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White Box Options: Psychic Talents [Swords & Wizardry]
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/11/2015 12:31:19
At 10 pages this book really exemplifies what people love about S&W. Quick and easy rules that slot in nicely with the game they are playing. This is more of a psychic wild talent add on. Feels similar to the wild talent powers in AD&D1 or even OD&D. Random table of powers and descriptions of all the powers. Not a bad deal for just under 2 bucks.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
White Box Options: Psychic Talents [Swords & Wizardry]
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White Star: White Box Science Fiction Roleplaying [Swords & Wizardry]
by Trevor H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/28/2015 12:09:16
I'm not familiar with Swords & Wizardry, but I bought this based on the reviews. I was expecting a bit more, which I don't fault the publisher. It's got a common theme for space RPGs and the rules and mechanics are simple and familiar based on older RPGs. (I say that because some of the concepts I had already included in my old Star Frontiers games way back when -- one example, Star Knights). Overall the product is a good buy for the money and a great tool to expand upon, especially if you want to keep things simple.

[3 of 5 Stars!]
White Star: White Box Science Fiction Roleplaying [Swords & Wizardry]
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Class Compendium
by Nicholas B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/07/2015 23:30:45
Original review from
ass-compendium-for.html based on the print edition which I purchased.

The Class Compendium from Barrel Rider Games is at last available in a print format. As I understand it this is a compendium of prior classes which were sold individually, although it looks to me like there's a whole lot more in here....235 pages' worth, in fact. It's available in print and PDF for $29.99 or PDF only for $9.99. If you do a lot of OSR gaming, I suggest a print copy for the table.

The Class Compendium is aimed directly at Labyrinth Lord but as with most OSR content you can adapt it with minimal fuss to your preferred brand of retroclone (or just use it straight up with B/X D&D). Here's a quick run-down on the book's contents:

4 new wizard classes (alienist, familiar, thopian gnome, wild wizard)
3 new dwarf classes (ragins layer, runesmith, warchanter)
4 new elf classes (dark elf, greensinger, half-elf, sylvan elf)
5 new halfling classes (burglar, feast master, huckster, lucky fool, tavern singer)
4 new clerical classes (angel, friar, inquisitor, undead slayer)
3 new knight/fighter classes (commander, dragon slayer, knight)
5 new barbarian warrior type classes (barbarian, berserker, gladiator, samurai, sword master)
5 new monstrous classes (dragon, goblin, half-ogre, half-orc, treant)
3 classes based on the Lost Boys/Peter Pan (fairy, lost boy, pirate)
4 new thief type classes (acrobat, explorer, fortune teller, wanderer)
4 evil classes (cultist, damphir, death knight, eidolon)
4 urban adventurer classes (bandit, bard, bounty hunter, watchman)
4 victorian steampunk classes (automaton, investigator, metaphysician, shootist)
a page of new equipment (elf-shot bows and bullseye lanterns)
a page on mastery points and other classes (using some sword master class rules to enhance core classes)
three pages on firearms rules (and 8 weapons in detail)
over 60 pages of spells (includes core LL spells and new spells; basically a spell compendium to support the classes in this tome)

That's a lot of stuff --52 new classes in total. What you get here is sufficient to provide a lot of flavor and thematic focus for any LL or B/X style campaign, and most of these classes (barring the racial classes) can be used as-is with Swords & Wizardry or OSRIC. The fact could provide this book at your table, and baring specific setting limits (i.e. no monster or evil classes) you could readily end up with an entire table that does not contain a single one of the core classes in your campaign.

Without actually playtesting each class it's hard to comment on their mechanical viability, but each class I've read has distinct features and qualities to make them stand out from just playing "core." Nothing in particular looks overbearing....although I imagine you might not want to let someone roll up a death knight in your otherwise vanilla dungeon crawl, unless they plan on being the villain.

