The OSR Handbook
“Brent's book is exactly the reference I was hoping for when I went looking for more clear-eyed discussion of just what's in these games.” – Paul Beakley
The Old School Renaissance Handbook is a guide to the revival of old-school play in tabletop role-playing. It profiles 28 different OSR systems, describing basic mechanics, stats, and advice for DMs and players.
Want to know how these systems came about? The Handbook also contains interviews with Kirin Robinson of Old School Hack, James Raggi of Lamentations of the Flame Princess, Jason Morningstar of Dungeon Squad, Larry Moore of BareBones, Michael Wolf of Warrior, Rogue & Mage, and Sage LaTorra and Adam Koebel of Dungeon World.
Even better, the same five stock characters are statted out in all 28 systems, so you can easily compare systems or jump right into a game.
I even include .mobi, .epub, and .azw3 versions of the book in addition to the PDF.
For your convenience, here's the big matrix of OSR systems that starts out the book:
|Price||Player Classes||Pages||Elf is a Class||Monsters||Treasure||HP by Class||Highest PC Level|
|1 Pot RPG||Free PDF||10||1||No||0||No||Yes (HD)||N/A|
|Adventurer Conqueror King System||$10 PDF, $40 print||12||274||Kinda 1)||204||Yes||Yes (HD)||14|
|Barbarians of Lemuria||$7.50 PDF, £16.14 print||N/A||43||No||0||No||No||N/A|
|BareBones FRPG||$10 PDF||N/A||84||No||47||Yes||No||6 2)|
|Basic Fantasy||Free PDF||4||155||No||179||Yes||Yes (HD)||20|
|Basic Roleplaying (Chaosium)||$22 PDF, $45 print||N/A||404||No||72 (separate)||No||No||N/A|
|Castles & Crusades||$21 PDF, $30 print||4||54||No||0||Yes||Yes (HD)||10|
|Dungeon Crawl Classics||$19 PDF, $40 print||7||488||Yes||110||No||Yes (HD)||10|
|Dungeon Raiders||Free PDF||4||10||No||16||Yes||Yes||No limit|
|Dungeon Squad||Free PDF||N/A||5||No||17||Yes||No||No limit|
|Dungeon World (Basic)||Free XML, $10 PDF||4||122||No||17||No||Yes (static)||5|
|Épées and Sorcellerie||Free PDF||3||68||No||132||No||Yes (HD)||12|
|Into the Odd||Free Doc||N/A||19||No||9||Yes||No||5|
|Labyrinth Lord||Free no-art PDF, $22 print||7||138||Yes||191||Yes||Yes (HD)||Varies by class|
|Lamentations of the Flame Princess||Free no-art PDF, €10 PDF, €30 print||7||94 (core)||Yes||0||No||Yes (HD)||Varies by class|
|Mazes & Minotaurs||Free PDF||12||50 (core)||Yes 3)||Separate||No||Yes||6|
|Microlite74||Free PDF||8||28 (standard)||No||150||Yes||Depends on version||No limit|
|Mutant Future||Free PDF||7||162||Yes||Many||Yes||Varies by race||No limit|
|Old School Hack||Free PDF||7||20||Yes||0||Yes||No||4|
|OSRIC||Free PDF||9||404||No||373||Yes||Yes (HD)||Varies by class|
|Searchers of the Unknown||Free PDF||1||1||No||0||No||Yes (HD)||No limit|
|Stars Without Number||Free Basic PDF, $20 PDF, $30 print||3||210||No||25||Yes||Yes||11+|
|Swords and Wizardry||Free Core PDF, $14 softcover||4||146||No||154||Yes||Yes (HD)||21+|
|Warrior, Rogue & Mage||Free PDF||N/A||41||No||30||No||No||No limit|
|World of Dungeons||Free PDF||5||3||No||0||No||Yes||10|
|ZeFRS||Free PDF||N/A||61 (core)||No||5 4)||Yes||No||N/A|
- “Prices” are in U.S. Dollars unless otherwise noted, as of 2012.
- “Player Classes” only include those specifically listed in the core rule book.
- “Pages” lists the number of pages in the core rule book only.
- “Elf is a Class” refers to whether races are treated as classes.
- “Monsters” lists the number of monsters specifically statted out in the core rule book. Monster templates don't count, but non-monstrous humanoid enemies (like bandits) do count.
- “Treasure” indicates a table or list of treasure for PCs.
- “HP by Class” indicates whether Hit Points increase by class. E.g., when a character levels up, do you roll a different die size based on the character's class? If so, “HP by Class” is “Yes.” If Hit Points increase using a die, ”(HD)” is used; otherwise, assume a static number is used.
- “Highest PC Level” lists the highest level to which a PC can attain in the core rule book.