I've been reading a lot of other, older editions of the game recently. It's been a long time since I've run anything but AD&D, but I'm feeling nostalgic for some of the other older editions. It would be cool to run the Keep on the Borderlands using Moldvay basic, or using my Greyhawk Dungeon for a 74 box set game. I'll have to think about this a bit.
Moldvay Basic is the first D&D item I ever owned. I was so excited when I got it. I convinced my Mom to buy that boxed set for me from "Hobby Corner" for my birthday in 1981. It had B2, crappy dice and that cool catalog. To this day, I still get a happy, nostalgic feeling every time I see that Erol Otus painting.
But at the time, I had no idea who Moldvay was, or who EGG was, or anything like that. The first version of D&D that I actually played was Holmes "blue book" D&D -- which is what prompted me to want it for my birthday. But by that time, Moldvay Basic was what was on the shelves.
But after I discovered EGG was the true author of the game, I was more interested in playing AD&D, and it's been that way ever since. I converted over to the three core hardbacks, which I bought used from kids at school, very early on.* It's hard for me to go back Original 1974 D&D, because AD&D was the more mature and natural outgrowth of it. If you're going to play OD&D, are you going to make use of the supplements? If so, and if you make use of all of them, you're right there on the verge of AD&D. So, why not just play AD&D?
Unearthed Arcana is the development that I have more mixed feelings about. I prefer to not use it, except for some additional spells, magic items and a few other things.
*BTW, those early AD&D hardbacks are of such awesome quality, I still have the used PH and MM and they are in great shape -- close to the shape I bought them in, other than when my cat threw up a furball on the owlbear page. I traded in my old DMG which had a slightly battered cover to Eric about 15 years ago and upgraded to a near mint version with a spotless cover. Early AD&D and the first three rule books... the high water mark for D&D, before and since? Without a doubt.
Post by geneweigel on Mar 20, 2015 17:42:02 GMT -5
I don't know if I can truly go back after AD&D. I definitely dropped all late era 1st edition easily to "go back" to AD&D but thats because its the apex style that I play. I feel comfortable giving a non-afficianado any TSR product that was produced when Gygax was at the helm because its easily interchangeable.
I'd recommend that all three basics to get the gyst although I'd prefer the Holmes edit.
As far as going back the 3 book and supplements, I still see it as a spectrum of tools of Gygax AD&D and find little difference. If the prices are off I just see it as a market, if the spell power is off then I see it as another spell, etc.
Last Edit: Mar 20, 2015 17:42:19 GMT -5 by geneweigel
Moldvay was the first product I owned. I 'played' a few times before, and I seem to remember it being a hodgepodge of the original books, Holmes, and maybe an AD&D book. I remember the oldest kids bashing the Holmes book as D&D for babies, or something like that. Moldvay was when I really got to know the game. I poured over that book so many times. I feel the same nostalgia for the cover, the alignment picture with the bound goblin, the 3 wizards dividing up the treasure, etc. I could definitely play it again. I wouldn't use the supplements for an OD&D game, other than monsters, spells, and magic items. Classes, mechanics, etc, would all be original box.
I also read that Basic Moldvay book countless times. I still love the illustrations, they are from the classic art period that I love with Dee, Willingham, Roslof, Otus, etc. They're burned into my memory. Same with the sample dungeon and examples of play ("It's okay; Gary sent us.").
But as far as the actual rules go, I can't think of any differences that I like better than AD&D.
- It's easier to get ability score bonuses in D&D, but also easier to get penalties -- this is possibly better if you're using a strict 3d6 method, but I've been using 4d6 drop the lowest arrange as desired so long that I don't see this as an important difference (neutral). - The "Demihumans as classes" concept just means that players of elf, dwarf and halfling characters are "locked in" to being fighter/magic-user, fighter, and fighter respectively (negative). - Unarmored AC is 9 rather than 10 (neutral). - Hit dice is worse: Fighters get d8, Clerics get d6, Thieves get d4, and halflings get screwed with the d6 since they are "Halfling fighters" but without fighter hit dice (negative). - Clerics not being able to get spells until 2nd level is a bit distinctive, but just makes the party a little weaker, with the cleric spending 1st level basically being a fighter with worse hit dice (negative). - Weapon damages are simpler ranging 1-4 to 1-10 and losing the mostly better damage amounts versus Large creatures (negative).
