Thursday, February 11, 2010

It's Interesting

For some reason, I can always remember that, in AD&D, unarmored characters have an AC of 10, as opposed to 9 in OD&D, but I can never remember that leather armor, which is AC 7 in OD&D, is AC 8 in AD&D. In fact, I'm pretty sure that, back when I played AD&D regularly, I typically treated leather armor as AC 7, even though it wasn't.

I wonder why that is.

21 comments:

  1. Hmmmmm.

    'cause AD&D is wrong ?

    In a lot of ways, it was that exact issue -the sheer "fiddling for fidlinesses sake" that started souring me and my droogs to AD&D in the day -and, FYI, all we had for most of a year was that damned dragon article with the new hit tables and etc, in theory making the PH more of a resource.

    By the way. Hi ! Nice to find y'all.....

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  2. All I know is that leather is AC8, chain & board is AC4 and I'm gonna have huge time adjusting to LL as my weapon of choice.

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  3. Since I've always played Basic modules with 1e and not bothered to convert AC either way, none of this has ever bothered me. None of my players have ever worried about it either. They've never asked "what type of armour am I trying to hit?" It's always simply been "What's their armour class?" Give 'em a number, any number - they don't care - they just want to know what they need to hit. I love watching people getting their knickers in a knot over stuff like this though.

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  4. As I began gaming with 3e descending armor class confuses, frightens, and intrigues me. Its sorta like looking at the pyramids and wondering just how they managed to do that with the tools they had "back in the day."

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  5. I have never figured out why naked was AC 9 in OD&D. It seems so random to make the base number 9. But maybe that's becuase I do the opposite of James and always assume AD&D values.

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  6. Here's one way to think of AC 10 = no armor in 2E AD&D.

    Change the d20 roll from "higher is better" to a system of rolling "lower is better". For a level 0 normal man trying to hit an opponent with AC_target, the to-hit number to roll less than or equal to is exactly: AC_target.

    For a 2E AD&D fighter with level_fighter trying to hit an opponent with AC_target, the to-hit number to roll less than or equal to is exactly:

    (level_fighter + AC_target)

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  7. I don't know if the to-hit charts in AD&D were different from those in Basic, but the baseline of AC 9 makes a lot of sense to me. It means that two unarmored normal men need to roll 11's or better to hit each other, basically a 50/50 chance.

    Also, I think there's a certain elegance to the ACs in Basic, with only three armor types giving ACs 9 (unarmored), 7 (leather), 5 (chain), and 3 (plate). With a shield able to reduce AC by 1, you basically have one kind of armor combination for every AC value from 9 to 2.

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  8. I like the symmetry of 2 > 4 > 6 for Plate+Shield > Chain + Shield > Leather + Shield, or Heavy > Medium > Light. I can't be sure, but I have a feeling I was always doing the same thing as James with Leather = AC 7 in AD&D.

    If descending AC makes you feel yucky, try not to think of AC as "how good you are at not being hit" - in which case a smaller number being better can freak some people out. Instead think of AC as "how likely you are to be hit" in which case the bigger the number the more likely you're going to lose hit points.:)

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  9. I always thought of armour class as armour CLASS.

    Ie, lower is better. No one gives up 1st class plane tickets for 2nd class. No one wants to "upgrade" to a 2nd class citizen.

    Thus someone would prefer and armour class of 1 to 2.

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  10. Did you leather-clad PCs in AD&D tend to carry shields?

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  11. All I know is that leather is AC8, chain & board is AC4 and I'm gonna have huge time adjusting to LL as my weapon of choice.

    And therein lies the frustration: in OD&D, chain + shield is also AC 4, just like in AD&D; it's only leather armor whose AC differs between the two games.

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  12. I have never figured out why naked was AC 9 in OD&D. It seems so random to make the base number 9.

    That's probably because it is random, or at least arbitrary.

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  13. Did you leather-clad PCs in AD&D tend to carry shields?

