Sunday, October 19, 2014

D&D Comparison Conclusion and Houserules doc

So having gone through all of Doug Stewart's 1994 Dungeons & Dragons rulebook, what have we come away with?

For me, it was remarkable to recognize just how much of the original game "engine" was still "under the hood" so to speak.  Although D&D94 has a lot of added bells and whistles and does a lot of futzing around with various things, a great many of the rules still stem from the original game, either completely untouched or only cosmetically altered.

Even so, there are also key elements of the original's brilliance that have come to be ruined, too.

As a text to mine for houserule ideas and rule clerifications though, D&D94 proved very appropriate and useful.  The simplified introductory nature of D&D94 is no doubt a great aid in this regard.  If one tried to do the same thing with, say, the bloated Rules Cyclopedia, for example it would be quite a headache.

So attached below are the TSR "houserules" I derived as we went along.  It is a fairly conservative document.  I've only included those rules and guidelines which are truly appropriate and useful for OD&D play, whatever it may be that fell into that category, regardless of whether I myself would ever employ them.  

D&D94 rules for D&D74

Friday, October 17, 2014

D&D Rules Comparison 16

Stocking the Dungeon

Generally similar to D&D74 except as noted below.

The difference between a monsters’ level and a dungeon level should usually be no more than 2. (p68)

(This statement apparently replaces the dungeon Monster Determination by Dungeon Level Matrix and monster level lists of D&D74)

Room Contents table:
Treasure Chance

Rooms with monsters and treasure together indicate a lair and should be filled with full numbers of monster and treasure. (p116)
Special indicates unusual things which in and of themselves are harmless, if left alone.  Examples given include alarms, shifting walls, magical pools, sound effects and so forth.

Create a wandering monster list for each level consisting of 1-10 monsters of no more than 2 levels (HD) above or below the dungeon level.

Discussion: It is curious that the general approach to stocking the dungeon is the same, but hard to know if that's because TSR inc., didn't utilize the process much or because they though Gygax got it mostly right the first time.  My guess is on the former.  

What has changed is quite interesting, however.

First, unlike in D&D74, there is no  random table for treasure by dungeon level as there is on page 7 of         The Underworld and Wilderness Adventure booklet.  Treasures in D&D94 are either determined by the treasure type tables or hand picked by the Dungeon Master.  If it is a treasure and monster together then the treasure is a lair treasure chosen by the treasure type table.  While I'm happy to see it clarified in D&D94 that lair treasures are indeed expected in dungeon lairs, not also having a random treasure by level table leaves off the interesting possibility of monsters not knowing that there is a hidden treasure in their domicile. More problematic however is D&D94's encouragment of sometimes hand picking the treasure, because few DM's understand the frequencies at which treasure, and especially magic items should appear in a campaign.

Second, as mentioned above, D&D94 has no equivalent to the "Monster Determination and Monster Level Matrix".  This D&D74 table's results lead to subtables of specific monsters of varying strengths, each subtable getting tougher than the previous (discussed at length in my "Setting up a Proper Dungeon" article).  Frankly, the method offered by D&D94  (level = HD +/- 2) is much more practical and flexible than the D&D74 tables, with the caveat that it does not leave a method for the occasional wildcard monster.  
Third, the room table contents table shown above is quite different from anything in D&D74, particularly in percentage chances.  Note there is an equal chance (16.7%) of a room being empty, trapped, or having a "special".  Traps and specials are given no particular chance in D&D74, being things a DM is expected to add or not based on the nature of the level.  Some levels might have lots of traps and/or specials and others none, and that is how it should be.  Such things should not be predictable in some fixed percentage.

This section ends the D&D94 booklet.  Next post I will give a brief conclusion and a document of  D&D94 house rules for D&D74 players.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

D&D Rules Comparison 15

Spell effect changes:

Charm person – is ineffective against 6hd or greater creatures.  Victims receive a saving throw after 24hrs and at intervals thereafter based on intelligence.  The spell is broken if the caster attacks the victim.

Clairvoyance – allows the caster to see through the eyes of another creature.

Continual Light – covers a 60 foot area and may be cast on an object as for the Light spell.

Detect Evil – causes the evil to appear to glow to the caster

Detect Magic – causes the Magic to appear to glow to the caster

ESP – requires one minute of concentration and picks up all thoughts in the direction chosen by the caster.  Thoughts are understood regardless of language barriers but multiple minds in the area produce a jumble of “voices”, requiring another 6 rounds to single out one mind.  Target Saving throw allowed.  The spell can be reversed as MindMask to block esp.

Find Traps – causes them to glow a dull blue.

Haste – doubles movement for 4d6 creatures.

Hold Person – causes paralysis but does not affect undead or creatures larger than ogres.  Reversed “free person” releases paralysis.

Hold Portal – any creature with 3hd more than the caster can temporarily break open the portal in one round.

Invisibility – objects made invisible become visible when touched.

Invisibility 10’ radius – leaving the circle returns visibility.  Entering the circle after casting does not allow one to become invisible nor does reentering after leaving it.

Knock – opens only one lock or similar obstacle at a time.  A door barred and locked could not be opened by a single knock spell.

Light – can be cast on a moveable object and will blind a victim if cast on their eyes.

Lightning bolt – begins 180 feet away from the caster (!?!?) and extends a further 60 feet.

Phantasmal Forces – effects of damage wear off and can be disbelieved with a save vs. spells.  A successful hit will dispel.

Protection from evil extends 1 inch from the casters body.  The caster may make missile attacks.  The caster cannot be touched by “evil” creatures unless the caster attacks them.  No saving throw allowed against this spell.

Protection from Normal Missiles – excludes catapult stones (D&D74 is ambiguous on catapult stones).

