Basic Fantasy Roleplaying – First Impressions

I’ve started a new campaign with the kids. We’re playing with the basic fantasy roleplaying system which is essentially a simple, old-school D&D retroclone. I used to play D&D 2nd edition in high school in the 90s between other games – and back then we thought it was clunky and, well… quaint? But this version is even more back to the roots!

But anyway, I wanted something simple and fast, that somehow mimicked what we’re doing when we, or the boys between themselves, play in theatre-of-the-mind mode. A non-stop flow of encounters. And old-school D&D really gets the job done in this regard.

So, basic IS basic: you can play a cleric, a fighter, a magic-user or a thief. You roll 3d6 for your 6 stats IN ORDER, this means that, coupled with class restrictions, often the dice will decide for you which character class you will play. Which is fine by me. Of course, the boys are pretty much in the habit of choosing their type of characters, and for their first foray, they will.

Impressions after first play:

  • Goblins, orcs, hobgoblins, most of all standard humanoids, have between 2 to 8 hit points, rolled randomly. They can be pretty dangerous to 1st level characters mind you, but are comically easy to kill too. My sons are always amused (and somewhat incredulous) when their feeble 2 damage attack still manage to kill the (fresh) fearsome orc in front of them!
  • Healing potions are not part of what you can buy as supplies it seems. We changed that but maybe I should have stuck with it.
  • Isaac wants to have a « long rest » (à la 5th edition) every 2 battles, inside the dungeon, even if I keep reminding him that it he would only gain 1 hit point, and would most assuredly be interrupted by « wandering monsters » anyway.
  • Surprise checks: a d6 roll when you open the door, reveal monsters and checking if either side is surprised, is a surprisingly fun mechanic. The boys are always delighted when the monsters stand dumbfounded before them after a failed surprise check!

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