Why do you use the OSR system you use?

Which system do you use to do OSR dungeons/hex crawls/modules? What attracts you to it? What have you had to hack/house rule to make it work for you?

@shane testing y’all’s @ feauture but also on mobile chrome this wants to autofill my address in this section.


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In the past I’ve mostly played Original D&D (like the 1974 little brown books version) or Lamentations of the Flame Princess (which is a take on Basic/Expert D&D). LotFP is meant to be all about weird horror, but I think it’s a nice tidy system even if that’s not your bag. I like OD&D because it’s very simple, and very open ended. Part of the fun of coming up with a campaign is figuring out how to plug the holes in OD&D with rules that might make sense for the campaign you’re running.

There are other simple systems I’m quite fond of as well: Maze Rats, Knave, The Black Hack, and Troika. I want to play more Troika in 2019. Let’s see if it happens.


Well said! All I can possibly add is Into to the Odd as well. :wink:


I don’t like LotFP because I find that the skill system makes characters bound to fail when they try most creative solutions.

I have been playing WoD but it tends to feel more pbta than osr to me.

I have enjoyed the Black Hack, but I want to try some other systems.


Into the Odd is my favorite to hack for new games/settings, but I like to run it as is for OSR fantasy dungeons. I do sometimes wish it were just slightly easier to run on the GM side, but I like The Black Hack largely for that reason.


I’m presently using my homebrew ruleset for OSR play. It’s a mashup of The Black Hack editions, with bits from Whitehack, Macchiato Monsters, Dungeon World, Knave, and Wonder & Wickedness magic.


I use World of Dungeons because it’s easy to teach and play. I like the simplicity, availability, and curve of 2d6. I like the mixed results gradient that’s still easy to remember. I like discussing the stakes before a decision is made. I like avoiding the dice with fictional positioning. I like that there’s only one resolution mechanic to remember.

I prefer skills/traits to provide advantage (best 2 of 3d6) rather than bumping up success results. The rest mechanic is a little weird. The XP system requires a little fiddling based on the context. The magic system isn’t for everybody.

I’d like to try using WoDu or a hack of it to actually play an extended campaign beyond just 1-3 sessions.


I’m still trying things out and learning what I like. Tiny Dungeon and Dungeons and Delvers are two that I’ve tried that haven’t been mentioned. I’m also currently exploring Black Hack 2e.


For one-shots I really like Maze Rats for its simplicity and because the mechanics reinforce the idea if solving problems narratively by describing how the character interacts with the fictional world. If you go to the dice you will probably fail - unless you use a feature of the world (including the characters background) to your advantage. Re: LotFP: I read the rules about 5 times before I realized that there is no general task resolution, no target numbers to roll or stats to roll under which again reminds players and the referee to look at problem non-mechanically (one of the reasons I don’t like the Black Hack). @Ignotus: I think the skill system is meant to be used in extreme situations, you don’t roll to successfully swim, you roll when trying to outswim a shark.


I’d love to try Maze Rats and Troika, which I’ve heard so much about. Ping me if you run a game, eh?


I’m always up for running a gonzo game of Troika!


@HorstWurst but extreme situations come up all the time in OSR games, no?


I guess this should be in RPG goals but one thing I want to do this year is systematically try a bunch of OSR systems and come to a more informed view about what I want and like.


@Ignotus True! I guess the skill system is a bit weird, it seems mostly to be there in place in order to give the Specialist a reason to spend their points. On the other hand the selection of skills is so peculiar that they won’t cover most spectacular situations anyways. And if Sleight of Hand or Tinkering would be a way to save the day then it’s probably the moment for the Specialist to shine.


Into the Odd. For me it is the bare minimum of rules to play an OSR game.
What I love about it:

  • very deadly
  • great (random) character creation
  • balanced characters (bad stats give you better equipment)
  • quirky magic objects (arcana)
  • very hackable

"Re: LotFP: I read the rules about 5 times before I realized that there is no general task resolution, no target numbers to roll or stats to roll under which again reminds players and the referee to look at problem non-mechanically (one of the reasons I don’t like the Black Hack). " -HorstWurst

Hey, Horst
Do you mind expanding on this thought about Black Hack? Do you dislike the abilities gained by each class? That they pull away from making creative choices in game - or is it something else? Not trying to be argumentative, just interested in your POV on this.


Hey @Sherm, it definitely has more to do with my personal preferences than with any shortcomings of the system itself. I think TBH is super elegant and there is no doubt that it is a proper old school game (rolling under has been around as an option since B/X). It’s just that as the GM I am more inclined to call for a roll to decide the outcome of an action if there is a general task resolution system in place. For an experienced GM that probably shouldn’t matter but for me I’d rather have a system that disfavors rolling the dice: in Maze Rats the odd are against the players rolling the dice whereas in TBH they will most likely succeed and in LotFP there isn’t a general task resolution system to fall back on at all. In both systems the advice is to reward clever solutions and to be generous in judging whether a purely narrative solution should succeed, whereas with TBH I would probably say: That sounds reasonable, roll on your Stat.


Where do you think Into The Odd falls into that categorization @HorstWurst?


Probably somewhere in between. I’ve played it once and really liked it. Only rolling damage is super smart, speeds everything up and turns combat into a strategic situation where the decision when to cut your losses or to press on is much more urgent.
In slightly related matters: I can’t wait for Bastionland, it might provide the perfect inspiration for a campaign in the Bas-Lag universe. (I had high hopes for the fan project to turn Blades in the Dark into Blades of New Crobuzon but that seemed to have fizzled out)