Thursday, September 18, 2014

D&D Rules Comparison 8

Missile range given a +1 for short and -1 for long.  D&D74 instead reduces target Armor Class by 1 at medium and 2 at short range.
Thrown objects are treated as missiles.  No rule for thrown objects exists in D&D74.
Rules for cover:  (D&D74 has none) Apply a -1 penalty to hit for each quarter of the target’s body protected, or -2 if the cover is impenetrable.  A penalty total of -5 or greater means no attack possible.  The character so thoroughly protected behind cover can’t attack either.

Oil and Water
Holy water causes 1d8 damage to vulnerable creatures.
Oil, when thrown on a target can only be set afire by a successful attack roll.  The procedure requires two attack rolls – one to hit and douse the target and one to lite. P44.
Oil burns for 10 rounds.  Burning oil causes 1d8 damage per round.

Saving Throws
Saving throws are made with a d20 (D&D74 does not specify)
For spell effects, saving throw success results in ½ damage if damage is a normal effect, otherwise the character escapes the effect. (p45)


1d4 hit points are recovered by resting each day.

Discussion:  The most noticeable ommision from D&D74's missile rules, in my opinion, are rules for dealing with cover, since in dungeon and room environments it is common to try to seek shelter behind objects.  The cover rules for D&D94 are good ones, and will smoothly integtrate with OD&D.

The oil and holy water rules and saving throw rules are likewise welcome clarifications and additions.

As for healing, 1d4 gives the characters a bit more of a break than the 1 per day of OD&D.  It's pretty much a matter of campaign flavor and preference how daily healing is handled.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

D&D Rules Comparison 7

Encounter distance indoors changed from 20-80 feet to 20-60 feet.
Surprise can occur anywhere within the encounter distance. (D&D74 – only if an encounter occurs within 30 feet.)

Initiative determined by rolling 1d6 per side. P37

Monsters assigned a moral score.

Combat movement specified as 1/3 normal movement.
Combat withdrawal – 5 feet per round.
Combat retreat/rout (at a run) allows opportunity for opponent to attack from behind. 
Monsters who pass a morale check will pursue retreating PC’s 25% of the time. (p40)

Hit and Damage
A natural 20 always hits.
Damage is variable by weapon type – not all d6.
Bare handed damage is 1d4. (p51)
Attack Modifier table:
Attacking from behind
+2 bonus to hit
Attacker Can’t see target
-4 penalty to hit
Larger than man sized monster attacking a Halfling 
-1 penalty to hit
Target exhausted
+2 bonus to hit
Attacker exhausted
-2 penalty to hit
Target behind cover
-1 to -4 to missile fire to hit


Surprise: nothing good about these changes.  The original rules were better and made more sense.

Initiative: Okay.  Although the 3lbb's have no initiative mechanic, the 1d6 roll is found in CHAINMAIL., and is also mentioned in the FAQ from '75.

Morale:  having a set morale score for each monster is a convenience, but it is not necessary.  Usually an OD&D referee will usethe reaction table as a kind of morale indicator allowing that any group of monsters, regardless of type might be particularly brave or shaky.

Movement: D&D94's movement at 1/3 normal movement is based on the notion of a 10 second round - which isn't established until the Holmes edition of the rules.  It could be applied to an OD&D game if the referee also wished to use 10 second rounds instead of the usual 1 minute combat round.  The same may be said of the withdrawal rule.  That is an interesting and potentially useful rule.  If the same rule were to be applied to a one minute round, the distance of a fighting withdrawal would be 30 feet.

Allowing a free attack on an opponent is a common house rule in OD&D.  It's a good rule.

The 25% chase rule is quite low by OD&D standards, where most monster are expected to give chase.  

Hit and Damage:
I like the crit hit on a d20, but that ought to be optional.  Likewise with variable weapon damage; take it or leave it as you please.

Bare handed damage at 1d4 is way to high.  Two punches would kill the average human.

The table of modifiers deal with things left unspoken in OD&D and so could be adopeted in whole or in part, if desired.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

D&D Rules Comparison 6

Torchlight specified as 30’ for 6 turns
Lamplight specified as  lasting 24 turns (4hrs).

