[Dark Dungeons] - OGLBECMI?

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[Dark Dungeons] - OGLBECMI?

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Mon Aug 24, 2009 12:22 pm

I've had a look around, and discovered a couple of Open Game License "retro-clone" games that emulate old versions of D&D. For example: OSRIC and Mazes and Minotaurs both emulate AD&D 1e, whereas Basic Fantasy Roleplaying Game and Labyrinth Lord both emulate the Moldvay Basic & Marsh/Cook Expert sets.

In the case of the latter two, does anyone know why those particular sets were chosen to be emulated, rather than the fuller Mentzer BECMI version or the Allston Rules Cyclopedia version? Was it just the preference of the authors, or was there some other (legal?) obstacle to emulating the slightly later sets?

And does anyone know whether there is an OGL version of those later sets that I've missed? Because I enjoy playing with the BECMI rules, but my book is old and getting a bit tatty and none of my friends have copies. It would be good to be able to get a "new" game using those same rules that I'm used to...
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Re: OGLBECMI?

Post by Havard » Mon Aug 24, 2009 1:25 pm

Good question! I have been thinking about investigating this further myself. That said, Labyrith Lord is fairly close to BECMI,and there has been talk about publish an expansion that allows levels up to 36th.

I'm guessing the main reason why they are sticking with B/X rather than BECMI has to do with the individual preferences of the people involved rather than anything else. I certainly would have preferred BECMI.

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Re: OGLBECMI?

Post by agathokles » Mon Aug 24, 2009 4:34 pm

I'm just guessing, but I think the RC ruleset is not considered Basic enough. These OGL clones aim at a crowd that considers 3e too complicated, so they choose to mimic the simplest rulesets.

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Re: OGLBECMI?

Post by cab » Tue Aug 25, 2009 8:32 am

Theres definitely a gap for an OGL BECMI... Sort of. I think that the only drawback is that the BECM pamphlets aren't all that rare; you don't need to emulate that which is effectively not unavailable.

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Re: OGLBECMI?

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Tue Aug 25, 2009 9:10 am

cab wrote:I think that the only drawback is that the BECM pamphlets aren't all that rare; you don't need to emulate that which is effectively not unavailable.
Actually, I'm not sure I'd agree with that. My gut feeling tells me that the Basic and Expert sets are fairly common, but Companion, Master and Immortals are increasingly hard to come by. I'd expect that as you go up the tiers, fewer people bought each set since many will have either switched to AD&D after playing Basic or Basic/Expert or simply stopped roleplaying altogether.

A quick (and very non-scientific) check confirms this. I just went through the current eBay.co.uk listings that came up on a search for "Dungeons and Dragons", and amongst the 24 pages of items were about half a dozen each of the Moldvay and Mentzer Basic sets; five Expert sets (all Mentzer); and a single Companion set. No Master, Immortal (either version) or Cyclopedias to be seen.

Similarly, The Acaeum's second-hand price guide shows higher expected prices for the C/M/I and WotI sets (and the Cyclopedia - but that price might be skewed because it's a hardback rather than a boxed set) than for the lower tier games.

So I'd say that while the Mentzer B/E sets are probably easier to come by than the Moldvay & Marsh/Cook equivalents, it's actually the higher level material (including the following sets of rules: War Machine, Sieges, Weapon Mastery, Dominion, Immortals, Unarmed Combat, Mystics, High-Level Demi-humans) that is less available and could do with an OGL retro-clone.

And from what I've seen, that's the sort of material that isn't covered by Labyrinth Lord and BFRPG.
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Re: OGLBECMI?

Post by cab » Tue Aug 25, 2009 9:13 am

I haven't looked for a while, I could well believe the prices of C, M and especially I have gone up. And the RC is a silly price now.

So if thats the case then as the PDF files of those are now legally unobtainable, there really might be a gap for a BECMI clone.

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Re: OGLBECMI?

Post by dulsi » Tue Aug 25, 2009 1:45 pm

Do any of you play straight BECMI? Seems like a lot of people here dislike the race=class. Maybe part of the reason for the lack of equivalent is that everyone has house rules that make for rather different.

I suspect agathokles's answer is probably the correct one. It may also be that no one wants BECMI without Mystara. There is a skill system for Labyrinth Lord. Not sure if it is similar to the skill system in the RC.
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Re: OGLBECMI?

Post by rabindranath72 » Tue Aug 25, 2009 2:01 pm

dulsi wrote:Do any of you play straight BECMI? Seems like a lot of people here dislike the race=class. Maybe part of the reason for the lack of equivalent is that everyone has house rules that make for rather different.

