Thursday, September 1, 2011

Readin' Up on Basic/Classic/Just Plain D&D

I was recently chastized for referring to Moldvay and Mentzer's sets as OD&D, and perhaps rightly so. Mea culpa. Again, I never actually played OD&D or Moldvay/Mentzer in my gaming career. I started out with AD&D from the get-go. I may have collected things such as the Rules Cyclopedia and the Big Black Box, but never played those versions.

[Just as an aside, I would personally like to call Moldvay / Mentzer's versions D&D, rather than Basic or Classic D&D. Basic doesn't seem to fit to me, since Moldvay had an Expert set, and Mentzer had the Expert / Companion / Master / Immortal sets to follow up his Basic. I would prefer to call the iterations Original D&D, D&D, and AD&D...but I suppose that might not be clear enough. Ah heck, I guess I'll stick to Classic D&D, then.]

It's only now that I'm dabbling in Original and Classic D&D. I purchased Lamentations of the Flame Princess as well as Labyrinth Lord and Swords & Wizardry. As stated above, I have a copy of the Rules Cyclopedia at home, and even managed to snag some PDFs of the books in Moldvay and Mentzer's sets. So now I have piles of original versions as well as clones...and I need to start studying up!

I know in the past I declared Mentzer's version of Classic D&D to be my go-to once I was ready to run some plain-old D&D, either using the RC or the books from the sets. Well, now I'm not so sure.

So, I've decided to start really reading up on the old Classic material. I'm picking a starting point as of now, and that is Moldvay/Cook/Marsh B/X. I'm not really sure where I will go from there. Any advice would be very welcome!

And BTW, where's Holmes fit in with all this? I frankly have no real interest in considering Holmes. I've glanced at his version, and seemed like just a jumble.

Anyway, I'm off to start studying. If I have time, I'll post some impressions. Wish me luck on my journey of discovery...

EDIT: I suppose I should have included a status update of where my head is at currently with regard to "preferred" editions, eh? At this point, Labyrinth Lord seems to have risen above the rest of the pack, both original editions and clones, in my estimation. But I would like to read Moldvay to see how things were originally published. Mentzer and the RC call out to me, perhaps just from nostalgia. But from my prior superficial scans of the contents of LL, the Mentzer-era stuff doesn't seem as "shiny" least at the moment.

As for Swords & Wizardry, it's sort of slipping further down on the rungs of my affection. I like some aspects of it, but these aspects (spells, some class options) may be things that I steal for use with a game founded on LL. And I have no interest in gaining access to the original books that S&W is based upon. Is that heresy?

When it comes to Lamentations of the Flame Princess, it too is probably something from which I will steal ideas. For instance, I may use Raggi's d6-based thief skills instead of percentiles. That would probably be the major borrowing.

See how this can all be quite maddening?! Curse you once again, Gamer ADD!


  1. Holmes was the revision/consolidation of OD&D but he also changed some important things so maybe OD&D 1.5 is a better title. For instance OD&D has 3 Alignments, AD&D has 9...Holmes has 5.

    His original only covers 3 levels of play but there are homebrew supplements that address that.

    It was my first and wins the award for WTF? of all versions. I had actually gave up on it when I met a DM who ran a heavily OD&D influenced campaign with AD&D and he set me straight and the rest is history. :)

  2. And this helped me a lot coming in as what equals what with the retroclones:

  3. And I just noticed you have the link to the above listed already...sorry for the dupe...

    Here's the Holmes Companion if you care to look it over:

    And THE resource site for the Holmes edition:

    (if there is a better one PLEASE put up the link-this version is the hardest one to find support for and collecting and studying it myself)

  4. Thanks, ADD Grognard! I went home last night and powered through a goodly portion of Moldvay Basic. I'll have to report in on my "findings" shortly...