A friend of mine and I were talking about starting up a B/X game, and his reply was, why not use the D&D next playtest rules. You could customize the level of complexity. What came out was that I didn’t much love what I saw, but I kind of left it at that. We also talked about Pathfinder and why he thought it fixed what he saw as the problems of 3rd edition, and I didn’t really clearly articulate why I though 3e was fatally flawed. He took the issue just as one of complexity, but it was more than that.
- Regarding the D&D Next Playtest Rules: the first problem I have is that they are playtest rules — incomplete, intended for testing purposes, and less for tinkering and real play. As an artifact, they are problematic; as a process they are problematic; and as a system, not quite what I want.
- Regarding Pathfinder, I still find the new system more balanced from what I saw so far, but it’s still 3.5. In the end, the problems I had were the plethora of bonuses; the problem of spells -- making magic more accessible but still powerful diminishes the impact of other classes. Either dump the whole pre-3e magic system and make something that works with frequent spells, or go back to rare one-shot magic. After mid-level, bonuses still scale pretty quickly. Saves, attack rolls vs. armor class, etc. still demand magic bonuses (or hand-waving similar bonuses). I still think 3e either has too much earlier D&D or too little, but either way it still seems stuck in between, and I still feel that way with PF. I would rather run a different system entirely or at least a different d20 variant.
- That isn’t to say that the whole D&D family has no warts. Saves are odd, attacks vs. armor class strangely abstracted, and the whole set of arbitrary limits requires a lot of just accepting things as they are in order to play the game. But I’m okay with that. Even the retro-clones, for all their cleaner rules, are no more compelling to me than going with a flawed original that I find clean enough to use for my purposes.
Obligatory Joesky Tax: I was thinking of stealing one of Zak S.'s adventure ideas to kick of a campaign, and was trying to organize notes to make sense to myself. And trying to experiment with ways to organize game notes for the way I would like to be prepared to run something semi-off-the cuff, using B/X rules