OSR Why is the shortest lived edition, still one of the most popular? - Page 2
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  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by OverlordOcelot View Post
    I don't really see any evidence that it's 'one of the most popular', except in the literal sense that any edition is 'one of' whichever category you name. Getting a small-scale kickstarter off the ground where people are basically paying for a nicely printed version of the old rules is not an indication that they're wildly popular, just that some people would like a copy of the rules.
    Most popular based on sales. The red box sold over a million units, some say 1.5 million plus (only 1E comes close/beats it). No one really knows how many it sold (TSR records were very bad)

    During the golden age adjusted for inflation TSR revenue (27 million dollars in 1983) was higher than the estimated size of the RPG market now. Biggest selling adventure of all time (Keep on the Borderlands).

    And then you work out that 1E and B/X were on sale at the same time so each line sold more than all the other D&Ds (except maybe 5E). Hell they almost sold more than all the other D&Ds put together. Two D&Ds at the same time each one of which outsold all the other D&Ds.

    It was also well written and clearly presented, it did a lot of 5E things 30 years earlier, AD&D never really got to that point until 2E perhaps. Conceptually you can see a lot of B/X and 2E-4E in 5E (not much 1E that I can make out).
    Last edited by Zardnaar; Monday, 15th April, 2019 at 09:56 PM.

  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by trancejeremy View Post

    So anyway, B/X lasted only 2 years.
    I reject this premise.

    As an avid player of what is described as both B/X and BECMI D&D from about 1981 through, well, 3rd edition D&D hitting the stands, I never perceived a real difference in the rules of B/X or BECMI - they were the same game for the levels that they shared in common. Metzner's Basic didn't fundamentally change any of the rules of Moldvay's Basic - it presented them in a different way. Any rule changes that were there were minor and nothing like the difference in editions of AD&D. Metzner's Expert vs. the Moldvay/Cook eXpert set was similar in the minuscule nature of difference between them beyond organization. As far as we were concerned they were the same game and someone coming to the table with either sets of rulebooks would be able to make characters and play. (And the Moldvay/Cook Expert set promised a Companion set in the future - and we always took Metzner's Companion set to be the payoff for that promise, because we didn't know any better back in the day).

    Now as to why it's popular - I suspect it's popular for the same reason the system was popular among those of us who didn't want to play AD&D back in the day. It was always a simple version of the game that stripped away a lot of the nonsense that wasn't needed for actual play and gave you just the bare bones to jump in and play.

  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by lowkey13 View Post
    AD&D was from 1977 (PHB) but wasn't playable as AD&D until 1979.
    I think AD&D startd with the Monster Manual.
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  4. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jer View Post
    I reject this premise.

    As an avid player of what is described as both B/X and BECMI D&D from about 1981 through, well, 3rd edition D&D hitting the stands, I never perceived a real difference in the rules of B/X or BECMI - they were the same game for the levels that they shared in common. Metzner's Basic didn't fundamentally change any of the rules of Moldvay's Basic - it presented them in a different way. Any rule changes that were there were minor and nothing like the difference in editions of AD&D. Metzner's Expert vs. the Moldvay/Cook eXpert set was similar in the minuscule nature of difference between them beyond organization. As far as we were concerned they were the same game and someone coming to the table with either sets of rulebooks would be able to make characters and play. (And the Moldvay/Cook Expert set promised a Companion set in the future - and we always took Metzner's Companion set to be the payoff for that promise, because we didn't know any better back in the day).

    Now as to why it's popular - I suspect it's popular for the same reason the system was popular among those of us who didn't want to play AD&D back in the day. It was always a simple version of the game that stripped away a lot of the nonsense that wasn't needed for actual play and gave you just the bare bones to jump in and play.
    This the various permutations of B/X were more like a 0.1 edition between each version versus a .5 edition like 3.0 vs 3.5 or 3.5 vs Pathfinder.

    We were late to the party with B/X but it was our 1st edition in 93/94 we had an old red book, blue book, photocopy of the immortal rules and the Rules Cyclopedia (which also got photocopied in its entirety). Pre internet we didn't know the difference except the RC added more options (Mystic, Druid, Avenger, weapon rules etc). Also had B2,3,4, X1 and 1E DMG, MM, OA, UA, FF but no PHB. That was our D&D until late 95 when we played 2E.

    The 5E core is around 1000 pages, a clone of B/X like Basic Fantasy is around 100 pages. One is easier to learn than the other.
    Last edited by Zardnaar; Tuesday, 16th April, 2019 at 12:03 AM.

  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post
    I think AD&D startd with the Monster Manual.
    You would be correct. The alignment system was still in flux and wasn't yet the 9-point system intyroduced in the PHB.