As a player I see a lot of negatives. As a DM, I see PC's that are generally going to be a bit less powerful with less hit points on average and dealing out less weapon damage -- which can easily be dealt with by scaling the monsters and dangers accordingly. Higher chance of TPK at 1st level. But overall, I just don't see Basic D&D has having anything that AD&D doesn't, other than simplicity -- which to me just translates as a truncated form with less options. Yeah, D&D for babies!
Last Edit: Mar 21, 2015 12:35:03 GMT -5 by GRWelsh
Post by geneweigel on Mar 21, 2015 15:49:48 GMT -5
I actually didn't buy the 1981 Basic set but I thought "D&D" was something to check out when I got the Dungeons and Dragons electronic labyrinth game back in 1980. I would say if I only had $10.00 to get it in the window of some variety store. My brother ended up getting it for me as a present. Even the catalog that was included kind of sparked me up for more but I wouldn't come in to some money for about two years after in 1983 and thats when I went bonkers. I bought the toys and everything and anything D&D.
It was in this order:
1981 basic. brother got 1981 expert
Monster Manual. Brother got Fiend Folio.
Borrowed a PHB.
Then started getting miniatures like crazy. All the gold sets and Citadel singles.
In 1983, it was like the floodgates opened for every D&D everything. Ordering from Grenadier, Ral Partha and Dungeon Hobby Shop. Making raids into Kay-Bee toys, B. Dalton booksellers, Toys R Us and Waldenbooks. THAT and Star Wars everything...
I'm playing a converted version of B2 now with my kids. I got the Boxed Set with the Purple cover sometime during my Freshman year ('80/'81). I'm still using those dice! This was my first taste of the game after hearing about it from some kids in the lunch room. We never actually played the Keep, but I read through it dozens of times. We pretty much went straight to AD&D, starting with The Village of Hommlet. We bought everything at a hobby store in Chicago that was called Triarco.
Getting ready to start a Basic campaign, reading through the books and rolling up characters, I came cross a rule that I don't think I ever remember coming across before, two handed weapons always lose initiative.
There was a fix if you wanted to use the dex adjustment for initiative in POLYHEDRON#12(JUN 1983) under the Dispel Confusion section for "D&D":
DQ: When I use the Paired Combat option (using dexterity scores to modify initiative), the monsters lose most of the time. Is this right?
DA: If this optional system is used in melee, the DM should adjust the mon- sters' as well as the characters'. Use movement rates as a guideline; you could award +1 bonus if the rate is 120-149 feet per turn, +2 if 150-179', and +3 if 180' or more. Several monsters might gain bonuses when flying, for example, but not when aground.
Although I believe this was designed to turn kids on to the hard stuff: Weed D&D
During those days I recall people making up patchovers for not understanding the rules like people would do with Monopoly. Now they call them "homebrew" but I think those things called homebrew are conscious moves. Back then when D&D's main ideas were not in the popular consciousness, "hit points", "damage" and "armnor class" had not been grokked so you would see weird shit like DM's keeping separate "hit sheets" and "creatively interpreted damage of unknown origin", etc.
One of my first DMs used the Holmes Basic rules with Dex determining initiative. That kid was artistic, and drew great maps that really captured the same look as the maps in B1, B2 and T1 (he was in the process of moving into AD&D when he first DMed for us... this was early 1981). I remember seeing one of his early dungeon maps, and it was like a variation on a theme of the "Caves of Chaos": he had a dungeon divided up into four quadrants, designated by letters to indicate Kobold Lair, Goblin Lair, Orc Lair, and another I can't remember, and then numbers for the specific rooms. His Dungeon Key had a DX stat for every monster. I remember asking him what a kobold was, and he tried to describe it and said, "If a kobold spits on you, you take damage." That gave me the impression kobolds were particularly fearsome monsters.