Post by Vile Traveller on Aug 30, 2012 2:36:42 GMT -6
I have the hard copy and IMO it was well worth it, even with shipping it halfway across the world. the PDF was quite a recent event, after lots of prodding on Dragonsfoot. I think it dovetails well with B/X and is very distinct from BECMI.
I posted a mini-review of it somewhere on Dragonsfoot when it appeared. It's a good book, especially for the high-level spells and monsters, and is certainly sufficient for playing out the remaining levels of D&D as promised in the Moldvay Basic Set.
My primary two gripes with it is that it (a) tends to fill up space repeating things that already appear in the Basic Set and which should already be well known to anyone playing a high-level game, and (b) it does not go very far in distinguishing high-level play from dungeon and wilderness adventures (at which Mentzer's Companion Set excels). I got the impression that Becker's primary motivation was to give the series a sense of closure, rather than to expand on the rules.
But some of that completion is very good. His monster write-ups are especially good. He adds a bunch of classic monsters that never appeared in D&D from 1980 on, including otyughs, balrogs, and drow, though he gives them generic or translated names and changes their appearance and abilities a bit to avoid violation of intellectual property. The monster list very much feels like it's filling gaps in the system, including "greater" versions of the "lesser" monsters that appeared in the Expert Set.
The high-level spells mostly do the same, giving you generic (if necessary) versions of original D&D or AD&D spells. This could have been a good place to include some campaign-style-distinguishing spells, but there are none.
The rules on things like planes of existence and other higher-level concepts are extremely brief and vague. For the most part high-level adventure consists of ruling your barony and fielding armies. Except for improved stats, there is nothing to distinguish a 9th level Lord from a 36th level Lord. One might find this rather monotonous.
If I were running Moldvay/Cook/Marsh D&D at these levels, I think I'd use the stats from the B/X Companion, while using all the new kinds of high-level adventure from the Mentzer Companion Set. Monsters and spells from both would appear.
My final analysis is that it's not as good as the Menzer Companion Set, but is an excellent "conversion" of the numbers in that. It's especially nice if your main concern is "finishing" Moldvay/Cook/Marsh D&D. As a half-price PDF it's probably worth getting, but not at full price.