You could pick and choose classes from this book as well to flesh out a campaign idea: steampunk games, monster-centric games, urban adventures and even a setting focused entirely on non-magic users could be well supported with this book. The idea of a Lost Boys style Peter Pan adventure in Neverland is intriguing, too (sorry in an earlier blog I suggested you could to Alice in Wonderland due to a momentary brain lapse, I meant Peter Pan!)

Class Compendium also wisely avoids vampiric classes (which suffer in every iteration of D&D I've seen), although the damphir is done quite well.

Oddly there's only one east-Asian class here: the samurai. Perhaps a future tome will add the shukenja, wu-jen or kensai types that would let one flesh out a proper Asian fantasy campaign. Elves are another exception in this book: you get four new classes, but only one is a themed class (greensinger), whereas halflings get five unique classes and dwarves another three. So we now have "dark elf" for example, but no "dark elf ranger" or "dark elf matron" or even something like a bladesinger.

There are also a lot of spells....a huge number in fact, but many are reprinted from LL, adding the additional details necessary to support the classes in this tome. As such, if you have a spell casting character from this book, you can also use the Class Compendium to manage his spell lists.

In terms of style and art, the book is utilitarian in design, easy to print out if you choose not to go with a POD option, and the art is a mix of creative commons, royalty free and commissioned art....all of it looks good, nothing offensive or tonally off.

If you're like me and always felt that the racial classes of B/X D&D were the major stumbling block to properly enjoying the game, then Class Compendium definitely helps fix that. If you like diversity in class options, this book is for you. My advice is: get this, you will find it well worth your investment. A+

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Class Compendium
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White Star: White Box Science Fiction Roleplaying [Swords & Wizardry]
by Paul W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/06/2015 22:26:53
Fantastic port of Swords & Wizardry. The base campaign is very Star Wars-y, but this toolbox can be used for any fast-action sci-fi gaming using an OSR base. Indispensable in its simplicity.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
White Star: White Box Science Fiction Roleplaying [Swords & Wizardry]
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White Box In Boots [Swords & Wizardry]
by Harry K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/06/2015 00:26:39
Every so often, you come across an idea so brilliant, so clever, so *you* that you wonder why you didn't think of EXACTLY this years ago. This is one of those ideas. Literally, Puss In Boots re-imagined as a player character class for Swords & Wizardry. Not a human-sized, scaled up cat, no sirree. A cat-sized cat. With cap, cape, a dagger, and of course boots.

Absolutely brilliant.


[5 of 5 Stars!]
White Box In Boots [Swords & Wizardry]
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White Star: White Box Science Fiction Roleplaying [Swords & Wizardry]
by Jeremiah M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/02/2015 00:04:13
Okay, I will go ahead and write review. I covered this on youtube, if you want more rambly version.

First, the only reason I give this a 4 instead of a five is there is no 4.5. I like the game, overall, but I would not say it is for everyone. It is a system meant to be hacked, like the old D&D often was. If you have the bug of a game designer, and you are just looking for a framework to make stuff, this is awesome. It is structured off the old school model of D&D, using a complete compatibility with Swords and Wizardry. It is, by design, stripped down and simplified. The game is a start to a project.. I want to make something and here is my start point.

There are a lot of people that will not work for. Many games come complete with all you need to slip into them. No need to hack a bunch of stuff to fit in. The worlds are detailed in many books, with a lot of lore to learn. I love those games too, but White Star is not like that. You have a basic system to learn, some little bits of lore give you starting point, and you do the rest yourself. If you are not looking for that, this game may not be for you. There are a number of third party people making content for White Star, so you really can fill a lot of stuff it might lack, but the main reason to buy it is to try your hand at making your own stuff. It does that job really well.

Beyond the game design elements, the actual published work is solid. It is well laid out, and has a good amount of art. The art is better than a lot of indie publishers manage. The text is easy to read, and I spotted no glaring errors in the text. It is a professionally put together pdf.

Anyway.... those are my thoughts. I don't write many reviews, but maybe I should do that more.

