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Friday, March 28, 2014

My Biggest Gaming Regret of my Youth - Dismissing D&D Basic as "Basic"

My biggest regret of my gaming youth was thinking "Basic" D&D was somehow inferior to "Advanced"
D&D. Heck, I didn't even own Basic until I found a table of remainders with a notch cut out of each box. It was the Moldvay edition of Basic, and even then I had no idea of the gem I had in my hands.

It wasn't until I got older and returned to gaming from a prolonged absence that I saw the true value of Basic and the clones that emulate it. Sleek, streamlines, un-bloated and not needlessly complicated with rules we ignored in AD&D because we simply couldnt understand them, Basic was a breath of fresh air.

If I could go back to the days of my gaming youth, I'd make sure I appreciated "Basic" D&D for what it was - an excellent version of the D&D rules that was needlessly dismissed because of it's "Basic" label.

26 comments:

  1. Why I played Basic, I had 'Advanced envy'. I got the core books of AD&D2e on its release - though we continued playing Basic, more or less. I envied the extra options and extra 'realism' of Advanced, but I didn't appreciate the wonderful little things about Basic that I do now. The simple procedures for handing exploration, getting lost, wandering monsters, reaction rolls and morale are a boon to a DM (as is the simplicity). If I had understood how to use tools such as these, rather than wanting more classes and options and longer equipment lists, I might have got over my Advanced envy earlier!

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  2. I ran a Basic game for years. We (mostly the players) picked up AD&D books because they were "better" with shiny new options. I allowed almost everything they wanted to try, often running a weird hybrid set of rules, but most things eventually got dropped back to Basic. Simplicity always wins out in the end.

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  3. Moldvay Basic was the first RPG product I ever owned. I had the Cook expert too, but before I was buying solely *Advanced* Dungeons and Dragons, because I didn't want to look like a baby. Insecure tween of a nerd? I don't know why you'd even ask that!

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  4. If they hadn't called it "Basic," it would have done a lot better. But even so, you're 12 years old and have two games to choose from - one is Advanced, one isn't. You're going to choose Advanced.

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  5. I grew up thinking the same. Actually still figured it was somehow inferior to Advanced, and advanced as being inferior to 2nd edition.

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  6. Heh heh... I still have my original Moldvay Basic book. Cover's missing after all these years, and the class page has all the racial classes scratched out from my "First Edition War" transition :-)

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  7. I am right there with you on this. The thing was when the D&D Rules Cyclopedia came out and it was everything D&D under one cover, I thought it was awesome. I tried to get my gaming group to make the change. Let's play this. It's awesome. But they resisted. The group hated on the "race as class" and "no multi-class" points of the game and were inflexible beyond that. But D&D was such a great, clean, evolved, supported game, and Mystara such an awesome game world, I was just amazed that they wouldn't give it a go.

    Jeff

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  8. I was introduced to the game via the advanced rules, but it wasn't long before I laid eyes on the Moldvay booklet for comparison. Even then I remember being favorably impressed with its rules economy and digestibility and it was only with some ambivalence that I stuck with the hardcovers, but yeah... the intellectual pride of 12-year-old nerds.

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  9. Hell our games were a hodge-podge of Basic and Advanced anyways...

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    1. Exactly. Even after 33 years of running "AD&D", I still don't really understand how segments and weapon speed are supposed to work. I have always used the Basic melee round.

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  10. Word.
    I used to think I liked AD&D 1st edition better, and sometimes I think I still do, but then I look at the girth of the Dungeon Master's guide compared to the entirety of Basic or even BECMI, and I'm like... "Yeah, think I'd rather run that."

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    1. I get that feeling when I look at Holmes' Basic. Forty-eight pages?!? And it's all there, practically. He could have done the whole thing if he'd gone to the full 64.

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  11. My biggest regret was slicing my book in half (on the advice of the book's introduction), thinking I'd put it in a binder with my Expert rulebook. Took me years to find a good replacement copy that wasn't too expensive. Thankfully, I never sliced my Expert book even though it's now falling apart from use (I do have a new reserve copy though, thanks to Welbo).

