Wallet OSR On the Go - Players Roll Under
(Drawing by Evlyn M)
Get the RPG here. It’s all in one column so you can print it double-side and fold the sheet in half. Write notes on the rest of the sheet. It’s 200 words long and was written for 200 Word RPG Challenge. (Some rules to convert all rolls to roll-under stolen from Arnold’s GLOG. I had lots of help from Nickoten and bits of help from various others. )
Why this exists and why you might want to use it
When my wife and I first started playing an RPG, we wanted something we could play while on a walk, cooking, doing other chores, waiting at an airport terminal, waiting in a grocery store line, talking on the phone, or chatting on the internet. We wanted a game of challenge, skill, logic, and cleverness. We also wanted something that could be used with the endless material developed for the OSR and older “fantasy games.” Eventually, we learned the rules well enough to do this with more complicated systems (Lamentations of the Flame Princess and the Goblin Laws of Gaming, also known as the GLOG.)
This thing is what I wish we had when we started. (It’s not adapted to make anything easier for playing with a single player. When I referee a game for my wife, she just plays cautiously and gets initiative except when surprised. If you’re interested in playing with just one player, see my blog series on the subject.)
This RPG is very compatible with almost any OD&D, AD&D, B/X or “OSR” adventure, bestiaries, setting, or other module from those systems with very little adaptation. Use whatever equipment list you like. If something you’re reading seems to be based on a rule that is different than one presented here, simply change the rule in your copy of this document or change the rule in the module. Balance doesn’t matter so long as your players find it difficult to survive.
Rulings and the power of sparse rules
If you find yourself wanting more or are unsure of how to interpret a rule, you should do your absolute best to fill in the gap yourself. This is called making a “ruling” by way of exercising “fiat.” I recommend doing that through several sessions, maybe six or even twelve. You’ll have to decide what happens when a player character decides to stab someone in the back. It isn’t fair to make an attack check, is it? The enemy is less defended, especially if caught by surprise, drunk, and surrounded. How will you fairly decide what happens? Thursdays in Thracia demonstrates this process wonderfully. I recommend reading the whole series.
If you want to consider the attitude and goals you should have when making rulings, I recommend reading this collection of advice for new referees: Principia Apocrypha.
Somewhat denser rules
When you feel like you’ve filled in all of the gaps, you should study other rulebooks to see how other people have handled the same situations.
I may eventually add appendices of additional rules for special situations, the kinds of rules that I’m encouraging you to add on your own. I may never do this because it might be a crutch for you. I don’t want to ruin your chance.
I based this game mostly on Dungeons and Dragons Basic/Advanced. To see how this game answered the questions you will answer, I recommend reading Gavin Norman’s excellent reference series, B/X Essentials. If you want to actually use them, he’s laid them out beautifully in the best way I could ever imagine for easy reference at the table. If you just want to reference them, there are free versions online, and they’re editable so you can use them as a start for creating your own rules document, if that’s the kind of thing you like to do.
Bonus: asynchronous play benefits
If you play RPGs by post or by chat or by using the wonderfully simple RoleGate website-app, this system allows players to roll for everything and it allows them to do it simply. This can hugely speed up play by removing the GM bottleneck from parts of the game.