Saturday, January 6, 2018

What D&D-based game would I run?

I periodically toy with running a D&D-based game.
I periodically toy with the idea of running a D&D-based game. We had so much fun with White Plume Mountain and AD&D, so there is this pull to do it more.

Plus, if I want to run some of the other modules on my player's request list of "put us through that someday," we'd need a D&D-based game. It would give the players valuable experience with the system that undercut their performance (but not really their fun when we played White Plume Mountain.)

While this isn't terribly serious thinking or planning - it'll take time I don't have a lot of, to do something that would probably add to my gaming setup overhead, and just swap out for DF/Gamma Terra - it's still fun to think about.

I like:

- race, level and HP schemes of AD&D (d10 fighters, d8 clerics, d6 thieves, d4 magic-users)
- the stat modifiers of Basic Fantasy (13-15, 16-17, 18 with flat +1 to +3)
- the Morale stat of Basic D&D (one of the best mechanics ever)
- the Advantage/Disadvantage mechanic of D&D5 (a brilliant replacement for fiddly modifiers)

Basic Fantasy is so close, but I like single-save mechanics.

Swords & Wizardry is excellent, but it ignores an easy approach to STR by splitting "to hit" and "damage" bonuses, and making every other stat have 13+ as a +1. I could swap that in, of course, but it means the "read this book but change this rule" PITA.

I think in descending AC and THAC0, thanks to growing up with AD&D. But I think ascending AC and roll d20+bonuses and beat AC is far easier for everyone else.

Labyrinth Lord* is also nice, especially with Advanced Edition Compendium, but it still sets fighter and thief HP (and thieving skills) lower than I'd like.

I have DCC and ACKS, but they're not for me. I like elements of both, but dislike too many elements of both (dice chains and d7s, and the rules depth of ACKS). I'd play them, heck, I'd play any of these, but to run them, no thanks.

In the end, then, I'd probably run AD&D. I know it extremely well - I read those books over and over dozens of times. But the morale stat of D&D is pretty excellent, and the system is far less clunky than the old in AD&D that I never used or saw used. But I don't love race-as-class and it would make running AD&D adventures too tough.

Really the closest system to what I'd actually want to run is probably S&W, with just a bolted-on replacement of stats and D&D-style Morale, or AD&D with bolted-on D&D-style Morale. Why not change the stats for AD&D? Because it's easier to run AD&D straight up as AD&D than change the PC end.

One small issue is some of the adventures I'd probably like to run assume you have Unearthed Arcana. I like that book, and some of my best gaming in my life used it, but I think I'd want to play without it if I ran a campaign. So that wouldn't help.

The "obvious" solution is to take the bits I like and make my own Retro-clone of AD&D but with the bits of other systems I like. That's a lot of work, though, and could easily turn into a big project because of the scale of text-re-use and combing through material and re-writing.

* Speaking of LL, is there a list of changes in the Revised Edition? My hard copy of LL and AEC are from 2012, and I'd rather not go line by line and check for changes. :)


  1. Sounds like you should GM OSRIC - it includes the good bits of Unearthed Arcana. :)

    Either that or just convert adventures to 5e.

    1. My struggle with OSRIC is that it's AD&D, but without me having memorized where everything is and what it does. Plus, I'm not certain I'd agree on what the "good bits" of Unearthed Arcana are. So it feels like AD&D but with more work.

      I could convert adventures to 5e, but I've only played D&D5 a few times and GMed it zero times. I'd be less comfortable converting and much more comfortable with just starting from scratch with my own materials.

      This is why I looked at other options for running White Plume Mountain and then just went with 99% straight-up by the book AD&D.

  2. Interesting as I am working a follow up to my Majestic Wilderlands supplement. Basically in the years since I kept on running campaigns and now I have more material. Enough that if I formatted it that way it would be it own rule system. My plan it to release it as a series of supplement to Swords & Wizardry.

    What may make it of interest to you is that most of my modifications are in line with three out of the four points in your list. I don't replicate the B/X Morale rules. Instead I just have the creatures make a save, and if they have stats they can add in their Wisdom bonus.

    I did however compile a basic booklet.

    Anything not in there just use either Swords & Wizardry Core or Swords & Wizardry Complete.

    And it 100% open content under the OGL.

    If you want access to everything I been working send me an email or a Google Plus message.

    Hope this is useful.

    1. Thanks Rob! I downloaded the PDF, and I'll give a read through.

      This is really just idle thinking - like I said, I'd have to trade off something else gaming-wise to play a different system. But I am really interested in your MW setting and what you've done for it rules-wise.

  3. gotta get Dragon Heresy out so you can put it on your list. :-)

    1. I'd play it, but I doubt I'd run it. AD&D modules would like quite strange through the lens of Dragon Heresy, and I'm more thinking "nostalgia" and "ease" than "what would it be like if . . . "

      I do want to play it, though.

  4. AD&D 2e or D&D 3.0 are the two I know the best and would run if forced to

    I do have fond memories of the old D&D Rules Cyclopedia

    1. I've got the Cyclopedia in PDF but I haven't read it. I have (most) of the original boxed sets' rulebooks, though.

      Like you, it's "know the best" that has a lot of pull. I ran AD&D pretty easily, thanks to spending every spare moment reading and re-reading those books as a young gamer.


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