Here is one of the first areas to catch my eye. It has long been common practice to allow players to rearrange numbers by lowering one stat to raise another, typically on a 2-to-1 ratio. Now, I’m not saying this is any different. All I am saying is that it is open to another interpretation. The compelling statement in this case is this “Clerics can use strength on a 3 for 1 basis in their prime requisite area (wisdom), for purposes of gaining experience only. (Men & Magic, pg 10-11)” I believe this can mean that the stats don’t actually change. The “secondary” ones listed merely act to supplement the Prime Requisite. That does make sense, when you consider the advancement paradigm as a whole. There is a relative dearth of direct mechanical bonuses of the sort found in later additions. In the LBBs ability was measured more importantly by level. Rising through the levels could be aided by greater natural ability, but it was only in the attainment of levels that “bottom line” ability was measured. In other words, the character’s ability to influence events in-game was almost solely dependent on level. Thus, any bonus that resulted in a character rising through the levels more rapidly could be construed as the realization of a natural aptitude or innate talent.
Within that paradigm, bonuses to earned experience are very important. Far broader in application, if taking longer to realize, they actually help shape the character, moreso than simple bonuses. Of course, bonuses to-hit and damage make a Fighter better able to survive to higher levels. Yet, a bonus to XP will get the Fighter to the higher levels more quickly, which improves his chances to hit, while also speeding access to more hit points. In later editions power creep came in with the granting of stat bonuses, in addition to XP bonuses.
This was always something of a sore spot for me. In the latter editions, experience did not mean as much as raw ability. A 1st level Fighter with a very high STR in AD&D could have the same chance to hit as a 3rd level Fighter of average STR, and would do significantly more damage. D&D combat has always been about modelling the result of the combat, not the blow-for-blow of it, and over the course of a fight, experience should win out. But, I digress.
I think it is also compelling that only the non-primes get a direct mechanical bonus, and very small ones, at that.
On the whole, I like the idea of interpreting this as the secondary stats listed serve to “buff” the Prime Requisites, but otherwise remain unchanged. I’ve included the full passage of relevant text below, I hope I’m not crossing any copyright lines by doing so.
Explanation of Abilities:
The first three categories are the prime requisites for each of the three classes, Fighting-Men, Magic-Users, and Clerics. (See the Bonuses and Penalties to Advancement due to Abilities table which appears hereafter.)
Strength is the prime requisite for fighters. Clerics can use strength on a 3 for 1 basis in their prime requisite area (wisdom), for purposes of gaining experience only. Strength will also aid in opening traps and so on.
Intelligence is the prime requisite for magical types. Both fighters and Clerics can use it in their prime requisite areas (strength and wisdom respectively) on a 2 for 1 basis. Intelligence will also affect referees’ decisions as to whether or not certain action would be taken, and it allows additional languages to be spoken.
Wisdom is the prime requisite for Clerics. It may be used on a 3 for 1 basis by fighters, and on a 2 for 1 basis by Magic-Users, in their respective prime requisite areas. Wisdom rating will act much as does that for intelligence.
Constitution is a combination of health and endurance. It will influence such things as the number of hits which can be taken and how well the character can withstand being paralyzed, turned to stone, etc.
Dexterity applies to both manual speed and conjuration. It will indicate the character’s missile ability and speed with actions such as firing first, getting off a spell, etc.
Charisma is a combination of appearance, personality, and so forth. Its primary function is to determine how many hirelings of unusual nature a character can attract. This is not to say that he cannot hire men-at-arms and employ mercenaries, but the charisma function will affect loyalty of even these men. Players will, in all probability, seek to hire Fighting-Men, Magic-Users, and/or Clerics in order to strengthen their roles in the campaign. A player-character can employ only as many as indicated by his charisma score:
In addition the charisma score is usable to decide such things as whether or not a witch capturing a player will turn him into a swine or keep him enchanted as a lover. Finally, the charisma will aid a character in attracting various monsters to his service.
Bonuses and Penalties to Advancement due to Abilities:
(Low score is 3-8; Average is 9-12; High is 13-18)
Prime requisite 15 or more: Add 10% to earned experience
Prime requisite 13 or 14: Add 5% to earned experience
Prime requisite of 9 – 12: Average, no bonus or penalty
Prime requisite 8 or 7: Minus 10% from earned experience
Prime requisite 6 or less: Minus 20% from earned experience
Constitution 15 or more: Add +1 to each hit die
Constitution 13 or 14: Will withstand adversity
Constitution of 9 – 12: 60% to 90% chance of surviving
Constitution 8 or 7: 40% to 50% chance of survival
Constitution 6 or Less: Minus 1 from each hit die*
Dexterity above 12: Fire any missile at + 1
Dexterity under 9: Fire any missile at -1
* minimum score of 1 on any die
Note: Average scores are 9-12. Units so indicated above may be used to increase prime requisite total insofar as this does not bring that category below average, i.e. below a score of 9.