Thanks to prior editions of Dungeons & Dragons being released under an Open Gaming License and the work of Proctor there is a resurgence of popula...moreThanks to prior editions of Dungeons & Dragons being released under an Open Gaming License and the work of Proctor there is a resurgence of popularity in the roots of Role-playing Games and a lot of new material is being released. Labyrinth Lord is essentially a clone of the Basic/Expert D&D rules that were immensely popular in the 1980’s - if you see something about D&D’s popularity in the 80’s it’s related to the Basic/Expert rules.
What started out as a nostalgic reopening of my old school D&D materials quickly morphed into a full-blown Labyrinth Lord game - not using the D&D materials at all. Labyrinth Lord is well written and well organized and I found myself picking it up exclusively and not bothering to look up rules in my D&D books.
It’s an interesting prospect - a do-over of an immensely popular game that grabs at the nostalgic heartstrings all while offering a game that became so popular because it was relatively easy to play. For example: Stonehell Dungeon - a third-party book compatible with Labyrinth Lord (and thus D&D). While it harkens back to the old-school roots of D&D it’s fully new and has the chance to take all the lessons about adventure and dungeon design from the past 30+ years and create something wholly new. It’s old and new at the same time.
I will save my review of it for another time but I must also mention the Advanced Edition Companion which essentially revives the rules from the first edition of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. If you are not familiar - the publishers of D&D had two different games released at the same time - Dungeons & Dragons and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. They had similarities but were intended to be separate projects and incompatible. Over the course of the years they became more and more different and even at the beginning quite a few tweaks were necessary to bring AD&D elements into D&D. What Proctor does with the AED is truly remarkable. He decided to make the Advanced Edition Companion fully compatible with Labyrinth Lord. This means if you like you can pick and choose elements of AED and plug them into the rule system of LL. One thing that you might do - in Labyrinth Lord a player can choose to be an elf, dwarf, or halfling but cannot choose their class, e.g. - you cannot be an elven thief. AD&D changed this so that a player could pick a race and a class. So the AED is terrific because it allows one to simply bring that idea back into Labyrinth Lord (and thus D&D) without committing to the entire Advanced rule system. I mention AED because when I discovered this it dawned on me that Proctor approached Labyrinth Lord with passion and intelligence - this isn’t merely knockoff product but a masterwork in itself.
There are a few versions out there - the PDF version (which I am reviewing here) which is free and contains no artwork, the PDF version with artwork (which is currently $6), as well as paperback and hardcover editions available from Lulu.(less)