Product Review – OSR Gems [Recycled Drivel or Plagiarism?]

OSR Gems
Author: Jonathan Henry & Cameron Corniuk
Cover Design: Uncredited
Publisher: Giant Dragons
Page Count: 69
Available Formats: PDF Only
Cost: $4.97

For many years, players have sought after varied and unique treasures. Their characters have ventured through numerous tunnels, fought all manner of beasts, and overcame every challenge. Sometimes, they found riches. Occasionally, they found greater and more powerful weapons, armor, and tomes. Often, they were left with the option to leave trinkets behind and sell what they could carry.

This guide to socketing weapons, armor, and gear provides a new option for characters that fall under the OSRIC series of games. Within this work, we will provide the basic rules to enhance existing gear with the gems characters may find in their travels, if the GM permits it. (p. 7)

Normally, supplements of this nature (fluffy) don’t require a mechanical overview and I am not convinced that this one does as well. Let me qualify this statement before we proceed. Most of this book(let) is identified as “open gaming content” and that might be correct, but everything, okay nearly everything, in this book comes from the Diablo video game series or Diablo branded D&D products (2e & 3e).

Conceptually, the mechanics work thusly: A hero can find gems of varying qualities and types as loot during their adventures. They can then have a gem cutter combine gems (really?) to create charged stones or to increase their value. These stones or jewels can then be set into armor, weapons, etc to infuse them with the jewel’s magically power. There is more to the mechanics, but these ideas are so in-line with the Diablo gem system, I loathe to document it further (see CONS below).

I really have nothing positive to say about this unimaginative product.

There are many! First, while I am not sure the term plagiarized is totally appropriate, I still think it fits! “Release under the Open Gaming License. All material herein that is already open gaming content remains upon gaming content. The tables for random roll gem determination are also open gaming content. The gems, how they work, and their abilities are open gaming content. The flavor text is not open gaming content.” (p. 1) There, clear as day, all is open gaming content with the exception of the flavor text. The two authors of the recycled idea are very unimaginative but creative enough to reuse content that has already been done. To sum this up, this product is nothing short of a derivative work with their fluff thrown in for good measure. Looking at the OGL as published in this book, it is, in theory, a violation of the OGL under the “Product Identity” sub-categories, concepts, and likeness. I am only a layman when it comes to the OGL so don’t take my word for it. I have enough college degrees with my name on them to recognize that this book would not pass the collegiate smell test when it comes to plagiarizing.

Here are the similarities that I have made between the Diablo gem system and this book. (Diablo Wiki)

  • Increasing quality of gems (Diablo has 5 and this book has 6[Diablo II]) – All the names are the same except the authors added a sixth, marquees.
  • Socketing gems were introduced in Diablo II
  • Diablo II introduced the mechanic that it took 3 gems of a particular quality in the socket to empower the item. The same concept of 3 is identical in this book with the exception of Marquee which takes 4 “radiant” gems to make a marquee.
  • Diablo II’s Horadic Cube was used to convert 3 stones of one quality into one stone of the next higher quality. The authors changed Horadic Cube to Gem Cutter and left the concept the same. Diablo III has the Covetous Shen, a jeweler which is another name for a gem cutter.
  • Gems are socketed to some type of equipment in both Diablo II and III and this book. While setting jewels in equipment is not unique to Diablo, the term socketing is more closely related to the Diablo gem system.

That, in a nutshell, summarizes the Diablo II gem system and this book. There is very little that is new or original in this book excluding the flavor text which there is a modest amount of. Though that also lacks much in the way of creativity.

Second, If you are going to put out a product that is geared towards the OSR community, it helps to know what OSR stands for. OSR does NOT mean, OSRIC series of games as the authors have clearly stated. It, in fact, means Old School Renaissance! Get it right!

Third, the layout sucks! There is so much wasted space on each page. If this was a print book, I would be appalled at the idea of paying for so much wasted space. In addition to a very poor layout, there are some copy-edit problems that I noted. Not terrible, but they do stand out to a trained eye.

Lastly, the artwork is bland and unoriginal.

Avoid this thing like the plague! The idea presented is so unoriginal and the authors so unimaginative that you are paying for content that they admit (in theory) is already open content. I was totally offended by the lack of creativity and almost insulted as an OSR gamer that this would be marketed at this segment of the RPG hobby.

~ Modoc

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