Wednesday, January 18, 2023

OSR Commentary - Monsters, Law, Chaos, & B/X Dungeons & Dragons.

 Last night was a night of soul searching about several things when it comes to the recent Cowards of the Coast 1.01 debacle. It's got me remembering the Satanic Panic era & the evils of B/X Dungeons & Dragons.There were something about the monsters of Basic & Expert Dungeons & Dragons that everyone seems to forget. The monsters of B/X were Chaos & Law incarnate. 

According to a recent Wayne's Books article here the two rule books really do bounce off one another; "The Rulebooks echo each other strongly inside, differing only when their focus calls for it: Beginning characters in Dungeons vs. Higher-level characters exploring Wilderness. Basic is levels 1-3, Expert goes up though character level 14."
The B/X's rule books monsters have a raw feel about them. No unfinished mind you but the feel of creatures that with any opportunity would & will rip your PC's apart! And nowhere is this more reflected within B2 Keep on The Borderlands By Gary Gygax.

I've said this before a ton of times that 
B2 Keep on The Borderlands By Gary Gygax is ground zero for the war between Chaos & Law in B/X Dungeons & Dragons. This leads into the T1 The Village of Hommlet & all of the window dressing there. 
The keep is key to defining & defending the borderlands. The borderlands themselves were our campaign setting. Events may have happened in the wildernesses of Greyhawk & the Wilderlands. But it was the Borderlands that were our primary concern time & again.What defines this are the facts that B/X's rule books lent themselves so readily to these facets. And this is because of the nature of the monsters within the B/X D&D rules. Everything works like a well oiled machine to facilitate PC advancement. 
The wilderness that D&D Expert set talks about is all about the PC's. The Keep on the Borderlands is the literal base of operations & Hommlet is point of protection. The humaniod armies of B/X Dungeons & Dragons can & will take full advantage of the party the second that they can. 

There are more then a few reasons why the struggle of Law Vs Chaos is central to a good OSR campaign. 
  1. B/X Dungeons & Dragons can be seen as a bit of a road map when it comes to laying down a convincing Chaos vs Law struggle campaign 
  2. T1 & B2 are excellent wilderness outposts and can easily be worked into a Gamma World Rpg campaign. We've done this in the past with no one the wiser. 
  3. Moving ahead with the events of the village Hommlet let's the DM ramp up the tension
  4. Humanoid monsters as servants of Chaos makes PC's take notice really quickly. 
  5. ACK's is a perfect transition rules set for a group of B/X players into the OSR. The Borderlands campaign fits easily into the background. 
  6. B/X can give years of play before it's neccessary to move the PC's along. 
  7. The wilderness is a great stand in for the 'lands of chaos' 
  8. The Wilderness is also excellent as a bridge into a Gamma World 1st edition game. 
  9. Struggling with a classic B/X game teaches the fundamentals of classic Dungeons & Dragons 
  10. Hommlet is such a great counterpoint to the Keep from B2 

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