Returning to RPGs

Hoping you can help....  I have been drooling over the products here for a while, and have decided to jump in.

A little bit of background.  I started D&D in the 70's with the blue book and still get shivers remembering our first foray 'In Search of the Unknown'.  We spent many hours in adventures, mostly our own, trading off DMing.  Then college hit, and did not play D&D for decades.  

So, come to find out, two son-in-laws got into it, one DMs and one plays.  Separate groups, since they dont live close to each other, but both 5e.  So over the holidays the three of us both played, plus another son-in-law and my son.  It was a blast, now we want to play more!!

However the DM is the one that lives far away, and also would like to play.  I don't mind DMing, but with my jobs and things I don't want complexity... I like 5e but dont think I want to DM it, so I have learned about the OSR games.  I like the freedom from my long ago youth - I read Matt Finch's article on the zen moments and understand.

I know this is the Frog God site, but I will be honest and say I have not decided on which to use.  S&W, LL or Beyond the Wall (since i think we can even get some of my daughters involved with what I have read of the character creation).    

But I love some of the adventures here and, believe it or not, I have a ton of old modules from the 70s and 80s (I kept buying modules for years, intending to play again...)  So the question - if I get say, Stoneheart Valley or Bard's Gate for S&W, can it be easily used for other OSR products?   

Is SV the best place to start for someone like me, who is in effect new again, and really needs low complexity and not a ton of prep time?  

I know I could run separte modules but one of the things I always missed back when I played was the overall consistent setting, so I want that.

Hope this made sense, and was ok to ask here.  I love the settings I see here.








Limper's picture

Hi Daermark,

Definitely! My recommendation is to play the following Frog God modules:

1. The Wizard's Amulet

2. The Crucible of Freya

3. The Stoneheart Valley/Tomb of Abysthor

(I think they are all combined into one big module now.)

They will give you a TON of adventure material to work with. And it's not too complex, but it is so well-written. I have literally ran that sequence of adventures over and over and over again in several editions of the game and it still holds up as the best module series I've ever worked with. 

Games today just suffer from too much bloat, to be honest! It's like reading a dang novel or something.

Not FGG products. 

Also, I think Labyrinth Lord and S&W are both very good options. I'm not a huge expert on them (though I've read them all), but S&W is my personal favorite, although LL gets a lotta love overall from the OSR community. It really depends on which version of OD&D you were used to. 

Converting the S&W versions of FGG products to LL is very easy, though. You can do it on the fly, so if you decided to go with that system, you'd be fine. (Oh, and Basic Fantasy RPG should get an honorable mention, as well--it's really good, too!)

Yes, Stoneheart Valley (The Wizard's Amulet/Crucible of Freya/Tomb of Abysthor) is an excellent starting point. S&W adventures are compatible with any version of 20th centrury D&D (i.e 0e, B/X, 1e, BECMI, 2e) or a corresponding retroclone (i.e S&W, LL, or OSRIC).  From the DM/GM/Referee perspective, there isn't a dime's worth of difference between them. The bulk of the variance is on the player's side. 

The S&W Complete positives are the single save, ascending AC/BTH, and monster attack based on HD all in a single compact AD&D-lite volume. Without these elements, there is little difference between S&W and LL although LL is more consistent with B/X than S&W is with 0e.

Thank you both, that is very helpful.  I assume BtW is also only has minor differences other then the character generation?



I do not have this ruleset. However, I downloaded a free supplemental bestiary. It appears to have 0e & B/X vibe  with single-axis alignment (Lawful, Neutral, Chaotic). It uses ascending AC although it appears the attack bonus can vary from the HD. Appears very close.

I am huge advocate of using attack bonus equal to the HD (actually comes from Castles & Crusades) along with ascending AC with the single saving throw.    By using these elements with any classic system, it really comes down to the player rules to really define the different systems. With simple GM rule base line, the player rules determine if the game is gritty, heroic, or even super-heroic in nature.


I'll also second Basic Fantasy by Chris Gonnerman which is available cheaply in print and as free PDF's which might work well with FFG's S&W modules, it's a love letter to classic B/X or BEMI D&D, the art is a bit naff in places, but it's also got several adventure books available also.

In the UK you can buy them in print from Amazon for around £2.50+ each (dependant on book, the core book is around £5 IIRC), a nice cheap but complete RPG system for less then £25!

Oh and there's also White Box Fantastic Medieval Adventure Game which is along the same lines (free PDF's and cheap printed books from Amazon around £5 IIRC) but less supported it seems.

Both of these along with Swords & Wizardy are all built out of the OGL that Wizards of the Coast put out in 2001 (or the 3.5 version around 2005), so once you become familiar with one, you'll quickly get to grips with the others.

Though to be honest, if you already have the rulebooks from the 70's/80's, you could just use them with a little tinkering on the modules :smiles: