Simple vs advanced D&D-ish games: Part 2 – Renaissance

Thieves in their World

This is post 2 in a series – here’s post 1

Fast forward to 2010 or so. Despite no active gaming during the long hiatus, I still read RPG stuff online and bought the occasional book or PDF. In 2009-10 the idea of taking up gaming again slowly went from idea to concrete action. I chose Mongoose RuneQuest II as my system and Chaosium’s old Thieves World city setting as the scene for our adventures. And I started writing. And it took forever.

At the same time I had started lobbying with my old game group to take up playing again. At first, interest was there, but no one had time for such childish things. But I didn’t give up and slowly I managed to get the old gang together. Sadly, my new super-campaign was nowhere ready for play (yes, it was very ambitious). Thus, I went shopping for a quick and easy, well-known system – just to get play going ASAP.

You know of whom I speak – D&D.

I also started frequenting the Dragonsfoot forum to see what was going on on the D&D scene, and was very surprised to see the massive interest over the old editions. And so we started play using the Rules Cyclopedia (which I found on ebay before prices went bananas). We played Judges Guild’s original version of Caverns of Thracia for about a year (circa 19 sessions) and it was awesome.

At the same time it became apparent for us that “basic D&D” felt a tad too simple and restricted for our tastes these days and I started my quest to find the perfect iteration of D&D. While I liked the simpleness of RC, I also missed all the cool options of AD&D. From this I found Labyrinth Lord/AEC which seemed to combine the best of both worlds. I was also pleasantly surprised at the creativeness and willingness to break with old D&D-isms within the clone/OSR crowd. Far from the very conservative people on Dragonsfoot, where I on several occasions was severely dissed (by some) for suggesting rule hacks or alternative takes on ye olde game.

We played some Labyrinth Lord/AEC and I wrote and imported a lot of house rules for it, as the old D&D rules didn’t fully support the type of games that I wanted to run. And then I found Blood & Treasure which had it all. In one book. No need for all those house rules (just a few ;)). Since then, the B&T Complete book has been on my bedstand! For me, it hits the sweet spot of simpleness coupled with enough crunch and smart rules that lets me concentrate on the more fun parts of game mastering.

As a side note, after our Rules Cyclopedia game, the other DM in our group went on his own quest to find his perfect D&D, ending up with Pathfinder. He thinks it’s better to use a very complete system and remove the parts you don’t like. I tend to think the other way around. Also, I’m not into the player-centered mentality and “lots of detailed rules for all situations” that Pathfinder and D&D 3.x promote.

Another side effect of getting into the OSR clone-world is all the other nice games that has popped up everywhere. And I have found more games that hits my sweet spot just like Blood & Treasure, of which I will write in my next post in this series.



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