Saturday, February 10, 2024


Why do I need another B/X game?

Wow, $80 (on sale) for a B&W hardcover? This is pricy, but nearly 300 pages of consistent, old-school art? A one-book game? A large book with an easy-to-read type with line spacing that is easier on older eyes? Expensive but well worth the money.

A replacement for Labyrinth Lord and OSE that mixes B/X and 1st Edition? He wrote this so his mega-dungeons would not rely on "other people's rules." He also wanted to clean up many areas he saw as problems when people played his adventures.

Builds off the 5.1 Creative Commons license?

Consistent art by old-school artists? Nice.

Ability requirements for certain classes? For example, a barbarian requires STR and CON to be 13. This makes special character classes rare if you have the scores to play them. So when they show up, they are extraordinary; not everyone can play one.

Level limits for non-human races, but some very nice bonuses? No race-as-class.

It focuses on the level 1-10 progression path but allows for open-ended progression.

Simplified encumbrance.

No bards? Thank you. I am tired of the modern bard class as a whole. I would be okay with seeing it in an expansion, but the character class is becoming the default choice for many, and it needs to be better defined in what it does in many games that require a complete reset.

If you want bards, necromancers, sorcerers, scouts, and build-your-own classes, consider picking up the excellent B/X Options Class Builder for these special variant classes and use the main-book character classes for everything else. The bard here will work well and is different enough from today's "pop class" bards that you must make some hard choices to want to play one. I would throw a DEX & CHR minimum of 13 on this class instead of the 9 WIS and DEX in the class builder.

Lower overall attack bonus modifiers but leverages flanking (+1), high-ground (+1), point-blank missile (+1), and versus prone (+4) modifiers? Depending on the situation, the Maze Controller can also give positive or negative modifiers. Fighting kobolds with daggers, and you have a spear? I may offer you a bonus - depending on the situation.

Does the system use a modified THAC0 (same for all, 20)? Yes! They set the "to-hit DC" to 20, and you have to add an attack bonus and descending AC to your roll.

Example: A level 4 fighter with a base attack bonus of +2 and a STR 14 bonus of +1 attacks an AC 8 zombie. You roll 1d20 + 2 + 1 + 8 and try to beat a 20. Or, you could do the (this is not hard) math, say 20 - 11 = 9, and roll a 9 or higher. 7 for flanking.

This is an excellent Labyrinth Lord and/or OSE replacement and a solid, CC-based B/X set of rules. My feelings on this went from "Why another B/X system?" to "Oh, old school artists and a cleaned up, reimagined B/X and 1st Edition!" core book.

2024 is the year of the Divorce D&D games. No one is sure if they can even make 3rd party D&D material anymore, so people are writing their own "divorce games" to walk away. The OGL is dead. Keeping these games compatible keeps an olive branch out, but the movement to control your destiny is strong this year.

We are also seeing a fracturing of viewpoints in this space, with certain groups proclaiming one game is more this and another tabletop game is more that. D&D used to be where we could come together to discuss different opinions and find a compromise. Wall Street ended that.

I prefer to invite everyone to my table to come together and discuss differences and find places where we can work together. Discussion is always better than exclusion. Compromise and understanding are better than violence and hate. Safety tools are things that start a conversation, not end it.

Oh, and you need to vote to have an opinion. Everyone used to say this in the 1980s, and I understand why now. And if you feel super strongly, caucus and primary, get involved with your party and use that energy there. You will change the world to your liking much easier and faster this way.

Whatever you believe, your party will be happy to have the support.

One veteran Vermont political person once said to me, "Let the other side talk and engage in ideas. If we silence them and kick them out of our spaces, it will drive more people to their side. Once you do that, it is like you voting for them instead of what you believe in."

I miss those days and those classic liberal free thinkers. They did that to have moral and intellectual superiority in any disagreement, which is how they won many debates. "I'm letting you talk and participate, but I believe my ideas are better. Here's why."

For CC-based B/X, you have this and the excellent Swords & Wizardry release last year. For 5E, we have Open 5E, with Tales of the Valiant and Level Up Advanced 5E.

A solid game with esteemed artists, excellent presentation, and worth participating in.

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