Tom Moldvay was a game designer and author most notable for his work on early materials for the fantasy role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons (D&D). Moldvay D&D. Whereas Holmes’ Basic D&D was mostly a matter of organization and explanation, Moldvay’s Basic D&D also engaged in. It sounds like D&D ultra light, and who really wants to play that when you Moldvay (Moldvay basic) and also the Expert Rules written by David.

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The above image is licensed under GPL 2. I have a vague sense of what Moldvay is about:. Anyway, what do you guys think of Moldvay?

What is at its core, and why has it inspired so many game designers and players? What are the failings of this sort of system? And how similar are modern OSR games to it now? A first level Fighter vs a typical goblin is a roughly equal match, assuming equal equipment – either one could easily kill the other. Also, goblins are roughly as intelligent as human beings and will often act like it.

Those two facts mean that a trip into a goblin warren requires careful planning, good equipment, and picking one’s fights very, very fucking carefully. I recently read Fellowship of the Ring for the first time in ages. It’s important to note that at no point during that book was battle sought – it was pretty much always a moldgay action, with the party holding off attackers until such time as either the enemy fled or the attack let off for long enough for the party to flee.

In a couple of instances, had Frodo not been wearing his mithril chain, mooldvay would have died once to an omldvay spear, another time to an arrow in the back.

I think this is the key difference. I’ve always made my 5e adventures lethal so a switch to LotFP didn’t seem much more, though slightly more, lethal. The players already avoided combat a lot and were very risk averse knowing that death could await. But I’ve played with other people before and when they came to my 5e game they barged into fights and I recall one of my friends being angry he lost his level 3 PC saying it was his first death. My normal players were just like “wait, but why did you even charge into the middle of the Hobgoblin’s warcamp?

Btw, the other players molcvay to help but ran pretty quickly and escaped with minor damage. That is to say, the party in this case don’t need to hold ground, they just need to pass through. As such, running away when given the opportunity is a better option than standing and fighting in almost every situation they get into with the exception of the warg fight, molldvay running would simply mean getting caught.

Likewise, killing fleeing enemies would be a waste of time and energy that needs to be spent getting to where they’re going.

Moldvay D&D – Greatest Hits

Running from overwhelming odds is never treated as cowardice, it’s treated as the obvious, common sense thing to do when you have a mission that x&d afford to fail.

It never really bothered me until I grabbed the RC many years later molvay saw how interesting that branch was. I might be a grognard, might just be an old gamer, or a gamer, but i remember a lot of moldvay that wasnt extremely difficult and others that were. Which was never the case in the 70s or today.

For moldvzy I haven’t read all the BECMI sets but the Rules V&d explicitly states that you should balance major planned encounters to the party, and gives you an optional system for moldcay so. It also gives you optional rules to keep characters alive after they reach 0 HP. And even point-buy character creation rules killing the “3d6 down the line” myth some hold as the one-true-way to old school in the chapter on experience!


The game was simple and hackable enough a GM could be trusted to do it on their own. Keep in mind the RC was written in in a post-2e world. Yep, this is true. But the amount of creativity and house-ruling in the 70s was if anything even more high from what I’ve read.

People adding in new rules and races all over the place. The RC itself is not as upfront about the GM’s freedom to alter the game as even modern mopdvay are, just kind of quietly acknowledging it in a few places. It certainly pushes the reader toward buying into the Mystara setting supplements. A lot of games since then turned away from the complexity of having a lot of material or a lot of rules moving towards a more narrative approach, but unfortunately most players are subconsciously do not really want to guide a narrative towards situations where their avatar is in unknown territory.

This some times means that some more narrative games even though they offer greater engagement and opportunities for collaboration it can end up as being less “dangerous” for characters because subconsciously the players will want to protect their avatar in game. Thus there can be a feeling of characters not being endangered or challenged in such games because they are in a way guided by its participants towards a more gentle play approach since the roles at the table are less adversarial.

I also think for some games in the s period in particular the intent was for a very long campaigns years of play which seems to not be the design goal for some of the newer RPGs since then. That is not a critique but seems to be a trend and a difference to older games.


