• NOW LIVE! -- One-Page Adventures for D&D 5th Edition on Kickstarter! A booklet of colourful one-page adventures for D&D 5th Edition ranging from levels 1-9 and designed for a single session of play.
log in or register to remove this ad

 

D&D General The Rules Cyclopedia - Unlearning Dnd Preconceptions from a 3e player

ccs

41st lv DM
It didn't used to be, before WotC put up a print version on DriveThru. If you didn't want to drop a mint plus shipping on Ebay, the only way to get your hands on an RC was to get really lucky at a game shop or a secondhand bookstore.
Trust me, there were PDFs & files of it out there looong before that.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

jeffh

Explorer
Alignment Languages still existed in 1e AD&D. P. 34 of the 1st edition Player's Handbook.

It was quietly dropped in AD&D 2e, probably because nobody ever really used them.
"Still"? AD&D 1st Edition predates BECMI, as others have already gone over in more detail. This particular compilation came out about the same time 2nd Edition started, but even the original boxed sets it compiled were from several years after the three core AD&D1 books. The later ones were roughly contemporaneous with Unearthed Arcana.
 

Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
Hiya!

Wow. Talk about different strokes and all that! Personally I consider the slightly modified DD combat "To Hit" determination to be one of it's better modifications!

For those that don't know, here's how you figure if you hit or not:

1d20 + Adjustments + Opponents AC >= 20, then you Hit

Example
: You swing your sword. You roll 1d20 and get 14. You have a +2 for Strength, so 16. You are also a 4th level Fighter, so you have a "Base Attack Bonus" of +2, so you are at 18 now. Your opponents AC is 4, so you have 22. You hit. ... ... ... in other words, if your opponents AC was 1 or better, you'd miss.

That said, you could always just use the Attack Charts from the BX/BECMI/RC books in stead and ignore the BAB for the DD classes. Wouldn't change a thing.

For those that want a physical copy of the Rules Cyclopedia...well, hope you have deep pockets, because the typical price for even a "Fair" condition is a bit lower than $200. So...yeah. PoD of DD will be $15 ($26 for Hardback; $90 for Hardback, full colour on premium paper...which, I must say, is of VERY high quality! :) ).

^_^

Paul L. Ming
But here's the issue: changing the combat system to a different counterintuitive methodology, one not used by ANY other games, makes it that much harder to use the countless volumes of material available through the years.

I can take my footnoted RC and use it easily along adventures published for OD&D, BECMI, AD&D, 2e, Basic Fantasy, DCC, Swords & Wizardry, and dozens of others with minimal fuss. To use any of those with DD, I'd have to either a) convert both DD and the module to a simple additive system or B) footnote DD to THAC0 or similar to use it.

Dark Dungeons is one of the most disappointing TTRPG purchases I've ever made, and I wish I'd read the combat section more closely before I bought the hardcover. Such a letdown for an otherwise great book.

Also, the RC is available PoD through DriveThru, for a price comparable to Dark Dungeons. While it really wish I still had my 1st printing copy I picked up in the back of a pawn shop for like $15 in 1995, the PoD is more than serviceable and costs WAY less than buying one now.
 
Last edited:

dave2008

Legend
So I got a chance to borrow my friend's Rules Cyclopedia recently (which as far as I understand it is the collection of all of the Box sets back in the day, I believe before 2e came out). Though I played a little 2e, I never "looked under the hood" of the game before 3e....so it was really neat to see some of the early rules for the game. It was cool to see how some things evolved, and honestly....I found some rules that I thought were pretty good even today. So here are a few general notes and interesting things:
I think others have touched on this, but I just wanted to point out the Rules Cyclopedia compiled the Dungeons and Dragons rules, not the Advanced Dungeon and Dragons rules. They were different product lines until 3e came out. 2e was strictly a AD&D product.
 

Voadam

Legend
For those that want a physical copy of the Rules Cyclopedia...well, hope you have deep pockets, because the typical price for even a "Fair" condition is a bit lower than $200. So...yeah. PoD of DD will be $15 ($26 for Hardback; $90 for Hardback, full colour on premium paper...which, I must say, is of VERY high quality! :) ).
You can also directly order a POD of the Rules Cyclopedia itself, $21 for a softcover, $26 for a hardcover (add $2 more to combo with the PDF).
 

dave2008

Legend
1) Alignment: As much as we like to talk about the "9 alignments" as a sacred cow, it actually was just Law, Neutral, and Chaos back then. It seems that Law was "Big L, little g" and Chaos was "Big C, little e".
Just to clarify, but 1e and 2e AD&D used the 9 alignment system. D&D (B, BX, BECMI, rules cyclopedia) had the 3 alignment system.
2) As we talk about bounded accuracy today, there are several places where I find it interesting how much more "bounded" the game was back then. Some examples:

a) Ability scores were more spread out. You had to get very higher scores just to get even a +2 or +3, and you didn't go above 18.
9-12 +0
13-15 +1
16-17 +2
18 +3
I've thought about going to 16 max score for humans to go back to +3 max. We currently use 18 max, so it is no much different.

