OSR Interested in dipping my toe into OSR but don’t know where to start. Any recommendations?

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
I've spoken about the GLOG before and I will do so again! :)

The Goblin Laws of Gaming were invented in 2016 (I think) on the goblinpunch blog (see here The GLOG ) but the the most "realized/complete" version of the rules by Skerples (the best starting point IMO - it was geared towards a medieval game, but you can remove that stuff if you don't like it): OSR: GLOG-based Homebrew v.2: Many Rats on Sticks Edition

Notable elements of the GLOG:

1: Low powered - PCs who hit level 5 are expected to retire with their riches and start an inn (or gamble it away, it's up to you!). You can keep going past the first 4 levels, but you only gain a few basic advancements, only your first 4 levels give you "class powers". PC death is not rare, and character creation is fast.

2: SOO many classes. Beside the solid intros in the two rule sets I just gave, there are many classes out there that are wildly creative and fun to play. Sure you can be a barbarian or a necromancer, but you could also be a monkey dad and be a highly valuable party member. The power at every level (well 1-4) has some faint 5e elements to it. The best Glog classes

3: Skills, not rolls. the GLOG emphasise player skills - are you cunning, can you solve problems? A good plan works (most of the time) and doesn't require a roll. Rolling means you might fail, and that might kill you.

4: fairly fast natural healing - you can have a lunch and heal 1d6+level, a bit like a short rest... the "healer cleric" is not really a thing

5: Very innovative magic system. You don't have spell slots, you have "magic dice", which you spend on spells - the more you put in, the more bang your spell has! If the magic dice is 1-3 it is kept, and 4-6 it is consumed by the spell. There are no spell levels.

6: hacking and creating is highly encouraged :) - almost everything is free!

edit: I forgot to mention that it is broadly compatible with B/x and similar systems.
 
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amethal

Adventurer
That all sounds right up my alley!
I get a "best of both worlds" feel about Castles & Crusades, as an OSR game with a unified mechanic (although a +6 proficiency bonus seems more elegant to me than having DC 12 vs DC 18, even though the effect is exactly the same).

What I don't like about it is the "traditional" fantasy racial prejudice in the descriptions of the core races. Dwarves react negatively to elves, although PCs can learn to like each other ("he's a good elf, not disloyal and untrustworthy like the other elves"), and dwarves hate half-orcs. Nobody trusts half-orcs, not even other half-orcs.

I really don't like the language used to describe the racial interactions and I'd throw all that out if I ever ran the game (including the charisma check penalties dwarves get when interacting with elves and half-orcs).
 

Get BFRPG, it's a great version of BX with ascending AC, separation of race and class, and tons of free fan community support. All the pdfs are free and the physical books are sold at cost (super cheap). You can't go wrong.
 

AnotherGuy

Adventurer
What I don't like about it is the "traditional" fantasy racial prejudice in the descriptions of the core races. Dwarves react negatively to elves, although PCs can learn to like each other ("he's a good elf, not disloyal and untrustworthy like the other elves"), and dwarves hate half-orcs. Nobody trusts half-orcs, not even other half-orcs.

I really don't like the language used to describe the racial interactions and I'd throw all that out if I ever ran the game (including the charisma check penalties dwarves get when interacting with elves and half-orcs).
Most published fantasy settings have insular races, and this includes the literature.
Humanity is one race with
(i) quite limited differences between appearances (compared to the fantasy races);
(ii) can also procreate with one another; and
(iii) that also has a variety of cultural and religious separations.
And just look at us. :ROFLMAO:.

All of that is vastly worse off within a fantasy setting that accentuates differences. The distrust and general outlook is easily understood. One can go Star Trek, but even Star Trek reflects racial biases. Deep Space Nine leaned heavily into this and it paid off.

All that being said, these racial social mechanics can easily be lifted out of the base game or easily amended for any setting.
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
Get BFRPG, it's a great version of BX with ascending AC, separation of race and class, and tons of free fan community support. All the pdfs are free and the physical books are sold at cost (super cheap). You can't go wrong.
To expand on this, Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game is one of the early-gen retroclones, and is more noticeably built off a 3E chassis, being a nice blend of B/X and 3E.

As noted, one of its salient virtues is price- the creator makes/sells it basically at cost. So PDFs are free and even print copies of the rulebooks are like $5 (might be up to $6 now), so for the price of one rulebook for many other games, one can often buy copies of BFRPG for one's entire group.
 

amethal

Adventurer
Most published fantasy settings have insular races, and this includes the literature.
Humanity is one race with
(i) quite limited differences between appearances (compared to the fantasy races);
(ii) can also procreate with one another; and
(iii) that also has a variety of cultural and religious separations.
And just look at us. :ROFLMAO:.

All of that is vastly worse off within a fantasy setting that accentuates differences. The distrust and general outlook is easily understood. One can go Star Trek, but even Star Trek reflects racial biases. Deep Space Nine leaned heavily into this and it paid off.

