The Much Anticipated B/X v. AD&D debate.

Or something. The magnificent Settembrini, brimming with Teutonic indignation and your humble host from swamp-germania tackle this topic. Gauntlets are thrown down, games are excoricated, Basic D&D is half-heartedly defended, merits are debated, ill-conceived imitations of Pelle Nilsson are attempted and the very future of the OSR is discussed.

The Grande B/X vs AD&D debate.

On Zockbock radio.

NAP II…soon?


29 thoughts on “The Much Anticipated B/X v. AD&D debate.

    1. Absolutely! Where was the criticism of percentile strength in 1E, alas one of the great sources of dice fudging? Or an impassioned defence of the ease of character creation in B/X? Lots of respectful nods in your direction.

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    2. Finally made it to the end, and what revelations. After an almost non-existent rearguard action on behalf of B/X, and only qualifying for a roleplaying yellow belt (according to the Settembrini scale), it appears Prince is just one published love poem short of drama immortality.
      More seriously, using B/X but importing rules from 1E where it is lacking is a perfectly respectable position.

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      1. Such a poem might begin:
        Artpunkmen, who use words to befuddle,
        Stay your wrath, and give me a cuddle,
        System depth forgotten, paint thrown at a wall,
        One sweet smile, and I am your thrall.

        Someone with some talent can continue.

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    1. Also, I am dying for a review of my latest magnum opus. Yes, “latest”—because each creation is a new high-water mark for the hobby.

      Wow, I’m really setting myself up with this one. Did I mention that you get a shout-out in the Afterward?

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      1. I have it, and I am liking what I have read so far. I think you need a physical copy to fully appreciate the maps/artwork, or at least a high quality printer. It reminds me of some of Zzarchov Kowolski’s work such as One Thousand Dead Babies and Gnomes of Levnec, and also of the Blackapple Brugh, the best of the Basic Fantasy adventures by a distance.
        I was going to mention it at the end of a riposte to the review of Gyllagoon’s Island on Tenfootpole, which struck me as unfairly harsh. I need to make sure I have read both module and review more carefully before posting.

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      2. Thanks for the kind words, Wombat! Comparing my adventure to those Kowolski classics is super-complimentary. I didn’t have them in mind when I wrote the adventure, but I have been highly influenced by them, so some of their DNA probably got in there. Low-key rural adventures with pagan faerie vibes and intrigue among colorful villagers…yup, I can see that.

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      3. Oh by the way, as for a physical copy, I would hold off on that for the time being. I spotted an error after it already went to the printers…the page numbering is one-off of what’s in the PDF, so all the page references are slightly incorrect in the POD. I’ve let Malrex know, but he’s currently on a long wilderness trek with no computer access, and I don’t have the original files he sent to DriveThruRPG. So a correction is going to have to wait.

        Also, I think the colors for some of the maps came out a bit muddy in the POD. Impact is minimal, but it makes the Old Mound map a bit hard to read. I’m not sure how easy that will be to fix, so that problem might remain.

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  1. Glad to see you are taking the mental preparation for the upcoming Rammstein concert seriously. Also “Teutonic indignation” might be the kindest way I’ve ever heard someone describe the Karen-like tendencies of our sausage loving neighbors.

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  2. I liked when you mentioned that perhaps running modules has the potential for making you “slow” as a DM. A great insight.

    Also, after hearing that you ran Palace of the Nether Prince, I would like to see a review.

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  3. Great stuff! Love having hours of great material to listen to. The host does seem to confuse the great 1e podcast GrogTalk with The Grognard Files, though!

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    1. Is that what’s going on? I was wondering which episodes of GrogTalk Settembrini was referring to, as GT is pretty exclusively 1E discussion (since the beginning) with nary a whiff of RQ references.

      I am completely unfamiliar with “The Grognard Files;” on the other hand I’ve been listening to GrogTalk for more than two years.

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      1. GrogTalk is a great find: hilarious introduction, I particularly enjoy the 1e magic-user “health warnings”; some enjoyable chats with guests. I hadn’t heard Allan Grohe speak before this, and the Jennell Jaquays interview is especially interesting given Prince’s recent reviews.

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  4. That was an entertaining listen., thank you to both of you! Settembrini came over as powerfully inspired, and probably won on points. THIS NEED NOT HAVE OCCURRED! I think more could have been said in defence of house ruling (though Prince somewhat timidly brought this up near the end)…surely this is the HUGE attraction of BX (or LL, etc). Settembrini’s attachment to RAW, is laudable in the sense of treating GG’s work as the Quran…. but surely using BX as our basis, those of us with 30+ years of experience are more than entitled to plough our own furrow? Or must we forever bow our collective heads? We’re all finding a way through the forest. Depending on context, some of us will find a superior direction for our table.
    That’s about as much as I can elucidate at 3 50am in this bar.

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    1. I absolutely could have gone harder on the percentage str rules, the weapons vs AC tables being largely ignored, quizzed Settembrini on Initiative, mentioned archetypes but your point is probably the strongest. The idea that house ruling and customization is a prominent part of the game, B/X is easy to alter, and modding is what extends the longevity of a game far beyond its original reach, Great point.

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  5. This was a great listen. Both AD&D and B/X have their strong points and weaknesses. I’ve never understood the purist arguments or resentments on either side. B/X has a brutal elegance to it that’s easy to house rule (max hit points at level 1, death at -10, etc.). AD&D is a more complete and flavorful game designed for long-term campaigns of multiple groups. Adjusting either to personal taste isn’t too tough. Here are my quick thoughts, some of which didn’t come up.

    Points for B/X: 2d6 morale (instead of fiddly %), 2d6 reaction checks (instead of fiddly %), optional paired combat with individual initiative is slick, slower M-U xp progression starting at 7th level and a single known spell at 1st level helps balance the lack of spell restrictions, agree with Prince on the more elegant combat sequence (the added tactical elements of speed factors, segments, etc. don’t significantly enhance the combat experience for me)

    Points for AD&D: no race-as-class, way more flavor (devils, demons, cool spells, deities & demi-gods), less deadly (bigger PC hit die, -10 rule), better clerics (spells at level 1, better turning, faster combat progression), better thief skills generally, better fighters (faster, smoothed out combat progression), agree with Settembrini on the “sin” of Moldvay modifiers – 4d6-drop-lowest stats and flatter mods avoids the harsh penalties of B/X

    Other differences: alignment systems (I can go either way on this one)

    My main takeaway is that I’m happy running OD&D, haha.

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  6. 1E magic-user xp progression is certainly a strange one: tough requirements at low levels when you are weak, and then much more generous in the mid-levels when you are becoming powerful. I would let them choose read magic and three others for their initial spell book; after that they’ll need to find scrolls, barter with NPCs etc. There is less emphasis these days on the party as a functioning unit, instead concentrating on individual prowess, but it is key to protect the MUs (especially at low levels).

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  7. I’m wondering what Zock Block, the BROSR and others doing the grand campaign use or recommand for grand scale battle : Chainmail, Battlesystem (which version), other things?

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      1. Hey thanks for the answer Trent! Listened to your episode with Zock Bloc. Those two episodes, paired with reflections since last winter about OD&D or BECMI and grand campaigns, are really amazingly eye opening about AD&D and I am very interested to learn more, but can’t seem to find your blog.

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