Monday, July 19, 2010

Blue Book, Cover to Cover (Part IX)

The resolution of combat, which Holmes calls "the most exciting part of the game," is probably the area where the Blue Book differs the most and often most subtly from the LBBs. It's also where I suspect that the editorial hand of Gygax or someone else at TSR muddled things the most. For example, Holmes states that "The more complex system used for advanced play allows for varying amounts of damage by different weapons and by various sorts of monsters," but, while the rules do stick to OD&D's 1d6 damage for all weapon types, the monster listings follow Greyhawk despite the quote above. This is corroborated later, when it's noted that "The number of damage points scored by a monster is variable."

Holmes's discussion of combat is longer than in OD&D for two reasons. One, there are no references to Chainmail and everything, right down to how to roll dice, is explained in greater detail. The result is a system that's no more complex than in the LBBs but is more clear. Holmes does note, however, that
The combat tables used by D&D gamers are often extremely complicated. Full tables are given in ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS. The tables below are deliberately simplified, but will take some practice to use them with facility. Once the system is mastered, however, players can add whatever modifications they wish.
Again, Holmes encourages tinkering with the rules. His "deliberately simplified" combat tables cover only levels 1-3, at which levels all character classes have the same hit probabilities in OD&D, although this differs from AD&D, where fighting men gain better hit chances faster. Holmes also includes a line for a "normal man," something not explicit in OD&D but descended from Chainmail. The numbers on the chart match those in the LBBs.

Holmes retains a strong association between an armor class number and the type of armor it signifies, so AC 7 says "leather armor" in the combat chart itself, a connection AD&D hopelessly muddles with its introduction of overlapping armor types. Unfortunately, the Blue Book isn't entirely consistent on this point.
The "armor class" of humanoid monsters is literally the armor they are wearing (or possibly their skin/hide!). For non-human creatures, however, it is assigned partly on this basis, with strong armor class for scales and shells, and partly on the basis of difficulty to hit. Thus a small fast creature, like a vampire bat, might be hard to hit with a sword and could be assigned "armor class: plate" (AC 3) to indicate this, although its own skin would make it seem more like "armor class: none."
Granted, this ambiguity has always been present in D&D, but this passage really lays it bare. Oddly, Holmes uses the phrases "armor class: plate" and "armor class: none," which I rather like, as they show much more clearly that the armor class numbers are not meant to be target numbers but rather numeric signifiers -- shorthand for ease of communication.

Holmes's monster attack tables differ from those in OD&D. The hit dice categories are slightly different, especially at the low end. For example, the LBBs start the chart at "Up to 1" hit dice, while Holmes starts it at "up to 1+1." It's a small thing but a possibly noteworthy one.

Simple rules for poisoned weapons are introduced, with differing saves depending on the effect of the poison. The rules also note that "It is recommended that the Dungeon Master not allow players to make use of poisoned weapons in all but extreme situations." Flaming oil is explicitly treated as a weapon as well. There are details of how much area burning oil covers, how much damage it does, and how long it burns before extinguishing. More interesting is that there's a system presented for how to throw oil, with the number needed on a 1D20 roll not being connected to the target's armor class but rather its size. Using oil is a two-stage process, requiring first a hit with the oil and a separate hit with a flaming object, such as a torch or a lantern, to ignite it. Burning oil is effective against corporeal undead, although those immune to normal weapons take only half damage from it. Of course, holy water works exactly like burning oil against all undead, except that it (presumably) doesn't require a second roll to ignite it and it does full damage against even those immune to normal weapons.

Missile combat is fairly straightforward, with short ranged attacks getting a bonus to hit and long ranged getting a penalty. Cover is treated briefly and it's noted that characters cannot safely fire into melee because of the probability of hitting friendly characters.

Holmes follows OD&D in noting that a magic weapon's bonus applies only to hit, not damage, as additional damage is among those "other powers" a magic weapon might possess. Meanwhile, bonuses for magic armor and shields subtract from the attacker's roll rather than changing the armor class of the defender. It's a small point perhaps, but it's consonant with the LBBs' approach and is further evidence that armor class was originally intended to be static and closely tied to a single armor type.