  6. #16
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    While Hussar furnishes a much more concrete answer...I don't know...I'm not sure why it is and it was before my time but I've seen that B/X speaks to people in a profound way (I think it was Ron Edwards who told me it was 'the best' edition of D&D in his opinion, but I can't be sure on the 'famous' person nor the edition). I would guess that it has something to do with a certain age that a lot of people belonging to a certain generation of gamers were at when it was released.

    Tangentially related at best, but the same phenomenon: I think I was around 11 years old in the summer of 1997 when HBO started airing its phenomenal Spawn animated series (which I strongly recommend: it is literally as good as the contemporaneous Spawn live action film is bad, and that's not hyperbole, I KNOW how bad that movie was). So I was on the eve of adolescence and pubescence and all that stuff and here comes this (actually quite terrifying) series that airs at midnight on HBO after my parents have gone to bed and it's absolutely filled with supernatural horror, graphic violence, a cornucopia of swearing, and cartoon boobies, surrounding the edgiest superhero comics character I'd ever seen (he had Ghost Rider's chains, he had Venom's living costume, he had Keith David's voice (!!!!), he was LITERALLY FROM HELL, his enemies were angels, demons, shadowy government conspiracies and serial child murderers, not costumed nitwits and he swore, delivered incredibly badass catchphrases from the darkness before appearing behind some a-hole to twist his head off, suffered emotionally like a real person, killed bad guys with guns, and just generally did things I'd never seen comic book characters do before). It was transformative. I got into the comics pretty much immediately thereafter, and while they were certainly better than the live action movie, they didn't measure up to the HBO series--probably because HBO was just growing into the more-than-a-decade of dominance it would have over the "seriously good television" market and it had an AMAZING crack writing team in place to preempty and correct Todd's worst and dumbest impulses. Indeed, to this day, the Spawn cartoon is the epitome of cool. I don't think that's entirely because I haven't matured at all since I was 11, nor do I think it's entirely because the show was actually extremely well acted, animated (there is a quantum leap of improvement in the animation quality between the three seasons that were produced), and written, I think it's kind of both. But when I first saw it on HBO some time after midnight in the summer of 1997, something was planted within me that this was just the coolest freaking thing ever, and that little pearl of childlike amazement or whatever is still there.

    Final Fantasy VII had a huge impact on me for largely the same reason: the age I was when it came out. Although in that case, the first hook that Final Fantasy VII got in me was how incredibly similar (it seemed to me) it was to Shadowrun.

    Anyway I think B/X may have become beloved of an entire generation of gamers by a similar process.
    Last edited by ParanoydStyle; Tuesday, 16th April, 2019 at 05:33 AM. Reason: is boobies allowed

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by ParanoydStyle View Post
    I think it was Ron Edwards who told me it was 'the best' edition of D&D in his opinion, but I can't be sure on the 'famous' person nor the edition
    Luke Crane? The Google+ link to his actual play report seems to have died, but he is as critical of AD&D and Expert as he is praising of Moldvay Basic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hussar View Post
    Simplest answer - most bought.

    They sold the hell out of those red and blue boxes for Basic and Expert rules. To the tune of millions. No other single D&D product has come anywhere near that kind of penetration. B2 is the best selling module because it was bundled with the Basic set. This was the height of the fad days and everyone and their mother got one of these boxes.

    Now, I think lots of people then moved on to AD&D or dropped out of the hobby, which is why the hobby crashed. You went from hundred of thousands of units to thousands of units sold practically overnight. The fad bubble wasn't AD&D books being sold, it was Moldvay Basic and Expert.

    At least, that's my understanding of it.
    Incorrect, unfortunately.

    The "Red Box" referred to that had all the sales is the 1983 Basic set edited by Frank Mentzer, not the 1981 Basic Set edited by Tom Moldvay.

    More in my next post about Moldvay's edition and how it relates!

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  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post
    I want to add: Moldvay Basic is also a really clearly presented set of D&D rules. It's better in this respect than the original books, than either edition of AD&D, than 3E or 4e. It sets out clear procedures for character building, for the processes of play (adventure turns, encounters, combat resolution), for GMing, for scenario design. This made it very playable. Which helps explain the degree of penetration that @Hussar describes.
    Quite true, and the Moldvay set did all that in just 64 pages including art. It was elegant in its brevity. With just that one slender book, some dice and a pad of graph paper you could have hours and hours of entertainment.Nothing published since has provided that level of completeness at that page count.

  10. #20
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    Here is a good thread by isoue, from several years ago now, reading and celebrating Moldvay Basic.
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