1E v BECMI/Rules Cyclopedia: Differences?

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1E v BECMI/Rules Cyclopedia: Differences?

Postby Angel Tarragon » Tue May 09, 2017 7:18 pm

I am going to be working towards rebuilding my 1E collection with the remainder of the year. I am going to have to re-familiarize myself with the rules, but it should be a breeze being that the 1E PHB was the first rpg book I ever read and it took very little effort to understand it from the perspective of never having been exposed to rpgs previously.

I am far less familiar with BECMI/RC...I've only played it a handful of times and don't remember squat. So I am curious...is there a comprehensive list of system differences between the two? Such a list would make it easy to familiarize myself with BECMI/RC before dropping the coin on buying the books. I do own Dark Dungeons, but at some point I want to acquire the BECMI/RC books due to being the fan I am of the game.
Last edited by Giant Space Hamster on Tue May 09, 2017 10:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Spelling of Rules Cyclopedia in topic title fixed by Big Mac
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Re: 1E v BECMI/Rules Cyclopedia: Differences?

Postby Havard » Tue May 09, 2017 9:08 pm

Hi Angel,
first of all I want to point out that the book that collects most of the BECMI rules isn't called the Rules Compendium, it is called the D&D Rules Cyclopedia. Sorry if this seems like a nitpick, but since there is a 3E book called the Rules Compendium, it could cause some confusion. If you edit the title of your topic, you might get more responses.

1st Ed is the edition I am least familiar with of all D&D editions, but here are a few things to get us started.

1) In BECMI, races are classes. Later supplements does allow for more nuances though, and also if you include supplements, BECMI allows tons of monster races.
2) BECMI has 3 alignments while 1st Ed has 9.
3) 1st Ed typically has more of everything. More rules, more monsters, more classes, more complexity, more spells, more magic items etc.
4) BECMI is fairly simple at lower levels, but adds layers of complexity later on.
5) 1st Ed focuses on levels 1-20 (and level limits will keep demihuman characters way below 20th) while BECMI covers the range 1-36th in detail. Both systems theoretically allows characters beyond those ranges though.
6) BECMI has detailed rules for Immortal characters (deities) and how to achieve Immortality.
7) BECMI has an abstract mass combat system called War Machine, while 1st Ed typically uses miniature rules called Battle System for large scale battles.
8) BECMI has more detailed rules for Dominions (PC controlled Baronies, Duchies etc) than any other edition I have seen.

Having said all this, all TSR era editions are more or less compatible, making it easy to take adventures, monsters, spells, magic items etc from one edition and use with any other without really needing much conversion at all.

I will let the 1st Ed experts fill in the things I missed now! :)

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Re: 1E v BECMI/Rules Cyclopedia: Differences?

Postby Angel Tarragon » Tue May 09, 2017 11:00 pm

Havard wrote:Hi Angel,
first of all I want to point out that the book that collects most of the BECMI rules isn't called the Rules Compendium, it is called the D&D Rules Cyclopedia. Sorry if this seems like a nitpick, but since there is a 3E book called the Rules Compendium, it could cause some confusion. If you edit the title of your topic, you might get more responses.
Hey, thanks for pointing that out. Yeah, I certainly slipped up on that so thanks for correcting the title of the thread!
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Re: 1E v BECMI/Rules Cyclopedia: Differences?

Postby Dartamian » Tue May 09, 2017 11:04 pm

Havard wrote:1) In BECMI, races are classes. Later supplements does allow for more nuances though, and also if you include supplements, BECMI allows tons of monster races.
2) BECMI has 3 alignments while 1st Ed has 9.
3) 1st Ed typically has more of everything. More rules, more monsters, more classes, more complexity, more spells, more magic items etc.
4) BECMI is fairly simple at lower levels, but adds layers of complexity later on.
5) 1st Ed focuses on levels 1-20 (and level limits will keep demihuman characters way below 20th) while BECMI covers the range 1-36th in detail. Both systems theoretically allows characters beyond those ranges though.
6) BECMI has detailed rules for Immortal characters (deities) and how to achieve Immortality.
7) BECMI has an abstract mass combat system called War Machine, while 1st Ed typically uses miniature rules called Battle System for large scale battles.
8) BECMI has more detailed rules for Dominions (PC controlled Baronies, Duchies etc) than any other edition I have seen.

Having said all this, all TSR era editions are more or less compatible, making it easy to take adventures, monsters, spells, magic items etc from one edition and use with any other without really needing much conversion at all.

I will let the 1st Ed experts fill in the things I missed now! :)

-Havard


To add my two coppers to Havard's list
1) 1e DMG specifically state monsters cannot be player characters.
5) 1e doesn't really limit levels (other than on demihumans), 1e player handbook has spell tables well beyond 20th level. Believe the 20 level limit was a 2e thing.
6) Deities and Demigods had a section about achieving divinity, basically work hard and become a much higher level than everyone else and you may become a minor servant of a deity, but definitely not a road map to Immortality like BECMI.
8) 1e DMG had a section on establishing a domain, very rudimentary and definitely not like the Dominion rules in the Companion Set.

