OD&D Editon Experience: Did/Do you Play B/X? How Was/Is It?

How Did/Do You Feel About B/X D&D?

  • I played it, and I didn't really like it.

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • I'm playing it right now; I'll have to let you know later.

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • I'm playing right now and so far, I don't like it.

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    41
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lowkey13

Guest
I am confused. What is the difference between all these different editions of Basic D&D? Anything truly significant with regards to Classes, Races and Monsters? Curious minds want to know.
From my earlier post on the subject-

Let's start with nomenclature.

Holmes- the 1977 Holmes "Basic Set."
B/X- the 1981 Moldvay revision of Holmes (the new "Basic Set"), including the Expert Set by Cook.
BECMI- the 1983 "Red Box" by Mentzer that so many are familiar with, along with the later Expert, Companion, Master, and Immortal Rules.
RC- the 1991 revision and codification of the Basic, Expert, Companion, and Master rules.

There are two things that are worth noting- first, these are all different. Second, the biggest difference is between Holmes and everything else.

So let me explain. Holmes was tasked with creating a Basic Set (hence the term!) that would simplify the core rules of OD&D and allow players to transition to the forthcoming AD&D.

So Holmes has many of the hallmarks of what we would later consider de rigueur for a Basic set- it only dealt with levels 1-3, and explained the game and introduced key concepts. But while it introduced ideas that would later be used by Moldvay when he made his basic set, it was fundamentally a different product- it's really an attempt at simplifying the OD&D rules, and it has a muddled conception of race (using race as class, but also explaining that the ability to differentiate race from class will be present in AD&D).

B/X, on the other hand, is an entirely new ruleset. There are certainly background issues regarding this (Arneson/Gygax litigation), but this is the real point of differentiation between AD&D (1e) and a completely different ruleset (that uses, for example, race-as-class). Many people, including myself, think that the Moldvay/Cook Basic/Expert set remains one of the best, most elegant rulesets designed for D&D. So while a person can say that B/X continues some of the concepts in Holmes (such as the emphasis on clear instruction, and breaking out levels 1-3), B/X is the beginning of a completely different branch of D&D.

BECMI has some changes from B/X. While people can, and do, quibble about some of the minor rules variations, the most significant changes are in the layout, instruction, and effect of having future editions (the CMI).

The one area where Mentzer is slightly superior, in my opinion, is the layout/graphics presentation. It really shines here. However, the tone/instruction/clarity of the rules is much better in the Moldvay rules. In addition, by having a natural cap of level 14, the progression of character levels makes a lot more sense.

The RC is a codification/resources for people who played BECMI. It doesn't have the "I" (Immortal) rules because, um, they are crazy. It contains some extraneous stuff (such as some skill stuff) and presents various material from the Master/Companion series retroactive to the beginning (think classes, like Druid and Mystic, that might clutter up the presentation of B/X).

This is the short and sweet of it all.


EDIT- if this is still too confusing, then:
Holmes Basic isn't basic D&D, it's simplified OD&D / AD&D.
Moldvay Basic (B/X, Moldvay/Cook) is the first real basic.
Mentzer Basic (Red Box, BECMI) is the most common basic, and the one that lasted the longest, and expanded to insane, aka, immortal levels.
Rules Cyclopedia (RC) is the book that gathered together all the BECM (no I) material, along with some Gazetteer stuff, and put it out as a reference book. It's essentially a compiled version of Mentzer BECM with some small additions.
 
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CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
@lowkey13 is correct; the differences are minor but they are still there. (And the Immortal rules are just absurd.)

When I was putting this little nostalgia survey together, I had to make a choice. I could lump all four of the "basic D&D" versions together, and have readers ask "why weren't they kept separate?", or I could separate them all out individually and have readers ask "why didn't you just lump them all together?"

I went with the second option because I thought it would encourage more discussion and reminiscence of the Good Old Days of Gaming. The differences between the editions might be small, but I feel they are worth talking about and remembering. And, well, I wanted to give each "edition" of the game a fair shake, as far as survey results go...equal time in the spotlight, equal treatment in the timeline, all that.

