Saturday, September 24, 2011

AD&D1e, A New Way to Play?

Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, 1st edition was the first role-playing game I ever played, and recently I've been interested in playing it again. Is it nostalgia for a bygone age when phones were attached to cords, tv screens were concave, and floppy disks were cool? Sure, but it's more than that. 1st edition was great! OK, the combat system isn't realistic and the way it handles armor is silly. Alright, the character classes might have been a little unbalanced. And yes, many campaigns were little more than dungeon crawly, hack'n'slash fests. But gods, was it fun to play! Even with all its sloppy game mechanics, endless charts and tables, and ridiculous monsters. Some of the best adventures I've ever played, both modules and home-brewed, were for 1st edition.

I've been thinking about running a module or two for KGS within the next 6 months, but was worried finding copies of the rules, both for players and myself, might be a problem. I still have most of the original books and modules, but I never bought the Fiend Folio and my original Monster Manual was misplaced. I was going to check eBay when I found out about OSRIC.

OSRIC (short for Old School Reference and Index Compilation) is a set of free rules that creates a version of AD&D 1st edition within the guidelines of the OGL. Basically, it's 1st edition without the original art and layouts of the TSR books, but the rules are almost identical. Within the 400-page pdf (found at are the equivalent of the Players Handbook, Dungeon Master Guide, and Monster Manual. Instead of splitting the rules into 3 books, the OSRIC rules are broken down into 6 chapters: Creating a Character; Spells; How to Play; Dungeons, Towns and Wildernesses; Monsters, and Treasure. There is also a Compiled Tables appendix, character sheet, and index. This layout is a real upgrade over the original books, which were labyrinthian in their layouts, and allows for much quicker rules access. I recommend OSRIC for anyone who wants to learn AD&D 1e and doesn't have access to the original books, and for those of us who no longer have all our old books and need to fill in the gaps. Again, the pdf is free, but they also have softcover and hardcover editions available if you'd prefer those.

I also found that Expeditious Retreat Press has published a number of 1st edition adventure modules using the OSRIC rules under OGL. While original, creative modules in their own right, they are definitely inspired by the classic TSR adventures. You might also want to check out Dungeon Crawl classics, also modeled on the classic style. Both are available as hardcopies at your local gaming store, or as pdfs on a number of gaming sites.

Finally, there is a podcast solely devoted to AD&D1e called Roll for Initiative (, also on iTunes). While not the most dynamic podcast ever, they do pack the show with a fair amount of information, and I like their takes on the various character classes.

So here's to AD&D 1e. Long may it reign!

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