Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Proto-idea

This only just came to me over morning coffee. I don't have time to dwell on it this morning, and it is so nascent I may forget it if I don't record it. So, here goes . . .

Start with the four main classes, cleric, fighter, magic-user, thief. Everyone selects one at character generation like always. But instead of limitless levels, or a cap at 10, 14, or whatever, each basic class only goes to 3rd level. At 4th level you essentially choose a new class.

Here's the thing, though: the new class is a natural progression of the old class. So, someone who starts as a fighter would progress to a "fighting" class. Say, a ranger, or a paladin, or barbarian. There could be a lot of these classes. Progress through three levels of this new class, then change again. Subsequent changes become increasingly restrictive, based on the "class path" up to that point. That isn't to say you couldn't go back to a "branch point" and start along a different path, there would just be some sort of penalties for doing so.

I'm not sure if this would work with OD&D. I like the idea of it, though. Hopefully I'll have time to develop it, and see how it shapes up.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Ruminations on OD&D: Hit Points

There is a thread over on OD&D Discussion concerning how hit points are rolled. Essentially, there are four methods (I think):

  • Keep a running, static total, adding the roll of each hit die as it is gained;
  • Reroll all hit dice at each level, keeping the new total if it is higher;
  • Reroll all hit dice at some predetermined point each day, such as after a night's sleep;
  • Reroll all hit dice at the beginning of each combat
I like the "reroll" methods. I've always hated getting hosed on some shit-ass HD rolls. Plus, as a referee, I don't like feeling like it is absolutely vital that I hand out max hp at 1st level. It's a minor annoyance, but sometimes they are the most annoying.

Anyway, this segues into something I have been ruminating on. There are a lot of rationalizations for certain OD&D rules. We all know the ones about hit points representing fatigue, favor of the gods, and luck. While damage represents being taxed to your limits, minor scrapes and bruises, exhaustion, etc.

A big part of OD&D is resource management. Hit points are a key resource to be managed. But, if they represent the things we rationalize them to represent, and damage is per its rationalization, I believe the healing rules are way out of whack. At the healing rates as written a single attack, with a lucky (unlucky?) damage roll could take almost a week to heal. A week to get over being tired and a few minor scrapes and close calls.

I'm sure at this point this may seem like I've kit-bashed two posts. Maybe I have, I don't know. I'm just wondering how to tie in rerolling hit points either each day or each combat would work in conjunction with some "accelerated" healing rules. Like maybe throw the running damage total right out the window, along with the running hit point total, and start fresh each combat/encounter. Would it seriously unbalance things? Would it rob the game of part of its drama, like when your hit points are really low and you're trying to tip-toe out of the dungeon and back to town?

So maybe the "reroll every morning" is the better way. So, how would that work with pre-existing damage? Is it only your max hit points that are affected?

At any rate, I need to rethink healing in light of what damage is supposed to represent. I think getting a certain amount, maybe a percentage of current max, at the end of a combat would work. That could represent the "fatigue loss" being recovered once the character has a chance to collect his breath. One thing's for sure (at least as anything is "for sure" in my head) is that I don't want the book keeping that goes with calling hit point damage fatigue, and keeping track of "wounds" separately. Akrasia's house rules feature that, and while I love the idea on paper, I don't want to deal with it at the table.

I welcome any and all thoughts on this subject. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Value of Hit Points

This has been rattling about in my head for a week or more, but I never remember to post it. Until now . . .

While I do understand the math of "more hit points" being an advantage, I never truly appreciated it as something that made Fighting-Men better fighters. I recently saw the light whilst watching a marathon of The Unit.

Two men were engaged in a fist-fight. One was younger and clearly more capable. The other was older, and while a seasoned fighter, wasn't the man he used to be. Both men were basically beating the shit out of each other, but the punishment was more telling with the older man. Eventually the younger man gained the upper hand, even though the older man was landing solid blows.

Watching this, and putting it into an OD&D perspective, I was reminded that OD&D combat is about results. The fundamental truth is this: statistically speaking, the better fighter will still be standing at the end of the fight. Period. It is that simple. So, maybe we have similar, or even identical, chances to-hit, but if I have more HD (and therefore hit points, presumably), I should win.

I feel like I should expound on this further, but I can't really see what that would serve right now. So, let's just leave it at this, shall we?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Delving Deeper Barbarian

This is an idea I've been contemplating for a while. It is based on the Barbarian from White Dwarf #4, along with the skill system suggested by the Thief.

The Barbarian

HD as Fighter
Same XP and Attack Column as Cleric
Any weapons, excepting crossbows
Any armor (Chain imposes a -1 penalty to certain skill rolls, Plate imposes a -2)
  • +2 bonus to the following saving throws: normal elemental effects (such as desert heat or arctic cold), poison, and disease
  • Should a barbarian fail a saving throw vs Fear, he flies into a fit of rage, attacking the cause of the fear with a +2 to-hit and damage. This attack is single-minded, ignoring any other threats. During this rage, the barbarian's AC is increased by 2.
  • Barbarians are canny fighters, and difficult to hit. AC is one better, no matter what armor is worn.
  • A barbarian's opponents are oft-times unprepared for the suddeness and ferocity of his initial attack. If the barbarian has initiative, his first attack is devastating. Consult the following table:

To-hit bonus

  • Barbarians are very cagey and alert to danger. If awake and alert, they are at -1 to be surprised, and at 6th level and above, they are never surprised.
  • Barbarians are consummate outdoorsmen. As such they possess the following skills:

    Survival (Finding water, suitable shelter site/materials, fire making)
    Foraging (Hunting*, edible plants)
    Stalking (Hiding and Moving Silently)*

    *Affected by the armor penalty, if applicable.

    These skills are successful on a d6 roll of 3+. However, this only applies to the barbarian's “home environment”. In other environments, they are successful on rolls of 5+.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Ruminations on OD&D: The Endgame

It isn't hard to do an internet search (I prefer DuckDuckGo, sorry, Google) and find all sorts of forum posts, blog posts, and pontification about the ballyhooed "endgame". They run the gamut between lamenting its loss, to praising various clones for bringing it back to full glory. This post isn't like that. This is just a couple of ideas for integrating the endgame into the ongoing campaign/world. I'm not going to pretend they're original or profound, they're just my take.

First off, "name level" characters who construct strongholds attract followers. Why not base part of a campaign around that? Once the characters establish themselves, say 3rd level or so, they can offer their services to a name-level NPC who has established a stronghold. Perhaps this NPC is just starting out, so to speak. His stronghold is small and he is looking to expand. The PCs can pledge their service, and the NPC can send them on "missions". He can offer them support services, like healing and magic item identification, in exchange for finding whatever loot he desires. Maybe their liege is a cleric who sends them on a mission to recover the shrine idol stolen by bandits. The PCs would return the idol, and perhaps a tithe of other treasures recovered, and keep the rest.

I wouldn't base an entire campaign around this concept, but for a few levels, it could bring a logical structure to things. Plus, if the PCs have been honorable in their oath, when they reach name-level they will have a powerful friend and ally who can help them establish their own domain. Which brings me to . . .

Point the second. Once the PCs reach name-level, I think it would provide a nice break from the high-level game to have followers become PCs every now and then. Have each player fully create a follower, and sometimes have a session or three using the party of followers. If the campaign continued long enough, one day those followers will establish their own strongholds. I know it sounds ambitious, but the setting would develop strongholds, villages and towns, and politics very organically if it could be pulled off.