Monday, July 30, 2018

OSR Commentary On The Classic TSR Era Expert Dungeons & Dragons Book By David Cook

Tegel Manor event went down well on Saturday with all of the players happy & their role playing advancing the adventure's thread. They wove around the adventure & interacted with a good number of NPC's from Tegel village. But I was thinking about the Expert Dungeons & Dragons rule book later that night.

So what's so important about the Expert rules? Well for the dungeon master this is the rule book that really takes the adventuring out from dungeon, ruins, & wrecked building adventure setting. It placed play right square in the wilderness & wastes of a campaign. The Expert book is where the dungeon hex crawl was born & expanded the game's horizons from there. The blue book is also where the hard introduction to the world of Mystara took place. We got a brief one page introduction to  the Grand Duchy of Karameikos  &  the infamous single-page hex map.


An excellent example of the types of wilderness based adventure is the classic B8 Journey to the Rock by Michael Malone. The fact is that is classic module reads like another tournament adventure with the PC's racing against time & the hazards of the Rock.

The Expert set is ideal for running the craziness of B8 & get the players to come back for more. There's something almost delicate in the balance of the gonzo vs the old school aesthetic . I do think that the expert set introducing newer conceptions such as new  magic item, monsters, and spells were enough to hold my interest as a DM. But the real break through was X1 Isle of Dread which highlighted the use of factions within a wilderness setting.

The placement of X1 Isle of Dread within Mystara has always been problematic at best. But a resource that I stumbled upon Isle of Dread Timeline  by HÃ¥vard can help with the placement of this classic isle.
Within the campaign set up of the wilderness hex crawl Isle of Dread pretty much covers all of the classic bases with the factions of the isle, the dinosaurs, & even a set of  Cthulhu like horrors waiting to be discovered by the unwary. But the thing about both of the modules listed in this blog entry is that their endlessly able to reap the benefits of  customization by the dungeon master.

Ten Reasons why The

Expert Books are Still Relevant
  1. Expert really expands every PC class with new magic item, monsters, and spells to keep the players interested & expand the range for adventuring as well as old school play 
  2. The best artwork & the books continue the vision laid down in the Basic rule book
  3. More options on the table gives the players more opportunities for  role playing. 
  4. Hex crawls can cover a wide variety of options for adventuring at the table. 
  5. Expert is the unsung hero of the B/X dungeons & dragons with a bunch of official adventures to make adventure play sessions a snap. 
  6. Brand recognition  is flowing out of the Expert rule book with its iconic cover artwork by Erol Otis 
  7. Wilderness crawls have the advantage of really being able to expand the levels of the PC's quickly but not without the risks of PC death
  8. The expert set has any number of options to get the PC's front & center right where the action is 
  9. With some adjustments the B/X books can be the perfect long lasting  campaign. 
  10. The Expert book is the perfect expansion for the B/X hard core dungeon & campaign play. Don't let the classic game fool you there is the heart & souls of this game & its players

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