Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Modest Proposal

Here's a thought: I'll agree never to talk about how loathsome I find ascending armor class if everyone else agrees never to complain about demihuman level limits. Deal?

52 comments:

  1. B-but I was just about to post some anti-level limit houserules!

    ReplyDelete
  2. As a long time Halfling player I've grown to accept and love my level limit. A Dwarf may need 12 levels to feel accomplished, and heavens knows what humans are compensating for, but a Halfling is good before he even reaches Name.

    @ blizack:
    So long as you don't complain about the original rules I think the deal still stands.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Killjoy.

    (Can I still complain about silly weapon restrictions? Oh...)

    ReplyDelete
  4. So you agree not to complain about something good if we agree not to complain about something bad?

    That doesn't sound like a good deal.

    ;)

    ReplyDelete
  5. If that proposal was universal, game blogs and message boards would lose half of their content overnight!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I hate both arguments so no problem here...

    ReplyDelete
  7. Neither is my favorite topic, but no deal.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Well now that that is over with, let us move on to the debate about whether Tolkien dwarven women (and by association d&d among some) had beards!

    ReplyDelete
  9. It's posts like this that occasionally snap me out of my admiring trance on this blog and remind me "oh yeah, this guy really can be a grognard in the most pejorative sense of the term."

    Race as class? Ok, I see what you're going for with that. Valid design choice.

    The thief (and skill systems) being problematic? You make good points on that score too sir.

    Sandbox play vs storyline play? You took the words right out of my mouth.

    Heroic instead of super-heroic? Yeah, I kinda miss that sometimes too.

    The value of pulp fantasy in its undiluted form? You've mostly sold me on that.

    But archaic, circuitous, fiddly Armor Class math? Sorry, your judgment is compromised by nostalgia. No deal.

    *Dons his proudly +8 AC plate armor to withstand the incoming smackdown*

    ReplyDelete
  10. But.. the first time I read any D&D ruleset I found descending AC and Demihuman level limits stupid.

    Always been dumb, always WILL BE DUMB.

    CUZ GARY DID IT has never been an acceptable answer.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Man, I was hoping this would be a post about Paladins eating kobold babies...


    WV: foring (adj.) The feeling I had yesterday trying to read a few pages of the latest 'official' version of the rules.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Ascending armor class made absolute sense to me the first time I saw it. It was logical and easy to keep track of.

    THAC0 and descending armor class still fit like an old set of ringmail, and I would not mind playing in someone's game using it, but for my games, armor class goes up.

    Demihuman level limits we simply never used in any of our games. Just could not find any reason to agree that those should be included. It definitely says something, however, that our 3.x parties are never less than 50% elven, and often more.

    Keep fighting the good fight, Grognard. Can you link me to where in your blog you've laid out the case for descending armor class? I'm sure your opinions on this matter would be great reading, and it is always possible I will change my mind.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Judging by the comments to this entry, I'm guessing that humor simply doesn't translate well into a blog format ...

    ReplyDelete
  14. I shall be twice damned then... Once for liking ascending Armour Class -- oh thank you, Gamma World Fourth Edition, and then again for thinking that demihuman limits to be artificial and silly.

    ReplyDelete
  15. If that proposal was universal, game blogs and message boards would lose half of their content overnight!

    Only the bad ones. We here at Grognardia endeavor to find things far more silly to argue about than such tired old saws!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Well now that that is over with, let us move on to the debate about whether Tolkien dwarven women (and by association d&d among some) had beards!

    Of course they did. To suggest otherwise is a rank heresy to which none of my loyal readers would dare to stoop!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Reactionary. Everyone knows those beards were fake.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Color me disappointed. When I saw the title, I thought you were suggesting that we solve the low profitability of pen-and-paper rpgs by selling the flesh of console gamers as beef jerky in game stores.
    I click on the link just to find you revisiting issues I have long solved and laid to rest once and for all.
    A) the number you need to hit the bugbear is in the chart that only the DM sees. Roll your dice and tell the DM what you rolled and he will tell you if you hit or not.
    B) All characters die before they reach second level, so there is no sense in crying over whether or not your halfling can get to 'Lord' level. Your halfling is unlikely to survive the next room.

    ReplyDelete
  19. The only problem I've ever had with demi-human level limits is that it's only really a limit if you actually play to those levels. Which I personally never did. Thus, they didn't feel like much of a balancing factor me.

