Thursday, October 22, 2015

Notes on OD&D - Part 3

Continuing on with my exploration of the OD&D Rules.  

Men & Magic 
  • p9 - Character Alignment
    • Characters must not only take a role at the beginning of the game, but also "take a stance".  Stances are defined by Alignment, and three are given, Law, Neutral and Chaos. 
    • All monsters and creatures are grouped by Alignment.

    • Some Creatures appear in more than one Alignment.  Only Men appear in all three Alignments.
    • There is some rules confusion about Patriarchs.  Earlier in the rules we read "Clerics of 7th Level and greater are either "Law" or "Chaos", and there is a sharp distinction between them.  If a Patriarch recieving the above benefits changes sides, all the benefits will immediately be removed!"
      • 7th Level Cleric is a Lama
      • 8th Level Cleric is a Patriarch
      • Patriarch is listed in the Law column
      • Evil High Priest is listed in the Chaos column
      • The Levels Chart on p18 does not mention Evil High Priest
      • What we can conclude is that at 8th Level the Cleric will be either a Lawful Patriarch or a Chaotic Evil High Priest.
    • Note that Good and Evil are at this point are synonymous with Law and Chaos.
      • Law = Good
      • Chaos = Evil
    • The groupings suggests that each Alignment is a faction, whose individual creatures can be construed as a kind of military unit.  Remember, D&D originally was a Wargame that came directly out of, and is fused with, Chainmail. In my own view a great deal of clarity could have immediately been achieved had the OD&D rules specified that "Alignment" meant specifically "Alignment with a Faction", and that the "Law", "Neutral" and "Chaos" groups were defined as Factions instead of Alignments.  That would have made more intrinsic sense, and helped to avoid future problems in the definition and development of the concept of Alignment in D&D.  On the other hand, that would have required super-human foresight on the part of the designers.  We should remember, that the purpose of the Alignment system was to create factions for a military wargame, and the factions were in all likelihood thought of as Armies at first.  Military wargame style.
    • Double Entries - showing that certain roles can be neutral or one of the other two alignments.  They can even switch between neutral and aligned at the onset of combat.
      • An * next to the name indicates that the role is listed in both the Law and Neutral columns. 
      • An underline indicates that the role is listed in both the Neutral and Chaos columns.
    • We should note that Chainmail had the original Alignment Chart, which looks like this. We should note also that the neutral roles will divvy up in a fight between the other two factions according to a die roll, wherein on ties they remain neutral. Again, the emphasis here is on the Wargame, not the story, although we can readily imagine that story would most certainly be a natural consequence of this kind of game as compared to other wargames such as Blitzkrieg or Chess. D&D so lends itself to the telling of stories through the mechanism of the game, that eventually, for many people, it became its predominant and favorite aspect.

    • There is an absolutely wonderful write up on the history and consequences of D&D Alignment at Methods & Madness Blog here.
  • p10 - Abilities
    • Changing Character Class - changing Character class mid-game is possible but not recommended.
      • 16 or better is required in the prime requisite of the class to be changed to and the score must be "unmodified" (meaning what they originally rolled).
      • Magic Users can not become Clerics, and vice-versa.
    • Determination of Abilities
      • The Referee rolls 3d6 for each requisite of the Character (not the player), in order to help the player decide their role.  That the player does not roll is very interesting and strongly suggests that the Referee always rolls the dice, never the players.  I mean after all, at the point of creating their Character one would think this is the most logical place for the player to roll dice, if there is any place at all.  However, I'm not 100% sure about this yet, so I will let it ride, and just take a note on that here for future reference.
      • Requisites listed:
        • Strength
        • Intelligence
        • Wisdom
        • Constitution
        • Dexterity
        • Charisma
      • The Referee rolls 3d6 for each player character to determine their amount of starting Gold Pieces (dice score * 10).
      • The Player now selects their Character's role (Race and Class)
      • An example character "Xylarthen" is shown
        • Class: Magic User
        • Strength: 6
        • Intelligence: 11
        • Wisdom: 13
        • Constitution: 12
        • Dexterity: 9
        • Charisma: 8
        • Gold Pieces: 70
        • Experience: Nil
        • Notes: The Player opted for Magic User because of a preference for magic, but had he chosen Cleric he would have progressed faster (clerics require less experience to go up in levels).
      • Explanation of Abilities
        • Strength 
          • Prime Requisite for Fighters
          • Clerics can use Strength on a 3 for 1 basis in their Prime Requisite area (wisdom), for purposes of gaining experience only.  (at the moment I'm not sure what this rule actually means.  Hopefully it will be clarified later on).
          • Strength aids in opening traps and so on.
        • Intelligence
          • Prime Requisite for "magical types"
          • Both Fighters and Clerics can use it in their prime requisite areas (strength and wisdom respectively) on a 2 for 1 basis.
          • Affects refereees' decisions as to whether or not a certain action would be taken.  This is undoubtedly the starting point for a certain amount of consternation over the years between GMs and Players.  
          • Allows additional languages to be spoken
        • Wisdom
          • Prime Requisite for Clerics.
          • May be used on a 3 to 1 basis by fighters, and a 2 to 1 basis for Magic Users in their respective prime requisite areas. 
          • Acts much like intelligence.
        • Constitution
          • Combination of health and endurance
          • Influences the number of Hit Points of the Character
          • Resistance to Paralysis, being turned to stone, etc.
    • p11 - continued
        • Dexterity
          • Affects manual speed and conjuration
          • Sets missile ability 
          • Speed of actions such as firing first, getting off a spell, etc.
        • Charism
          • Combination of appearance, personality, and so forth
          • Determines how many hirelings of unusual nature a character can attract.
          • Affects loyalty
          • A chart is given showing Charisma Score, Maximum # of Hirelings, and Loyalty Base 
          • Charisma is also used to decide such things as whether or not a witch capturing a player (character) will turn him into a swine or keep him as a lover.  (Note:  they wrote player here, but I'm sure they must have meant Character ... yes?  Haha.)
          • Charisma will aid a character in attracting various monsters to his (or her, one presumes) service.
Ok that's all I have time for today.  Very interesting.  I may write up more comments on this a little later on, but for now this will do.   You might want to check back with this page in a day or two to see if I updated it.  I will in all likelihood have a few more thoughts to add but I do have to run now.


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