Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Ruminating on some Editions

One thing my group needs to talk about this weekend is which edition will be our "core" edition going forward.

When we started our game, we were using Moldvay BX, and the LotFP rules read like a souped up version of Moldvay BX - fighters were given a stronger role, the thief (specialist) was made awesome, and there were clever rules for encumbrance, skills, and some nifty combat maneuvers.  It felt like an improvement to BX, but still definitely BX.  The cleric was mildly nerfed.  The experience charts and race-classes were almost identical to regular BX.

I ordered the new version of Lamentations of the Flame Princess on the day of the big sale - I'm sure it's making it's way to the East Coast even now.  In the new version, the cleric is restored a little, but there are tweaks to XP for everyone else - magic users and elves level faster, thieves and clerics level a little slower, and the spells are split differently between clerics and magic users.  Things taken for granted after 30 years of playing BX or AD&D are no longer 100% true like XP and spell progression or spell lists.  It might be awesome, but it's no longer just a spicy version of Moldvay BX - if we cross over to the new LotFP version, the current characters will need some tweaks and conversion.

So - if we have to do some character conversions and realignment no matter what, it seems like a good time to look at our options.  Here are the different ideas we're looking at:

Lamentations of the Flame Princess (Grindhouse edition)
The guys would need to get new print-outs of the rules - Moldvay BX wouldn't be a useful reference for XP lists or spells lists any longer.  I'd still use monsters and magic items from BX.

Note:  even if we skip out on using LotFP, I'll probably keep the thief skills, combat options, and encumbrance rules regardless of edition or clone.

Edit:  To Tom's point, we could ignore the Grindhouse Edition too, and keep using LotFP 1.0 with BX.

Moldvay BX
There's a lot of charm with those old red and blue pamphlets.  Fighters would take a big step back in power from LotFP, and the cleric takes a big step forward - the Cook Expert spell progression makes this guy a superstar.  The halfling would no longer be the crash test dummy - their saving throws come back to earth.

Maybe we'd add a house rule to beef up the fighter (extra attacks at higher level like AD&D, for instance).

Moldvay BX only goes through level 14, but we have a long way before that's actually an issue.

Labyrinth Lord
Labyrinth Lord is like Moldvay BX, but extended out to level 20.  It's a nice rules set, but the layout isn't as functional as the BX pamphlets.

Labyrinth Lord with AEC
The Advanced Edition Companion (AEC) converts the AD&D classes (druid, ranger, paladin, assassin, monk) making them compatible with LL and Moldvay BX.  I love it because it has conversions of lots of AD&D monsters for BX - I use monsters and magic in the AEC with LotFP or BX already.

We could just "upgrade" to AD&D 1E.  The character stats would have to be re-rolled or scaled, because AD&D uses the munchkin-oriented 4d6 ability generation.  I also have a list of about 10-15 rules sub systems that are cumbersome or ignored when we play AD&D (usually using the simpler/more functional versions from BX) so it tends to require a bigger house rule document.

On the other hand, the AD&D hardbacks are very charming and nostalgic, everyone has them, and a number of the modules we'll be running in Gothic Greyhawk going forward are AD&D modules anyway.

Like LL, OSRIC seems to be a nice rules set, but the book itself lacks charm or a nice layout.  However, OSRIC seemed to dump a lot of the bad AD&D rules, and is a good guide for house ruling AD&D.

Swords & Wizardry Complete
I haven't seriously analyzed the S&W rules to take over as our main game - my exposure to S&W has been through a few of the modules, which I've really enjoyed.  However, I'm running some S&W games at GenCon, figuring that would force me to pick a few of the rules sets and dive in feet first!  So S&W complete will be wending it's way eastward, shortly.

Obviously, there are minor or major issues with all the rules - we should have an interesting discussion this weekend!

It's given me an idea for a poll - regardless of what we decide for Gothic Greyhawk, which edition should I plan for the Black City?  (So far, I've bounced between AD&D and Moldvay BX when getting ideas for monsters).


  1. Regarding the Black City, I think that LotFP, with mostly custom rather than "stock" monsters, would be simply fit the bill squarely. This is Weird Fantasy, after all, and in Weird Fantasy LotFP excels.

    It is also an outstanding edition all in all, with a coherent vision and a lot of thinking out the rationale behind the rules.

    As for your regular campaign, LotFP will fit the "Gothic" title very well, though, if you like a lot of simplicity, simply go for S&W: White Box, which is simple, clean and elegant.

  2. Why would you need to change editions? You can always stick with the rules set you've been using.

  3. @Tom - yep, that's true too - the group could say that LotFP 1.0 (with a side of BX) is still the best way to go. Either way, edition discussions are always fun!

  4. It would be great to have you playing Swords & Wizardry, of course!

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  6. First, its best for all of us to support the retroclone "in print" rules over out of print ones. LotFP is kinda its own thing whereas S&W, BF, L&L, the upcoming Delving Deeper have a broader appeal. I think you should pick one of those for Black City.