    ReplyDelete
  20. > But archaic, circuitous, fiddly Armor Class math? Sorry, your judgment is compromised by nostalgia. No deal.

    Ascending AC is "old school", as noted previously, just not mainstream; q.v. Stephen Marsh - and no doubt others - in the late 70s.

    > Well now that that is over with, let us move on to the debate about whether Tolkien dwarven women (and by association d&d among some) had beards!

    Which leads one to suspect that Games Workshop were deliberately contrary only to avoid being called a Tolkien rip-off, eh? ;)

    > Judging by the comments to this entry, I'm guessing that humor simply doesn't translate well into a blog format ...

    :p

    ReplyDelete
  21. I don't complain about level limits. I simply point out how they are wrong.

    :)

    ReplyDelete
  22. The only problem I've ever had with demi-human level limits is that it's only really a limit if you actually play to those levels. Which I personally never did. Thus, they didn't feel like much of a balancing factor me.

    There's some truth to this. Most D&D characters back in the day didn't make it to 8th level, let alone higher, so it was rare that level limits ever mattered much. However, I do know that there are some players for whom the mere fact that their characters might be limited later is enough to dissuade them from choosing a demihuman character rather than a human one. I don't think this was the norm nor do I think it's a particularly effective way to dissuade people from choosing demihumans, if that's one goal, but I have seen it occur nonetheless.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Ascending AC is "old school", as noted previously, just not mainstream; q.v. Stephen Marsh - and no doubt others - in the late 70s.

    Ascending AC was common enough in the old days, much like spell points, but it was definitely "heterodox." I don't recall any official attempts to adopt it in OD&D or AD&D, not even during the revision process that culminated in 2e.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Aquatic Environment: "But archaic, circuitous, fiddly Armor Class math? Sorry, your judgment is compromised by nostalgia. No deal."

    To-hit algorithm: d20+HD+AC >= 20.

    Done. Not circuitous or fiddly. All additive and requires only 1-digit stats.

    http://www.superdan.net/oed/target20/

    ReplyDelete
  25. Its not that Descending isn't easy to do provided your character sheet has a chart.

    Its just not a GOOD thing, and one of those sacred Garyisms that should have been squished out really fast for not really making sense.

    Look at a chart vs roll D20 and add your bonuses and wham that's what you hit.

    Anything that can remove charts is a GOOD thing.

    Its also why things like weapons vs AC and hit locations never caught on with most people. More charts to learn.

    (For the record I don't even like Hit Locations in Runequest and thus use CoC styled HP for my BRP fun. In my X Plorers Vehicle/Mecha house rules I don't have hit locations either.)

    As to Dwarf women? No beards. Which is also realistic from a nature point of view. How many male animals look more impressive with fancy stuff over female? LOTS. Do Dwarf dudes go crazy in most settings about their beards? YES.

    Thus Dwarf men have beards and women do not as it was their original evolutionary bit to attract females by having fancy face hair.

    YOU KNOW IT. AND NOW CAN'T UN KNOW IT.

    ReplyDelete
  26. > Ascending AC was common enough in the old days, much like spell points, but it was definitely "heterodox."

    Yep; that was the other example I had in mind - the earliest abstract example of which I've found being Rob Kuntz's use of the concept in a "non-standard"(!) manner pre-dating (I /think/) the publication of OD&D.

    > I don't recall any official attempts to adopt it in OD&D or AD&D, not even during the revision process that culminated in 2e.

    *nods*. There are always varying degrees of "unofficialness", of course. :)

    ReplyDelete
  27. > Anything that can remove charts is a GOOD thing.

    RIP Judges Guild and Rolemaster. -v-

    Oh; that's not what you were meaning, /was/ it? ;)

    ReplyDelete
  28. If I'm going back to descending AC I'll need to dig out my Combat Wheel, which I proudly reinforced with poster board and gave the whole a nice, dull matte spray finish for protection.

    Seriously, I need to find the f'er. It's packed away in the recesses of the "gaming storage closets"

    ReplyDelete
  29. If I'm going back to descending AC I'll need to dig out my Combat Wheel, which I proudly reinforced with poster board and gave the whole a nice, dull matte spray finish for protection.

    Those were awesome. I used mine back in the day and it made even weapon vs. AC modifiers easy to use. Loved that thing. Wish I still had it.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Like the flowing beard of a comely level-limited dwarfess over her chain mail, AC descends as it gets better.

    Next?

    ReplyDelete
  31. "Those were awesome."

