Dec 30, 2012

Beginner Boxes & OSR

After several months of hemming and hawing I finally pulled the trigger on my next rpg purchase:  Pathfinder Beginner Box.  I found one for a steal on eBay and still had a few lingering Xmas bucks burning a hole in my pocket, so it wasn't an impulse purchase.  I really bought it to compare to the 4e starter which I bought only because of a significant discount a year ago.  The 4e Starter is somewhat similar to Pathfinder in that they both have two high quality books, battle mats, dice, and cardboard punch-outs   They both offer a solo game and plenty of materials (monsters, items, etc) for hours of low-level play.

The most significant difference is in mechanics.  The others are mainly cosmetic.  For example, Pathfinder has more and larger artwork.  It also has a simpler and more colorful layout.  They also made a large explanatory character sheets for the pre-gens.  This last piece is really cool, and would really welcome a newbie to the genre even if they wouldn't' find a GM.

All this makes me wonder if someone shouldn't create an old-school starter box.  I'm not talking about a box with player/referee book, dice, graph paper, and character sheets.  I mean a set similar to Paizo's that includes a solo adventure that slowly walks the player through the mechanics and style.  I own the Lamentation of the Flame Princess box set, and it came with dice, pencil, characters sheets, and books, but I wouldn't consider it a starter set.  I also have Labyrinth Lord and Swords & Wizardry, but don't remember seeing a cool solo adventure with exciting pregenerated characters.  The Quick Primer for Old School Gaming by Matt Finch is explanatory, but doesn't accomplish a solo adventure.  It's more of a brief philosophical treatise on a particular approach to gaming.

Such a product, if properly marketed at cons and gaming stores, might bring more gamers to our tables.  I could even imagine a comic book-like format that could be sold at comic book stores.  I've written five Labyrinth Lord adventures and published four.  Maybe I should revisit one for just such a product.  That is, re-write it in first-person narrative form designed to introduce the reader to old-school gaming.



  1. I like the idea a lot, especially if it does mean presenting the old school approach to people who might not otherwise come across it, as with the comic store idea. If you went with Blasphemous Brewery, you could even try setting it up and offering it as a new kind of pub game, for the obvious tie-in.

  2. Go for it! A solo OSR adventure would be nice. There weren't many of them back in the day, and the magic markers for my copies of M1 and M2 are long gone. A good solo "intro" approach would be really useful.


Thanks for posting to the Digital Orc! Be sure to pick up a copy of one of my old-school modules available at!