Thursday, February 21, 2013

OSR Resources

This page is a collection of links to some of the old-school resources I've found around the web.
There are a couple of things that I'd like to point out. First, this post in no way is going to attempt to define what is or isn't old school. I'm painting with a broad brush here so if it even remotely resembles it, it's getting included. Second, I am an avid AD&D fan, so keep that in mind. I make no apologies or excuses for it just letting you know. With that said I haven't played all of these games or even read all of them completely. In most cases I've used the authors' and publishers' own descriptions of their products.
Like many of my posts this is a work in progress. Feel free to let me know of anything  missed along with the link if you run across something I haven't stumbled upon yet. There are numerous categories missing, such as online map generators. I might get around to them. In the mean time while your waiting for this to update test your Google-fu.

Free Swords & Sorcery RPGs

Bandits & Basilisks: "lite (lighter than Microlite74!) old-school roleplaying system, based on 0e. Some of its features:
  • No character class - PCs are just adventurers; 
  • No example spells - internet is full of them (I encourage you to drop all standard spells and switch to i.e. Ancient Vaults and Eldritch Secrets spellbook); 
  • Only two example monsters (bandit and basilisk :D)."
Barbarians of Lemuria: is a free, rules lite swords and sorcery roleplaying game set in Lin Carter’s world of Lemuria.
Basic Fantasy: "is a rules-light game system modeled on the classic RPG rules of the early 1980's. Though based loosely on the d20 SRD v3.5, Basic Fantasy RPG has been written largely from scratch to replicate the look, feel, and mechanics of the early RPG game systems. It is suitable for those who are fans of "old-school" game mechanics. Basic Fantasy RPG is simple enough for children in perhaps second or third grade to play, yet still has enough depth for adults as well. Adventure modules, and other useful and enjoyable game materials as seen on our downloads page." (B/X)
BLUEHOLME™ Prentice Rules: "is a table top fantasy roleplaying game that emulates the game play of the original basic rule book, popularly known as the Holmes Edition or simply the Blue Book. The rules in this book allow for characters of 1st to 3rd levels, and include everything the referee could possibly need to create and run a campaign in the Underworld: monsters, magic, treasure, and … well, what more do you need?" (Basic D&D)
Dangers & Dweomers: A Swords & Wizardry variant. Aims for D&D Rules Cyclopedia.

Dark Dungeons: "is a pen-and-paper role-playing game that takes you to a world of fantasy adventure, where you start as a nobody and in true zero-to-hero style can end up slaying dragons; ruling kingdoms; sailing to the stars in enchanted ships; or even becoming a being of Immortal power and creating your own worlds." (BECMI)

Delving Deeper: "is an emulation of the original fantasy role-playing game.

Meticulously forged over two long years of development, Delving Deeper invites you to recreate the original role-playing experience as it was in its earliest days.Return to a time when three alignments were enough." (0e/LBB)

Dungeonslayers: "The rules of Dungeonslayers were designed to be very basic and simple, to bring the charming flair of old-school gaming back to life. Dungeonslayers is about straight-forward plots in your traditional fantasy world, where evil is still evil, where monsters have to be killed mercilessly, where devious traps strike and where phat loot awaits, while pencil and graph paper work their own special magic around the gaming table."

Epees et Sorcellerie: "is a role playing game inspired by the rules and spirit of the first RPG published by Dave Arneson & Gary Gygax in 1974. It can be used as a return to the source of the role playing game, but was conceived in order to allow play in any world of Sword & Sorcery. Here's the English version of the game!". (Oe)

Flying Swordsmen Roleplaying Game: Flying Swordsmen is a game of fantasy martial arts, where characters use swords, fists, spells, and more to battle other martial artists and monsters, and seek out new techniques or magic to improve their martial skill."

If you like the sorts of wild and crazy abilities and moves seen in Wuxia (fantasy martial arts) movies and comics you should check this one out.

Labyrinth Lord: (emulates 1981 B/X) "The Labyrinth Lord fantasy role-playing game allows you to experience the game play of the retro-editions of the world’s most popular fantasy role-playing game! The Labyrinth Lord core rules emulate the rules and game play experience of the 1981 edition of the world’s most popular fantasy role-playing game. The 1981 version reorganized and clarified the rules from the very first version of the game released in 1974, so it is the best version to pick up and play with little prep time." Also check out the excellent magazine Oubliette.

Lamentations of the Flame Princess:
(Warning: Explicit Imagery! Recommended for ages 18+)
The free to download without the art version.

