I'm not going to talk about rules here. It is an 0e clone with, at least to me, only subtle differences to other clones.
The Good, the Bad & the Ugly - Which is which?
The three games that first caught my attention when I stumbled over the OSR scene on the web were OSRIC, Swords&Wizardry and the Basic Fantasy RPG. I decided then, that one day I would order all three of them as hardcover prints from the lulu webstore. OSRIC because it offered 400 pages of 1e fun, was well-laid-out and nicely illustrated, S&W because I loved the cover illustration and everything in the book, and Basic Fantasy because I was fascinated with the amount of free material that is offered on its website, and because it looked friendly to me. Basic Fantasy was the first OSR-game that I printed out character sheets for and rolled some ability scores. I quickly turned to S&W though, since it felt more straightforward - in a funny way. I think that had to do with the ridiculous cover illustration and its comic characters climbing over the giant green skeleton. It helped me - oddly enough - to appreciate the old school approach of rolling-up a bunch of stats to make a character and sending the hero off to explore and survive a graph-paper dungeon. Anyway, I even printed out the DM screen tables for Basic Fantasy, but never played it. But then, I didn't play any of the other games, either. I enjoyed reading them, and generating characters. I started writing the odd adventure material (e.g. The Undead Dwarf Massacre with its special house rules) and other stuff (magic items) which is usable with any of the 0e rules sets. (Tweak and tinker if you like.)
A few days ago I ordered the German version of Labyrinth Lord (Herr der Labyrinthe), a game that I initially didn't like because of its cover illustration. And since only the no-art version was freely available I had no chance to really appreciate what was in the book. Anyway, I love it now that I have it in my hands. As far as I now, it is the only German version of an 0e clone available. The group that I will DM for (hopefully) in a few weeks speaks both German and English, yet I felt it would be nice to have a German set of rules on the table.
They're all good sets of rules, bad in a useful way, and ugly to match pre-Elmore illustrations nostalgia. (I owned the BECM-Sets and loved the illustrations. My favourite being the Companion rules because of its light-blue color. I never should have given that stuff away...)
Back to Basic Fantasy, Open Source and old school consumerism
Chris Gonnerman suggests (see Lulu Basic Fantasy spotlight site) that people interested in the game should not buy the book! But download and evaluate first, and buy later. It is a reasonable advice to heed before buying anything.
I like and much appreciate Open Source, although it felt a little awkward to have my well-honed consumer
Without open source software I wouldn't be able to make digital drawings (I use Inkscape and Gimp), as commercial software is simply to expensive for me. Now, an open source game offers the possibility to play, share rules, ideas, and adventure material when you cannot afford, or do not want to buy and use commercial games. It's great. It's worth to support it, either by contribution to the material, or by donation.
Is there an old school consumerism, I wonder? I wrote that heading rather absentmindedly. There are people who collect and buy all the stuff: originals and clones. It probably helps, if someone says: Wait a minute. Read and evaluate before you buy. Then double-check again, do you need it? Really, do you have use for it?
Funny. I bought and collected material for about thirty different systems, and then one day came to realize that I simply needed a rules-light system, dice, and some players, and off! to the adventure we could go! If you have a similar idea, Basic Fantasy might be for you.
Okay, what else do I like about Basic Fantasy? Yes!
The Basic Fantasy Beginner's Essentials
The BFRPG (2nd Edition r75) totals 159 pages, and offers everything you need to play in one book. Now, you might want to hand out some introductory material for your players. So, the Basic Fantasy Beginner's Essentials offers on 14 pages everything players need to start in your game. You can find it at the Basic Fantasy website's download section. Make a few copies, and give them away to interested players.
Download, read and play Basic Fantasy, if...
- you want an open source game system that is offered at no cost and is supported by a large active community. Add the fact that you can use virtually any other material offered by the OSR scene and game companies.
- you like to write your own material, and want to share it with an active community to receive feedback (e.g. praise! Because your dungeon maps are awesome!) and help others with their game.