Wednesday, July 22, 2009

More OD&D Tidbits

Reading through Volume III of OD&D, I was treated to several intriguing bits I either didn't remember or somehow overlooked in previous readings of the game.
  • "Most doors automatically close," the text notes, which I presume was intended to delay the retreat of the player characters in combat situations or to make them use iron spikes to hold them open (which themselves have a one-third chance of slipping).
  • On the other hand, "Doors will automatically open for monsters," which made me think of Jeff's goblin doors.
  • Characters who are surprised have a 25% chance of dropping an item he is holding. Given my new-found respect for percentile dice, I may just use this rule straight, but there's a part of me that wants to make each player whose character is surprised to roll 1D20 with any result of 1-5 meaning that the character has dropped a random item he's holding.
  • Humanoid monsters can move three abreast down a 10-foot corridor. I've been using two abreast in Dwimmermount up till now. Guess that's going to change ...

21 comments:

  1. "Humanoid monsters can move three abreast down a 10-foot corridor."

    But... no, that won't work! That means one of the minis is going to have to straddle two squares. And how does that work if an effect only covers one of the squares the mini is straddling???

    ;)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Characters who are surprised have a 25% chance of dropping an item he is holding. Given my new-found respect for percentile dice, I may just use this rule straight, but there's a part of me that wants to make each player whose character is surprised to roll 1D20 with any result of 1-5 meaning that the character has dropped a random item he's holding.

    I believe that Holmes has a 1-in-6 of dropping the weapon in hand. Fits better with the d6 roll for surprise.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yeah, the door I still remember well. Doors slamming shut on players, and opening for monsters, is just another one of those things that gave you that creepy-cool feeling early on in the hobby.

    Goes good with that theory that a dungeon should be hostile to all who enter it, and that it sort of has a mind of it's own.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I don't like the chance to drop, though. Maybe if my 85 year old mom turned a corner and saw a troll, she'd drop her cup of tea. But a brave warrior who knows they are likly to be suprised by something? Don't like it.

    ReplyDelete
  5. These are all on my 'missing rules' list I compiled when I read the OD&D pamphlets after having read S&W. My least favorite is the "spikes slipping" rule, which seems to verge on pettiness. "Oh yeah, you spiked the door? Well it might close anyway! nyah."

    ReplyDelete
  6. I don't think I ever used the dropped items rule, probably because I missed it. I'd use it, though, but only when a character is trying to do something critical when surprised. I'd have the character roll 2d6 and pick the best roll for whether they're surprised or not, but if doubles are rolled, they drop what they're holding, but only if doing something like picking a lock, lighting a torch, hauling a friend out of a pit with a rope, and so on. No dropping ready weapons or torches (but maybe dropping an arrow as its being pulled from a quiver.)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Rafial,

    I agree about the spikes, but it's still a rule I'd missed in the past, so I took note of it.

    How extensive is this "missing rules" list you've compiled?

    ReplyDelete
  8. OD&D's description of "antagonistic" door behavior is one of the things that inspired my approach to certain dungeons as being mythic underworlds, and not just holes in the ground.

    In my OD&D game I allow three abreast in a 10' wide passage if the weapons used do not require a great deal of space to wield (e.g. spears, short swords). This is one place where I look to Supplement I, applying its "space required" rules as loose guidelines. For example, I'd allow three with short swords, two with swords, but a single warrior whirling a flail might demand the entire width of the passage. If using minis, I adopt a 3.33 ft. per inch ground scale, so three inches in 10'. (This is the ground scale recommended in the 1e DMG.)

    On dice and probabilities, it doesn't matter to me what die I use if the probability is the same. I'd be just as likely look for a 1 on a d4 as 01-25 on a d%. (Nevertheless, the nice thing about d% is that it's easy to think in terms of percentage chance, and that translates directly to the d%.)

    ReplyDelete
  9. This fits well with the 3' squares for minis recommended in AD&D DMG, as opposed to the modern 5' squares.

