Sunday, November 27, 2022

Why Play B/X?

Why Play B/X?
Now I know that this post might be lost on this particular audience, but you know.....internets and all, anything posted online might be useful to other people.

So we play a game that has what (?)......seven editions and going on an eighth, along with about a thousand offshoots and a bazillion house-ruled variations...but I'm going to suggest that anyone not already playing a preferred game...or maybe in this case anyone trying to figure things out for the first time...that they should play B/X.

Now I'm not going to try and go into the history of the game because that's been done several times far better than I'll ever be able to get into. There's a lot of history before the introduction of B/X and far more after the history of this edition.

While history is part of the reason I suggest new players start with B/X, which I'll get into in a moment, it isn't the main reason, and I think a lot of people being introduced to D&D/RPGs would inherently use "history" against choosing B/X.....

....think about it. You can find the current edition of the game easily, at Wal-Mart even, but B/X? Well that isn't so easy to get ahold of for those not in the know. Here are two places you can start:

OK, so I've established the what/where...and maybe even the how, but really the point here is why? What makes B/X the edition you should be playing?

First off, it's an early edition of the game and...simpler to play. You could try and take this reason out to an extreme and try to promote the original Basic or even Chainmail, but I'd argue that they maybe simpler on some levels, but actually more difficult in reality. Those earlier flavors/editions were made for hardcore wargame geeks and....a bit rough around the ridges. When Basic came out the game started to get a bit of a more widespread appeal and with that appeal came a lot of questions, rule clarifications, and published revisions in Dragon Magazine. Basic was literally a beta version of the more refined B/X release. If you read that version you can pretty much see it for yourself....even in just the layout of the pages.

If you start off playing D&D with the B/X edition you'll get essentially the most basic (pun not intended) yet refined edition that can be picked up for free/low cost. There's a TON of additional free/low cost resources for the game and a HUGE potential player base because most OSR players would be up for a game of B/X. 

In short there is a rather low barrier of entry, I'd argue the lowest, for playing RPGs or D&D if you choose the B/X version. For a new player of DM, get those games in, get that needed experience, and then you can branch out into the bazillion variations out there.

Now for those of us that are already more experienced....I suggest you keep B/X around and play it on occasion, for a couple of reasons: to grow new players and to do a compare & contrast. The growing new players is easy enough to figure out and helps pretty much everyone. As far as the compare & contrast?...

Now I've been pretty straight-forward in saying that I'm more of a fan of crunch in my game and B/X isn't that crunchy, so why would I advocate for it? Well just because I like a more complex game, it doesn't mean I'm good with adding said crunch. My fellow players/GM help with this and a lot of times a simpler approach works best. Playing B/X helps in context.


  1. Both of my kids (10y girl and 8y boy) played B/X together and each separately over the Thanksgiving holiday. They love playing so much that we use the B/X class creation rules for Old School Essentials to make new classes to play.

  2. I heartily agree. It was my first rules set (Chrismas 1983, the magenta box with Erol Otus cover!) and the one I played for the first 5 years. Although I abandoned it because in my teenage years I thought that Advanced = Better, I have since come back to it partly because of weariness of increasingly dense stat blocks (especially 3E) and also nostalgia fueled by the OSR - Labyrinth Lord was my way back to B/X. It is now the default rules system I use on my blog.

  3. Agreed! The subject came up recently and I've noticed B/X is the "minimum viable D&D".


  4. While not true B/X, I have used BFRPG for introducing kids to the game at my school. Five bucks to get a print copy of the book from Amazon and some dice, and that's all they need to play. Been very successful starting kids on this wonderful road....


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