A Sack of Resources for Old School Adventures
This weekend I’m running a one-shot adventure for a group of friends, and in pursuit of a D&D-esque system which would get out of the way, but also give that feeling of weird glorious number-crunching corner-peeking treasure-hoisting spider-escaping potion-slurping joy I remember from my first games with D&D 3rd Edition in high school, I discovered Ben Milton’s perfect confection Knave. Milton seems to be a big name in the OSR community, to which I am only a newcomer. All I can say is that Knave, and Milton’s other game Maze Rats, just really hit that system sweet spot for me. I think it might be because Milton plays his games with high schoolers. They still feel electric, y’know?
After discovering Knave, I went on a rampage through the TRPG Internet, and in the interests of being able to return to these things myself, here’s my treasure hoard, my haul. I’m expecting a lot of XP when I drag this sack back into town, believe me.
- Labyrinth Lord, a huge and wonderfully comprehensive emulation of the D&D Basic Set and D&D Expert Set of the 1980s.
- Basic Fantasy RPG, an old-school style open source system
- Low Fantasy Gaming, another old-school style system but one specifically designed to emulate a low-magic world
- Knave Rats, a fusion of Milton’s Knave and Maze Rats by u/Kalahan
- 12 Micro RPGs on 2 sheets of paper, compiled by u/Kalahan
- Stonetop, a “hearth fantasy” hack of Dungeon World by Jeremy Strandberg, still in development. The ideas are brilliant, new, and beautiful, and I’m so excited for it. It’s also being published by Lampblack & Brimstone, who make Good Things.
- A Bestiary for Knave by Nate Treme of Highland Paranormal Society
- A bestiary of monsters from Irish folklore, adapted for Knave by u/Kerbobotat
- Lawbreaker, a Knave character generator
- An alternative and gorgeous character sheet for Knave by Ossian Borén
- Knave on 1 sheet of paper, compiled by u/Kalahan. Very handy.
- Knacks, a hack to bring specialisation into Knave without bringing in classes, by Brian V. Molina.
- A massive collection of neat hacks, embellishments, and extensions for Knave by Buildings Are People (also a great blog for OSR goodness)
- Glaive, another set of Knave hacks and optional rules by Camping with Owlbears.
- Rakehell, an original, dark adventure and setting zine for Knave, beautifully written in High Weird. Reminds me of one of my favourite video games, Caves of Qud. Now there’s a setting worth playing.
- Overloading the Encounter Die by Necropraxis, a rule for more interesting and dynamic exploration that I look forward to trying out. It’s incorporated into the ruleset by Buildings Are People, I think.
- The Quintessential Dungeon, a perfect, charming, and gorgeously drawn one-page dungeon by Beholder Pie, which feels to me like being in high school again.
- Tomb of the Serpent Kings by Coins and Scrolls, a ‘tutorial’ dungeon ideal for new players which cleverly teaches the basics of D&D.
- Goblin Punch’s Bestiary, over two hundred and seventy new monsters. That’s a whole new Monster Manual.
- Some good advice and links to more resources on creating OSR monsters
- The frankly absolutely essential Monster Menu-All by Coins and Scrolls, a fully developed guidebook for cooking and eating every single monster in the 1977 AD&D Monster Manual.
- An automated visual monster concept generator based on Michael Raston’s Fantastical Beast Generator, to force us to think outside every box.
Items, treasure, herbs, &c.
- Treasure by Courtney Campbell, a complete overhaul of the old-school D&D treasure system full of imaginative, evocative, and realistic items - so damn good.
- The Loot Table, by Kelvin Green, remixed by the venerable Dyson. Roll dice, get loot - ideal, quick, and fun.
- A simple and straightforward set of random treasure tables which likewise do much to make rolling for treasure not a chore, by Michael Raston.
- The comprehensive, imaginative, absolutely quite lovely and strange Herb & Plant Generator by d4caltrops. Use it!
- A whole slew of really good DM aids by Dungeons and Possums, including my absolute favourite, the ‘Stop Making Boring Gems’ chart, complete with color synonyms, jewels sorted by color, and a glossary of gem cuts.
- Alchemy & Oozes by Goblin Punch, a brilliant, frankly necessary collection of potions for old-school D&D. Cleverly, the ‘basic 20’ potions are numbered 1-20 on the list of 100, which I really appreciate.
- A thread of ‘best tables at the table’ with lots of great links.
- Wonder & Wickedness by Lost Pages, a level-less magic system. Looks intersting, but I haven’t looked through it yet. Level-less magic systems are always the way to go anyway!
- 200 Failed Medieval Careers by 10 Foot Polemic (a particularly wonderful blog title), everything you’ll ever need to discover who you were before you became the sort of person who spends all their afternoons running away from spiders.
Tools and utilities
- Mipui, a dungeon mapping tool.
- The FreeD&DArt Repository, lovingly collected, beautiful and creepy public domain old-school-style art, from where I derived the little fellow in this blog’s sidebar.
- A list of all the fonts that TSR used for their books, for us typography nerds.