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.


Discussion:  

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.

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