"LotFP: Weird Fantasy Role-Playing presents a sinister and horrific twist on traditional fantasy gaming."

Mazes & Minotaurs: (emulates OD&D and AD&D in different editions)

1972 Original Rules -"is what the first fantasy roleplaying game could have been if its authors had taken their inspiration from Jason & the Argonauts (yes, the 1963 movie with all the cool Ray Harryhausen monsters) and Homer’s Odyssey rather than from Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings or Poul Anderson’s Three Hearts & Three Lions. In other words, Mazes & Minotaurs is : - a nostalgic pastiche of early fantasy roleplaying games - a tongue-in-cheek tribute to old-school gaming - a complete and fully playable roleplaying game !"

1987 Revised Rules - "a fully revised, streamlined and expanded version of M&M (which became known as Revised Mazes & Minotaurs or RM&M for short) in the form of three core books (the Players Manual, the Maze Masters Guide and the massive Creature Compendium) and a fourth optional book (the M&M Companion), all with full-color covers and quality B&W interior art."

Mazes & Perils: (Holmes retro-clone)

Inspired by the 1977 “Holmes” version of the worlds most popular role playing game, Mazes & Perils goes beyond what the Holmes version provided, allowing for longer-term campaigns. Even if you don’t need another standalone fantasy role playing game, you may find a few useful new ideas herein that you can use with your other games. This PDF is absolutely free of charge, and always will be!

Update: 09/08/12 - New Layout, more spells and levels.

Microlite74: (emulates all early editions of D&D in different versions) "The goal of Microlite74 games is to recreate the style and feel of that very first ("0e") fantasy roleplaying game published back in 1974 without giving up all of the clearer mechanics of modern D20-based versions. The rules are not intended to be a clone of the 0e rules, but rather a conversion of them to a rules-lite D20-based system that encourages old-school play without strictly old-school rules." Three versions of the rules are available -- basic, standard and extended -- plus many more companions and expansions are available.

OSRIC™Old School Reference & Index Compilation:
  • It is an open gaming platform 
  • It aims to recreate 1e within the OGL 
  • Within the terms of the Licenses, anyone can create material and say it is compatible with OSRIC. 
  • No need to seek permission. 
  • No need to pay royalties or fees of any kind. 
  • See the about OSRIC™ page for more information.
The PDF is pretty big, as you might expect from something that combines the PHB, DMG, and MM. OSRIC has an impressive collection of supporting material and products.

Searchers of the Unknown: (emulates OD&D) "is a one-page roleplaying game where player characters are entirely defined by a minimalist old school Dungeons & Dragons one line stat block (e.g. "AC 7, MV 9, HD 2, hp 9, #AT 1, D 1d8 mace") something like monster stat blocks in early editions of D&D. Variant versions of SotU use D20 or Target20 rolls. In the basic game, all characters are human adventurers. Supplements add demi-humans and spell-casting classes."

Spellcraft & Swordplay: (emulates OD&D)It uses the Man-to-Man Combat Table as the basis for combat instead of the Alternative Combat System. The basic version is free.

Swords & Wizardry: (emulates OD&D) The Swords & Wizardry project builds and supports free-form roleplaying games. That is to say, games where “light” rules create a framework instead of trying to cover every detail, every rule, and every situation. The Swords & Wizardry game “clones” the original rules of the fantasy roleplaying game that started it all back in 1974, when it was published by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson."
The download is located on Lulu here.

Torch and Sword: This game is in beta form and is a "0e/LBB retro-clone". It's solid sharp and it packs a lot into 79 pages.

Under the Moons of Zoon: From Luigi Castellani, who also put together Dangers & Dweomers. Under the Moons of Zoon was born from the revamped system for Kalevala, adding psionics, weird science and much more and removing magic.The main inspiration for the background setting is John Carter of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs."

Warrior, Rogue & Mage: "is a simple, lightweight roleplaying game that allows a group of players and a game master to experience epic adventures in a fantasy world filled with wondrous magic.
Although WR&M uses three basic fantasy RPG classes in its name, it doesn't make use of classes. Players are encouraged to create their characters freely without having to fit them into archetypal roles. Warrior, Rogue and Mage are actually the character's basic attributes, which measure their capabilities in combat, stealth and academics respectively."

This is a well done effort from Stargazer Games. The art and production in this free download is top notch. They even have a gunpowder expansion for Dungeonslayers.

