What do you think of these OSR systems?

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The only ones I actually use of the ones listed are the ones I'd suggest to play for myself.

I play Castles and Crusades and in many instances combine it with either my BECMI or BX game, or combine it for a simplified version of Pathfinder.

Otherwise, I will use OSRIC if I want to, (but in general just play AD&D). In some ways it's 1e, but with some 2e ideas thrown in.

I've not really been impressed with the others to really put them over simply playing the versions I already have.

I HAVE been intrigued by OSE (probably due to all the fan excitment on these forums over it). I was not impressed with the basic version of it (rather just play BX or BECMI), but perhaps I have to try to the Advanced Fantasy version. Alas, I have to pay to try and I'm not willing to spend money on things that I feel I may already have access to in feel with the original BECMI, BX, and AD&D. For free on the otherhand...I might give it a shot.

If I DID NOT have any of the rules (notice how both C&C and OSRIC I play in conjunction with other materials these days?) I'd probably go with OSRIC (though it's more of something you use to make adventures than play) and then as a secondary...Castles and Crusades. With C&C though, I'd modify one part...that being spell saves so that with Siege the attacker or caster would use spell level (rather than their own level) while the PC or one trying to make the save used their class levels.


If you were going to sit down and play "D&D" but not actual D&D, which would you pick of these?
Any of these would work :) but probably Castles and Crusades right now.
What do you think of each? Pros Cons?
Swords & Wizardry, it has the leanness of OD&D, I like the one save for monsters and the ease of just throwing down HD and AC to get a monster on the fly that works.

Basic Fantasy, Real close to basic D&D where everyone can get the rules for free and if they want a print version they can get it for cost.

OSRIC - Full on 1e, cons of the reverse bell curve stat bonuses and class prerequisites.

For Gold & Glory 2e retroclone has mostly the same cons as 1e.

Castles & Crusades - built in as a d20 chassis with old edition feel. Siege engine for skills and saves is decent even though presented backwards for how it would be intuitive for me. Stats on the +1 bonus per two above 10 framework I believe.

Shadowdark - 5e simplified, I only got this recently and have not checked out a lot of its specifics.

OSE, the elegance of B/X including good rules, mild stat bonuses up to +3, and straightforward monster stats plus options for advanced class and race options fairly well balanced without all the crazy AD&D prereqs. It is D&D where rolling 3d6 for your stats can be fun instead of very disappointing for the mechanical impacts.

My preferences for D&D

I played a lot of B/X and AD&D and DMd a lot of AD&D for 19 years before 3e and loved it. However I don't like the huge stat bonus imbalance of AD&D, the stat prereqs and the level limits. I dislike the extreme character vulnerability of having less than 10 hp and death at 0, flavor wise I would prefer wizards having a magical at will instead of throwing daggers and I would prefer if thieves were variant fighters mechanically trading armor and bigger weapons for their thief abilities, and I wish they were more competent at their abilities. I would prefer easier natural healing. Many of these sore spots can be addressed with house rules in any of these retroclones.


Why do people play these instead of actual AD&D or Basic?

Being able to buy new books is one. I've printed material so my originals don't get used.

Also new players. None of the players I run OSR games with played 1E or 2E. It's very hard to teach now eg THAC0. 2E they can grok easier a clone very easy.

Of those I'm running C&C. The B/X knockoffs don't quite cut it for me. I would need the advanced options in OSE and the Thief stinks (C&C one so much better).

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
Because to-hit matrices, saving throw charts, THACO and descending AC are something better left to nostalgia, rather than play.

Even if you just use all the original rules, OSRIC is vastly better organized than 1E and OSE is vastly better organized than BD&D. Just having the actual rules where a normal person can find them, without decades of memorization practice, is a big improvement.

But many people discover that they want at least some improvements over the original games. OSE and Labyrinth Lord offer the optional ability to bring in AD&D races, classes, magic and monsters alongside BD&D rules, for instance.
Saving throw charts, at least, are still a thing in several OSR games. Please don't throw around your opinion about these things like it's objective fact.


"Diegetics", by L. Ron Gygax
Shadowdark is my current favorite right now. Even if you don't want to use a lot of its procedural structure, like the real-time torches and out-of-combat turn structure, it still has a lightweight but robust mechanical chassis that's ripe for expansion and hacking.

I will be “that guy” and deviate from the choices.


It’s more of a campaign setting, but the rules for PCs are updated (ascending AC, etc.).

Fairy is a wild and dangerous place, as are the beings that live there.

Magic is found in different forms. There is holy magic, the traditional vancian style arcane magic, fairy glamours, and powerful rune magic.

Dragons are giant flying (or digging or swimming) snake creatures.

Monsters come with random encounter tables, so when the PCs meet some goblins, they may be swindling an old woman, or running from an ogre, or tossing a human baby in the air.

As an aside, I wonder if setting is more important than system.

I listen to the “3d6, Down the Line” play casts, and they use OSE, with some houserules, but the PCs exploration of the megadungeon “Halls of Arden Vul” is quite entertaining, even with all the “everyone mark off a ration”, “we have three turns left on this torch”, and “I can take the spear, but it will knock my movement down to 60”.

The secret to what makes OSE advanced great is actually less in the player-side material than in the DMs book, which includes all the monsters, encounter tables, and magic items in a very concise but still flavorful format. This review does a good job of breaking down why the DM's tome hits the right notes


Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
I'd suggest a few others to check out, if you don't mind.

Dungeon Crawl Classics. Knave 2E. Maze Rats. Acid Death Fantasy. Black Sword Hack. Into the Odd and Electric Bastionland. Five Torches Deep. Cairn. Troika. Ultraviolet Grasslands. Weird North.
I'll suggest one more - Freebooters on the Frontier, a Dungeon World hack. And oh yeah, Dungeon World (although Freebooters is a more modern/better take)

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