Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Things You Learn...

Quite a few people seem to spend more than a little time savaging 3rd Ed./3.5 D&D, I generally don't (saving my bile for 2nd Ed...), as I spent several years playing it and, overall, had a great time. The fact that I've grown disillusioned with it does not destroy its worth.

One of the things that I started doing in Third that I've carried on with is the rule I started calling "It's on the table". The origins of this were due to some of my Third players being far better at mechanical jiggery-poky than I am. So, in an effort to save my sanity and keep the game being fun, I told them that they could use anything their black little hearts desired... but that I could, and would, use whatever horrific monstrosity they came up with against them at some later point, they had, as I put it, "placed it on the table" and it was fair game. Conversely, I said, whatever I use as an NPC is also on the table.

So far, in my current Ravenloft 1st Ed mash-up the oddest a player wanted to start with has been a half-orc, even though I stated that I am open to whatever they'd like to play. (I wouldn't necessarily let it be powerful, but it would be at least on par with the PHB assortment of races.) This being the case, all of the oddball races (and classes) have been NPCs (now, this is, at least sort of, Ravenloft, so all of the races have been at least human-seeming, but...) and now there is a small selection of potentially interesting options.

At present, on the table are:

necromancer (my own version of such a class)
mad scientist (a class of my own creation, a sub-class of magic-user)
weirdling (all of the semi-humans, such as the tiefling, but exact bloodlines may vary)
Gamma World mutant

And that's about it... oddly when I started the post I would have said there were more, but I've checked and it's not so... (though weirdling is pretty open-ended now that I think of it).

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Some Commentary from the Past

I recently obtained a collection of old White Dwarf issues and have been gleefully perusing them. The Fiend Factory articles are a huge treat, as I find it fascinating to see the origins of many of the Fiend Folio creatures (and the commentary on their use by Don Turnbull is both useful and provides an insight into how things were done in that time and place).

However, I'm going to focus on a different bit of commentary by Mr. Turnbull. The following comes from the end of his review of the Players Handbook in White Dwarf number 10:

"However those who have grown up on the first edition need
not be alarmed - all this is completely compatible with the
familiar system and I don't believe it will be long before the
necessary changes and adjustments are taken under the belt; as
in all things practice and habit are great teachers. I have no
shadow of a doubt that the Advanced rules will be accepted
and incorporated into campaigns currently in progress, though
the DM will, as always, have the final say as to what is and
what isn't allowed in his dungeon/world.
Of course, perhaps the most important function of the
Handbook is as a source of reference; no more searching
through stacks of magazines and books to find the information
you are seeking (dammit - what issue of Strategic Review
contains the stats for rangers? and where did I put the copies
of Strategic Review anyway?). Pretty well everything needed
is here, carefully compiled and indexed; if it isn't here, it is in
the Referees Guide of which I for one can't wait for my copy.
There is little more I can say. If you already have a copy, you
may share my apprehension at the amount of time it is going
to take to digest all this new material, but I suspect you also
share my whole-hearted welcome of it. If you haven't, and you
are the least bit interested in D&D, the sooner you get a copy
the better. I said of the Monster Manual that it was TSR's
most impressive publication to date; that is no longer true -
this accolade must belong to the Handbook which is nothing
short of a triumph."

Now, when he says "first edition", he would appear to mean what we now refer to as the "LBBs", or OD&D... which many would argue is a very different game from AD&D.

Which is somewhat true, but it is still very similar, and I think his claims of complete compatibility are strongly grounded in truth.

What intrigues me about this is the idea that this kind of reaction doesn't really happen with regards to today's D&D. "Third" edition did provide a token conversion system... which is hardly the same as compatibility, but to my knowledge, "Fourth" edition didn't even bother with that. (The numbering of the editions, as virtually all of us know, is horribly flawed... there are, I think, about four ways to view it, leaving the current publication of WotC as Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, or Eighth edition. It all depends on which publications one counts as "editions") Also, the current mindset seems to be, "Come, join us in playing this game, it's way better than the older one!", rather than the attitude expressed by Mr. Turnbull above.

And now, back to perusal...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Quick Thank You...

...to Swords & Dorkery for the mention in his, as yet, most recent post, not to mention being added to his blogroll.

Any of you who wander by here who haven't come from there should check it out, especially the post on half-orcs.

I think this will mean I'll have to step up my game on posting...

Let's hope I can avoid the Hivemind Syndrome. :)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Should Half-Orcs Be Able to Have a 19 Strength?

One of my oldest house-rules is "The stat max is equal to 18+/- the racial modifier". I don't have too many concerns regarding that but, recently, a player rolled up a half-orc fighter and I had cause to look up the relevant bonuses and penalties.

+1 Strength, +1 Constitution, -2 Charisma.

"Wow", I thought, "he might be able to get a 19 freaking strength. That's like a hill giant..."

I was a tad nervous for a bit, then I decided to look up the mechanics.

I was not impressed. The difference, in combat, between an 18/00 and a 19 amount to a +1 damage. Whee. Certainly, a half-orc would have an edge in being able to get a 19 (roll an 18, add 1, and viola!, rather than roll an 18, roll percentile, and hope), but this is fairly minimal and altogether not worth worrying about.

Sure, half-orcs become the ultimate choice for fighters for a certain type of player (I don't actually have any of them, so, again, not an issue for me), but how is that harmful?

I'm still thinking of ditching percentile strength and reworking the chart, but that's a separate issue, one more related to my dislike of a special type of scoring for one stat.

Oh, and for those wondering, the PC in question doesn't have a 19 strength. The player's rolls were good, but not that good.