As noted earlier, melee rounds are 10 seconds long. Movement during combat is limited to 20 feet per round for an unarmored man and 10 feet per round for an armored one. Daggers grant two attacks per round, while two-handed swords, battle axes, halberds, flails, morning stars, and most polearms can only be used once every other round. Light crossbows likewise operate only once every other round and heavy crossbows take "twice as long to load and fire." Monsters, on the other hand, can use their full routine of attacks each round.

Initiative is determined by Dexterity, with highest Dexterity going first. However, if the Dexterity scores of two combatants are"within 1 or 2 points of each, a 6-sided die is rolled for each opponent and the higher scorer gains initiative." Surprise is mentioned as granting initiative but there are no explicit rules for surprise. Attacking a fleeing target grants a +2 bonus to hit and the target does not benefit from wearing a shield. Holmes introduces rules for parrying. A character may elect not to attack but to parry an incoming attack, which imposes a penalty of -2 on his attacker's roll. If the attack still hit by rolling exactly the number needed, the parrying weapon is broken but no damage is inflicted. It takes a round to draw a new weapon. Holmes also grants a +2 bonus to attack any opponent withdrawing from combat. He mentions the possibility of surrendering but provides no rules to handle it beyond referee judgment.

The Blue Book provides two combat examples, a short one between a fighting man, Bruno the Battler, and a goblin. It's a very straightforward combat without anything unusual in it. The second example pits a party against six large spiders. Among the characters are Bruno the Battler in a return engagement, another fighting man named Mogo the Mighty, a magic-user named Malchor, and a cleric called Clarissa. Bruno "dies a horrible death" because of a failed save versus poison, alas.
This last example illustrates several things. When there is time, or when a magic-user says he is getting a spell ready, magic spells go off first. This is followed by any missile fire, if the distance to the monsters permits, and then melee is joined, after which no missile fire is permitted because of the danger of hitting friendly forces. If a magic-user is not involved in the melee he can get another spell off after 1 or more round have gone by. If he is personally attacked he can't concentrate to use his magic but must draw his dagger and defend his skin! However, if the magic-user had some magical device -- such as a wand or a staff -- it could be used in lieu of the dagger as an attack weapon.
And that pretty well sums up Blue Book combat, which is largely in line with the LBBs mechanically but much more clearly presented and simplified, adding only a few rules, such as parrying and Dexterity-based initiative, that seem to represent house rules employed by Holmes.

37 comments:

  1. I'll have to go over the Holmes flaming oil discussion again - was this part of OD&D or was it a Holmes innovation? And how were the specific rules different from what came later (AD&D, B/X, BECMI)?

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  2. To me Ascending AC is just manifestly easier to use then the old charts. When I first encountered this in D&D 3.0 on of my first thoughts was I would so adopt this if I thought of it back in the day.

    The main implication of using the AC as a shorthand for the armor you are wearing is the weapon vs AC chart. If you not using that then what the point of keeping descending AC.

    And if Weapons vs Armor was important to your rules would argue that there equally D&Dish ways of handling it like 2nd edition Bludgeon, Edge, Point setup.

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  3. Wayne,

    There aren't really any rules for burning oil in the LBBs beyond noting that it may deter some monsters from pursuit. Moldvay follows Holmes almost to the letter, except that throwing a flask is treated like a normal missile attack. In Holmes, you must roll 11 or higher, modified upward or downward depending on the size of your target. I have no idea if the rules are Holmes's own invention or if they appeared somewhere else.

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  4. To me Ascending AC is just manifestly easier to use then the old charts. When I first encountered this in D&D 3.0 on of my first thoughts was I would so adopt this if I thought of it back in the day.

    People keep saying this, but I contend that there's nothing "manifestly" about it. Some people find it easier; some don't. Given that, the best one can say is that one finds one or the other easier personally. And since I also prefer to cleave closely to the original rules when possible, retaining descending AC is perfectly defensible.

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  5. I'm an "armor reduces damage, not the chance to hit" partisan, regardless of which way the AC chart goes, but I do like the idea of using descriptors rather than numbers.

    I used to allow poisoned weapons in my AD&D games, as long as the characters understood there was a strong societal bias against it and suspicion of those who used it. Interestingly, hardly anyone tried to use a poisoned weapon.

