OSR-ing the Old World of Darkness

So, the OSR. It’s a thing. I’ve read a lot more about Story Games, though I don’t say that to be like I’m picking sides. I have a lot of experience playing ‘trad’ games, some experience playing Story Games, and almost no experience playing OSR games, though I’ve read a few. My friend Mabel is really into the OSR, and is designing an OSR game right now called Strange Roads.

We got to talking about how there are so many OSR games that are riffing off of old versions of D&D, but we couldn’t think of one example of an OSR take on the Old World of Darkness.

So, of course, now that’s what we’re doing. We’re working on an OSR take on Mage the Ascension 1st Edition.

But what the heck does that even mean? Simplifying a bit. Rulings over rules – and in part we picked Mage because it already has an incredible number of places where the ST needs to make a ruling: on coincidental versus vulgar, on the effects of the spheres, on what earns a player the right to raise their character’s Arete, etc. But also some random tables, because that’s definitely part of the OSR idiom.

We’ll simplify but still use the basic OWoD attribute system, just how games have simplified or adapted but still used D&D’s system. Not sure yet what to do with abilities and backgrounds. We’re looking at Over the Wall style playbooks for each tradition, as well as a more blank and flexible one for Orphans, and another fully blank one for customized characters. But I really like the idea of Tradition playbooks for Mage, as I think that they can be used to good effect to get you quickly into the head-space of the character and setting.

Most fun so far: writing up random Paradox backlash tables for each sphere. Right now I’m running a Mage the Ascension (Revised) chronicle, but working on this OSR-ification makes me want to try running this instead. I imagine my players will be confused enough, however, since this is the first time they’ve played Mage, so I should probably try to hold off.

What do you think would need to be part of an OSR version of the OWoD?