OSR Fans of old school D&D, what are your bare essentials?

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
You can be fans of other editions as well, but I’m looking to tap the brains of those who are fans of old school gaming, especially of the various basic sets.

If you were to take modern DnD and strip it down the basic minimums, what would that look like for you? What are your essentials that still feels like DnD while being as quick to learn and play like the basic sets were previously? I’m talking absolute bare minimum.


For me:

6 ability scores, with unified bonuses
Single XP progression chart
10 max levels
3 classes: fighter, rogue, caster
Core races: elf, dwarf, human, halfling.
team initiative with a single d10 roll per side.
each class gets a feature at every level, but no subclasses or feats or backgrounds. Chargen has to be fast.
 

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Greggy C

Adventurer
Supporter
You can be fans of other editions as well, but I’m looking to tap the brains of those who are fans of old school gaming, especially of the various basic sets.
Depends, if you are stripping things out to be ready for young kids to play, that's something else entirely.

If you are stripping it down for adults to play, then I would just run the OSE basic rules:


(personally I would run the 2e core books using 1e modules, because thats what my original xp was on, and it was perfect).
 


Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
You can be fans of other editions as well, but I’m looking to tap the brains of those who are fans of old school gaming, especially of the various basic sets.

If you were to take modern DnD and strip it down the basic minimums, what would that look like for you? What are your essentials that still feels like DnD while being as quick to learn and play like the basic sets were previously? I’m talking absolute bare minimum.
For me, the Essentials line from fourth edition already does this quite nicely because it was, in fact, designed to stand alone as a complete system despite being backwards compatible. If you stick with only the core Essential titles, like Rules Compendium, Monster Vault, and Dungeon Master's Kit, then you're pretty much set.

And if you chose just the Heroes of the Fallen Lands for player options, then you would have just the traditional core classes (cleric, fighters (2 types), rogue, wizard) and races (human, dwarf, elf (plus eladrin), halfling). You have just a couple options to decide which powers or feats to pick every level. But a lot of the abilities and powers are automatic. And there's no backgrounds or themes to complicate your builds with endless layers. Ignore all the other materials with mountains of options and you'll have yourself a clean, simple game.

Admittedly, I was not a big fan of Essentials at the time it was released. But that was because it was muddying the waters, so to speak. Looking back now, I appreciate some of the innovations and the clean slate that it represented when removed from all the extraneous material that came before it. Minimal books with minimal options and maximum potential. That, to me, qualifies for old-school DnD.

Could I strip it down further? Maybe. But it doesn't mean I should. I already consider this a bare minimum and it is complete.
 

kenada

Legend
If you were to take modern DnD and strip it down the basic minimums, what would that look like for you? What are your essentials that still feels like DnD while being as quick to learn and play like the basic sets were previously? I’m talking absolute bare minimum.
I’d strip the mechanics down to be more friendly to the GM. I don’t think creatures need full arrays of stats. Have PCs roll over their saving throw and do something similar for skill checks. (Personally, I like the 2d6 system used by SWN/WWN.) I don’t think the numbers treadmill is really good for the players. You look like you’re getting better, but you don’t really (because the math has been balanced to ensure a standard challenge).

Otherwise: standard ability scores, the modern saving throw categories (Fortitude, Reflex, Will), and a reduced level progression. Maybe not ten levels, but twenty is too many. It’s just not worth building for a level that most campaigns never reach. I’d keep race/species and class separate. There should probably be some PC customization, but I’d want to keep it from bogging down chargen. Hit points and modifiers should stay small.
 

It depends on whic group I am running.

Generally speaking it's 3LBBs with some minor home rules.

Sometimes some Holmes Blue Book and Supplements.

Mostly it's just old school '70s era D&D fun.
 

Replacing levels with items or magic "boons" or even training is increasingly appealing to me. Levels are sort of a disassociated mechanic, whereas training or items make an increase in power or hp both require choices (how to spend time, how to allot slots in a slot based inventory) and are more closely related to the fiction
 

Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
You can be fans of other editions as well, but I’m looking to tap the brains of those who are fans of old school gaming, especially of the various basic sets.

