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OD&D A request for advice

Which book should I get?

  • Rules Cyclopedia

    Votes: 14 66.7%
  • Dark Dungeons

    Votes: 1 4.8%
  • Get both! It ain't my money you're spending

    Votes: 6 28.6%

  • Total voters
    21

cavalier973

Explorer
I am wanting to get a print on demand version of the Basic Rules, and am looking at either the Rules Cyclopedia or the Dark Dungeons retroclone.

What are the pros and cons for each book?
 

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transmission89

Adventurer
That is a good question. I have both on PDF, but I would like a hard copy of rules, because it is easier to read.

If the clone is faithful to the original rules, there may be an advantage from clearer presentation and such. I am thinking of the Old School Essentials books.
Bear in mind OSE is a clone of B/X. Rules Cyclopedia is a clone of BECMI (minus the immortals

There are some subtle differences between these versions of the classic games, but they are mostly compatible at the lower levels.

Both have slight caveats. Whilst Rules cyclopedia is a compilation, there were several significant areas of errata (such as magic user table and lack of clarity around combat) that haven’t been fixed and are not as clear compared to the individual BECMI books.

OSE is a fabulous representation of B/X and is complete. It also includes an option to add AD&D characters to the B/X framework. One personal critique of it is that it doesn’t necessarily explain how to play (as the original basic books). It is the cleaned up rules with little else. The severity of this depends on how comfortable you are with OSR play style compared to more modern incarnations. If you’re experienced, this means little consequence to you.

OSE also has the benefit of currently being in print, has an active community and a developer that produces amazing adventures for it.


I feel that whatever version, both benefit from getting the PDFs of the original booklets from Drivethru. Are those additional purchases necessary? Not at all. But I feel that those extras that provide further reading provide valuable insight and understanding into how both versions work and play.


Either way, you can’t go wrong with your choice. Both are fantastic and I highly recommend them
 
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transmission89

Adventurer
Is Dark Dungeons more of a retroclone of BECMI, or of the RC w/WotI?
Dark dungeons is a retro clone of the RC. Note though: unlike OSE, it’s not a 100% faithful to the source material (or near as can be with ambiguities in text). There is a whole list of tweaks and changes the developer openly talked about.

I’ve also listened to an old episode of the save or die podcast recently where they reviewed it. They did strongly criticise the layout of the book. Caveat: This review is about 7 years old now, so I don’t know if the print has been updated since then.
 

Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
Rules Cyclopedia all the way.

Dark Dungeons is a cleaner presentation, but has a completely new, different, unnecessary, and challenging-to-convert combat system.

With the RC, you have tons and tons of published material (through OD&D, BECMI, AD&D 1 and 2, 3rd party stuff, etc) that is very easily compatible. Dark Dungeons adds a weird middle step of conversion to everything.

The RC also has guidelines for Immortal stuff, it just doesn't go all the way. In my own use that hasn't been an issue because it's never been even remotely relevant, but obviously campaigns differ.

Disclosure: I use the RC in my regular weekly game and have been for some time now (multiple years). Flip the math if you want (I did, and added 5e's dis/advantage mechanic to boot), but the book really has everything you need.
 

thirdkingdom

Explorer
Rules Cyclopedia all the way.

Dark Dungeons is a cleaner presentation, but has a completely new, different, unnecessary, and challenging-to-convert combat system.

With the RC, you have tons and tons of published material (through OD&D, BECMI, AD&D 1 and 2, 3rd party stuff, etc) that is very easily compatible. Dark Dungeons adds a weird middle step of conversion to everything.

The RC also has guidelines for Immortal stuff, it just doesn't go all the way. In my own use that hasn't been an issue because it's never been even remotely relevant, but obviously campaigns differ.

Disclosure: I use the RC in my regular weekly game and have been for some time now (multiple years). Flip the math if you want (I did, and added 5e's dis/advantage mechanic to boot), but the book really has everything you need.
You know, I had totally forgotten about the convoluted attack system the DD author came up with . . .
 

cbwjm

Hero
I might be biased, since the RC was my introduction to dungeons and dragons so I voted for that. I think Dark Dungeons has tidied up some things, and I'm pretty sure the creator is working on a new edition with cleaned up domain rules but I think the RC still works really well as is.
 

Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
You know, I had totally forgotten about the convoluted attack system the DD author came up with . . .
It's so weird. I can't for the life of me understand why they didn't just switch to an ascending attack bonus/AC system.

I also wish I'd noticed that before I bought the hardcover. It was such a disappointment.
 

Dark Dungeons calls itself a retroclone, but to be honest i think they changed too much to really hold that descriptor. I've only read through Dark Dungeons X, which includes content from Darker Dungeons, so I guess it's possible the original Dark Dungeons is more faithful.
 

Is Dark Dungeons more of a retroclone of BECMI, or of the RC w/WotI?
I believe Dark Dungeons has its own take on Immortal level play that's neither I nor WotI.


OSE also has the benefit of currently being in print, has an active community and a developer that produces amazing adventures for it.
The print on demand Rules Cyclopedia are good quality, and not a bad price.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
I am wanting to get a print on demand version of the Basic Rules, and am looking at either the Rules Cyclopedia or the Dark Dungeons retroclone.

What are the pros and cons for each book?

I'm going to make a slightly different suggestion.

1. Start with B/X. That's the Moldvay/Cook original.


($4.99 ea, total of $10!)

They are IMO superior to the later BECMI rules by a smidge, and are the best introduction to the game.


2. Later, if you want, get the Rules Cyclopedia. It's more of a reference than a how-to, but after you've played with B/X, it will make a lot more sense and provide expansive possibilities since it has the BECM (no I!) rules as well as certain material published in Gazeteers.

Enjoy!
 

cavalier973

Explorer
I'm going to make a slightly different suggestion.

1. Start with B/X. That's the Moldvay/Cook original.


($4.99 ea, total of $10!)

They are IMO superior to the later BECMI rules by a smidge, and are the best introduction to the game.


2. Later, if you want, get the Rules Cyclopedia. It's more of a reference than a how-to, but after you've played with B/X, it will make a lot more sense and provide expansive possibilities since it has the BECM (no I!) rules as well as certain material published in Gazeteers.

Enjoy!
As it so happens, I have those rules in my possession, and had them printed out by Office Depot.

I actually prefer the Mentzer rules--which I also have in printed form (Basic and Expert only, so far). Another optiin I am considering is to have the remaining three rulesets printed out--the CMI part....
 

Mannahnin

Adventurer
Personally I'm not a fan of the way BECM and RC stretched progression over 36 levels.

I think it was a poorly thought out choice, which really only works for folks who play a TON, and expect to regularly play at high levels. For most of us, most of those levels are wasted space, and the poor Thief (already sadly weak in many regards in B/X) gets his abilities weakened and progression slowed, which definitely wasn't necessary or good. 36 levels also means slowed caster progression to those highest-level spells, and that the poor demihumans get completely left behind, whereas in B/X their level caps aren't SO onerous.

About the only rules choice BECM/RC made that I prefer over B/X was allowing magic users and elves to get new spells from scrolls and captured spellbooks, which has always been one of the most fun parts of wizard-type characters in D&D, in my opinion.

All that being said, my preference is very much for OSE, and I just house rule spell acquisition.

If you really like the 36 levels, though, I'd say go with the RC.
 
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Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
As it so happens, I have those rules in my possession, and had them printed out by Office Depot.

I actually prefer the Mentzer rules--which I also have in printed form (Basic and Expert only, so far). Another optiin I am considering is to have the remaining three rulesets printed out--the CMI part....

I have never met anyone in RL who has played the Immortal rules, and only one person I remember on this forum says they tried it.

Eh ... it's .... um ... well ... it's not really D&D. Look, if you're comfortable with the Mentzer rules, just get the RC. It will have everything you need. The only real complaint I have about it is that, again, if you are brand new it's not a great introduction; it's more of the perfect reference/compilation.

But since you've already been exposed, it's the best resource around.
 


transmission89

Adventurer
Good good. It’s truly an excellent book (and love mine despite the minor niggles I mention about it). You must update us with your impresssions.

If you enjoy it, I highly recommend getting a POD copy of creature catalog for even more beasties to throw at your players. It’s the perfect complement to the RC.
 

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