Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Dungeons and Dragons

I thought I’d collect my thoughts and recent research on Dungeons and Dragons, the first RPG I played.

I started playing back in about 1978/9 with a friend from school. I was around his house and came across a couple of really old White Dwarf magazines. This got me hooked from the get-go. The two of us played for a good couple of years in our own campaigns using the Basic set of rules (the blue books in a boxed set if I recall correctly).

In 1981, Advanced Dungeons and Dragons came out so we moved onto that version. This is when my gaming really took off. I recall my friend’s mum took us to a wargaming group in the local ‘village’ of Northumberland Heath in Kent. It was here I met many of my long term gaming buddies and sampled the delights of many other games (Traveller, Runequest, Superheroes and so forth – but that is another story).

We played AD&D for several years, until I left school when I then concentrated more on our own house-ruled version of Traveller, and Runequest. I then left the D&D scene until 3rd Edition was released in 2000, which I got on advanced order. I hoped to get back into it by joining one of the players guilds but never plucked up the courage or had the time. As a result I didn’t play the game, and just put the rulebooks away until just a few months ago. I then did a few searches on the internet recently to rekindle my efforts and was amazed at how much the game had changed/developed over the years. As mentioned in a previous post, there are several different editions and flavours of D&D out there now, and I don’t presume to have written a complete list of editions; only of those editions that affect my gaming life.

1977 – Basic D&D - I started playing in around 1978/79
1981 – Advanced D&D (aka 1E) – I started playing in 1981
1989 – Advanced D&D 2nd Edition (aka 2E) – I never played this version
2000 – D&D 3rd Edition (aka 3E) – I have the rules but never played
2003 – D&D 3.5
2007 – D&D 4th Edition (aka 4E)
2012? – D&D 5th Edition

Now, here is where I start to get confused as various licences were released to allow other companies to produce what I call clones of D&D – many players will probably gasp in horror at my choice of words, but without having bought/read most of them I hope I can be forgiven any errors or faux pas (please correct me where I go wrong).

0D&D – Presumably one of the original D&D games like Basic, Expert, and a few others prior to and alongside AD&D

B/X – Not sure what this stands for, but presumably a Basic/Expert continuation version. The B/X Blackrazor blog has more details

2001 - Hackmaster by Kenzer and Co – Uses the AD&D 1E system

2004 - Castles and Crusades by Troll Lord Games – Uses the d20 system from 3E

2007 - Labyrinth Lord by Goblinoid Games - Uses the AD&D 1E and Basic D&D systems

2009 – Pathfinder (aka 3.75E) by Paizo – Uses the d20 system from 3E

I have now reached a crossroads - which version of the game do I go for? Do I stick with the official D&D rules for 1e and/or 3E that I own, or do I go for one of the 'clones'? If I go for a clone, which one? Labyrinth Lord is a freebie and I have downloaded the rules already, but I must admit I like shiny, so I may purchase one of the other rulesets. Dunc has kindly invited me down to his for a few games of D&D using the Labyrinth Lord rules, so I will probably stick to LL until I want to DM my own campaign. Then the world is my mollusc.


  1. Coincidentally, we're just kicking off a 1E campaign using all my old books, etc. Go old skool mate, you know you want to... ;-)

  2. You forgot "BECMI" the basic set published as Basic, Expert, Companion,Master, Immortal sets, and the combined into the "Rules Cyclopedia" in the later 80s/early 90s. sometimes called "Metzner" as Frank Metzner did the Basic set. Similar to B/X but with more stuff. B/X and BECMI are famous (infamous) for Race-as-class ... elf, dwarf etc. are classes.

    Also the "Holmes" basic set, which came out right before AD&D.

    I like B/X, and would go with either LL or C&C as a retroclone. Probably LL.