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Swords and Wizardry


DrakeSpirit
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There are quite a few free retro-clones to play around with. Some try to recreate the art and the feel of the old paste-up publishing technique with varying success. Others try to modernize the art and use modern publishing software features to update the look of the product. They all tend to try to resurrect the feel of older rules though.

 

If you want more of a red/blue box basic expert set feel then try Labyrinth Lord (the free version has no art), Basic Fantasy, Pars Fortuna, or Dark Dungeons.

 

If you want a more AD&D 1st edition feel then try OSRIC (or Hackmaster.if you can find it).

 

Mutant Future is a Gamma World-like game but not based so much on recreating any previous product. It's just an attempt to remind people of Gamma World and Metamorphosis Alpha type stuff. (it's post-post apocalyptic so it's robots with stop-sign axes and guns that meet psychic plant people in a fort made from a former mall. )

 

And if you want to pay money there is Castles and Crusades (a dumbed down but still fun "casual" version of D20 fantasy 3/3.5), the now almost Ubiquitous Pathfinder (expensive full color hardbacks yo!), lots of other D20 stuff, and the cheap but cheerful playing-card-driven generic table-top skirmish wargame campaign ruleset disguised as a pen and paper roll playing game "Savage Words".

 

Despite a loss of some fans over the MMO-ing of the mechanics (and let's face it 3rd and 3.5 were already pretty much ALREADY focused more on being map based miniature games than RPG's as it was) D&D 4th and D&D 4th Essentials aren't terrible especially if you stick with the basics.

 

You could also try B.A.S.I.C. role playing (the old chaosium system used for Storm Bringer, Call of Cthulhu, RuneQuest, ElfQuest, and others)

 

You could try GURPS (which is a bit pruned back from what it was in its heyday but still a very serviceable system)

 

You could hunt down a copy of Tunnels and Trolls which I think pioneered the whole "opposed dice rolls" thing.

 

Ars Magicka is still lurking around somewhere.

 

You could try Big Eyes Small Mouth which tries to be the generic anime rpg.

 

Iron Crown still has their MERP and Role Master stuff going if you really like looking stuff up on tables..

 

Or you could get totally weird and try to find a copy of the old Palladium RPG with was more useful for its weird setting than mechanics.

 

Also look into Ganesha (Song of Blades and Heroes) and Two Hour Wargames(Chain Reaction3: Swordplay, Warrior Heroes) if you just want some low cost fantasy warband skirmish rules.

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You could also try B.A.S.I.C. role playing (the old chaosium system used for Storm Bringer, Call of Cthulhu, RuneQuest, ElfQuest, and others)

 

Chaosium's BasicRolePlaying (now in the Big Gold Book) with the Classic Fantasy supplement is probably my all-time favorite system. It's what I wish D&D had been all along...

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I've never tried it but West End Games D6 Fantasy is free on rpgnow or drivethru or one of those e-book pdf sites. They also have D6 Fantasy Creatures and D6 Fantasy Locations for Free along with a D6 Adventures (modern action stuff) and D6 Space. Actually aren't they all the same company? Or most of them anyway?

 

So D6 fantasy is another way someone could go. I think D6 was the basis for the old Starwars RPG and the Metabarons RPG. Is D6 an orphaned system now? If so, how sad!

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So I noticed that "Basic Fantasy" has a separate set of "starter" rules. Are there any other old school clones that have something similar?

 

I ask, because I think it would be useful to have something more digestible when I try to get my nieces and nephews into a game (using the bones from Kickstarter).

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I'm not sure but most of the retro clones are free PDFs so it's very cheap and easy to find out.

 

Labyrinth Lord

http://www.goblinoidgames.com/labyrinthlord.html

 

Basic Fantasy

http://basicfantasy.org/index.html

 

OSRIC

http://www.knights-n-knaves.com/osric/

 

Dark Dungeons

http://www.gratisgames.webspace.virginmedia.com/

 

Pars Fortuna Basic

http://matt-landofnod.blogspot.com/p/pars-fortuna.html

 

Swords and Wizardry

http://www.swordsandwizardry.com/

 

And more...

 

http://www.retroroleplaying.com/content/retro-clones

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S&W is a bit tighter IMO, but LL has "Race as class" which saves every metahuman having to track their true multiclassing XP. S&W has ascending AC which is quick and neat. "Here's the monster's AC. Roll higher on a D20 to hit him". S&W has one saving throw for all cases, which is better or worse depending on your perspective. S&W also gets worked into a lot of Frog God releases, so there's The Tome of Horrors Complete available with S&W monster stats instead of Pathfinder, for example.

 

From reading only, I suggest a look at the Quickstart. It's compact, concise, and easy.

 

I brought up old-school gaming on the Burning Wheel forum. Luke Crane, a game designer whose work I respect, reckons that a copy of the Moldvay (Ed) basic D&D plus a copy of "Keep on the Borderlands" from the same era (1981 I think), played as written, quote "Almost guarantees a good time".

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Call of Cthulhu is still the 'go-to' system for my group whenever we have something homebrew we want to try out. I won't say it's unbreakable, but. . . .

 

(incidentally, I know of a local gaming group who're using the ruleset for their Dark Heresy games. The consensus is the older system is not only more streamlined, play with it feels more like DH than. . .Well, DH)

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