Saturday, December 29, 2012

Understanding AD&D 1st Edition Combat

After a first look through of the combat system in the Dungeon Masters Guide, I boldly went to the gaming table thinking that I understood how to run things. Boy, was I wrong. Well, not necessarily wrong, mind you. But I froze up pondering potential corner cases in the system. Thank goodness that it was just a test encounter because the game ground to an absolute halt. I wasn't anywhere near confident enough to start make rulings since the intent was to run things according to the rules as written.

Determined to learn the way of 1st edition, I trawled the major old school forums looking for clarification. I didn't find a whole lot of specific advice but I did find some pointers. One such pointer was to ADDICT which is short for the ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS® INITIATIVE AND COMBAT TABLE. Don't let the name fool you. It's not just a table. It's a step by step explanation of first edition's combat system with examples. It's a well done resource and it got me oriented but at times my head started to swim while reading. It is almost 20 pages of explanation after all.

After giving ADDICT a careful read-through I went back to the DMG. That really didn't help. The text there seemed ever more dense but I was determined enough to slog through. Then a lightbulb came on. What about OSRIC? I've had the PDF for years and even have the book on my shelf. I wondered how close it was to 1st edition. I never tried to play OSRIC but instead used it as a general resource supporting my other D&D-like games.

After reading the combat section in OSRIC I finally got it. I was already 80% of the way there but the clarity of presentation was invaluable. I now feel confident enough to start running the game and eventually work some of the niftier corner cases into my 1st edition gaming routine.

The AD&D 1st edition state machine is an amazing thing to behold but observing it to understand it is sometimes a bit difficult.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Under the Christmas Tree!

Under the Christmas tree, I found a stack of AD&D 1st edition reprint books; the Dungeons Masters Guide, Players Handbook, and the Monster Manual.

I started D&D with Moldvay Basic & Expert and never owned any original 1st Edition AD&D books so it's neat looking through them and discovering what so many have been talking about for so long. Now I know where Papers & Paychecks came from.

Anyways, my first impression is quite positive. So much of the game is already familiar but so much of it isn't. To me, it sure seems like 1st edition AD&D is old school Dungeons & Dragons with the switches and knobs purposefully exposed. In a way it makes me feel like I did when I first discovered D&D. I know that I'll play it and that I'll love it but it won't be as written. Heck, without a few more readings I'm not even sure if I know the rules. That's part of the fun.

Is it just a sense of nostalgia talking? Maybe. Probably. It's not likely that I'd have such patience for a game published today but it's a great way to be reminded that play is the thing.

Okay, I'm off to flesh out our very first 1st edition adventure.