[4 of 5 Stars!]
White Star: White Box Science Fiction Roleplaying [Swords & Wizardry]
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White Star: White Box Science Fiction Roleplaying [Swords & Wizardry]
by Keith P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/23/2015 19:34:37
An outstanding use of the Swords & Wizardry (read: original D&D) rules and mechanics, if the latter had been designed for space opera rather than fantasy.

Like original D&D, White Star's rules are simple and straightforward, and leave considerable room for the referee to tailor elements of the game to meet the needs of his/her campaign. For example, I love the generic races, which allows the referee to plug in whatever classic (or home brew) race of beings suits his/her needs. I also like the way that melee and missile combat rules are carried over to starship combat. The rules also contain an excellent bestiary.

The only two drawbacks are the lack of encounter tables, and cover art that just didn't seem right. But those are not showstoppers.

I would love to see a series of adventure supplements similar to the classic AD&D G- and D-series modules. I would also love to see a POD copy made available for those of us who don't like reading PDFs.

Outstanding game.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
White Star: White Box Science Fiction Roleplaying [Swords & Wizardry]
by Michael M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/22/2015 20:26:56
Great artwork with an amazing layout! The application of Swords & Wizardry Whitebox rules set in scifi format is elegant and familiar. This book is perfect, I need to own a copy in hardback.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
White Star: White Box Science Fiction Roleplaying [Swords & Wizardry]
by Jerry L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/19/2015 00:49:25
White Star euphoria has seemingly overrun the OSR community at large of late...
Not a shocker, it is the best retro-clone space rpg currently available.
Praise has been littered high and low since its release with little constructive criticism, aside from the omission of encounter tables perhaps.
But really, there are more pressing concerns that have not been addressed, such as:
Isn't it strange that ALL of the classes in this stand-alone OSR rulebook are considered IP and not Open Content?
That's like the traditional Cleric, Fighter, Magic-User, and Thief never being allowed for use in any publisher's product.
How can archetypes so common to the sci-fi genre (such as Mercenary or Pilot) be considered anyone's property anyway?
Another issue is that there are only generic monikers for races with no options given to customize them.
"Brute" race?
Maybe there was a self-imposed deadline (May the 4th, SW Day) to unleash this .pdf a bit sooner than proper development time would allow for?
Honestly, with a few more minor tweaks, White Star becomes the be-all-end-all of S&W Space Opera!

Liked: Overall Concept, Layout, Writing, Equipment, Ships, Bestiary
Disliked: No Encounter Tables, Classes and Races aren't Open Content, Races need customization Options.
All of these things are ESSENTIAL to the core rules before even CONSIDERING releasing a
print version!!!

[3 of 5 Stars!]
Publisher Reply:
\"Isn\'t it strange that ALL of the classes in this stand-alone OSR rulebook are considered IP and not Open Content?\" Actually, this has since been updated and Chapter 2 is now considered Open Content. Thanks for the review!
White Star: White Box Science Fiction Roleplaying [Swords & Wizardry]
by Matthew W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/15/2015 13:13:22
Buy this right now. Seriously. Tidy, well written, awesome sci-fi game. This is all you need to adventure in space!

[5 of 5 Stars!]
White Box Omnibus [Swords & Wizardry]
by Lawrence H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/12/2015 18:37:23

I won a copy of White Box Omnibus, by +James Spahn of Barrel Rider Games on the Happy Jacks Podcast for Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day.

Things have kept me busy since then. After White Star came out and I reviewed it, I figured I better hurry up and read through the Omnibus and do my promised review.

James' own introduction to the text explains it well:

White Box Omnibus is a compilation of six previously published
products: White Box Companion, White Box Bestiary, White Box Treasures, White Box Adventures: The Wererat's Well, White Box Adventures: The Wizard's Tower and White Box Adventures: The Dragon's Hoard. But a few extras have been added. In addition to cleaning things up a bit, there are a few new things you'll find.

The Monk has been added as a player character class. It is written in the spirit of Arneson's Supplement II, but streamlined to fit WhiteBox. You'll find simple, easy to implement rules for introducing powerful magical artifacts into your campaign along with new monsters in the bestiary.