All that being said, these racial social mechanics can easily be lifted out of the base game or easily amended for any setting.
That's the response I usually get when I bring this up.

However, C&C includes stuff like "Dwarves find inter-breeding with goblinoids to be the worst of all sins" and "Half-orcs are unsavory and contentious individuals. As outcasts, they have few friends or allies, and often live miserable and lonely lives, wary of all" which (in my opinion) goes way beyond standard fantasy tropes.
 

payn

Legend
That's the response I usually get when I bring this up.

However, C&C includes stuff like "Dwarves find inter-breeding with goblinoids to be the worst of all sins" and "Half-orcs are unsavory and contentious individuals. As outcasts, they have few friends or allies, and often live miserable and lonely lives, wary of all" which (in my opinion) goes way beyond standard fantasy tropes.
Oh that reminds me of a good story about the setting in Forbidden Lands. Everyone is genocidal, its nuts. I was introduced by a player who really likes the system. I got the startup PDF and read up on it. The exchange was kind of like this;

Me: Wow, how do mixed race parties work? Seems everyone hates each other and particularly humans.
Player: That was like a thousand years ago nobody really cares anymore.
Me: There is a paragraph right here that says, "it was a thousand years ago but nobody has forgotten. They still hate humans"
Player: I dont know why you are hung up on this it was a long time ago.
Me: Im not hung up, its what the setting description says!
Player: Well we dont have to play it that way.
ME: ok. So what is up with half-eleves?
Player: Oh they are either raised by elves or humans.
ME: Why is that?
Player: They just grow up in their birth communities.
ME: Um, according to the setting material half-elves come about from hostage parents, so human and elf communities dont wage war on each other...

I love the Forbidden Lands system I think it does old school in a much uniform and lite way. The setting though is not my thing yikes!
 

AnotherGuy

Adventurer
However, C&C includes stuff like "Dwarves find inter-breeding with goblinoids to be the worst of all sins" and "Half-orcs are unsavory and contentious individuals. As outcasts, they have few friends or allies, and often live miserable and lonely lives, wary of all" which (in my opinion) goes way beyond standard fantasy tropes.
Interesting.

I didn't realise dwarves could (or would want to) interbreed with goblins in the C&C setting. I would imagine though, out of all the races, the stubborn-minded dwarves to be the most insular and thus they would find inter-breeding sacrilege against their creator. Definitely roleplaying opportunities here.

I do agree the half-orc excerpt could be phrased better, for instance

Many consider half-orcs to be unsavoury and contentious creatures and these entrenched perceptions are often the reason that the majority of half-orcs find themselves to be outcasts, with few friends or allies. An unfortunate result of all this being that those that don't break this chain often live withdrawn from and wary of others.

And then build it up with a para of positives.
 

deganawida

Adventurer
I can only say that the physical description of C&C half-orcs didn't discourage my youngest (16 year old) daughter from deciding she was going to be a half-orc cleric. I think it actually encouraged her to play one. She's a bit...interesting*, so take with a grain of salt.

*Love her to death, but some of the stuff she finds interesting or cool baffle me. My best friend and I have a pact to never let her meet his daughter, for fear they'd team up to destroy the world.
 

bulletmeat

Adventurer
That's the response I usually get when I bring this up.

However, C&C includes stuff like "Dwarves find inter-breeding with goblinoids to be the worst of all sins" and "Half-orcs are unsavory and contentious individuals. As outcasts, they have few friends or allies, and often live miserable and lonely lives, wary of all" which (in my opinion) goes way beyond standard fantasy tropes.
I can understand that & I think that comes from the Ahirde setting where goblins & dwarves battled before the birth of most of the gods as well as Tolkien influence. My campaigns don't allow inter-species children so it doesn't really come up in that sense, and goblinoids (orcs, goblins, trolls, hobgoblins, & bugbears) are all grown from the flesh of a dead god bent on evil so there is no love of family/children among them.
I personally think the use of 'race' really needs to go from fantasy games.
 

Yora

Legend
Background alone should cover it well.
A large portion of race abilities have been cultural affinities from the start. (And few GMs would be sad to have no PCs that can see in the dark.)
 

I think the extent to which BFRPG is based on 3e is greatly overstated, because when it was published it "had" to be because of the uncharted legal area it was among the first to explore.

Apart from ascending AC (and the attendant Attack Bonus), and race=/= class, it's all BX. No unified XP chart and 3e style multiclassing , no feats, no prestige classes, no skill ranks, no d20 universal reolution mechanic, no challenge ratings, no monster templates, it even has the 5 idiosyncratic old style save categories. Correct me if I'm missing something.
 

