01 April 2013

A: Advanced Dungeons and Dragons

The iconic face of AD&D

Well, the A-to-Z Challenge is now upon us. For my theme this year, I am going with Advanced Dungeons and Dragons: no 2e, no 3e, no Pathfinder, no OSRIC, no bloody d20. AD&D. The Original. The game of my pre-teen and teen-aged years.
I have slowly become disillusioned with the OSR movement (that's "Old School Renaissance" for those keeping score) over the past few years. In my opinion, for whatever that's worth, it seems to have become a money grab in many ways. I say this for several reasons.
First, OSRIC is not really the system reference document that it claims. Really, OSRIC is merely the authors's vision of what AD&D is; it is not truly AD&D. Oh, the authors will say that there were things omitted because it's not a mathematical formula that could not be replicated, but in reality the things that were changed or omitted are those that the authors did not like or use. For instance, weapon modifiers vs. AC. How about psionics? What about the monk? Oh, wait, Gary canned the monk in Oriental Adventures. That might be true, but only after Oriental Adventures was published; where is the OSRIC OA?
Second, how many different retro-clones do we need? I mean, really! In the preface to the DMG, Gary wrote:

Returning again to the framework aspect of  ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS, what is aimed at is a "universe" into which similar campaigns and parallel worlds can be placed. With certain uniformity of systems and "laws", players will be able to move from one campaign to another and know at least the elemental principles which govern the new milieu, for all milieux [sic] will have certain (but not necessarily the same) laws in common.

That's pretty straightforward. And that is my underlying issue with clones like OSRIC: what if I do want the monk or the bard and psionics? Who are these people to decide what is or isn't part of the genre? "What outrageousness! What insolence! What arrogance!"

The very face of royal outage!
This is not to say that I find all of the clones to be a pure money grab. Take, for instance, the Basic Fantasy system. It's completely free and is a true labor of love for those involved. I regularly mine it for ideas. It is a Basic/Expert tool kit where one can decide what one wants to play through add-ons and modules.
"So, Tony," I hear you ask, "what is your vision of AD&D?" Well, I'm pretty much a Core + UA kind of guy myself. Yes, I'm one of those DM's who have no problems with the cavalier or barbarian, and I find the acrobat is fun. The new armor and magic items all add to the game. And, yes, I am one of those DM's that use weapon modifiers for AC. It's not hard, people! Just use the PC sheet and total all of your pluses ahead of time in the boxes for AC. then all the DM has to say is, "Roll and add modifiers vs. AC 2," and it's already done. It just takes some organization.
Am I a rules lawyer? Do I play completely BtB ("by the book")? Of course not! I am constantly fiddling with imitative in an attempt to make it better, adapting articles and suggestions from old Dragon magazines, forum posts, Hackmaster,  my 30+ experience as a gamer, etc. (Incidentally, might I suggest DM Prata's truly awesome ADDICT document for a better understanding of the AD&D initiative system and how it is supposed to work?) I add classes and spells from the same sources. I tinker. That is part of my job and purview as a DM at the table. However, I do not presume to cut and paste and rewrite Gary's work and have the audacity to say that this is a true rendering of the original.
Well, that's enough grandstanding for today. Until tomorrow, gentle readers!


Charlie Warren said...

Great A post! I share some of your sentiments also. I look forward to reading the rest of your entries.

Charlie @ The Semi-Retired Gamer

Anthony N. Emmel said...

Thank you, sir! I'm probably too hard on teh OSRIC chaps, but hey, it's how I feel. I understand things like "Tenser's floating disc" being "floating disc" but to say that they cannot use monk, etc for "legal issues"...well, I find that sort of argument disngenuous.

Charlie Warren said...

Agreed. There's ALWAYS a work around! BTW, didn't somebody publish OSRIC UNEARTHED that added several of the missing classes back in? LOL. I agree with your sentiments about BFRPG. It is amazing.

Charlie @ The Semi-Retired Gamer

Unknown said...

Great post for the A to Z Challenge. I think I will visit your blog more often :)