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  6. Another Holmes' Bat/AC discussion:

    http://odd74.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=holmes&action=display&thread=3026

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  7. There are sound mathematical reasons for wanting to make damage variable. Changing the to-hit value alters the expected value of damage over time. However, if you keep damage constant, the the variance remains constant as well. The two dimensions of to-hit and damage allow variations in both expected value and variance.

    Changes in variance are important for high-risk/high-reward combats. Many psychological studies have demonstrated the appeal of this to gamers (not just in RPGs, but in many other games as well). Why do you think players love critical hits (especially open-ended critical hits) so much?

    However, I am not convinced that Holmes thought of it this way.

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  8. @Walker: But, as I wrote in reply to an earlier Holmes post, variable damage also changes forever the fundamental nature of magic-users (and to a lesser extent clerics), since their weapon choice is changed from a good one (equal to all others) to a poor one (producing only minor damage). This makes them more reliant on their spells, which converts the LBB and BB reasonable restrictions on spells into crippling ones, which both creates the one-hour adventure day and fuels the arms race in house rules and edition changes to increase the number of spells magic-users get.

    And of course, those changes breed additional changes of their own. D&D with or without variable-weapon damage, once all the consequences are worked out, end up being two radically different games.

    I'm not arguing that variable-weapon damage isn't a valid way to go. I'm arguing that it is not a minor change, and must be evaluated on more than a purely mathematical basis if you are to do justice to the scale of the decision.

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  9. Holmes also includes a line for a "normal man," something not explicit in OD&D but descended from Chainmail.

    Actually, the "normal man" in OD&D on page 19 right under the attack matrix: "Normal men equal 1st level fighters". This was changed in Swords & Spells, though.

    People keep saying this, but I contend that there's nothing "manifestly" about it. Some people find it easier; some don't. Given that, the best one can say is that one finds one or the other easier personally. And since I also prefer to cleave closely to the original rules when possible, retaining descending AC is perfectly defensible.

    Whilst I find both equally easy, the best argument for keeping descending armour class is simply for backwards compatibility, which has been thoroughly eroded in the last ten years with D20. However, if you are mainly using TSR era resources and products that consciously replicate them, as most who are playing "old school" do, then the choice is obvious.

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  10. Matthew,

    Quite right about the Normal Men reference in OD&D! My eyes must be failing me again. Of course, in OD&D, Normal Men are the equals of 1st-level fighting men, whereas in Holmes they are slightly less effective.

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  11. @Rick:
    I take that as an argument not against variable damage, but that weapon restrictions needed to be thought out more carefully. In other words, instead of blanket restrictions, the game needs balance the trade off of spell specialization with weapon specialization.

    At the end of the day, these mathematical formulations really do dominate discussions of game balance, either explicitly or implicitly. DPS discussions on the WoW boards are a natural extension of arguments that players have been having since the hobby began. The problem was that many of the designers of OD&D never even thought of these issues in the first place. In fact, the heavy reliance on tables in the game often made this type of analysis difficult.

    One of the benefits (despite all the other warts) of the Wizards take-over and 3e was that people started to actually think about these issues. Unfortunately, they took that as a mandate to make the system more complex, and not simpler.

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  12. Just after Christmas in 1979, at the age twelve, I was running games and puzzling out Holmes' rules. At that time, I could not understand why anyone would carry a two-handed sword. 1d6 of damage every other round? A dagger does the same 1d6 damage and has 2x the number of attacks per round.

    As much as I agree with the previous poster regarding the AD&D arms race, I cannot get past this. Am I missing something?

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  13. "Daggers grant two attacks per round..."

    This is possibly the most broken rule in any RPG I've ever seen. In retrospect, it's amazing as a kid how many years it took me to realize this (a bit of a blind spot on my part). It's the one thing in my copy of Holmes I've got highlighted, because sometimes I think I must have hallucinated such a rule.

    @Jeff: There's nothing you're missing, and there's no excuse for it. The best one could say is that perhaps it's an overly-aggressive edit of AD&D initiative rules where daggers might possibly sometimes get two attacks against certain opponents (and also reduced damage), but I feel a bit dirty even trying to defend it that much.

