OSR Thoughts

Here’s something I never thought I’d find myself asking, especially when I recall the backlash against Ryan Dancey’s “One System To Rule Them All” at the time of the 3rd edition of D&D, when Hasbro’s stated aim was to drive all other systems but d20 out of the marketplace.

Would my as-yet-unnamed RPG, currently written using a customised version of FATE, work as an OSR-style game?

For those who aren’t familiar with the term, OSR stands for “Old School Renaissance”, and refers primarily to an extended family of games derived from pre-AD&D iterations of Dungeons and Dragons, their publication made possible through the Open Game Licence. Some of these games are simply streamlined versions of early D&D, while others put their own spin on things. Swords and Wizardry and Lamentations of the Flame Princess are good examples.

On the surface it doesn’t look like an optimal match, but there are games out there that suggest the old D&D rules can be quite flexible. Will the default class-and-level system support characters who are defined as much by their allegiance to guild and clan as by their abilities? Can you create something that feels like science-fantasy psionics by re-skinning Vancean magic?

Or perhaps when it comes to old-school rules, Classic Traveller is a better fit for what’s essentially a Vancean sword-and-planet setting?

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