.c) Hitpoints were tighter. Fighters only had d8 hp, and you only gained a single HP at 9th and beyond.
This was also an AD&D thing. We are probably going to go back to something similar in our next 5e campaign. Our current idea is standard HP until lvl 10 and then at 11+ you get the following based on your class HD (with no CON bonus):
d6 = 1hp
d8 = 2hp
d10 = 3hp
d12 = 4hp

I think if you do this, higher CR monsters in 5e are more effective for most groups.

8) Its no wonder that nature clerics and druids have overlap nowadays, as back then a druid was simply a "prestige class" for a cleric.
I personally prefer druids as a subclass of cleric
19) The Monster Reaction and Morale tables are actually very simple and yet I really like how they make encounters more organic. Monster reactions showcases things like animals that may not be hostile due to certain circumstances, and morale gives you reasonable "checkpoints" on when to consider if a monster should just leave a fight. Its very clear that back then, it was more common for monsters to leave the battlefield than to just get killed.
There is a moral variant rule in the 5e DMG. But I agree it be nice if it was a line in the stat block, even if it is clearly an optional rule. It makes it clear that is an option.
 
Last edited:

Great post, it's a masterpiece!

1) Alignment: As much as we like to talk about the "9 alignments" as a sacred cow, it actually was just Law, Neutral, and Chaos back then. It seems that Law was "Big L, little g" and Chaos was "Big C, little e".
I'd rather drop the alignment system from the game altogether, but this was always my favorite way to implement it. I would just add one more: Unaligned, which would be the default for most PCs and NPCs alike. Paladins would be Lawful, Druids would be Neutral, and Clerics would match their patron deity, because that's a big part of what those classes are about, but everyone else would just be Unaligned unless a PC specifically requested an alignment.

2) As we talk about bounded accuracy today, there are several places where I find it interesting how much more "bounded" the game was back then. Some examples:

a) Ability scores were more spread out. You had to get very higher scores just to get even a +2 or +3, and you didn't go above 18.
9-12 +0
13-15 +1
16-17 +2
18 +3

b) Many more things used static rolls instead of adding in ability scores. Several skills, initiative, surprise, even your saving throws were almost entirely dependent on level than on your ability scores.

c) Hitpoints were tighter. Fighters only had d8 hp, and you only gained a single HP at 9th and beyond.
Personally I much preferred that approach to ability scores. I get why we moved away from it but I think the 3e-5e system of getting an additional +1 every other point, and having those modifiers apply to many more things, is LESS needed in 3e-5e due to skills, feats, subclasses, and other customization options that weren't around in previous editions.

And hit point progression plateauing at "Name" level was like the E6 (I guess it would be E9?) of the old days! I'd like to see it brought back.

9) It was interesting to read the "Mystic" which is the original monk. The monk honestly hasn't changed nearly as much as I had expected, and many of its current abilities you can see traces of in the original class.
Still the best name for it IMO!

18) Initiative was very different back then. It was a simple d6 and done by each group. The ideas of adding dex to the roll and rolling it per person were actually optional variants at that time. So was surprise, there was again no perception check back then just a simple d6 done by both sides. I like the simplicity of it, but considering how deadly surprise can be its probably a good idea they changed it.

19) The Monster Reaction and Morale tables are actually very simple and yet I really like how they make encounters more organic. Monster reactions showcases things like animals that may not be hostile due to certain circumstances, and morale gives you reasonable "checkpoints" on when to consider if a monster should just leave a fight. Its very clear that back then, it was more common for monsters to leave the battlefield than to just get killed.

20) Weapon Speed did exist in a very simplified version: Ranged Attacks went first, then Spells, then melee weapons.
I love all of these and hope they come back in some form! Initiative by side, with weapon speed determining order, was elegant in being simple yet still encouraging the PCs to coordinate in battle.

And not only does a morale system just make sense, even in a fictional fantasy setting, it goes really well with XP-for-treasure. I'd like combat to be an interesting and an assumed part of the game, yet still have it be an obstacle to the ultimate goal rather than the goal itself.

