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BLUEHOLME™ Journeymanne Rules $14.99 $9.99
Average Rating:4.8 / 5
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BLUEHOLME™ Journeymanne Rules
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BLUEHOLME™ Journeymanne Rules
Publisher: Dreamscape Design
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/30/2017 14:04:13

Blueholme Journeymanne Rules was a Kickstarter by Michael Thomas. It extends his retro clone of the Holmes Blue Box Basic from 1977, Blueholme Prentice Rules for levels 1-3. The Journeymanne rules extend things to level 20. It is fitting that this was in 2017, the 40th anniversary of the Holmes Blue Box.

I got my start with the Holmes Blue Box way back in 1977, so this is my 40th year of D&D! Like many who backed this Kickstarter, it was for the nostalgia, and to finally get past level 3. Back in the day, we didn’t make the connection to the OD&D books, or we would have gotten them. The Holmes basic text told us we needed AD&D, so anything else was “basic,” and for little kids. How wrong we were. Had we ignored that, we would have gotten the original books and perhaps gone beyond 3rd level before the Player’s Handbook finally came out in 1978.

I backed at the level of the PDF and hardback. The PDF was completed a few months ago, with several weeks allowed for backers to read. I wish I had time before the cutoff to read this, I had too many Kickstarters deliver from November to December, and I ran games at two conventions the first two weeks of November. I found a couple of issues I will report elsewhere. I’m kicking myself for not digging in and reading the PDF.

The printing and shipping was via Lulu, and the quality is what I expect from Lulu. It is a serviceable book, and the cover and text look good.

All the basics are covered, species instead of races, classes, abilities, equipment, spells, monsters, treasure, adventures, encounters, and campaigns. This is 117 pages with table of contents, index, backer list, and OGL taking up 5 pages, and one more for a sample character sheet. With the PDF, it is easy to print out character sheets, or use one of the many basic/OSR character sheets, or do it old school and write it out on notebook paper or index cards.

What I Liked:

  • Art – A gorgeous cover and many interior illustrations.
  • Classes have all the information for a class in one place:
    • Description
    • XP table
    • Spell table
    • Other class specific tables, like turning undead, and a paragraph or two on strongholds.
  • The Introduction ends by pointing out that there are no “rules,” but rather guidelines.
  • Old School
    • Initiative is based on DEX. Roll off on a d6 to break ties. (This is how Metamorphosis Alpha does it.) This was also in Holmes.
    • Both magic users and clerics have spell books, and the books are so big, they can’t take them adventuring.
    • Looser rules on what levels magic items like potions and scrolls can be created, like in Holmes.
    • Less fiddly bits on spells.
    • Streamlined combat.
    • The monster section mentions that the listings are the average or typical of the type. Players can find some much tougher or weaker than what is listed.
    • The Class section mentions “non-standard” races, and in fact any “monster” can also be a classed character, although weaker and having to advance in levels.
    • Weapons all do d6, but there is a variant rule.
  • Many new monsters, or variations on the standard ones.
  • A section on Unusual Treasures, whether magical or mundane.
  • The section on campaigns is far from comprehensive, but hits key points to keep in mind for designing your own campaign setting.

What I’d Like to See:

  • More
    • I really struggled trying to decide what is truly “missing” or poorly executed here. This is a well executed retro clone of what a “complete” ruleset might look like from Dr. Holmes. This is meant to be a light set of rules for quick play. Characters are easy to generate in a few minutes, and play can commence right away.

Adding to this would have to be done carefully to avoid bloat. It is OSR, so monsters, spells, and magic items are easily available from multiple sources, many of them free.

Conclusion Whether your interest is the nostalgia for the early days of the hobby, or a simple rule set for quick play, or for the kids to run their own games, this fits the bill.

I first posted this review on my blog: http://followmeanddie.com/2017/12/30/blueholme-journeymanne-rules-review/

[4 of 5 Stars!]
BLUEHOLME™ Journeymanne Rules
Publisher: Dreamscape Design
by Mark C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/09/2017 17:27:54

I've taken a keen interest in the OSR again and I've been exploring what separate Holmes' Basic from B/X and BECMI. Thanfully, Michael Thomas of Dreamscape Design allowed me access to a PDF copy of his Blueholme Journeymanne Rules for review purposes.

For those not in the know, Blueholme Prentice and Journeymanne Rules are based on Dr. Holmes version of the first Basic DnD published by TSR, which only went to 3rd level (as so do the Prentice Rules).

The Journeymanne Rules go all the way to 20th level.

Some key aspects of Dr. Holmes and the Journeymanne Rules are that weapons only do a d6 of damage, not all Ability scores modify things in the game, Races and Classes are separate, there are far more spells than in B/X by Moldvay and Cook, and nearly any Race or Creature in the game can be used by a player.

First let's talk about the look of the book, which is 121 pages. The blue cover is well illustrated and find the imagery inviting. It channels the feel of it's inspiration very well. The interior art is all black and white and I find it's quality to be exceptional and for the pieces to hit the right tone.

What drew me to read the Blueholme Journeymanne Rules was that it delivered a complete ruleset across 20 full levels. And it fully delivers on it's mission.

If you are familiar with DnD or most retroclones you know what to expect for Ability scores. However, in Blueholme Strength and Wisdom Ability scores provide no bonus.

Races are not specifically laid out, because with some advice in Chapter 6 any monster can be used as a Race for your game and it's up to the Dungeon Master to determine what Classes are open. Additionally, the Monster descriptions provide a good overview for the DM to use.

The Classes are the Big 4 we all know and love. The biggest change I've noticed is that Fighters get a damage bonus starting at level 4, which I approve of as a fitting class feature.

Combat is as you expect with Descending AC and AC that defaults to 9 unarmored, but a section of siege weapons is included.

The Creatures section is very extensive and takes up nearly 30 pages.

The Spell section is much longer than what I've seen in DnD B/X or Labyrinth Lord and also covers nearly 30 pages. I'm very impressed with the amount of Spells presented and they go up to 7th level for Clerics and 9th level for Magic-Users.

One of the bright spots for me, as a tool for newer DMs, is Part 8's focus on running Campaigns and breaking things down by Setting, Goals, Villain, Sub-Plots, Factions, and Rumors. And further defining the setting by the Underworld, Wilderness, and the Realm.

What impresses me about Blueholme is that is very much draws inspiration for the very roots of our hobby, but it's treatment highlights how playable those roots still are, while fleshing them out and extending the game itself.

I really can't recommend Blueholme Journeymanne Rules enough. The Prentice Rules are free if you are intrigued and if you like what you read then please pick up the full rules.

Michael's work has shown me why 30+ years later Dr. Holmes version of DnD is not merely relevant but very, very playable and of a style we often don't associate with other editions.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
BLUEHOLME™ Journeymanne Rules
Publisher: Dreamscape Design
by Alan P. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/24/2017 07:08:00

I rarely read a rulebook cover-to-cover (especially while watching college football), but when I bought the Journeymanne Rules yesterday, I simply could not put it down. Now, in the interest of fairness, I do own a (signed) copy of the Prentice rules, so I knew where this is going, but this is the first time I have seen my beloved blue box rules exanped to its fully potential.

And something unique: I loved the author's interpretation of the Underworld as a vast complex carved out by Lovecrafitan forces. This, I believe, brings the dungeon back to the forefront of a series of game rules sets that has gone too far (in my opinion) into complex GOT-like plots. I love dungeon crawls... I sometimes wonder if I'm part of a growing minority. Nonetheless, this is a superb interpretation of D&D.

I hope a hard-copy will be available soon... I'll buy two.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
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