Thursday, September 30, 2021

Spell & Blade - OSR Retainers Review


            This is a quick review of a cool product by Mesozoic Press called Spell & Blade OSR Retainers. I am reviewing both the digital and physical product. What is the product? This solves the problem of having to come up with retainers on the fly. Each 1st level retainer comes on its own card with stats, gear, personality, appearance, and a quirk. It includes the following: 15 Clerics, 10 Dwarves, 10 Elves, 20 Fighters, 10 Halflings, 15 Magic-Users, and 20 Thieves. As you can imagine this makes creating rival adventuring parties easier too by just dealing out a hand. Need a quick thieves guild representative, pull one. Party wants to hire on some added muscle, let them draw and find out.

One of the main uses I see for this is quick character generation too. When I go back to face-to-face gaming, if I get a last-minute addition to the party, pull a card, and let them have at it. I used to run a gaming club at the college where I teach, and I would often have players show up with little to no experience. I had pre-made characters that took time to create and would just give them to new players. At the end of the session, I would allow them to keep the character or make their own PC and transfer the XP and gold acquired in the first session. This deck makes it that easier to do that then ever. At the end of the session have them transfer the card to an actual sheet and you are good to go.

The Card Box

The characters are made with Old-School Essentials/BX in mind but would work for almost any OSR system with light conversion. One point that has been made, and specifically spoken to on there webpage, is that the NPCs have slightly hirer than average stats if you are a 3d6 down the line sort of person. This to me is one of the things that separates it from the official OSE Rouges Gallery. I love the quirky style of the OSE characters, but many of them are quite a bit…quirky. There is nothing wrong if that is your taste, but Spell & Blade is a bit more my speed. These NPCs reflect more of how my PCs in my party look and fit like a glove. If you are a 3d6 straight down the line sort, then these might not be for you. If you are a 4d6, drop the lowest, and place as desired type, these will work well.

Front of a Card

I am not the biggest computer whiz, but I have some experience with printing on cardstock for game materials and I do not think it would be hard to accomplish that with these files. For the time and effort though I would recommend buying the cards from DriveThruRPG. This is my first experience ordering physically anything other than books from DriveThruRPG and it was quite the success. The cards are reasonable, seem as durable as you would expect, and the box fits them nicely. If you plan to use them at the table, I recommend sleeving the cards, but other than that you are all set.


Back of a Card

If you want to purchase this product, click HERE.

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  1. I’ve seen people complaining about the stats too but I don’t see any issue with them. Every group I’ve ever played D&D with from the early 80’s to now has always rolled 4d6 drop the lowest in order.

    1. I agree, but some people are hardcore. For them the Rouges Gallery for OSE is perfect. Those are 3d6 down the line.