OSR I never should have picked up Old School Essentials…

deganawida

Adventurer
(Or “Down the Rabbit Hole of Older School Games”)

…because it has absolutely killed my love of my previous favorite D&D version (AD&D 2nd edition) or my second favorite (5e). Seriously, how did I miss out on B/X? Was it just that marketing in the nineties successfully convinced me that AD&D was for mature people, and basic D&D was for kids? If so, I was highly gullible.

Things I love (B/X in general):

1. Lower power level. I’m one of those weirdos who likes lower power levels in fantasy games and literature. The reduced HD and spell levels are refreshing. They also make more sense from a narrative perspective, e.g. 1st level fighters having a d8 for HD, and weapons doing d6, means that a first level fighter has a greater chance of surviving a good sword thrust, but will be seriously hurt by it.
2. Quickness of character generation. I had my wife and teen daughters roll up some characters for Dungeon in a Box back in December. It was my daughters’ first time. Character creation, with backgrounds and skills, took half the session. This afternoon, I did it using OSE with Advanced Fantasy. Took less than 10 minutes per person.
3. Task resolution. Good heavens, this is quick. You’re an elf and want to listen at a door? Roll a d6, you have a 2 in 6 chance of success.
4. Action economy. I hate how martial classes are now balanced by number of attacks in a round (well, “now” being since 1st edition). I want combat to be quick and deadly. I don’t like combats that take 10 minutes or more to do, as players tend to zone out if it’s not their turn. Having one attack action a round greatly increases the immediacy of combat, and rivets the players’ attention.
5. Strongholds. Good heaven, I have missed this! I love how the nature of the game shifts around level 9. No longer are you some schmuck wandering around ruins. No, now you are a power, and have the headaches that entails!
6. Modeling of what got me into fantasy as a kid. The smaller selection of classes really maps well to the fantasy media that I consumed as a kid. Thundarr, Blackstar, He-Man, that with the lance that turned into swords, The Pirates of Dark Water, all that stuff is far easier to describe using just those four classes (and three race-as-classes) than the debates over whether so and so was a fighter or ranger or paladin of my teen years (and I won’t even include kits or subclasses or prestige classes).
7. Lots of empty space. Seriously, I don’t need a game supposedly only limited by my imagination to cover every little detail. Just cover the task resolution and some more fiddly bits, and let me make the rest. The freedom in this is not something I’ve felt in a long, long time.

OSE specific likes:
1. The books are gorgeous, from the layout (has there ever been a better organized RPG?) to the evocative art (I especially like the more fairytale illustrations, the ones with the magic-user with the long white beard). The charts are a huge help (in the hard bound, they’re in the inside of the front and back covers). Also, two pages layouts for classes? Brilliant!
2. Support. Gavin has been cranking out content for it. Dolmenwood looks fantastic. I’m interested to see what will come of his plans for sci-fi and other genre types.
3. Advanced Fantasy. I…I really don’t know what to say here. This was genius. He reverse-engineered the 1st edition classes into the B/X format, and in a very sensible way. He even made the Bard make sense! Like the 1st edition Bard, the AF Bard uses divine and not arcane magic.
4. Meeting demand. Necrotic Gnome has done a number of Kickstarter productions in order to make these high quality (and they really are high quality) products available for people like me. Sure, I missed the latest, but I can still buy books that I need (er…want).

So, my DragonLance campaign has morphed from 5e (thanks to recent UA), to 2nd edition (because Tales of the Lance did a lot of work to make DragonLance feel distinct, with unique classes on top of races), to OSE with AF because the system is just so darned good and I can easily tweak it without breaking everything else. I can even take the what I learned from the AF write-ups to make the Mariner, Con Artist, and Handler classes from TotL with minimal fuss if I so choose.

Anyway, thanks to everyone here who recommended it. I’m now officially a fanboy.
 
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Musing Mage

Pondering D&D stuff
Yes, yes, and more yes. I am finding myself in the same boat.

I started out with BASIC and quickly moved on to other games. 2e was my maintsay for a long time before switching over to 1e.

Recently on a whim I sat in on an OSE game, and it has been the most fun time as a player I have had in ages. I pitched in to the Kickstarter and will be adding an OSE game to my list fairly soon.

I am not quite at the going-full-OSE-and-nothing-else stage as I still love 1e just a tad more... but I'd be a liar if I said I wasn't heavily looking forward to the OSE game. :)
 


thirdkingdom

Hero
Publisher
I do very much wish OSE had the community 5E did, or even half of it. Truly an amazing game that is just so easy to build onto.

Er, it does*. There are some very active OSE communities both on Discord and Facebook, a lot of collaboration going on between publishers that use OSE, and at least two OSE bundles on Drivethru that showcase the diversity of work being done for it.


*Well, I mean, no one can have the size of the community that 5e does, but in a very short period of time OSE has risen to become the dominate system in OSR-gaming.
 

Er, it does*. There are some very active OSE communities both on Discord and Facebook, a lot of collaboration going on between publishers that use OSE, and at least two OSE bundles on Drivethru that showcase the diversity of work being done for it.


*Well, I mean, no one can have the size of the community that 5e does, but in a very short period of time OSE has risen to become the dominate system in OSR-gaming.
Yeah, I know about its vibrant discord scene and the likewise vibrant OSR and NSR scene that supports it. Yet, I can just imagine if there were many different studios and player groups all over the world somewhat comparable to 5E what OSE would become.
 

deganawida

Adventurer
Yeah, I know about its vibrant discord scene and the likewise vibrant OSR and NSR scene that supports it. Yet, I can just imagine if there were many different studios and player groups all over the world somewhat comparable to 5E what OSE would become.
Well, remember, it took 5e 8 years to get to the point it's at. OSE still has a lot of time to grow. I know I've been selling it pretty hard to my friends.
 

