When we wrapped up low-level Basic D&D play, I asked my players for their opinions on how the game played.
Finias Jinx’s player had this to say:
- I like the uniqueness of having to pick a race…in 2nd edition, everyone picked demi-humans because if you didn’t you were weaker, and in 3rd they changed it up so at least if you pick human you get something for it…an extra feat and such. In 1st edition you either picked the demi-human and all it’s limitations or human with no limits…I like that.
- I like the fact that you get the magic you get and you don’t pitch a fit. I just would rather have had more…see item 1 of cons.
- I like the fact that you progress faster or slower by class, especially for rogues…but see cons item 4.
- Very freeform, but perhaps a bit too free.
- The magic items and stuff were few and far between…it was not as bad as that [specific name omitted] though…where there was only one magic item for the whole campaign or something outrageous. I like more magic, but not so much that you end up having characters selling junk to get exactly what they want.
- The combat mechanics are too simple. It’s more fun to see what’s going on in the room and maneuver around it. We sort of played a hybrid kind of combat, but it didn’t hold a candle to 3rd edition miniature battle rules.
- I don’t really like wilderness campaigns, so that was a drawback of X1 to me. I’d rather have done B2 in that case.
- The rogue skills are lame even at mid-level. The skills checks again way are better (and more fun) in 3rd edition.
- Few ways to customize your character beyond class/race.
Wikki Swiftwind’s player had this to say:
“In terms of fun factor, I thought the best parts (other than role-playing) had little to do with mechanics (e.g. figuring out how to bypass obstacles). I think the mechanics of character progression kind of suck. One needs to gain a lot of XP to gain very little in power. Doesn’t feel very heroic compared to other editions. However, gains in spell casting DO feel like the characters are becoming more heroic. Since finding secret doors is often critical, I think that mechanic should be different. Not really a fan of this mechanic in any edition, but at least in later editions, you could “take a 20″ if you search long enough. Growing up, I think I only played basic D&D a few times (less than 10) and mostly played AD&D. My recollection is that all my friends thought AD&D really made the game a lot better. In fact, since AD&D came out when I was 6 years old, I started playing AD&D. I think we only played the basic system for the sake of trying it out.”
For background, one of these players is heavily involved with the Pathfinder Society and the other belongs to a board games group and prefers (I believe) 4th edition.
For my part, I like the ease of prep Basic D&D offers. I like that I can use AD&D adventures with no conversion and there aren’t a lot of fiddly rules and conditions I have to track. Basic D&D relies on a good deal of GM fiat, making it easy to rule on the fly without worrying if some book I haven’t seen or haven’t read thoroughly (but one of my players might have) is going to contradict me. I think sometime overly complex game mechanics can overshadow the story and turn a role-playing game into a roll-playing game. There’s nothing wrong with that particular play style, but it’s annoying to have one when you want the other.
After talking with the group, we’re definitely going to skip AD&D first edition in favor of AD&D 2nd edition when playing the AD&D Phase of the campaign. We feel there just aren’t enough differences in the game play to make it worth the tedium of playing the same adventures with those two editions. Speaking of playing the same adventures, something else I’m considering is NOT running the group through an entire series of modules, but, instead, if they go through the first part of an adventure in one system, play the NEXT adventure in the series with the next system (e.g. They’re playing I3: Pharaoh now with Basic D&D. They’ll play I4: Oasis of the White Palm with AD&D 2nd edition, and I5: The Lost Tomb of Martek with Pathfinder). That way, it won’t be quite so tedious.
One thing on the horizon that concerns me is D&D 4E. Wizards of the Coast has been pretty tight-lipped (as far as I know) about future plans for DDI as D&D Next develops. I’m concerned that the character creation & encounter creation tools for 4E will no longer be accessible by the time I get to the D&D 4E phase. My players, generally, are not the most ‘Net savvy players I know, so finding 3rd party replacements for these resources will be challenging. If WotC does, in fact, remove access to the 4E electronic tool, I will most likely NOT include a D&D 4E phase in this campaign. I don’t know anyone who does character creation for 4E without those tools, and at this point, I think creating characters without them (not to mention converting all the encounters) will be too much hassle for me to worry about. This campaign is supposed to be a fun hobby for me, not a challenging job.