Friday, October 16, 2020

'The Changing Face of Gaming' Some Thoughts on Imagine issue #3 - "Basic or Advanced?"By Noel Williams article


One the interesting relics of yesteryear was Imagine magazine  & yes its the house organ magazine that was supposed to be part of the  TSR UK Limited line. Yeah the history is there but that's not what's on my mind today. There's a very interesting article in Imagine  issue #3 that tackles a problem that we see in the OSR again & again on social media.  I'm talking about the  "Basic or Advanced?"By  Noel Williams article.  
This is the centerpiece of the magazine in my humble opinion because it hits square the problem that we keep running into on social media among the old school crowd. 
The article hits point per point the difference between Basic & Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition. What the article does is use the adventure in this issue 'A Box for the Mangrave' as a point by point argument & deconstruction of the two systems. This isn't a bad way of taking apart the two systems but I really don't think that it does the B/X Dungeons & Dragons systems any real good. 

The flaw in this article is the fact that both B/X & Advanced Dungeons & Dragons were changing. The games themselves as well as the fan base was and is dynamic. There's where the rub is. This article as much as the magazine itself is a relic of another era. Why do I say this?! The Grognardia blog has the answer ;On the other hand, Noel Williams tackles the thorny question of "Basic or Advanced?" This is a very fascinating article, since it deals head-on with the differences between the two different strains of Dungeons & Dragons. Ultimately, Williams concludes that

The DM in Advanced can add more detail (more monsters, more treasures) but not much in the way of rules or the system becomes unbalanced. On the other hand, because it is so well balanced, new contributions of detail are easy to make ...

With Basic, more is left to the DM. He has greater freedom but less guidance. There is less research for him to do and less to attend to in game, but additional work may be needed to make scenarios credible, and imagination is essential.

I'm not sure I'd have stated this the way that Williams does, but I think he's definitely on to something. While I've met my fair share of Basic rules lawyers and free-form AD&Ders, the general thrusts of the two games, as Gygax stated on more than a couple of occasions, comports with what Williams says above."

This in fact get's to the heart of Mentzer Basic & Expert box sets, one of the things that BCEMI Dungeons & Dragons does & does system wise very well according to the Dungeons & Dragons wiki Homebrew site; "Unlike the J. Eric Holms and Tom Moldvay versions, Frank Mentzer and his team made significant changes to the rules. The game now played very differently than the previous versions, which had all existed as half-hearted sales for the original game and marketing material for AD&D. This significant departure from the original rules and nearly absent marketing of AD&D lead to the product line eventually being cut after its rules were collected in the Rules Cyclopedia (Basic D&D)

I'm not saying in any way shape or form that B/X Dungeons & Dragons is in any way superior to Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. Instead I'm saying that at the time of the  
"Basic or Advanced?"By  Noel Williams article Dungeons & Dragons was undergoing significant changes. Those changes made the way for a whole cloth different incarnation of the grand game. And that was for  'The D&D Rules Cyclopedia'.

Does this in any way invaladate  the  "Basic or Advanced?"By  Noel Williams article? Nope not at all and that's what grogards & gamers have to realize. Each of these articles & pieces are slices of our collective history of Dungeons & Dragons. 

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