The news about the 1st edition AD&D reprints has got me thinking once again about what system I use when running convention games. For my home campaign, I run B/X D&D with 3 pages of house rules, several of which pull from OD&D and AD&D (race/class split, Paladins and Rangers, etc.) I’m totally happy and comfortable running this system, however sometimes I wonder if it’s not a bit confusing or annoying looking to convention goers. My convention descriptions often list the system as something kind of ham fisted, like:
B/X D&D with house rules including some AD&D-isms
The temptation is, at least for convention games, to switch to a more recognizable or at least by-the book appearing system, which would essentially be either OD&D or AD&D. Ultimately this would have little effect on how I actually run the game, however in both there’s a chance that I overlook something unique to that system and get called on it during play. There’s certainly something to be said for sticking with what I know.
OD&D has the benefit of being pretty close to what I want to play — I think B/X is closer to OD&D than AD&D. Plus, given how open the text is, I’d say it’s pretty much expected that any DM of OD&D is going to have a fistful of house rules, so it’s probably not even worth mentioning that in the description. The downside is that OD&D is probably the least recognizable version of D&D to your average convention attendee. That said, I think there’s a certain glamor to a convention game that uses “the first ever printed rules.”
AD&D, on the other hand, is probably the most recognizable and used of the old school systems at conventions. If I ran using AD&D, there’s a good chance several players would have a PHB in hand during play. Plus, AD&D does have some expectation of house ruling, at least in as much as “we don’t use rule X” is a pretty common refrain, given AD&D’s tendency to define everything including the kitchen sink. That said so much minutiae is included in these rules and so many players have devoted themselves to dissecting them, that there’s a good chance I get called on something during play. Honestly I don’t mind being called on rulings during play, so long as the player respects my iron-fisted DMing style and my refusal to slow the game by pouring through the text. Not every player is cool with that though, and what kind of players you get at a con game is definitely a crap shoot. AD&D is especially attractive though when running old tournaments like the A-series, which were specifically written for that system. There’s some cache I think in saying “we’re going to play this as it was played in 1979.”
Given that all this is so much logistical detail and will have little effect on how I actually run the game, the real question here is, what will attract the most players. I’ve never really had a con game completely fill up, so butts in seats is what I’m after. This sounds like a good excuse to use a poll. So please let me know, if you were leafing through a convention brochure for a game to play, which system would most likely draw you to my game?