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Before we go any further, I need you to brace yourself. We’ve already covered that the first role-playing game I ever played was third edition Dungeons & Dragons. That’s a simple defect, though, one that could be rectified by any right-thinking GM with their copy of the red box handy, right? Maybe someday, sure, but not yet. I’ve never played or owned an edition of Dungeons & Dragons prior to third. The vast majority of games I own date from the 1990s or later. I’m a true third wave player. That said, I do own a couple games that come from the old school, or at least grew up listening to stories from the good old days.
It should not surprise anyone that I treasure the original Ghostbusters box set from West End Games. I found it for a steal on eBay, misfiled in the art supplies category, or somewhere weird like that. Still in the original shrinkwrap, with pristine manuals inside, the equipment cards unpunched and, the most treasured of treasures, the ghost die — scroll down a bit to see Dungeon Mistress showing her die off. It’s old school in that it sprang forth in the heady days when anything seemed possible, and nothing had been done before, and it’s the prototype system that went on to power countless Star Wars campaigns.
I’ve never actually used it, mind, because I’ve always gone with GURPS and, more recently, Cinematic Unisystem for my Ghostbusters convention games, but I love going to the plot seeds section for ideas and characters to adapt to my needs.
Left to right: Lasoleg the Elf, Gringo the Halfling, Bob the Cleric and Pope the Dwarf. Fittingly, Dingus the Thief cannot be seen.
The other old school title in my library is Labyrinth Lord. It’s a retroclone, rather than a vintage, but I maintain its heart is in the right place. I once ran a game of Labyrinth Lord, far longer ago than I realized until I dug up that post. It was . . . fine. Crunchier and fiddlier than I would want to deal with in a game system, but fine. And I say that recalling how Neil, the unpictured Dingus in the picture, remarked that style of rule set was really too simple for strategically interesting decisions. Neil is a 3.x/Pathfinder guru who published his own rules supplement, so you can make your own call on that.