Friday, December 19, 2008

Dwimmermount Takes Shape

The first session of Dwimmermount is scheduled for this Sunday and the PCs are starting to take shape. So far we have a cleric of Tyche, a gravedigger turned fighting-man -- he uses a pick axe as his weapon, naturally -- a dwarf, and an elf. It's a little more demihuman-heavy than I'd originally expected, but I'm willing to roll with the punches on this one. At this stage, the likelihood that any one of these characters will live to second level, let alone higher, is slim, so I'll worry about the long-term implications of so many non-humans later, if it should become an issue.

On the subject of elves, like all OD&D referees, I need to decide how to handle them. Swords & Wizardry takes a middle road, noting that elves "may choose, on any given day (perhaps when the moon rises) whether to use the capabilities of a magic-user, or of a fighting-man. As a result, the adventurer has two alternate class to-hit bonuses and saving throws, depending upon whether he donned steel that day or summoned up the power to cast spells." While this lends a quirky, fey quality to elves -- and that's a good thing! -- I prefer a different approach: Elves are multi-class characters and before each session, the player of an elf must decide whether he is acting primarily as a fighter or as a magic-user. Which che chooses governs his "to hit" rolls and saves and all experience earned goes toward that class. Regardless, an elf may use any weapon and may cast spells provided he's not wearing non-magical armor.

More on Dwimmermount later.


  1. This has to be the biggest nit I have to pick with early D&D rules for multi- (and dual-) class characters. The notion that my elf F/M-U's (or what have you) to hit roll is lower just because I woke up and said, "I feel like a wizard today!" just seems ridiculous. I can understand this (maybe) from a "game balance" perspective, but it makes no logical sense internal to the game, that I can fathom.

  2. It's easy enough to rationalize if you want. An elf's skill with weapons doesn't come from training but from channeling the natural magics of the earth. If they choose to cast spells they have to divert some of their power which makes them less effective in combat.

  3. I suppose one could explain it in any number of ways, but it just doesn't feel right to me intuitively. Then again I've always had trouble with the weapon restrictions of the various A/D&D classes too. I always allow a magic-user to pick up a sword as a last resort (applying the non-proficiency penalty [AD&D], of course). YMMV.

  4. Actually, on a related note, I've lately thought it might make sense in OD&D to simply not have magic-users ever get better at fighting. It's not like a high-level MU should ever pull out a sword anyway, but it would give the fighting-man back a bit of an advantage.

  5. There should be a stock phrase for wishing someone a good campaign. Bon voyage

    It’s always fun starting a new campaign. Especially when you actually feel prepared. Too often I don’t know I’m going to be running a campaign until the first session. ^_^

    Yeah, when you only have four PCs, two demi-humans is “so many”. And it’s right to take a longer term look at it. Although my last campaign ended up with Cleric, Elf, and Dwarf; there had only been three demi-human PCs out of seven total, which works for me.

    There’s something about the fact that many players do not like playing human PCs and many referees bristle at too many demi-human PCs. I used to think demi-human PCs were only so common (in AD&D) because they were so mechanically attractive (as my group played AD&D), but I’ve known a few players for whom playing a non-human PC is important enough that they’ll do it at a mechanical disadvantage.

  6. And yet the Fellowship of the Ring only had 2 humans in a party of 9!

  7. Looks like it'll be a lot of fun.

    None of the demihuman restrictions ever made any sense to me, even mechanically: differentials in xp requirements should balance nearly anything. I can only conclude that Gary, like James, wanted to make humans the eventual focus.

    And yet the Fellowship of the Ring only had 2 humans in a party of 9!

    that's because the maya-demon who formed the party decided it would be prudent to keep several hobbits around to account for wasteage,* and the rest of the party is a politically-formed "coalition of the willing:" elves and dwarves have to be represented, if there's to be any chance of getting their races involved in the final battle, which, as it turns out, ushers in the age of men and the eclipse of all others. I think my campaign notes on that one might dwell, in retrospect, on just how the humans came out on top.

    *since the hobbits appear basically a form of ablative armour against the corrupting effects of the ring, I think I'd do the same in his shoes.

  8. I've never had a non-human character that I was especially fond of. most of all I think it's because I am a human myself and so is everyone I know. and playing a human character gives me some insight into humanity. demi-human characters tend to run into very narrow stereotypes.

  9. I just don't expect [i]D&D[/i] (designed more than three decades ago, after all) to reflect the latest scientific research into the nature of Elves or Magicians.

  10. And yet the Fellowship of the Ring only had 2 humans in a party of 9!

    You should know by now that I don't consider Tolkien a significant influence over D&D ;-)

  11. You should know by now that I don't consider Tolkien a significant influence over D&D

    I thought you'd enjoy that! :D

  12. I've also never liked 0D&D elves - or multiclassed characters in general. What a load of overcomplicated nonsense. I just haev elves as being fighters that can use magic and drop the rest of the overcomplicated rules nonsense. They have to gain a lot of experience points to go up levels and a level cap anyway and that's enough disadvantages for me.


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