Basic fantasy is a 164page old school style RPG written by Chris Gonnerman.
The page layouts and black and white art is reminiscent of old school role-playing games. With four races Dwarf, Elf, Halfling, and Humans. Classes include Cleric, Fighter, Magic-user, and Thief.
I've seen time and time again fans of the game try to compare it to a particular version of older editions of D&D. Since I didn't play those older editions I really can't attest to how close it is, but I have played enough retro clones and OSR games to get a sence of its old school vibe.
Basic fantasy is an OGL based game using the same core (although very scaled back) system as the 3rd edition of dungeons and dragons. Basic fantasy uses the core six ability scores, scaling combat bonuses, and abilities like it's roots. While keeping a simple feel and style that very much exemplifies older editions of the game.
This to me is the best of both worlds. Basic fantasy is simple and elegant while taking advantage of modern innovation and design like ascending armor class. I always give the example of a classic car. The classic styling and sleek lines, but under the hood is a modern motor, powerful while being fuel efficient.
Beyond being old school and mechanically elegant it's also a simple framework for hacking. With all the material out for OSR games and 3.x D&D it's easy to find resources for building the game you want to play. Build your game from the ground up.
While it's easy to use or convert other material to Basic fantasy, there is also a lot of material made for it, available for free on it's website at Basicfantasy.org.
One of the most amazing things about Basic fantasy is that it is a complete game. While there is a lot of resources (I'll cover that later) all you really need is the core rules to run it. To give you an idea how complete it is I'll give a quick page breakdown.
Quick page breakdown:
1-2 is introduction.
3-14 is character creation and gear.
15-35 is spells.
36-42 is rules for adventuring.
43-53 is rules for running encounters.
54-128 is monsters (2-4 per page)
129-143 is treasure and magical items.
144-163 Guide to game mastering.
164 is a very well done Index.
Another amazing thing about Basic fantasy, it's free on Basicfantasy.org
As a PDF. Print copies can also be purchased on Amazon in paperback for $5 as of this review, as well as a field guide full of monsters and adventure most under $4 as of the posting of this review. Hard bound versions of the core book can be purchased on Lulu.com.
The fact that I spent $25ish dollars and got the core books and a stack of supplements is pretty amazing value. Not even taking into account all the material available for free.