Thursday, May 22, 2008

Why OD&D? part 4

As I’ve stated before, this blog is not concerned with belittling any of the subsequent versions or editions in the D&D family. After all, they are the offspring of OD&D, and all of us share an interest in the hobby for one reason, and one reason only. To have fun. As long as you are having fun under the D&D Umbrella, regardless of which edition you might use, please, carry on, but perhaps take a moment to read why I like the original version so much.

So I’ve explained the D&D concept, talked about why OD&D is for me, and theorized about why OD&D is probably not for everyone. Now comes the hardest question fromThe Why Of It All, that being How would I go about sharing my enthusiasm with others?

Well, for one, I have my tiny, often confusing little Grog ’n Blog, wherein I attempt to make people understand what exactly I am trying to talk about, to varying degrees of success. I can certainly share my enthusiasm, but if no one wants to actually hear or see it, I find it’s ultimately pointless. Us old school fans are so often, as my blogging buddy Max says, prone to a general vibe of phlegmatic crankiness, or worse, fogged up with complaining about the new and amen-brothering the old. This gets me nowhere fast. I’m not here to preach to the choir and get some pats on the back. I’d genuinely like to somehow dispel the OD&D misconceptions, and share some of my enthusiasm within our little corner of the gaming world.

It’s not about converting the masses, it’s about enlightening and showing the unbridled fun and limitless approach of OD&D. Perhaps it’s an essence of gaming greatness that was in the air back in the late 70’s, an innocent feeling that anything is possible, so why not dream it up, and go play it. Perhaps it is actually fool’s gold, a rarified time that will never be experienced again. Somehow, though, when I think about OD&D, and that philosophy that surrounded it, I can’t help but become enthused about playing it.

So how then? Word of mouth worked in the 70’s, but can it still do anything for OD&D? I’m afraid that simply talking or writing about it isn’t going to help accomplish the task of dispelling OD&D’s misconceptions. Much like actually learning, understanding and embracing that original D&D concept, I believe that people need to be shown. Players need to be willing to look past the shortcomings I posted about in the last article. The only way, I believe, is by letting the players play, and letting the DM take on the prospect of running OD&D.

So in that vein, I encourage anyone reading this who has not tried to play OD&D to do some research, discover the nuances of OD&D that make it appeal to you, spend some time considering the advantages of the original version, admit that you agree that playing the real thing is enticing, explore the wonderful resources available (thank you Al Gore) on the internet, and as Philotomy says, Approach it fresh. Read the rules, and don't assume that you know how things work. There are differences that may surprise you. Fluff it up, dress it up, make it your own version, and then play it! If you can share my own enthusiasm, we will, each of us a handful of players at a time, be contributing to dispelling the misconceptions of OD&D.

To get your own PDF copy, follow this link. For the price, I can't see why anyone wouldn't want to own the original edition of D&D. Also, check this out to make a facsimile copy in booklet form from your PDF's.

Aside from that, I will continue to post here and share my enthusiasm for the game. It’s not one limited to OD&D really, and much of what I ramble on and on about here can be applied to any of the various games I enjoy. Hopefully that enthusiasm will rub off and spread and possibly contribute in some small way to realizing once again that elusive essence of gaming greatness.

Why OD&D, part 1
Why OD&D, part 2
Why OD&D, part 3

~Sham, Quixotic Referee


James Maliszewski said...

This is a superb series of articles you've written. Well done.

Sham aka Dave said...

Thanks! It's a slow day today, so I was able to pump out parts 2-4 back to back (to back). Hopefully the middle posts won't get lost in the process.

I felt it was too long for a single post, but perhaps delaying them would've been better. Ah well, it's done now.

Anonymous said...

Love all the parts of this post. You've really hit the nail on the head here, both the good and the bad.

-- Coffee

Sham aka Dave said...

Thanks Coffee! You're already a fan though, so spread the good word! :-)


PS-After reading your post about the role of the referee (and player deferral to the DM) over on the forum, I am kicking myself for not including a blurb about that aspect of OD&D. Coincidentally, it's the topic of a Tim Kask thread over at DF (although your post was made earlier!).

noisms said...

