Thursday, March 22, 2012 blog post

Today I spotted this recent (3/15) blog post on featuring the Holmes Basic Set:

Basic Damage by alphastream1

Warning: only read if you can tolerate some Holmes criticism mixed with 4E praise.

"Our group's first reaction was one of confusion. We really were not prepared for a book that was more poorly worded than OD&D, but this actually may be. It is actually hard to tell whether elf and dwarf are a race or a distinct class, and the class features are never in one place."

This is a new one to me; I haven't really heard anyone say Holmes is less clear than OD&D. Holmes says that dwarves and halflings are "members of the fighter class" and elves are both fighters and M-Us. Perhaps they were bringing Moldvay-baggage to the table and were confused that Holmes didn't go that far with race=class.

"At the end of character generation we were pretty sure we had a few things wrong. Thankfully, the game is very simple. 9 pages contain the information for players. The rest is spells, monsters, items, and a smattering of info about running a campaign."

This is a good observation. Nine pages (~17 single sided sheets) for the players. In fact if you have the pdf that RPGnow used to sell, you could print off these pages and voilà! instant Holmes Players Handbook for your players.

The last part of the post has some real howlers from an OSR point-of-view. Basically how we can never go back to "Basic" since we've evolved into higher lifeforms that must have story elements that interact with our characters' ponderous backstories. He agonizes over the trap that the more recent versions of D&D have fallen into: the players spend so much time crafting their characters that they can't stand to have them die, so there's no real sense of danger. Luckily, a few of the commenters, including llenlleawg (who has been posting recently at OD&D Discussion), take him to task.


  1. Somehow 4E's rules bloat makes that "version" of DnD "elegant"? I guess if the lie is big enough...

  2. Curse you Zen!!!!! :) For bringing this to my attention. LOL. Why didn't I heed your warning??!! Never again. (Actually I had read the first post on od&d, but I had not seen this). Now I've gone and made an account over that at wizards. Obviously he's entitled to his opinion, but his line "we closed the lid on the Holmes Basic set with a sigh of relief" compelled me to comment.