Sunday, March 3, 2013

Read Through Review: DnD Basic

Thanks to Wizards, I finally got to get this, the red book version of the original Dungeons and Dragons. 

And I have to say, it made me laugh. Dungeons and Dragons Basic is the most hilariously well-designed game I've read to date, mostly because of the way it makes every choice in the game matter. There's a time limit on how long your torches last, the DM is assumed to provide no light source, and your characters are more fragile than the tissue I just used to blow my nose. At the same time, however, the game allows you to bring in retainers, and suggests that you bring lots of them. In essence ,DnD Basic is a huge character funnel that dares the players to send their characters into the horrible depths that the DM has created. It won't be comfortable, it won't be easy, and you certainly won't have the same character name on the way out as you did on the way in, but it'll be a hell of a lot of fun.

There are a few things getting the way for us new-age players, though. The first thing, of course, is that there isn't a universal resolution system. The d20 is one of many systems used to resolve things. Those who are looking for the all-powerful wizard must NEVER LOOK IN THIS TOME, EVAR. He is not all-powerful and, in fact will always need the fighter to make sure he doesn't get bum-rushed by his foes, who will find his pasty white flesh tasty. Clerics don't cast spells at level one. Oh, and did I mention that THAC0 is in it's basic form? Oh, and 3 levels only. That means you're really only in it for a dungeon.

And yet, I can't help but recommend playing this game. If you just read that last paragraph and felt a little um, excited, afterwards, you should definitely check it out. This is a game of old school dungeon crawls where you'll change characters as often as you get new tissues.

1 comment:

  1. I've played a few old console RPGs that were less like Final Fantasy and more like... this. Some people call it broken when you make more characters precisely because they're expendable, other people insist on playing the "right" way and actually building up a limited team or at least making sure that the characters they make get to do something and aren't just some kind of source of fresh daggers for the rest... but whether you exploit it or not, if you take the general paradigm shift involved it actually does work pretty well for what it's meant to be, and arguably better than more "advanced" games that are tenuously balanced to try to keep the player from playing the wrong way (which doesn't work) or make it very easy to play the intended way (which works but risks cheapening the experience).

    I would, of course, like to try the tabletop equivalent sometime to see how that comparison actually holds up... Not all that likely to happen anytime soon given all the nerds I know I met at Steubenville, but you never know.