*Well, I mean, no one can have the size of the community that 5e does, but in a very short period of time OSE has risen to become the dominate system in OSR-gaming.

Is OSE measurably bigger or more dominant than DCC? It absolutely might be, but to me they always seemed on equal footing in the OSR scene.
 

thirdkingdom

Hero
Publisher
Is OSE measurably bigger or more dominant than DCC? It absolutely might be, but to me they always seemed on equal footing in the OSR scene.

On a purely unscientific basis I would say they're about the same size. Goodman's bigger as a company, but I think there's more 3pp stuff coming out for OSE, even if you wrap MCC in with it. That's totally not substantiated by anything, although I've been doing my OSR News Roundup for four months and there's definitely more stuff coming out for OSE.
 


deganawida

Adventurer
Funny enough, I've been looking at OSE, C&C and B/X as one of the new systems to jump to once our 5e campaign is done. Posts/threads like this with people having similar views to mine cement my thought process in this regard.
I looked at C&C, but ultimately decided against it. I mean nothing against it, but after re-reading my PoD 2nd edition PHB, I really don't have the desire for complex game systems* anymore. I crave simple rulesets that I can add on to and tweak as I and my players desire.

*Yes, to me, C&C qualifies as complex, at least compared to OSE.
 

On a purely unscientific basis I would say they're about the same size. Goodman's bigger as a company, but I think there's more 3pp stuff coming out for OSE, even if you wrap MCC in with it. That's totally not substantiated by anything, although I've been doing my OSR News Roundup for four months and there's definitely more stuff coming out for OSE.

Yeah I think you're right about more 3pp for OSE. DCC has such a specific tone and style. It's hard to pull that off in an authoritative way if you aren't Goodman Games. I sometimes wonder if DCC and OSE benefit from staying neck-and-neck, so OSR folks can sort of bounce back and forth between them, (similar to specialty shops clustering on the same street).
 

AnotherGuy

Adventurer
I looked at C&C, but ultimately decided against it. I mean nothing against it, but after re-reading my PoD 2nd edition PHB, I really don't have the desire for complex game systems* anymore. I crave simple rulesets that I can add on to and tweak as I and my players desire.

*Yes, to me, C&C qualifies as complex, at least compared to OSE.
Fair enough. I was thinking more along the lines of the SIEGE mechanic (where the DCs for easy and difficult tasks are set) not necessarily character creation. Its been a while since I looked at it. It's mostly to replace the skill checks of 5e or when a player wants to do something off-the-cuff. I'm not sure how OSE handles it. I haven't gotten around to do the research.
 

Mallus

Legend
So how is OSE different from a system like Labyrinth Lord?

My group is switching to 5e for our next campaign, but we enjoyed a 2-year LL game during the pandemic and I can't rule out going back to a simpler system in the future.
 

thirdkingdom

Hero
Publisher
So how is OSE different from a system like Labyrinth Lord?

My group is switching to 5e for our next campaign, but we enjoyed a 2-year LL game during the pandemic and I can't rule out going back to a simpler system in the future.

They're pretty similar. OSE is a faithful reproduction of the B/X ruleset. LL has a 20-level range while OSE is the original 14 (affecting max spell levels), LL gives a cleric a spell at 1st level, and a couple other smaller differences. I prefer the lower power scale of B/X and OSE.
 

deganawida

Adventurer
Fair enough. I was thinking more along the lines of the SIEGE mechanic (where the DCs for easy and difficult tasks are set) not necessarily character creation. Its been a while since I looked at it. It's mostly to replace the skill checks of 5e or when a player wants to do something off-the-cuff. I'm not sure how OSE handles it. I haven't gotten around to do the research.
Pretty sure (though bear in mind I'm still just reading it) it's roll under attribute.
 


I loved C&C back when it first came out and for years after. At that time, when 3e was getting to be just too much for me, it definitely looked a whole lot simpler than it does today. Especially as 5e has moved away from the complexity of 3e and 4e.

It's hard to argue against OSE's simplicity and elegance - it's easily the best retroclone out there for modeling the B/X experience.

I looked at C&C, but ultimately decided against it. I mean nothing against it, but after re-reading my PoD 2nd edition PHB, I really don't have the desire for complex game systems* anymore. I crave simple rulesets that I can add on to and tweak as I and my players desire.

*Yes, to me, C&C qualifies as complex, at least compared to OSE.

I agree that DCC RPG has a distinct tone and style, but disagree that you have to be Goodman Games to do it justice. The Gongfarmers Almanac volumes, for example, are filled with excellent work by non-Goodman Games folks.

Yeah I think you're right about more 3pp for OSE. DCC has such a specific tone and style. It's hard to pull that off in an authoritative way if you aren't Goodman Games. I sometimes wonder if DCC and OSE benefit from staying neck-and-neck, so OSR folks can sort of bounce back and forth between them, (similar to specialty shops clustering on the same street).
 

thirdkingdom

Hero
Publisher
I loved C&C back when it first came out and for years after. At that time, when 3e was getting to be just too much for me, it definitely looked a whole lot simpler than it does today. Especially as 5e has moved away from the complexity of 3e and 4e.

It's hard to argue against OSE's simplicity and elegance - it's easily the best retroclone out there for modeling the B/X experience.



I agree that DCC RPG has a distinct tone and style, but disagree that you have to be Goodman Games to do it justice. The Gongfarmers Almanac volumes, for example, are filled with excellent work by non-Goodman Games folks.

Yeah, there's plenty of DCC stuff out there that's pretty amazing, Crawling under a Broken Moon, for one, is a fabulous 'zine.
 

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