Sunday, April 3, 2011

Special: C is for Companion

Yes I know. No A-to-Z posting on Sunday and C is Monday's letter.  But I do have a C for Monday.

The Companion Edition of D&D was one of the near mythical books for me growing up.  As I mentioned yesterday that I began my game playing with the Basic/Expert, known today as B/X, sets from the early 80s.  The expert took the game from 3rd to 14th level and the Companion book was then going to take the game from 14th to 36th level.  Even though I knew of AD&D at the time, I thought that the Companion book was going to be the way to go. So I waited for it.
And waited.

And waited some more.

Finally I gave up waiting and dove into AD&D instead, leaving Basic D&D behind.  Eventually a Companion Rules Set did come out.  But it was for the new Mentzer-edited Basic set (now called BECMI) and I no longer had any interest in it having discovered the world could also have Assassins, half-orcs and 9 alignments.

I did manage to read it once.  I was in college and it was at Castle Perilous Games in Carbondale. Of course now AD&D 2nd Ed was the new hotness and I had no desire to look backwards.   What I saw though at the time did now impress me.  I think the entire Mentzer set at the time (AT THE TIME mind you) made me think of it as D&D for little kids (now I see it differently).

Fast forward to the Old School Revolution/Renaissance/Resurgence/Recycled and I have re-discovered the Basic sets (all of them) in their imperfect glories.  And I am not the only one that must have felt a little gipped by not getting a Companion book for B/X.
JB over at B/X Blackrazor designed his own Companion rules.
If it is not exactly what the companion was going to be, it is really, really close.

I have gushed on and on (and on) about how much I love this book here and elsewhere.  If I went on anymore then Jonathan owes me advertising. ;)

But I have to add this. B/X Companion I think is the best embodiment of the what is the spirit of the OSR, not to diminish the to efforts of others (hardly at all), but the B/X Companion gives us something new, something that we didn't have before.  Something, for me at least, that I have been waiting years for.

I only have two issues with the book.  First I want a PDF of it.  It is  my only old school book that I can't cart around with me everywhere. Though now according to JB the pdf is on the way! Second I wish he had used the OGL so others could expand on it, make modules for it.  But no big deal, I am just thrilled to have it.

Speaking of which, I did get a chance back in the day to get my Companion fix in.  My DM ran the module CM2 Death's Ride under AD&D and it nearly killed us all.  In a perfect world I'd run Death's Ride again using the B/X Companion.  Maybe one day I will.

In general I like the idea of the Companion rules, either of them. They take the rules into a different place; a place that the Basic or Advanced rules had not previously done well.  The idea of running a kingdom or even traveling the planes.  Great stuff.


JB said...

@ Tim: Ha! Thanks for the gushing praise! If you DO ever run CM2 using my companion, I want to hear about it!
: )

Timothy S. Brannan said...

Death's Ride is on the docket to be run right after S4.

I can't wait to try it.