2013-08-22 Cyclopedia is Best

Remember Ode to Black Dougal and his series “B/X is my Favorite”? I linked to all the articles in my Ode to Ode to Black Dougal. Today I stumbled upon an old series on Greywulf’s site. I was reading on Rob Conley’s blog how his players had One Thousand Four Hundred and Fifty Orcs Slain and how he had used AD&D’s 1st ed. Battlesystem to do it. I googled for it and found Greywulf’s series talking about the War Machine rules. And then I started reading the entire series.

Let’s start with just the facts, ma’am. The D&D Rules Cyclopedia is a 300-page hardback book released in 1991 that collated the vast majority of the Classic D&D rules from the Basic, Expert, Companion and Master rules (and other supplements) into one single tome. Unlike 3rd Edition’s Rules Compendium, the Rules Cyclopedia contained everything you need to play – and when I say everything, I mean….. everything. From complete character generation for all levels of play from 1st to 36th (and beyond) to monster stat blocks, a complete game world (with colour hex maps) and more, the Rules Cyclopedia has the lot.

Basically, if it’s in D&D, it’s in this book. Want a Druid class? Paladins? Wandering Monster Tables? Planar Travel? Castle building? Seige combat? Naval combat? Manscorpions? Treasure tables? To get the equivalent content in 3rd Edition D&D you’d need all three Core Books and many other supplements to boot. By my reckoning, to equal the Rules Cyclopedia’s $24.95 value, you’d need to invest well over $200 in any other edition to even come close. Oh, and that $24.95 was the cover price back in 1991. Now, you can get all that goodness for around five bucks as a PDF from RPGNow. What’s not to love?

– Greywulf

His series made me return to role-playing games back in 2006. This caused me to discover the world of ebooks. These days, the D&D Rules Cyclopedia PDF costs $10.

Anyway, here’s what Greywulf wrote:

  1. RPG Week: D&D Rules Cyclopedia Day One introduces the Cyclopedia and talks about race as class
  2. RPG Week: D&D Rules Cyclopedia Day Two talks about classes
  3. RPG Week: D&D Rules Cyclopedia Day Three talks about alignment, the planes and immortality
  4. RPG Week: D&D Rules Cyclopedia Day Four talks about combat and attack tables and THAC0
  5. RPG Week: D&D Rules Cyclopedia Day Five talks about mass combat (this is the blog post I mentioned above)
  6. RPG Week: D&D Rules Cyclopedia Day Six talks about the setting, the Known World
  7. RPG Week: D&D Rules Cyclopedia Day Seven finishes with some pictures of muscle cars instead of talking about Weapon Mastery :)

Hehe, I just read my old review again. :)



Thanks! :)

There’s currently a petition afoot for WoTC to reprint the Rules Cyclopedia. Definitely a good thing.

greywulf 2013-08-22 12:22 UTC

Hah, reminds me of Jeff Grubb’s A Game Divided Against Itself, where he argues that D&D has forever been about two editions being available (and fans arguing). I imagine D&D Next and the Rules Cyclopedia being at odds. :)

AlexSchroeder 2013-08-22 13:15 UTC

True, it’s a great value for the money, but, oh, god, who really needs those extra 16-22 levels and ascendancy paths? I wonder what percentage of gaming groups have actually played extensively beyond the scope of the Cook/Moldvay levels. Frankly, these days, players who want to play with characters that powerful are probably better off playing 3.x.

Still, the Rules Cyclopedia has some really great art, and if you love charts, it has charts in spades.

Cirsova 2013-08-22 18:23 UTC

Perhaps the dream of achieving immortality is part of the lure. I think it’s part of the game’s promise of ever changing gameplay. Did you see the reviews for the M1, M2, M3, M4 and M5 modules? The dangle in front of me like the damnedest lure!

Those quibbles aside, Talons of Night stands as a truly impressive adventure that stands head-and-shoulders above others in the same publishing line. I’d like it to serve as a model for what high-level and extra-planar D&D adventures should look like.

– Delta, in the review of M5

AlexSchroeder 2013-08-22 19:31 UTC

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