Since 2008, I've run a number of RPG sessions for the children of friends. Most of these sessions have been Fourth Edition D&D games: the boys have proven quite capable of handling that level of character detail without too much handholding. As a DM, though, I'm a bit worn out. I'd also like to move away from the battle mat and the token management that goes along with it. (When I put on my playing hat, though, I continue to love the tactical combat of the current edition.)
So I looked into the various retro-clones and simulacra of D&D for a game to run in place of Fourth Edition. I came into the hobby in 1980, receiving a copy of the Holmes Basic boxed set from my grandparents for my eleventh birthday. OD&D clones were therefore a non-starter: I had no real interest in attempts to replicate a game I never played. My background with AD&D prior to Second Edition was minimal, so I passed over those games as well.
In the end, my choice was always going to come down to one of the games based on Moldvay's B/X and/or Metzner's BECMI—the flavors of D&D that I played the most as a lad. There are some excellent BECMI clones out there, but I never really liked where Metzner took the game after level 14. Labyrinth Lord is a wonderful take on B/X, especially when Steve Zieser's atmospheric art is factored into the equation. But LL still preserves too many of the features that drove me away from D&D as a teen: level limits, race-as-class, energy drain, descending AC, and so on.
The last game standing was Chris Gonnerman's Basic Fantasy Roleplaying Game, a simulacrum preserving what I liked in B/X while jettisoning most of what I didn't like. I've put in an order for the hardcover edition of the book and am actively looking for a good low-level module that isn't a dungeon-crawl. Suggestions?
Future Treasures: Graveyard Shift by Michael F. Haspil
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