Thursday, February 7, 2013

Do We Still Need Labyrinth Lord?

Now that both Moldvay’s Basic Edition and Cook’s Expert Edition are available as .pdfs from WotC, one can legitimately ask the question: Do we still need Labyrinth Lord?

I would answer that question with an unequivocal YES for two very important reasons:

  1. LL is an established brand with a license that hobbyists like myself and small publishers can easily and legally publish under with full knowledge that whatever we produce can be used by those who want to do the B/X thing with virtually no conversion at all.
  2. More importantly to me, LL has a library of compatible games that are specifically designed to be modular. Original Edition Characters, Advanced Edition Companion, Mutant Future, Realms of Crawling Chaos and Starships and Spacemen 2e are all specifically designed to be able to be integrated together to create all kinds of cool homebrew campaign worlds without having to house rule. In addition, Dan Proctor has provided several free .txt documents for us hobbyists to do exactly that.

Despite the fact that I gleefully grabbed up the .pdfs of B/X (and was very pleased to see how well they are bookmarked) I still plan to use LL as my default ruleset precisely because of the versatility it provides me as a hobbyist. There are still many things within the LL library that await to be exploited to go places where B/X on its own can’t go without a lot of work that has already been covered by the LL library.

Thus, while I am very happy about what WotC is doing for the hobby and they deserve my gratitude and thanks, Dan Proctor also needs to be thanked because his work has greatly expanded the awesomeness of B/X and taken it to places it never went on its own.


  1. I agree. The various retroclone games that have come out have lessened the need for B/X in order to recreate a certain style of game, but B/X is still valuable as a source of ideas and perspective. The ease of sharing derivative works under the LL license is a strong point in LL's favor, something I hadn't thought of.

  2. OSRIC supporters may be unhappy about the way it played out, but LL played an important part in averting a schism between B/X and 1e enthusiasts. Without the Advanced Edition Companion, I'm not sure we'd have a single fantasy OSR movement, just a pair of retro-edition-warring factions.

  3. While I still refer to myself as a "Dungeon Master," I am very happy that my 13 year old chooses to refer to herself as a "Labyrinth Lord" when running a game.

  4. 3. WOTC might pull the plug on Classic edition pdfs again around the time their next shiny new revenue-generator (DnD Next) is ready for release.

    (Not saying WOTC definitely will, but going from past behaviour...)

    LL won't undergo corporate mandated existence failure.

  5. I still play B/X D&D, not LL. But I publish LL material because LL is OGL and B/X is not. Thus we still very much need LL because it provides us an OGL safe harbor.

  6. It's not true for all the retro clones, but some of them improves upon their originals quite a bit when it comes to readability! Reason enough for me!

  7. The AEC bridge gap is really what makes the LL game perfect.

  8. I realize this is an old post but I agree 110%. I also bought the B/X PDFs as soon as I knew they were available and I think they look fantastic. I own multiple copies of the original books and I keep them handy all the time. But I use LL for exactly the same reasons as everyone else. 1) I like to publish materials, 2) LL is clearly organized and 3) AEC is a *brilliant* bridge between the basic and advanced editions. I'm currently using it in a campaign I just started and loving the crap out of it.