Retreater

Legend
Not sure where you are getting the roll under idea though. You might be thinking about 1 or 2e. Normal Siege Engine (saves & skill checks) is Mod+Level vs 12+adversary HD (If your proficient) or 18+adversary HD (if your not proficient). Super simple.
The roll under idea is what you just explained.
If it's your main stat, it's a DC 12 (plus mods) or otherwise it's DC 18 (plus mods). Roll under that target. The goal posts depend on which character instead of a simple bonus that can be added to a d20 roll.
Like, just give characters a bonus if they're proficient instead of making people roll low.
SIEGE is as bassakwards as THAC0.
 


Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
I think the extent to which BFRPG is based on 3e is greatly overstated, because when it was published it "had" to be because of the uncharted legal area it was among the first to explore.

Apart from ascending AC (and the attendant Attack Bonus), and race=/= class, it's all BX. No unified XP chart and 3e style multiclassing , no feats, no prestige classes, no skill ranks, no d20 universal reolution mechanic, no challenge ratings, no monster templates, it even has the 5 idiosyncratic old style save categories. Correct me if I'm missing something.
Thanks for that. It's been a while since I looked at it, and my memory may have been particularly sticking on the ascending AC, BAB, and race/class separation.
 

schneeland

Adventurer
The setting though is not my thing yikes!
It definitely has odd and not very practical parts. You can mostly work around the problems by not strictly applying them to player characters (e.g. we have an Orc fighter in our group, but the consensus is that "our Orc is different"), but I agree that the setting is indeed not the strength of the game (which I generally like a lot).
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Of all the OSR games I've read and played, my top two are OSE and DCC.

OSE Basic because it's a cleaned-up reprint of B/X which is the edition I started with but includes the AD&D stuff I played the most with OSE Advanced. It really does seem like the best of both worlds when it comes to those two games. The ease of use of B/X but all the options from AD&D. Plus you can easily convert any Basic or AD&D modules along with the majority of OSR modules, if you're so inclined.

DCC because, despite it being based more closely on the 3X rules set, the rules they added are some of the most evocative and interesting I've seen. Full stop. I love warriors' Mighty Deeds. I love the wild critical hit tables. I love that clerics have to deal with their deity disapproving. I love that clerics have to be careful who they use their magic on and what it's used for. I love that arcane magic is dangerous and varied. I love that patrons actually have goals and want things from the PC caster. I love the details on traveling in a faux-medieval world. I absolutely love the Questing for the Impossible section. Every other line is a campaign seed. The art is mostly amazing, some clunkers sure, but it's a lot of home runs. And the modules. By the gods...the modules. So many great adventures for DCC. I think it perfectly captures that Appendix N feeling of pulp fantasy swords & sorcery. It's chef's kiss spot on.

Separating race from class is trivial. Remove the obvious race stuff from the races-as-class, like infravision, size, and speed, then rename the classes. Elf becomes Cultist. Halfling becomes Pirate. Dwarf becomes Soldier. You just need to figure out what special ability humans get. Done.
 

the_redbeard

Explorer
I never got a group to try C&C - my players were all too stuck on 3.x/PF when I was wanting something closer to an AD&D 2e experience. Now it's largely been superseded by 5e and the rest of the OSR movement in my mind. Admittedly, I never really liked the SIEGE engine - which is a pretty core component to the game (having different target numbers, having to roll under, etc.). Which is a shame because I like a lot of the art and the Trolls seem like cool guys.
There's a lot to like about C&C. I ran it for several years. A d20 mechanic and simple, stripped down classes. And the trolls do seem like good guys. I remember at one point when they got a printing press, they were discussing allowing DMs to send in their house rules and then the trolls would include that in a set of printings of the PHB just for that group. Wow. I don't think that ever came to pass, but as a system tinker-er, they had my attention.

However, I think it's missing things or has them different from other old school rule sets.

  • It has no rules for reaction rolls.
  • It has no rules for morale.
  • It has 'perception rolls' based on wisdom. So a cleric is almost always a better scout than a ranger. (Don't get me started on how perception rolls too often eliminate engaging with the imagined environment and remove interesting game play.)
  • Like 3.x, saving throws outside your preferred stats don't go up, or go up slowly (I honestly don't remember atm and can't be bothered to look it up anymore.) This is very unlike games based on pre-3.x D&D. A high level fighter could expect to save against a magic spell. But in C&C, the high level fighter is very vulnerable to a low level wizard with a Charm spell.
I had a few other quibbles after running it for a time. Mostly about editing - no matter how many printings, previous errors that are fixed are replaced by new ones. Ugh.
 

deganawida

Adventurer
  • It has 'perception rolls' based on wisdom. So a cleric is almost always a better scout than a ranger. (Don't get me started on how perception rolls too often eliminate engaging with the imagined environment and remove interesting game play.)
Tracking, which is part of scouting IMO, isn’t correct in the 8th printing, . I don’t have my book on me, but the tracking section gives either a -10 or greater to non-rangers for tracking.

EDIT: Sorry for delay, and apologies if misunderstanding your complaint..

PHB pg 66: "Non-Ranger Tracking. Any non-ranger making a tracking check suffers an automatic -10 penalty to any die roll."
 
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