Sunday, February 15, 2015

Bothered About Basic Books

I just had a set of the latest D&D Basic Rules printed up. It was kind of a joke, actually. I already owned the core hardbacks, so I didn't need it, but I had seen this overwrought pamphlet from the bad old days of panic-mongering anti-role-playing activism and just had to make a cover out of it. The prominence of the title "Dungeons and Dragons" and the irony of wrapping it around the thing it so luridly decries made it irresistible. The pale blue color is even reminiscent of the classic "blue book" rules.

So, this book arrived and I posted a picture to show off how clever I was, and, even though I had read through the Basic Rules before, I flipped through it a bit. It occurred to me that I actually did have something useful in my hands.

The official hardbacks are beautiful. I'm especially fond of the Dungeon Master's Guide. And the rules actually live up to the publisher's hype. This is definitely my favorite edition of the game. I want to run a campaign with these books, or play in one, with other players who don't need their hands held. I want get to know a group of these characters from first level and watch them advance from riffraff to world-savers – or whatever. Right now, though, I'm running an Icons campaign and really enjoying it, and one campaign at a time is about all I can manage. D&D, for now, is more likely in the realm of pick-up or convention games.

And that's where the Basic Rules become an appealing option. For one thing, it's one relatively slim book instead of three larger ones. That matters when you're packing your book bag for a convention. Also, a more limited selection of character options hops from minus to plus when I'm facing the task of filling out and explaining everyone's sheet. Or, if it's a pickup game instead of a convention scenario, it's still handy to keep everything moving instead of waiting for everyone to decide which otherworldly patron their warlocks are bound to.

The beauty of 5th edition in this case is that the expanded rule books still aren't useless. You have zero conversion issues if there's a sequel or two and somebody from the pickup game wants to learn some feats or try multiclassing later, or if the dungeon master wants to throw in a new challenge from the Monster Manual. A player with the Player's Handbook could still use the extra options while the dungeon master runs the game from the Basic Rules. 

So, yeah, I'll bring this book to BASH Con next week and, the next time I run D&D at a convention, there's a good chance I'll make sure the Basic Rules (plus whatever I come up with myself) are all I need. 

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