Tuesday, July 11, 2006

I have not played D&D in over a year, after playing at least 10 times a year for 29 years. And I haven't missed it. I can't even remember the name of one of my major characters! (I have quite a few). It's partly circumstance, people moving away, few referees, and partly devoting time to boardgame playtesting instead. But I occasionally think about it.

I think also that third edition D&D's failings ("fantasy Squad Leader", someone called it), its encouragement to look for unearned advantages (such as high character attributes and prestige classes) instead of playing skill, put me off the game, and I've decided it's most unlikely I'll ever ref 3/3.5 again.

Recently I bought Castles & Crusades, which was recommended to me as a return to first edition D&D simplicity and adventure. I mainly played first edition D&D, but a drawback to it is that you cannot have new players go buy the rulebook(s), as the game is long, long out of print. I have about half a dozen copies myself, but that's not entirely satisfactory. I looked at Hackmaster, which uses first edition D&D as a base, but I didn't care for some of the attitude involved (players competing with the referee--if a ref can't win that, he isn't worth a hoot). C&C has much less detail than Hackmaster, but makes some useful changes to the older D&D rules (e.g., monks have d12 hit dice instead of d4, and saving throws and skills are subsumed in ability-based dice rolling).

This game is almost word-for-word first/second edition D&D in many places. The list of magic items includes one item after another with the same names and characteristics. Clearly, at some point WotC allowed companies to reproduce and sell the older D&D editions nearly verbatim.

The Players Handbook is quite inexpensive at Amazon ($12.97 for 128 pages with pasteboard covers). That makes it practical for new players. List is $20.

Copyright 2006 Lewis Pulsipher

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