"Black Dougal gasps 'Poison!' and falls to the floor. He looks dead."

Friday, May 1, 2009

Why B/X Is My Favorite #1

I have decided to revisit my post from a while ago about why B/X is my favorite flavour of D&D.

#1 A complete system in 128 pages

I know I have seen on other blogs and internet sites the page counts for all of the various versions of D&D but I am too lazy right now to dig it up.

I began with B/X at the age of 10. There is definitely and unapologetically a nostalgia factor involved. I actually remember when I went into the store to buy it. I actually went to a local game store to buy the AD&D players handbook but my mom convinced me to pick up the basic set instead. I am glad that she did. Moldvay's basic rulebook includes everything you need to start and it is well written and concise. My brother and I had innumerable hours of fun using just these rules (64 pages) and B2.

Later I purchased the Expert rulebook (another 64 pages) and we had the same amount of fun exploring the jungles on the Isle of Dread. I wonder what the hour of fun per page of rules ratio would be?

As for other editions of D&D:
- OD&D - just the first 3 books have a smaller page count. The open ended nature of those rules and the writing style always instills a sense of wonder and mystery. But a 10 year old first picking up these rules would likely have a very difficult time.
- Holmes D&D - a smooth 46 pages. This is my second favorite version of D&D and the second version that I owned. It contains much of the wonder and mystery of the original 3 books but in a slightly better organized format. I have little doubt that if it was the Holmes version on the shelf when my mother convinced me to buy the basic set that it would be my preferred version. The main reason it doesn't hold the top spot is that, even though it could be used exclusive of the other versions and has been expanded using fan created companions, it is not a complete set of the same scope as the other versions.
- AD&D, 2E,... These are just too big to even consider.


  1. B/X is certainly the version I have played the most but it is not my favorite. Back in 1982 I got the Basic box set and the AD&D rulebooks. I did not know anyone who played so I had to learn the rules on my own. The AD&D rulebooks looked too big and confusing so I started with Basic. I continued with B/X for my Campaign for 15 years. However, the class=race rules always irked me and eventually I house rules in AD&D style Race and Class rules. Now years later I am starting up an Online Campaign and I am using the B/X rules because I want something simple that everyone understands and because after 15 years of playing it I do not need to look into the rules during play - the rules just come naturally.

  2. Different strokes. I love race=class. It is reason #4 B/X is my favorite. Also see http://ode2bd.blogspot.com/2009/03/race-class.html

  3. I guess my real problem with race=class is the Elf. In my first game group there was a quiet player who played a magic-user and an enthusiastic player who played an elf. The elf was always stealing the show. He was shoulder to shoulder with the human fighter in combat and casting the plot moving spells. The magic-user seemed to fade into the background and the human fighter did not seem to be any better at melee combat. I always felt the elf was unbalanced. I know he reaches maximum level earlier but in my campaign (that lasted 15 years) the players never passed 9th level.

  4. In Basic D&D, there's no reason to play a Fighter if you can qualify for a Dwarf, and no reason to play a M-U if you can qualify for an Elf. I always read this as a reward for rolling well, like the xp bonuses.

    On the other hand, sometimes you just don't want to play a fancy-pants, pointy-eared bastard. Sometimes you want to play a Stygian Sorcerer! You can't go "muahahahaha!" if you're an Elf.

    Likewise, sometimes you get sick of none of the captured platemail being in your size, and none of the barmaids going out with you.

  5. I'm the opposite of Tegeus. I got the Erol Otus Basic box and the AD&D books.

    I said to myself, "This Erol Otus guy is our century's Michaelangelo, but I like these AD&D books. Albeit the librams hele daftsome locutions, anent "dweomer," this High Gygaxian is a stimulating verbal milieu."

    And then when I actually got a chance to play a real D&D session, the players often demanded at least one roll on the random Harlot Table.

    As for tehCr0m's point, I think a lot of players just prefer magic-users to elves of any description, just for role-playing escapism.

    I was vaguely aware of possible house-rulings from the first minute I had D&D demo-ed for me by some players who actually knew how to play. Somehow I seem to recall that my mentors advised me to go "fighter-magic-user" from the outset, without worrying too much about how many rules they were hand-waving. "Elf" would have seemed too specific. "F-M-U" seemed pretty natural for a fantasy hero, because fantasy books don't limit abilities according to a wargame-like "class" concept. After I got a chance to actually *read* the books, I recoiled and asked myself, "Just *how* many rules were those guys breaking?"