OSR Why B/X?

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I started playing D&D with OD&D and then Holmes Basic, and then AD&D1e when the DMG came out. My experience then (as now) is that AD&D1e is needlessly complex and arcane with the rules as presented (initiative segments, weapon vs AC tables, initiative segments, weapon speed & reach, initiative segments, ability scores that basically do nothing unless you have a 16+ [17 Strength = +1/+1?], initiative segments, species, age & gender ability score adjustments, initiative segments, huge spell lists, initiative segments, minutia for determining if characters have contracted diseases or parasites from adventuring, initiative segments, etc).

When B/X was released in 1981, it was a HUGE breath of fresh air for me, and I haven't stopped playing it since. I play other editions (I'm in a 5e and an AD&D1e game right now), but B/X is where my heart is with simple unified ability score modifiers, no ability score adjustments, 12 spells per level for Magic Users and 8 for Clerics, and a super-simple but robust framework to hang all your house rules from.

Also, Conan is a Thief in B/X. A thief with ridiculous ability scores, but definitely a thief.

B/X isn't just the "current" focus of the OSR, it generally has been the focus through the whole thing.


I didn't start with B/X (or any of its derivatives), so I have no nostalgia for it. The closest I've gotten to playing it is Old School Essentials with the Advanced Options.
That said, I don't care for it. I wish the OSR movement could lean more into AD&D.


Just out of curiosity, why is B/X the (current) focus of the OSR community? Why not AD&D or 2E or BECMI? What makes B/X (and by extension OSE) the primary tool for folks dipping into Old School D&D?
I think it's because it's entry level. Let's be real, and I say this as a 1e fan, AD&D was not user friendly. There are clones of AD&D out there, but I don't think they have the appeal because b/x is much easier to learn and scratch that old school itch. Once people get in, and like it, then they go with things like Advanced OSE (which is AD&D).

But if the market is new players who never played back then, B/X makes the most sense as a way to get them to try it. These folks have no nostalgia, so it makes more sense to start with a user-friendly rule-lite version than try to wade through tons of weird tables and different rules that AD&D has.


5ever, or until 2024
Its relatively user friendly and, in B/X and many clones, well written and accessible.

But the real reason is that it feels different. A streamlined AD&D is a lot like B/X (and there are OSR options that do just this). But once you start to mod it up, in play its going to start to feel a lot more like 3e or 5e. Then you could just play those.

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
B/X isn't just the "current" focus of the OSR, it generally has been the focus through the whole thing.
There was a weird period where everyone pretended that OD&D was the epitome of game design.

But yeah, even those of us who played 1E back in the day ignored at least half of it. Truthfully, we were really playing B/X with 1E classes, races and monsters on both B/X and 1E adventures, which are essentially interchangeable, then and now.

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
I said "current" because I remember when it first started with OSRIC and that dominated initially.
I recall OSRIC being a curiosity, mostly, except for a few early adopters, and then the bandwagon getting rolling with Swords & Wizardry and Labyrinth Lord, along with many less-popular games. Although if you mark the OSR from starting with Castles & Crusades, we're back to 1E being the dominant mode again (IMO -- obviously there are people who'd call it a 2E game or its own thing entirely).
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