Monday, April 30, 2012

The Horns of a Dilemma

Well, my friends, the fickle winds of my ADD are shifting yet again. I hate this. I've been in a serious LBB mood and groove (and who knows, it may yet prevail), but I've heard the siren-song of S&W WhiteBox again. I love that game, with one exception: fighters. I know, I know, you've been down this path with me before. My apologies if this post seems like so much old news. In truth, I'm just trying to write my feelings as a way of resolving this dilemma.

I'm definitely committed to the original three classes. My mood hasn't swung so wildly as to embrace the nth classes. My main bone of contention is the fact that in the LBBs the Fighting-Man's main class ability is being able to employ magic swords. They are, bar none, the uber-weapon of LBB D&D, and it is a real boon to be able to take full advantage of them. However, it is a class benefit that is dependent on possessing the item in question. Two 9th level Magic-Users are pretty much equal, because their class ability, magic use, is tied directly to level. Two 9th level Fighting-Men, one with an uber-blade and one with a lesser, unintelligent, blade are much less fairly matched.

I suppose there could be an argument that the M-U relies on his spellbooks and should he lose them, he is in the same boat as the F-M who has no enchanted sword. But, the M-U can make copies of his spellbooks, and by the time he reaches 5th or 6th level, he should definitely have done so. Fighting-Men can't make copies of their swords. Also, spells to add to a spellbook are much easier to come by, in the form of scrolls, than magic blades. 

I like the intelligent sword rules, though. What I'm considering is reducing the frequency of swords with powers. In Monsters & Treasure there is a 50% chance that any sword will have enough intelligence to have powers. Here's what I'm thinking:
  • Cut that back to a pretty small base percentage
  • Modify by each "plus"
  • Change the alignment roll to make most swords Neutral
  • Determine powers pretty much as written
  • Determine if sword has a Purpose (if Lawful or Chaotic)
  • Determine Ego of sword, based on Intelligence, Alignment, Powers, and Purpose
 Intelligent swords and their bearers must arrive at some sort of "understanding" if the Powers of the sword are to be utilized. 

Now, with the role of intelligent swords somewhat more limited, I want to give the Fighting-Man some true class abilities. I came up with some a while back, but I think it's too much, really. So, let me think this through.

D&D combat, and by extension, S&W:WB, models results. It isn't concerned with the blow-by-blow. It grew out of wargaming rules, where the important questions to be answered from combat are: 
  1. Who's still standing?
  2. Who's still effective?
Chainmail's method for representing more capable troop types was to give them the relative ability to render more enemies ineffective at the end of a combat. It did this by allowing so-called "Hero" types to roll more HD in combat, which represented their chance at causing an injury, which would reduce an enemy's effectiveness.

Now, if we accept that D&D combat is abstract and that a to-hit roll does not represent a single swing of the weapon, we can understand what it does represent. The to-hit roll represents the chance, during a given round, of a combatant to have an impact on his enemy's effectiveness, or more importantly, his ability to continue to prosecute the fight. So, I think it should follow naturally from that understanding that a more seasoned and capable combatant would have more opportunities to adversely effect his foe.

So, here is where all this has led me: Fighting-Men get an extra attack each turn at 4th level and again at 8th. I know there are those old-school players who don't hold with multiple attacks per round, and I used to be one of them. However, in keeping with the abstract nature of combat as a whole, I don't necessarily consider this as additional, discrete, attacks, anymore than the one attack is a single swing of the weapon. To me it merely represents greater competence and a heightened ability to force your opponent from the fight. These "attacks" are nothing more than opportunities to injure your opponent, whether that comes in the form of one "attack", two, or three.

What do you guys think? Does that make sense when it is reasoned out like this?


  1. Perhaps scaling it back to an additional attack every 5th or 6th level? Given that the bloke can already hack and slash several mooks to pieces in any round of combat, just seems like he might get too powerful too fast. Or maybe something like an additional 'hit' every third round/2nd round/2 hits a round; that sort of advancement, rather than a straight up +1.

    I do like the idea of increasing his effectiveness in combat, but it seems like the increased THAC0 through leveling is very representative of furthered competence. But definitely the F-M should be secure in his position as physical tank over the other classes.

  2. Thanks for the comments, Joshua. I enjoy getting comments which force me to defend my design ideas. They are either validated by such a defense, or I am shown where they need to be modified.

    I was going to comment on your comment here, but I realized what this really calls for is a follow-up post. So, without further ado . . .