Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Some Commentary from the Past

I recently obtained a collection of old White Dwarf issues and have been gleefully perusing them. The Fiend Factory articles are a huge treat, as I find it fascinating to see the origins of many of the Fiend Folio creatures (and the commentary on their use by Don Turnbull is both useful and provides an insight into how things were done in that time and place).

However, I'm going to focus on a different bit of commentary by Mr. Turnbull. The following comes from the end of his review of the Players Handbook in White Dwarf number 10:

"However those who have grown up on the first edition need
not be alarmed - all this is completely compatible with the
familiar system and I don't believe it will be long before the
necessary changes and adjustments are taken under the belt; as
in all things practice and habit are great teachers. I have no
shadow of a doubt that the Advanced rules will be accepted
and incorporated into campaigns currently in progress, though
the DM will, as always, have the final say as to what is and
what isn't allowed in his dungeon/world.
Of course, perhaps the most important function of the
Handbook is as a source of reference; no more searching
through stacks of magazines and books to find the information
you are seeking (dammit - what issue of Strategic Review
contains the stats for rangers? and where did I put the copies
of Strategic Review anyway?). Pretty well everything needed
is here, carefully compiled and indexed; if it isn't here, it is in
the Referees Guide of which I for one can't wait for my copy.
There is little more I can say. If you already have a copy, you
may share my apprehension at the amount of time it is going
to take to digest all this new material, but I suspect you also
share my whole-hearted welcome of it. If you haven't, and you
are the least bit interested in D&D, the sooner you get a copy
the better. I said of the Monster Manual that it was TSR's
most impressive publication to date; that is no longer true -
this accolade must belong to the Handbook which is nothing
short of a triumph."

Now, when he says "first edition", he would appear to mean what we now refer to as the "LBBs", or OD&D... which many would argue is a very different game from AD&D.

Which is somewhat true, but it is still very similar, and I think his claims of complete compatibility are strongly grounded in truth.

What intrigues me about this is the idea that this kind of reaction doesn't really happen with regards to today's D&D. "Third" edition did provide a token conversion system... which is hardly the same as compatibility, but to my knowledge, "Fourth" edition didn't even bother with that. (The numbering of the editions, as virtually all of us know, is horribly flawed... there are, I think, about four ways to view it, leaving the current publication of WotC as Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, or Eighth edition. It all depends on which publications one counts as "editions") Also, the current mindset seems to be, "Come, join us in playing this game, it's way better than the older one!", rather than the attitude expressed by Mr. Turnbull above.

And now, back to perusal...


Daddy Grognard said...

Ah, White Dwarf. I got 1-100 on disc as a present last year. As soon as I start reading them, the years slip away...

The Lord of Excess said...

Wow was that a commercially available product? I've been hunting an actual issue of White Dwarf for years now ... I have from present back to issue 9. Somewhere I have Dragon mag 1-300 or whatever on disk ... it was a very short lived CD set back in the mid 90s.