I suspect agathokles's answer is probably the correct one. It may also be that no one wants BECMI without Mystara. There is a skill system for Labyrinth Lord. Not sure if it is similar to the skill system in the RC.
When I want to play rules-light D&D, it's straight BECMI, race=class and all. It's the charme of the game IMO, and it makes for quick and easy chargen even in the case of early TPK.

The skill system for LL is quite close to the one in the RC. Actually, more than one system is proposed, but none of them meshes particularly well with the structure of Classic D&D (much like the general skills in the RC).
I would prefer a system which is built on-top of the BECMI mechanics, and which did not step on the toes of other character's abilities. BECMI is not built with a skill system in mind, so anything along the lines of RC skills feels "alien". I have tested a system on which I worked for some time, which is closer to a "talent system", and interfaces quite well with the existing character abilities and rules. For example, there are rules in the Expert set for foraging and hunting; so, a Hunter skill might simply increase those chances. Likewise, a Leadership skill might add a bonus to morale checks of retainers. etc.

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Re: OGLBECMI?

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Tue Aug 25, 2009 2:03 pm

dulsi wrote:Do any of you play straight BECMI? Seems like a lot of people here dislike the race=class. Maybe part of the reason for the lack of equivalent is that everyone has house rules that make for rather different.
I'm running a 4e campaign at the moment, but when I play BECMI I normally do it fairly "straight". My house rules are limited to the copying of spells into spellbooks. I certainly play with race=class.
I suspect agathokles's answer is probably the correct one. It may also be that no one wants BECMI without Mystara.
Ironically I'm currently running a 4e campaign set in Mystara, but my last BECMI campaign wasn't set there.
There is a skill system for Labyrinth Lord. Not sure if it is similar to the skill system in the RC.
That supplement gives three different options for using skills. The second option ("Ability Skills") matches the RC one in terms of mechanics, but the skill list in that supplement has different skills in it to the RC skill list.
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Re: OGLBECMI?

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Tue Aug 25, 2009 2:25 pm

rabindranath72 wrote:BECMI is not built with a skill system in mind, so anything along the lines of RC skills feels "alien".
I don't think it's that bad actually.

It can basically be summed up as:

"You may be asked to make ability checks (roll 1d20 and try to get less than or equal to your relevant ability score) in certain situations; e.g. to determine whether your character recognises a particular monster, or whether your character can swim against a strong current, or whether your character can avoid falling of a horse when it bolts in fear. As your character increases in level, you will gain bonuses to ability checks in certain pre-defined situations of your choosing. You can spend these bonuses on the same listed situation (in which case they are cumulative) or on different situations."
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Re: OGLBECMI?

Post by rabindranath72 » Tue Aug 25, 2009 2:50 pm

Yeah, surely it's not bad, but there are many skills which either intrude on abilities of other classes (e.g. Stealth) or imply knowledge which should be specific and assumed for some classes (e.g. Ceremony) or could simply be made part of the background of the character and/or assumed automatically successful. I mean, considering the simplicity of the base mechanics, there are way too many skills IMO.

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Re: OGLBECMI?

Post by Hugin » Tue Aug 25, 2009 3:03 pm

rabindranath72 wrote:Yeah, surely it's not bad, but there are many skills which either intrude on abilities of other classes (e.g. Stealth) or imply knowledge which should be specific and assumed for some classes (e.g. Ceremony) or could simply be made part of the background of the character and/or assumed automatically successful. I mean, considering the simplicity of the base mechanics, there are way too many skills IMO.
Very true. As a matter of fact, you can even find the same skills listed in a different product but given another name; or skills that are almost identical except that one is more potent or flexible than the other.

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Re: OGLBECMI?

Post by rabindranath72 » Tue Aug 25, 2009 3:11 pm

Hugin wrote:
rabindranath72 wrote:Yeah, surely it's not bad, but there are many skills which either intrude on abilities of other classes (e.g. Stealth) or imply knowledge which should be specific and assumed for some classes (e.g. Ceremony) or could simply be made part of the background of the character and/or assumed automatically successful. I mean, considering the simplicity of the base mechanics, there are way too many skills IMO.
Very true. As a matter of fact, you can even find the same skills listed in a different product but given another name; or skills that are almost identical except that one is more potent or flexible than the other.
Eh, another aggravating point which makes the RC potentially incompatible with the Gazetteers (and the Gazetteers incompatible between themselves!)
I would have preferred either the very basic system as first defined in GAZ1, i.e. of a purely descriptive nature, with effects totally defined by the DM. Or something along the lines of Weapon Mastery. I do not want a rule when it can be substituted by roleplaying or simple DM fiat.
Actually, there are some General Skills which interface quite neatly with existing D&D mechanics, but they are quite few.

