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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.

Buy the OSR Handbook at DriveThruRPG now for US$6.99

For your convenience, here's the big matrix of OSR systems that starts out the book:

PricePlayer ClassesPagesElf is a ClassMonstersTreasureHP by ClassHighest 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.


In ACKS, race and class are separate, but all classes are race-specific. An elf can only choose an elf class.
Each of BareBones' 8 skills can have up to 6 levels, so if you count that way, each character technically maxes out at 48 levels.
Mazes & Minotaurs has racial classes, but no actual elves.
ZeFRS assumes that PCs face human opponents, so there are no “monsters” per se.
osr_handbook.txt · Last modified: 2015/12/18 09:52 by brent