Saturday, September 27, 2014

D&D Rules Comparison 11

Magic Items
(as with monsters I will not be detailing differences in specific item lists or the items themselves)

Magic items are identified by testing or by a high level magic user.

The spell Detect Magic, will not identify an item.  D&D74 is unclear on this point.

Only the Dungeon Master should ever know how many charges a magic item has.  The dungeon master must keep track of them.  (p27)

Weapons with a + or – factor affect both to hit rolls and damage rolls unless otherwise specified.  In D&D74 the effect is usually applied to the to hit roll only.

No two potions ever smell or taste the same – even potions of the same kind.
Potions are stored in glass bottles.
The entire potion must be drunk to work. (Hinted at in D&D74)
Sipping a potion reveals its’ properties. (In D&D74 a magic user is needed to identify)
Sipping poison results in being poisoned.

Drinking a potion while the effects of another potion are active results in debilitating sickness for three turns and cancels the effect of both potions.   Potions having no duration, such as healing, are excepted.

Discussion:  Ruling out that only the DM should know the charges of an item is an interesting idea.  That means that the referee will have to track them, but it will inevitably result in the rather fun situation of the fireball wand that suddenly doesn't work on the hoard of charging orcs.  heh.

Meh on the +/- weapon rules.  Having some weapons that only affect the to hit roll allows more variety in the game.

Potions - the glass bottle rule is kinda cool.  It makes potions fragile and it is reminiscent of the alchemical magic of Blackmoor and Twin cities gaming.  I like the rule, but the idea that they all taste differently seems odd, since taste is one way to identify potions.

The rule that the entire potion must be drunk is  a non-starter for me, but may work for other referees.  Potions with multiple doses was characteristic of Blackmoor (presumably 2d6).  For example, in Supptlement II TOTF (page 37), the potion of growth has 12 doses.

I like that ii is made clear that even a sip of poison will kill.  It makes tasting potions a game of roulette.

The idea that drinking multiple potions will make you sick works okay and importantly fills a gap in the rules.  Personally I prefer to rule they turn to poisonous yellow mist in the body.  Yellow mist, (essentially mustard gas) originated in the Blackmoor campaign when John Snider's wizard left unattended the potions (spells) he was making and they boiled over or whatever and mixed.  

Thursday, September 25, 2014

D&D Rules Comparison 10


Treasure table for lair treasures expanded to letter O (D&D74 stops at I).  A second table for individual treasures (types J-V) added.

“Lairs” are where adventurers “normally” find treasure. (p102).  Lair treasures represent lairs “full” of monsters and should be reduced to reflect smaller monster populations.  Note there is no restriction of treasure types to “outdoor” lairs as there seems to be in D&D74.

Some minor changes in types A-I in the table – mostly it’s the same.  Type A simplified.

Gems and Jewelry given separate columns and Gems are “Magical Gems”.  The “magical” appears to be a mistake however because no mention of magical properties is made in the Gem generation subtable.  In fact it seems the word is misplaced from the last column which has simply "items" instead of magical items.

Average Values of the treasure types given (p103)

Treasure Generation Tables
The methods on these tables are generally similar to most of their counterparts in D&D74, however the specific details are quite different and too numerous to list without in effect reproducing the whole section.  They are however, identical to the same tables prepared for the 1983 (Mentzer) edition of Dungeons & Dragons. 

Gems – when multiple gems are generated they may be combined into a single gem of the combined value.  Examples of types, i.e. “ruby” are assigned to each value range.  Jewelry has similar examples.

Discussion: The treasure type tables of D&D have an interesting story to tell all on their own, ranging from the D&D draft through AD&D 1st edition.  Despite the various iterations, only the values of types A and especially B change very significantly.  The other treasure types do vary a bit, but not enough for players to ever notice the difference.

Adding individual treasure types doesn't help the game much in my opinion.  In OD&D74 individual treasure carried upon the person is usually a matter of a few coins or personal items, something for the referee to vary as needed, not something to be consistently rolled for on a table.  For the few monsters who carry more significant treasures with them as they travel the needed info is provided in the monsters description. 

One thing that's nice is having the treasure types average values.  That's helpful when designing adventures.

As for the D&D94 treasure generation tables, the percentage chance of getting any particular kind of item is pretty much the same as in OD&D74 - which is quite important - and there is not a whole lot of practical difference in method from OD&D74.  What is different is the overall items themselves, and so to use the D&D94 treasure generation tables requires use of D&D94 magic items, which could be an advantage or out of the question, depending on the campaign. 

The rules regarding gems may be of some use to an OD&D referee.  At times it may be useful to multiple combine gems into a single gem of greater value and likewise, some groups might appreciate knowing the value or type of gem by color and description. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

D&D Rules Comparison 9

Monster Rules
(note: I won’t be comparing the monster lists or details of individual monsters.  Monsters are characters, not game mechanics and may be expected to vary greatly.)

Monsters usually have infravision. 

Monsters are given a size rating (S, M, L) following their HD.

Monster level equals its’ Hit Dice plus “bonus stars”.  Bonus stars are asterisks added to a monster description.  One bonus star is added for each special ability (poison, for example) a monster possesses.
Unlike D&D74 “+” or “-“ are ignored for level consideration so that a 2+1 HD monster is considered 2nd level, not 3rd.

Number Appearing lists a number of monsters found in a typical encounter.  D&D74 has no such statistic, but does have a lair population range not found in D&D 1994.  Both games advise adjusting monster numbers by dungeon level. 

Monster XP value listed in description.

Special Attacks
D&D 1994 defines the special attack forms possessed by some monsters:

Blindness causes -4 to attack rolls for victim, and a +4 for attackers.  Movement is 1/3rd unless led, then it is 2/3rds. 

Invisible opponent – treat as if making a blind attack.

Charm – charmed characters make no decisions of their own and cannot cast spells.

Energy Drain – reduced to midpoint of previous level.  Monsters loose 1 hd. 

Paralysis- attacks on paralyzed beings automatically hit.  Cure light wounds will remove it.


The size rating for monsters might be a handy thing in some instances but most of the time it is a no brainer.  It would be worth using in some special circumstances, but otherwise its an extraneous stat. 

The method of employing asterisks plus hit dice to determine the level of a monster does seem to be a superior way of gageing monster strength to the use of hit dice alone.  The method actually effectively codifies something  Gary Gygax wrote in the D&D FAQ from 1975 " For purposes of experience determination the level, of the monster is equivalent to its hit dice, and additional abilities add to the level in this case." but "The referee’s judgement must be used to determine such matters."  Clarifying this rule through the asterisk method is very useful.

I find the "Number Appearing" statistic of D&D74 to be much more flexible and simply better in play.  D&D94, in a tradition going back to Moldvay D&D, presents number appearing as a specific and usually tight range (2-8 for example) to be used in each encounter.  OD&D's statistic on the other hand. is a population range for the lair.  The OD&D statistic allows the referee the freedom to pick exact numbers for any given encounter, which could be much more or many fewer than the D&D94 procedure calls for. 

D&D94's clarifications of special attack forms, on the other hand is very useful.

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.