Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Early-Afternoon Reflections & Some Gamer ADD

Well, as I near my 100th post, I've been reflecting on the events in my renewed roleplaying career since June of last year. That's when I started this blog. I don't really have time to do a year-in-review post at the moment, but I might do something like that for the actual 100th post. I want to take a look at my progress over the last year as far as actual gaming is concerned, refocus on the purpose of my blog and consider what I might do differently going forward, and perhaps make some predictions on what the future may hold. On the matter of roleplaying, I definitely feel like I need to make my own destiny, so the future will truly only be what I make it. And there's a part of me that is saying "You've been doing this for a year and you only have 100 posts?! Weak!"

I also wanted to report that I am currently suffering Gamer ADD again. This time, of all things, I find myself longing to possess the Mentzer Basic and Expert box sets. I know, I know, there are those out there that are going to start saying that the Moldvay Basic and Cook/Marsh Expert are superior, and that Mentzer's work is a "kiddified" version of D&D. I wish I had copies of all of those sets, so I could compare for myself. QUESTION: can anyone give me a summary of the differences, and the pros and cons of each? I am sure that there has to be such a comparison out there in the blogosphere. Oh, and I'm not sure if I should bring the Holmes thing into the mix...ugh.

I have a copy of the Rules Cyclopedia, so I technically don't need the Mentzer stuff. But I dug up some PDFs of the Mentzer books on the Internet, and I find myself enamored by them. Why? I have to admit that I'm not really sure. It might be pure nostalgia, and not necessarily the good kind. As some of you may know by now, I never really played "regular" D&D. I started out playing Advanced D&D as a kid. I may have been around the D&D books (like the Rules Cyclopedia) but my friends and I never used that other stuff. We were 1E PHB, DMG, and MM all the way.

Maybe the Mentzer stuff appeals on a very shallow level, since they contain a lot of art from Larry Elmore. Elmore was also the primary artist for the early Dragonlance novels, and we all know how I feel about Dragonlance by now.

It's only in recent years that I've payed more attention to the OD&D works. I've stated here before that I didn't really care to learn the difference between Holmes and Moldvay and Mentzer, but it's sort of seeping in through osmosis. Yet I find myself getting more and more curious about those box sets. Maybe it's a seed of gamer puritanism within me. Sure, I could use Labyrinth Lord or Swords & Wizardry or some other retroclone. But there's something about using the original books that somehow appeals.

Oy, it's enough to drive one insane! For now, I need to return a bit to reality and stick to the good gaming I have going on at the moment. Enough with the grass is greener stuff, right?


  1. For a long time (most of the 90's), I was enamored by the sheet beauty of Mentzer's 1-36 masterpiece, BECMI. The reality is, my campaigns never last that long, so BX is just fine.

    Mentzer stretches abilities over 36 levels, so low level thieves really suffer, for instance. Why start a game that stretches a career for 36 levels when you're only going to play 18 months anyway? The red books aren't as functional as the earlier red book because of all the tutorial stuff interspersed.

    I do love the Elmore art, and the Companion set is brilliant all around - great wrestling rules, tournament and dominion rules, war machine, etc, just love it.

    These days I tend to think the Labyrinth Lord approach (levels 1-20) are a good fit, I just wish LL had the art, layout and production values of TSR's heyday. I find BX eminently functional at the table.

  2. I agree. I've always found a strange beauty in the BE of BECMI, whichever that is. Moldvay?

  3. I posted last year on some of the differences between the two sets and got some good discussion generated in the comments as well.

  4. @sirlarkins: Thanks for checking in, and thanks for the link. It's late, so I'm about to pass out, but glancing over your post, I see you also get a stirring of the adventuring fire when you see Elmore's work. I'm the same exact way. It's such a visceral reaction, it's sort of strange. I just associate his art with all that's good about roleplaying/D&D.

    I'll have to read your post with more clarity tomorrow...