29 March 2012

AD&D Commemorative Reprints

Wizards of the Coast will be reprinting the three original rulebooks of 1st edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (the Monster Manual, Players Handbook, and Dungeon Masters Guide) on the 17th of July (my birthday, coincidentally). The purchase of these books help "support the Gygax Memorial Fund."

All we know at present is that the content will be the same except for two changes: the few pages of TSR advertising at the end of each book will be missing, and the covers will be different. For anyone who already owns usable copies of the originals, there seems to be little reason to purchase the reprints. Donations can be made to the Gygax Memorial Fund without making a purchase, and used copies can be purchased on the Internet at prices comparable to or less than those of the reprints. I still have the copies I bought when I first started role-playing in the early 1980s. To persuade me to buy the reprints, they would have to offer something as an incentive, such as superior binding and acid-free archival quality paper with full color plates reproducing the original cover illustrations.

There's just one other problem, though. I've recently discovered that I actually prefer the Basic/Expert D&D I started with in 1981 (not to mention Labyrinth Lord and Microlite20). There are still some aspects of AD&D I appreciate, such as the expanded lists of spells, magic items, monsters, and random tables, as well as Mr. Gygax's writing, but now when I play the game, I want to play it with that pre-AD&D mindset that was not obsessed with creating rules for every possible contingency. I don't want to worry about the effects of aging on player characters, or weapon proficiencies, or material spell components for nearly every spell, or training for level increases. It's not that I can't ignore those things, it's just that I prefer the simpler Basic/Expert D&D framework. It's easier to add to that edition than sift through all the rules I don't want in AD&D. That's where Labyrinth Lord gets it right. If anything, I should probably buy the Labyrinth Lord print editions.

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