Friday, September 22, 2023

OSR Commentary - '83 Baptism by Fire Frank Mentzer's Dungeons & Dragons Set 1 Basic Rules

 Let's pick it up right from here on the blog. Eighty three was a very good year because it brought out Frank Mentzer's Basic Box set and this was a huge leap forward in some respects. Frank Mentzer built all of the parts & pieces that had been introduced within B/X as well as previous year's Dragon magazine articles. 

What Menzter Basic did was three fold, it cleared up and clarified the D&D rules. It took other existing material and edited it for a new generation of players. And it made Dungeons & Dragons accessible to the mass market. You might not think so but lots of new players in Eighty Three entered the hobby because of this box set. 
For us Menzter Basic was another incarnation of the grand game. And therefore another edition to play with. We had started with original Dungeons & Dragons. Mentzer was different ball of wax. The rules were a bit more streamlined and clarified. 
The set had a different feel then previous editions and character generation was slightly more consistant. These were observations of fellow gamers and hobbyists that I've talked with. 

Frank Mentzer's Dungeons & Dragons Set 1 Basic Rules were a completely different take then previous editions not in terms of content. But in terms of where the editions were available to us as gamers. I saw my first Mentzer set at a K&B toy store and was blown away. And I also saw a set at War & Pieces in West Hartford Connecticut. The grand game was now far more readily available then in previous years. Moldvay & Cook Dungeons & Dragons always seemed to be only available in hobbyshops & the speciality shop in Connecticut. Mentzer was in Sears Christmas catalog. 
Mentzer Dungeons & Dragons seemed to have several things going for it. 
  1. Mentzer Dungeons & Dragons was readily graspable for the ordinary hobbyists or beginner. 
  2. There were enough bones in the Basic set to get the player going deeper into the hobby. 
  3. Mentzer D&D was easy to understand and therefore easily accessible by the beginning player. 
  4. Mentzer D&D was the set up for the one two combo of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition. 
  5. Mentzer D&D was also easy to design home brew adventures or use easily accesible modules for the game. 
Mentzer D&D was the gateway drug into Advanced Dungeons & Dragons for so many of us. And this started a love affair with BECMI Dungeons & Dragons and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition. 

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