Friday, December 27, 2013
Ruminations on OD&D: 3d6 In Order and Level Limits
I have played with a LOT of people over the years that ignored these two simple guidelines. Of course, it was mostly AD&D 1st/2nd Edition mash-ups, but the principle still applies. I, myself, disdained them for a large chunk of my gaming life. It is only now that I have returned to my gaming "roots" that I really understand their intent. I will go out on a limb and admit that I think they pose a rather ham-fisted solution to a perceived "problem", but nevertheless, I do understand them, and the necessity for them.
They are demographic controls. Especially post-Greyhawk OD&D, with the introduction of Paladins, Thieves, and multiclassing, opened a flood gate of new classes and options that still continues. OD&D doesn't go to great pains to balance classes against each other. It is mostly achieved with the XP tables. Some classes are inherently more powerful, though, than a simple XP increase can account for. (ahem, Paladin, cough cough). So, the problem becomes "how to limit said class". Places strict attribute requirements and require 3d6 rolled in order. To play a Paladin you would have to roll a 17+ on Charisma, not just a 17+ in a group of 6 rolls. Other new classes have lower absolute requirements, but more of them.
So, if you don't have a particular problem with a party full of Rangers, Druids, and the inevitable guy who insists on playing a chaotic good assassin (one who has seen the darkness in his heart and now kills for a good cause), then you may safely ignore 3d6 in order and do it however you please. Seriously, there is no sarcasm in that. Maybe a plethora of supposedly-rare classes all functioing in a single group is not a concern for your game. All I'm saying is, I see the reasoning in it.
Same for demi-human level limits. This is the one I was really directing the "ham-fisted" remark at. This one is dirt simple. Who wants to play a dwarf when you top out at level 6? Well, somebody who really wants to play a dwarf. Who wants to role play a dwarf. Oddly enough, I've been in that boat where humans are concerned. I've played in games with virtually no restrictions on what I could do with my character.
In the group I played with most often, we rolled 4d6, dropped the lowest and re-rolled 1's. Arranged to taste. no racial level limits, any race could multiclass. If we wanted to be a certain class but didn't have the stats for it, the DM would tell us to put the best number we had on the stat and he would raise it to the minimum.We weren't middle schoolers min-maxing, mind you. We were just very player/character focused. As a group we shared DMing and we all wanted each other to play whatever we wanted. We didn't want to force anyone into a class/race they didn't want just so we could be in line with the rules. Ironically enough, I was typically the only guy playing a straight-up human fighter.
It seemed that with our high-brow way of thinking, we believed that we, as players, had to have maximum freedom to "design" the character we wanted to play or else it wouldn't be fun. We never explored the possibility of finding the fun in a character that we "found" through random generation. I think we missed more than we gained.