Wizards, Warriors & Wyrms: "After a Holmes gaming spree, I decided to produce a Blue Book Basic clone which would incorporate Meepo's Companion for extending the Blue Book Basic's game play beyond 3rd level. What I loved about Blue Book (and tried to emulate in the clone as well) was the low page count, the short stat blocks and spell description, and the quick-play rules. The 3rd level cap bothered me, but Meepo's Companion took care of that. So, with Meepo's blessing, I set out to produce Wizards, Warriors & Wyrms."

For Pay Swords & Sorcery Games

Adventurer Conqueror King

Adventures Dark and Deep™

The B/X Companion

Crypts & Things

Dragons at Dawn

Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG

The Secret Fire

Wayfarers Fantasy Roleplaying Game

OD&D PDFs  (available at RPGNow)

Free Science Fiction RPGs

Encounter Critical: "Encounter Critical is an unusual free RPG from CumberlandGames & Diversions. It's by S. John Ross (Risus and Pokéthulhu and whatnot), with added illustrations (of a sort) by Dave Insel and Cody Reichenau (friends from his gaming group)."

Mutant Future: "is a nuclear post-apocalyptic science fantasy game. It is created in the style of similar RPGs from the late 70s, but built around the core Labyrinth Lord rules so that these two games are fully compatible." Gamma World clone

Stars Without Number: "is a retro science fiction role playing game influenced by the Old School Renaissance and partially inspired by the great fantasy role-playing game editions written by Tom Moldvay and Frank Mentzer. The contents are compatible with most old school clones and are designed to be easily imported to your own favourite gaming system. In addition to a complete pre-made stellar sector, Stars Without Number offers GMs and players the tools to create their own sandbox-style adventures in the far future."

Terminal Space: "The aim of Terminal Space, supplement for the Original Edition roleplaying game, is to add a new ruleset to help transfer the game to an entire new dimension which space exploration is. Any additional materials were created with a thought on settings heavily based in Science Fiction and Science Fantasy genres than most of the materials created for the game so far."

For Pay Science Fiction RPGs

White Star is an OSR ruleset for sci-fi role-playing which takes the Swords & Wizardry WhiteBox rules to space. There is lots of material published by third parties thanks to the OGL (Open Gaming Licence).

Other Interesting Reading 

The following link [Hoard & Horde] contains a google doc with a list of print & PDF products published since the year 2000ish for Gygax-era flavors of D&D: OD&D, Holmes Basic, AD&D, B/X, and BEMCI. Note this is note my doc, found it wandering around.
& Magazine: "Free, theme-based issue of this old-school Advanced Dungeons and Dragons™ magazine, we aim to provide ideas, perspectives, entertainment, thought-provoking articles and game aids for both the player and the dungeon master. From fantasy fiction to original adventures to new spells and magic items to game theory—& is aimed at delivering useful content primarily for the first edition of AD&D (though other early editions of the game are represented on occasion)."

Check out this thread on A Master List of D&D Retro Clones The list is broken down by which edition it emulates.

Since I'm not really going to be adding every single free game that's out there onto this post you should really check out the Free RPG List. It seems to be updated continuously.

Matt Finch's Old School Primer. A quick introduction to playing Original D&D or Swords & Wizardry (the 0e retro-clone). This booklet is designed for the modern-style gamer who's planning on taking the old-style rules for a trial run -- because open-ended rules like 0e are USED very differently than rules are used in modern systems."

While some people consider it pretentious, they also say it was a real eye opener when looking into the OSR.

The early Dwimmermount play reports on

When sorting out the editions: can be helpful.

And this can help sift through the clones to figure out what is what:

Listen to some actual play on these podcasts.

Robert Fisher's classic D&D page is a good place to get a sense of the old games.

Also, Philotomy's OD&D musings:

Zenopus Archives - mainly Holmes Basic, but lots of old school goodness on the blog as well as associated Zenopus Site.

Original D&D Setting (Wayne Rossi)

Ryth Chronicle  - chronicle of an early non-Greyhawk, non-Blackmoor OD&D campaign.

The OD&D Discussion Forum

My non-disclaimer. In case anyone's wondering why I don't have some sort of disclaimer that everyone and their mother seems to be posting, it's because I have no association with any of the links/sites posted here.


  1. awesome list, many thanks for creating

    1. Quite welcome. This was originally inspired by a similar Howling Tower post.

  2. Replies
    1. Your welcome. Let me know when the Comleat rules are up and send me a link I'll updates the info here.