Close to two months ago now, I wrote a post explaining how the variety of OSR games has made it possible for a devoted player of TSR D&D to run campaigns in practically any genre—in much the same way that a 3e/d20 System player can, thanks to the OGL and the early 2000s d20 System boom.
While I don't have anything to do with the OSR scene these days, and most OSR content isn't terribly useful to me—I write my own adventures, and I have no need for mini-games or indie games or artbooks or shock shlock—there is nevertheless one category of OSR game that I am extremely glad for, and that is of course the genre hack. In my earlier post, I discussed possibilities; but now I can actually show off my collection.
When I last pruned the old bookshelf, I got rid of most of what I owned, keeping only a precious few books (my white box & supplements, Holmes Basic, the Rules Cyclopedia and Creature Catalog, and a 1st edition DMG). But I've lately felt the pull to expand my gaming beyond the horizons of genre fantasy, as well as to go back and play some AD&D on occasion, and so here's where things stand now:
Original Dungeons & Dragons
In addition to the WotC reprint OD&D set, I have a vintage white box and all four supplements, plus some additional booklets that I've printed myself, just to have as a reference: Chainmail, Swords & Spells, Boot Hill, Delta's Book of War, and a compilation of useful Strategic Review articles (including the original bard, illusionist, and ranger classes):
It's nice to know that if I ever want to run an OD&D game set in the Hyborean Age, Barsoom, or the Star Wars galaxy, I'm all set. (Though there are better options for all of these, which I'll discuss below.)
If I ever manage to get a full AD&D campaign off the ground again, these three books and that little house-rule booklet of mine will be the rules I have on the table. Though someday I do intend to build my AD&D collection back up to its former glory again. (I'll know that I've made it when I have copies of The Scarlet Brotherhood and The Complete Ninja's Handbook once again in my possession.)
As if White•Star weren't awesome enough, Spahn also has The Hero's Journey, which is pure uncut epic fantasy goodness translated into OD&D-compatible rules, along with a reined-in magic system which is extremely flavorful and will doubtless be a delight to take for a test-drive (someday soon, I hope).
Note, too, that this isn't an argument that "system doesn't matter." I'm not claiming that I can do anything with the OD&D mechanics. System matters: it matters very much. OD&D is not a narrative game. It's not a game about resolving the dramatic needs of protagonist player characters. It doesn't even lend itself particularly well to the "thespianism" style of role-playing. It does one thing exceedingly well: challenging, exploration-focused, pawn-stance, high-agency, player-driven, open-table, open-world sandboxes—and those are the only sorts of RPG campaigns that I care to run. It doesn't matter whether the milieu is fantasy or sci-fi or modern day: the OD&D rules are exquisite for precisely that sort of game, and so the OD&D mechanics (in however many variations there are now) are all that I need! ∎