Wednesday, April 11, 2012

More than meets the eye

Ok, so, like I said, I’m back in the old school vibe. Part of that lead me back to the excellent essays at Philotomy’s OD&D Musings ( If you’re an old schooler who’s never read these musings, stop reading this and go there now. I’ll be here when you get back. If you have read them before, read the again, they are that good. Reading (more accurately re-reading) made me want to really dig into the LBBs. See, I started really getting into D&D with my best friend at the time. He begged and borrowed the books long enough to hand copy them (the LBBs and Greyhawk). He taught me, was always the DM, and never relinquished his hard-won copies. So, back then I never actually read the rules. Eventually I did buy a white box, but by then I thought I knew it all already, so didn’t read it. Then came AD&D. Long story short, while I’ve read bits and pieces, I’ve not read them cover to cover.
When my old school urge fell on me, I immediately decided to set the Way-Back Machine for 1976 and avail myself of all the Supplements released by that time. Upon reading Philotomy’s excellent advice to read the LBBs with a fresh eye, I decided it was high time I do so. All I can say, is DAMN!
Sure, there are numerous references to Chainmail. But, for a book that weighs in at a svelte 30+ pages, digest sized at that, this is a remarkably complete character book. The most remarkable thing about Men & Magic, though, is its internal consistency. Individual systems and subsystems have been picked apart and criticized piece-meal for years. They’ve been ridiculed, laughed at, and called outdated. And all that was said from the instant Runequest arrived on the scene. The thing is, the systems and subsystems don’t exist in a vacuum. They are all part of a cohesive whole, and when they are left alone to function in that environment, they function unbelievably well.
This post isn’t going to be a guided tour of all the things I never realized were in there. It is an introduction to a series of posts offering guided tours of things I never realized were in D&D from the very beginning. Most of the time those earliest versions are still better than systems and methods designed with 40 years of collective design experience informing them. So far these has been a very rewarding experience, and I hope that by sharing it with you, perhaps you’ll be inspired to reacquaint yourself with the prototype from which all others sprang.

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