Tuesday, July 31, 2018

More OSR Observations on The Basic Dungeons & Dragons Rule Book By Tom Moldvay

For me Basic Dungeons & Dragons was a sort of weird transition point between original Dungeons & Dragons to Holmes then to Basic. The whole theory behind the product for me didn't feel so much as a new beginning but a transition of adventure play.

We didn't bother with taking our games over to Advanced Dungeons & Dragons until much later on. The Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual & Fiend Folio were used ad hoc in play regardless of various articles in 'The Dragon' who urged caution for using the monsters. The Drivethrurpg entry on the B/X Basic set rule book entry bares out my own DM's instincts on the subject;
"Holmes' Basic Set was widely successful - sufficiently so that TSR was wary of sending its players on to the more challenging original D&D game or the more complex AD&D game (1977-79) game. Thus, as early as fall 1979, work began on an Expert Set that would allow the hundreds of thousands of players who had learned the game from Basic D&D to continue on, past the three levels available in that game."

For kids wanting Dungeons & Dragons faster then a black & white Eighties Sword & Sorcery comic book style the Basic rule book fit the bill but we used whatever resources were available & game balance be damned.

There was a certain amount of unhinged lets see what we can get going with this stuff attitude when it came to the games. Gods, Demi Gods & Heroes were used frequently when the version of Deities & Demi gods weren't available because of circumstances. World mythology was a major part of our campaigns back then & to certain extent it still is. Despite the near constant whine of the majority of OSR kickstarters & trendy what not the Eighties provided a cheap mill of used paperbacks & mythology which was/is still the best resource for gamers.
Despite the usual BS from gamers about not monkeying with the rules, our groups warped, played with, & turned 
Moldvay's Basic D&D  like a balloon animal to suit the player's & the campaign's needs. That's the strength of Basic Dungeons & Dragons the fact that it can be customized & used as needed.

We used Basic like a harp from Hell to stimulate everything from light weight science fantasy to Westerns when Boot Hill came to call with the guide lines from the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master's Guide providing all of the incentive needed. I learned Western & Eastern mythology because of these books & these lessons served me well in my forty years in this hobby. To this day while I do love some of the usual OSR trends in the hobby its the solid basis in Arthurian literature that still gets the creative juices flowing.

Basic Dungeons & Dragons provided the grounding for ruin & dungeon crawling. The fact that B2 Keep on The Borderlands was/is a very customizable adventure somehow seems lost on the jaded gamers of today. Yet I've run this same module numerous times & modified it to work not only in Dungeons & Dragons but Boot Hill or Gamma World as well. Yet those same 'jaded gamers' never recognize the module for what it is?! Trends may come & go in the OSR but classics are classic for a reason.

I found this out back in the 90's when I picked up modules for a song because White Wolf games were in vogue & players were leaving classic D&D in droves. But there was the first signs of the classic TSR era product still drawing in the hard cases. Third edition started rearing its head at the early part of the 00's & things were still classic. I could get an easy draw with original Dungeons & Dragons or Basic D&D.I'm still using the same tricks to get players to the table. There's the nostalgia factor sure but the classic still draw in the players.

Ten Reasons Why Basic Dungeons & Dragons Still Works At The Table 

  1. The game still draws in players because of the free wheeling nature of the interlocking game play & adventures. 
  2. Player cooperation is built into the game & it bleeds through the situations & adventures that player's PC's find themselves in. 
  3. Basic has many advantages of being a closed product & B/X is all that's needed to run a complete game. 
  4. The quality of the game is still solid even after all of this time. 
  5. The replay quality of the Basic game means that Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition adventures can easily be run with B/X. 
  6. The style of the game sets it apart from the trendy games of today. 
  7. Dungeons & Dragons Basic & original Dungeons & Dragons are hardcore with PC death around every corner. 
  8. There is a ton of good quality support material for free on the internet for B/X Dungeons & Dragons. 
  9. Dungeons & Dragons can do anything from science fantasy, Sword & Sorcery, to high fantasy easily. 
  10. Old school still rocks so fight on!

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