Showing posts from October, 2011

Reading Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, Part 27

HIT POINTS Hit points. Our beloved, much-maligned Hit Points. If there are three things I consistently hear "new school" gamers complain about in reference to D&D, it's Classes, Levels, and Hit Points. All of these, they claim, are just "unrealistic." Let's forget the obvious paradox of realism in fantasy, and the old argument of abstraction where classes and levels are concerned for now. We'll deal with that when we get to the PHB. But Hit Points? The continual complaining and griping about hit points shows a clear lack of comprehension regarding what exactly Hit Points are, and I blame game designers for this, starting with early 80's D&D knockoffs (I'm looking at Palladium Fantasy, here) and made even worse by TSR themselves in D&D second edition, with the spiral growing too deep to ever swim out of when WotC took over and 3.x came out. "Jason," you say, "What in the Nine Hells are you talking about!?"

Spellcraft & Swordplay - In PRINT

Hey, folks, just trying to get the word out to a larger audience. As I mentioned over on my Elf Lair Games blog , the Spellcraft & Swordplay Core Rulebook and the Spellcraft & Swordplay Basic Game are now both available in print from DriveThruRPG ! For those unaware, S&S is my old-school rpg. It has been described as a retro-clone, but I prefer to think of it more accurately as an alternate history game. It ponders what D&D would've looked like had the Chainmail 2d6 Man to Man combat system become the core system instead of the then-alternate d20-based system. It then goes on to apply modern design sensibilities such as a unified task resolution mechanic on top. The original result back in 2008 was fairly well praised, from reviews on RPGNet to Grognardia.  The current version has been revised a good deal since then, getting rid of things like %-based thief skills and the much-maligned Elmore art, and is generally cleaner and smoother overall. It's also g

Reading Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, Part 26

SAVING THROWS Following the Combat Matrices are the Saving Throw Matrices. In AD&D, rather than having ability-based saves as in later editions, saves were solely class and level based--that is to say, you did NOT add any ability bonuses to saving throws. Saves fell into one of five categories: Paralyzation, Poison or Death Magic Petrification or Polymorph Rod, Staff or Wand Breath Weapon Spell Footnotes clarify that Polymorph wand attacks use the Wand save, Breath weapon attacks that cause petrification or polymorph use the save for their effect, and spells for which another saving throw is specified (eg. polymorph) use the appropriate save rather than the general spell save. Other notes clarify where sub-classes fall (druids save as clerics, rangers as fighters, etc.) Monsters save as Fighters, equating Hit Dice to Experience Level (the precedent I earlier referenced) with again each +4 adding 1 to the total hit dice for purposes of saves. The only e

Reading Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, Part 25

COMBAT TABLES Using the Combat Tables: This is one of the few things in AD&D that's really self-explanatory to anyone with a junior high school education, but it's nice of Gygax to explain. Basically, you cross reference your level with the AC of your opponent to get a target number to hit them. This is where THAC0 makes its first (albeit disguised) appearence. Until the target number hits 20, progression to either side of AC0 is linear; that is, if you need a 9 to hit AC 0, you're going to need an 8 to hit AC 1, a 10 to hit AC -1, and so on. This linear progression plateaus at 20, which repeats 6 times across the board. We'll get to that in a minute. Interestingly, this section says, "Penalties and bonuses may modify either the die roll or the number needed to hit, so long as one method is used consistently." much for "penalties and bonuses should always modify the AC, not the target or die roll." Following this we have a sort of