate 
(Old-School Essentials)
1st level witches on personal quests.

Armor Class 9 [10]
Hit Dice 1 (5 hp)
Attacks 1 × dagger (1d6) or spell
THAC0 19 [0]
Movement Rate 60’ (20’)
Saves D11 W12 P14 B16 S15 (W1)
Morale 8
Alignment Any
XP for Defeating 10
Number Appearing 1d6+1 (2d6+1)
Treasure Type U
  • Demi-Human witches. Elven NPC witches are known as “Kuruni,” and Dwarven NPC witches are called “Xothia.”
  • Leader. Groups of 4+ are led by a higher level witch (1d10: 1–4: 2nd level, 5–7: 3rd level, 8–9: 4th level, 10: 5th level). Choose or roll the leader’s spells.
  • Person. Considered a “person” for magical effects.
Initiate
(Iron Falcon)
Armor Class 9
Hit Dice 1
No. Attacks 1
Damage 1d6, by weapon
Move 6"
Alignment Any
No. Appearing 2d6+1
% in Lair None
Treasure C

Coming Soon!



The Craft of the Wise - The Pagan Witch Tradition for Old-School Essentials

Friday, February 28, 2020

Kickstart Your Weekend: Space Kids

The last Kickstart Your Weekend for February.  And this one really appeals to me.

SPACE KIDS RPG


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/bigbaldgames/space-kids-rpg?ref=274bc4

From the KS page,

SPACE KIDS RPG™ is a tabletop roleplaying game (RPG) for kids aged 4-12 and their parents, set in a lighthearted science fiction universe of advanced technology, fascinating aliens, and unending adventures.
There is more, a lot more.  The game centers around the two design goals of Teamwork and Problem Solving and Everyone Matters.  I will also add that another, only semi-stated goal of passing on the love and joy of RPGs to a younger audience.

As a gamer, father, and educator I heartily approve of this project!

If you think about it, the "mission statement" of this game is really no different than that of Star Trek or even Doctor Who.

Plus you can get in for just 7 bucks for two PDFs.  That's pretty good if you ask me.

So check this out and share it around.  They already met their goals, but some of those stretch goals would be nice too!

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Review: Old-School Essentials

One of the hottest Old School Clones to hit the market recently has been Gavin Norman's Old-School Essentials.  Simply the game is a restatement of the Moldvay Basic and Cook/Marsh Expert Ruleset for Dungeons & Dragons.  It has combined, cleaned up and modularized.

It has also been a HUGE success.  First, there was his already well-received B/X Essentials line, then the crazy-successful Kickstarter which brought in €160,390 (or $175,000).  Now you can find it in your FLGS or for the next week as part of the Bundle of Holding.

Boxed sets are cool.
It really has been a well-deserved success.

For this, I am going to review both the hardcovers and the PDF releases.  But first a word on the physical, hardcover books and boxed set.   Gavin has really set a new bar in the elegance of rule presentations.  The books are clean, crisp and the layout is fantastic.  The hardcovers are solid and the boxed set box is both attractive and sturdy.  My wife even picked it up and commented on how gorgeous it is.

This is the new mark for Old-School gaming. These books, while lighter on the art, are some of the best put together books from any other Old-School/OSR publisher.  This includes LotFP, S&W (so far) and it even edges out Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperboria.  Sorry guys, but this is the new gold standard.



Old-School Essentials
The Old-School Essentials (OSE) is a re-organization of the Basic/Expert rules from 1981.  Thus the Core Rules feature the basic four character classes of Cleric, Fighter, Magic-User, and Theif.  There are also the three "demi-human" classes of Dwarf, Elf, and Halfling.   The rules are divided up into different books both in the PDF and Hardcover versions as well as a combined Rules Tome.

Old-School Essentials: Basic Rules
PDF only, 56 pages.
This free 56-page book covers all the basics of the OSE line. Picking it up you can see the stylistic changes from B/XE to OSE. Also, this book covers just about everything you need to play right now. It includes the four human classes, some rules, some spells, some monsters, and treasure. Enough to give you a taste of what OSE will be like. It has the same modular design as B/XE so finding things is simple, leaving more time for play. There is no interior art in this free version, but that hardly detracts from it.

If you are on the fence about OSE then this is the place to start.  Grab it and you will be up and playing in no time.
My only disappointment about this product is there is no print option!

