Thursday, October 17, 2019

Full Monty

I am sorry. I mean, I really really AM sorry. I keep searching around Ye Old Interwebs for decent content, and find myself constantly scraping the bottom of the barrel and I realize that I am as much a part of the problem/solution myself: after all, it's not like I've posted anything for the last several weeks.

And that's the tough thing. Oh, I've had thoughts, sure: stuff about fatigue (as it appears in Chainmail) and segments (as they appear in Eldritch Wizardry and how they might be applied...rather B/X) and deities and cosmology and magic. Heck, I've even had some Blood Bowl/NFL thoughts for the half dozen readers of mine who are into that kind of thing. But while I've started a few draft posts here and there, I just haven't got up the gumption to really blog anything that's A) worthwhile, B) entertaining, or C) both. And why should I waste my time scribbling (and your time reading) dreck?


SO, here's where I'm at:

There are some things, concept-wise that I really, really like about AD&D (and here I'm speaking of the 1st edition version...sorry to all you 2E fans). Many of those things, however, I have quibbles with in execution. For example, a lot of headaches could have been prevented (perhaps) by dividing the one minute combat round into six ten-second segments (as per Eldritch Wizardry) rather than ten six-second segments (as per AD&D). Works better both with regard to movement/segment AND the use of a D6 initiative die roll. The only way you lose out is with high level spells that require more than six segments to cast...and squinting at it one way, I can see how many of those spells should be more than one round of casting time anyway. But the stupid ten segment round is what led my old AD&D group (back in the day) to adopt a D10 for initiative instead of a D6 (which I wouldn't recommend unless you're choosing to forgo tactical movement - i.e. on a battle map - in your game).

Then there's stuff like weapon type versus Armor Class which really could use a once-over...I just flat disagree with some of the adjustments presented. Then again, I take umbrage with many of the weapons on the AD&D list itself (a long sword and a bastard sword are pretty much the same thing, for instance).

And, of course, there is ridiculousness in many of the magical spells, probably my biggest headache. From low-level illusions that kill to charms that "befriend" to examples of mummies being polymorphed into puppies (undead aren't alive so they can't really be considered animals, right? Can a magic-user "cure" a vampire by polymorphing it into a human? Garbage)...I mean, there's just a bunch of shite in there, you know? A lot of shite. By which I mean "shit." As in bullshit.

BUT...but, it's still better than pretty much all the alternatives. And while it's NOT a perfect system, it's still a darn good one, once you take the time to parse it all out, as some folks have bothered to do. And while I could spend my life going through it with a fine-tooth and re-writing all the stuff that absolutely drives me bonkers (as other, smarter folks than me, have done) I find that that this requires far more effort than the actual payout I'd get from the effort. That's time and energy that could be going into the design of settings, adventures, and campaigns instead instead of worrying about why a battle axe (properly wielded) doesn't gain a bonus against an AC that uses a shield, or whether or not there's even a chance that ANY blow will strike the head of a character wearing a great helm, or blah-blah, etc.

So I'm in...I'm all in. The full monty.  It occurs to me that my MAIN reason for choosing B/X the last many years was my aversion to strict encumbrance accounting, and that other than that (and some philosophical differences with regard to demi humans) the simpler, streamlined BASIC system of B/X just doesn't pack enough juice for me anymore. Now that I finally, finally have a good handle on just what makes D&D special as a game, and what makes it a game worth playing, I can't see any reason NOT to use the Advanced system of the game unless I'm introducing rank newbies to the whole concept of "dungeons" and "dragons." And despite the glaring issues with the system As Is, I'm going to go ahead and use it RAW for the time being. Perhaps over the course of a decade or so I'll feel inclined to house rule various aspects, but I'm not going to start with that. I'm going to START with the books as written, and go from there.

Yep. That's it.

Now, having written all that, and being really, really, really intentional of following through, I do have two specific caveats:

1) I will only be using the first five AD&D books to start (the PHB, DMG, MM, DDG, and FF).
2) I reserve my right to change my mind about any and all of this.

All right; that really IS "it," for now. Let the games begin!
: )


  1. I'm looking forward to hearing more about your thoughts as you continue down the rabbit hole, JB!

    If you want to dive-in deeper, you may want to engage in the forum communities at the Knights & Knaves Alehouse at and Dragonsfoot at which are strong bastions of 1e play.


    1. @ Allan:

      These days, I have less attention/patience for forum boards than I do for fiction novels (even good ones)...which is really saying something.

      That being said, I haven't really spent time on K&K, given their focus. I'll check it out.

  2. Two things:

    "... I find that that this requires far more effort than the actual payout I'd get from the effort."

    Your words. I think you're underestimating the way that this work shapes YOU, so that the settings, adventures and campaigns you spend your time on have more meat. But I won't expand that argument; either you see it or you don't.

    And second,

    You do not have to scrape the bottom of the barrel for internet content. You know right where it is.

  3. I look forward to your thoughts as you run the system, JB! For myself, AD&D may by inelegant, but nothing else has the same juice. The voodoo in it was never quite replicated.

  4. Welcome (back) to the "A" team! I went through similar thought processes to what you outlined a couple times over the last 20 or so years and ended up in pretty much the same place. AD&D 1E isn't perfect but (at least for my purposes) the good parts outweigh the bad parts, and it's better than the alternatives, so I use it as my baseline to add to and modify rather than something else.

    Key points to remember:

    (1) You don't need to solve all the issues or have a perfect set of house-rules up front. Start with what's in the books and make changes and additions organically as the need for them comes up in play. You're likely to find that some of the things that looked like problems in the abstract either don't come up or don't have a significant enough impact to feel like problems, while those that do you'll be in a better place to effectively deal with when you're doing so in the context of play rather than as a thought-exercise (i.e. your solutions will tend towards being more practical rather than elegant or comprehensive).

    (2) The rules exist to serve you, not the other way around. One of the advantages of playing D&D as an adult rather than a kid is that we're able to bring a ton of real-life experience and common sense to bear and don't need to rely on the rules to tell us how things should be. if something produces bad or un-fun or counter-intuitive results we don;t have to fret about whether we're doing it wrong or missing the bigger picture or accept the authority of the printed text over our own common sense and experience. We're all older than the authors of D&D were when they wrote the rules, and have tons more experience playing these sorts of games than they did (plus we have tons more real-life info than they did at our fingertips via Google searches). We absolutely know things they didn't and can spot mistakes they made and come up with better solutions, and should never hesitate to do so. When you apply something from the rules and it produces a bad result, change it! Just (in keeping with #1 above) don't try to anticipate and fix all of those things in advance. Instead, wait for them to come up, fix them as they do, and then remember what you did (or don't - consistency is overrated, because circumstances are always different and can't be completely modeled through a practical game-engine).

  5. For me the granularity of AD&D flies too close to the sun of simulationism. Then again I like rules hacking and simple mechanics. 0D&D 4 EVA...I guess, maybe I should switch to fate?

  6. Rule systems do not in themselves produce any sort of game world. That is the DM's work, what way the rules are applied.

  7. Love 1e; I was introduced to the game using it and played it through HS and College. I didn't even realize there were other editions at that time. I look forward to seeing how it all works for you.

    I've gravitated more towards BX as a foundation now. I'm not against adding onto it but I prefer the simplicity.