I like to think that my taste in games isn’t overly influenced by nostalgia, but C.R. Brandon‘s Heroes & Other Worlds recalls two of my early gaming loves simultaneously and brings them together in a unique way.
At it’s core, Heroes & Other Worlds is, from a rules standpoint, a close retroclone of Steve Jackson’s The Fantasy Trip.
If, as it could be argued, The Fantasy Trip (hereafter TFT) was, the OD&D to GURPS’s AD&D, then Heroes & Other Worlds does an admirable job of filling the role of B/X.
TFT was a lightweight RPG built on the chassis of Metagaming’s tactical microgames Melee and Wizard (Steve Jackson’s Chainmail, to continue the above metaphor.) It was a tight system which retained many of the tactical elements of its immediate predecessor but was poorly presented and organized. GURPS, (a system which I have long loved,) is on the other hand, a tad complex to be an ideal system for running one shots or introducing completely new people to the wonders of roleplaying.
Heroes & Other Worlds addresses all of those issues rather masterfully through the intentional emulation, in everything other than underlying rules, of Moldvay’s iteration of Basic D&D.
The game works well with just the core book, but Mr. Brandon has done an admirable job of supporting and expanding it. While the core book hews fairly closely to the magic system used in TFT, Later entries in the Heroes and Other Worlds line add most of the spells (and monsters) from the OGL as well as alternate magic rules.
If you enjoy old school style gaming but think your d20s need a break, you might well find Heroes & Other Worlds worth a look.