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  14. Quite right about the Normal Men reference in OD&D! My eyes must be failing me again. Of course, in OD&D, Normal Men are the equals of 1st-level fighting men, whereas in Holmes they are slightly less effective.

    Yes, indeed. Not owning a copy of Holmes, I cannot be sure, but probably he is following Swords & Spells, which distinguishes between "normal men" and "first level fighters" by putting the THAC0 (for want of a better term) at 20 as compared to the Fighter's 19. The same trend is exported to AD&D, but as 21 and 20.

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  15. I cannot for the life of me think how anyone can justify d6 damage for ANY type of weapon.

    It flies in the face of logic.

    A bigger weapon WILL do more damage than a smaller one.

    A broadsword will do more damage than a dagger. It's common sense.

    If the "d6 for all weapons" were translated to real life, the whole of advancement of weapons over human history would be at rocks.

    The ONLY reason they had the d6 damage mechanic was because polyhedral dice beyond a d6 were VERY hard to come by.

    By the late 70s/early 80s, the lack of other polyhedral dice was irrelevant. The industry caught up with the consumer and created a cottage industry.

    Is was the lack of dice.

    Nothing more.

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  16. @Walker: Agreed.

    Thinking it out more carefully is precisely what's needed. Although he was smart and experienced and planned it as carefully as he could, I don't think Gygax fully realized all the consequences of what he was introducing. With the advantage of hindsight we can start to see all these interesting relationships among the rules that really couldn't be foreseen.

    I'm considering trying out the Holmes/OD&D flat weapon damage again for the first time in thirty-two years to see how it works out.

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  17. @blackstone: Actually, there's an additional reason for flat d6 weapon damage beyond the availability of polyhedra (though I readily concede the point).

    The main issue for Holmes and OD&D wasn't modeling literally how much damage a weapon could do. It was modeling the fact that one good strike with any weapon can kill a normal man, and a normal man has 1-6 hit points.

    If a dagger only does 1-4 points of damage as in AD&D, then the rules are saying there are normal, untrained people you physically cannot kill with one strike from a dagger - not to the jugular, not to the femoral artery, nowhere. Sure it's unrealistic to argue that a broadsword and a dagger do the same amount of damage, but it's also unrealistic to argue that there are people who cannot be killed with the right dagger strike.

    When looked at from this different perspective, it does not fly in the face of logic. Logic doesn't lead us to truth, only validity. What is logical depends on what you're trying to model - the maximum relative damage of weapons or their common ability to kill a normal man.

    A system capable of modeling both things accurately would be far more lethal a combat system than any edition of D&D has been.

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  18. Regarding Holmes's rule about some weapons getting two attacks per round, while other weapons get only one attack every two rounds:

    James Mishler has explained that this was an editorial error. All melee weapons in Holmes should get one attack per round:

    http://www.dragonsfoot.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=27671

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  19. @blackstone, gettign stabbed to death is gettign stabbed to death it doesn't matter how big the blade is that does you in. Bigger weapons may have a greater opportunity to cause you damage but they don't inherently cause more damage.

    @James M, in bleubook magic swords only add their + to hit unless they get and extra bonus to a kind of foe, other magic weapons inflict the + of damage to hit and damage.

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  20. James Mishler has explained that this was an editorial error. All melee weapons in Holmes should get one attack per round:

    Looks to me like a theory. It could well be that the path was Chain Mail → AD&D → Holmes, but I think it just as likely that it was a direct import from Chain Mail and simply a badly thought out rule that appeared as a legacy. B/X eventually just went with two-handed weapons losing initiative, even when the non-variable damage system was used. So, basically, you take a pnealty to AC and act last in the round for no advantage at all.

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  21. I disagree.

    Ever heard of "don't bring a knife to a gunfight?"

    I was in the Army Natl. Guard for six years. One of those years was in a combat zone (Iraq).

    And I can tell you from experience, you WANT the weapon that will cause the most damage to your enemy.

    In six seconds (1 segment in game terms)a M249 SAW will cause much more damage than an M4. No doubt.

    If you want to limit to melee weapons. Fine. I was in the SCA for a few years as well. The analogy still applies.

