I've discovered an RPG gem some month ago: Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures. I'm actually playing two campaigns with this game (as a GM) and I think I can review it now :)
Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures is a recent roleplaying game based on Dungeons & Dragons B/X but with some twists and a different low fantasy sensibility. One of the objectives of this game is to play with no prep (or a minimal prep). Really, it's a success. You can really create rich characters with the character playbooks and playing one of the scenario pack on the fly without having much work, on a single evening.
BtW is inspired by the works of Ursula K. LeGuin, Susan Cooper, and Lloyd Alexander. It's more a game about young people struggling for saving their homes and becoming heroes than a classic sword & sorcery game about becoming rich and powerful. The character creation and rules enforce the theme, and it's really refreshing. It's good for bringing young players at a gaming table because they play the young good people, protect their family and friends, and discover the dangerous world beyond the wall of their village. It's more low fantasy than D&D, and magic is less powerful and flashy, more subtle.
In BtW, character creation is made with all the players at the table, because they create their characters with bounds between them and are invited to create important NPC and locations to the blank village map provided. Each player picks a playbook (they are more than 40 playbooks at this time) and each playbook invite the player to roll on 7 tables to generate the character story, stats and skills in the same time. After the character creation process, all the PC have a nice background with bounds to other PC and NPC. The gamemaster can exploit this created background, NPC and locations to launch his adventures.
Technically in BtW you can play three core classes, but mix two of them for many different flavors. You have the warrior, the rogue and the mage. The warrior is what you expect, with some knacks to choose for personalization. The rogue is a better fighter than in D&D B/X, and without surprise it's a skill monkey. A rogue can be a thief, a scout, a hunter or any specialist who rely on the mastery of many skills. The mage wields the power of three magic types: cantrips, spells and rituals, but he is not bound to arcane or divine spellcasting, because magic is magic, it's subtle so it's difficult to say if a god really sends you spells or if your magic comes from another source. And the mage can use any weapon (no armor) and have d6 HP, so... it's useful from the beginning.
BtW is a nice mix between old school and modern rules. From old school D&D B/X you have the 6 stats with the classic modifiers (-3 to +3), you have your base attack bonus, XP progression chart by class, simple combat rules and the old 5 saving throws. Monsters are equivalent to B/X one, with HD and the like. From modern games you have the skills (+2 or +4 bonuses for some stat checks, who are roll under a d20), you have fortune points (sort of destiny points for rerolling dices and stop bleeding to death).
The magic system is really nice and different. A mage can cast cantrips, not potent but useful spells which don't count in your spell limit by day, but requires a stat check to not cast a fumble! A mage can also cast regular spells, who are levelless. You can cast as many spells a day as your level, and doesn't need to read your spellbook each day for memorize them, so it's not Vancian magic. And a mage can cast rituals, who are very long to cast (1 hour by level), need a stat check, but are very powerful and doesn't count in your spell by day limit. The rituals have a level, so for learning and launch a ritual, you need to be of the ritual level.
There are no complex rules here like tracking encumbrance. All is easy to understand, easy to teach, and open to quick and safe houseruling.
Beyond the Wall is really a nice game and my favorite OSR game at this time. The playbooks are incredibles and Flatland Games give us many free supplements for playbooks and scenario pack. The game is more a fantasy game than a sword & sorcery one, more Tolkienesque than D&D in my mind.
Review from https://anoldplayfulfox.blogspot.com
[5 of 5 Stars!]