Old School Stylish is a tightly packed and creative zine that creates entirely new expectations for character advancement that generates its own leads for adventures without sacrificing the B/X play style. It is wildly underrepresented in OSR circles. The JRPG inspiration and 90s shonen anime cover art, which is excellent, might have scared off more dismissive folks but for me, it scratches a gaming itch I didn’t know I had.
Instead of basing character advancement on leveling up classes, this book presents a series of “styles” that functionally work as tiny class modules that can be plugged into a character and a simple classless leveling system to use with them.
There are 5 categories of styles mentioned in this book; Starting, magic, martial arts, skill, and secret. As the title suggests, every new character starts with one of the 28 starting styles. They are all named after a job title and give players a small but helpful bonus. Hunters can turn corpses into rations, laborers gain +2 hp, and so on. The remaining skills featured a more impressive selection of abilities and are found in the world. The book suggests several ways for a referee to seed their campaign with styles. A character could partition a powerful master or find the skill as part of a treasure hoard. Each style lists multiple more specific suggestions on placement as well.
To me, this is the best part of what this book does, it creates more content I get to drop into any hex or bury in any dungeon. Masters of lost magics and martial arts hidden among the mountains or maybe stone tablets written in the lost language of the titans recently uncovered in a forgotten tomb.
Boom, free real estate. You gotta love it.
To accomplish this sort of build-a-bear approach to characters the book devises a pretty ingenious generic class, (1d6 for hp, an attack bonus that increases every other level, simplified saving throws, etc.) A sensible mana-based casting system is used with suggestions to do away with “read magic”, and thief skills are a 1-in-6 chance for all players unless they have a style that increases that number. It’s a very smooth and simple structure fully in the spirit of B/X.
Takeaway: Old School Stylish is the best kind of supplement. It has concise and well-considered systems that actually help me make content for players in a way that feels organic. I highly recommend this product if the concept sounds at all interesting to you.
Old School Stylish is available in print through Exalted Funeral and as a pdf through Itch.io and DriveThruRPG.
This product was purchased by the reviewer.
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