Thursday, January 28, 2021

Zero to Hero

 Welcome to 2021.

So, I had an epiphany. I realized one of the reasons I like OD&D and the Z2H model. If you reference my last post, it is about the part of me that enjoys a more heroic playstyle right out of the gate. It also touches on how 4e supports such a game.

It occurs to me that OD&D functions similarly in its design space, which is the zero-to-hero model. The thing about it, though, that was at the focal point of my epiphany, is that beginning PCs are pretty much common folk. They don't have powers or hit point kickers. Magic users can't cast cantrips at-will. Clerics don't even have spells at 1st level. Fighters have the same chance to-hit as everyone else at 1st level. These are common people who have chosen, or had thrust upon them, a life of adventure.

They may be looked upon with a healthy dose of distrust by their fellow commoners. Yet, by the time they've reached 3rd level or so, the common folk of their home area are starting to look to them to solve dangerous problems. The magic-user can conjure illusions, become invisible, read minds, or bind opponents in a mass of webs. The cleric can cure wounds with a touch and protect himself or others from evil. He can also drive away skeletons and zombies with a command. Fighters can endure longer in combat than normal men, biding their time to land that telling blow. Fighters at this level are also likely outfitted with enchanted armor and/or weapons.

Yet, I believe, that whether at 1st level or higher, they are looked upon with a mixture of awe and envy by their fellow commoners. The barkeep knows that the magic-user could have been him, if only things had been different. The blacksmith knows it could have been him with the gleaming enchanted armor and impossibly sharp magic sword, if only he'd apprenticed to the wandering mercenary.

They all started from the same place. The PCs weren't touched by destiny or singled out by fate. At least not yet. Those proclamations are the province of historians and biographers. In the beginning they are all cut from the same clothe. Far more die in the vain attempt at fame and glory than attain such status.

I think that in a way that is what I find so appealing about this style. I can identify with it. I'm nobody special. If I statted myself out, I wouldn't have a single bonus. But. . . if I could find a sword or a cranky old man that knows a spell or two, I could one day be the guy that saves the village and is everybody's hero. Even if it is just for a day.