It's been a few months since I've reviewed anything. Today, I mean to correct this by reviewing Old School Essentials' Character PDF book. As you can see by the counter on the right, I backed the 2022 Kickstarter having missed the original Kickstarter a few years ago.
Author: Gavin Norman
Rule Set: OSE/B/X
Number of players: 2 or more
Rating: ★★★★(★) 5ish of 5 stars
Right off the bat, I must justify the star rating. This work is currently a pdf of a future physical book. It makes heavy use of gorgeous artwork, sometimes on two-page spreads. It will not print well without an inordinate amount of care or skipping the artwork spreads altogether. A half measure might be to print these spreads on photopaper, leaving the back side of the page blank or cobbing something together with glue.
Neither seems like a good solution. The physical book will merit at least 5 stars and I will happily update this once I start to see the physical product. This is a flaw of my rating system, not really a reflection of the goods in question. Judging by the physical copy of the Rules Tome I picked up at Iron Buffalo Games, we're in good hands.
Because I am a history major, I am throwing up my first star for a rock-solid impressum. A lot of authors, especially PDF producers skimp on the credits either throwing them in the back of the book with the legalese or not publishing them at all. OSE: Characters gets it right.
Perfect! Names and dates, as needed. Where "city of publication" is missing, we get websites which I feel is an excellent compromise.
So, in just 73 pages, we have a modern take on the original B/X rules. Gone are the errors and counter-intuitive stuff from B/X, everything has been fixed. The level limits are mitigated by a simple chart in the event that your human gets too big in the britches. No sense in making a whole 'nother set of rules when these simple guide rails will serve so well.
What you get is a simple and clean way to build Clerics, Dwarves, Elves, Fighters, Halflings, Magic Users and Theives. Additionally, you get flavoring from B/X and AD&D. You have Clerics with no spells to start, alignment languages, and many more. My personal favorites are hirelings, building castles and towers and an introduction to domain level play.
It also has a handy guide to TH0AC and something called "Ascending Armor Class". It seems reasonable, but lower is better as it doesn't invalidated the classic statement: "Comes with 24 illustrations, charts and tables". That kind marketing speak was a big part of my youth and huge influence on me. "Higher is better" a statement best reserved for space stations, raves and your spouse's Christmas party.
Anyway, I recall reviewing a different set of PDFs by Old School Essentials. I'm slightly bent that October is a long ways off and I shaved off the gold part of the star so I have some reason revisit this. When I get my hands on a physical book, my rating system will be completely broken when I come back and give this title the whole 5 gold stars that it deserves because there is no ranking higher. I really enjoyed this one for a variety of reasons which mirror why I like the original Basic and Expert sets back in the day.
Now if you missed the Kickstarter, if you have no way to pick up this set online, be sure to check your local game shop. I found my first OSE book by accident at Iron Buffalo Games. Nothing is better than finding a treasure in a place close to home.