D&D General Veteran fans - did you think of Basic D&D and AD&D as completely different games?

JEB

Legend
I've been randomly pulling PDFs out of my DriveThruRPG/DM Guild collection to read lately, and just finished 1982's Polyhedron #8. (Which is no longer on DM Guild, alas - I suspect their Polyhedron issues were pulled due to some unforeseen rights issues.)

In Frank Mentzer's Q&A column "Dispel Confusion", he makes the following comment, after an answer on rolling ability scores in D&D vs. AD&D:
Don't mix the game systems. They are different games.

Presumably this was the official TSR line (though I'd be interested to hear if there were contradictory statements). But is this what veteran players really assumed back in the day? A wall between Basic D&D and AD&D, with nothing meant to be used interchangeably?
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
Modules are absolutely used interchangeably. PCs? Not so much. While somewhat compatible, you can run into certain issues by mix mashing BX with 1e PCs. Things like spells to the cost of equipment can vary widely. For example, a basic fighter has 1d8 hp with different str and con mods than a 1e, and will probably start with plate and shield and 1e will not.

Both are DnD though. Same game, just minor differences.

Speaking for myself, we used 1e and BX adventures all the time with each other. But we never had a mix of PCs.
 

dave2008

Legend
I've been randomly pulling PDFs out of my DriveThruRPG/DM Guild collection to read lately, and just finished 1982's Polyhedron #8. (Which is no longer on DM Guild, alas - I suspect their Polyhedron issues were pulled due to some unforeseen rights issues.)

In Frank Mentzer's Q&A column "Dispel Confusion", he makes the following comment, after an answer on rolling ability scores in D&D vs. AD&D:


Presumably this was the official TSR line (though I'd be interested to hear if there were contradictory statements). But is this what veteran players really assumed back in the day? A wall between Basic D&D and AD&D, with nothing meant to be used interchangeably?
We used both sets of rules as one game. We had the BECMI boxed sets and supplemented it with the 1e PHB, DMG, and MM1 & 2

EDIT: I also want to point out that we didn't realize we mixing to different games. We just thought it was all Dungeons & Dragons!
 
Last edited:

Audiomancer

Explorer
We freely mixed B/X and AD&D material. We worked out pretty quickly that the two rules systems had some differences, but they’re similar enough that we could make judgment calls where they conflict. I know that we ran some B and X modules with AD&D characters, and it worked out fine. Sometimes we found B/X spell descriptions to be more straightforward than their AD&D equivalents. I don’t remember anyone ever wanting to play a B/X elf or dwarf in an AD&D module, but if it came up, we could have figured out a way to make it work.
 

TerraDave

5ever, or until 2024
Of course people mixed them: they used B/X rules when the AD&D rules were too confusing.

I do see them as different games. More different then say 3e vs 3.5 and a little more different then 1e vs 2e.

There is also some asymmetry. Not that hard to use BX stuff in an AD&D game, but harder to use say an AD&D adventure in a B/X game.
 

Kimberly Burgess

Loki's Little Valkyrie
I started with the Basic and Expert sets along with the Wilderness Survival Guide, and freely mixed and matched adventures, Gazetteers, and modules. Even mixed in the old Greyhawk boxed set and my own creations. I think I still prefer the Rules Cyclopedia/Immortals/Mystara/BECMI setting over modern rulesets.
 

Egon Spengler

"We eat gods for breakfast!"
I toed that official line to a tee back in the day. Never mixed D&D with AD&D, because the D&D books said not to (and the AD&D books generally never acknowledged D&D's existence—because of course they didn't, TSR was in the business of pushing AD&D, and they only kept D&D in print because they had to).
 


Lyxen

Great Old One
yes they are entiely different games and feel different too

Entirely different, really ? Honestly, in particular at low level, the feeling was exactly the same, and for me the differences were way more about the settings than about the rules. The extremely high compatibility of the modules is proof of this.