If you were to take modern DnD and strip it down the basic minimums, what would that look like for you? What are your essentials that still feels like DnD while being as quick to learn and play like the basic sets were previously? I’m talking absolute bare minimum.


For me:

6 ability scores, with unified bonuses
Single XP progression chart
10 max levels
3 classes: fighter, rogue, caster
Core races: elf, dwarf, human, halfling.
team initiative with a single d10 roll per side.
each class gets a feature at every level, but no subclasses or feats or backgrounds. Chargen has to be fast.
Have you considered the path of Our Lord and Savior, Dungeon Crawl Classics? It meets all of your criteria but the d10 initiative, but that's an easy one to sub in if it's important.

Dungeon_Crawl_Classics_softcover_RPG_788x788.png


You can get free quick start rules from the Goodman Games website here:

 




Lanefan

Victoria Rules
You can be fans of other editions as well, but I’m looking to tap the brains of those who are fans of old school gaming, especially of the various basic sets.


For me:

6 ability scores, with unified bonuses
Single XP progression chart
10 max levels
3 classes: fighter, rogue, caster
Core races: elf, dwarf, human, halfling.
team initiative with a single d10 roll per side.
each class gets a feature at every level, but no subclasses or feats or backgrounds. Chargen has to be fast.
I wouldn't just strip modern D&D down because by just doing that and not adding anything back in you're not left with much. So for me:

6 ability scores, bonuses do not have to be unified (more important, they don't have to be linear - the 8-13 range can be +0)
Variable-by-class xp progression chart; more important is that level-up is achieved via earning xp rather than by milestone or fiat
Open-ended levels but very slow advancement, slowing further after about 8th such that getting higher than 10th is a rare thing.
4 classes - warrior, rogue, divine caster, arcane caster (I wouldn't mind a few subclasses - knight, archer, assassin, druid, illusionist - but they can come later)
Core species: elf, dwarf, human, hobbit
Individual initiatives re-rolled each round on a d6 (or d10 if that's what you want), no modifiers to the rolls, for fog-of-war randomness
Most if not all class features baked in - the only real decisions at char-gen are species, class, weapon prof's, and starting equipment

And I'd add:

Rolled stats
As many in-play mechanics as possible moved DM-side - this is the best method of simplifying play for the players
Some sort of capstone or endpoint the players/PCs can aspire to where the focus of play potentially changes from field adventuring to other things (in 1e this was name level, where you could start building strongholds etc.).

I'd add more but you want this kept as simple as possible.
 

Voadam

Legend
If you were to take modern DnD and strip it down the basic minimums, what would that look like for you? What are your essentials that still feels like DnD while being as quick to learn and play like the basic sets were previously? I’m talking absolute bare minimum.

If by Modern you mean 5e, I think the starter sets do a fantastic job of this.

Levels 1-3, a few core classes and races, stats, class powers, spells, skills, combat, conditions in 32 pages of rule book is a lot like Moldvay B/X and when I was doing face to face games I brought that rule set as I found it easier to quickly find those core elements there than in the PH.

If you mean for an OSR type game I would want stats, at least a spellcaster and a warrior class, B/X races if going for D&D, spells, some magic items, monsters, traps, combat sequence, conditions.
 

bmfrosty

Explorer
The big one is fast combat rounds. If my players are frozen by a whole bunch of combat options on their sheet at level 5, then I have a problem.

OSE, DCC, and Black Hack are my jam. DCC more for the modularity. If I'm don't feel like doing the tables, I don't have to. As far as speed goes, the martial classes are very fast, and I won't encourage a player to play a caster unless they got they are well suited to it and know what they're going to try to do in any round ahead of their turn.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
I'm not trying to be snarky here, I promise. This is my honest answer.

All I need for an old-school gaming experience is my POD copy of the Rules Cyclopedia and a set of dice.

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+
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GMMichael

Guide of Modos
Something like this:
I was thinking this:
the jungle book disney GIF

Or failing that, this:
 

Dungeon Delver's Guide

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