White Box (OD&D-esque) Games

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Cloak-n-Dagger
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White Box (OD&D-esque) Games

Post by Cloak-n-Dagger » Tue Oct 18, 2016 10:33 pm

I've taken a liking to the idea of tooling around with OD&D lately. Never played it, never owned it, but I've always been a fan of Moldvay/Cook and simple D&D. More recently I've been reading random posts and blog entries, etc covering older campaign from way back in the early days when the white box and three little books (and subsequently the other booklets later published) were "it" for D&D. I like how the game had the framework of a rules set, yet open enough to let the DM and players do what they want without getting hung up on every little detail. Simply put, the players did "XYZ" and the DM ruled in whatever manner fit to keep the game going.

I don't have the desire to spend a couple hundred dollars on an actual white box set or all of the books from back in the day, but I have run across several retro-OSR editions that come close enough that I'm willing to spend the money on picking one or two up.

Just recently I placed an order for a new rules set called White Box, by Charlie Mason. It's a revisit to the original white box D&D with only some minor additions or changes based off of the Swords and Wizardry Rule Set. The PDF is free/pay-what-you-want on DriveThruRPG and the printed copies are cheap enough that I decided to snag one, well actually two copies since there were multiple covers. It'll probably be a week or so before they come in but I think they will make a nice addition to my game shelf.

PDF Link
WhiteBox-FMAG.jpg
** I just realized, I should have posted this down in the retro section, since this is technically an OSR game and not original D&D, but oh well.
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“A man practices the art of adventure when he breaks the chain of routine and renews his life through reading new books, traveling to new places, making new friends, taking up new hobbies and adopting new viewpoints” ~ Wilfred Peterson, American Author

Ancalagon
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Post by Ancalagon » Wed Oct 19, 2016 11:34 pm

Look forward to hearing more about it after you've read through it a bit.

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Post by Cloak-n-Dagger » Wed Oct 26, 2016 7:59 pm

My books from Lulu came in today for White Box and to be honest, I could be more pleased. The books are, imho, the perfect size and have the right amount of game related info in between the covers to do, pretty much everything I wanted. I didn't realize until after getting the prints, that the pages aren't a solid white, they have a light sepia shade to them which I really like. Honestly, I like the soft covers so much, I'm probably going to order at least one hardcover too.

Some random bits from the game rules:
  • White Box has 4 classes; cleric, fighter, magic-user, and the optional thief.
    Aside from standard humans, there are also the basic D&D races, dwarf, elf, and halfling.
    By the book, modifiers for character attributes have a range of -1 to +1.
    Thieves don't have a run of percentile based abilities, instead, the thief has a single ability called Thievery which is tested on a d6 any time the thief attempts a "thief-type action". As the thief advances the Thievery score goes up, rolling equal to or lower than the score is a success.
    Character levels go from 1st to 10th.
    The AC system has both descending and ascending scores, so that a group can play either way.
    There are rules on Jousting, and how to handle Loyalty for Henchmen.
    There are sections for both Cleric and Magic-User Spells, also concise sections for Monsters and Magic Items.
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“A man practices the art of adventure when he breaks the chain of routine and renews his life through reading new books, traveling to new places, making new friends, taking up new hobbies and adopting new viewpoints” ~ Wilfred Peterson, American Author

Ancalagon
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Post by Ancalagon » Wed Oct 26, 2016 8:48 pm

A few things from your review snagged my attention:

By the book, modifiers for character attributes have a range of -1 to +1 - sounds cool

Thieves don't have a run of percentile based abilities, instead, the thief has a single ability called Thievery which is tested on a d6 any time the thief attempts a "thief-type action". As the thief advances the Thievery score goes up, rolling equal to or lower than the score is a success. - I like this!

The AC system has both descending and ascending scores, so that a group can play either way. - I like the flexibility

There are rules on Jousting - Very interesting! I'd like to read them some time.

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Post by Cloak-n-Dagger » Fri Oct 28, 2016 9:00 am

Michael Wolf is a German game designer and player who keeps a rpg blog called Stargazer's World. Reading one of his entries hit home and is a fantastic summation of how I feel about OD&D and the White Box OSR systems that have been put out for it.
I never thought I might say this, but I have fallen in love with White Box D&D or more precisely with the retro-clones inspired by what people call D&D 0e. One reason why I am so enamored with the system is that it’s extremely easy to run and to play. The number of rules you need to know is absolutely minimal.

I also enjoy the fact that player skill is more important than character abilities. I know that a lot of roleplaying game fans utterly despise something like this, but I think it can be a great thing. It definitely helps players to get more immersed and more invested in the game. In more modern games you roll to spot a trap, you roll to disarm it etc.

