The British Old School Review

#BOSR, you might have seen the hashtag on Twitter and wondered what the heck is it?

Must it be based on British Old School Roleplaying Games from the 70s and 80s?

I am beginning a personal research project where I revisit the games of my teenage years and a few that got away. I want to find out why I keep coming back to these games. Is it nostalgia, superior design, or simply because of cultural influences, these games have instant appeal and resonance with me?

I intend to revisit the following over the coming months.

Fighting Fantasy the Roleplaying Game, spawned off FF gamebooks.

UK TSR D&D Modules (All that Glitters, the Gauntlet, The Sentinel, etc.). There used to be a branch of TSR in the UK that put out a fine series of D&D Modules

Fiend Folio. This monster manual for AD&D 1st edition features a large selection of monsters by UK authors originally featured in White Dwarf’s Fiend Factory department.

White Dwarf magazine (up to issue 100) Games Workshop’s house organ and its fearsome legacy.

Imagine magazine. The house magazine for TSR UK had surprising gems amongst the adverts for games you’d already got.

Dragon Warriors. This RPG is a weird little game in a small paperback format built up through six books. I gazed for many hours in WH Smith, wondering whether I should take a chance on it or buy the latest Fighting Fantasy gamebook instead. By the time I decided I would, it had disappeared from the shelves. The one that got away now in my grubby mitts via eBay.

Maelstrom. Historical Fantasy roleplaying in the Tudor Age, again in gamebook format. Currently published by Arion Games.

Judge Dredd the RPG. Did you 2000AD’s famous lawman got his own RPG in the 80s courtesy of the same folks who brought you Warhammer? Despite being flawed rules-wise, it was a game that was a big draw at my table, due to a shared love of the comics.

What is Dungeons and Dragons? An 80s D&D and Dummies, with a much grimmer trade dress.

The Games Workshop editions of RuneQuest, Traveller and Call of Cthulhu. Along with D&D, these were the big four RPGs if you were growing up in the 80s. Game’s Workshop’s version of Stormbringer gets an honourable mention, and I’ve already covered my love for it previously.

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 1st Edition. In both size and appeal, it is a behemoth of a game that, for me, was the high point and the end of the British Old School.

Dragon Warriors Books 1 to 4

The original Dragon Warriors Books 1 to 4 from the 80s via the time machine that is eBay

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