Saturday, October 4, 2014

Old D&D editions and clones - B/X edition D&D

In my series going back through old editions and clones I've reached the edition of D&D called B/X, for the "Basic" and "eXpert" books of the D&D rules. I'm thinking of taking a closer look at some other old school games as well, but for now it's the Thing itself, D&D.

First impression is good. This is clear about what it's all about, and how to use the book. This introduction is very clear, and this is what you feel about the rest of this book, very clear.

How do you organize a game book anyway? Many books have been organized like this one, and for a good reason, it is clear and makes a lot of sense. You learn about a how to make a character, his or her powers and then about things you might happen upon in an adventure and how to handle them. Even in the section about encounters the author lists things you might want to do when you encounter a creature, and then in the same order they are listed there's a section on how to handle that eventuality.

The only thing I really find curious about these books, Basic and Expert alike, is how they mention monsters. In the first book they say there's more stuff in the next book, like monsters! Then in the next book they once more mention the next book (never published) containing more stuff, like monsters. It's also mentioned on the back of the books that there are "new spells, magic items and over 100 new monsters". Why not mention how many magic items are in there?

It was fun to see that Dave Arneson's rules about magic swords show up again. I kind of missed them when they were not in the first book. I wonder how different the history of D&D would be if all swords had been that special?

Generally when I read this book I feel "this is a game I could see myself playing". You feel that since it's so complete. There are procedures for stocking dungeons, what to do if they players want to speak to monsters or who will act first when they are surprised. It feels like whatever happens, you're covered. This almost makes me feel like I'm reading 3rd edition, which is usually being slammed for trying to cover it all, with a rule for everything. Maybe it's a matter of how you present it? For me it reads very comforting. I am tempted to run a game just because I know with these rules I could handle anything.

Apart from that, there's very few pieces of really inspiring bits for me. The prose is very dry, and not enticing me into adventure, and the rules have no really quirky and bizarre subsystems you long to try out. Oddly enough, if there's one word for this feeling it must be - dull!

Considering this is the favourite edition for many D&D fans, I guess I just cussed in church! But, I don't consider this a bad game. Frankly, this probably is my favourite edition of D&D. For some reason it really lack some pizzazz, though. It wont make me go "I really want to play this game", but like I wrote earlier I could really see myself doing it, because I find no faults at all with it. Come to think of it, this was the last edition I used to run a D&D game, before it fizzled out and we started playing that newfangled thing, called 4th ed.

There is one thing that mystifies me, though, why do a clone of this game? There's nothing to fix, and there's no fault in its presentation and it's easy to find for sale cheap. Well, not being silly I guess the problem would be it's not in print.

But, My two copies of both Basic and Expert have actually kept me from getting Labyrinth Lord. I never felt the need.
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