Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Game You Think You Know

It's funny how often you can read a book and still overlook something that's stated very clearly and unambiguously. For example, a lot of players of OD&D fail to notice that the Dexterity bonus to Armor Class applies only to fighting men and to no other class. Of course, the same is true of the bonuses to hit and damage for high Strength. That's something I didn't realize until earlier today when I was re-reading my copy of Greyhawk and saw the following on page 7:
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.
If I'd ever read those words before, I don't recall them. It's a perfect example of why it's so important to read OD&D with fresh eyes and to try to forget, to the extent that it's possible, what you think you know about the game based on what was done in later editions.

13 comments:

  1. http://grognardia.blogspot.com/2009/12/going-lightly-armored.html

    http://grognardia.blogspot.com/2011/06/purely-off-top-of-my-head.html

    ReplyDelete
  2. How would Intelligence affect Strength in OD&D?

    ReplyDelete
  3. I was going to say you'd actually mentioned it before, but Kent beat me to it. :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. I've never mentioned that, in Supplement I, Strength bonuses apply only to fighting men -- Dexterity, yes, but not Strength.

    ReplyDelete
  5. How would Intelligence affect Strength in OD&D?

    It's a reference to trading points of Intelligence in character generation for points in Strength.

    ReplyDelete
  6. So trading Intelligence for Strength can reduce penalties for low Strength, but not increase bonuses for high Strength? Interesting. That allows players to play a viable Fighter with most sets of ability score rolls (unless they roll low for both Strength and Intelligence), but not make an already viable Fighter even more powerful.

    ReplyDelete
  7. So trading Intelligence for Strength can reduce penalties for low Strength, but not increase bonuses for high Strength? Interesting. That allows players to play a viable Fighter with most sets of ability score rolls (unless they roll low for both Strength and Intelligence), but not make an already viable Fighter even more powerful.

    Basically, you can lower your character's Intelligence and increase his Strength on a 2 for 1 basis but only for the purpose of XP bonuses. So, if you pump your character's Strength up to 15 in order to gain the 10% XP bonus through this method, you do not qualify for bonuses to hit and damage. To do so, your Strength score must be rolled naturally.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Yeah but this Greyhawk you're talking about - though it proved to be IMHO the turning point for D&D and really solidified/introduced a lot of concepts now seen by many as definitive, when talking about OD&D I consider the supplements to be just that - supplemental. This is, of course, my own bias and preference for a more pulpy game (which i consider OD&D to be) and I think OD&D is much more it's own thing when the supplements are not taken into account (compared with for instance, AD&D, Holmes, B/X).

    ReplyDelete
  9. Of course 0d&d itself is the 2nd edition of the fantasy supplement to CHAINMAIL...

    ReplyDelete
  10. Interesting. So THAT'S were Mazes & Minotaurs (this alternate universe OD&D clone) got the idea of only letting the Barbarian add his Might (aka Strength) bonus to damage...

    ReplyDelete
  11. @Doresh: M&M allows every class (at least the "core" ones), to use ONE specific bonus caracteristic: Might for barbrians, Luck for nobles, Skill for spearmen, Grace for Nymphs, Mind for sorcerers, Faith for priests. It's pretty simple and elegant. The "supplemenatal classes" (notably those of the "Unveiled Addenda") tend to muddy the waters. See the analogy here ;-) ?
    @ Lancere: I tend to see the fact that the Greyhawk Supplement could propose such Strength "to hit" bonuses as a sign that the "alternate combat system" had become the norm by the time. Previously, it would have been impossible to adjudicate a single bonus to the "Chainmail" system with it's three different sub-systems (mass combat, man-to-man, and fantasy combat)

    ReplyDelete
  12. @porphyre77: Interesting point, I would have to say that I agree, especially when you look at the way that Greyhawk expands the "alternate combat system" with its Weapon vs. Armor class table, the expansion of Abilities, and importantly, adding variable HP/damage dice. Funny that Holmes and B/X reverted back to the combat matrix without the Weapon VS. AC table, and suggested the variable dice as an optional rule. I think in many ways Greyhawk brings the game closer to AD&D than Holmes ever did.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Besides, the 1rst level fighting man had a real edge (pun intended!) in the Chainmail system, with a Fighting Capability of "1 Man+1" (versus "1 Man" for 1rst level MU and Cleric). The "Alternate combat system" stripped him down of this advantage.
    Maybe this "figthing-men only" stregth bonus was intended as a way to give him back the upper-hand in melee combat...

    ReplyDelete

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