23) THAC0 tables really are as nasty as I remember :)
The one change I would make to any of the editions prior to 3e. o_O

25) But at high levels, the opposite is true—high-level characters almost always make saves, and this didn't change until 3rd edition borked the saving throw math for ever afterward. And you'll notice that dwarves and halflings hit those good save numbers way sooner than everybody else, followed by fighters next—fighters being able to make most saving throws is one of their hidden bits of awesomeness (along with their use of magic swords) that makes a "plain" looking class actually rock the house in Basic when played rules-as-written! (Even if you don't use Weapon Mastery!)
Great point, this is probably part of why BECMI/RC Fighter always seemed the least generic to me. As in all editions it was still a simple class, but out-of-the-box I felt it had more flavor than usual.
 

Voadam

Legend
Just to clarify, but 1e and 2e AD&D used the 9 alignment system. D&D (B, BX, BECMI, rules cyclopedia) had the 3 alignment system.
The first one, the Holmes Basic set, actually had a five alignment set up of LG, LE, N, CG, CE which you can also see in the 1e AD&D MM.
1613669549315.png
 
Last edited:

I wouldn't mind playing Rules Cyclopedia/BECMI honestly. Course I'd be crazy enough to add in the four Creature Crucible Gazeteer's playable monster races in as well.

Then again, this is also coming from a guy who would play Lamentations of the Flame Princess using the Rules Cyclopedia rules/add-ons while ALSO ALLOWING the Creature Crucible Gazeteer's playable monsters races in as well.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
It didn't used to be, before WotC put up a print version on DriveThru. If you didn't want to drop a mint plus shipping on Ebay, the only way to get your hands on an RC was to get really lucky at a game shop or a secondhand bookstore.

I got mine used off eBay in 2009 for $25 (including shipping). But I remember looking for a second copy soon after and the cheapest copies I found were already more than double that. I just looked and the cheapest one I found was around 80 bucks, but most were $100 or more.
 

No, I get why it exists as a publisher resource. I just don't get why there's a commercial product.

I understand OSRIC and B/X Essentials because those sources, while also available, are kind of a mess. But Alston's RC is a pretty much perfect book from an organizational standpoint.

I guess maybe this: if the RC PDF isn't searchable I can see wanting something that is.
There’s that and it’s riddled with errors that you need the BECMI box sets to fully appreciate. Some clarifications were dropped in the compilation which can make some rules hard to parse (in particular the combat section). The magic user’s table is also wrong. Luckily, a chap called Grim Reaper on dragonsfoot has combed through and provided a massive document on errata and suggested rulings based on his interpretations of more ambiguous rules.
 

Jack Daniel

Engines & Empires
I got mine used off eBay in 2009 for $25 (including shipping). But I remember looking for a second copy soon after and the cheapest copies I found were already more than double that. I just looked and the cheapest one I found was around 80 bucks, but most were $100 or more.

Well if we're bragging, I got my white box for $10 because my wife was working at a Half Price Books at the time and nobody there (including her) knew what they had or what it was worth when they were deciding what to price it. :D

I wouldn't mind playing Rules Cyclopedia/BECMI honestly. Course I'd be crazy enough to add in the four Creature Crucible Gazeteer's playable monster races in as well.

Then again, this is also coming from a guy who would play Lamentations of the Flame Princess using the Rules Cyclopedia rules/add-ons while ALSO ALLOWING the Creature Crucible Gazeteer's playable monsters races in as well.

The Creature Crucible monster-classes were pretty foundational to the first version of Engines & Empires that I wrote back in '08 (which had class tables going all the way up to 36th level just like the Rules Cyclopedia, even though it was nominally "for use with Labyrinth Lord"). Even though the revised, standalone version of E&E only has classes that go up to 10th level, the various oddball non-human types (centaurs and fauns and merfolk and what-not) are still based on those classes from PC1–4.
 
Last edited:

dave2008

Legend
"Still"? AD&D 1st Edition predates BECMI, as others have already gone over in more detail. This particular compilation came out about the same time 2nd Edition started, but even the original boxed sets it compiled were from several years after the three core AD&D1 books. The later ones were roughly contemporaneous with Unearthed Arcana.
That is not quite accurate. As @Alzrius pointed out in the 2nd post, the original Basic Set (which became the Basis for BX and then BECMI) came out in 1977 before the AD&D PHB ('78).
The Rules Cyclopedia (1991) is an excellent product, one of the very best in D&D's history. I got it shortly after picking up one of the early 1990's introductory D&D boxed sets, and it kept me captivated for a very long time.

