I’ve just downloaded Old School Hack and was reading through it. I’m impressed. I’m now seeing the OSR as a continuum that ranges from simple re-creations of the original D&D, with minor improvement tweaks, to complete re-imaginings of the game with totally different systems and flavor. OSH falls very much on the farther end of the latter, and does it well.
One idea that particularly leaps at me is that of Arenas. In the words of the author, an Arena is simply “A place you might fight in that’s different from the places around it that you might fight in.”
This beautiful little piece of abstraction removes the need for grid maps, miniatures, and elaborate movement rules, allowing for faster play and at the same time, because there are abilities that allow players to manipulate their Arena placements and that of their opponents, still gives opportunities for tactical play in a cool, high-action way.
On-the-fly-type GMs can easily create Arenas as mind-maps, a method that agrees very well with my own preferred style of running games. Players can even create additional Arenas, with the GM’s permission. Brilliant, simply brilliant!