    Druids regularly carried shields, yes, and assassins sometimes did.

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  14. Philotomy Jurament pointed out to me once that the reason for descending AC might have to do with making a distinction between normal armor and magical armor since it seems to be impossible to achieve a negative armor class on the descending scale otherwise. Ascending AC doesn't really have the same "line in the sand". I'm indifferent as to which is better though descending seems to have me doing math in my head a bit more.

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  15. I thought that the differences in the two were because of a Gygax/Arneson separation. By creating a new line (AD&D) royalties for AD&D would not have to be paid to Mr. Arneson as it would be considered a different game.

    Maintaining the Basic D&D line ensured that Mr. Arneson was paid something and at the same time TSR was able to walk the thin line between what was becoming two distinct roleplaying groups.

    More attention was paid to the AD&D product; however, a look at the Basic D&D line seems to bring about a cohesiveness that I found somewhat unexpected when I started collecting TSR products.

    Honestly, the Basic D&D line (at least the Holmes and parts of the Moldvay Cook editions) appear to be more of a direct descendant of OD&D than AD&D.

    From Wikipedia:
    In 1977, despite the fact that he was no longer at TSR, Arneson published Dungeonmaster's Index, a 38-page booklet that indexed all of TSR's D&D properties to that point in time, including Chainmail, the original 3-book set of D&D, the five D&D supplements (Greyhawk; Blackmoor; Eldritch Wizardry; Gods, Demi-gods & Heroes; and Swords & Spells), and all seven issues of The Strategic Review.
    TSR had agreed to pay Arneson royalties on all D&D products, but when the company came out with Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D) in 1977, it claimed that this was a significantly different product and did not pay him royalties. In response, Arneson filed the first of five lawsuits against Gygax and TSR in 1979. Two years later, in March 1981, as part of a confidential agreement, Arneson and Gygax resolved the suits out of court by agreeing that they would both be credited as "co-creators" on the packaging of D&D products from that point on, but this did not end the lingering tensions between them. (Twenty years later, Wizards of the Coast (WotC) bought TSR and wanted to drop the word "Advanced" from its planned third edition of D&D. WotC CEO Peter Adkison approached Arneson to resolve the two-decade-old issue and for an undisclosed sum of money, Arneson agreed to release all claims to D&D.)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dave_Arneson#After_TSR

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  16. I started a thread on this subject at K&K.

    http://knights-n-knaves.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?p=79168#79168

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  17. I thought that the differences in the two were because of a Gygax/Arneson separation. By creating a new line (AD&D) royalties for AD&D would not have to be paid to Mr. Arneson as it would be considered a different game.

    There's more than a little truth to this, although I don't believe anyone knows for certain what specific changes were added to the game for that reason as opposed to others. It's all made murkier by the fact that the out of court settlements forbade those involved from talking about the matter, which is a shame for those of us interested in the history.

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  18. "For some reason, I can always remember that, in AD&D, unarmored characters have an AC of 10, as opposed to 9 in OD&D, but I can never remember that leather armor, which is AC 7 in OD&D, is AC 8 in AD&D."

    Same here. It's the power-of-10 thing that makes it easier to remember. Partly why I advocate the fixed-target-20-system (as opposed to ascending AC or THACO).

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  19. "I have never figured out why naked was AC 9 in OD&D. It seems so random to make the base number 9."

    This I think you're looking at in the wrong direction. The OD&D tables start with plate & shield as a base and step down from there. If anything, the question is why not start with class 1 instead of 2.

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  20. Post by post I find myself creeping to the dark (light?) side with regard to the target 20 notion...

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  21. I have little to add but, I really love this kind of observation and reflection, James.
    I've recently been interested in all the various Saving Throws between all the D&D systems. Dunno why, perhaps due to my perceived "quirkiness" of the whole system?
    For the Planet Algol character sheet that I whipped up, I even made an effort to "universalize" the names of all the saves. I ended up constructing a chart of the various versions and took it from there.

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