One thing to note is that it's in fact a compilation of the first four of the BECMI boxed sets. That is, Frank Mentzer's Basic (1983), Expert (1983), Companion (1984), and Master (1985) rules. It didn't, however, try to include the "I" part of the acronym: the Immortals (1986) set (that, instead, got its own redux release as the 1992 Wrath of the Immortals boxed set).

While those boxed sets easily predate AD&D 2E (1989), there were several iterations of the game that came out before them in turn. Strictly speaking, Tom Moldvay's Basic Set (1981) and Marsh and Cook's Expert Set (1981) both predate BECMI, for instance, even though most of the rules are identical. AD&D 1E was released across three years, with the Monster Manual coming out in 1977, followed by the Players Handbook in 1978, and finally the Dungeon Masters Guide in 1979. 1977 was also when the original Basic Set came out, written by Dr. J. Eric Holmes.

And of course, Original D&D came out in 1974.

The first one, the Holmes Basic set, actually had a five alignment set up of LG, LE, N, CG, CE which you can also see in the 1e AD&D MM.
View attachment 132954
Honestly, I think that is the best idea. The graphic clear indicates that the alignments are fluid and not concrete as the AD&D system generally interpreted
 


Reynard

Legend
FYI, Side Initiative and Speed Factor are optional rules in the DMG
I like the idea of implementing an initiative system you see in a lot of new games these days: roll side initiative, but that is esentially the coin flip at the start of a football game. The winner gets to decide who goes first. After the first player goes, they say which (assuming there are multiple) enemies goes next. The players then act again (a different character) until everyone has gone once and then initiative is rolled again.
 

jeffh

Explorer
That is not quite accurate. As @Alzrius pointed out in the 2nd post, the original Basic Set (which became the Basis for BX and then BECMI) came out in 1977 before the AD&D PHB ('78).
It's accurate. Holmes basic is vastly different from B/X and BECMI. As someone else pointed out above, this was particularly true with respect to alignment, of which Holmes had five in a system that was never used in any other version of D&D. You'd be on much firmer ground with just B/X, but that was also after AD&D.
 

JEB

Adventurer
Everyone hates THAC0, which always struck me as odd, because it was just a matter of "Your THAC0, minus the enemy's AC, equals the number (or higher) that you need to roll to hit them on a d20." It was certainly easier than pages of combat matrices like in AD&D 1E.
THAC0 may have been much easier than 1E's combat matrices, but d20 + bonus vs. AC was much easier than THAC0. I was still running 2E when 3E was new, but after I was exposed to the new combat system I house-ruled it in place of THAC0...
 

Jack Daniel

Engines & Empires
THAC0 may have been much easier than 1E's combat matrices, but d20 + bonus vs. AC was much easier than THAC0. I was still running 2E when 3E was new, but after I was exposed to the new combat system I house-ruled it in place of THAC0...

You can do the exact same thing with THAC0, though: the player rolls 1d20, adds the target's AC, and they hit if the sum equals or exceeds their THAC0. It's no different from the subtraction method described above.

(That said, an even easier method—the one I still use when I play—is to convert THAC0 to an attack bonus, and roll 1d20 under the sum of the defender's AC and the attacker's to-hit bonus. It's so much quicker and more intuitive than the 3e method!)
 

dave2008

Legend
It's accurate. Holmes basic is vastly different from B/X and BECMI. As someone else pointed out above, this was particularly true with respect to alignment, of which Holmes had five in a system that was never used in any other version of D&D. You'd be on much firmer ground with just B/X, but that was also after AD&D.
I stand corrected ;) I had thought B/X had shared a lineage with Basic. The whole point of AD&D being to make it a "different" game from OD&D and Basic (and then B/X & BECMI) continuing the line separate from AD&D, that is at least how the D&D Wiki explains it. Though it does say once B/X came along it was really a separate game from OD&D and AD&D.
 

cbwjm

Hero
Everyone hates THAC0, which always struck me as odd, because it was just a matter of "Your THAC0, minus the enemy's AC, equals the number (or higher) that you need to roll to hit them on a d20." It was certainly easier than pages of combat matrices like in AD&D 1E.
I always found that to be easy enough. Since you didn't always know the AC of the enemy it was easy enough to roll 1d20+bonuses and subtract that from your thac0 to see what AC you hit. Became even easier if you subtracted your bonuses from your thac0 for specific weapons, then you only had to worry about random bonuses.
 

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top