Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Question of Experience

I forget what I was doing, but the other day I directly compared the Fighter and Magic-User advancement schemes. We old schoolers were raised on the concept that magic-users start out weak and end up as the most powerful characters in the game. A quick glance at the table I've compiled reveals why this is. In almost every version of D&D, and the clones based on those versions, it requires fewer experience points to reach 9th level for a magic-user. In some cases, substantially less. In the LBBs, AD&D, and S&W Core a magic-user is well on his way to 11th level when the fighter crosses the threshold into 9th.

9th Level
Source Fighter Magic-User
LBB 240,000 100,000
B/X 240,000 300,000
RC 240,000 450,000
AD&D 250,000 135,000
S&W WhiteBox 256,000 320,000
S&W Core 256,000 135,000
S&W Complete 256,000 100,000
BFRP 240,000 300,000
Labyrinth Lord 240,001 310,001
Advanced Edition Companion 240,001 310,001
Castles & Crusades 272,001 340,001
OSRIC 250,000 140,000

I'm unclear on the reasoning for this. The best answer I can come up with is that different designers/writers have different ideas on how magic-users should progress. They were all apparently pretty happy with the fighter's requirements from the beginning.

I simply can not fathom why the requirements for the magic-user were so lax in the LBB. Something to do with hit dice and a lack of armor, maybe? The only direct-damage spells they have in those books are Fireball and Lightning Bolt. Other than those, magic-user spells are utility, buffs, or just "magicky". So, maybe that's it. An OD&D magic-user winning the footrace to 9th level doesn't have nearly the impact it does when spells like Cloukill and Ice Storm are up for grabs. Not to mention that magic-users from those editions are well on their way to 11th level by the time the Fighter drags his sorry ass to 9th. That opens the door to Death Spell and Disintegrate (neither of which are available in the LBBs).

I guess that explains why it was that way in the LBBs, and by extension AD&D and clones based on those. It seems that other editions/clones woke up to the fact that with access to spell levels 7-9, not to mention many additional spells in levels 1-6, and that there are many more direct-damage spells. Magic-Users under those rules are much more potent and their progression to the strata that grants access to the newer spells should be slowed, otherwise they will definitely come to dominate the campaign, as well as the campaign world.


  1. Cool blog! With all that good stuff you type I am surprised it only has 4 followers.

  2. Thanks for the kind words, Eldrad. It's a little slow getting established (or maybe I'm just slow), but I do enjoy doing it. I'm hoping for the day when ideas are bouncing back and forth around here. I'm not posting these things as if I'm some sort of authority, I'm just trying to spark some discussion. I love talking about gaming almost as much as actually gaming! Anyway, welcome to the Pale.