Sunday, January 15, 2012

Reading Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, Part 28


EFFECTS OF DRUGS AND ALCOHOL

These rules work. Their one flaw, perhaps, is in assuming that intoxicated = intoxicated. Any high school kid knows that someone baked on weed behaves differently than the same guy blasted on liquor. But as a quick and dirty covering of players whose characters drink too much, they're just dandy and functional.

I do get a kick out of the old "Get him coffee" myth that they bring into play, wherein stimulants can sober you up faster. I also like the idea of "strong" stimulants costing you permanent Con loss.

I keep thinking of the scene in Back to the Future III where they make "wake up juice" for Doc Brown.

INSANITY

Okay. Pet peeve time.

Mr. Gygax: SCHIZOPHRENIA IS NOT, AND NEVER HAS BEEN, DISSOCIATIVE IDENTITY DISORDER. IT'S NOT EVEN SIMILAR. When AD&D was written DID was called Multiple Personality Disorder, or MPD. It was first diagnosed in the 19th century. I have no idea where this all-too-common misperception comes from, as the two ailments aren't remotely similar in any way.

In fact, what the book lists as "Hallucinatory Insanity" is more along the lines of schizophrenia.

Sure, the book says that the aliments listed are not clinically correct, but geez, at least get the basic idea right.

Other than that: Insanities! Fun!

EXPERIENCE

Good God, was it hard to level up in AD&D. Hard, and expensive. Gods forbid you were in the middle of a dungeon crawl in the middle of nowhere when you hit the next threshold. Not only would you have to stop and go find a city, then train for weeks at a time to gain a new level, you had to spend an obnoxious amount of cash to do it. Even worse: Your XP earning stops entirely until you do, in fact, go find someone to train you.

Ugh.

That being said, I get the costs, from a game standpoint. It keeps characters humble and questing for money. I may start implementing full costs for level advancement in my games, even if I don't require the weeks' worth of training.

Of interest here as well is the primitive formula for actually determining what amounts to the challenge rating and encounter levels for your group. Rather than using these to determine what the group should face, however, they're determined after the adventure, to determine how much XP the group should get. That is, rather than figuring out an EL 4 encounter for a 4th level group, you build encounters based on your judgment of the group's capabilities, and then afterward you apply a formula to see just how much of a challenge the encounter was. This determines whether the PCs get full XP, half XP, or even bonus XP. Neat stuff.

I also have to say that to this day, I adore the single XP chart. A goblin is worth a base 5 XP + 1 per level. Period. It doesn't matter who his opponent is (though using the above formula it's possible to get no XP once the goblin is too weak to pose a threat).

Also of interest is the implied--though not explicit--ability to improve base monsters simply by adding Hit Dice and special abilities. This chart provides (IMHO) a far easier and more intuitive method for customizing monsters than any other edition of D&D ever did--including 3 and 4e.

That's about all I have to say about those three bits. It also brings to a close the chapter on COMBAT.

This also brings to a close my re-posting of the original RPGNet thread. Sorry it's been so long and irregular--I've had major, serious job issues that have consumed my mind and wrecked my focus over the past nearly four years...life has been rough as a result.  I'll try my best to pick it up as we move into new sections.

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