Monday, January 13, 2014

Back to the Blue Book: part 1

For years I've been thinking about how great it would be to run a game of D&D.  And not just your generic, rules-lite adventure based loosely on the d20 system, but old-school, by-the-book Dungeons & Dragons, using the rules that got me started in this hobby: the Holmes basic set. 
I got the game as a birthday gift when I was in junior high.  I only ran a couple of games with the Holmes book, mainly involving my younger brother, before acquiring the various Advanced D&D rulebooks and getting involved in games with my friends using those rules.  The blue book lay dormant beneath a pile of old comic books.  I eventually took scissors to it (sacrilege!) so I could add the sample dungeon to a folder containing adventures pulled from the pages of The Dragon magazine.  I went on to other games, then drifted away from the hobby after college, other than playing fan-created designs for the AD&D computer game Unlimited Adventures.

But after years away from tabletop gaming, followed by more years of lurking on Dragonsfoot and reading about the Old School Renaissance, I  slowly got back into the RPG groove.  I joined a tabletop campaign in the Hill Cantons and started posting on various old-school forums.  But I hadn't actually sat behind the DM screen in probably thirty years.  Holmes was on my mind. 

I was reading the message boards devoted to the blue book on Dragonsfoot and Original D&D Discussion.  I scoured the Zenopus Archives for more knowledge on my favorite flavor of D&D.

I'd been obsessing over minutia and putting a microscope to the wording in the Holmes rulebook.  I'd even developed brand-new wandering monster charts for a set of rules I hadn't played in decades.  For months I'd been mentioning to fellow gamers that I wanted to run a game using that old blue book.  Over the past few weeks, I'd even drawn maps of three dungeon levels and written up encounters for the complex.

Finally, I put my money where my mouth is and announced that I would be running a game on Saturday.  I told them up front this would be an old-school dungeon crawl: stats rolled 3d6 in order, starting at first level, combat goes by order of your Dexterity score.

I emailed several people, hoping I'd get two or three--four if I was lucky--to show up.  Six people came to play. 

With half a dozen players sitting at my table, I had one question for myself: Would they have any fun?


Dan Higdon said...

I hope it goes well for you. I recently started a "Swords&Wizardry" game (very close to Holmes, though not quite identical) with some Pathfinder players, and they're loving the change of pace.

They've commented many times that the game feels considerably more "dangerous", and that they frequently fear for their character's lives, since it's much easier to die in OSR than in Pathfinder.

Colgar6 said...

I find that fun is often much more about the group dynamics and expectations than about the specific set of rules. If they're keen enough to play then that sounds like a good start!

Coach K said...

heck ya we had fun. my first game in 20 years! was great to be a player too for a change, I had to be DM most of the time when I used to play so long ago. it was nice just to get to roll some dice and meet new gamers and watch someone else have to manage the rules for a change :P

Anonymous said...

This is what it's all about. :)