The three adventures featured in White Box Omnibus have now been augmented by an appendix – The Willow Valley Gazetteer. It's a mini-campaign setting which can be used to tie the three adventures together, or even continue having adventures in that region.

Section 1 - Class options - Contains variations on standard classes that give bonuses in one area, but limitations in another. Such as the "sub-class" of cleric, the healer, who can use a healing touch once per day but has a -1 on to hit rolls.

Bard Class - This is a simple class designed to work within Swords & Wizardry and other D&D clones, instead of the kludge of AD&D.

Druid Class - A version of a cleric with a Forestry ability that allows tracking, passing without trace, or dealing with wild animals.

Monk Class - Similar to the class in AD&D, with house rules suggestions to make it more like the AD&D monk.

Paladin Class - With the exception of leaving out the warhorse, this is the paladin we recognize.

Ranger Class - With the Forestry ability, like the Druid.

Thief Class - Single skill called Thievery using a 1d6 mechanic based on level. This covers all the thief skills in a big separate table in AD&D. There is a house rule for climbing that add a bonus to the roll.

Section 2 Magic Items - A list of very interesting armor and shields.
potions, scrolls, rings, staves, wands, weapons, and three pages dedicated to miscellaneous magic items. The miscellaneous items has a house rule about "purposed magic items", i.e. Artifacts.

Section 3 - Bestiary - This includes many creatures that are well-known from other versions of OD&D & AD&D.

For example, Brain Lord - Squid headed humanoids p. 39-40.

Section 4 - Adventure - Wererat's Well 15 pages including the introductory illustration and map by Matt Jackson.

Section 5 - Adventure - The Wizard's Tower - 20 pages including the introductory illustration and map by Dyson Logos.

Section 6 - Adventure - The Dragon's Hoard - 18 pages including the introductory illustration and map by Matt Jackson.

Appendix – The Willow Valley Gazetteer - 22 pages including the village map by Matt Jackson, and an area map done in Hexographer. There is a d20 rumor table for the village and a couple of pages on communities of halflings, dwarves, and elves. This mini-campaign setting has a detailed village, and the area map ties it all together into the three adventures and several of the new creatures and items.

I am a big fan of AD&D. Mostly because it is what I knew and played for so long. I am growing to be a major fan of simple. Less rules and less "fiddly bits" that get in the way.

This large collection of material that supplements Swords & Wizardry White Box to give it many of the things I like about AD&D, or supplemental material from the later LBB's. It also streamlines them and makes them easy to use, like the bard. In AD&D, the bard class is a mess. I don't know anyone who started as a fighter, changed to a thief prior to getting the benefits of a 9th level fighter, etc.

The simple bard class presented here, plus the simplified single skill abilities for druids, rangers, and thieves make it easy to avoid paper shuffling and digging through the manual.

The magic items are new and interesting. They have given me many ideas.

I also like how James separates out ideas for house rules in grey highlighted text.

The simplicity of what is presented here is also modular, so that one can pick and choose what you want to use, and easily house rule things that you feel are missing or "not your way of doing things."

I only skimmed the three adventures. They are clearly presented and to the point. There is enough detail to help out the DM and enough openness to easily supplement the material or drop it in to an existing campaign.

The gazetteer is a village with a map of the village and an area map that ties the three adventures together with the setting. This could easily be the start of one's own sandbox campaign, or be dropped in as a new area to explore. It is a good model of one way to build a sandbox.

The layout is well done and the whole thing is easy on the eyes and easy to read on a screen.

Just as with the recent White Star, I recommend the White Box Omnibus!

[5 of 5 Stars!]
White Box Omnibus [Swords & Wizardry]
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White Star: White Box Science Fiction Roleplaying [Swords & Wizardry]
by Lawrence H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/12/2015 18:35:35

White Star: White Box Science Fiction Roleplaying, by +James Spahn of Barrel Rider Games is all the rage at the moment. It has a vibrant and rapidly expanding G+ Community. It also has its own compatibility logo!

