Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Labyrinth Lord - a walk down Memory Lane

It was 1981. I was 15 years old and a total nerd. Ozzy Osbourne, AC/DC and Judas Priest were my favourite bands, Stephen R. Donaldson and Terry Brooks, my favourite authors and my best friend, Mike, was about to introduce me to something called Dungeons and Dragons. As it turns out, that first exposure was to the Moldvay version of Basic D&D. We quickly moved on to AD&D and as the years rolled by, I played dozens of different games and multiple editions of D&D, never once returning to Basic D&D. I certainly didn't notice when it disappeared.

In recent years, there has been a resurgence in interest in the older versions of D&D, the so-called "Old School Renaissance" or OSR. I can't say I miss some of the arbitrary rules such as level and class limits for demi-humans or the combat matrices of older versions of D&D, but I do feel a certain nostalgia for where it all began for me. As it turns out, Basic D&D (and Expert D&D, which quickly followed) have been revived as Labyrinth Lord, available as a free download from Goblinoid Games. As best as I can tell, Labyrinth Lord incorporates both Moldvay and Mentzer versions of D&D, since human character advancement tables extend up to level 20, whereas the Moldvay Expert rules stopped at 14. Of course, Elf, Dwarf and Halfling are both races and classes combined and their progression is limited to 10, 12 and 8, respectively. So, I guess any D&D campaign will end whenever one of the characters reaches his level limit. Given my ever-diminishing attention span, however, that probably wouldn't be a bad thing. Really, who would want to play Garbarg the Dwarf for more than 12 levels anyway? It's time to switch to my new character, Bargarb the Dwarf.



Obiri said...

I had all of the mentzer versions (well basic, expert, and companion anyway) and I loved them so much I downloaded them recently to take another look. Some nice stuff in there. I always liked the companion rules for ruling a kingdom and the mass battle system although I can't recall ever using them.

A Paladin In Citadel said...

The Old School Renaissance shelf has gotten quite crowded of late, with easily a half dozen retro D&D games and dozens of new modules and resources.

I really like Labyrinth Lord, but for ultimately customability, I prefer Swords & Wizardry, which also comes as a free Word download, so you can house-rule it to your heart's content.