    A large weapon, say a halberd, will do more damage than a club, or a mace,

    THAT'S why people created bigger weapons throughout history: to hurt or kill the enemy.

    Hence bigger weapons do more damage.

    It's a simple as that.

    but you can believe what you want...

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  22. It's a simple as that.

    Actually, it is a lot more complicated than that, but this is not really the venue for discussing why warriors throughout pre-industrial history carried several differently sized weapons with them to war and how that can interact with an abstract combat system like D&D (hint - they serve different purposes).

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  23. Regarding Holmes's rule about some weapons getting two attacks per round, while other weapons get only one attack every two rounds:

    James Mishler has explained that this was an editorial error. All melee weapons in Holmes should get one attack per round:

    http://www.dragonsfoot.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=27671


    I agree with Matthew that this is a possible explanation, but the case isn't quite closed on it. I think it's likely source is some kind of editorial mix-up between Holmes's original text and hamfisted efforts to integrate it with AD&D, but I have no proof of that.

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  24. @James M, in bleubook magic swords only add their + to hit unless they get and extra bonus to a kind of foe, other magic weapons inflict the + of damage to hit and damage.

    True enough.

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  25. Parrying in Holmes works the same as in man-to-man combat in Chainmail.

    My thing with all weapons doing d6 is that it only works 'properly' if all HIT DICE are also d6. In B/X (and thus, BECMI) you have the problem where that two-handed sword you're already being penalized for using could do max damage...and still not kill a 1 hit die creature, wtf? This had to have some bearing in the switch to variable damage.

    Personally, I feel the whole 'daggers being smaller, lighter weapons means they get more attacks' thing is fine...when using the weapon vs. armor type rules. yeah, you get two attacks against my plate, but good luck 'hitting' me.

    wv: coozygos, the cuddly arch-mage?

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  26. I have to go with Blackstone on the damage issue.

    I can understand the premise behind the idea that every weapon can kill a norman human so they should do the same damage, but that doesn't make sense in a game where you are probably more likely NOT to fight normal humans (the game is called Dungeons and Dragons after all). Maybe it's a throwback to Chainmail-days they never fully updated, but I'm pretty sure a two-handed sword makes more sense vs a Hill Giant than a dagger does.

    I hate to bring the show "Deadliest Warrior" into the mix (I yell at the show pretty much every episode...I have no idea why I watch it), but if you do watch, some weapons are just more likely to kill or do serious damage with every strike. A dagger CAN kill with a well placed thrust, but does little with a slash while a kilij cuts a pig in half. Which does more "damage", more often, with a greater likelihood to kill a norman man?

    I guess this really gets into a philosophical argument over what HP are and what damage really represents.

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  27. And I touched on this below with the Termaxian Mummy entry, but it applies here as well.

    "Burning oil is effective against corporeal undead, although those immune to normal weapons take only half damage from it."

    Is magical fire (fireball, burning hands, etc) something different from "normal fire"? If not, why treat it differently than flaming oil? If so, does that mean fireball would/should work against other monsters reported as "immune to fire" (Shambling mounds, Xorns, gray oozes and the like)?

    Or is it just a contradiction we should accept to give magic users more to do?

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  28. @blackstone: "I cannot for the life of me think how anyone can justify d6 damage for ANY type of weapon. It flies in the face of logic... The ONLY reason they had the d6 damage mechanic was because polyhedral dice beyond a d6 were VERY hard to come by... Is was the lack of dice."

    Good lord, no. Polyhedral dice were already a requirement in OD&D Vol-1, p. 5.

    Effectiveness of different weapon types was built into Chainmail's to-hit tables (hit-and-die). The d6 damage note was tacked on as a one-line parenthetical note to the combat tables (Vol-1, p. 19) to add granularity. It simply wasn't intended to "justify" anything to the degree you're expecting.

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  29. As regards to weapon damage, it is a good deal more complex than simply "larger hurts more", though I ultimately I reject "d6 only" for a number of reasons, though I will note that, if other rules changes are made, it can be a viable mechanic.

    One minor reason is that having multiple types of dice is fun - why not use 'em if you got 'em?

