Wednesday, May 9, 2018

A Quick Thought on Magic-Users

A la "vintage" D&D. A thought I've had over time, and I've seen expressed my many others, is that magic-users should dominate world affairs at higher levels. I find it to be a valid point. Many rules and house rules have sought to mitigate this. Some are mechanical, the so-called nerfing of the class. Some are setting-based, with magical colleges dedicated to keeping rogue wizards in check.

I submit to you that a possible answer to this conundrum lies at the point of character creation: the HP roll. We've all played in vintage games where characters start 1st level with maximum hit points. Sometimes there's even a "kicker" of 10 to 25 points. Survivability at low level, we say.

Now, bear with me down a brief tangent. Stat requirements for classes were implemented by Mr Gygax as a way to simulate the relative rarity of certain classes. If only 1 person in 1000 was a paladin, that needed to be reflected in the rules somehow. Lest every Tom-Dick-and-Harry would play one.  Stat requirements keep the occurrence of certain classes within norms.

Now, back to the magic-user. With a d4 hit die, and likely no CON bonus (3d6 and all), it would be a rare magic-user that makes it to 2nd level, let alone to empire-controlling majesty. So, I propose that the "control" on runaway magic-users is baked right into the class at inception.

That brings me to a larger thought about tinkering and house rules, but that will be another time.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

A Quick Thought on Thieves

I was thinking about BECMI yesterday. I love those rules. Of course, I was well "advanced" when they came out, so they weren't my introduction. In point of fact, I've never played or ran a single session under these rules. I owned all the sets, though, and I longed to use them. My group, however, wasn't having it.

See, even in the mid/late 80's I was feeling drawn to a simpler D&D. It seemed to me that we could have a rousing good time with these sets, most especially the BEC components. From time to time I would drift back to them, but more for my own edification.

Anyway, one of the knocks against them is the thief progression. It was recalibrated from Moldvay/Cook to allow for (ultimately) a 36-level progression. Consequently the numbers were lowered. I've not taken an in-depth look to see how egregious the offense actually is, but it does get talked about a lot.

Here's an interesting thing, though. A 1st level fighter needs a 19 to hit an AC0 target, strength bonus not withstanding. That equates to a 10% chance. A 1st level thief can Find/Remove Traps and Hide in Shadows at 10%. A common thought would be "Yeah, but 1st level fighters don't usually tangle with AC0 opponents!" and you'd be right. Somewhere around AC4 is more of a "suitable" encounter. Better than that and it may be time for a retreat strategy.

Here's my question: Why not give the thief similar easement? Look at the percentages as serious tests of their skill. AC0 opponents for a 1st level fighter are likely to be life-or-death situations. Treat rolls at the base percentages the same for thieves. Otherwise give them bonuses, reasonable bonuses, based on circumstances. Say the party is held hostage in an orc outpost. Orc locks are likely to be clunky, unsophisticated affairs, so give the thief a bonus to picking one. To me is stands to reason that if an orc is easier for the fighter to defeat then so to should an orc lock be easier for the thief. There's a certain symmetry there.

Anyway, I know that for the most part my groups have rarely modified the thief tables, aside from Dex ands race. I know there are many of you that do it without a thought and all this is old news to you. Juxtaposing it with the fighter, though, really opened my eyes to the possibility.