Bundle of Holding – OSR Style

Bundle of Holding OSR StyleRegular readers of The Iron Tavern know I tend towards an OSR style of game these days. I run a weekly DCC RPG game and dabble in running other games under various retroclones such as Swords & Wizardry and Labyrinth Lord. Maybe you’ve been curious or maybe you just need to fill out your collection of OSR products, but this week’s Bundle of Holding has gone OSR!

What is a Bundle of Holding? Bundle of Holding is a gathering of variously themed products and offering the bundle for one low price for the PDFs. 10% of your payment is sent to charity. For the OSR bundle your 10% will be split between the Cancer Research Institute and the Parkinson Foundation.

In addition there is the core offering and the bonus offering. The core offering is a very low minimum price that gets you a certain set of products. The bonus offering is yours if you pay above the current average price for the bundle.

Here is what is currently in the core offering of the OSR Bundle of Holding:

  • Swords & Wizardry Complete
  • Swords & Wizardry Monster Book
  • Eldritch Weirdness
  • Tomb of the Iron God
  • OSR Toolkit (a bundle in and of itself with Labyrinth Lord (no-art version), OSR essays, graph paper, etc)

Now a couple of the above are already available free for download, but with a minimum to pickup for $4 and helping a charity – still a good deal!

Moving into the bonus material is where it gets interesting. To get these products you need to pay more than the current average (just shy of $14 now).

  • BONUS: Adventurer Conqueror King
  • BONUS: Demonspore
  • BONUS: Stonehell Dungeon (plus supplements #1 and #2)
  • BONUS: The God That Crawls
  • BONUS: Vornheim: The Complete City Kit

I actually only had the Stonehell product as it is the direction I am leaning for my winter megadungeon campaign. But, ACKS, Vornheim and the others are ones I have been quite curious about, so this is a good opportunity to pick them up!

There is still just under 4 days to pickup this bundle. And keep checking back to the Bundle of Holding website as they may continue to add more bonus materials along the way.
This is a great way to help out a couple of charities and either start your OSR collection or supplement!


DriveThruRPG OSR Spotlight

OldSchoolRPGs-BannerToday kicks off a week long promotion over at DriveThruRPG where several of the top selling Old School Renaissance (OSR) products have been put into the spotlight. In addition to highlighting some of the best selling products they are offering a 15% off discount (OSRF711F2) until Sunday, May 19th.

There are several great products available. I have been dabbling a fair amount in the various OSR sources so I see several that I have already been having a lot of fun with.

The Castles & Crusades Players Handbook is on the list. Castles & Crusades is an excellent blend of old school sensibilities with more modern mechanics. This is an excellent system to start with for someone looking to experiment with an OSR gaming experience. Transitioning from a system like Pathfinder or D&D 3.5 is quite natural as the core mechanics are similar enough, but streamlined enough to give you a great OSR experience with minimal relearning of rules.

Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG also made the list. This product from Goodman Games gives you that old school feel with a new set of mechanics. Random tables to roll on for spells, new flavor to existing character classes, and the use of a 0-level funnel for new characters brings a fun experience to the table. I have been playing this game weekly since about July of last year and we have been having a great time with this system. The artwork alone in the tome is worth the price of admission, but you will stay for the fun.

My latest interest is also on the list, Swords & Wizardry Complete. A retroclone of the 0e D&D ruleset, S&W gives the OSR player a solid foundation to work from. Just the bare necessity of rules that have a true D&D feel. This system is soon becoming my favorite as it provides me with what I need and gets out of the way. When I want to house rule certain areas it makes it easy to do so as I am much less likely to contradict something in the base rules. There is also a very strong community behind S&W on Google+.

There are several other great systems on the list beyond the ones I highlighted. Swing by DriveThruRPG and take a look. Don’t forget the 15% off code: OSRF711F2

Do I Need D&D Next?

D&D NextD&D Next Playtest

When the D&D Next playtest first was released I was excited. Loyal readers of the blog know I skipped D&D 4e. My read through of the rules left me less than impressed and it went against the grain of what I thought D&D was in several ways. Reading play reports from other people seemed to confirm this. The era of D&D 4e was spent with me playing Pathfinder. I have no axe to grind against D&D 4e, I fully appreciate that many people enjoyed the system and anything that brings more people to RPGs in general is a good thing.

Back to the initial playtest release. I read the whole thing and I was quite enthused. It really seemed to get back to a rules-light feel. I was excited to get some playtests going. Scheduling issues got in the way about that time and soon the second iteration of the playtest was out. Terminology was starting to creep in that turned me off a bit to the direction things appeared to be heading. Healing sticks out to me as a big point of contention for me. There were certainly others.

As the playtests kept coming out I started to feel less and less like D&D Next was going to be for me. The complexity went up and it seemed to drift from what the first playtest was significantly. My eyes began to glaze over as I tried to read later iterations of the playtest.

The thing the D&D Next playtest taught me is that I wanted a rules-light ruleset. The first iteration if the playtest taught me that. This is what really led me to start looking at systems of the OSR variety.

DCC RPG Limited Edition CoverDungeon Crawl Classics RPG

First was Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG. I bought DCC RPG because of the art. I stayed because of the craziness that is DCC RPG. I really enjoy DCC RPG because I think it throws those that are long time gamers off their game. The randomness makes us think again. We can’t assume things will work as expected. It makes things fresh, it makes things crazy.

