Tuesday, February 19, 2013


With the recent announcement of the OD&D reprints the other day (Here: in case somehow my blog was the first place you heard about it, which I stronly doubt would be the case! they've been everywhere!), I thought I would write about OD&D and my recent studies into it and what I'm finding appealing about it a bit.

First, I'll go ahead and get this out of the way, I have never actually played or ran OD&D (we're going to be shortening this to OE for the rest of this post by the way). I sadly, don't even own any real hard copies. For months I have been trying, and failing. I do however run, and play in a Swords & Wizardry: Complete game, so a little different, but closing in, and own Delving Deeper and the Swords & Wizardry White Box boxed set. I plan on taking the S&W: White Box to my local comic shop and seeing if anyone is up for a one-shot for one of the adventures that was included in my box: The Vile Worm of the Eldritch Oak, written by Jimm Johnson I believe. If a campaign comes out of it, I'll be thrilled.

OE has just been a fascination of mine for the last 6 months. I've really been pining to play it, and just some more rules-lite games in general. I love SW: Complete, as it feels like a 1e lite to me, and it satisfies the old 3.5/PF gamer in me that wants options, but also satisfies the OSR gamer in me that doesn't want to be bogged down by too many options. I used to wonder why people still played OE and what was appealing about it, especially people that played specifically just with the little brown books. I couldn't grasp what people liked about it. Eventually I got the .pdfs and well, that didn't help, as I didn't own chainmail (and I still don't!), but I feel as I've been maturing as a gamer (and I suppose as a person too), I'm finding myself really wanting something so stripped down. The arguments I see people make, like adding house rules they want to something so stripped down, rather than removing rules from books, starts clicking.

Some of the unified systems and simplifications (like d6 hd and attacks for everyone), I'm slowly starting to understand more and more. It is certainly becoming more appealing, and it has actually strengthened my urge to use some mass combat in my campaigns as well. The massive home-brewed nature of what people had to do when playing OE is appealing too. As a jazz musician, and someone who spends a great deal of time improvising, that flows into my DM style too. I don't like doing too much prep work (probably because I am lazy), but such a stripped down game just seems so much easier to make rulings without upsetting anyone, or bothering those rules lawyers, because there isn't the rule to mess up (or just throw rule 0 in their face). It also seems like it would be easier to just roll with the players punches and expand the world as they're playing. No huge stat-blocks (or even more than a line really). Just the improvising seems easier and more appealing. Like trying to play Modal Jazz instead of Bebop (or at least the theory behind those two).

After writing this, I'm slowly realizing, I don't have a writing style. If this bothers you, I apologize. My writing will probably always seem to just be my train of thought. Really I'm just trying to write down my ideas, feelings, thoughts about the game(s) we love to play. Slowly tracing how much finding the OSR has altered my tastes.

All said and done (since I mentioned the reprints) I'll probably end up picking them up. I'd rather have originals, but if I still haven't been able to win over a set of them + the supplements, by the time they're released (or most of anyway) then I'll probably sink in and pick them up myself. Heck, maybe it'll get some of the guys at my comic shop interested in playing with me ;)


  1. Another recent convert to Original Edition here - well, Holmes Basic in my case, which is basically a stripped-down version of the 3LBBs plus the Greyhawk supplement, with some of Holmes's house rules thrown in. And I think you're right, it's people re-discovering the simplicity and freedom of OD&D, whatever they played in the past (3E onwards, Pathfinder, AD&D or, in my case, B/X and RuneQuest).

    1. I think your absolutely correct. I don't have a lot of exposure to Holmes, but I do at least have a copy and a couple of clones of it. I use it as a reference quite a bit, especially when reading my OD&D .pdfs. Thanks for reading! I'm looking forward to seeing Blueholme Compleat!

  2. I have my LBB OD&D set, but hadn't played using these rules since I bought my 1e DMG in 1980(?). My son was running a 4e campaign for his friends (and me) and he was having trouble 'cause there's just so damn MUCH involved. Last summer, I ran him and his friends thru the first AD&D Next playtest, and they all loved how much simpler things seemed... so I started talking about running OD&D again. The only supplement I have is Eldritch Wizardry, so I borrowed the thief class from Planet Eris house rules .pdf. I also borrowed the idea of a zero-level funnel from Dungeon Crawl Classics, mainly to break the players of their love for/fear of losing brand-new characters. Learn to love your character because he's been through some wild-ass adventures, NOT because you spent three hours creating him!

    We've played five times, and almost everyone seems to be having a great time! If you're interested in play reports, I'm posting for my players at spacetimeloop.blogspot.com.

    1. Awesome! I'll definitely be checking that blog out. That was how it was for my group. First time we tried out 1e from 3.5, we all rolled characters together, took about 45 minutes since it was our first time, and it was 6 people asking questions with only one phb available. We started playing and everyone was so amazed about has smooth and easy it ran without feats, skills, minis, etc... We never looked back after that. I've been thinking about trying DCC myself too, but haven't picked up the book yet. Soon though!