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    Replies
    1. 30 years late[r] and you can make a combined version using the D&D Classics PDFs.

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  12. "More options and more rules" and that's how 3rd and 4th editions were born. If only they'd emphasized play-ability, ease of use, and streamlined mechanics in succeeding editions.

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  13. I started with Basic but quickly found out that Basic was for kids; Advanced was for the adults who gamed at Campaign Headquarters. "An elf what?" they said with a sneer when I told them what kind of character I wanted to make. How was I supposed to know that race as class was for noobs and real gamers chose race and class? So I started playing Advanced, then 2e, then hit the brick wall at 3e, and now I'm back to Basic (via Labyrinth Lord), so suck it you smug adult gamers. Suck it.

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  14. We played Mentzer basic, really, but with allowing advanced races and classes if anyone wanted to. It was (and is) the perfect D&D IMO.

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  15. I had the same problem. While I still think the "race-as-class" and level limitations on non-human PCs to be a bit confining role-playing wise (Who says dwarfs can't be clerics, or that all elves can cast spells), I found the basic rules to be much more approachable than the chart-laden mess that is AD&D.

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  16. I always felt guilty for loving it so much, and for feeling like AD+D was just not as good. I just assumed that I was wrong... all of my friends wanted to play AD+D, but I always used the BECMI books as our core rulebooks, and supplemented them with things from AD+D. Since I was the only one who would GM, they had to defer to my will...

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  17. Me and all of my friends fell for that. Moldvay Basic got us started and Unearthed Arcana drove the final nail in the coffin of D&D for my youth. Good Enough just can never be Good Enough now can it?

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  18. Hey Erik, I posted my old BASIC Rules campaign characters at my D&D blog. We made booklets out of our character sheets and used weapon mastery rules along with a few other things. We took the hint about recording monsters encountered literally- hence the Death Tolls you see posted there. Here is the link. I hope you find it interesting!

    http://thacodragon.blogspot.com.au/p/our-d-basic-rules-characters.html

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  19. Same here, although with the caveat that for the first two or so years I was gaming in AD&D I used the B/X books as my backup to figure out rules that were too impenetrable in the AD&D core books. When I adjudicated combat back then I used the Basic combat rules with the AD&D combat charts (actually I used the Dragon Magazine combat wheel almost constantly once it came out) and weapon tables. We used the PHB spell lists except when the inches terminology got confusing or wasn't clear, and then if there was a B/X version of the same spell we'd default back to that. I think the only reason I didn't like B/X in the end was because of racial classes...and therefore limiting in terms of what nonhuman characters could do.

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  20. I started out as a GM for DD basic mainly because of two factors.
    1) it was the first (and only in my knowledge) RPG translated to Norwegian (back in 88)
    2) I thought the Advanced version was to difficult.

    Not long after that a friend of mine bought the AD&D version and we parallel played it for years(another friend bought MERP and later Rolemaster, but that's another story)

    I still find (especially after the release of Rules Cyclopedia) that the Basic was great, but I did envy the fact that Demihumans in AD&D got to choose class - but then again the Gazetteers gave you a bit more to choose from here(Cleric for Dwarves, Whistlers for Halflings etc).

    Ahhh ... the fond memories :-)

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  21. I started out as a GM for DD basic mainly because of two factors.
    1) it was the first (and only in my knowledge) RPG translated to Norwegian (back in 88)
    2) I thought the Advanced version was to difficult.

    Not long after that a friend of mine bought the AD&D version and we parallel played it for years(another friend bought MERP and later Rolemaster, but that's another story)

    I still find (especially after the release of Rules Cyclopedia) that the Basic was great, but I did envy the fact that Demihumans in AD&D got to choose class - but then again the Gazetteers gave you a bit more to choose from here(Cleric for Dwarves, Whistlers for Halflings etc).

    Ahhh ... the fond memories :-)

    ReplyDelete