Thursday, April 14, 2011

L for Labyrinth Lord

[Note: Any non-gamers tuning in to this series of posts are invited to consult my New Reader Introduction for some RPG-specific definitions and a general introduction to the Lands of Ara blog.]

Labyrinth Lord (written by Daniel Proctor) is a Retro-Clone of the Basic and Expert D&D rules (edited by Tom Moldvay and Dave Cook) released in 1981.  The basic Labyrinth Lord rulebook, first published in 2007 and revised in 2009, compiles all the rules contained in the D&D Basic and Expert rulebooks -- hence it is a "B/X emulator" of sorts.  As Cyclopeatron's "D&D Generations" list reveals, B/X was the highest-selling and most popular version of D&D ever released, so it is no wonder that many old-school D&D players, many of whom are of the "second generation" of D&D players who grew up with B/X and/or Holmes, favor Labyrinth Lord as our preferred retro-clone system now.

However, Dan Proctor of Goblinoid Games has been far from content to rest upon his laurels.  He has quite actively expanded the Labyrinth Lord / Goblinoid Games product line to include the Advanced Edition Companion (AEC), the H.P. Lovecraft-inspired Realms of Crawling Chaos (ROCC, co-authored with Michael Curtis), and LL-compatible games such as Mutant Future (co-authored with Ryan Denison) and the forthcoming Starships & Spacemen.  Given how wisely Proctor has expanded the Labyrinth Lord gaming line, even to include the forthcoming Delving Deeper RPG by Brave Halfling Publishing, he may be justified in claiming that Goblinoid Games has provided the OSR with a so-called "Rosetta Clone."

I have been playing Goblinoid Games' products since late 2009.  It was Goblinoid's Mutant Future (an old-school game based loosely upon an old post-apocalyptic TSR game called Gamma World) that provided my introduction to the Old-School Renaissance: my friend Carl invited me to participate in his (still-ongoing) MF campaign back in fall 2009.   Indeed, it was Carl who turned me on to the existence of the OSR and to Labyrinth Lord in particular, in essence setting my current campaign and this blog in motion.  I am forever indebted to Carl for exposing me to this stuff.

Another reason (I think) for the success of Labyrinth Lord and Goblinoid Games (besides the terrific array of available products) is that Dan Proctor has supported not just the product line but the community who plays it. There are forums for players of Goblinoid Games products, the Labyrinth Lord Society (of which I am a proud member), and a "Demo Team" program whereby regional Labyrinth Lords like myself can set up games in local game stores in order to promote LL and old-school gaming in general. As old-school gaming guru James Maliszewski said in a recent online interview,
I remain convinced that the best way to get into roleplaying is to be introduced to it by someone who already plays it. [. . .] I think what we need are more gamers who are willing to share their hobby with interested newcomers. [. . .] Rulebooks and intro sets and websites can only get you so far; what’s really needed is face-to-face interaction with people actively involved in the hobby.
I wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment, and I hereby pledge that sometime this fall, I will become an official Labyrinth Lord Demo Team member and begin running regular Labyrinth Lord games in a local game store, for the purpose of introducing newcomers to the joys of old-school gaming, just as Carl introduced me back in '09.

 Click the picture and join the Labyrinth Lord Society today!


  1. I posted my LL certificate on my blog (with a link)! ;)

  2. Great post. Oh and don't forget Dan's Original Edition Characters (OEC), which really completes the LL suite of games.

  3. RPG sounds like an interesting thing to get into. too bad i don't have the time (too busy blog hopping). nice meeting you through the a-z!

  4. @autrodavicus: Yes, you're right, I missed that one. It's on my shelf and I have read it but have not used it at the table yet. Perhaps a separate review will follow. . . in May!

  5. So you're going from RPG advocate via blogging to an actual community liaison. That is so cool!

    And a substantial commitment. Nicely done.

    We have a comic shop near us that provides space for RPGs. I've seen the groups a couple times, and thought it'd be fun.

    Way to pass along the flame!

    L/Your Library: A Tale Not Told In Books