We knew we’d get there eventually.
This episode is dedicated to Basic Dungeons and Dragons.
Our guest is Lew Pulsipher who was a regular contributor to the Golden Era of White Dwarf. He talks about his formative years in role-playing. He is still contributing to EN World and has a Video channel all about Games Design.
Blythy and I talk about finding players and how he fell in love with the game back in the day and his joy in rediscovering it now.
Ralph Lovegrove from Fictoplasm offers his first last and everything. I appeared on his podcast talking about Hawkmoon.
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5 thoughts on “Episode 43 (Part 1) Dungeons & Dragons (with Lew Pulsipher)”
I think I’m entirely on the same page as Blythy and Dirk about this. I much prefer “Basic” D&D to AD&D and I grokked this, shortly after getting the blue Expert set by Mentzer.
It just took me a while to get there–in fact, about 6-7 years, if I remember correctly.
A year after getting Basic (Christmas, age 10?), I received the AD&D 1e trilogy (also for Christmas). I found these rules utterly baffling rather than sophisticated. It was full of stuff that just didn’t make sense to me. Spell-casting rangers? Gnomes? Distances measured in inches rather than feet (how could a movement rate of 90″ be right?). I gave up on D&D and drifted towards “more mature” offerings by GW published under licence (Cthulhu, MERP) and GW’s own games (Judge Dredd, Golden Heroes).
I think I was actually 16 or 17, when I stumbled on a copy of the Expert boxed set in Manchester’s Beatties and picked it up on a whim. It cast the Basic set in an entirely new light. While the player’s book in the Mentzer red box was perhaps aimed at slightly too simple a level–with just a little too much “hand-holding,” even for a 10-year old–both the red box’s DM’s book and the Expert set were simply lovely and clear. The game suddenly clicked. I still think that the template for dungeon/ adventure creation is one of the best I’ve seen in a tabletop RPG. I don’t know why game designers don’t emulate it more often.
I know this pod is about Basic D&D, so I hope you’ll excuse the tangent. But I also really enjoyed (and still enjoy) the idea of the game changing with each boxed set (dungeon –> wilderness adventure –> domain game –> running a kingdom or empire –> immortality). I think this was very different from how people wrote about AD&D, a game which mostly seemed to be about bigger and bloodier dungeon bashes. I find it ever so slightly amusing that, while RuneQuest talked about HeroQuests and the “forthcoming” rules to support them, BECMI D&D did “HeroQuest” (with the rules for attaining immortality) a couple of decades before the good people at Chaosium would get around to it.*
* Don’t get me wrong — I love RQ. I’m just amused that Mentzer went ahead and beat them to the punch.
Lovely stuff. Just what’s needed in these dark days. Basic D&D was my first RPG (after Warlock Of Firetop’s intro), and there’s nothing that can take me back to a Sunday in 1982 as completely as flipping through that book. Many a gameless day spent reading it until you could get your next fix at the table.
I’ve still got a pencilled list of my first characters equipment loadout, painstakingly decided on from the equipment section, and a crappy drawing of it stowed on his back, on a page in the blue citadel miniatures catalogue.
Also great to hear some more Albie Fiore memories and put the voice to the name of Lew Pulsipher.
Carry on the good work, a wallow in nostalgia always feels that much better in Autumn.
Thanks guys, I enjoyed that. Any idea where we can buy OSE in the UK?
Great episode. Loved the introduction, Lew, and Basic discussion in particular. – Mac Golden (co-creator Castles & Crusades)