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Re: OGLBECMI?

Post by cab » Tue Aug 25, 2009 3:13 pm

dulsi wrote:Do any of you play straight BECMI?
There is no such thing.

Edit: Well, there may be, but as each boxed set tells you not to play it entirely straight if you choose not to, BECMI is almost definitively not by the book.

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Re: OGLBECMI?

Post by agathokles » Tue Aug 25, 2009 3:48 pm

dulsi wrote:Do any of you play straight BECMI? Seems like a lot of people here dislike the race=class.
I post many more house rules than I actually use. In actual play, I use straight Rules Cyclopedia (but that's so I can carry around a single book), plus the Gazetteers. I'd like to try out a streamlined variant (see the hit roll and ST variants I've been sketching out in the last few days), but for actual campaign-scale play I don't want to take too many risks with untested rules, or complicate things by adding more books.

However, RC/BECMI is the only D&D I've been playing this year. I'd use AD&D (or maybe 4e for Dark Sun) for other settings, so at least for me Classic D&D is closely linked with Mystara.

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Re: OGLBECMI?

Post by Havard » Tue Aug 25, 2009 4:16 pm

dulsi wrote:Do any of you play straight BECMI? Seems like a lot of people here dislike the race=class. Maybe part of the reason for the lack of equivalent is that everyone has house rules that make for rather different.
I haven't played played BECMI for years, but when we did we played it without many house rules. I think I will probably keep the race classes when I get back to BECMI. I think this is more a case of expanding the options for demihumans being a natural way of providing more classes.
It may also be that no one wants BECMI without Mystara.
I wouldnt mind if that was the case. I remember back in the days of the Mystara Mailinglist (MML), it originally functioned as a Classic D&D mailinglist as well as a Mystara one (since Classic didnt have a mailinglist of its own). However, at the time there was a demand for separating the two as many classic fans didnt want to read so much about Mystara. It is possible that they were fans of pre-BECMI D&D though. OTOH, B/X also used Mystara as its default setting...

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Re: OGLBECMI?

Post by agathokles » Tue Aug 25, 2009 8:22 pm

Uhm, B/X uses (part of) the Known World as the default setting -- which is quite different from Mystara. In "modern" terms, KW (especially as in the early B/X) is a "points of lights" setting, which Mystara is not.

Also, I don't remember as much Classic vs Mystara as Classic vs AD&D. Maybe it's just because I joined a couple year later, but my impression is that there weren't that many non-Mystara Classic D&D people. Even the return to KW (as opposed to Mystara) seems to me a very recent thing (possibly driven by 4e).

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Re: OGLBECMI?

Post by Havard » Tue Aug 25, 2009 8:59 pm

agathokles wrote:Uhm, B/X uses (part of) the Known World as the default setting -- which is quite different from Mystara. In "modern" terms, KW (especially as in the early B/X) is a "points of lights" setting, which Mystara is not.
True, I use the term Mystara for political reasons ;)
But technically you are correct. OTOH, this is the same with BECMI.
Also, I don't remember as much Classic vs Mystara as Classic vs AD&D. Maybe it's just because I joined a couple year later, but my impression is that there weren't that many non-Mystara Classic D&D people. Even the return to KW (as opposed to Mystara) seems to me a very recent thing (possibly driven by 4e).
The classic vs Mystara debate may not have been such a big one, certainly not compared to the vs AD&D one, but I do remember people requesting a separate forum for rules and I remember being surprised that there would be fans of Classic who did not want to hear about Mystara :o

The KW vs. Mystara debate is the reason why I consistently use the term Mystara. :)

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Re: OGLBECMI?

Post by agathokles » Tue Aug 25, 2009 9:25 pm

Havard wrote: True, I use the term Mystara for political reasons ;)
But technically you are correct. OTOH, this is the same with BECMI.
But BECMI is more closely associated to the Gazetteers, and therefore to Mystara, an association that is absent in B/X. Moreover, due to publication years it is much more likely that people who started with BECMI (and even more RC) moved to the Gazetteers, while those who started with B/X stayed with a "point of light"-style Known World.

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Re: OGLBECMI?

Post by maddog » Wed Aug 26, 2009 2:38 am

Blacky the Blackball wrote:In the case of the latter two, does anyone know why those particular sets were chosen to be emulated, rather than the fuller Mentzer BECMI version or the Allston Rules Cyclopedia version? Was it just the preference of the authors, or was there some other (legal?) obstacle to emulating the slightly later sets?
Hi BtB!

I'm one of the contributors to BFRPG. It was designed by Solo over on DF as his "perfect" game with a call back to the Moldvay/Cook BX for the feel and inspiration of the rules but with some of the nicer "modern" enhancements from the SRD. So, I guess preference of the original author is what set the goals of the project. Ixion knows that he had to rein in some of the heavier things I wrote! :)

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Re: OGLBECMI?

Post by rabindranath72 » Wed Aug 26, 2009 6:57 am

agathokles wrote:
Havard wrote: True, I use the term Mystara for political reasons ;)
But technically you are correct. OTOH, this is the same with BECMI.
But BECMI is more closely associated to the Gazetteers, and therefore to Mystara, an association that is absent in B/X. Moreover, due to publication years it is much more likely that people who started with BECMI (and even more RC) moved to the Gazetteers, while those who started with B/X stayed with a "point of light"-style Known World.

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I would stand as the exception to the rule :) I still prefer the KW over Mystara, perhaps more as a practical consequence of my campaigns than a dislike for Mystara; the GAZ1 is the only one I used for campaign play, then we "moved" to Norwold. I only read the other GAZ for inspiration and ideas, and even then, I only own a few of them. What I like about the KW is the background set forth in the Immortal Set; very reminiscent of the Lovecraftian roots of D&D.

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Re: OGLBECMI?

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Wed Aug 26, 2009 7:38 am

maddog wrote:Hi BtB!

I'm one of the contributors to BFRPG.
Hi!
It was designed by Solo over on DF as his "perfect" game with a call back to the Moldvay/Cook BX for the feel and inspiration of the rules but with some of the nicer "modern" enhancements from the SRD.
I can fully understand that. If I were to undertake such a project (and I'm toying with the idea at the moment, to the point of having actually started organising chapter headings and such) then I'd want to do it as my "perfect" game too.

Having said that, I'd be conscious of the fact that if I put too many house-rules into it then people who read it who are already familiar with the old rules would baulk at them with a cry of "but this isn't right!"

So I'd probably keep things mostly the same as my favourite version - in this case the RC version - and present any major deviations (such as the house rules that I have sometimes used for specialist magic users and clerics) as optional rules.
So, I guess preference of the original author is what set the goals of the project. Ixion knows that he had to rein in some of the heavier things I wrote! :)
I suppose I'd count as a "moderate" in terms of heaviness of rules. I'd include the somewhat heavier options such as weapon mastery, skills, extended levels for demihumans and so on as core rules; but not add anything beyond that without marking it as optional.
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Re: OGLBECMI?

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Wed Aug 26, 2009 9:03 am

Blacky the Blackball wrote:I'd include the somewhat heavier options such as weapon mastery, skills, extended levels for demihumans and so on as core rules;
...Oh! And Immortals!

I'd definitely want the rules for Immortal level characters to be part of the core book and integrated throughout the other rules rather than being in a separate supplement and feeling as if they have been "bolted on" afterwards.
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Re: OGLBECMI?

Post by Gawain_VIII » Wed Aug 26, 2009 10:52 am

Okay... this is what I envision for OGL BECMI/RC... ready fo it?

Image

And for those of you that prefer the Boxed sets to RC, we've got...

Image

(for the record, despite the obvious spoof on D&D and the early 80's book/film, the term is not trademarked. Check out the US Patent/Trademark Office just to be sure.)

Easily the "basic" is a reverse-play on Advanced D&D vs. D&D.

More on what I had in mind later,
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Re: OGLBECMI?

Post by Gawain_VIII » Wed Aug 26, 2009 11:50 am

Okay, this is what I had in mind. Along the same lines of BFRPG, take BECMI/RC and add the d20 mechanic to it, with a few tweaks. "Basic M&M" would be "M&M", as outlined below, without skills & weapon mastery (possibly missing dominion & 'Ascention') [I use Ascention instead of Immortality to keep the familiarity without copying EVERYTHING.]

=== DETAILS ===
Standard "classic" races
four base classes
Positive AC, BAB instead of Thac0
Retain "classic" save categories (RC option, to allow for more versatility), but usse d20 mechanic
30 levels (maybe only 20 for BM&M, dunno)
Humans cannot multiclass
Demihumans have restricted multiclassing based on classic archetypes
10th is "name level"...
(to mimic the demihuman level restriction & attack ranks, I was thinking that if a demihuman chose to multiclass, upon reaching 10th level, he must "choose a path" and level that class exclusively from that point on)

=== Non-BASIC Additions ===
introduce "new" base classes (mystic, rake)
Introduce skills
introduce weapon mastery
introduce "prestige" classes (paladin/avenger, druid)... limit to humans?
introduce dominions, war machine, ascention


Beyond that... basically keep BECMI/RC in tact in the same manner BFRPG did with B/X...

Just thoughts,
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