Purify food and water can separate water from mud.  It does not affect living creatures and no saving throw is allowed.

Sleep – affect 2d8 HD worth of creatures of less than 4+1 HD, within a 40 x 40 foot area for 4d4 turns.  Sleeping creatures may be killed with a single blow.  Undead and large creatures immune.

Speak with Animals moves with the caster.

Discussion:  Most of the changes to spells are explanations of how the spell will function in a given circumstance or an explanation of limitations.  Sleep is perhaps a bit more limited depending on the interpretation of the original, but it is also simpler and easier to apply in practice.   Most of these are pretty good and worth adopting.  I believe the original light spell was not mobile (but continual light is) and could not be cast on an object (but continual light can be) - and I prefer it that way.  The one spell alteration here that is definitely out for D&D74 games is the change to lightning bolt.  It is a feature of the game that the spell can be cast directly in front of the caster (or casting object) and that there is always the potential of bounce back in tight spaces.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

D&D Rules Comparison 14

At present I have no desire to document the range and duration changes of each spell, because D&D74 is noticeably lacking in this regard, so there are a lot of such to document.  Important effect details however are noted.

Spells last in the mind forever until cast.
Spells shared by both clerics and magic users are now identical, not having separate versions.
Both clerics and Magic-users must be 4th level to cast a reverse spell.  Cleric spell reversal is now made identical to Magic-user spell reversal; meaning spells aren’t really “reversed” rather a separate spell having an opposite effect is learned and cast as such. (p52)

Clerical spells
D&D 1994 lists only 1st and 2nd level spells due to its introductory nature.
1st level Cleric spells added:
 Remove Fear
Resist Cold
2nd level Cleric spells added:
            Know Alignment
            Resist Fire
            Silence 15’ Radius
            Snake Charm
Note: the clerical spell list of D&D 1994 is identical with the 1977 J. E. Holmes edition.

Magic User Spells:

Only the first 3 levels are given in D&D 1994.

1st level spells added (identical to Moldvey basic 1980):
            Floating Disc
            Magic Missile

2nd level spells added (identical to Moldvey basic 1980):
            Mirror Image

3rd level spells REMOVED (none added) (identical list to Cook/Marsh expert 1980):


Not putting a limit on how long a spell stays "memorized" is an interesting twist some DM's (and likely all players) might prefer.  However, the rules regarding reversed spells are just wacked.  There's no reason to change the D&D74 approach, and certainly not to this 4th level, same for all business.  Reverse spells are, and ought to be, the provenance of Clerics, especially chaotic clerics, as this is their distinguishing feature, and because they lack the power to turn undead.

Likewise, I'm not inclined to remove spells from the OD&D list.  Adding a few is no problem.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

D&D Rules Comparison 13

Exceptions to the rule that only one ring may be worn per hand are the ring of weakness and the cursed ring.

Cursed Ring
(appears to be unique to D&D94?)
Can only be removed by a high level cleric.
Causes a -1 penalty to all Saving Throws.
Does not detect as evil.

Have 1d10 charges (D&D74 wands have up to 100 charges)

Rods and Staves
Rods are intermediate in size between a wand and a staff.
Staves and Rods apparently have unlimited charges unless specified.
The only rod listed is a Rod of Cancellation

Discussion: The cursed ring is a very good idea and fits right in with the D&D74. Generally I'm extremely reluctant to add new magic items to my OD&D campaign, but this ring is an exception for me.

Gimping the number of charges a wand can potentially have may seem like a good idea, my concern is that individual wands may seem like disposable items if they only have an average of 5 charges. 

There are no "Rods" in D&D74.  I don't think they add much to the game, but whatever.  It is strange that staves and rods have no charge limits in D&D94, given how reduced the charges of wands are.

Friday, October 3, 2014

D&D Rules Comparison 12

Scrolls are written on parchment or paper.
There must be enough light to read a scroll.
Scrolls must be read aloud to cast a spell.
Cleric scrolls are written in the common tongue but only Clerics know how to use them.
There may be up to 3 spells on a scroll (D&D 74 has up to 7 spells) as follows:

Number of Spells

Cursed Scrolls

Just looking at the writing sets off the curse – no reading needed.  D&D94 includes a different curse list from D&D74 as follows:

1. The reader turns into a frog (or some other harmless animal).
2. A wandering monster of the same level as the reader appears and attacks the reader by
surprise (a free attack with bonuses).
3. One magical item owned by the reader disappears (the item is chosen or randomly determined
by the DM).
4. The reader loses one level of experience, as if struck by a wight. (The DM should roll
again for a first-level character to avoid unfair "instant death.")
5. The reader's Prime Requisite must be rerolled.
6. Wounds will take twice as long to heal, and healing spells will only restore half
normal amounts until the curse is lifted.

Protection Scrolls
Protection scrolls  verses monsters hinder the warded creature from entering the protection circle, but they do not prevent spell or missile attacks from the warded creature.

The circle is broken if a protected creature attacks a warded creature.

Protection from magic differs only in duration.  In D&D74 it lasts 8 turns, but in D&D94 it lasts but 1d4 turns. 

Discussion:  I think the basic rules for scrolls given in D&D94 are good clarifications, although I don't agree that scrolls have to be on parchment or paper.  They same spells might be scribed into stone, wood, or clay tablets, I should think.

I also like the change to less spells on a scroll, but only because in my campaign I prefer to consider "scrolls" of 4-7 spells on the treasure tables to actually be spell books. 

I also much prefer the cursed scroll effects given in D&D94.  The D&D74 ones have a few similar entries but also contain two that result in being transported out of the game.

Lastly, I also think the clarifications in D&D94 for protection scrolls are good ideas, but I see no reason to reduce the time a protection spell lasts.  Let the players have their 8 turns.

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.