Home » Ancient Posts » There is More to OD&D than the Three Little Beige Books    
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

I think one reason the current retro clones haven't replicated all of that stuff, is that many today have less time to play and the experience of their youth and a longing for simplicity is what they get from retro clones.


I'll admit that I'm not a fan of how the original Greyhawk supplement handled thieves, though I'm also of the mind that there is a great deal of fun and useful information in Greyhawk, Blackmoor, et al. I absolutely agree that people who ignore all of that later material without first considering it are missing out.


Joesph: I think some of the admiration for the original 3 LBBs today is the dislike of the Thief class from Greyhawk. A lot of people see this class as the start of the "you can't do X unless you have skill or feat Y even though realistically just about anyone should be able to try with some chance of success" attitude that took over the game by 3.x. Other people just like really rules light. (And I'm sure there are other reasons.)

Personally, I think ignoring everything after the 3 LBBs is cutting off one's nose to spite one's face — at least for most campaigns. However, to each their own. I just get tired of the attitude I often see today that adding much past the 3 LBBs makes the game too much like AD&D. I've played OD&D with everything and AD&D they are not the same. They are close enough to easily exchange adventures, but they play differently in practice because the AD&D rules are much more "tight," more complete, and often more complex.


I must say I'm not sure why we're seeing all this enamoration of the original 3 LBBs.

They lasted a grand total of, what, less than a year? And most everybody who was around back then is in agreement; nobody stopped at the boundaries formed by their covers. Folks were using all sorts of added material, Greyhawk, Blackmoor, and Eldritch Wizardry just being the beginning. The dream of OE as some sort of pure-state game just isn't a realistic one, at least from the standpoint of history. The borders were pushed from the get-go.

Matthew Slepin

I find that the LBB's + all the Supplements is basically AD&D. Or, maybe better, to quote the Gray Book's intro: "AD&D Lite"

Aaron E. Steele

I may have to take a look at this. Makes me nervous to have a copy if it crosses the line re: copyright though.

I gather the Grey Book includes the exceptional strength table, since that appears in Greyhawk. Just one of the reasons why my tastes run towards the LBB's.


Robert said: "When they say “oD&D”, they tend to mean just the original three books."

I agree. I know this seems seems to be the majority position amongst those playing OD&D and its retroclones today, but it was a minority position when OD&D was in print and in active play. Neither position is wrong, but the fact remains that The Grey Book isn't a rules light version of AD&D. 90 to 95% of its material is taken (in many cases word for word) from OD&D, its supplements, a few articles in The Strategic Review, and the Holmes Basic rules — all OD&D.

It's more accurate (IMHO) to say that AD&D is a "lots more rules and details added" version of The Grey Book/OD&D and supplements than it is to say that The Grey Book/OD&D and supplements is a rules light version of AD&D. Perhaps this is a another case of "Randall tilting at windmills," but I think it is an important point. Your mileage may vary, obviously.


Something to consider might be that there is already an AD&D retroclone (OSRIC) and several OD&D retroclones that approach the AD&D end, but not much for the LBB end. Closest is Swords & Wizardry Whitebox, and even that has a couple post-whitebox bits. I know I looked at The Gray Book thinking it might be closer to the LBB end, but it looked to me more like Holmes + lots of extra bits.


Some of the comments to my post on The Gray Book yesterday that The Gray Book was too much like AD&D to be considered OD&D confused me. The only reason I can think is that the 1e retroclones have given people a very limited idea of what OD&D included.

To be fair Randall, only two of us made the comment and both of us admitted it was only because neither of us had actually had a close look at the Gray Book document, but rather had only just glanced through it. So it had nothing to do with having "a very limited idea of what OD&D included", and everything to do with not having actually read the Gray Book. But thanks to you, our ignorance has been laid to rest. I'm now looking forwarded to sticking my nose into my printed copy.


Yeah. Some people like oD&D because of its minimalism. They tend to prefer just the 3 little books & a few additions. When they say “oD&D”, they tend to mean just the original three books.

Others like oD&D because it is AD&D that didn’t go too far.

Probably most of us like it because we can find our own preference somewhere in between.

I think it is somewhat natural for a lot of people when first discovering or rediscovering oD&D—considering what is likely brought them there—to be more interested in minimalism.