Dungeon Rules
Monsters can “hear noise” on a roll of 1 or 2
Spiking a door takes 1 round to complete.
Doors forced open on a roll of 5 or 6 instead of 1 or 2.  Same odds though.
Failure of first attempt to open a door negates any chance of surprising any monsters on the other side.
Doors may be burned or destroyed in 1d4 turns.
Locked doors cannot be forced.

Monsters can’t open locked doors without a key.(p35)

Discussion:  These rules mostly cover dungeon adventuring aspects left vague in D&D74.  It's the sort of thing referee's can make up on the spot, but it is nice to have them spelled out here.

The only fly in the ointment is the "Locked doors cannot be forced" rule.  Of course they can be forced, if the players find a way.  I'm sure this rule is a clumsy way of encouraging the thief class.

Friday, September 12, 2014

D&D Rules Comparison 5

Reaction Table: is modeled on D&D74 hireling reaction table but with the “roll again” info added:
Dice Score
Monster attacks
Monster Growls: roll again in one round at -4
Monster cautious: roll again in one round
Monster friendly: roll again in one round at +4
Monster friendly

Experience Points
XP per monster follows Greyhawk values
Total XP earned in an adventure is divided by # in party (shared experience).

Coins of weight one can carry for encumbrance values reduced by a few hundred coins.

Map rules given for moving figures on gridded dungeon maps at 5’per square including sideways and diagonally.  Two characters cannot occupy the same square,  and cannot move past a square occupied by an unfriendly creature. (p34)

Suggests players rotate mapping duty “so everyone gets a chance”.

Discussion: Of encumbrance their is not much to note; experience points are interesting in that a careful reading of D&D74 and knowing the historical context reveals the surprise that XP were originally thought of as being individually earned, not shared.  It is an interesting, and somewhat competitive way to play D&D, and is well known to players of Empire of the Petal Throne.

The grid based mapping rules are of little use for an OD&D game, but the suggestion to rotate mapping duties might work for some groups.

Of the four topics discussed above, the reaction table of D&D94 is the most interesting and potentially useful. Although it is closely modeled on the D&D74 hireling reaction table, it adds a "roll again in one round" feature that is really intriguing and useful.    I think this is a unique feature of D&D94 and one I like a lot.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

D&D Rules Comparison 4

Race Abilities
Elves find secret doors on a roll of 1-2 only (reduced from the 1-4 of D&D74).
Dwarf and elf characters have infravision.
Dwarves no longer gain a combat advantage against larger than man sized "clumsy monsters"  as they do in D&D74 (Monsters & Treasures p 16).
Halflings can hide in shadows on a d6 roll of 1 or 2. 
Halflings receive a +2 combat advantage against larger than man sized. 
Halfling accuracy with missile weapons specified at +1. 
Halflings get some oddball +1 if only Halflings are attacking.

Selling Items
Player Characters may sell personal items for half the cost listed on the equipment list. (p30)
Magical weapons will sell for their mundane cost x d%.
Magic items such as potions and scrolls sell for 1d20 x d%.

Armor Class:
Negative numbers acknowledged.  D&D74 mentions no AC better than 2.

Saving Throws

Monsters “save as” nearest class equivalent for saving throws.  D&D74 makes no mention of saving throws for monsters.

Discussion: Inrfravision for dwarves seems entirely sensible, but for elves I'd say it is more of a take it or leave it thing.  These kind of details are probably best left to the individual campaign.

Gimping the dwarf, by taking away their combat advantage (1/2 damage) against the attacks of giants and ogres is a much bigger deal.  Likely, it was an oversight that this rule was dropped from D&D.  The detail is given in the monster entry for dwarves, not in the character race description in D&D74.

Curiously, D&D94 grants Halflings a combat advantage against the very creatures who formerly 
had such a hard time with dwarves.  Better, I think, to choose a single combat advantage (either the halfling +2 or the dwarven 1/2 damage) and apply it to both dwarves and halflings.

The mechanics for Halflings hiding in shadows and their accuracy with missile weapons merely clarify things left vague in D&D74, so that's a good set of rules to bring in to an OD&D game, but the +1 for halfling only combat seems really useless.