And while I really like DCC RPG, I am not sure it is ready to be my default game. One, because my son who I tend to play RPGs with on the weekends is not that into it. He is not a big fan of the randomness, he wants his spells to work as he expects them. I get where he is coming from. I’ve cast magic missile as a wizard hundreds of times. DCC RPG makes magic missile fun again because I never know exactly how it is going to manifest itself in DCC RPG! But for my son, still new to RPGs, he wants magic missile to work the way the spell description says it will. He doesn’t need the randomness to that degree in his game.

OSR Rule Sets

That left me to finding a set that let me play a more traditional “D&D” game. This area is filled with excellent possibilities. Castles & Crusades, Labyrinth Lord, OSRIC, Basic Fantasy, Blueholmes, Swords and Wizardry, and more. All of these rule sets are light in nature and have a classic D&D feel. I am still making my way through them to find my default rule set, but all of them give me the feeling I had when I first read the D&D Next playtest.

D&D Next?

Several folks have said if I liked the first iteration of the playtest then to be patient as that will exist in the core form of D&D Next. But why wait? I don’t *need* D&D Next to get the feel I want from a D&D game. There are many excellent options out there already!

There is no need to wait another year to see what is released as the next version of D&D. Between the OSR rule sets I mentioned above there are already many rules that hit the feel I want and at a very reasonable price (sometimes free).

The basic D&D Next is going to have to compete against these already released products. Products that are already excellent and available. Even if I wanted to play the D&D brand name, I could easily grab the Moldvay PDF from RPGNow and use it. It is out now and hits the feel I want in a fantasy genre game. D&D Next is irrelevant to me. The first playtest packet showed me the feel that I wanted. It also made me realize I do not need to wait for D&D Next to be released to get that feel.

I will take another look when D&D Next is finally released. For now though, I already have enough OSR systems that hit the target for the game I want to play. I am not sure what niche D&D Next would fill for me.

OSR as a State of Mind

The post below is written by Shortymonster, a guest blogger for The Iron Tavern.

Every RPG could be an OSR game, it’s all a state of mind.

I want to start by saying that I do not consider myself to be a part of the Old School Renaissance (OSR)  movement; when I came into gaming it was with such systems as Vampire: the Masquerade, Cyberpunk 2020, and a mate’s home-brew system heavily inspired by Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series. All these were quite crunchy systems, and as a new gamer, I liked that. It was comforting to know that if I wanted to try something out that there was a rule to cover it, or at least a guideline to give the GM a position to adjudicate from. As time moved on and I grew as a player, there was always a room in my heart for games like this. I’m still using CP2020 as a system for my next campaign, and although the World of darkness has fallen out of my favour, I still like Gothic horror games with a bit of crunch, such as Unhallowed Metropolis.

What has changed however is that I’m spending more and more of my time as a GM to the point that I spend more time running games than playing in them. Quite often these days I feel the need to ignore rules in favour of maintaining the flow of the story. Some may think this might not be in the spirit of fair play to my players, but I promise one thing, if I drop a rule for them, that same rule drop applies to all the NPCs too, and vice versa. Often I’m not dropping a rule because it doesn’t work, or because leaving it in gets in the way of me telling the story I want to tell, but because it gets in the way of the free flow of play. This is something that should be just as much of a concern to me as it is to my players, but they should never have to deal with, in fact it should happen so seamlessly that they shouldn’t even notice it.

This to me is the essence of the OSR; finding a set of rules that allows – nay, encourages – the GM to make on the spot decisions about character and NPC actions without having to check through countless chapters and tables to get the answer from the rules. This doesn’t mean the rules should be ignored unilaterally, just that they can be put aside when they become an inconvenience. Quite often, they wouldn’t exist in the first place to slow things down, as the game designer could trust the GM to make the right calling. So, why don’t fans of OSR just run any game they choose like that?

If I didn’t like the combat resolution system in CP2020 I would ditch the needlessly complicated rules and come up with something that allowed faster resolution of a fight but didn’t get in the way of my players performing the actions they think they should be able to. And you know what, I don’t like it, so I did change it. My way is way quicker, easier to explain, and opens up combat for the players to take a bit more of the initiative with what they would like their characters to do. This seems to be in line with a lock of hacks I’ve read about, people taking a setting they like, and retro-cloning the rules the fir an easier or more comfortable play style.

To be fair, a lot of the adventures I run don’t have much in common with what most people think of when you mention OSR. As an example, I don’t do dungeon crawls. I find them a bit boring and they only exist for me as a way of having a laugh at the expense of the preconceptions of the genre. I will be running Something Went Wrong for instance, but not because I like dungeon crawls; because I love the multi GM aspect and the fact that it makes fun of the genre in a pleasingly light-hearted way. For the very same reason, I’m a big fan of the Munchkin card game.

So, to fans of OSR games, and I know there’s a load of you out there, I would like to say that I love what you do, and the effort you go to just to keep your ideal play style and rule sets going – when I see free RPGs out there in an OSR style, I grab them up quick and love reading them and thinking about what I could do with them – I think I’ll just keep playing whatever game I choose, and keep the OSR feel going by how I run the game, and how my group plays it. And a big thank you to folks of a like mind out there, who keep on hacking things to fit the way want to play; you’re saving me a ton of work.


Shortymonster is new to this blogging lark, but if you have enjoyed what you’ve just read, head on over to his own site and take a look at his thoughts on a variety of subjects across the spectrum of role playing games.