Direbane is an abode to share artifacts, simulacra, histories, and other items of note related to ongoing years adventuring.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Basic Fantasy RPG v Labyrinth Lord

(my personal comparison between BF & LL)
A couple things happened...

First off I ran my regular game back on June 15th and during our musings I let fly that the current campaign was running toward a conclusion. With DunDraCon moving from Saint Ramon to Saint Clara in 2021 my goal was to wrap up sometime in the next year in order to have a new campaign up and running for the new convention location.

The idea was to go back to rotating Dungeon Masters, only this time "trying" to use my original idea from back in 1988 of a cooperatively developed world rather than characters full-on dimension hopping every two to three games.

Second, I literally ran my very fist player character since I got sober 14-plus some-odd years ago after being invited to Jeff Rients' online campaign, Lost Tombs of the Western Kingdom. Literally all I have done is DM, first straight-up 3.5, then beginning in 2012 our 1st/3rd hybrid, and most recently since 2018 the gently modified 5e.

Part of the problem is despite every single one of our group have played and DMed for at minimum more than a decade, everyone was brought up on 1st edition AD&D which we beat into the ground playing from 1978 until 2004.

Our problem with 1st edition was rules arguments. If folks didn't like the rule as written, they argued logic. If they didn't like the logic they argued rule as written. I don't think we had a single game without at least one 45-minute rules argument.

3.5 solved that because there were rules for everything down to the most granular level. However, most everyone felt incompetent rules-wise to run a game (except for me because I am a friggin' professional rules lawyer...).

Ok, so Jeff's game is Moldvay & Cook B/X-based which my original group, despite being much more Arneson than Gygax and huge Judges Guild and Blackmoor fans , missed because we started with the 1977 Holmes' blue book adding the 1978 AD&D Monster Manual and Players Handbook before we even had a clue about how AD&D was Gary's plot to drive off Dave.

B/X retains several of the OD&D rules that are different from AD&D. No armor AC is 9 insread of 10, dwarves, elves, and halflings are classes, but it also has some modernish trappings. For instance, Gary did not like blow-by-blow fighting. Being in the wargamer mode for Gary combat rolls indicated the results after one minute of fighting and several blows.

In B/X combat rounds are 10 seconds and each score is an actual hit. (Similar to how we played, anyway. We developed a weird 6-second segment by segment combat using the Players Handbook speed factors.)

After looking over B/X and playing in Jeff's online game seamlessly (ha, just like riding a bike, eh?) I began entertaining an idea that perhaps we should try running our game using a retro-clone in the old style. Retro-clones were not available when I restarted the game in 2005, so other than re-using our old, falling apart books the same game wasn't an option. In particular for the new players in our campaign.

The two main B/X style retro-clones I found are Basic Fantasy RPG and Labyrinth Lord. Ha, I went back and forth between the two. Labyrinth Lord is very, very true to the originals while Basic Fantasy RPG is its own game and has some modern conventions like ascending AC and Darkvision.

In the end, I think I'll have to propose Labyrinth Lord to our group. The Advanced Edition version especially is super close to what we played for years and as we are all much older now, it seems appropriate to revisit the old-style with some of our new edition chops maybe helping us better resolve rules issues. There we go, I will propose soon and let y'all know how things turned out...