OD&D Edition Experience: Did/Do you Play BECM/RC D&D? How Was/Is It?

How Did/Do You Feel About BECMI/RC D&D


BECMI was an amazing system, and I played it (and most of the B and X series modules) more than most AD&D modules and spent a lot of table time in Glantri and Karameikos. Bruce Heard (up thread) delivered most or all of the Gazetteer books for Mystara as line manager for those products.

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One of the older GaryCon panels, it was noted that the Expert Set was regarded by some as being more-advanced-than-Advanced D&D, I think, due to it expanding into areas like wilderness exploration and name-level keeps/temples/guild/tower building not as the endgame, with a minimum of rules for the DM to rely on.

This then carried over into the Companion Set's dominion and War Machine material...


Limit Break Dancing
It might not be the "best" version of D&D, but it is certainly my favorite. It will always be the standard by which all other editions of D&D (and all other roleplaying games) will be compared. It's hard to explain.

It's like selling your classic Thunderbird to buy a brand-new Tesla. Yes, the 5th Edition Tesla will run more smoothly and efficiently, use less fuel, and you'll get nods of approval from all your peers at work. But it's never going to feel the same to drive, never going to evoke the same pride and nostalgia and freedom that you got from the BECMI Thunderbird. It's still going to be fun to drive, and it'll still get you where you want to go. But it's not a T-bird. It will never will be a T-bird. They didn't even want it to be a T-bird.

It's not a perfect analogy. But it comes close. I love my Tesla, but man oh man, I wish it felt like a Thunderbird.


The rules cyclopedia was my 1st real introduction to DnD and my cousin and later my friends started playing it before we switched to 2e. I loved it and still do, if someone came and asked me to join or run a game of it, I would happily do so.


Elder Thing
When I began playing full RPGs with my now 6yo a couple of years ago, I started with No Thank You, Evil!, a game specifically designed to be playable by pre-readers. We moved fairly quickly to Basic Fantasy RPG, but it was so limited in options I felt boxed in. So around 6th level I switched us to the RC.

I absolutely love RC D&D, and it's easily my favorite version of the game. I've embellished it with some modern touches like ascending AC and attack bonuses (my kid's math skills are impressive but charts are clumsy and adding negative numbers might be asking a bit too much), and we started using Advantage and Disadvantage as well just due to elegance and simplicity, but the core is still very much BECMI. Right now we are playing through B4: The Lost City, and probably next session we will take on Zargon - my child is clever and paid attention while watching Clash of the Titans, and is therefore armed with the head of the medusa from Tier 7. I hope we win initiative!

The kid also has big goals, from reaching Name Level and becoming a Barbarian Lord to the decision, earlier today, to become a god/immortal upon reaching 36th level (rolling their eyes with an exasperated "I KNOW!" when I pointed out the need for a sponsor, like that's just another box to check on the laundry list). The weapon mastery rules help make characters feel like they're actually getting better at using their tools, and relatively low hit points mean battles are fast and intense.

And maybe, just maybe, we will go Spelljamming at some point.

Hmm. I rambled a bit there.

TL; DR: the D&D Rules Cyclopedia is the single greatest RPG sourcebook ever printed. It has warts but they are easy ones to work around.
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Limit Break Dancing
I just binge-purchased the entire collection of Basic adventure modules (B1 thru B10) for $50 on DM's Guild. I don't even feel bad about it.

I also bought a print-on-demand copy of the Rules Cyclopedia, so that I can retire my worn and weary original copy to the collector's shelf where it belongs.

So much nostalgia flowing out of my computer monitor right now.


Limit Break Dancing
How much have I played this edition? Well, the boxed sets were used until they disintegrated, and the Rules Cyclopedia was barely holding together until I could pick up a reprint...
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We barely played BECMI, and only after 2E as an experiment.

RC D&D, on the other hand, we did play a bit. I'm not entirely sure it wasn't actually a better system than 2E AD&D. It was certainly a very elegant and functional way to play D&D. I kind of wonder what would have happened if it had come out before 2E AD&D. I think it would have attracted a lot of the people who instead played 2E because 2E had first-mover advantage. This might have lead to an ongoing D&D vs AD&D schism through the 1990s though, rather than almost everyone playing 2E, and that would probably have been lose/lose given all the wild invention going on in the 1990s in RPGs. Perhaps the ideal would have been letting AD&D die with 1E, and just publishing RC D&D, and adding rules to it as time went on (not too many though - it didn't need them!).

Still, a superb, absolutely superb take on D&D I say.

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