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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Pixie in the Playground
    Join Date
    May 2013

    Default AD&D 1E: Clones and campaigns

    Background: I haven't played 1st ed. AD&D in a long time -- since the 90s, I guess. I've fooled around with other systems, among them more recent incarnations of D&D. Not bad, but I don't care for a lot of the changes in gameplay and especially in flavor.

    So...if I were working on a campaign world, and planned maybe slowly to introduce it to fantasy-sympathizers who haven't done much or any tabletop roleplaying, would I be on the wrong path to use a clone system like Dark Dungeons? It looks like I'd be comfortable with it. And back in the day, people just sat down and played, right? The rules weren't so arcane that they put people off...right?

    In other words: can folks with more experience in this stuff tell me whether going 1E-flavor-and-mechanics with a new group would be a bad idea, and if so, why? Or what the pitfalls I can't think of would be?

    I appreciate any tips and advice you may offer.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Troll in the Playground
    Join Date
    Feb 2013

    Default Re: AD&D 1E: Clones and campaigns

    I think using a retroclone is a great idea. Most of them are very simple systems, very well presented, and very accessible (there's a couple of exceptions). It doesn't matter whether your players are complete newbies or D&D grognards, I think just about any retroclone is a good game to play with them.

    I personally think AD&D 1E and 2E are the most complex editions of D&D aside from 3.X (and its derivativeS) and 4E. They're about equal to each other, IMO, but 1E gets a bit more complex with Unearthed Arcana, and 2E gets way complex with Player's Option (which I detest!) and somewhat more complex with any of the other supplements (with kits, etc.).

    Dark Dungeons, specifically, is actually a BECM (Mentzer Basic/Expert/Companion/Master, reprinted as the Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia) retroclone.

    See this post for an explanation of D&D edition history - if you're not familiar with them, you may need the reference.

    Note: All retroclones vary somewhat in their approach to certain specifics, like THAC0 and attack bonuses (some use THAC0 or a similar system, some use attack bonuses), saves, and AC (ascending or descending, and starting at 0 or 10 for ascending and 10 or 9 for descending).

    Out of the retroclones linked in my signature:
    • Adventurer Conqueror King (no free download) is a comprehensive ground-up rebuild of B/X D&D to deal with the often-neglected endgame of D&D. It's got very internally consistent economics, very simple basic rules, and lots of fun stuff to do at higher levels (9th through 14th). It has a Player's Companion with rules for creating your own classes (classes include a race), and the Domains of War supplement (for battles, wars, and skirmishes) has been Kickstartered and is going to be out soon-ish.
    • Basic Fantasy (free download, lots of extra material available) is a retroclone of OD&D and its Supplements, with separate race and class, simpler than AD&D 1E.
    • Dark Dungeons (free download) is a retroclone of BECM, as I said above.
    • Dungeon Crawl Classics (no free download) is a weird one, in a good way. It's not really a retroclone, and it's hard to pin it to any one edition. I suppose, given the 0-10 level spread, B/X is closest. DCC uses Zocchi Dice (d3, d5, d7, d14, d6, d24, and d30), starts players out with 2-4 0-level PCs (the ones who survive the first dungeon get to level 1 and choose a class), and has lots of other different and often cool mechanics (such as spellcasting success rolls, etc.). It is, IMO, for grognards who are not afraid of new things, and goes for a particular kind of old-school style (although it's not about meatgrinder dungeons - after that first adventure, you're supposed to mostly stay alive - if you can - and rise in levels just as usual).
    • Labyrinth Lord (free download) is a B/X retroclone, quite faithful and with little innovation (that's not a bad thing - it's a solid game, pretty much the "baseline" for retroclones), with an Advanced Edition Companion to make it play like AD&D 1E (separating races and classes, and with the traditional 1E class array including monks, paladins, and assassins).
    • Lamentations of the Flame Princess (no free download) is a "weird fantasy" (Clark Ashton Smith's Averoigne etc., semi-Mythos) OD&D retroclone that makes its difference in style. The art in the Grindhouse Edition and a lot of the adventures (like Death Love Doom) is ridiculously gory and "hardcore." It's OD&D with a Black Metal aesthetic.
    • Mazes & Minotaurs (free download) is a solid game of Ancient Greek fantasy that's hard to pin as any particular edition's retroclone, but is clearly heavily D&D-influenced. It's presented as an "alternative-reality" game, in a way, in that the book is written like a republication of a decades-old "first RPG" - as if M&M had come out instead of D&D. None of that really affects how it plays, it's just a sort of "framing device" for the rulebook. They've also got an expansion, Vikings & Valkyries
    • Myth & Magic (free download) is a rare AD&D 2E retroclone that feels very 3.X to me in many places, but without getting bogged down in the same kind of complexity. The presentation is exceptionally spiffy, neat, and polished.
    • OSRIC (free download) is, along with LL, the baseline retroclone. It's a very faithful reproduction of AD&D 1E. If you played 1E and want to play it again, with cleaned-up and free-for-download rules, this is it.
    • Swords & Wizardry (free download) is another OD&D retroclone. Very basic thing, nothing to really say about it (except that I think the presentation sucks a bit - I know some people hate double-columns on digital format documents, but to me it just look crowded and like I'm reading a text file, not a PDF "book").
    Last edited by Rhynn; 2013-06-08 at 02:20 PM.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Pixie in the Playground
    Join Date
    May 2013

    Default Re: AD&D 1E: Clones and campaigns

    This is so fantastically great. Thanks a ton.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Troll in the Playground
    Join Date
    Feb 2013

    Default Re: AD&D 1E: Clones and campaigns

    You're welcome! I just love me some old-school renaissance D&D retroclones. I've linked that post in my sig for the future, too...

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