There are no rules for selling items in D&D74, and this is a curious omission given that selling items is one way to get experience points via the gold value.  The rules given in D&D94 for personal items would work well in an OD&D game.  The rules for selling magic items and potions might be okay too for a quick sale, but the market value of magic items should usually be greater than their cost to manufacture.

Negative AC - personally, I think the game is better without it.  First class armor (AC1) really should be the best their is and delving into negative numbers invites confusion.  Any other modifiers can be applied to the "to hit" number, if needed, for the same effect.

Lastly, monster saving throws are well established from at least 1975, but it does help the players if you choose to not allow them.

Monday, September 8, 2014

D&D Rules Comparison 3

Fighter uses D8.  Hit Dice drop “+1”, but otherwise identical.

Clerics have 5 Hit Dice at 5th level instead of 4+1.
Clerics must meditate for one hour to “learn” their spells.   These are divinely given.
Clerics of any alignment may turn undead.
Unlike D&D74, clerics of chaotic alignment do not normally cast reverse spells, and can’t reverse a cleric spell at will.
A cleric may keep turning undead each round until a failure occurs at which point no more attempts to turn undead may be made “during the same battle”. (p15)  D&D74 is vague on these points.

To cast spells, MU’s must be free to speak and gesture and not be occupied with other activities.
It takes an hour of study to learn (memorize) a single spell (page 16).  The place of study must be quiet and peaceful.  However, page 26 says it takes one hour total for the MU or Cleric to learn (memorize) all their spells.
MU’s may copy spells from scrolls into their spell book if the spell is of a level they can learn.  The copied spell still disappears from the scroll.
Magic users use a d4 for hit dice.  Progression per level completely different at 1 die per level.

The numbers of 1st level spells an MU may have is reduced, by 1 at 3rd, 2 at 4th and 2 at 5th.

Discussion:  So these changes from OD&D to the mechanics of the classes are generally bunk.  Seriously.  I see a number of things which narrow or redifine the class in a manner that does not improve the game and often complicates it.

The rule regarding turn undead is okay, depending on how you play turn undead.  More useful here is the "one hour to learn your spells" rule.  It's simple and workable.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

D&D Rules Comparison 2

Ability Scores:

Simplified score  adjustment rules: 
            For every 2 points deducted from other scores, 1 point may be added to a prime requisite.  Only the prime requisite may be improved.  Constitution and charisma may not be altered.  Dexterity can not be lowered.  No score can be lowered below 9.

Intelligence: number of additional languages known reduced from 8 to 3 and penalty given for low scores as follows:
Difficulty speaking
Simple writing skill
Normal verbal and literacy skill
One additional language
Two additional languages
Three additional languages

All the ability bonus/penalties follow this uniform pattern.
No Adjustment

Strength open doors bonus increased from maximum of +2 in D&D74. 
Strength bonus/penalty added to both attack and damage.

Wisdom provides a saving throw benefit or penalty for all “magic based” saving throws.

Dexterity missile bonus/penalty changed from +1 (13-18) or -1 (3-8). 
Dexterity armor class bonus/penalty added.

 Constitution HP bonus/penalty increased from D&D74’s  +1 (15-18) or -1 (3-6)

Charisma instead of affecting the loyalty and maximum number of hireling as does D&D74, the Charisma score in D&D94 serves as an adjustment factor on the reaction table.

Discussion:  The simplified ability score adjustment mechanic seems like a reasonable and useful change .  I also like most of the ideas regarding what high or low ability scores affect, with the exception of intelligence.  The idea that intelligence determines literacy does not strike me as a good one.  The dexterity bonus to Armor Class is also one that is probably best not taken.

The main issue though is the amounts of the adjustment and that is certainly one of the details OD&Ders point to as a problem in later games.  The idea of a single table of bonuses and penalties is, I think, laudable and a good design feature but, +2 and +3!! bonuses is clearly over the top.  Who wouldn't want a +3 in everything, and who wouldn't feel cheated if they had only "normal" scores?   

Instead, a simple +1 or -1 is much more in line with the philosophy of OD&D and there are already two models to choose from - the Constitution bonus for scores of 15-18 or the Dexterity bonus for scores of 13-18.  We might keep the areas each score affects but alter the table along the broader lines of the Dexterity bonus of OD&D, as follows: