This book isn't just some cheese the 'best of' complelation book but an actual sourcebook with material selected to enhance the Lion & Dragon rpg. The RPGPundit Presents: The Old School Companion 1 is a solidly researched & very well laid out book. It lives up to the quality of Lion & Dragon quite nicely.
The first thing we get is brand spanking new character classes. The courier is a PC class whose machinations & maneuver within the court is going to allow the PC's perhaps to get the backing of the crown if their really lucky. This is a class where the social structure of the court is going to be very important. The priest class in Albion is far more important then it seems & this class can represent anything from the humble village priest to the bishops in court. This is very important class in a medieval setting where quite literally your fortunes sometimes depended upon the support of the Church. Sages are another class that is one of th fulcrums of society during this time & they can be very important to the interior of a party of adventurers. Craftsmen are the unsung heroes of the world of the medival. Everything from boots to weapons are the realm of the craftsmen not to mention the interaction with the guilds. The archer is paramount to the warfare of the day esepecially during the War of the Roses. Here's where the archer PC ties back into the longbows/crossbows, advanced critical tables, domain management, and mass combat. This is a theme that we'll see throughout the RPGPundit Presents: The Old School Companion 1. The book presents these alternative & expanded rules with gusto & a real sense of danger to the PC's. This is done with the critical tables taking center stage! The critical tables are top notch & top drawer here. Very well done & solidly exacuted. The domain mangement rules are top as well because warfare, country up keep, local economics all play a central campaign & setting role.
One of the places that the RPGPundit Presents: The Old School Companion 1 really shines is the presentation of the supernatural & the occult. The book grabs the reader by the throat & presents new options for Chaos & occult depravity within the Albion setting.
Hellmouth not artwork from
the RPGPundit Presents: The Old School Companion 1
Spellbooks and grimoires are abosolutely dangerous to life & limb. The supernatural lurks around every corner & the expanded options for the Magistars for the system are not only impressive but very useful at the table top level!
This take is expanded into the ideas & management of the wizard's spellbook; "The role of a spellbook has been largely unchanged in most OSR rules systems. A wizard’s spellbook is where he stores the spells that must be memorized every day in a Vancian system. Other than that, it doesn’t do anything. It should not surprise anyone that this has no grounding in historical medieval/renaissance magic. It’s also kind of boring. This is a reinvention intended to make a spellbook more useful and more central to the magic-user experience, one founded on historical magical diaries." The idea here is the wizard's spell book becomes an object for adventure unto itself. This idea was put forth in the Lion & Dragon rpg really finds its legs here.
The grimoires finally get their due in RPGPundit Presents: The Old School Companion 1;"
Grimoires were the key magical texts of medieval European occultism. They were not spellbooks in the OSR sense, nor were they really magical handbooks. The key training in magic was given through word of mouth, from teacher to student. The Grimoires, rather, were the collected and disseminated works of advanced magical techniques; sometimes devised by a single author and sometimes compiled by various sources. To use them, you had to already have the basic training, which wasn’t explicitly given in the books. Instead, studying the Grimoires provided new techniques for magic-users to learn, if they could get their hands on it. The Grimoires presented here are based on real historical Grimoires, adapted in ways to be useful for an OSR campaign."
One of the most dangerous of the grimoires get's its due & that's the Goetia;
"This grimoire is the summoner’s mother lode. It details the techniques for summoning seventy-two different demons, each with special powers. These demons are chaotic and dangerous, requiring great caution when dealing with them. To summon them, the magician must draw both a protective magical circle for himself and a warded magical triangle (which is where the demon will appear) in a room for this special purpose. Then a sigil of the demon’s appearance is placed in the triangle with incenses. Finally, incantations are made to summon the demon by its name. Each summoning costs about 300gp for the required inks and incenses. It is also necessary to design and consecrate a special ring, amulet, censer, and plate, for a combined one-time cost of 1,200gp." Yeah these are magical & occult operations that should only be performed by Ablion's courtly wizards. But a copy of this book falling into the wrong hands could kick off an inquistor campaign or adventure. This section is extremely detailed & highly dangerous to PC's. So its great to get the forces of Chaos stirred up in a campaign!