Yes, the characters were a bit different, and do develop differently, but at low level they were almost interchangeable.
 

teitan

Legend
Yes, different enough that I only bought modules for basic because they were compatible but the rules like classes and stuff were not. I did prefer Basics alignment system though.
 


delericho

Legend
Presumably this was the official TSR line (though I'd be interested to hear if there were contradictory statements). But is this what veteran players really assumed back in the day? A wall between Basic D&D and AD&D, with nothing meant to be used interchangeably?
TSR had to maintain that line, for legal reasons (it was to do with the Gygax/Arneson fallout, and the legal rights each had). They had to maintain both lines in print and rigorously push the line that they were entirely separate games. It wasn't until either the very last days of TSR's demise, or possibly early in WotC's tenure, that someone reached out to Arneson and the rifts were healed.

As for whether we considered them separate at our table: sort of. We never really mixed editions (even 3.0 and 3.5e mixing was very limited), so never used BECMI materials once we 'graduated' to 2nd Ed. But there are sufficient similarities between every TSR version of the game that you could mix-and-match with reasonable success.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
In the end, especially for the early days, I think it mostly depended which options you were using for AD&D. There are many things in there, for example Weapon type vs AC which were (from experience) used a very few tables. But if you used the "core" AD&D of simple rules, they were very similar to Basic, and even the classes were not that different. Yes, basic dwarves had to be be fighters, but frankly, AD&D only had some other options in terms of classes/races combination, that does not make for a different game.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Modules and magic items were completely interchangable IME, with only minimal if any tweaking required.

Never tried porting a character over as we never played B/X or BECMI or any other variant, just 1e.

Some of the modifications we made to 1e probably pushed our games closer to B/X or similar while others would have pushed them farther away.
 

They were different games in the same way that 1E and 2E were different games. They had similarities, and some material could be used in the other, but they had a different feel. A lot of people adapted a game that was a combination of both.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
Northern IL (Rockford) around 1982, the DM and a few players were much older and had been active in the IL/WI con scene since before Chainmail. I'm not sure what rules the DM was using, but the players used OD&D, B/X, or AD&D based on what they had. We had all switched to AD&D a year or two later - but still used modules from whatever.
 
Last edited:

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
I first remembered coming across this idea, that D&D and AD&D were different games, when I came across the conversion rules for the two in the back of the Rules Cyclopedia. It was enough for me to decide that they were different games (albeit ones with a lot of similar ideas and basic foundations), particularly since I was an absolute stickler about rules back then.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
TSR had to maintain that line, for legal reasons (it was to do with the Gygax/Arneson fallout, and the legal rights each had). They had to maintain both lines in print and rigorously push the line that they were entirely separate games. It wasn't until either the very last days of TSR's demise, or possibly early in WotC's tenure, that someone reached out to Arneson and the rifts were healed.
That was Peter Adkison (he talks about it in 30 Years of Adventure). WotC wanted to do away with the D&D/AD&D division, and knew they had to resolve things with Arneson, so Adkison talked to him and they agreed to cut Arneson a check in exchange for his releasing his rights to residuals over D&D products.
 

aco175

Legend
Completely different games- no, I would think 80-90% similar. Kind of like how Toyota uses the Corolla chassis for the Prius and Rav4, lots of same but feels slightly different in riding.
 

Both games were really close to each others but different enough so that modifications to use the modules from one with the other might require a bit of work.

Basic modules were very easy to port to AD&D as long as you kept to the B/X ones. Using C and M adventures was a lot more work as some monsters were way more different than their counter parts in AD&D.

On the other hand, using AD&D modules with basic rules was a lot of work. Adventures for 1st to 3rd levels were still manageable but as soon as you got to the higher levels, it became a chore, especially with NPCs if you wanted to keep their classes flavour. How do you translate a druid level 7 in basic? Druids are neutral clerics that reached 9th level in D&D and the chose nature. So a 7th level druid in basic is really 16th... So the flavor of some NPCs was automatically lost.

AD&D could use most of BECMI, but the reverse was not true.
 

Dungeon Delver's Guide

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top