[Holmes] How do OSR games compare?

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[Holmes] How do OSR games compare?

Postby Tim Baker » Mon Jun 27, 2016 9:34 pm

I recently came across a couple of OSR games that emulate the Holmes Edition of Basic D&D, Mazes & Perils Deluxe Edition and Blueholme Prentice Rules. Having never played Holmes D&D, how do these games compare? What makes them different from the original? What makes them different from each other? Would you recommend either of them?

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Re: [Holmes] How do OSR games compare?

Postby Dread Delgath » Mon Jun 19, 2017 5:54 pm

Again, sorry for the (nearly) year old thread resurrection, but, I've only recently been able to delve a little deeper beyond the maze of secret doors (sub-fora) here at the Piazza. ;)

Of the two "Holmes Clones" you mention, (I really don't think there are any other 'official' clones, thank God...) and from what I've seen of them, I highly recommend BlueHolme, and if I had any money to spare, I would've supported at least one kickstarter in my life; I mean supporting Blueholme Compleat, the rules that takes the logical projection of levelling rules in Holmes to level 20 for all characters.

I cannot really comment more on it, but my impression of Michael Thomas' work on the Blueholme project has been nothing but professional and thorough, and compleat comes to mind. ;)

If my memory is working aright, the rules are based on Holmes' own melding of 0e and Greyhawk, which is what I would've advocated, taking the level progression from Greyhawk and fleshing them out for compleatness.

Beyond that, I don't know what a hypothetical version of Holmes levels 1-20 would have looked like. Perhaps it would've been AD&D, AD&D-lite, BX-compatible, or whathaveyou, all of which has been done in the time before "clones" were a thing, and only a few hit the nail on the head - usually exemplifying "kiss" (keep it simple, stupid*) as a main feature - namely Meepo's one page Holmes Reference sheet, but I enjoy a bit more completeness than just a one-page reference sheet, and I think Blueholme Compleat will fit nicely on my D&D shelf.

Honestly, if I only wanted a level 1-3 campaign, I'd run Holmes Basic rules. If I wanted to run 1-14 longer campaign, I'd run BX. Anything higher than that, I'd run AD&D or 5e, but no clones. (My current group members would individually agree to play 0e, AD&D2, 3.5 or PF, but we can only all agree on playing 5e, and no-one else in my group has even heard of the "OSR" or retro-clones.) :?

A clone has to be really original for me to even consider running it ('coz I got the originals), and it will always depend on the flavor of D&D that I am willing to use as a campaign. "Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyporborea" http://grognardia.blogspot.com/2012/10/review-astonishing-swordsmen-sorcerers.html tops that list, as will Blueholme Compleat when it eventually comes out. OSRIC doesn't count as a clone - its a table reference book for AD&D.;)

Its not that Blueholme is original, but it takes on the job of the most unique set of D&D rules (Holmes) and expands it to incorporate a high level campaign. Holmes Basic is capable of a long-term campaign if you are a do or die kind of player that doesn't blink or flinch away from facing off against a 10HD red dragon at 3rd level. But, I've only ever done this once, and we would have preferred having access to the spells and abilities and such (not to mention hit points and better THACs) of higher levels.
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Re: [Holmes] How do OSR games compare?

Postby Tim Baker » Tue Jun 20, 2017 4:44 am

Thanks for the detailed response. I backed Blueholme Compleat after hearing it discussed on a podcast a few months ago. I'm intrigued to see how Holmes' unique take on D&D could be extended for additional levels, especially the higher levels. It should be interesting.
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Re: [Holmes] How do OSR games compare?

Postby Dread Delgath » Tue Jun 20, 2017 3:29 pm

Tim Baker wrote:Thanks for the detailed response. I backed Blueholme Compleat after hearing it discussed on a podcast a few months ago. I'm intrigued to see how Holmes' unique take on D&D could be extended for additional levels, especially the higher levels. It should be interesting.


I tried this with a friend who is also a Holmes Basic fan, but our visions for Holmes' uniqueness differed to the point where I wanted to create a playable set of house rules versus my friend's quirky & clunky rules - as was all the farther D&D rules had progressed at the time. ;)

I am very positive that Blueholme Compleat will retain a bit of Holmes & Gygax's proto-AD&D quirkiness, while being a totally playable game.
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