The following is the first revised and expanded version of the list of major old school fantasy RPGs and retroclones for Microlite74 Version 3.0. I’d added many of the games listed in comments on the original post a few days ago. (Some were omitted because I did not think they fit this list or, in a couple of cases, did not know enough about the game to be sure it was a good fit) I haven’t found a better/more complete list on the Internet than this one, but I’m still looking to improve it. If you know of any I’m missing or wish to advocate for any of the ones mentioned in comments to the previous post, please comment. Thank you!
Old School Games and Retro-Clones
Microlite74 is designed to be an introduction to “old school” gaming for players more familiar with the 3.x version of the world’s most popular fantasy roleplaying game. While I’ve tried to design Microlite74 for long running campaigns, if you find the “old school” style of play espoused by Microlite74 fun you may want to move to one of the original games or one of their retro-clones.
What is a retro-clone? The OGL has allowed fans to recreate the rules of older, out of print editions of the world’s most popular fantasy roleplaying game. These are usually called “retro-clones” because they are “clones” of the rules to older (“retro”) editions of the world’s most popular fantasy roleplaying game. Most retro-clones have free PDF versions and most have nicely bound printed copies available for a very reasonable price. Retro-clones allow play of an older, out-of-print game system without the trouble and expense of tracking down a copy of an out-of-print game. While no retro-clone is an exact copy of an earlier game, they generally are close to identical in play.
0e and Retro-Clones
0e: The Original Game
The original 0e booklets and supplements can be found at auction on eBay or RPG Marketplace or at specialists like Noble Knight Games, but they are generally very expensive collectibles. Some excellent third party 0e adventures (and an excellent campaign setting) from the late 1970s are also available in PDF format. These adventures could easily be used with Microlite74 or a 0e retro-clone – and converted for use with any other early edition/retro-clone with only a little effort.
Original Edition Characters (for Labyrinth Lord)
Original Edition Characters is a supplement for Labyrinth Lord (see the B/X and Retro-clones section below). It modifies the Labyrinth Lord rules to emulate the 0e game.
Microlite74 is a restatement of 0e using a very light version of the 3.x rules (Microlite20) as a base. You are holding the Basic Version in your hands. Microlite74 Basic covers the original 0e boxed set. Microlite74 Standard overs the original 0e boxed set and supplements. Microlite74 Extended adds a number of house rules and other material the author was using in the late 1970s to overs the original 0e boxed set and supplements. Microlite74 Companion volumes add optional rules, detailed spell, monster, and treasure information, and other material which can generally be used with any version of Microlite74.
Swords & Wizardry
Swords & Wizardry is an OGL retro-clone of the 0e version from the mid-1970s, the same edition Microlite74 is loosely based on. Sword & Wizardry is handy for complex spell and monster descriptions for use with Microlite74 as well as a great game itself. The spell lists and monsters can be used as drop in replacements for those listed in Microlite74. There are three versions of this game. One uses just the material from the three LBB and the other two also use selected material from the 0e supplements.
B/X and Retro-Clones
B/X: The Original Game
The original B/X boxed sets and the revised version of this edition, the five box BECMI edition, can be found at auction on eBay or RPG Marketplace or at specialists like Noble Knight Games, as can a very large number of excellent adventure and campaign modules. Many of these modules could be used with Microlite74 or other B/X retro-clones with little modification — and converted for use with any other early edition/retro-clone with only a little more effort.
Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game
The Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game is loosely based on the so-called B/X edition of the world’s most popular fantasy roleplaying game from the early 1980s. There are a number of minor tweaks like ascending armour class and separation of races and classes.
Dark Dungeons is based on the single volume RC version of the BECMI edition from the early 1990s. The rules are fairly close to the original but some changes have been made, especially where setting specific material is concerned.
Labyrinth Lord is more closely based on the so-called B/X edition of the world’s most popular fantasy roleplaying game from the early 1980s. While some minor changes have been made for compliance with the OGL and copyright law, many people have a hard time finding any truly major differences between Labyrinth Lord and the original.
1e and Retro-Clones
1e: The Original Game
The original 1e rulebooks and adventures can be found at auction on eBay or RPG Marketplace or at specialists like Noble Knight Games – often at good prices if you do not need collectible condition. Also, some excellent third party 1e adventures are available in PDF format. 1e adventures and campaign settings could be converted for use with Microlite74 or any other early edition/retro-clone without much work.
Advanced Edition Companion (for Labyrinth Lord)
The Advanced Edition Companion is a supplement for Labyrinth Lord(see the B/X and Retro-clones section above). It modifies the Labyrinth Lord rules to emulate the 1e game – or at least those parts of it that most players actually used.
OSRIC (Old School Reference & Index Compilation) is an OGL version of the first “advanced” edition of the world’s most popular fantasy roleplaying game from the late 1970s and early 1980s. The first edition of OSRIC was designed to be just something that would allow publishers to legally publish OGL materials compatible with 1e. This attitude is also responsible for the boring name. The second edition of OSRIC is much more complete and is written with both players and publishers in mind.
2e and Retro-Clones
2e: The Original Game
The original 2e rulebooks and adventures can be found at auction on eBay or RPG Marketplace or at specialists like Noble Knight Games – often at very good prices if you do not need collectible condition. Also, some excellent third party 2e adventures are available in PDF format. 2e adventures and campaign settings could be converted for use with Microlite74 or any other early edition/retro-clone without much work.