    The combat wheels were great. I'm sure mine is tucked away in a box around here somewhere.

    ReplyDelete
  32. What is this fighting wheel you speak of?

    I vaguely remember something, maybe from Dragon? Or perhaps this http://www.acaeum.com/ddindexes/miscpages/fighting.html

    That is neat.

    If/when I use "complex" weapon rules such as weapon vs AC, RM style crits, etc. I prefer to have each weapon with it's particular stats/charts on a 3x5 card or sheet of paper(RM requires this much flippin space) all nicely laid out using every scrap of UI design and psychology knowledge I know to make it easy.

    ReplyDelete
  33. @Norman:

    The Acaeum link is it, exactly.

    ReplyDelete
  34. One can get rid of to hit charts AND use descending armor class:
    http://www.superdan.net/oed/target20/

    ReplyDelete
  35. (OT)
    > Norman Harman wrote:
    > I prefer to have each weapon with it's particular stats/charts on a 3x5 card or sheet of paper(RM requires this much flippin space) all nicely laid out using every scrap of UI design and psychology knowledge I know to make it easy.

    All that's needed are the crit tables and a hand-held computer, or two (I was using various Casios and Sharps from the 1980s onwards) as ALL the RM attack tables have a logical progression that can be compressed into a very short string representation.
    Using cardboard cut-out depictions to number PCs and "monsters" meant that those could be coded in, too, for use as required.
    Net result; relatively quick and easy-to-run combats with a better feel of realism than xD&D and most other options, IMHO.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Doesn't dragon foot have the old wheel chart in a PDF?

    ReplyDelete
  37. Dwarven women have beards like Balrogs have wings.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Come on, you know you could never keep that promise :)

    ReplyDelete
  39. Woah, did my little beard comment take off.

    Well since it did, here’s my theory with Tolkien: According to him- they are only a third of the whole population, are jealously guarded by them, and seldom travel out. Thus, they are rare and obviously vital. I say: Hidden and jealously guarded deep in dwarven communities, they are disguised as males before strangers (beard and all). Very rarely do they travel outdoors (and I suspect when they do, they are disguised). Thus, the false legend of dwarven women. Based upon the person I believe him to be, I think he would had found the idea of actual bearded dwarven women rather repulsive, yet he was fond of purposely leaving mysteries in the fabric of Arda. Simply my humble theory on the Professor’s work.

    ReplyDelete
  40. I have to admit to never hearing about a combat wheel. Anyone have a link to an image?

    ReplyDelete
  41. (RP3) Fighting Wheel at the TSR Archive.

    My own looks different. I think mine came with an issue of Dragon.

    ReplyDelete
  42. I actually disagree with the descending AC, but love level limits. Does that mean I can complain without repercussions?

    ReplyDelete
  43. One of the ironies is that using charts and descending AC (which are said to be less logical, less intuitive, etc.,), I have found that the average group has been able to roll through lots more encounters in a typical 4 hour session than using the 'more uniform and logical' d20 rules. Especially at high levels. In most d20 games, a high level combat (with several lvl 10 players) seems to last the whole session. It may be more logical, but it always seems to take longer. What's up with that?

    So it may be easier

    ReplyDelete
  44. I have found that the average group has been able to roll through lots more encounters in a typical 4 hour session than using the 'more uniform and logical' d20 rules.

    IMHO, this is about the overall complexity of the rules. When you’re playing classic D&D, there just isn’t enough complexity to make complaints about different mechanics or the direction of AC worth bothering with. The more complex things get (whether from house rules or an edition with more rules), then those complaints start to find traction.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Come on, you know you could never keep that promise :)

    Fortunately, no one else would be able to do so either, so I'm good :)

    ReplyDelete
  46. Does that mean I can complain without repercussions?

    Knock yourself out :)

    ReplyDelete
  47. When you’re playing classic D&D, there just isn’t enough complexity to make complaints about different mechanics or the direction of AC worth bothering with. The more complex things get (whether from house rules or an edition with more rules), then those complaints start to find traction.

    Insightful as ever, Robert. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  48. Normally I would not post for something like this but coming from the illustrious computer game Dwarf Fortress the best of the games crafted by a Godly programmer known as The Toady One. I must stress that of course dwarven females have beards and the bigger the beard a dwarf has the higher social rank up to being a noble. Dwarves when born look like little balls of beard, The one born with the biggest beard is declared to be the future king or queen as is only their right!

    ReplyDelete

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