Tuesday, September 27, 2011

In Praise of Castles & Crusades

As I've mentioned in some recent posts, I've been dabbling in some Classic/Basic D&D (to use the terms interchangeably) and retroclones, with the idea that I may want to someday run a Classic D&D game. I have been feeling an urge to play Basic D&D, which I never really did back in my formative years. I've been yearning to do it up, with race-as-class and the rest of it.

But I have to say, as I've read through the original rules sets and their clones, I've found myself doing a lot of house ruling in my head. I've been trying to fight that impulse, and taking the advice of Philotomy to "play it for what it is." I've found that a lot of this mental house ruling stems from my good experiences playing Castles & Crusades.

It should be no secret to anyone who reads this blog that I love C&C. It is elegant. It is modular. I've been thinking that if, say, I want the race-as-class experience, I can use C&C for that. I can just restrict the races and classes that players are allowed to play (and not have to worry about pesky level limits to boot, something I'm not quite sure if I like). Ultimately, I have no fear that I can use C&C to emulate any era of D&D play. And frankly, I don't think it's harder to teach someone to play C&C than teaching them to play Classic D&D. In fact (at least for me at this point in time), it might even be easier to teach C&C to new players.

But still, there seems to just be something about the thought of actually using, say, the Moldvay Basic rules. But what is that something, exactly? Is it just the "bad" type of nostalgia that makes me want to play Basic D&D? Is it just the appeal of the "street cred" or gravitas that seems to come from playing the actual, original editions? Or is it something else?

I assume others out there have experienced this pattern of thought, this questioning of systems, this wondering if one is motivated by a dark form of nostalgia. If so, how have you dealt with this affliction? Please, let me know how you have fought with this questioning, this Gamer ADD, the rose-colored glasses.

In the end, I return to my old adage that any gaming is good gaming. I try to remember that I have a good bit of gaming going on almost every week, and I should be thankful for that. Because there are a lot of gamers out there who do not have the current luxury of being able to game even once a week, such as I do.

Again, I'm not anywhere near giving up on C&C and the current campaign I am running using those rules. But there's still something lurking in me that is thinking about running one-shots using Classic D&D rules. What is the impetus of this impulse, I ask you? The questioning continues...


  1. There is something about those older rulesets for me, too. I keep thinking to myself, why bother with all these house rules tacking on AD&D classes to Classic, when it would be easier for my players to just download Labyrinth Lord and AEC? But yet, I stick with what I've done myself BECAUSE I've done it myself.

    There's that sense of ownership with the older editions. It's MY D&D. At least that's why I keep at it.

  2. Gwydion: I knew I wasn't the only one! So, what rules are you using, and can you give me an idea of your house rules? I guess I could check out your page again to see if I can figure all that out ;-)

  3. Okay, I had to edit that last comment because I wasn't happy with what I said. So I'm'a re-write it.

    One thing I love about C&C is that it shows up just how interpenetrmab- I mean, how interchang- well, how cross-compatible all of this D&D stuff really is, and in a sense, may have originally been meant to be.

    So I say, indulge your whims! Run an adventure out of the RC! Limit your rules to the LBBs! Sit down for some S&W, and enjoy. In the end, you'll probably realize --

    -- you're not doing anything in That Particular Edition that you couldn't do in C&C, or vice-versa.

    Which is what makes this hobby so bad-ass.

  4. Dr. Rotwang: Yeah, C&C is awsome with regard to bending and not breaking! You can house rule to your heart's content, BUT (at least for me) the game is so good on its own that I find that there is only a need for minimal house ruling, and that's just for extra gravy stuff (like rules for shield bashes that I use as well as house rules for counterspelling, Luck Points that players can spend to reroll dice, etc.)

    But you are right, there is so much good stuff between the different versions and their clones that you can borrow, pick and choose, and plug and play! It's great!

  5. I've been toying with running a C&C game. My friend Wil has three copies of the main rulebook, so he gave me one at game day a few weeks ago.

    My main thing is - I have tons of old classic 1E and B/X modules that I would love to run (or play in), and I REALLY don't want to spend time converting them to Pathfinder, which is my group's current system-of-choice (although Savage Worlds is rapidly closing in).

    However, I used OSRIC to run S3: Expedition to the Barrier Peaks and it just kind of left everybody... "wanting." It was fun to revisit the old rules for a bit, but after a while, the players all came to the conclusion that they'd much rather play a different system.

    I'm curious about C&C being what looks to be a great combination of d20 type rules, but with a 1E or B/X sensibility. Does that sound right?

  6. HEY MARTIN, glad to hear from you again. But as another gamer-dad, I know what it's like to have no time to blog with everything else going on.

    Anyway, yes, C&C is a pretty seamless blend of 1E/2E (classes, "feel") and 3E (d20 attribute check system). You can fiddle with it and it won't break. It's modular, so you can make the rules as simple or as complex as you like (like with how you modify attribute check rolls with positive and negative modifiers). It really is a great system.

    And even if your players are "feat-happy" you can scratch that itch with some tweaking using the attribute checks, and even (with a little work) bring in feats from other editions (including Pathfinder, though some of those feats and in 3E are tied to more complex combat features of D&D 3E, which don't really exist in C&C...unless you add them in, which you totally can!). Bottom line, C&C can do it all!

    I'm not a paid spokesman, I promise! Just a GM/player who's had a lot of fun with the system.