Gods and Monsters and An OSR Litmus Test

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08 Aug 2010 02:43:20
Category: Gods And Monsters

I've written before about what I feel the OSR (old school renaissance) is about. It's not about games being dead, very rarely played, or simply out-of-print. It's about a style of play in which the players do what they want and the referee makes judgements. You might say it's a referee centric game.

Given this criteria, what would make a good litmus test for any "OSR" game? What test can you perform quickly to see if the game meets this main OSR requirement? I propose the simplest way is to make a character. In an OSR game, the characters should be simple to generate and take at most 1/2 an hour for a first timer. The process when guided by an experienced player should take 15 minutes. Contrast this with games you know are clearly not OSR and you'll understand why this makes sense. The idea here is that you should be able to sit down and get started in an OSR game in the same amount of time it would take to set up a common board game.

I decided to apply this litmus test to Gods and Monsters to see how old school it really is. I hadn't actually gamed a session. I'd done nothing but read the manuals, and that only sparsely.

Overall I was pleased with the experience of making my first character. I finished in 28 minutes. I intend to suggest a run of this game at my monthly meetup group where we try old school games. Clearly this game is old school. OSR litmus test, passed.

When making a character I ran into some speed bumps in the presentation of information. I was working off electronic copies of the game. I found it frustrating to have to flip around to the charts for attribute/minor attribute contributers, reaction adjustment charts and so forth. I was using the Rules Book and Lore Book. But still it would be nice if this information were presented together in the book. However, having to look things up in the Lore book was also a minor annoyance. A summary chart simliar to the summary pamphlets would be a nice edition.

If you haven't downloaded Jerry Stratton's Gods and Monsters, you should. It's free; no cost to download. And it's free as in freedom: it's distrbuted under the GNU Open Document license.

Here's my character:

Kavor Kalamon Warrior
Level: 1
Experience: 0
Moral Code: Good
Kavor adventures to sharpen his sword on the spine of evil!

agility 12 +1/0
charisma 7 -1/0
endurance 14 +1/0
intelligence 11 0/0
strength 15 +2/+1
wisdom 9 0/0

6 health
6 fortitude
4 willpower
5 evasion
4 reason
5 perception

verve 7
survival 6

6 Mojo

37 Gold Pieces


Fighting Expert (Slashing)


  • Fighting Art +1
    • Unarmed Combat
    • Weapon Fluency
      • Sword
      • Dagger

  • WarCraft
    • Weapon Smith

Gaming Science

Scale Mail (45) Defense +3 Skill Penalty 4
Shield (5) Defense 1


Sword d8
Dagger d4