Monday, March 5, 2012

Spotlight on...D&D Basic, part two

Welcome back to my (somewhat) in-depth look at the Moldvay Basic Rulebook. We now take a stroll through Part 1: Introduction.

I so appreciated the structure of this book. The brief explanation of What The D&D Game Is All About does a good job of letting you know what you're in for. You know where you stand and where you might be going - without stifling your imagination or expectation.

How To Use This Book is a crucial part of this part of the manual and I recall how much I valued the preview of what the rest of the book was going to deal with, in brief. It was like a comprehensive outline of the entire D&D game and gave me lots to look forward to as I read along. Just reading the guide was like an adventure.

Having the Basic Rules deal with character levels 1-3 was, to my mind, a good idea. Just enough range to get a feel for the game and to accomplish some initial adventuring before delving into the real complexities of a typical game world. Focusing on the "Dungeons" part of Dungeons & Dragons suited me as a wide-eyed neophyte just fine - while whetting my appetite for the Expert Set. And, while I never cut my book apart to insert the pages into a 3-ring binder, I liked having the option and thought it was a neat idea.

Defining important terms right at the start is more important than almost anything else at this point. But, even here, they don't go into needless detail - still, they manage to convey clear images of the vital points. And this leads me to the genius of devoting an entire section to the Use of the Word "Level." Since one word can mean up to four different things, this is an important concept to focus on.

How To Use the Dice is another well-composed part of the introduction. For a new player, all those sides and shapes can be confusing - though those d4's make darned fine caltrops. I speak from experience on this.

And we wrap up PART 1 with the all-important How to "Win" section. I cannot praise this paragraph enough. I can't count the number of new players that needed a refresher on this concept. D&D not being a game with traditional winners and losers can be a difficult concept to wrap one's head around and it is nice to get this idea straight right there in page B4.

As a 12-year-old kid reading this book for the first time, I remember tearing through this book without any real hurdles or speed bumps. It moved well for me and made perfect sense - the tone set very well right from PART 1. In my opinion, once D&D progressed from the three brown booklets, presentation and organization became vitally important and I feel Mr. Moldvay did an outstanding job in this area.