Holmes vs Moldvay vs Mentzer
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  1. #1

    Holmes vs Moldvay vs Mentzer

    What are the differences between these versions of BD&D? Were there any significant rule changes?

  2. #2
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    Holmes Basic D&D was a retooling of original D&D plus some ideas from Supplement I: Greyhawk. It has very little in common with later versions of Basic D&D, and a lot in common with Original D&D. It's rather confusing, actually.

    It also incorporated some ideas from AD&D. Oddities include the 5-point alignment system (LG, CG, CE, LE and TN).

    Moldvay Basic D&D completely rewrote the system and created a really elegant game.

    Mentzer took what Moldvay (and Cook with Expert D&D) had done, and presented them slightly differently; the major changes were at the top levels of XP (about 10th-14th), as the Menzer BECM range took PCs to 36th level.

    ###

    Holmes Basic D&D
    Only Con, & Dex give bonuses, and even then a Dex of 13+ only gives +1 to melee fire. Your prime requisite gives XP bonuses.

    Magic swords give their "plus" only to hit; other magic weapons deal their "plus" to damage as well.

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    2edD&D (Holmes)
    and 3edD&D(Holmes)

    have very little difference.


    Moldvay is very different.

    and Mentzer is very different from both of them.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Technomancer
    What are the differences between these versions of BD&D? Were there any significant rule changes?
    A few specifics:

    Holmes attribute modifiers are basically OD&D attribute modifiers. Only Dex and Con give actual modifiers to anything, and other attributes only modify earned XP. B/X and BECMI use a different breakdown for modifiers and what they modifiy (i.e. to hit, damage, AC modifier, etc).

    Holmes system of alignment is like AD&D, with a Law/Chaos axis and a Good/Evil axis. B/X and BECMI both used a single Law/Chaos axis.

    Holmes combat does not use an initiative roll by default. Instead, the character with the highest Dex strikes first. If Dex is within 1-2 points, then a d6 is rolled to resolve initiative. Surprise always grants the first blow.

    In Holmes, light weapons such as a dagger allow two blows per round. Two-handed swords, battle axes, pole-arms, etc. strike every-other-round.

    In Holmes, all weapons do 1d6 damage. This is true in B/X and BECMI, too, but those editions also included optional rules for variable weapon damage. Holmes does not.

    I don't consider the differences between B/X and BECMI to be very significant. BECMI changed the thief skills table slightly, and XP progression charts are slightly different. Both of those changes were made to allow for the 1-36 level range of BECMI. The B/X level charts end at level 14, with notes on how to extend them into "companion" levels. There are other minor differences, but B/X and BECMI are very compatible.

    Somewhere on Dragonsfoot there are some threads addressing differences between B/X and BECMI. I'll see if I can dig them up and post link.

  5. #5
    Here are a couple links on differences between B/X and BECMI:

    http://www.dragonsfoot.org/forums/vi...=13386&start=0
    http://www.dragonsfoot.org/forums/vi...t=9963&start=0
    http://www.dragonsfoot.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=16984

    There are probably more threads like that on Dragonsfoot if you run a search.

  6. #6
    Holmes gives a little bit of support to separate races and classes (thus, elven mages and elven fighters, for example).

    Holmes is also supposed to lead into AD&D. At that point, the idea was that the scale went Basic -> Advanced. Moldvay changed that, so there were two tracks: Advanced on one track, and Basic/Expert on the other.

    Random 1e geekery: The 1e Monster Manual is actually more compatible with Holmes than it is with the 1e PHB or DMG.

    Evidence:
    (1) The 1e Monster Manual uses a five-point alignment system almost throughout (LG, CG, LE, CE, TN are included, but there are virtually no NG, CN, LN or NE creatures -- I can think of only about two exceptions).
    (2) It uses the Holmes scale for armour classes (starting from 9 rather than 10).
    (3) It uses the Holmes/OD&D spells by class and level tables (Nagas are a good example).

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Philotomy Jurament
    In Holmes, light weapons such as a dagger allow two blows per round. Two-handed swords, battle axes, pole-arms, etc. strike every-other-round.

    In Holmes, all weapons do 1d6 damage. This is true in B/X and BECMI, too, but those editions also included optional rules for variable weapon damage. Holmes does not.
    That can't be right. Why would you ever use anything besides a light weapon? It does the same damage as a pole axe (1d6), and you can use it twice per round, allowing four blows for every one strike with a pole axe?

  8. #8
    Why would you ever use anything besides a light weapon?
    Weapon-vs.-AC adjustments (which were probably omitted from Holmes, though).

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by replicant2
    That can't be right. Why would you ever use anything besides a light weapon? It does the same damage as a pole axe (1d6), and you can use it twice per round, allowing four blows for every one strike with a pole axe?
    Nevertheless, that's Holmes as-written. It's probably one of the biggest problems in Holmes, actually, and has come up a lot (here, for example).

    Even if you were playing completely by-the-book Holmes, the rules give the DM a great deal of leeway. For example, the rules don't define which weapons are "light weapons," with the exception of the dagger ("...such as the dagger"). Who goes first is determined by Dex, but monsters aren't given Dex scores, so the DM either rules on the spot (e.g. "you go before the ogre, but the dire panther has the jump on you") or rolls monster Dex. It wouldn't be unreasonable for a Holmes DM to rule that a fighter with a spear goes before a fighter with a dagger, assuming they're not grappling.

    When I played Holmes, we typically used variable weapon damage. I also recall one time where we used damage-by-class (i.e. magic-users did 1d4, clerics did 1d6, fighting men did 1d8, et cetera), and just dropped the rules on attacks-per-round. We used Holmes as a foundation, and treated AD&D stuff as supplements. Things were fast and loose in those days. If I played Holmes, today, I do something similar, but use the B/X combat sequence and draw on OD&D to flesh out and extend the system. I'd basically end up with an OD&D game.

    I can't see many 3E fans liking Holmes very much, honestly.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by dcas
    Weapon-vs.-AC adjustments (which were probably omitted from Holmes, though).
    Yep. No weapon/AC adjustments in Holmes. Easy to import, though.

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