    A more serious objection has to do with the whole "what can kill a normal man" argument. First, who cares? One never encounters a "normal man" in a dungeon, after all, so this myopic focus seems a bit daft. Secondly, though, this whole line of reasoning has a huge, huge, gaping sucking chest wound of a logic hole: how is it that a sword (or whatever) can only do d6, yet a fireball can do MANY d6. Tell me, why is being burnt by a fireball five (or more) times lethal than being cloven in half by a sword??? Look, dead is dead, right - five times dead is still just dead, so there is NO reason why a fireball should ever do more than a SINGLE d6 of damage! Taken to its logical extreme, there should be no difference between a paper cut (which, after all, might slit your throat and cause you to bleed to death) and being at Ground Zero of a 50 megaton thermonuclear blast. After all, dead is dead, right?

    If you are going to have variable hit points, etc. then you should have variable weapon damage. If you are going to stick to d6 hit points and damage, then you should dispense with the largely superfluous hit point and damage rolls and just stick to 1 Hit per level and 1 Hit of damage per successful attack.

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  30. On the variable-damage debate, maybe what most distinguishes a dagger from a sword, is not the "damage" but its utility in actually hitting in a given situation? So the proper variance would be to give a blanket bonus "to hit" with certain weapons? I don't think it would need to vary according to armor type-- although it could-- but that it would need to vary according to lots of other factors: your opponent's weapon, the space you're in, even the weapon used by your shield-brother. Rather than tables, it would have to be referee discretion on a case-by-case basis.

    So while I understand the criticism of the variable-damage system, don't we need *something* to make a dagger mechanically different from a halbard?

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  31. I always thought the flaming oil rules were cool but could not understand what sort of substance would be used to inflame someone. Couldn't be olive oil cause it's not flammable and surely it wasn't gasoline. the only eal thing that could do that was " Greek fire" which was quite rare and was a closely guarded secret to how it was made.

    I guess its just one of those products you find in a DnD ;-)

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  32. Olive oil is indeed flammable, and it was commonly used in oil lamps in the Ancient Middle East & Mediterranean. Any oil is flammable to one extent or another. Even a greasy Frito (is there any other kind?) burns nicely.

    "Deadliest Warrior" (God, there I go referencing that show again) had some "Sun Tzu experts" on and they demonstrated that Sun Tzu would douse fields in sesame oil in order to set them on fire when enemy armies marched in.

    Now, whether than means things like jugs of olive oil or fritos are effective weapons I have no idea. But other products like kerosene have been around for a good thousand years or so which would easily put it in the "technological era" that D&D is going for.

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  33. I think the people who dislike the "all weapons do d6 damage" on the grounds that bigger weapons do more damage are forgetting that the LBB/Holmes model for damage doesn't have anything to do with the force of a blow. Also, it meshes with the concept of a combat roll to see if an attacker deals a blow that would kill a normal man, and with the concept of armor reducing your likelihood of dying rather than reducing damage.

    If you switch to variable weapon damage, you should also switch to armor reducing damage, to strength-based weapons, and to fixed hit points based on size and Constitution instead of level and class. Basically, you should be plugging in the Fantasy Trip's Melee rules as your combat system.

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  34. @Talysman

    You totally and completely missed my point. If a d6 is all that is needed to kill a normal man, and if that is the only model for damage of any relevance in your universe, then no spell should do more than that, since your whole premise is that you can't do more damage then what would kill a normal man. And I would say that five (or more) d6 from a fireball is a bit more than the upper limit you have established, wouldn't you?

    And if one accepts that a M-U can indeed do more than a single d6 of damage with a fireball (or whatever) then one has already accepted the basic concept of variable damage dice for weapons - whether one has the intellectual honesty to acknowledge that fact is another matter altogether.

    Your last paragraph is a non-sequitor. For starters, hit points ARE size, AND constitution, AND level, AND class (and luck, as well). At least according to Gary Gygax himself (you know, the guy who created the game...) I will grant that armour should reduce damage, though not in the way you are thinking (not enough space in a blog reply to explain what I have in mind, but it is certainly not like Melee). Certainly I would not be "plugging in" Melee. That is not a logical conclusion to jump to.

