Review: Ba5ic

On reddit, I was alerted to another 05R game, BA5IC, an OSR adaptation in 54 pages that was released in October and is PWYW. I shelled out the recommended 2 bucks and decided to have a look. I will do a basic review and also compare it a bit to Into the Unknown and 5TD. tl;dr - A whiteboxed Epic 6 treatment of 5e that has some good stuff in it, but ends up looking a bit more like the author's heartbreaker than a fullfledged game. Presentation & First Impressions: Clocking in at 54 pages in letter format (23,000 words), this is another candidate that goes even slimmer than whitebox. The layout has generous whitespace on the outside, a bit too much for my liking considering the narrow space between columns and slightly cramped space between paragraphs. It is not so much worse than Into the Unknown in this regard though, but still a noticeable difference coming from 5TD's generous spacing on every page. Still the layout is mostly neat, paragraphs mostly don't

Comparison: Five Torches Deep vs Into the Unknown

It's time for the.... Battle of the 05R games! Into the Unknown squares up against Five Torches Deep and we take a look at how these two games differ and what they have in common. Introductory remarks: As I summarised in the review post on 5TD , If Into the Unknown is a 5e adaptation that seeks to emulate the "non-advanced" B/X style of play, then 5TD is the 5e equivalent of S&W Whitebox, an even lighter retroclone than the famously brief B/X. This difference is evident in word count. Into the Unknown clocks in at 133,000 words (B/X had 113,000). Significantly less than the 'Advanced' version of 5e it compares itself to (the 5e PHB & DMG together clock in at 410,000 words, add in the Monster Manual and it probably comes to around 600,000 words).  Meanwhile 5TD has a mere 18,000 words (whitebox, for comparison, has 33,000). So what do you get for the difference here? The most obvious are number of monsters and spells. 5TD has a on

Review: Five Torches Deep

When I first learned of Five Torches Deep, it was seeing their kickstarter launch just as I was preparing to release Into the Unknown and I was wondering just how much overlap there was going to be between this 'O5R' game and my own. After reading  Robot Goblin's comparative review of both systems, I decided to pick up the pdf and do a review of it myself. I will of course be comparing it to Into the Unknown as well, but will leave that for a follow-up post. Without further ado, let's go: tl;dr - a "whitebox" style  adaption of 5e. Even slimmer than whitebox, it is missing essential parts for running a full game, but wins out with superb layout and usability at the game table. Presentation & First Impressions: Five Torches Deep (hereafter 5TD) is a 5e-inspired OSR system in a mere 49 pages. Despite its short page count, it doesn't skimp on rich full color art, makes generous use of whitespace, has large fonts and a dedication to smal

A short review of "5e-ish retroclones" by Robot Goblin

Robot Goblin has posted a short review of three old school games with modern mechanics. Games as gateway drugs: Five Torches Deep, King of Dungeons, and Into the Unknown. I am slightly peeved that 5TD gets full credit for "every class, and all core rules fit on a single spread or page" when I've sweated blood, sweat and keyboard-ink to achieve the same for ItU (if I hadn't been so slow to produce the thing, I could have claimed credit ahead of Necrotic Gnome for this!). But mostly I am glad to see someone else recognise the effort I put into book 4.  "But Book 4: Running the Game is worth the price of admission, even if you ditched everything else. I think it may be the cleanest, most interesting guide to running a game I’ve ever read and incorporates outside thinking like Fronts from Dungeon World. Its sections on dungeon and hex crawls are short and solid as a beer keg." It was definitely the hardest to write of the five. In the other

Zak, Raggi, Drivethrurpg & Drawing Lines

update 31/01-24 - I have, upon actual investigation, since changed my belief concerning Zak's guilt. See  this post  for more. Normally, I would simply not comment on these things, but as I am now publishing my stuff on DriveThruRPG, I felt compelled to write something. Quick recap of what went before: Zak Smith wrote a blog about OSR stuff and was a pillar of that community. He also wrote some award-winning OSR products and consulted on D&D's 5th edition. He was always an asshole, but tolerated by many for his talents. Then earlier in the year, it transpired that he was also  the kind of asshole who serially abuses women . Pretty much everyone in the RPG community disowned him, DriveThruRPG banned his titles and James Raggi, who owns the Lamentations of the Flame Princess  publishing outfit that produced a lot of Zak's work, ended his working relationship with him in a "I'm sorry I had to do this" manner. Then at GenCon, Raggi published an adven

Alternate Oerths - Mythic Greyhawk: Wizardry & the Circle of Eight

I mentioned in the introduction to Mythic Greyhawk that: The occult workings and experiments of the eccentric scholars, alchemists and mystic savants called "wizards" can somehow tame Chaos and produce so-called "arcane magic". But how controlled is it really? And who can say how tainted they become? Godly and Law-abiding people do not meddle with such forces. Witch hunts are rare, but wizards mostly stand outside the social ladder on the fringe of society, somewhere between shunned and exiled. A contributing factor to this is the fact that Alignment Language is a thing in Mythic Greyhawk and wizards are in the disreputable position of having to learn Chaotic and Neutral in order to cast their spells. Archetypical member of the Circle of Eight But a large part of the distrust of wizards is historical: It was wizards who catastrophically wiped out the two biggest empire in human history (not to mention sinking the Isles of Woe, creating the Bright

Alternate Oerths - Mythic Greyhawk: Religion & Cosmos

I find that I am enjoying chronicling Mythic Greyhawk more than I anticipated. Much of it are impressions from way back when, but some of it is also new discovery from taking a closer look. One thing I like about exploring a non-homebrew setting like this is the sense of exploring an independently existent world. The fact that others have studied the same world, albeit through a different prism than my 'Mythic' one, renders a feeling that somehow Greyhawk exists 'out there' to be explored. My interpretations don't feel like creating either. It is more of a - "when looking through this mythic prism, what is Greyhawk really like?" I study the lay of the land, observe and mull until Mythic Greyhawk reveals itself to me. And putting all this into writing is like a refinement process. Greyhawk stands out much more vididly and alive to my inner vision now than before I started. It's been fun.  With that said, let's talk about religion, metaphy