In White Box games you have to describe to the GM how you are looking for said trap, how you want to disarm it. This often forces the players to think instead of just rolling the dice. The fact that the system is inherently deadly also helps to keep the players on their toes. In more modern games people tend to be way more reckless. Of course your mileage may vary.

I also like the fact that it’s extremely easy to make up new stuff on the spot, create house rules, add or change things without breaking the game. White Box allows you to be extremely creative while running the game. I usually improvise a lot in favor of preparing everything and this GMing style works great with rules-light games like White Box.
Of course a similar sentiment could be argued for Basic and Advanced D&D, since I've not only seen it in action but been a part of it as well. One other thing I'll add to the mix is the concise presentation of the physical rule books themselves. Most people consider the Rules Cyclopedia to be the perfect "all-in-one" book for D&D, which I can understand, it has everything in it required for running and playing the game.

The book for White Box: Fantasy Medieval Adventure Game runs 169 pages, including two blank titled pages for 'House Rules' and a page that is the character sheet, it's also a 6 x 9 format size so it's very easy to carry and stow. The great thing about this is that it's a complete game. Everything you need to play is in this book. Sure it doesn't have a grand section for spells, monsters or magical items like later editions, but it does have the tools for creating all of your own. To re-quotes what Michael mentioned in his blog entry:
I also like the fact that it’s extremely easy to make up new stuff on the spot, create house rules, add or change things without breaking the game. White Box allows you to be extremely creative while running the game.
There are other supplements and White Box themed systems available, I'll probably be picking up some more to add to a collection.
“A man practices the art of adventure when he breaks the chain of routine and renews his life through reading new books, traveling to new places, making new friends, taking up new hobbies and adopting new viewpoints” ~ Wilfred Peterson, American Author

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Post by Cloak-n-Dagger » Fri Oct 28, 2016 9:11 am

Ancalagon wrote:There are rules on Jousting - Very interesting! I'd like to read them some time.
joust.PNG
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“A man practices the art of adventure when he breaks the chain of routine and renews his life through reading new books, traveling to new places, making new friends, taking up new hobbies and adopting new viewpoints” ~ Wilfred Peterson, American Author

Ancalagon
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Post by Ancalagon » Tue Nov 01, 2016 9:36 pm

Those jousting rules are short, sweet, and good! Gonna have to try them out some time.

Ancalagon
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Post by Ancalagon » Sat Feb 11, 2017 1:08 pm

Was flipping through the White Box book and did not see an entry for the magic missile spell. Do you know if it is called something else or was it omitted from the rules set?

Have you had a chance to demo White Box for any players in your neck of the woods?

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Post by Cloak-n-Dagger » Sat Feb 11, 2017 5:12 pm

Ancalagon wrote:Was flipping through the White Box book and did not see an entry for the magic missile spell. Do you know if it is called something else or was it omitted from the rules set?

Have you had a chance to demo White Box for any players in your neck of the woods?
Haha. Well, as for Magic Missile, for better or for worse....WELCOME TO WHITEBOX (i.e. Original Dungeons and Dragons)!

Believe it or not, magic missile wasn't in Original D&D. The spell actually didn't get introduced as a Magic-User spell until Book 4: Greyhawk, which of course was produced after the original 3 books (1: Men and Magic, 2: Monsters and Treasure, and 3: The Underworld and Wilderness Adventures). The only real offensive spell MUs get at first, is Sleep, which means the party has to really be on their toes and the MU has to be careful about the target(s) the spell is cast upon.

For this reason, you won't see it in the Whitebox book, but it could easily be added as a supplemental/house ruled spell just like the folks who included Greyhawk or any of the other OD&D supplements in their repertoire of game rules.

Just FYI, the spell from the Greyhawk supplement is as follows:
Magic Missile: This is a conjured missile equivalent to a magic arrow, and it does full damage (2–7 points) to any creature it strikes. For every five levels the magic-user has attained he may add an additional two missiles when employing this spell, so a 6th-level magic-user may cast three magic missiles at his target, an 11th-level magic-user casts five, and so on. Range 15”.
With out of town travel for work and other stuff going on here, I haven't had any time to actually try and set up or run a session yet. I may hit up some of the gaming shops to do something soon but currently just working on some adventure write-ups.
“A man practices the art of adventure when he breaks the chain of routine and renews his life through reading new books, traveling to new places, making new friends, taking up new hobbies and adopting new viewpoints” ~ Wilfred Peterson, American Author

Ancalagon
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Post by Ancalagon » Sat Feb 11, 2017 5:35 pm

D'OH!! Totally spaced on magic missile not being available in the first 3 books. Sure will be glad when I finish school in May and can devote more mental energy to the gaming goodness.

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