Old School Essentials: Core Rules
PDF and Hardcover, 80 pages
The Core Rules weighs in at 80 pages and gets to the very heart of the OSE line.  The essential Essentials as it were. It covers Ability scores in general, sequences of play and all the basic rules needed.  Combat is covered separately. Magic also gets a bit of coverage here in general terms and including how spells can be researched and magic items made.
The rules have been "cleaned up" from their obvious predecessors.   The focus is on readability and playability here.   like all of the OSE books every entry of a rule is presented on facing pages.  So you open up the book and everything you need on the subject is right there.  Only rarely will you need to turn the page.
In the original rules, it took a bit of digging to actually figure out how much a character moves.  This was vastly improved in later editions of the game, but here it is very succinctly spelled out. Other rules are equally made clear.
Since the "Basic" and "Expert" rules are combined here there is an economy of word usage here.  As much as I love my Basic and Expert games, sometimes you need to consult both books when a situation comes up.  This book though is more than a handy index, it takes that notion from the B/XE Core Rules and expands it into a much more playable game.
The philosophy of the Core Rules is just that, everything you need to play regardless of the genre.  Included in the boxed set (and an expected purchase) is the Classic Fantasy Genre Rules.  This is what takes the Core Rules and makes it into a "Basic-era Fantasy Game".  So in simpler language, this is Basic D&D.  You do need a set of Genre Rules to be able to use the Core Rules, but there is enough there if you are an aspiring game designer to make up your own. Say Roaring 20s, or Space or Horror.  Anything really.
The book has some really, really great old-school feeling art as well. Just fantastic stuff really.

Old-School Essentials Classic Fantasy: Genre Rules
PDF and Hardcover, 48 pages
These are the rules to allow you to play in any sort of "Basic Fantasy" style game.  Here get our character classes of Cleric, Fighter, Magic-User, and Theif and The three "demi-human" classes of Dwarf, Elf, and Halfling.  If you are familiar with the Basic/Expert games of 1981 then this is home territory for you.  Human classes are limited to 14th level and demi-humans vary.
In addition to the classes (half the book more or less) we go into Equipment, mounts, hirelings and building strongholds.  So yes, everything that concerns players from level 1 to level 14 or retirement.
This is one of the three required books by the players.  The others are the Core Rules and then also Cleric and Magic-User spells (if they are playing one of those classes).
Like all the books in this series the layout is crisp, clean and a model of efficient use of words. From a User Experience point of view it is an absolute gem.
The art is likewise fantastic with full color spreads throughout the book.



Old-School Essentials Classic Fantasy: Cleric and Magic-User Spells
PDF and Hardcover, 48 pages
Cleric and Magic-User Spells would have been my favorite book if OSE had come out in the 80s.  Right now it also has my favorite cover from the entire series. Seriously, I love it. It just oozes eldritch weirdness.
The book itself has 48 pages and covers all the Cleric and Magic-User/Elf spells in the game.
All the usual suspects are here.  Cleric spells go to level 5 and magic-user spells go to level 6, just as expected from the B/X sources. Again, when making my recent Cleric I used this book.
The modularity again is a huge boon for this book and game.  Adding a new class, like the Druid or Illusionists? Add a new book easy!  In fact, we see that is exactly what was done.  Expandability is the key here.

Old-School Essentials Classic Fantasy: Monsters
PDF and Hardcover, 80 pages
Ah, now this is a book I would have loved back in 81.  Also coming in at 80 pages this book is about monsters and nothing else.
Stat blocks are concise and there is none of the bloat in the descriptions that appear in later editions (ok to be fair that bloat was demanded by players).   The book is fantastic with my only reservation in I wish it had been illustrated more.  But even that is fine because the illustration we get are fantastic and very reminiscent of the old school monster books.
There are also NPC encounter tables and monsters listed by HD.  The utility of this book is top-notch.
I can easily see a "Monsters 2" and "Monsters 3" sometime in the future for this line.

Old-School Essentials Classic Fantasy: Treasures
PDF and Hardcover, 48 pages
Some games merge their Monsters and Treasures books and I can see the logic of that.  These are separate books and after using them for a while I like the separated.  Just like having a Monsters 2 or 3 books, more treasures can also be introduced.
This covers all the expected treasures and includes one of MY favorite things from early D&D, sentient swords.   The same clear and concise layout here as in all the books. Quite a treat really.
That cover might be my second favorite in all the series.

That covers the "Core Boxed Set."



You can pick them all up in PDF at DriveThru or from Necrotic Gnome's website. OR get a physical box from your FLGS or again Necrotic Gnome's website.



