Monday, August 27, 2007

2 micro-pseudo-reviews

The cover is amateurish but charming.
Labyrinth Lord is available as a free PDF download from Goblinoid Games or via print-on-demand from Goblinoid's Lulu store. When I first heard of this product it sounded to me a lot like the OSRIC project, but for my beloved '81 Basic/Expert D&D. Turns out that's not quite the case. I haven't poured over LL with a fine tooth comb yet, but there are just enough differences from the old versions to drive a purist nutty. The equipment charts include armor and weapons imported from 1st edition AD&D and/or the later Mentzer books. The magic item section includes some lifts from the original DMG. The xp charts for the various classes have been fiddled with a bit. And clerics get a spell at first level.

I could see one or more of these being a turn-off for somebody, but I'm just personally thrilled to see a new edition of D&D where elf is a class again. I used to think that an in-print Basic/Expert would make finding players much more easy, what with all the whining you hear on the internets like "Waah! My players won't play 'dead' games!" But last February I ran a Basic/Expert con game and ten players signed up for it, at least two of whom weren't born when my Moldvay books were published. So what do I know? Anyway, do yourself a favor and download a freebie copy of Labyrinth Lord. I'd love to hear what everybody else thinks about this game.
I'm not a huge fan of the original Traveller supplements The Spinward Marches and The Solomani Rim. Sure, you get a whole sector worth of adventure in each, but I find unpacking UWPs to be a pain in the butt. The old Gamelords book A Pilot's Guide to the Drexilthar Subsector is more my speed. You get a brief intro on the overall sector, but the heart of the book is the write-ups for each world in Drexilthar. You get a page of info for each place on the subsector map. That hits the sweet spot for me. You get just enough stuff to riff off of, without being inundated in information. If you click here you can still buy new copies of this 1984 classic from Different Worlds Publications. While you're at that page check out Wanted: Adventurers, Startown Liberty, and Lee's Guide to Interstellar Adventure for more awesome Traveller adventure.


  1. being someone who got an early box of D&D for Xmas, I have always been fond of that single blue book. Reducing the enjoyment of D&D to quick character creation and speedy combat is what I would like to see in D&D4. I love this idea of LL but for me, having a couple of copies of my blue book as well as the red book, it's redundant. And I kind of wished they would have merged some of the ideals of original D&D with mechanics of D&D3+ such as 'high AC is better AC'. Even back then I found the whole, low is higher, kinda wonky. Try explaining to a 13 year old how a +1 Shield means his AC gets reduced by one.

    Do you know if anyone has tried to capture the feel of OD&D but used minimal mechanics from D&D3?

  2. Anonymous12:48 PM

    Both as a little kid and as an adult, lower AC has never seemed wierd to me, and I've never seen the alure of flipping the AC tables around. How to explain it to a 13 year old(or anybody else)? Try this:

    On offense (attacking), you want lots of points. You want weapons that roll big dice. You want bonuses from Strength, Dexterity, magic weapons, etc that make your attack go UP.

    On defense you want to be tough and stingy. You don't want anything to get by you. You want armor, dexterity bonuses, and magic that makes your Armor Class go DOWN.

    That makes perfect sense to me, both mechanically and thematically.

    Plus there's something about a "-2" AC that is WAAAAY more intimitading than a "22" would be. "Holy Cow! This guy has a NEGATIVE AC! Run!!!!"

  3. Wulfgar, great point that negative AC was scary. Hell, at low levels an Ac1 or Ac0 was pretty intimidating, but a minus AC was a simple cue that the monster was so badass it 'broke' the rules.

  4. but i still think that the scariness came from your familiarity with the system. once the rule was established, you played within it's confines and built up your own mythos around it.

  5. Great... I'm posting about the OTHER review.

    Any Traveller book by the Keiths is going to be great, but Reaver's Deep (the sector where Drexilthar is located) was designated by Marc Miller as their personal playground.

    And, yes, Labyrinth Lord and Basic Fantasy are both very nice, blah blah blah, SAGA r teh 1337...

    Normally, I'll fanboy out over Blue Book, and the old '81 B&E set. But compared to Classic Traveller as done by the Keiths? There is no comparison.