The Book of the Art of Hours could give an adventurer some very dangerous influences if used with the subtly & a bit of wit. Many of the grimoires featured in the RPGPundit Presents: The Old School Companion 1 tie into the sections on the Astrology, the Arcana, & an actual workable section on the Tarot. I really like a well done section on reading & using Tarot cards.
Not artwork from the Companion but
Number 12, the Hanged Man,
the game of Jean Dodal (early xviii th century )
We get section after section on various magical & occult grimoires with their occult mysteries, supernatural rites & dangerous entities associated with them. Each of the chapters on the Arcana, Astology, etc. all ties back into & folds into itself. All of this is really useful at the table top level & I can see using many of these systems in other old school or OSR games.
Chapter five is where things begin to heat up for me as a dungeon master we get insight into the Church & how to use it in game. Common sense guidelines & rules to incorporate the Church of Albion into your home campaigns.
We get day to day activities that the PC's engage in & how this would fit into the life of an adventurer in Lion & Dragon; "Low-level characters are generally focused on mere survival, combat, and adventuring as they rise in power when playing Lion & Dragon and other Medieval-Authentic campaigns, such as those set in worlds like Dark Albion. At some point, however, players are likely to be interested in developing their characters beyond the immediate concerns of any given session. The following guidelines detail a few of the things on which mid-level characters with time on their hands may focus, as well as the kind of attention those sorts of characters could attract." Everything from PC homelessness to running a mercenary unit are covered. Costs of living, in between day to day life is covered. Even how to hand the official wizards of Albion is covered here;"Magisters with experience in the arcane arts are highly valued as scholars. They usually gain the opportunity to take teaching positions at their alma mater (whether Oxford or Cambridge); in the later period of the campaign, new positions open in Middleham Collegium. Magisters of at least Level 6 are the most-likely to be offered positions, but lower-level magisters of exceptional fame and reputation may also be offered the same. Characters who are notorious for their infamy, lack of piety, or corrupt morals are lesslikely to be offered positions"
Gangs, big business, even how to run a Church priority is covered here. And yes these sort of day to day details need to be covered especially in between adventures. Noble attention & favor is also covered in gory detail. The patronage of a noble can make or break an adventurer. Remember life is cheap especially during times of warfare. Inheritence for PC's is covered as well this is often something that could lead to money & even monster slaying. Merchant & caravan activity ties right back into the craftsman & merchant PC classes at the beginning of RPGPundit Presents: The Old School Companion 1. Everything from setting up at a new market to shipping out to the dark European Middle East is covered which could lead to more adventure for the PC's.
Courtly life & intrigues is a chapter unto itself & it adds another dimension to the life of minor nobles, royals, & more in the courts of the princes & noblemen.
Rounding out the book is a chapter on the realm of the Fae! Finally we've given a deep dive into the world of medival authentic supernatural realms of the Fae & man is it dangerous. The realms of the Elves, faerie animals, entities, dangers, encounters, etc. all round out this chapter. We are given more side glances into the occult realms of the Fae & the Elves. Its well done, researched, & with plenty of hooks to get the juices flowing.
Cursed artifacts is another section & there's plenty of danger & deadliness in the examples given here for these dangerous magic items. There's a boat load of trouble for the DM who wants to add a touch of malice, danger, & even a bit of whimsy in these items.
Finally we get a boat load of trouble in the form of sinister supernatural wilderland encounters & these are very well done! I can see using these with other OSR games such as Castles & Crusades. I can also see the RPGPundit Presents: The Old School Companion 1 being used to enhance other OSR settings such as MonkeyBlood Design Midderlands. It would be very easy to slot many of the systems into the setting to get a fantastic over arching campaign!
All in all I think that the RPGPundit Presents: The Old School Companion 1 is well worth your time & money. I think this is a five star book because it adds not only new optional material to the Lion & Dragon rpg but it could be easily used with other OSR rpgs to add even more bang for the buck. The companion could easily be used to enhance say a game of Castles & Crusades from Troll Lords or even Dungeon Crawl Classics! There three things to remember here. My wife knows of my love of the Lion & Dragon rpg. She spent her money sight unseen & knows the quality of Rpg Pundit's products & didn't think twice. On the whole I think that RPGPundit Presents: The Old School Companion 1 is a five outta five product.