No Edition D&D

It started with microlite20.

No.. that's not entirely true. It really started back in the late 70s/early 80s with the various games coming out. I bought them all, read them voraciously, played a lot of "take a bit of this, a bit of that, let's just throw dice and see how awesome our maxed-out PCs can be. So as you might suspect, that covers 0e (1974/LBB), 1e/AD&D, Holmes Basic, B/X, BECMI, 2e/AD&D.

Fast forward a lifetime to 2008. It had been over a decade since I'd even thought about D&D, much less played it. For some odd reason, I discovered a thread on some forum by a gent named Oakspar who wrote an amazing set of recaps on a medieval zombie-pocalypse. How fucking cool is that? I remembered fondly back to my Ultima computer RPG days and thought "How cool would it be run a D&D campaign from that universe?" So I started to write my own, using 3/3.5... and bogged down. Encounter levels? Balancing play? Planned level increases? WTF is this that I need spreadsheets to make a campaign?

So THEN it started with microlite20. I discovered this rule set and loved it. Fast, mean, little, clean, and easy to teach/play. I moved away from the Ultima campaign and went back to a campaign world I had been designing/writing for since the late 90s. My "Vale" world. I sat down with Angie (aka @thePrincessWife) and we did a 1x1 game together.

Then, thanks to the blogging explosion in 2008, I was really inspired. I started a new campaign and new world based on AD&D - The Dark Ages campaign. I moved my 1x1 campaign to Swords & Wizardry. I was all about the so-called "OSR" ... but I found something interesting already starting happen. My AD&D game was grabbing stuff from my 1x1 game and vice versa. I was bringing in concepts from Philotomy's Musings into both, even though he's all about the strict OD&D experience. I even grabbed things from Holmes, from B/X, from 2e, 3e and yes, even 4e... I was going back to my roots of what I had done in my youth.

Fast forward to today ... after answering a question today on G+ about "which version/clone", I realized that I play "No Version."

I simply play D&D.

If you have an imagination, and you can roll dice, you can play in my game. Sure, there are specific rules, and things that I do. But it's such a mish-mash of a little bit of 0e, throw in a base layer of 1e, don't forget a pinch of Holmes, B/X, Chainmail, Delta, Sham, Rients... I can't call it anything *BUT* D&D.

I get that for some people, having those precise rules, having all those books, have these labels is their thing, and that's OK. If you're having fun, more power to you! That's awesome! I just don't want there to be this perception that "thou shalt have one edition/clone only" is THE ONE TRUE RULE when at the end of it, the real tradition that has come down through all these games is "pull in what works, make it your own and have fun."

Let the publishers and money-makers worry about their labels and compatibility conversions. You have the freedom to make it your own. Have fun! Play D&D!


  1. Love it! Explicitly stating your game owes a debt to all versions, and fealty to none is a great way to think of it.

    After all, when you really get right down to it, "My Version" of D&D is what everyone has always been playing all along. Back when Old School was the only school, the first couple of hours spent with a new group meant learning how they had patched together the mishmash of rules from Basic, AD&D, and various TSR supplements. Even for the rules heavy edition number three, we chucked whole sections of rules and ported in ideas and subsystems from other editions.

  2. I pronounce you "perfect." Game on.

    : )

  3. We made things up and it was fun !! Michael, a great summary of D&D !!

  4. Thank you... I had promised "No preaching" earlier this year and I guess I just couldn't help myself. I'll go back to my minis :)

    Especially since JB says I'm "perfect"... ;)

  5. Thank you Rick. You continue to inspire me and keep me grounded/centered with your words that you shared with me a few years ago.

  6. Was it Jeff Rients who referred to "Ampersand gaming"? You have the approach right on. Player determines what they want their character to do...GM lets them know what dice to roll...easy as that.

  7. @Linneman - yep -

    I remember that blog post, reading it and thinking "well, yea" back then. I guess maybe a lot of us just get to that point.

    And other folks stick to RAW till the day they die and you pry that version rulebook from their cold dead hands.

  8. LBB or Little Black Box is a term from Traveller, isn't it? Do you mean the White Box D&D with booklets?

  9. I bought a game called WHITE LIES (DWD Studios) which is generic or retroclone "White Box" D&D but in a modern espionage setting. 5 character classes represent spies and covert operatives who improve on a level system, except that a hit-point increase per level is not always assured. But it's prefect for those who want spy games with familiar D&D-like basis. The rules allow for either original descending Armor Class (AC) or Ascending Armor Class (AAC) added to your roll for success. But the nitty-gritty of the rules is left up to you; you could bring in "crunch" from any edition you wanted.

  10. @Draconian - LBB is also an acronym for "Little Brown Books", which are the Vol I-III in the original woodgrain box of OD&D. It was later that they were put in a white box.

    Yes, that also refers to the three original Traveler books. I had those as well, and that's a story of how I pestered the mailman for days to see if it had come...


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