Looking at it harshly, I didn't like it. I think what turned me off was the remarks of making M-Us weaker at 1st level and rubberizing towns (0 levels) and low level monsters:
1. A 1st-level magic-user hits AC 10 on a roll of 12; on the DMG chart, the same character would hit on a roll of 11. The revision makes it tougher for a 1st-level magic-user to engage in physical combat and better separates that character from other 1st-level characters who hit AC 10 on a roll of 11 or 10. 2. The man-at-arms is a separate entry on the revised table (ranking between O-level characters and 1st-level fighters), while such characters are not specially accounted for in the DMG. The capability of the true non-combatant (O-level) human is moved down one more notch, so that he hits AC 10 on a roll of 12 instead of 11. 3. Monsters with 1-2 hit points are distinguished from those with 1-4 hit points, making the former 5% less likely to hit. 4. Clerics of 19th level and higher hit AC 10 on a roll of -2, while the book calls for -1. Notice that the categories for monsters are defined differently than in the DMG; for instance, creatures of 3+4 to 4+3 hit dice are grouped together. This is in accordance with the note under Table II, page 75, saying that Any plus above +3 equals another hit die.
Would it be like playing a better "edition D&D" game? Probably. See how it goes.
Too fiddly -- Yes, I agree. I also agree about making magic-users, 0-levels and 1-2 hp monsters worse... There is no need for that. I think I'm just going to do a simplified version of "You get the 5% increment the level below you would normally get the 10% increment." Fighters improve their hit rolls by 1 every level instead of 2 every other level. That way there is no need for a new set of charts. Monster charts will stay as-is.
Who is worse? Lakofka or Mentzer? Seriously, I see a lot of energy coming off Lakofka enough to make the "archer" an early magazine favorite amongst players but he couldn't muster curb appeal beyond the superfluous illustration here and there (WOG gods, etc). I always read his stuff like "you're not going to get anything new" in mind. Even the "L" series is full and empty at the same time.
We should retroactively call his "LEOMUND'S TINY HUT" Dragon articles "EXPERT-USER-END'S MINUTIA HUT"...
Seriously, this is the way that I see Lakofka: he contributed tangentially, as a regular D&D tournament player (And fellow Diplomacy enthusiast with Gary), with outstanding comments to the Dungeon Master's Guide (Mentioned by Gary in DRAGON #28 AUG 1979) and that, I assume, is why he got the Lich (DRAGON MAGAZINE #26 JUNE 1979) and Vampire (DRAGON MAGAZINE #30 OCTOBER 1979) articles. Which led to the start of LEOMUND'S TINY HUT as an almost regular series of articles (DRAGON MAGAZINE #31 NOV 1979 to DRAGON MAGAZINE #108 APR 1986) and him having a full plate and scrounging for material. Also starting with the BEST OF DRAGON #2 (1981) his articles were made prominent by the editors. He was designated for "World of Greyhawk" along with Rob Kuntz and Frank Mentzer with sketchy results from all of them (The Lakofka Suel gods seemed cool upon release but I got fatigued on them after a while.). Once the money left town so did Lakofka because aside from a few latter day efforts it seems like he was only there for the free cheese (Corporate perks).
Frank and Len both leaned in the direction of rules mechanics and balance concerns, and of course they didn't have EGG's imagination. Not many do! But I appreciated their attempts to clarify and logically expand on the rules, even if sometimes it got a bit dry. And I did enjoy some of their creative efforts... I liked Frank and Len's modules "To the Aid of Falx" and "The Assassin's Knot" and I liked the Death Master class. Frank and Len both had the honor of being invited onto Oerth with their campaigns set there as Aqua-Aerdy and Lendore Isle, which is pretty damn cool!
It seemed like Kuntz, Mentzer and Lakofka were not associated at all (Even though Mentzer and Kuntz were standing together right in front of me it was like they weren't associated. Almost like unrelated cousins associated by marriages.). Which is weird. I had used Mentzer's THE BOOK OF MARVELOUS MAGIC but the reaction that people have for him is harsh. If I was going to pinpoint a big dud it was THE NEEDLE (1987) which was finished without him I believe but that I had associated with him for a long time.
Rob, Frank and Len each had strong associations with EGG but perhaps not with each other... Rob had strong associations with EGG during the formation of D&D in the early 70's and became his co-DM and a TSR employee in the mid 70's, and after that there was a time when Rob was gone from the scene. Len did a lot of work on AD&D with EGG in the mid to late 70's but was a free lancer. Frank came on board TSR as an editor in early 1980 and his main distinction seems to be winning the first "DM Invitational" contest during the height of the tournament play boom, and working as an editor with EGG and later being handed Basic D&D and T1-4. So, they each worked closely with EGG at different times. What they have in common is that they were all invited by EGG to have parts of the World of Greyhawk to develop and DM for. EGG seemed to think highly of all three.
I'm always interested in what the old guard may be up to, creatively speaking. And of course I'm interested in their memoirs about the old days. I'm not interested in controversy, political opinions, scandals, or waxing philosophical about game design theory and such stuff... That all seems like a waste of time. When I finally get to Lake Geneva I definitely plan to swing by the Dungeon Hobby Shop Museum and hope to get in some gaming with Ernie. That would be awesome. As far as the "new (and controversial) TSR Games" goes, I have wait and see approach. Ultimately, their products will either be good or not, they'll have to stand on their own merits. This has been like watching someone throw the anchor out of their boat while it is still being towed down the road and before it is even in the lake!
As we've been getting sidewound by me mostly, I've been thinking about what specific house rule that is a variant. I'd say higher level games are Chainmail rules for a battle with troops. Maybe referencing Swords &Spells otherwise it's AD&D overlap for Man to Man.
For traps, it is always subjective to the trap.
If players keep talking, I assume that is character talk and they are distracted.
No doubled up combat powers (fight and gate, etc) unless it's related to armor and to hit in place.
I allow in-game chatter and I also count it as characters taking up time. The torches are burning! If someone drank a potion and they are talking about what to do, the planning in real time counts towards game time and potion duration. This came up in the last game session.
I've been asking for a volunteer to be the mapper and/or builder of terrain as we go. More complex dungeons require actual mapping by the players or they can get lost. Players lost = characters lost.
The larger the party the more likely I am to make use of a caller. We had seven players last time and it was orderly enough going around the table to determine actions that I didn't assign a caller.
For the past year or so, I've gone back to strict XP by the book in AD&D rules. But lately, I'm starting to give XP for overcoming other obstacles like traps and tricks. I think it is still in the spirit of the game.
It must have been for those super large player groups common in the 1970's and all but non existent since then. I seem to remember EGG and Rob talking about that. It may also be a good method of imposing an order on a loud, chaotic group ("Whatever the caller says you do is what you do, so make sure get the details straight with him!").
Occasionally, some player becomes de facto leader simply by virtue of being more engaged.