Tuesday, January 10, 2012

It's All D&D to Me

I'm just gonna go off here a bit. Just a short tidbit of brain spew, sort of an offspring of the post I wrote yesterday regarding what I consider the "flavors" of D&D (including Castles & Crusades, my preferred flavor, and the upcoming 5th edition of D&D). Please let me know if you agree or disagree.

Here goes, according to my brain:


Labyrinth Lord is D&D.

Swords & Wizardry is D&D.

Lamentations of the Flame Princess is D&D.

Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG is D&D.

[Insert title of D&D-inspired rule set] is D&D.

Are you seeing a theme here? A common thread?

Bottom line: for me, I don't care what you call it, it's all D&D. Like Shakespeare wrote, "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

I don't care that there are small, medium, or large differences between the clones and the rules they emulate. I don't care how crazy the "house rules" found in rule sets like Lamentations of the Flame Princess, Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG, and their ilk may be.

It's no accident that images of the original D&D Red Box grace the front of the three-ring binders I use for my GM's screen during my Castles & Crusades games. C&C is in many ways the successor of D&D. It's is a successor from a mechanics standpoint, as well as the spiritual successor. So when I'm using those rules, if someone asks me what I'm playing, I usually say "A version of D&D" or just "Dungeons and Dragons." If they ask for more detail, I'll get down to the nitty gritty, but otherwise, I see no difference between C&C and the system that gave birth to it/inspired it.

The same goes for all the clones and clones of clones out there. That's the main reason the Edition Wars make no sense to me.

Back to Castles & Crusades: It may have a different name, have some different terms scattered throughout (i.e. Castle Keeper instead of Dungeon Master), and differ in mechanics in some ways. But in the end, it captures the feel of both 1E and 3.X D&D, paying homage to both iterations. Yet, at the same time, it has aspects that make it its own creature, especially the mechanics of the SIEGE Engine.

I know this is all my opinion, and I'm not some sort of missionary that seeks to show others the "true way." This is just MY path to D&D nirvana. Yours no doubt differs.

I am curious to see what 5E will be. Heck, I may even get into the playtesting if I am able. But I already have my version of D&D that I enjoy above all others. And it's called Castles & Crusades.

Does anyone else out there feel the same? I'm sure I am not breaking any new ground here. Does anyone disagree? I know I've probably written the same sentiments on this blog before, but sometimes we need to be reminded of things. Lemme know your thoughts. Or am I just shouting into the void here?

*EDIT: I should mention that I also consider Pathfinder to be D&D by another name (wait, is that a stupid statement?). I would even venture to say the unthinkable: 4E is even D&D to me, though a vastly altered version. I can hear the outrage at that statement! I don't say 4E is D&D because it has the brand name and is currently in print (for a little while longer, at least). I say it because it bears at least some resemblance to the editions of the past. Though I would never play 4E, it still gets grudging acknowledgement from me. Heresy, I know...


  1. Yep, even though I play a (needlessly? maybe...) more complicated version with Pathfinder, I still play it like, and it feels like, the D&D I began with (Mentzer's red box).
    I didn't like the 4e at all, though.

  2. Thanks, rorschachhamster. I suppose I should have mentioned Pathfinder and 4E, and how I feel about them as well. Think I'll do an edit of the post...

  3. Moldvay/Cook BX D&D is the definitive version of the game in my opinion. The most interesting thing about it is the difficult to discover aspects of the game from the 70's period that are essential to it, but that were never really written down in an understandable form. My interest in D&D has been revived only because of the OSR's efforts in elucidating these matters in a way that frankly has never been done.

    If there is any area of the game that "wants" more detail or options or else that just doesn't seem right, I very quickly lose patience and move to something like GURPS. If you want to talk table top miniatures battles, there are several microgames that I'd much rather play: Ogre, Star Fleet Battles, CAR WARS, BattleTech, etc.

    I stopped buying D&D products when 2e came out and have not bought "official" D&D material since TSR folded with the exception of some of the old TSR PDF's that were available from Paizo which I can't buy anymore. There's no animosity there-- we just sort of grew apart over the years. I've always been vaguely pleased that a game franchise from my youth is on the shelves in most major book stores even if I am pretty far from the target audience of those books.

  4. 4E player here who is going to be running BFRPG soon for a group of kids, and I agree with you wholeheartedly for what it's worth.

  5. I'm with you except for 4th and would be willing to add some more name to the list, mostly obscure "D&D plus houserules" from the late 70s/early 80s I own.

    The reason I don't say 4th is D&D (and I know I'm accused of spreading edition wars) is in making the mechanics so uniform in how they work they've moved from a core part of what makes D&D D&D IMHO.

    What's interesting is once I really embraced that and stopped looking at 4th as D&D and looked at it as a game in its own right I actually enjoyed it more and found it was a nice design.

    That somewhat reinforces my point and maybe provides a guideline for "what is D&D". If I walk up to the table with the expectations of D&D and it delivers it's D&D. Otherwise, it's not.