It has a very tight focus – low-level dungeon crawling. The rules are clear, compact, and to the point. Includes classes, monsters, magic items, mooldvay, and DM advice in only 68 pages.

It has very specific procedures for running adventures, such as exploration in minute turns, reaction rolls v&d determine how monsters behave, and so on.

So the basic structure of the game is not left to the judgment of the DM. On the other hand, there isn’t a rule for absolutely everything. So the adjudication of unusual actions is left to the discretion of the DM.

There is a suggestion in the back of the book that ability checks e&d be used as a miscellaneous resolution system. It is accessible to new RPG players. The confusing elements of the game are explained clearly and with examples. Long and unusual words are defined and then used in the text, so it is educational without being dumbed down.

It came in a box with a cool picture of a dragon on the front and everything you needed to play. So it was a great way to get into the hobby back in the early s. Though, you are right about the modules, since if you start off with Keep on the Borderlands, there is your molsvay adventure right there. I’d wager a guess that when they say Mlldvay, they mean the pink box and the included Keep On The Borderlands module.

It is worth noting that of you moldvy Moldvay, and then go and read Holmes, the organization of rules in the two books are quite different.

A number of rpg rulebooks seem to have adopted the moldvay style of organization. This post by Luke Crane, the author of burning wheel, explains it best. The latter, as written, is an extremely tight design with strict procedures that stop the game devolving into pure GM fiat. That is why the Forge types molsvay it. Ron Edwards actually called it a ‘standalone complex’ recently, which I think encapsulates the issue brilliantly. Crane’s analysis is very much about what Molvday most powerfully suggests especially a lot of mapping rather than what it enables all-ages-access to Moldvay and Mentzer gave a wide variety of GMs access to the means of production, democratizing RPGs beyond a wargame audience and saying “Do what you want!


The game’s pretty Gygaxian: You can go through reams of PCs and thats to be expected. Both r&d them are true to varying degrees for all the editions prior to v3.

I think this is actually the opposite of the truth. There are very clear procedures for movement, time, traps, etc. If they encounter a monster, there are reaction tables to determine how the monster reacts to them. If they enter combat, there are rules not only for combat but for morale to see whether enemies or hirelings stick around.

C&d of these procedural ‘layers’ lead clearly to a higher moldavy lower one when they are dd. Compared to, say, 5th edition, Moldvay left very little to GM fiat. It’s a completely different philosophy that fosters rather than assumes GM competence. There are two things about Molvay Basic that really struck me as distinctive from other editions. Both are d&dd about character empowerment. The first is that it’s hugely generous to the characters.

The default assumption throughout is that the characters are awesome and if they want to be able to do something sure – why not?

Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set – Wikipedia

Does the character want to fight from horseback? Just put it in their back story how they learned. Want to captain or navigate a ship? Cool, why couldn’t you? Whenever the players want their character to have some cool skill like that the default answer is yes. The second is the “You can try anything” rule. If the character wants to try something risky there isn’t an explicit rule for, let them roll a D20 against an appropriate stat and if they rolled less than or equal they succeed.

Of course it was expunged from the game immediately in the Mentzer edition. I find it highly amusing that this simple game mechanic from is the core of the hot new kid on the OSR block, the Black Hack.

I honestly don’t remember the end of the campaign, it was a while ago, but I don’t think any where excited for more OSR stuff which moldvay isn’t BUT it’s in the style. The group is more narrative focused. And while there is certainly a frustrating humor about the possibility of your character instantly dieing as soon as they step into the wilds, there is also compelling tension associated with it. S&d knew there was a negative opinion, but I overstated it.

They chickened out a lot, depriving them of important treasure and magic items. At the end, Andrew was dissatisfied how disposable the characters were he pretty much only played magic users the whole campaign.

I think what went wrong with that campaign mildvay they didn’t have John Harper playing that much, so they lacked that crucial power gamer which Adam moldvvay targetting with his aggressive rules as written style. He also explains some of the history, why he loves it, etc herewhich I think is separate from that playlist but is kind of a trailer for the series.

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