Saturday, August 28, 2010

OD&D Combat Charts

Unless I've translated it incorrectly, the table below summarizes the OD&D alternative combat chart into something that works with a "Target 20" combat algorithm.

Class

Fighting Man

Cleric and Thief

Magic-User

Attack Bonus

Level

1-3

1-4

1-5

+1

4-6

5-8

6-10

+3

7-9

9-12

11-15

+6

10-12

13-16

16-20

+8

13-15

17-20

21-25

+11


It's interesting to consider how different this progression is than the one adopted in AD&D, which notably beefs up the attack capabilities of both the fighter and the cleric, while weakening those of the thief. Truth be told, I've always had issues with the "chunkiness" of the attack bonus progression in all versions of D&D, but I've never cared enough to go with something more "rational" and indeed, having extensively played D&D III, which is relentlessly rational on this score, I've long since abandoned any notion that rationality of this type is an unqualified good. Still, tinkering with the combat charts has a long tradition in the hobby; I'm sure I'll get the urge to do so again in the future.

17 comments:

  1. "Still, tinkering with the combat charts has a long tradition in the hobby..."

    It does? 'cause I just did. I use 2d6 for attack rolls, so I rescaled the attack bonus to cap at +6 (I also stopped progression at 13+ levels and added a "By Monster HD" category). Thanks for posting the table, I wouldn't have deviated from it otherwise. It's got a nice idiosyncratic "kallos" to it that I like.

    ReplyDelete
  2. 2d6? Hmm. Wouldn't changing the probability distribution require mucking with AC's? You're twice as likely to roll a 7 than a 10, for example.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Since 1st level characters need a 19 to hit AC 0 rather than a 20, all those numbers should be increased by +1, right?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wow, that post at Delta's D&D Hotspot is meticulously reasoned and supported. And I totally disagree with it. A classic case of missing the forest for the trees.

    I intuitively start to move all arithmetical operations over to the target number side of the equation, because it's more fun to know what you need before rolling the dice. Having to do arithmetic on top of the die roll takes some the gamble-y frisson away from the roll.

    d20 < Thac0 - AC + mods is ideal for me.

    I do the same thing with modifiers to Saves and Saves vs. Ability score checks.

    ReplyDelete
  5. If you remove all the insane pluses d20 combat (with Base Attack Bonus) works quite well. I like a smooth progression, myself. Nice table, though. It's interesting to see how things look when the same numbers are presented differently.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Personally, I prefer the AD&D first edition tables to anything else. The key advantage as I see it is the row of 20s combined with using to-hit adjustments to change the AC line instead of the die roll (p.70), an effect that no algorithmic method preserves.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Of course the "chunky" attack matrix has it's roots in chainmail. Where the matrix changed from "hero" 4th level, to super hero-1 at 7th level. It's a shame to do away with it, just so a 5th level fighter can have an extra +1 to hit.

    You guys know what chart looks ridiculous in D&D III? The fighters attack matrix for levels 1-20 showing...wait for it...the numbers +1-20 right next to the other numbers 1-20. A fucking waste of space, my brain goes dead just looking at the orderly row of numbers from 1-20. It's not fun to look at.

    Alexander also has a great point. What kind of game would roulette and craps be if after throwing the dice people had to add modifiers to it? Part of the fun is the instant reaction/gratification of "rolling the right number." This is where the mathematicians forget the "game" aspect and get enamoured with numbers.


    Lastly, As T. Foster mentioned, your chart is still incorrect. If a first level fighter has +0, does that mean that a 0-level fighter has -1 BAB?

    ReplyDelete
  8. Okay, Level 1 Fighter = THAC0 19, means you need 19 to hit AC 0, so BAB should be +1 for 20 to hit, or use a Target19 system. Jumps look right. You might be interested in this short article if you have not seen it before and the associated pdf download comparing across editions: Fighting Ability

    ReplyDelete
  9. I love your articles matthew. Laid out like well researched dissertations. However, there is a reason nobody prints books with black pages and white ink...

    ReplyDelete
  10. Since 1st level characters need a 19 to hit AC 0 rather than a 20, all those numbers should be increased by +1, right?

    Apparently so. Thanks for the correction.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Is it because it costs more to make black paper? :D

    For some reason I actually find it easier to white on black on the computer screen, maybe it is because there is less glare. Pity these blogs cannot be changed to suit the taste of the users like forums are. Perhaps that should be their next upgrade!

    Thanks for the kind words, at any rate!

    ReplyDelete
  12. You might be interested in this short article if you have not seen it before and the associated pdf download comparing across editions: Fighting Ability

    Thanks for that. I hadn't noticed it when you posted it; your essays on these topics are always enlightening.

    ReplyDelete
  13. If a first level fighter has +0, does that mean that a 0-level fighter has -1 BAB?

    Unless I'm mistaken, a 0-level fighter fights the same as a 1st-level fighter in OD&D, at least he does in the LBBs.

    ReplyDelete
  14. James, I might be mistaken, but didn't you put forth a chart for a fighter (or another class) for your own game wherein there were no bonuses at first level? I'm asking in terms of the attack tables for your on game.

    ReplyDelete
  15. James, I might be mistaken, but didn't you put forth a chart for a fighter (or another class) for your own game wherein there were no bonuses at first level? I'm asking in terms of the attack tables for your on game.

    Yes, I did. This table here was an attempt to recapitulate the information in the LBBs using a similar format.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I do this, too, although I smooth out the progression for PCs. The charts for the smoothed progression are in my THAC0? musing.

    ReplyDelete

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