Old-School Essentials Classic Fantasy: Rules Tome
PDF and Hardcover, 296 pages
If you are a fan of the old "Rule Cyclopedia" version of the BECMI rules then this is going to be a treat for you.  The Rules Tome combines all of the "Core" and "Classic Fantasy" rules into one large and gorgeous tome.  There are three different cover versions.  I have the foil JShields version, the Andrew Walter is the standard version and in many ways, I like it better!  It is the same art on the Box Set, so I am happy to have both.  This book includes:

  • Core Rules: Rules for character creation and advancement, adventuring in dungeons, the wilderness, and at sea, magic and combat.
  • Classic Fantasy: Genre Rules: Seven classic classes (cleric, dwarf, elf, fighter, halfling, magic-user, thief), complete lists of weapons and adventuring gear, extensive lists of vehicles, mounts, and vessels, mercenaries and specialists for hire, rules for stronghold construction.
  • Classic Fantasy: Cleric and Magic-User Spells: The complete set of 34 cleric spells (from 1st to 5th level) and 72 magic-user spells (from 1st to 6th level), for use by players or cleric, elf, and magic-user characters.
  • Classic Fantasy: Monsters: A selection of over 200 classic monsters to challenge adventurers of all levels.
  • Classic Fantasy: Treasures: A hoard of over 150 wondrous magic items.

So everything you need for a full fantasy game.
Should you get this one or the individual books?  That is up to you.  The combined volume is obviously cheaper.   But all are enjoyable.
I have a Rules Tome for me, a set of books for the table and a couple extra players' books (Core Rules and Genre Rules).



Old-School Essentials Classic Fantasy Referee's Screen
PDF only, 10 pages.
The one thing that B/X lacked was a proper GM's screen.  Yes, BECMI had one, but not B/X.  Well OSE has you covered, or screened as it were.
This product has 10 pages (1 cover, 1 OGL page and 8 pages of screen) for standard 8-panel, landscape orientation screens.  Purchase the PDF and print them out.  Easy.
The cover art is Peter Mullen's core art. So there are ways to get all the cover art...covered I guess.

All of these combine into a fantastic Old-School experience for those of us that grew up on B/X and for those that didn't.  It is just a really fantastic game.



But what if your tastes run to the Advanced end of the 80s RPG experiences?
Well OSE has not forgotten about you! The modularity of this rule expression pays off here when you can easily add on new rules, classes, and spells.

Old-School Essentials Advanced Fantasy: Genre Rules
PDF and Hardcover, 56 pages
Like many in the early 80s, I moved from the B/X version of the World's Greatest Game to the Advanced version.  But also like many, I never forgot my "Basic" roots and thought for all it's "Advancements" there was still something special about the Basic game.
Well OSE hears you.  The modular design of OSE makes adding material that is considered "Advanced" to be quite easy.  Granted this is not the first Retro-Clone to do this, but this one does it in such an elegant fashion.
Advanced Fantasy: Genre Rules adds new classes and new races. For new races we get drow, duergar, gnome, half-elf, half-orc, and svirfneblin (yes deep gnomes!)  Also true to the advanced rules this book pulls race and class apart.  In truth this was one of the major benefits of the Advanced game and that is true here as well.  For new classes, we get acrobat, assassin, barbarian, bard, druid, illusionist, knight, paladin, and ranger. There is also rules for multi-classing, something I always want to add to my basic games.  Some additional rules on poison and magic are also included.

Old-School Essentials Advanced Fantasy: Druid and Illusionist Spells
PDF and Hardcover, 48 pages
Much like the Cleric and Magic-User Spells book this one covers Druids and Illusionist spells.  Again the modularity of the game pays off here.  You can play Advanced Genre Druids and Illusionists OR you can just use the Cleric and Magic-User classes respectively and this book to play a Basic Druid and Basic Illusionist and not even buy the Advanced Fantasy Genre Rules book.  It would be better to pick up that book, but the way everything is written you do not have too.
This covers the usual suspects of spells again.  The Basic style presentation is fun and it is like seeing these classes and spells through new eyes.  It really is a testament to the system and the authorship.



These two Advanced books will fit in your Black Box set very easily.
Sadly no room for dice.



I have nothing bad to say about this set or these rules.
If I had ONE wish, and maybe only one, it would be for a spiral or coil bound version to have at my game table to lay flat.  But I suppose I could always print it out and put it into a three-ring binder.
I might just have to do that.


Thursday, February 13, 2020

Mail Call: Return to the Unknown

Mail call last night!  These were waiting for me when I got home.


In particular, I am happy to get a copy of B1 Legacy of the Unknown, the spiritual sequel to B1 In Search of the Unknown.


The module is pretty big at 68 pages and works great as a sequel to the original B1.

It is also a GREAT fit for Pacesetter's own B/X RPG rules.



Can't wait to run it.

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