Appropriately enough, it was released on May 4th, for Star Wars Day.

I am a big science fiction fan and my first love in reading was science fiction over fantasy. I have played Metamorphosis Alpha, Gamma World, Star Frontiers, Traveller, plus various board games such as Imperium, and several video games. I tended to be the one who ran Metamorphosis Alpha and Gamma World, to give my brother a break from DMing AD&D.

However, my days of playing/GMing science fiction RPGs faded and have not revived like fantasy based RPGs, like AD&D or recently DCC.

I recently bought the Metamorphosis Alpha PDF and printed it out and read it through, with plans of making my own version of the starship Warden, perhaps for a Roll20 campaign.

All the hoopla about White Star is contagious, and I bought the PDF.

I had plenty of interruptions trying to read the PDF. This whole working for a living thing interferes with all my fun.

The art, maps, and layout make it easy to read. The system is designed to be totally compatible with Swords & Wizardry White Box, so any creature or item can easily traverse the two genres. Like the AD&D DMG discussion of combining Gamma World and AD&D, or Boot Hill and AD&D.

The original six standard abilities and 3d6 make it quick to pick up and play.

Rules are presented with a framework, and a clear Rule 0 reference that the Referee can make any changes they want to games in their world.

If you need a lizard man/reptile man in space, you have them stated in Sword & Wizardry already. Take any creature and "re-skin" it by changing its description, and any creature found in S&W is ready to go in White Star.

That is one powerful thing about all the clones and play alikes in the OSR. I have not specifically played Swords & Wizardry, but I "get" it, and since I am used to it, it will not require a lot of effort to run it.

I like how ship to ship combat is a simple abstraction from regular melee combat, with AC, HP, etc. for ships. While certain details are nice, I know that some SF RPG's are so "crunchy" with rules for every little thing, that the rules get in the way of moving on. Combat can take way too long even in some "rules lite" systems. I'll have to whip up a couple ships and have them fight it out.

The rules as presented are a sufficient framework to get playing quickly. This framework is familiar to so many, that it is easy to add house rules, ideas from other games, genres, etc., that one can make White Star their own.

Any SF sub-genre could be crafted with this, a generation ship scenario like Metamorphosis Alpha, post apocalyptic like Gamma World, space opera, exploration, war, space pirates, etc.

Race As Class

One thing that others complained about, and I didn't like at first, until I thought about it, is race as class. In most fantasy worlds with retro-clones or AD&D, demi-humans have level caps. I don't like that. Also with OD&D clones, there is race as class. I don't like all aspects of that in fantasy, or in Science Fiction, but I see it making sense in a planet hopping scenario.

If the humans are the dominant group and the "aliens" are tagging along, the level limits will exist because the aliens don't fit well into the culture, architecture, and design of the human controlled worlds, buildings, and ships. When a handful of aliens are among a huge number of humans, their uniqueness only gives them so many advantages. The hindrances of being surrounded by human sized items, furniture, doorways, etc. will limit how well they can improve their skills among humans. For example, a creature that breathes methane will require special equipment to travel with humans. For aliens that are humanoid to the point of being indistinguishable from humans apart from outward appearance and interior biology, such limits would not be as severe. A ten foot tall alien, however, would have major limitations on space travel.

If the situation is reversed, where a few humans are among a bunch of aliens, surrounded by alien technology, then the humans would have the same issues. I can see someone building a campaign where the humans are a tiny minority in a vast alien empire. If the humans have to have special equipment to breathe while travelling on a ship, it will limit how well and how long they can function outside any special accommodations on the ship added for humans.

Non-humans on their home planet would have advantages that humans would not have.

Humans could have variations leading to sub-species, such as those who inhabited a high gravity planet and get a bonus on their strength when on lower gravity planets and ships.

Rule 0 trumps race as class. If you don't like it, don't use it. Problem solved.

