One of my favourite OSR games is Pits and Perils. (I have a short review on my blog.) Unlike many other OSR games it doesn’t start with D&D and move on from there. Instead, it feels like a game that could have developed instead of Original D&D in 1974. It’s all 2d6 rolls and feels like an RPG coming out of a world of war gaming. Really well done and evocative! A fun simple game to play and teach. (Their other games are cool too.)
Malcom Craig’s Hot War. The setting is bleak and horrible and full of factional and inter-party conflict. The rules drive that.
Rafael Chandler’s gonzo demonhunting gorefest Pandemonio for being a gonzo demonhunting gorefest.
Chad Underkoffler’s Swashbucklers of the Seven Skies was a delight. A nice high fantasy setting with a fun system full of duels, magic and skyships. Good times.
More that have come up as I have been thinking about this.
Punk’s Been Dead Since '79 is a game about discovering yourself in a terrible punk scene in the middle of nowhere Midwest.
WHAT. How does this exist and how has no one told me about it?
I’m not sure if it qualifies as little known, but I just discovered and fell in love with Elizabeth Chaipraditkul’s Familiars of Terra.
It is a mix of fantasy-science fiction type setting where each person has an animal familiar. You are a Seeker, trying to help people and the land recover from a devestating war. The world has advanced tech like cyborgs, but a lot of weapons were locked down after the war so it feels like a mix of tech levels.
The game hits a balance I love and rarely find of idealism/fun mixed in with some serious themes. The world has some twisted, dark elements, but you focus on empathy and compassion and rebuilding.
Also, I mean, you create basically any animalkin familiar you want with special powers, so that’s fun.
This is a true oldie, but I have fond memories of Psi World, an RPG published by Fantasy Games Unlimited back in 1984.
I really like my game Conjure Hagalaz
Every game i’ve run the players enjoyed, however due to the lack of kickstarter it has successfully flown completely under the radar. Huzzah!
For other games… hmm Witch is Dead by Grant Howitt.
It’s a poverty simulator, a game of economic horror where the world ended but the rent is still due. This game gives your characters a reason to go into those ‘dungeons’ (in this case, the infested dangerous regions of the Loss) and bring back the loot, and gives you a reason to keep on doing it till you buy yourself and the ones who depend on you a better life - or until debt, danger and death brings you crashing down.
A wonderful mechanic for finding jobs and negotiating contracts, a crunchy system that abstracts enough to keep it fluid and tracks enough to keep it meaningful, RM provides for excellent tensions that go beyond mere hit points or sanity trackers. When the job goes wrong, do you cut your losses or double down? You’re not a party of heroes, you’re co-workers in a hostile environment.
Mainly I love that the gear/resource management is just crunchy enough to be fun and light enough to never get in the way - and that finally, a game where ‘money units’ actually mean something beyond buying sick loot. Got to save for Retirement, as people don’t get old by going over the wall…
My hope is to run a 5 part mini-campaign on the Gauntlet at some point My favourite AP of all time is the Fallen Flag campaign I linked above, but for a shorter, funnier listening experience there’s also theOne Shot Podcast run.