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Author Topic: What OSR games don't use D&D as its foundation?  (Read 2222 times)

ronwisegamgee

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What OSR games don't use D&D as its foundation?
« on: June 21, 2022, 06:44:36 PM »
Greetings, folks.

I just started working on an Old-School Gaming supplement for the Quick & Dirty RPG System and I was wondering what OSR games are out there that don't use a variation of pre-3rd edition D&D as its foundational system?

While the sacred cows of D&D have been a bedrock of most OSR games that I've come across (classes, six ability scores, hit points, levels, saving throws, armor as damage avoidance, etc.), I believe that those components themselves are not absolutely necessary, as is demonstrated by DM Scotty's TTRPG, EZD6.

What I think is vital to OSR gaming are the following:
- A group of adventurers exploring dungeons, where they fight monsters, avoid traps, solve puzzles, find gold and loot, and become more powerful (or dead) in the process.
- Having a setting to explore in the pursuit of one's goals, rather than following a plot laid out by the DM.
- Life is cheap and combat is war, not sport.
- The greater your deeds, the greater your renown, and the more territory you have influence or control over as you get more powerful.
- Magic is costly and is not taken for granted when used (especially at lower levels).
- Complete recovery from injury takes a while (not with one night's rest) and the opportunities to recover are not easily accessible nor guaranteed when you're adventuring.
- Probably more stuff that I haven't thought of yet but still doesn't require a D&D-esque system in the slightest.

Pat

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Re: What OSR games don't use D&D as its foundation?
« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2022, 07:16:30 PM »
I think you have a very weird definition of OSR. You're being extremely specific and restrictive, while at the same time rejecting one of the more fundamental aspects of the OSR. Don't think you can really have both.

But you could always take a look at ZEFRS. It's a clone of the old Conan RPG from TSR, using a variation of the universal table that showed up in MSH instead of being based on D&D. There are also a handful of clones of The Fantasy Trip, though they've become less relevant since it's back in print. You could also look up the various Traveller-inspired fantasy variants, like Wanderer or Mercator. Otherwise, it sounds like you want something like Dungeon World, which is more OS-inspired than OSR proper.

ronwisegamgee

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Re: What OSR games don't use D&D as its foundation?
« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2022, 07:49:12 PM »
I think you have a very weird definition of OSR. You're being extremely specific and restrictive, while at the same time rejecting one of the more fundamental aspects of the OSR. Don't think you can really have both.

But you could always take a look at ZEFRS. It's a clone of the old Conan RPG from TSR, using a variation of the universal table that showed up in MSH instead of being based on D&D. There are also a handful of clones of The Fantasy Trip, though they've become less relevant since it's back in print. You could also look up the various Traveller-inspired fantasy variants, like Wanderer or Mercator. Otherwise, it sounds like you want something like Dungeon World, which is more OS-inspired than OSR proper.

As I mentioned in the last bullet-point, there was probably more stuff that I haven't thought of from what I previously mentioned that seemed OSR to me.  I get the impression that I conflated OSR with the more general notion of old-school gaming, hence my separating it from the original system that served as its soil.

Thank you for pointing out ZEFRS, the Fantasy Trip clones, and the Traveller-inspired fantasy variants like Wanderer of  Mercator.  I wasn't aware that those existed.  As for Dungeon World, I own a copy and have gotten a lot of value from it (from a game design perspective and for actual use).  Now that you mention it, I'll have to check how Dungeon World differs from other OSR, OSR-adjacent, and NuOSR products in more than just game mechanics.

BoxCrayonTales

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Re: What OSR games don't use D&D as its foundation?
« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2022, 08:39:51 PM »
There are OSR games based on other inspirations, like Mythras and Cryptworld, but it’s mostly D&D-based fantasy for some reason. It’s probably a matter of time before we see others pop up as the woke take over the various rpg companies. I know UndeadMonk is making a vampire game that, at least from the limited info shared so far, is shaping up to be a retroclone of WW’s vampire games.

Shawn Driscoll

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Re: What OSR games don't use D&D as its foundation?
« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2022, 09:02:36 PM »
I think you have a very weird definition of OSR. You're being extremely specific and restrictive, while at the same time rejecting one of the more fundamental aspects of the OSR. Don't think you can really have both.

But you could always take a look at ZEFRS. It's a clone of the old Conan RPG from TSR, using a variation of the universal table that showed up in MSH instead of being based on D&D. There are also a handful of clones of The Fantasy Trip, though they've become less relevant since it's back in print. You could also look up the various Traveller-inspired fantasy variants, like Wanderer or Mercator. Otherwise, it sounds like you want something like Dungeon World, which is more OS-inspired than OSR proper.

Pat doesn't know what OSR is. Because Pat.

FingerRod

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Re: What OSR games don't use D&D as its foundation?
« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2022, 10:05:30 PM »
Whitehack 3e fits your list. Fantastic game.

Pat

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Re: What OSR games don't use D&D as its foundation?
« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2022, 10:56:04 PM »
I think you have a very weird definition of OSR. You're being extremely specific and restrictive, while at the same time rejecting one of the more fundamental aspects of the OSR. Don't think you can really have both.

