Saturday, July 10, 2010

Strength is for Fighting Men

Reading the Original D&D Discussion forums this afternoon, I was reminded of a funny little bit from Greyhawk:
Strength also aids the fighting man in his ability to both score a hit upon an adversary and damage it. This strength must be raw, i.e. not altered by intelligence scores. On the other hand low strength will effect [sic] any character's fighting ability.
What this means is that the bonuses to hit and damage accrued for having a score of 13 or more apply only to fighting men, not other classes. (The same is true, incidentally, of the "dodge/parry" bonus from high Dexterity). However, the penalties to hit and damage for having a Strength score of 6 or less do apply to members of classes other than fighting men. The note about a score "not altered by intelligence" is a reference to the ability of fighting men to lower their Intelligence so as to raise their Strength on a two for one basis.

13 comments:

  1. I had forgotten that modifying Strength by sacrificing Intelligence didn't grant the to hit and damage bonuses associated with the increased Strength. Considering this is a common reason for increase, that's a pretty significant rule (and one I think I'm going to add, at least for future characters, to my B/X campaign.

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  2. Yeah, and you'd have to keep track of two different Strength scores, "raw" and "modified by intelligence"... Is there any other reason to shift int to str? Does str do anything else in OD&D?

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  3. Strength is a Prime Requisite for a fighting man, so it may be useful to increase it for the XP bonus, but that's it in a pure LBB game.

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  4. No wonder the freakin' rules needed clarifying!

    I am increasingly convinced the LBB D&D is fruitless because of the byzantine, contradictory, perverse, and unclear rules contained therein.

    I have been finding myself drawn to a modified B/X ruleset for awhile because of this.

    /grumpiness

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  5. A) Greyhawk is a !gasp! supplementGreyhawk.

    D) Why would you adjust the scores if they don't matter. Seems more like "ooh, I got a cool idea here about strength" and didn't bother to think it through. But gosh how could that idea have crawled up on the pedestal with the rest of OD&D?

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  6. not exactly rules lite.

    word verification: Mungu-- Swahili word for God. no joke. Hakuna Mungu kama wewe.

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  7. not exactly rules lite.

    OD&D + Supplements is only "lite" in comparison to what came after, but then I've been saying for a while now that I think the notion that "old school = rules lite" is a fallacy.

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  8. I am increasingly convinced the LBB D&D is fruitless because of the byzantine, contradictory, perverse, and unclear rules contained therein.

    It's only fruitless if you don't enjoy having to sift through options and alternatives and decide which ones to include or exclude and how to interpret the various rules that are there. The LBBs are a great game for people who like playing co-creator with Gygax, Arneson, et al.. I can appreciate your frustration, though.

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  9. Note that the first time any N-for-1 adjustment is mentioned in OD&D Vol. 1, it is for the purpose of XP bonus only:

    "Clerics can use strength on a 3 for 1 basis in their prime requisite area (wisdom), for purposes of gaining experience only." [OD&D Vol. 1, p. 10]

    My reading is that that's how it applies to all such "N-for-1 adjustments to prime requisite" -- XP bonus only, nothing else. But of course, that would be purely academic in the LBBs (Str, Int, Wis didn't modify anything else anyway), and only had to get well-defined in Sup-I when some adjustments actually were given for them.

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  10. I think someone mentioned this in your blog earlier, but it seems like you don't actually adjust the stats. To figure out if you get the experience bonus as a fighter, if your strength is too low, you can make up for that deficiency by being smart. So if you have a strength of 11 and an intelligence of 13, for experience purposes you can raise your strength 2 points, since your intelligence is 4 points over 9; so your strength for experience bonus purposes is 13, but you don't actually adjust the stats, the character sheet still says strength 11, intelligence 13.

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  11. My reading is that that's how it applies to all such "N-for-1 adjustments to prime requisite" -- XP bonus only, nothing else. But of course, that would be purely academic in the LBBs (Str, Int, Wis didn't modify anything else anyway), and only had to get well-defined in Sup-I when some adjustments actually were given for them.

    I believe you're correct. Or at least, that's the interpretation that makes the most sense to me based on the actual words in the LBBs. However, I'd guess that not everyone read them that way, which probably explains why Holmes talks of actually reducing some scores to add to others, a line of thought that Moldvay later follows (albeit with some changes).

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  12. I agree -- It's rather easy to miss, and you can see lots of players excited by an interpretation that their scores will actually go up. Holmes is probably a result of this mis-reading/ play tradition/ overly aggressive editing.

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  13. Holmes is probably a result of this mis-reading/ play tradition/ overly aggressive editing.

    I think so too, which is part of why I find Holmes such an interesting historical artifact. It's a comparatively early "professional era" TSR product and yet still strongly reflects some of the "folk culture" of the early hobby, such as its interpretation of magic missile and the way that other ability scores can modify the prime requisite score.

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