“Why Basic?”

As mentioned before, I’m going to be DMing at a library as part of a summer reading program.  One thing that we were asked to do is come up with a short pitch for our games at a kick-off type meeting.  I came up with this one-sheet which I may end up using, that highlights a few reasons as to “why basic” as well as a very brief history* of B/X.  I got the retro fonts from Random Wizard’s new site.

Feel free to use this yourselves.  The fonts are non-commercial and the art is lifted straight from Moldvay, so needless to say, don’t try to make money off this.

Why Basic

*note: I left out the Arneson lawsuit because these kids probably won’t care, and I left out Mentzer because I hate BECMI.

14 responses to ““Why Basic?”

    • BECMI is stupid because who really wants to play characters that are between level 15 and 36? By Level 14, congrats, you’re a king with a castle, hire new heroes to go on adventures and play as them. Mentzer’s “War Machine” rules are tedious and cumbersome and you’d be better off just playing a real wargame to supplement whatever large scale battles you want to include. Adding “combat rankings” to give demi-humans additional attacks and attack bonuses effectively removes level caps in favor of mere HP caps. Lower level spells for balanced lower level games become insane (there’s no reason not to pick fireball/lightning bolt for all of your spell slots, if there are no damage dice caps). Also, if anyone played through 36 character levels of BECMI 4 times to become a “Paragon”, I’d like to meet them so I can shout “NERD!” in their face as loud as I can.

      • Mentzer seems like an alright dude, but his version of Basic was like if someone saw Goya’s The Dog and thought “I need to fill in sky with all sorts of crazy stuff so we know what the dog is hiding from!” and started doodling UFOs.

  1. I was totally just going to drop a comment like “cute!” for the flier, then I read the other comments and shivered a little.

    I really do like “Why Basic?”

    (Oh, and I just noticed you have a broken RPGBA link on your blogroll.)


    • Heh, the hate-snark is more snark than hate.

      And thanks! Like I said, feel free to borrow it. And yeah, I had forgotten that I’d used an external source imbed for that. Guess I ought to take it down… :/

      • Oh, I totally got that that it was snark. I’m prone to a bit of compulsive trash-talking when it comes to WotC, though I think I’ve managed to curb it somewhat in recent years.

        RIP RPGBA


      • I also like to kinda have fun with the fact that while everyone else edition wars about 2, 3 & 4e, I pick the version that most folks today have never even heard of to be my edition nemesis.

      • Thanks, but the joke’s on me; I don’t think I’ve ever actually come across a BECMI/Rule Cyclopedia partisan. Though I do seriously wonder sometimes if there were actually people who DID play the immortals paths (one of which literally required playing 4 incarnations of a single souled individual through the Fighter, Cleric, Mage and Thief classes through all 36 levels), and I wonder what those people were like…

      • BECMI sounds like the Nintendo Hard of Nintendo Hards…

        “Didn’t die enough in your first play through? Start over again at level one for playthrough two!”

        Does that mean D&D invented New Game Plus?


      • I wouldn’t quite call it that. Really, at the low levels, it was the same old Basic. The problem was that BECMI fundamentally reshaped the expectations of the game from one in which aspiring heroes became kings and queens to one in which kings and queens aspired to become gods without addressing the underlying faults in the system that cropped up at high-level play, but instead exacerbating them. As I mentioned in my reply to Jeffro, the idea behind Basic’s structure (which works for all fantasy RPGs, really), is that one starts out as a petty adventurer, slowly gains renown and following, until at last one becomes the ruler of an entire kingdom. Since the game isn’t geared to handle large battle or geopolitical struggles particularly well, the expectation is that the players will want to have new adventures in the world as either heroes in the service of the new lord (their old PCs) or -DM willing- the heirs of the new lords who want to fight for their honor so that they too may be great rulers without remaining in their parents’ shadow.

      • I know, right? Which is why I wonder if there is anyone who has EVER done this? What DM has EVER catered this?

        From the Rules Cyclopedia:
        The Polymath (a Fighter) must face the
        challenge to succeed in three additional lives as cleric, thief, and magic-user. The Polymath, during each of his three lives as another character class, must quest for and gain the same artifact.
        He begins each new career at first level, with no memories of his previous lives. The quests may not begin until the character reaches 5th level in each class. The first two times the artifact is gained, the Immortal reappears to the character
        within 1d20 x 10 days to claim it. The Immortal then reduces the character to first level and causes him to forget his past so that he may begin as the next character class. The third time the
        artifact is gained, the character may retain it, and the Immortal returns all past memories.

        Trial: After completing the final step of the quest, the character must adventure alone until he reaches 12th level. He retains the abilities of all the character classes and advances in all classes

        Testimony: The Polymath must be accompanied on his adventures by one member of each human character class. These comrades may not begin at a level higher than the character. If any of these characters are slain, the aspiring Polymath must take steps to resurrect them, setting aside his quest if necessary. Once the quest is completed and before beginning the trial, the
        character must erect a monument at least 100 feet tall to the glory of his adventures. This monument must stand for at least ten years.

        All of that other junk aside, that’s 14,130,000 XP worth of adventures MINIMUM that a DM has to come up with, not counting all those 10s of thousands of XP lost from high-level characters getting enervated by aetherial undead. Was there any demand for this sort of gameplay? Having to cater to immortal-path BECMI characters is the 9th circle of DM Hell.

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