For Gold & Glory
For Glory & Glory is an attempt to create a close adaption of the 2e rules, or at least those in the three 2e core rulebooks.
Myth & Magic
Myth & Magic is built from the core 2e rules. It retains the essence of classic fantasy role playing, while advancing the mechanics and providing more options, classes, spells, monsters, and more.
Other Fantasy Games
Adventurer Conqueror King System
Adventurer Conqueror King takes the end game (ruling a domain) assuming in early editions of the world’s most popular fantasy RPG and rebuilds the entire game around it, with special attention to a simple but functional economic system.
Adventures Dark and Deep
This game is not a retro-clone, strictly speaking. Instead, it is an attempt to create an alternate universe version of 2e. 2e as it might have been if it had been written by the author of 0e and 1e.
Age of Shadows
A free old-school fantasy RPG based on the Openquest (D100 system) rules.
Barbarians of Lemuria
Non-traditional but still old school rules for fantasy games set on the lost continent of Lemuria — loosely based on Lin Carter’s novels. This is link to the free version. There is also a Legendary Edition from Beyonf Belief Games.
The Big Brown Book
The Big Brown Book takes the rules of 0e and gives them a new spin — What would the world’s most popular fantasy role playing game look like had it continued its wargame roots?
Castles & Crusades
Castles & Crusades is 1e reimaged using 3e rules. It’s fairly compatible with adventures from all editions of the world’s most popular fantasy RPG through 3.5.
Dangers and Dweomers
Dangers and Dweomers is the designer’s personal take on early editions: “As much as possible I streamlined the S&W system, filling what I found as gaps with material from the BFRPG and the SRD.”
Dark Passages is a modernized and re-organized take on the 0e/1e era of rules.
Dragons at Dawn
This game is an attempt to recreate the rules of the original Blackmoor campaign from the early 1970s. “Dragons at Dawn is a retro tribute to the very first fantasy gaming system pioneered by Dave Arneson, the man who later went on to co-author the worlds most popular roleplaying game. The result of years of careful historical research, Dragons at Dawn is entirely consistent with Arneson’s original, largely forgotten methods of play developed roughly in the period 1970-1973.” (No Free PDF version.)
Epées & Sorcellerie
Epées & Sorcellerie is a French RPG strongly inspired by 0e. An English translation is available.
Errant RPG is a retro-clone that captures the basic playstyle of the classic game while introducing a variety of modern innovations to improve play.
Fire & Sword
Fire & Sword was created by Raymond Turney, a co-creator of RuneQuest, and Fire and Swordis his evolution of the system. It thus has much in common with BRP, but contains many new interesting mechanisms.
Forward to Adventure!
This game is not a retro-clone, but a modern game that was designed with “old school” dungeon adventuring in mind. While not an “old school” game by any stretch of the imagination, it would be relatively easy to use FtA! to run a campaign in the old-school style. Unlike most modern RPG designs, there is little designed into FtA! that would interfere with this which makes it a system those who like the “old school” style of play but dislike the “old school” style of rules might wish to consider. (No free PDF version.)
Lamentations of the Flame Princess
Lamentations of the Flame Princess is a 0e-like rules system with a stress on “weird fantasy.” (No free PDF version)
Mazes & Minotaurs
Mazes & Minotaurs answers the question of what might 0e and 1e look like if their designers had been interested in classical Greek fantasy rather than medieval fantasy. There are two versions of the game available: Original and Revised.
Old School Hack
Sort of the old Red Box version reimaged through a somewhat new school lens. It’s not really an old school game but it not really not an old school game either.
What if you took the Swords and Wizardry rules and threw out all the standard races, classes, spells, monsters and magic items and replace them with ones generated randomly via sites like Chaotic Shiny, Seventh Sanctum or Abulafia? You get Pars Fortuna. (No free PDF version, although a free basic version is available.)
Siege Perilous is a 0e variant designed to emulate the first three games of a very popular computer roleplaying game from the early 1980s.
Spellcraft & Swordplay
Spellcraft & Swordplay is an OGL redesign of the 0e version from the mid-1970s. The designer decided to rewrite 0e based on the original combat system (from the miniatures rules 0e grew out of) instead of 0e’s “alternative combat system.” The alternative combat system quickly became the standard combat system of the world’s most popular fantasy roleplaying game. This is sort of a retroclone from an alternate universe where the original combat system was the most-used. (No free PDF version, although a free basic version PDF is available.)
Tombs & Terrors
Tombs & Terrors is an unashamedly familiar role playing game of delving into subterranean crypts and looting the treasure –compatible with sourcebooks and supplements that you already have.
David “Zeb” Cook’s 1985 rules for the TSR Conan roleplaying game returns as a generic sword-and-sorcery RPG complete in one volume. Trample the jewelled kingdoms of your own world beneath your sandals!
Mutant Future is a nuclear post-apocalyptic science fantasy game. It is created in the style of similar RPGs from the late 70s, but built around the core Labyrinth Lord rules so that these two games are fully compatible.
Stars Without Number
Stars Without Number is a retro science fiction role playing game influenced by the Old School Renaissance and partially inspired by the great fantasy role-playing game editions written by Tom Moldvay and Frank Mentzer.
Weird West is a fast playing adventure roleplaying game with a very small set of rules for weird western worlds of cowboys, kung-fu, magic and otherworldly malevolence.