Forget Rule 0, There's A Problem

One minor thing is buying bullets for firearms in preloaded magazines. I don't know why that minor lack of verisimilitude bugs me. Handgun ammunition is usually available in boxes of 50 and shotgun and rifle ammunition is often in boxes of 20. Detachable magazines are usually reusable. In fact, I am not aware of any firearm for which magazines are not reusable. Of course, Rule 0 and all.

High tech firearms in the universe could be different. People are separated from manual drudge labor, to the point of not having to load magazines. What do you do with the empty one? Turn them in for a magazine deposit? Like bottle deposits in Michigan?

Also a pistol with ten rounds - is it small and easily concealable, or bigger and harder to disguise? Is it ball ammo, hollow point, etc? Can I rack the slide to chamber a round and drop the magazine and top it off to carry 11 rounds? It is all too easy to get hung up on little details and need a rule for it. There is always something that we know from our personal experience that makes it seem like a good idea to add complexity to handle it. Rule 0 still accommodates this. If I really wanted to get down to it, I could build rules for different calibers, revolvers vs. semi-automatics, hollow points vs. ball, ceramic/metal/polymer/combination, breech loaders vs. muzzle loaders, etc.

I don't have a problem with how computers and other technology is presented in games, so why should this bother me? For example, I know a lot about computers, but their functions are so abstract in the internals and have changed so much since the first computer my parents bought in the early 1980's that I can handle computers being small and powerful with interfaces much simpler than today. The whole touchscreen "revolution" has changed a great deal about interacting with computers. Voice recognition is better and primitive voice interfaces exist with smart phones, such as, the well-known Siri for the iPhone. The whole exposure to the idea of computers in movies, TV, and the written word have shaped our thinking to allow the devices we use every day to still hold some mystery that makes it easy to ascribe special powers to them.

Aliens & Creatures

Chapter eight on creatures leads with an explanation that specific details about color, activity, and diet is left to the Referee so that their imagination is not restricted.

There are a great many aliens and creatures to fill all the desired tropes of science fiction.


There are several ideas for types of campaigns, plus a campaign based in the Kelron Sector.


There is a short sample adventure at the end to get things started. It is an interesting scenario with many familiar ideas from multiple movies, TV shows, books, and stories.


The artwork of the cover and interior is awesome. Maps by Matt Jackson are cool too!


Even if you don't specifically play these rules, there are ideas in here that can be used in any variety of science fiction and other genres of RPG's.


There are a few oddities in the flow of words and a few misplaced commas, and some other minor things. If you plan to print this out, I would wait for the update to the PDF. These errors increase towards the end.

I think that I will buy this in print, hopefully the textual issues are resolved quickly.

Other than the few issues in the text, the layout is well done, and it is easy on the eyes.


I let my reading this jump ahead of reading and reviewing the White Box Omnibus also by James Spahn, that I won on the Happy Jacks Podcast for Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day.

I have heard good things and after reading White Star, I am sure I will find something good!

[5 of 5 Stars!]
White Star: White Box Science Fiction Roleplaying [Swords & Wizardry]
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White Star: White Box Science Fiction Roleplaying [Swords & Wizardry]
by Mike M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/11/2015 14:57:54
Looking to run a Sci-Fantasy game with lite rules and HEAVY on good times? You have found it. Plays like Swords and Wizardry White box but with a Sci-Fi/Fantasy Space Opera feel and setting. Easy to play,easy to have fun,easy for fans of Rebels and Empires to make their own...

[5 of 5 Stars!]
White Star: White Box Science Fiction Roleplaying [Swords & Wizardry]
by Michael h. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/08/2015 09:05:04
This game is amazing. Unlike other OSR Sci-Fi games, this one stays very true to the Gygaxian White Box game. It is balanced and easy to house rule. Additionally James includes many popular optional rules in the text. I am greatly looking forward to further releases for this game.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
White Star: White Box Science Fiction Roleplaying [Swords & Wizardry]
by Chris F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/06/2015 19:12:19
White Star is worth five stars for the bestiary chapter alone.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
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