I am going to run an adventure using the 1981 D&D Basic Set. There have been a number of conversations that hit on directly, or indirectly, this set of rules and as it was my first RPG experience, I want to take a look back. More than a look, I want to run the game as is, by the rules as much as humanly possible. One of the things I have realized over the these conversations is that my recollection of the rules has been innacurate. Ten-year old Sean likely is a better teacher / DM of this game than I am now, many decades later. So I hope that he can guide me into some satisfying play.
But why this game, other than nostalgia? Well to be frank, its not nostalgia. I have not played THIS game in decades and I want to experience it again. Also:
- This gets back to Ron’s Finding D&D. It is no accident that I refer to this edition as The Book of Moldvay. Collect Holmes, Moldvay, and Mentzer and you have a decent, Gospel of Basic D&D. I won’t go much deeper than that, its impossible to ascertain which gospel is best or which of the authors is the apostle that Gary loved best, and in any case, is not relevant. This was my inaugural experience amd I want to see how it changes after all of this time.
- This was my first hack. I do not mean just changing the rules for home purposes, I mean six months after I began playing, I laid out a game called Pommels & Paradoxes. It only took two days to realize that even as a well read 10 year old, game design had a lot more to it than just lowering XP numbers. As a side note, my heartbreaker-in-progress is Pommel & Paradox. One day little buddy, you’ll get out there!
I do not have any players (yet, as of this post) and I have a few games I want to start and a few to finish before this gets anywhere, but in this case I thought the prep process might be of interest.
I am not using an adventure of my own or a dungeon module from the box. I am only using what is in the book itself. In the back is a sample dungeon. Part of it is already filled in, but I am discarding that. The game provides random dungeon tables for filling in a dungeon with monsters, treasures, traps, and specials. A test run made for some weird dungeon occupants.
In the beginning of the text, there are two paragraphs that are important to running this edition of basic D&D. Both are on page B3. One speaks about the rules as guidelines. It explicitly states that after a few trial runs a DM should feel free to change any rule that does not work for them. I won’t be doing this even though I am tempted to put in a minimum HP. I may do that if someone with 1 hp gets ganked early on.
The second talks about the Adventure. The adventure begins at the entrance to the dungeon and ends when the characters leave the dungeon and divide up treasure. That is the goal of the game, to have dungeon adventures. This will be the goal of this game.
Alignment. I am going to treat alignment as a guideline and encourage the players to consider their alignment in terms of their actions. Do not play Lawful if what you want is a selfish scoundrel. That would be Chaotic. I will not punish players for playing out of alignment or downplaying it. However, I will use my limited discretion as DM to reward playing within the alignment OR playing hard against the chosen alignment. And I will be using alignment language.
Next step is stocking the dungeon. I may do this on camera just to show the process. Or it is my intention to do so, but we shall see how it goes. I will put out a call for players before too long.