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

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Demihumans in pre-2nd Edition D&D always stuck me as a passive agressive way of saying "we give you this option because you're whining, but you're stupid for taking it and really should play human".
I don’t get that vibe from race as class necessarily, but I definitely get it from the level limits that you got once race and class split off from each other.

Personally, what I would love to see in an old school styled game is a situation where your choice of race determines what you roll to determine your abilities. Kind of a reversal of racial ability requirements - instead of being unable to play an elf because you only rolled 7 intelligence, you might choose to play an elf because you want to play a high-intelligence character and elves have a better chance of that.

For example, imagine if humans roll 4d6 drop lowest for each ability (in order), whereas demihumans roll 3d6 for most abilities and 2d6+6 for two of their abilities (also in order). So if you specifically want to play a certain class, picking a race that compliments it will give you a better chance of getting high stats in its prime requisites, at the risk of a greater standard deviation in other abilities. Whereas human becomes the go-to if you don’t have a specific class in mind and just want to play whatever you roll the stats for.
 

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Voadam

Legend
I conceived of the B/X race stuff as fairly biological.

Dwarves and halflings were incapable of doing magic but were more resistant to it with better saves.

Elves were all inherently magical. This is consistent with the monster entry where they all have spells.

All of them can use appropriately sized weapons and armor.

Humans at base are fighters and can also use appropriately sized weapons and armor.

Humans however can specifically dedicate themselves to magic as magic-users or clerics. It is not a natural inherent thing like elves, but something they must actively dedicate themself to.

This puts everyone as normal fighter types except for those humans who specifically dedicate themself to something else.

Thieves are a bit of an oddball from this perspective.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
If you are doing one shot low level D&D or a low level campaign then they are fairly fantastic from a power perspective. An elven fighter magic-user or a BX elf is pretty much mechanically superior in every way to a level 1 magic user for a one shot adventure.

If you are doing a high level one shot game or a game that expects to get to high levels beyond the level caps they become poor choices in a power sense. a 4th or 6th level cap puts you really far behind the expected power curve in a 15th level module with your fellow PCs at 15th level and monsters tuned for that level of challenge and threat.
I also remember reading somewhere (I think it was an excerpt from an article EGG wrote, but I’m not 100% sure) the recommendation of playing a demihuman if you rolled poor stats, because their various built-in traits can help compensate for your stat deficiencies, and the level limits probably won’t matter because the character isn’t likely to live that long anyway 🤣
 

Voadam

Legend
I don’t get that vibe from race as class necessarily, but I definitely get it from the level limits that you got once race and class split off from each other.

Personally, what I would love to see in an old school styled game is a situation where your choice of race determines what you roll to determine your abilities. Kind of a reversal of racial ability requirements - instead of being unable to play an elf because you only rolled 7 intelligence, you might choose to play an elf because you want to play a high-intelligence character and elves have a better chance of that.

For example, imagine if humans roll 4d6 drop lowest for each ability (in order), whereas demihumans roll 3d6 for most abilities and 2d6+6 for two of their abilities (also in order). So if you specifically want to play a certain class, picking a race that compliments it will give you a better chance of getting high stats in its prime requisites, at the risk of a greater standard deviation in other abilities. Whereas human becomes the go-to if you don’t have a specific class in mind and just want to play whatever you roll the stats for.
Palladium Fantasy (basically a variant AD&D with percentile skills for everybody and a parry/dodge system added to combat) did something similar to that with race determining how many dice you got for generating each stat. Play a troll or an Ogre if you want extra dice for generating strength, though they cannot be the mechanically superior martial knight or paladin classes that humans can.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Palladium Fantasy (basically a variant AD&D with percentile skills for everybody and a parry/dodge system added to combat) did something similar to that with race determining how many dice you got for generating each stat. Play a troll or an Ogre if you want extra dice for generating strength, though they cannot be the mechanically superior martial knight or paladin classes that humans can.
Nice! Seems like another one to look at then.
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
LOTFP was super hyped and everyone thought it was the kewl thing to have. It offers nothing clever except on spell which has a very long description.
LotFP is a whole package of house rules/tweaks to B/X in addition to high production values.

It tweaks all the character classes for greater niche protection, for example, Fighters being the only class whose attack bonus progresses.

It's the first D&D variant to use a simplified slot based encumbrance system.

It curates the spell lists to make them more suitable for weird fiction and horror. No direct damage spells, as I recall, for example. No resurrection magic. Limited divination magic, so it doesn't solve mysteries for the PCs. Those sorts of things. Not just that one crazy summoning spell. :)

It introduces a simple D6-based skill system building on the misc "x-in-6 chance" abilities/actions found throughout OD&D and B/X, like hearing noises, finding secret doors, breaking down doors, etc.
 
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Voadam

Legend
Nice! Seems like another one to look at then.
I played a bunch of Palladium 1e and Rifts.

There is a ton of cool flavor and options.

Just FYI there is also a lot of imbalance in the system so decisions like race and class and then luck on stats can have a big impact on character power disparity.
 

Aldarc

Legend
A lot of the OSR community, from what I have gleaned, tends to prefer human-only campaigns. This is not to say that they are entirely anti-demihumans, but there is a lot of OSR that presumes either no demihumans or minimal demihumans.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
A lot of the OSR community, from what I have gleaned, tends to prefer human-only campaigns. This is not to say that they are entirely anti-demihumans, but there is a lot of OSR that presumes either no demihumans or minimal demihumans.
And that’s a fine assumption. The whole “my grandpa says he saw dwarves come through town once 50 years ago” thing I mentioned certainly has its appeal. But it isn’t the aspect of old-school play that intrigues me, personally. And it would make trying a more old-school system a much harder sell to my players.
 

Aldarc

Legend
And that’s a fine assumption. The whole “my grandpa says he saw dwarves come through town once 50 years ago” thing I mentioned certainly has its appeal. But it isn’t the aspect of old-school play that intrigues me, personally. And it would make trying a more old-school system a much harder sell to my players.
I enjoy demihumans. That's one reason, FYI, I lean towards Worlds Without Number for that sort of thing. Although humans are the default, there are rules for demihumans, and simple enough rules that it's easy to make custom ones.

But you could also just ignore race/ancestry and declare it an aesthetic that doesn't really impact play.
 

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