Monday, September 3, 2018

OSR Commentary - Why Expert Dungeons & Dragons Turns Up The Volume To Eleven

So labour day is over but I spent it with an old friend of mine, the Dungeons & Dragons Expert rule book is where things really start to take off. Sure the red Basic D&D book maybe iconic but its really Expert where that old magic flavor happens. You get  rules for PC's up to 14th level:  deadlier spells, more fleshed out equipment including ships and mounts, & full followers for higher level 'named' adventurers. Everything in the Expert rules is keyed for long-distance wilderness  & full  stronghold construction.

1981 Dungeons & Dragons D&D Expert Rules X1 Rulebook TSR #2015

Every iconic monster is found within the Expert Rule books pages from
blink dogs, displacer beasts, & yes even the PC swallowing purple worms! The wilderness is the next frontier in Expert & it shows here's the full force of what X1 The Isle of Dread can provide the players. Isle of Dread's map is left blank to allow the players to have full experience filling in the details whist bringing them up levels. That is of course if they survive the experience. PC's will go from being lowly adventurers to hardy  warriors, thieves, clerics & high ranking mages, lords, ladies, &  patriarchs/matriarchs plus there are rules for guild masters. Because the higher PC levels mean even more problems!
There's an almost gold rush feeling about Expert Dungeons & Dragons like the fact that the expansion of adventure options in
cities, the wilderness, sea voyages, etc.. Opens up the possibilities of death waiting right around the corner for the PC's. Expert Dungeons & Dragons is the big leagues where the choices of the players is for life or death.

Basic was the box set with the training wheels off for the PC's but things were heating up for the characters as they became movers & shakers within the royals courts & the wilderness outposts on the very edges of the map. Both B1 Keep on the Borderland & X1 The Isle of Dread offered the PC's the opportunity to realize that the edges of the map are not safe by any means. PC's have to deal with an ever changing landscape of hazards & pitfalls.

The fact that Basic/Expert Dungeons & Dragons is cross compatible with Gamma World makes it far easier to get the PC's into all kinds of science fantasy situations. The dungeon master has to temper this but this style of play can enable the DM to keep the game fresh & interesting while moving things in weird or strange directions. This is where the wilderness meets the wasteland for a very deadly combination! The  rules are much expanded with epic possibilities such as mass battles, naval combat, underwater adventures or aerial combat just around the corner making these rules perfect for science fiction or science fantasy variations of adventuring!

The simple style & no nonsense school of design here lends itself to the type of hard knocks that old school players were used to. This style of play produced an epic yet dangerous style of play. This style rewards the intelligent & crafty player while weeding out the weak from the bleeding hearts.This is one the reasons why B/X Dungeons & Dragons is still beloved to this very day.

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