I feel that BECMI provided more detailed rules/road maps in the Companion, Master, and Immortals sets on issues such as Immortality, Dominions, and War Machine than 1e offered. 1e is much more free flow when it comes to those issues.

Also, the possibilities were blown open for BECMI with the later supplements (the Gazetteers, Dragon Magazine articles, and such) compared to what 1e would allow (but by then the 2e era had dawned).
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Re: 1E v BECMI/Rules Cyclopedia: Differences?

Postby Big Mac » Tue May 09, 2017 11:39 pm

I'm a little confused here. Why would you need the Rules Cyclopedia, if you want to build up a 1st Edition collection, when the RC isn't a 1e book?

Are you hoping to buy Classic D&D adventures or sourcebooks and use them with 1e?

Are you hoping to run a 1e Mystara game?

Or are you hoping to fill in "incomplete" parts of 1e with Classic D&D rules?

(I recently had an interesting chat with AuldDragon, where he was talking about 2nd Edition AD&D not having rules to "replace" certain parts of 1st Edition...and how the 1e rules are therefore the way to explain those aspects of 2e. But I'm not sure the same concept would apply between Classic and Advanced versions of D&D as they were parallel forks.)

I'll be interested to see what direction you are going with this.
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Re: 1E v BECMI/Rules Cyclopedia: Differences?

Postby Angel Tarragon » Wed May 10, 2017 1:56 am

I still remember bits and pieces of 1E from when I had the books, once they are re-acquired I can reacquaint myself with the full system. With the knowledge of 1E back in my grasp and a little fore knowledge of BECMI/RC I can begin to understand BECMI/RC before adding them to my gaming library.

Havard edited my post to fix my error of mentioning the wrong book.
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Re: 1E v BECMI/Rules Cyclopedia: Differences?

Postby RobJN » Wed May 10, 2017 4:53 am

Get the Rules Cyclopedia. Do it. Drop the coin, you will not be disappointed.

It has an appendix in the back for converting between BECMI and 2nd Edition, which will also get you in the ballpark for 1e. Many of the terms referenced haven't changed between those editions.

The RC is highly indexed (and the index, unlike those of 5e, actually works). Unlike the previous BECMI boxed sets, the rules being compiled into one big book gets all those scattered rules and spells under one roof, with page references. The PDF is indexed and searchable as well, which makes it an insanely good rules reference.

I don't remember the 1e DMG having rules for creating magical items (the treasures, not the "my PC wants to make a +1 sword." kind). The Companion set introduced tables and charts for making magic arms and armor, from the vanilla "+1" up to those with special talents ("flaming," "returning," "of ethereality")
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Re: 1E v BECMI/Rules Cyclopedia: Differences?

Postby Khedrac » Wed May 10, 2017 8:03 pm

The thing to remember is that 1st Ed AD&D and BECM(I)/RC D&D are different systems.

Yes, anything from BECM is easy to convert to AD&D, but the reverse is not true (e.g. an AD&D elf thief has no equivalent in BECM).

Some more specific differences:
Class hit dice:
Fighter: AD&D d10, BE D&D d8
Cleric: AD&D d8, BE D&D d6
Rogue: AD&D d6, DB D&D d4

The characteristic ranges and modifiers are very different:
AD&D - 3 to 25, special effects for above 18, strength bonus to hit and to damage split (and percentile strength); con bonus to hit points caps for non-fighters.
D&D - 3 to 18, above 18 is immortal rules only, stat bonuses unified (all other than Charisma are the same)
Note: the Girdle of Giant Strength in AD&D stes strength to a number from 19 to 24 depending on the giant, in BECM D&D it doubles damage.

AD&D has many many more spells, without the Gazetteer expansions BECM D&D has 8 cleric spells of each level and 12 magic user spells.
The spells are mainly the same, but there are differences, e.g. Wish is a cleric spell and Heal a magic user spell in BECM D&D (Wish requires a 30th level magic user or a 36th level cleric to cast; clerics get Cure All earlier which is the AD&D Heal

Turn Undead is different (different dice, tables etc.), more to the point, the tougher CM D&D undead are very different (getting an automatic "Turn" or "Destroy" result is a lot less useful when the undead gets a saving throw to ignore it)

Xp is different - AD&D monsters are worth a fixed amount + a multiplier of their hit points, BECM D&D monsters are worth a fixed amount.

etc.
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Re: 1E v BECMI/Rules Cyclopedia: Differences?

Postby Vikshade » Thu May 11, 2017 2:10 am

Rules Cyclopedia is ten times the system that that player's Handbook is. If you get that player's handbook you are going to need a whole shelf full of other books and boxed sets to get everything in that Rules Cyclopedia.
The Rules Cyclopedia has everything you need to play (no need for Player’s Handbook Dungeon Master's Guide AND Monster Manual), plus planar adventuring (no need for Manual of the Planes), naval battles (no need for Ships & the Sea), mass combat and siege rules (no need for BattleSystem), dominion rules (no need for Birthright), constructions rules (no need for Castle Guide), monster spellcasters (no need for Complete Book of Humanoids) undead leiges controlling armies of undead, Ascending to Immortality!!! PLUS a chapter summarizing the world of Mystara, which is as everyone knows, the BEST and Most complete and diverse game world setting ever created.
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