For what it's worth, your enthusiasm has rubbed off enough on me to want to give OD&D a try. I'm only 26, so I wasn't around in the game's heyday; I started off with Basic D&D and moved onto 2nd edition AD&D from there - from which point I then moved back to 1st edition AD&D and finally to the Rules Cyclopedia, which I've recently been mixing with 2nd edition in a kind of hybrid. I think I'll have to see if I can find the .pdfs and run an OD&D campaign next...

Sham aka Dave said...

For what it's worth, your enthusiasm has rubbed off enough on me to want to give OD&D a try.

One down, 512,564 to go. ;-)

The best way is to get involved with the odd74 forum, check Philotomy's Musings, and have fun with the booklets. Randall of retro-roleplaying blog fame knows his OD&D stuff, too. For $5.99 US you can't go wrong.

Now I need to try and twist Brian's arm. Muahaha!

I love the Holmes, Moldvay, AD&D stuff, too. OD&D just has some kinda hold on me.


Max said...

Sham, perhaps you could add a link to the OD&D page at RPGNow or DriveThruRPG for others who, like me, are taking the plunge and buying the LBBs on the strength of your argument?

Sham aka Dave said...

Hi Max. Good suggestion, and I will edit part 4 to add that very thing now!


Philotomy said...

In addition to the OD&D rules, themselves, new OD&Ders might be interested in some of the stuff I mention in my "essential and recommended material" musing.

(This is a great series of posts, Sham -- bravo zulu!)

Sham aka Dave said...

This is a great point, Philotomy. Thanks for the comment, by the way.

I think I'll mention in a post some blurbs about the OD&D anthology and those most valuable supplements that you've also listed there.


Philotomy said...

You know, I need to update that musing and include a link for [i]Fight On![/i].

Philotomy said...

Oops -- guess I should preview, next time, so I can keep my tags straight.

Sham aka Dave said...

Good idea. I think that Fight On! is going to just keep improving with each issue.

I'll just send people to your Essentials section. ;-)

Oh, and if you know of a good link for the free Blackmoor PDF, I need to edit my 'OD&D Anthology' post, too.


Philotomy said...

I used to have a link to that free download on my page, but it went up and down so often I removed it. However, it looks like they've changed domains. It used to be, and now it's; maybe it will be more reliable.

Here's the link:

Sham aka Dave said...

Mucho Gracias, Philotomy! I'll add that now.

Anonymous said...

I typed up three paragraphs of response before I realized that despite my 3e fanboyism, I was adhering to this "concept of OD&D". While I disagree with applying the "OD&D" label to such a broad idea, and could argue about both that and the particular superiorities of the guidelines presented in 3e; I see no reason to do so. It would impede the purpose of this website. Unfortunately, since I wish to distill little except for the idea (and perhaps the relatively balanced experience system, but that would be a mess to work into my preferred edition), I have little motive to view the blog.
Thus ends my short, pointless, visitor's ramble.

Sham aka Dave said...

Anon poster: Thanks for taking the time to comment. I'm glad you have an edition to play which suits your needs. Luckily, 3e fans have access to vast resources for that edition. I'm not exactly sure why you disagree with my topic of OD&D as a concept/idea, but I assume you read the series before coming to your conclusion. If you're playing D&D, regardless of edition, you're OK in my book.


Ihnasarima said...

As player of 3.5e, I am quite intrigued by the OD&D to the point of bothering my DM to get some of the more creative players together to try it once or twice. Some of the storytelling aspects associated with OD&D are carried on by a few of the more quick-witted, clever players mid battle, and it's about time we have a chance to really role play. I'll let you know what happens...

Sham aka Dave said...

Ihnasarima: I hope it works out for your group. Don't be shocked at the difference between modern ruels presentation and the original ones. OD&D does take some time to sort out, and it also takes a little while to expunge those bits of newer editions that are ingrained after years of play (I experienced this as an AD&D 1e player, so the leap from 3.5 is even steeper).

The important thing is to get the OD&D vibe going, and don;t get bogged down in the rules.

I'd point your DM towards Swords & Wizardry White Box if he or she finds the disorganization of OD&D a turn-off.

Thanks for the comment!