So here we are. :cool:
 
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Mark Hope

Explorer
The best edition of D&D, no contest. I'm actually running a hacked 2e at the moment, but would run a BX game in a heartbeat.
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
What separates Moldvay Basic apart is Moldvay's writing. The clarity and quality of instruction contained within the text is some of the best in the industry. It's a game about something that tells you exactly how to play and run it.
 

greylurk

Explorer
I DMed it a few times. A friend of mine had a copy his brother left behind when he went off to college, and we used it to run the 1e Forgotten Realms box that I had gotten for Christmas until we could save up to buy the 2e phb

It was a fine little game. Though I didn't have much to compare it to at the time.
 

Votan

Explorer
I really liked it as a youngster and it played quite differently than more modern editions. I found it rather faster moving and much more suited to a teenager's mind than today's tomes. I definitely have fond memories and maybe would go back, one day, when we are not all in isolation.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
One day, I'll be able to play this version and see how it compares to my beloved BECMI. (I imagine I'll notice very few differences.)
 
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Scrivener of Doom

Adventurer
What separates Moldvay Basic apart is Moldvay's writing. The clarity and quality of instruction contained within the text is some of the best in the industry. It's a game about something that tells you exactly how to play and run it.
It's a shame that Gary wasn't forced out earlier so that, perhaps, Tom Moldvay and a competent editor could have written AD&D.
 

Scrivener of Doom

Adventurer
That is a very insensitive thing to write. TSR was the man's life work and he was thrown out with hostile take over.
It was hardly his life's work as he was only there 11 or so years. He went on and did other things, remember? And he created the circumstances that led to the hostile takeover.

But it's a simple fact that other TSR employees and contractors - such as Tom Moldvay and J Eric Holmes - were better writers, and better-organised writers, and they were much better at collaborating with editors.
 

GameOgre

Explorer
It was hardly his life's work as he was only there 11 or so years. He went on and did other things, remember? And he created the circumstances that led to the hostile takeover.

But it's a simple fact that other TSR employees and contractors - such as Tom Moldvay and J Eric Holmes - were better writers, and better-organised writers, and they were much better at collaborating with editors.
You mixed up fact and opinion again,need to work on that. Also you might want to look at the time tables on those people you mentioned and what happened to them.

Gary Gygax was in my opinion a brilliant game designer who risked a lot on what he saw as the real possibility of what this new hobby he created(with the help of others) could do and then he did what no others were willing to do, he sunk everything he had into it. All his money,all his time and effort and risked it all for what he believed in.

He did have some business sense but for sure that side of his skill set was not all it needed to be. Over time his character flaws and the character flaws of those he worked with lead to some pretty sad ends for our hobby.

Still,because of their work and risk we all have a great and growing hobby today and millions of lives were positively impacted and our world is a slightly better place to live.

Some of us knew Gary even if it was mostly on the message boards or email or the rare con we might make it to. We loved Gary and miss him. He was our friend.

He wasn't just a name in the history books. So when we read someone say "It's a shame that Gary wasn't forced out earlier so that, perhaps, Tom Moldvay and a competent editor could have written AD&D. " It's difficult to not have a knee jerk reaction and bring out fire and torch.

The man was mortal and had flaws and things he could have been better at so,it is fine to point those out if it betters our hobby to do so. Just please keep in mind those things are not said in a vacuum and many of us still mourn his loss.
 

teitan

Adventurer
Also considering it was a massive investment and he never really repeated the success of TSR after... yeah it was his life’s work and comments like that are extremely disrespectful to him and what he did accomplish. The story of TSR with and without Gygax are similar to White Wolf with and post Rein-Hagen, big heights and then a steady implosion based on bad decisions. TSR luckily was purchased by WOTC. That’s the only difference. Gygax defines D&D and it was only when they began paying lip service to him again that they’ve had success be it 3e or 5e.
 

Scrivener of Doom

Adventurer
Keeping it on topic, Holmes and B/X both demonstrated that D&D rules could be written cogently, clearly, and competently. That's why they are so fondly remembered.

AD&D revealed Gary's limitations as a designer - as did Cyborg Commando, Dangerous Journeys, and Lejendary Adventures. What he did have was the guts to create a new field of gaming. As a gaming entrepreneur, he broke new ground. That's what I remember about him.

But as a designer of well-written rules? That's where I will celebrate Messrs Holmes and Moldvay et al.
 

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