    ReplyDelete
  10. As Al points out, EGG was pretty consistent about 3-abreast-in-10' throughout his rules. DMG p. 10:

    "... squares of about 1 actual inch per side are suggested. Each ground scale inch can then be used to equal 3-1/3 linear feet, so a 10’ wide scale corridor is 3 actual inches in width and shown as 3 separate squares. This allows depiction of the typical array of three figures abreast..."

    My personal rule now is that you need to drop all items in hand in order to run.

    ReplyDelete
  11. You could switch the percentage chacne of dropping an item to a wisdom check on 2d8, making wisdom less of a dump stat, perhaps.

    ReplyDelete
  12. 3-in-10 makes sense for people marching in formation or using weapons like pikes or polearms. For the loose skirmishing battles that you might face in a dungeon larger squares might make sense.

    An interesting observation on this switch, however, is that in 3rd edition and later, fights tend to take a lot of space. Some critters are really big, and fights that are too crowded can bog down into endless grinds. I remember a battle we fought inside a pirate ship in which there was not enough room to move at all. That's to say nothing of the core problem of hallways which always seem to be two squares wide, allowing only two PCs to get into combat.

    In 3.5, a room that's 8x10 squares is equivalent to 40x50 (feet) - that's pretty huge. However, if you moved to 3-in-10, an 8x10 room would only be 25x30 - much more reasonable.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Might I suggest folks that use miniatures and a combat grid/tiles use bigger squares to get 3 figures abreast in a 10' wide hall?

    For a while I was using large squares that were declared to be 10' wide, actually they were somewhere over 2" and under 3" to a side. It cut down on some of the fiddly little figure shuffling you see with smaller grids but still allowed quick resolution of distance.

    ReplyDelete
  14. James... my "missing rules" document is slightly over 3 pages. It's rather stream of consciousness and focused on character details and dungeoneering procedure (so for example, no wilderness stuff). I wrote it up as a source to consult when developing my own house rules.

    If you are interested I'd be happy to send you a copy.

    ReplyDelete
  15. My personal rule now is that you need to drop all items in hand in order to run<

    ???

    ReplyDelete
  16. Rafial,

    I'd love to see it. If you could, send it to jmaliszeATgmail.com.

    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Rafial--

    If it isn't too much trouble, would you mind sending one to mail.rpgblog@gmail.com?

    ReplyDelete
  18. 3-1/3 linear feet

    this is so close to 1m that I can't help smiling wryly.

    Is any accommodation made for pikemen, or working in 2 active ranks? Strict formation always feels more appropriate to abstracted smooth dungeon corridors, rather than cave systems with irregular ceiling heights. How much do you think miniatures play imposes its own set of constraints on imagination?

    ReplyDelete
  19. How much do you think miniatures play imposes its own set of constraints on imagination?<

    None really, unless by imagination you mean "no real world physics apply whatsoever."

    I don't strive for super-realism, but I find miniatures a helpful illustration of the tactical possibilities. Saves some time and effort for more important imaginings.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I find miniatures good for another reason too; there's no argument about the position of anyone, relative to anyone else.

    On the other hand, I might run a session of Labyrinth Lord without them soon and compare the results.

    ReplyDelete
  21. "None really, unless by imagination you mean "no real world physics apply whatsoever.""

    I was thinking back to dungeon maps and wondering about the kinds of interactions they imply: years ago when my main miniatures company switched to standard slotted 1" bases I found it inconvenient to put them in narrow squeeze corridors (which, anyway, didn't appear in my friend's gloriously detailed dungeon floorplans), and I found myself dropping such corridors in favour of standard width. In a cave where the ceiling slopes craggily to the floor, the edge squares will be hard to get into and out of. Armour may have to be removed to pass through some narrow clefts or ducts. I wonder if using miniatures tends to discourage that sort of thing.

    ReplyDelete

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.