2019-02-22 I'm not an Expert

I like B/X D&D, i.e. Basic D&D by Moldvay and Expert D&D by David Cook and Steve Marsh, both from 1981. I wanted to fiddle with these rules and publish my fiddling, so I turned to Labyrinth Lord by Daniel Proctor. The revised edition I have is from 2009. And based on the ideas in these books, I wrote Halberds & Helmets.

And now I’m wondering: how much of an Expert am I?

I don’t use actually use level limits in my game because my campaigns usually end before we reach level 10. Thus, the only level limit that would make a difference is the limit of level 8 for halflings and I just never had a halfling that would have qualified for level 9 in my campaigns.

I love reading the level titles for characters but it’s weird to use them in-game and so we don’t.

There are no clerics in my games so I don’t care about turning undead at higher levels. As for spells, I’m writing my own spell books for Spellcasters, obviously many of them inspired by existing spells from various editions, but also many of my own devising.

In my games, movement speed is of very little importance. Overland, I’ve started using a simple “one hex per day” rule (there are no Roman roads) and over sea I just wing it (and I don’t care about the weather).

I also list prices for specialists and mercenaries but don’t go into any details. Or if I do, I no longer remember, and in that case I should excise the info from the house rules anyway.

My procedure for wilderness travel is similar to what it says in order of events in one game day except I also have night time encounters (so I roll 1d6 twice: once for the day and once for the night). I have done away with the evasion table and I also dropped my own chase rule. It was taking up valuable space and wasn’t being used at the table.

I don’t use the combat sequence as written. I do group initiative but I don’t do movement, missile fire, magic spells and melee in separate phases. I just go player by player around the table until they have all gone. Same thing for monsters. They just do whatever they want to do, one after another. Separate phases complicate matters and don’t seem to add much.

I don’t do variable weapon damage. Somehow, it turns out not to matter. I also don’t use holy water, lance combat, naval combat or aerial combat. I do use my own variant of mass combat. Perhaps one day I shall use Delta’s OED: Book of War or Chris Kutalik’s By this Axe.

I use flaming oil but now that I read the rules I find that they leave a whole lot of stuff unexplained. Oil may be thrown as a missile weapon, so does that mean people in armour are harder to hit with oil? I guess so. But then: “The chance of oil catching fire depends on the situation, and is left for the DM to figure out.”

Monsters I don’t use: antelope, blink dog, caecilia, camel, cyclops, dinosaurs, displacer beast, dragon turtle, giant leech, hawk, mastodon, mermen, rhinoceros, rhagodessa, roc, sea dragons, water termite... but it’s interesting to see how many I actually do use. The monsters are iconic!

Treasure types. Tricky! I’ve started using treasure types again in my monster section of the Ref Guide, and I’ve started writing my own table of magic items for Hex Describe, but there still isn’t a canonical list in my book. Perhaps I should start working on that.

I still think that one could extrapolate a whole game from Basic D&D. Up to level 3 is a little bit short, but if it just went up to level 5 (which used to be the limit for my own house rules), that would already make an excellent and “complete” game.

Anyway, I guess I just wanted to leaf through Expert D&D once again.



I like the idea of a basic Basic game - advance hit points as normal, but just use the to-hit and save tables in Basic that show the 1-3 and 4+ entries. I can’t remember if I wrote a blog post about this, or just thought about it, but I do have some quick and dirty rules document I made for this idea somewhere.

Frotz 2019-02-27 07:28 UTC

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