But you could always take a look at ZEFRS. It's a clone of the old Conan RPG from TSR, using a variation of the universal table that showed up in MSH instead of being based on D&D. There are also a handful of clones of The Fantasy Trip, though they've become less relevant since it's back in print. You could also look up the various Traveller-inspired fantasy variants, like Wanderer or Mercator. Otherwise, it sounds like you want something like Dungeon World, which is more OS-inspired than OSR proper.

Pat doesn't know what OSR is. Because Pat.
What?

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Battlemaster

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Re: What OSR games don't use D&D as its foundation?
« Reply #7 on: June 21, 2022, 11:31:05 PM »
Well how do you define old school? Is it just a generic term? Do you define it by a time period?  What period? 1980 and before?

If you define old school as early edition DnD then obviously only early DnD clones will meet your definition.

If you go by time, early traveller clones meet your definition.
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GeekyBugle

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Re: What OSR games don't use D&D as its foundation?
« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2022, 12:38:26 PM »
OSR started as D&D early editions. But the thing becomes muddy pretty fast, because DCC isn't D&D but you won't find many who argue it's not OSR. So what is OSR? Take your pick of the ensuing flame war.

Traveller -> Cepheus Engine (has lots of adaptations to not sci-fi genres) For instance.

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Eric Diaz

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Re: What OSR games don't use D&D as its foundation?
« Reply #9 on: June 22, 2022, 12:58:45 PM »
By your definition of OSR (which seems a bit unique), Mythras might be a good bet (or other Runequest derivatives).

Runequest was published in 1978, so it is a good candidate for retrocloning.

EDIT: not that's EASY to define OSR. I once asked in the OSR subreddit and people rolled their eyes... there is no single answer, and some common answers (rulings not rules) seems to exclude AD&D, for example.
« Last Edit: June 22, 2022, 01:04:56 PM by Eric Diaz »
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rytrasmi

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Re: What OSR games don't use D&D as its foundation?
« Reply #10 on: June 22, 2022, 01:11:40 PM »
To answer your question: None.

I've been around the block on this question and used to hold the opinion that many non-D&D-origin games were OSR.

OSR is most useful as a category if it means general compatibility with early editions of D&D. If I buy two "OSR" games created by different people I should be able to mix and match with little to no conversion.

As for OSR as a philosophy, I think that's less useful. In my view, categories should be utilitarian. If we start imbuing categories with airy fairy ideals as to game design philosophy and play style, then we are getting too vague and the category loses meaning. Besides, any game can be played with or without OSR principles. I could pull out my red box and play it in a very un-OSR way. I could and do play d100 games in an OSR way even when the rules say different. If I call a game "OSR" because of how I run or play it, it's only relevant to me, so it's useless for purposes of communication. Same goes for designer intent.

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FingerRod

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Re: What OSR games don't use D&D as its foundation?
« Reply #11 on: June 22, 2022, 01:20:05 PM »
By your definition of OSR (which seems a bit unique), Mythras might be a good bet (or other Runequest derivatives).

Runequest was published in 1978, so it is a good candidate for retrocloning.

EDIT: not that's EASY to define OSR. I once asked in the OSR subreddit and people rolled their eyes... there is no single answer, and some common answers (rulings not rules) seems to exclude AD&D, for example.

Complete agreement, there is no single answer. And RQ is a great example.

Complete side note having nothing to do with what you were saying—‘rulings not rules’ on sites like Reddit has become such a tired expression, I almost always ignore whatever vomit salad the person saying it is trying to pass off. We’ve all read Finch’s primer. Either link to it, citation it properly, or better yet—provide real concrete examples from your games. ::)

Jaeger

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Re: What OSR games don't use D&D as its foundation?
« Reply #12 on: June 22, 2022, 02:48:55 PM »
OSR started as D&D early editions. But the thing becomes muddy pretty fast, because DCC isn't D&D but you won't find many who argue it's not OSR. So what is OSR? Take your pick of the ensuing flame war.

Traveller -> Cepheus Engine (has lots of adaptations to not sci-fi genres) For instance.

^Yup^...

OSR = Old school Renaissance/Revival whichever one flips your skirt up.

My hot take, you have the OSR and retro-clones. The OSR started out as retro-clones, but nowadays not all retro-clones are OSR...

Like GB said; OSR started out as clones to play early D&D editions that were out of print, based on 3e SRD.

OSR =  Generally understood as D&D based games that tend to be broadly compatible due to the commonality of the system mechanics.

But the term retro-clone can apply to OSR and to other games, so maybe we need another category: Old School Gaming?

OSG = System clones of non-D&D based games like traveller or d100 based games; either as straight retro-clones, or doing their own thing with the system.

Yes, D&D based games get their own category - But it started with the 3e OGL, so there.


These would be my general definitions. If you want to argue what the meaning of is is; bugger off, I'm not interested.
« Last Edit: June 22, 2022, 02:53:02 PM by Jaeger »
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Jason Coplen

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Re: What OSR games don't use D&D as its foundation?
« Reply #13 on: June 22, 2022, 03:39:46 PM »
Gore by the dude who did Labyrinth Lord. Gore is an RQ clone.
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Pat

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Re: What OSR games don't use D&D as its foundation?
« Reply #14 on: June 22, 2022, 05:09:31 PM »
I think it's less important to have a universal definition of OSR, and more important to explain which definition you're using when there's some ambiguity.