Episode 38: The Grand 1E vs B/X Smackdown!

Zock-Bock-Radio Episode 38

A lingering theme in our english language episodes has been the puzzlement of host Settembrini over the B/X and OSE crazes, given his fondness for AD&D 1st Edition. The time of reckoning has arrived, OSE-Module-Writer, B/X afficcionado and RC-DM Prince of Nothing steps up to defend the Basic family. We go through minute and sweeping differences, alleged beginner friendliness, the myth of the complicated wargame, mischaracterizations of 1e and theories of why Basic D&D remains the go-to strain in the wider OSR.

With Settembrini and the Prince of Nothing.


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7 Kommentare

  1. Well done gentlemen, highly entertaining. And what stamina.
    The simplifications in B/X are sometimes unhelpful, and spells are a good example. As you both pointed out, there should be limits/costs on some of the most useful. Also in the descriptions, 1E seems a clear winner when you consider the progression of Phantasmal Force/Improved Phantasmal Force/Spectral Force as it moves from visual only, adding some auditory effects, and finally full noise plus thermal: now one has more tools to adjudicate how effective that illusionary fireball is. I like using these spells in combinations, e.g. fireball then spectral force, dig then phantasmal force (of no pit).

  2. Enjoyable episode.

    One niggle: Settembrini misrepresents how OSE handles action declaration in combat. One page 130 of the OSE rules tome, it says spells and movement in melee (i.e. retreats) should be declared. In Moldvay, on B24 (also X24), it says under Defensive Movement „A character who wants to use one of these forms must say so before the initiative roll for the round.“ On X11, under CASTING RESTRICTIONS, it says „The caster must inform the DM that a spell is being cast and which spell will be cast before the initiative dice are rolled.“ In other words, OSE does not add things that aren’t in Moldvay & Cook. In fact, I am pretty sure Norman’s intent was to offer a retroclone that is as close to the original text as possible. I have my own issues with the OSE phenomenon – mainly how it commodifies a hobby that I like most of all as a refuge from consumerist capitalism – but I think this particular jab was ill-informed.

    Finally, a request: I am intrigued by the club Settembrini keeps talking about. It would be great to maybe get an English-language episode some time that discusses how your club was set up, how it works, etc. for those of us who have ambitions to do similar things in other parts of the world.

    1. Thanks for the close listen and the feedback! My reading of the combat example in B28 reinforced my impression that you are supposed to decide on actions when they come up. Including spells, as the player in round two (upon warned by the DM) switches his action after losing initiative to drawing a weapon. I did not check X before making my statement.

  3. Great show, as usual. „Smackdown“ is an apt description as this was far more a mauling than a duel between equals.

    [not saying that Prince isn’t proficient in his own sphere, but B/X proper isn’t the same as the melange of Basic systems and clones with which he plays]

    But most quibbles aside (I have a few) I found the it to be quite thoughtful…and amusing/entertaining…discourse. I’ve listened to the whole podcast twice now, and found at least a couple of your insights to be quite intriguing.

    RE wargaming as a key to innovation/understanding:

    You’ve brought this up in earlier episodes and you’re not totally off, but I think your theory needs to be tweaked slightly. The key to innovation and richer game play with regard to AD&D is, I think, effective world building, but the latter is (perhaps) best served in MANY regards by a study of historic warfare. Wargaming (at least the non-fantasy kind) does just this…it attempts to model real world operations, logistics, and strategic considerations with game-worthy systems and rules. My most recent foray into AD&D play has been accompanied by heavy doses of reading and research into both western history and ancient warfare (so often, sadly, intertwined) and the results have been spectacular as far as MY level of engagement and energy and endurance for real world building…and this has, quite naturally, spilled over to my players at the table.

    RE generational differences (discussion beginning at the 3:34 mark):

    I think you’ve hit upon a really valuable insight here; there is something to be said about how/when our entry into the hobby occurs and its part in our foundational assumptions.

    I found Prince’s casual sexism to be both obnoxious and misguided, but perhaps he is just Dutch? Not sure, but my personal experience with women gamers and who such gaming (classic D&D and/or AD&D) appeals to is quite different from his assumptions. True, I haven’t found the murder-hobo/dick posturing/juvenile male-isms to be as intense/prevalent in women as in men (though it IS there…plenty of ladies just want to blow shit up) but the energy and effort I’ve seen brought to the game…especially DM elements like world building, adventure design, etc…is generally equal or even greater from the female gamer.

    POSSIBLY because there ARE „barriers to access“ only the solid enthusiasts bother showing up?

    I don’t disagree that AD&D has its roots in the wargaming hobby and wargaming has traditionally been created (and dominated) by men. But to me, this isn’t a sign of asymmetrical interest so much as asymmetrical ACCESS. Wargaming grew out of military groups…groups that for the most part excluded women from their ranks until very recently. The idea that this makes for evidence of demographic appeal of a particular pastime (when the demographic is forced) is laughable to say the least.

    I grew up playing D&D in the early 80s…one of those 9-10 year olds with a B/X set and the usual shyness/awkwardness around girls. However, I had the great fortune to have parents whose friends had only daughters my age, so there were many times I was forced to interact/play with members of the opposite gender (and vice versa) outside the seething cauldron of hormones and insecurities that is the elementary/middle school classroom…and as I discovered their interest and enthusiasm for D&D, they were invited to join and game with my male classmates with whom I would have otherwise been left in isolation and (quite possibly) toxic testosterone.

    I can recount many tales of (male) gamers I met later in life who did not have the same good fortune in their foundational days. It definitely colored their perceptions of the gaming hobby.

    An interesting exercise might be to investigate the number of female designers whose names appear on adventure modules over the years. My initial impression is that there were far more in the EARLY days of TSR, then in the later days (when all those 12 year olds were growing up and entering/dominating the industry). Certainly the Hickmans are a prime example of a duo with roots in the 1970s college tradition.

    Anyway…good show, thanks for taking the time to record it (and in English!). Appreciate the discussion.

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