Sunday, October 25, 2009

Stats by Poll

From Monsters & Treasures, volume 2 of OD&D:
LARGE INSECTS OR ANIMALS: This category includes giant ants and prehistoric monsters. Armor Class can be anything from 8 to 2. Hit Dice should range from 2 to anywhere near 20, let us say, for a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Also included are the optionally usable "Martian" animals such as Apts, Banths, Thoats, etc. If the referee is not personally familiar with the various monsters included in this category the participants of the campaign can be polled to decide all characteristics. Damage caused by hits should range between 2-4 dice (2-24 points).
I'd somehow overlooked this section before now.


  1. I don't think Gary is saying "poll for stats like HD and AC", although those could be possibly included. He's saying poll for characteristics, like "able to shoot quills from tail" or "able to hold breath for an hour".

  2. Seems like a cop out on EGG's part. Then again maybe he was having a bad day and wasn't in the mood to write out stats. It happens...

  3. Looks to me like the natural response to a guy plunking down a dimestore fake cockroach on the table and declaring his wizard summoned it. "Alright, gang. How many hits should this thing do?"

  4. It sounds like a pretty good system for a gonzo campaign.

    I usually do the stats on the fly anyway.

  5. Jeff,

    As soon as I saw James' post, I thought of your "Under Xylarthen's Tower" dungeon, which I was looking at a day ot two ago. You make mention that the stats of your animals (weasels, if I recall properly) might not match the stats found in later editions, as OD&D had rather nebulous advice for animal stats.

    Reading that passage in your adventure of course made go look it up the relevant section in M&T.


  6. Interesting find, I didn't noticed this one. It seems logical ina game which is still allmost a wargame, to make some kind of consensus on the value of such or such new unit.

  7. Barsoom is one of my favorite setting and apparently was always in mind with EGG and the early D&D developers. I've long wondered why when TSR final got an license from ERB Inc. it was for a Tarzan(tm) RPG and not John Carter!

  8. I think it's interesting to see this in a formal rule -- one I'd never noticed, either. (Though I'm also unsurprised that my reading of OD&D isn't as close as that of the leading old school bloggers.)

    The reason that I say it's interesting to see it as a formal rule is that this has been a feature of almost every roleplaying game I've played, in some form or another, when dealing with versions of real animals. "It's a miniature elephant? So that means it can hold things with its trunk, right?"

    So to me, it feels like Gygax and Arneson codifying a common feature of actual play.

    "Barsoom is one of my favorite setting and apparently was always in mind with EGG and the early D&D developers."

    As has been pointed out in other discussions, Barsoom has some of the closest analogs to Gygax's dungeons. Consider, for example, the Therns' complex in The Gods of Mars: secret doors, wandering monsters, hints of ecology...

    I've been on kind of a sword-and-planet kick lately, myself. I'm looking at starting my own Martian campaign soon.