10/2/19

Lesser Known OD&D Games

By now, everyone and their mother knows about the wonderful, wonderful game that is the Original edition of Dungeons & Dragons, thanks to Labyrinth Lord Original Edition Companion, Swords & Wizardry: Whitebox (and its descendant White Box - Fantastic Medieval Adventures) and truly scholarly Delving Deeper with its solid V4 and annotated V5 in the works.

This post isn't about these games. Instead, I want to talk about a bunch of sneaky games that didn't get as much coverage as they should have, considering how good they are. In no particular order:



7VZ (SVZ?) is a re-statement of OD&D that focuses on the earlier fiction that inspired the fantasy writers of the Appendix N - stuff like ancient mythology, folklore and fairy tales. It's complete with a bestiary, spells and GM guidance (ala Volume 3: The Wilderness & Underground Adventures), with an old-school-ish layout and font but actually organized well. Here are some of the reasons why it's cool: it made weapons vs armor class easy with a nice mix of attack matrices and attack bonus, it's Death & Dismemberment table is excellent (sometimes brutal, sometimes merciful, but it's never a good idea to go down to zero hit points) and followed by surgery rules which make use of one of my favorite bit from the original game: Withstand Adversity (later renamed Survive Shock for AD&D).
The writing is evocative but not too verbose, stuff is clearly laid out so that a clever nerdy kid could figure out how to D&D from this book alone. The Electronic Edition comes as an all-in-one book but it used to be a bunch of tiny booklets about the size of the originals (except there's 4 for some reason).

 No cover, but it's FREE!
This one is all about minimalism. The presentation is extremely simple, you only get the stuff from Men & Magic and it's not as in-depth as, say, Delving Deeper, but it gets the job done with minimal word and page count. It uses Fighting Capability and some ancestor of Delta's Target 20 system. Overall a solid little bunch of rules which can be used as an example of how little rules you actually need to play the original D&D.



Treasure Hunters
 (can't find a link on the blog, you can email the author for a copy)

I just discovered this game and I have to say it's one of my favorite so far. It uses only d6s (or "dice" for non-nerds), with 2d6 combat and task resolution (ala Traveller Classic, without the skills). Its strong points: great layout, great writing, a deep understanding of the original game's flow and rules, but also a bunch of really good, unintrusive little rules that add flavor like the post-adventure roll (you're grimy now, and time to fix that dented sword!) or the Dwarven Poetry which explains how mostly-dwarf parties get bonuses to attack and AC because of how tactical dwarves be. I have yet to give the referee's guide an in-depth look but it seems pretty solid, covering everything important in great details (castles & domains rules included!) while keeping the wording simple and relatively accessible to non-gamers.



The follow-up to Treasure Hunters, where the author dials back the house rules a bit to make a product compatible with most D&D stuff. Sadly there's no Referee's book or bestiary yet, but it's in the works apparently. No more thief, some supplement I rules are around but very discrete, the layout and writing is even better in this version than in Treasure Hunter.

2 comments:

  1. Thank you for mentioning Treasure Hunters and Mythical Journeys!

    Neither is commercially available. They’re both free and just for fun. You can email me for a pdf if either one: sanderson2208@gmail.com

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  2. Thank you for highlighting these lesser known games! There is so much cool stuff out there and sadly sometimes things get lost to history, so it's nice to draw attention to those things now and then. While not as obscure as some of these games, I'm a huge fan of Tunnels & Trolls, which has been somewhat lost in the shadow of D&D.

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