OSR Why B/X?


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TGryph

Explorer
So I started with the Holmes Blue Book to learn the basics (which was a fairly steep learning curve) then we switched over to AD&D as each book came out. Dug deep into it - I was practically always the Dm by choice and being young, married, and broke had little else I could do cheaply. I struggled, but eventually through gifts and scraping, managed to get all the hardcover books (which I still have), but could not afford any modules. Practically everything I ran came from my own imagination or the numerous used fantasy paperbacks I managed to acquire. Our playstyle, then was self-created and self taught. We focused on a pretty good mix of stories, outdoor adventures, dungeons, and domain management. and I remember going to a small local convention and being surprised at all the ways other folks played...mentions of Lawful Neutral Paladins and Space Elves. Didn't take long to realize that pretty much everyone else played they way they wanted.

When 2nd Edition came along, I remember being thrilled...Specialty Priests? Wizard Specialists? Allotting Thief Skills the way you want? Yes please! To me, it just gave my group more options, opening up different venues to explore. By then I was actually able to get the books as I wanted them... until at one point I had to put the brakes on. There were just TOO any books to take to each session. We pared it back to the core books and continued on.

I dabbled in B/X at that time with a less dedicated group, but didn't take it seriously...I mean only eight classes? And three of them were Races? Looking back, I kind of viewed 2nd Edition as B/X's Big Brother...if Players were given a lot more options.

Now, I appreciate the B/X skeleton, with the options to add your own touches. Old School Essentials, to me, is brilliant, and totally summarizes the way I played back in the day. But a huge difference in playstyle from First Edition to Second Edition? Naw...I never noticed it.
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
Something else to add to @cavalier973 ’s fantastic summary:

My introduction to fantasy was not through Appendix N, video games, fantasy novels, movies, or from D&D. Instead, mine came from Thundar the Barbarian, Blackstar, Galtar, Herculoids, and He-Man. I’ve always been a huge animation fan, and those cartoons really sparked the imagination. That’s the fantasy that I truly love, and I don’t think any other system gets close to it.

I’ve mentioned in other threads that I think D&D’s genre is magical fantasy in a USA that had existed from the Bronze Age until a medieval or post-apocalyptic time. The assumptions of vast, untamed wildernesses with treasures and ancient civilizations, of free farmers who are definitely not serfs, of kings without divine right and more democratic societies, and of adventurers being less European knights and more prospectors, explorers, treasure hunters, and cowboys is unique. Erol Otus’ art just sells and cements the non-medieval European influence to me.
Have you seen Wayne Rossi's PDF extrapolation of OD&D's implied setting?


After B/X, it is my opinion that TSR, and subsequently WotC, pushed and embraced a more medieval European tone in the majority of their releases. Sure, Planescape and Eberron have some dungeon punk and magitech influences, as does Mystara, but a goodly number of products feel like a romanticized Western Europe of the 12th-15th centuries, just with more modern values.
I think SOME medievalism was always present from OD&D into AD&D 1E. I do agree with you that there's a bit of a tonal division there, with the AD&D line retaining more of the medievalism (as evinced in the long weapons list full of polearms, and in all the depictions of Fighters in realistic-looking suits of plate (even if the term "plate mail" is inauthentic).
 

Reynard

Legend
I think SOME medievalism was always present from OD&D into AD&D 1E. I do agree with you that there's a bit of a tonal division there, with the AD&D line retaining more of the medievalism (as evinced in the long weapons list full of polearms, and in all the depictions of Fighters in realistic-looking suits of plate (even if the term "plate mail" is inauthentic).
Core 2E wasn't so much "more medieval" as it was "more paperback medieval fantasy." There was a recursive relationship between D&D and paperback fantasy in the 80s and until the more experimental 90s both hewed pretty close to the same sets of tropes and aesthetics.
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
Core 2E wasn't so much "more medieval" as it was "more paperback medieval fantasy." There was a recursive relationship between D&D and paperback fantasy in the 80s and until the more experimental 90s both hewed pretty close to the same sets of tropes and aesthetics.
For 2E they hit historical references hard in some of the supplements. The Arms & Equipment Guide, for example, which for me was a great reference but actually passed over the line into a bit boring/TOO realistic with the art through most of it. Also books like the Castle Guide or HR1-HR7 the Historical Reference series. But yeah, overall I'll agree that in the 80s in particular there was a lot of aesthetic, setting, and tonal overlap (and I imagine a fair number of artists shared) between D&D and kind of generic post-Tolkien epic fantasy fiction.
 

Have you seen Wayne Rossi's PDF extrapolation of OD&D's implied setting?



I think SOME medievalism was always present from OD&D into AD&D 1E. I do agree with you that there's a bit of a tonal division there, with the AD&D line retaining more of the medievalism (as evinced in the long weapons list full of polearms, and in all the depictions of Fighters in realistic-looking suits of plate (even if the term "plate mail" is inauthentic).
Yeah, found that yesterday, and it was so gonzo that I had a giant grin on my face while reading and shared with everyone I knew.

I am not saying that there wasn’t always some medievalism, but it wasn’t strictly a medieval world. That implied world of OD&D might have knights challenging people to jousts, but, as the author points out, they’re as like to riding a Pegasus as a warhorse. That’s cool to to me.
 

cbwjm

Seb-wejem
I'm playing in an OSE game and, after a disastrous outing where our assassin took an arrow to the chest, we've had much more success in our second quest. 3 of us took to the sewers seeking a homeless person who was dragged away. We were all 1st level: a cleric, a thief, and a dwarf. We fought some giant rats, combat went quickly with group initiative, I'd forgotten how quick it could be, though we are only 1st level. I think the low amount of options helps speed things along. We found enough treasure to level the thief and get my dwarf halfway to level 2, the cleric almost to level 2. We might even have a bit of healing magic after the next session.

I think I liked going back to just a simple dungeon crawl rather than some large overarching adventure path.
 

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