Saturday, September 15, 2018

Lost in Translation - the Fighting-Man

I've been pondering a lot lately about the LBB fighting-man. No shock there. I have several posts in draft form that I'm working on addressing this. Hopefully they'll see the light of day. In the event that they do, I wanted to sort of frame them with an introductory type post. So, here we go . . .

Say what you want about LBB art, this has been my image of a fighter since 1976
In transitioning the fantasy game from Chainmail to a "complete" game, I think that Mr. Gygax and Mr. Arneson did yoeman's work. However, there were certain strings that they tugged on without really thinking about where the other end was tied. This is extremely evident in the fighting-man. The things that made him special were (in no particular order):

  • As a Hero or Superhero, he could engage fantastic foes on the "Fantasy Combat Table" (FCT from here on);
  • As a Hero or Superhero, he could ONLY be engaged by foes on the FCT (Heroes may be ganged up on by at least 4 lesser foes, Superheroes require 8);
  • Heroes never check morale, which I would translate as immune to non-magical fear and a saving throw bonus against magical fear;
  • Heroes grant a +1 to the morale check of friendly troops. I would include followers in this, but not fellow PCs;
  • Superheroes enjoy all of the above benefits, plus they cause all 1HD foes to check morale (save vs Fear) when the superhero approaches to within his charge distance.

That is actually a pretty impressive array of abilities. The problem lies in translating their implementation into LBB D&D.

  • There's no FCT, so points the first two points just go by the boards;
  • Naturally occurring fear isn't much of a thing, so being immune to it isn't either;

Those two points alone, if left unaddressed, strip away almost all of the fighting-man's niche protection. The cleric is the fighting-man's main competitor in this department, which I'll address in an upcoming post. Let's just say that the cleric stays close in combat ability per the "Alternative Combat Table" (ACT from here on), His HD and hp are almost identical, he can wear the same armor, his weapons do the same damage. All for a greatly reduced xp cost.

I do want to say this: morale can play a part in LBB gaming. What I'm driving at is that morale was one of the things that was assumed in the LBBs. As with many things, they were written with the assumption that they were being played by people that either already played Chainmail or at least played some form of wargame.

For many years, and through lots of posts, I have struggled with this. Now, it has finally hit me that the genesis of the "problems" with the LBB fighting-man lie in not enough of the Chainmail subsystems being properly expressed in the LBBs. Implementing the above immunities and bonuses vis a vis fear above is a good start to bringing the LBB fighting-man to where he needs to be.


  1. David, you may be interested in looking at how the Fighting Man is addressed in Champions of Zed and also in Delving Deeper. Both games take the features found in CM seriously.

  2. Mr. Boggs, it's an honor to have you stop by. Thank you for your comment. I have been a huge fan of Delving Deeper for quite some time. I am downloading Champions of Zed as I type this. I have always been fascinated by the genesis of the game in that time between Chainmail and the publication of the LBBs. I can't wait to get home from work and spend the weekend soaking it in.

  3. In transitioning the fantasy game from Chainmail to a "complete" game, i feel that mister. Gygax and mister. Arneson did yoeman's work.
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  4. The cleric is the fighting-man's main competitor in this department, which I'll address in an upcoming post. Let's just say that the cleric stays close in combat ability per the "Alternative Combat Table"!!!
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  5. Superheroes enjoy all of the above benefits, plus they cause all 1HD foes to check morale (save vs Fear) when the superhero approaches to within his charge distance.

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  8. Morale is a B/X & BECMI/Rules Cyclopedia D&D thing and it would have been interesting to add these Fighting Man concepts as Morale Checks for sentient monsters and charisma checks for players going up against a fighter of Hero or superhero levels.

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