    Once again, the reason I suggest that, should one absolutely insist on the d6 for damage and hit points, that one should simply eliminate the die rolls altogether has to do with basic statistics and math. Put simply, if you have an average of 3.5 hit points per hit die, and receive 3.5 damage per hit, then it makes (statistically, anyway) no difference over the long haul if you roll dice or simply say instead "you have 1 hit per level, and each hit you take does 1 damage" Other than this: you eliminate a completely superfluous and useless die roll, and thus simplify the game. Surely a useful goal, yes...?

    So either variable dice, or no dice at all (well, apart from to hit rolls, etc.) d6 only simply makes no logical sense (at least if one understands how to calculate averages...)

    THAT'S primarily where I am coming from. I'm not necessarily wedded to variable damage dice per se - it's just that the d6 only concept is useless and adds zero to the game. Further, it was nothing more than a poorly thought out, throwaway rule that was quickly superseded as early as Supplement I and never revisited in later editions, which says an awful lot about its viability right there.

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  35. @Angantyr: "You totally and completely missed my point. If a d6 is all that is needed to kill a normal man, and if that is the only model for damage of any relevance in your universe, then no spell should do more than that, since your whole premise is that you can't do more damage then what would kill a normal man."

    That's not my premise at all. My premise is that exceptional damage is exceptional, and that hit points represent luck *only*. If you choose to interpret hit points otherwise, then weapons doing different damage ranges makes sense -- but a couple other things don't, and it's best to change those as well.

    I have no problem with scaled damage for spells like Fireball, because it's an exceptional attack. A 5th level fighter can potentially kill five goblins in 1 round, same as a 5th level magic user, the difference being that the magic user has only one shot, but can do 5 dice to anything in that one shot, while a fighter can use his ability repeatedly, but only against 1 HD creatures.

    Remove scaled damage for the magic user and you have to remove it for the fighter.

    If you want to know more about how I use d6-only weapons, see my category on my blog.

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  36. This deserves a bit more time then I have available.

    I seem to be projecting the responses of others a little onto you. I understand where you are coming from with the analysis of LBB/Holmes, even if I think it was a wrong headed approach (of course, Greyhawk and AD&D went too far the other way, at least in terms of complexity).

    Regarding this: damage doesn't have anything to do with the force of a blow. Again, I see why you say that, but when you make an arbitrary exception for fireballs and other magical attacks, well, I dunno... seems a bit contrived. You're not wholly wrong, but you are stretching things, and are not wholly right, either.

    Your analysis of the fireball vs. multiple fighter attacks is good but omits a couple points. While you do state that its only good against 1HD or less critters, you don't really make the connection that goblins and the like are really not very common foes at higher levels, making the fighter's special ability of very limited value. Also, bear in mind that, even against goblins, a 5th level fighter simply gets five attacks, each of which must be rolled for, along with damage. Meaning that some or all of the goblins might well survive. A fireball would not only be able to attack (in theory) many more, but be assured that no 1HD critters would survive. Finally, even a 5th level M-U will have other spells to choose from (sleep, magic missile, etc.) and can still melee as good as a fighter. Definitely unreasonably favours the M-U, which explains relatively well the addition of all the benefits for the fighters in Supp 1, just to give them a chance.

    Word Verification: mixelven (what happens when the Keebler elves fall into the cookie dough...)

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  37. [rant]
    The weapons all do d6 because the way combat was originally represented. Each round of combat lasted for 1 minute so damage in this context would not mean you hit with the dagger and do 1d6 damage but that you where fighting him for a minute and managed to get some hits in with your dagger or maybe he got knocked off center or whatever because hit points do not represent anything just physical. The best explanation of it is a combination of things like your luck, stamina, cleverness, toughness, knowledge of tactics, and many other thing all rolled in to one. A dagger to the heart will kill whether you are a 1st level Magic User or a 20th level Fighter but the difference is that a Fighter will avoid it or something but this was lost quite early on because of the idea that an attack means 1 hit on them when it really meant you just fought for a minute and you got some hits in. The problem is with the perceived granularity not the system. Holmes while keeping the system changed the timescale and altered the formula but it still works just fine far as I am concerned though I do love all those wonderful polyhedrons.
    [/rant]

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