Monday, November 02, 2015

Notes on OD&D - Part 11

Onward with my reading, analysis and conjectures of OD&D...

Men & Magic
  • p19 - Statistics Regarding Classes (continued)
    • Spells & Levels
      • The chart column indicates the number of spells at each level that the magic-user or cleric can be used (rembered during any single adventure).  Spells used once may not be used again the same day.
      • Note: If I don't miss my guess Vancian Magic starts here.  The definition being as follows:  "A form of magic based on the existence of spells that must be prepared in advance, for specific purposes, and that can be used a finite number of times." (reference  This concept of magic is, to the best of my knowledge, quite arbitrary, and has lead over the years to quite a few conundrums.  I'm not that well versed in the topic, however, so will leave the debate to others.  I will simply comment that I never really was especially fond of the Vancian modality for RPG Mystical types.  Why the Vancian system was chosen for OD&D may simply be a matter of Gygax and Arneson liking Jack Vance's novels.  As a game mechanic, I always found it a bit stultifying.
    • Levels Above Those Listed
      • Meh... this section is a complicated textual exposition on levels advancement beyond those listed.  I'm tempted to type it verbatim so you can see it for yourselves.  Ok ok...
      • "Progressions of Dice of Accumulative Hits, Fighting Capability, and Spells & Levels may not be evident. An 11th Level Lord would get 10+3 dice and fight as he did at the 10th level; but at 12th level, he could get 11 + 1 dice and fight at Super Hero + 2. At 13th level dice would be 11 + 3 with Fighting Capability at Super Hero + 2. A 17th level Wizard would get 9 + 3 dice no change in fighting Capabilities - the change coming at the 19th level, fighting then being done at + 3. An 11th level Patriarch would get dice of 7 + 3 with Fighting Capability unchanged; at 12 level dice would be 8 + 1 with no change in fighting; and at 13th level the Patriarch would get 8 + 2 and fight as a Super Hero - the next change in Fighting Capability coming at 17th level."
      • Spell progression is then covered. in similar fashion.
      • Note:  This will require me some time to digest.  I may want to do a bit of analysis on this to see if I can tweeze out whatever the guiding principal of this rule is.  I'm sure (well, not I"m not at all sure) that there is a pattern here that could be described in a way so as to make sense of how to figure this out.  Or it's totally arbitrary.  Not sure at the moment, but it looks arbitrary to me at first glance.
    • The alternate system is based on the relative combat capabilities of the combatants (offensive and defensive); such things as speed, ferocity, and weaponry are subsumed into the matrixes. There are two charts, one for men vs men or monsters, and one for monsters vs men.

    • Note that the objective here is to roll above the number listed.  So accordingly, Plate armor and a shield are bulky as heck and it's harder to hit things when you're wielding all of that.  No armor or shield, on the other hand, gives a significant advantage in terms of ability to strike the opponents.  Interesting.  Monsters work the same way.  Notice that Armor Classes are listed as low = the most armor, with 9 being the least.  I'd have done it the opposite way and make 0 AC no armor so that I could always add higher armor classes later if I felt the need without having to drop to negative numbers (tank armor for example would be something like -10 in the current system).  But at any rate seems reasonably straight forward in terms of a look up chart.  My beef with it is essentially that it's simply not well rationalized.  I'd hate, for example, to have to program this system because it's so picayune and difficult.  
    • Also note, oddly, that the AC 9 vs 11&1 (whatever that means) is 0.  You can't roll a zero, I don't think.  So in effect it means "always hits", which in effect is the same thing as the 1.  What's odd is that the top chart shows 1's whereas the bottom chart includes the 0.  No idea why.  Typo, maybe.
Ok that's probably enough for today.  I need to sit down and look this over some.  It's a bit convoluted so I'm not sure what kind of analysis to do on it.  I'll just leave off with the observation that it's both complicated and simple at the same time.  The mechanisms of play, in other words, are simple enough - you look up something on a chart and get the number to roll above.  The convoluted part has to do with the numeric progressions and unevenness of the math.  For example, did you notice that on the Men vs Men chart the 10-12 column starts at 10 instead of 11?  Why did they skip 11?  Hmmm... unevenness just bothers me.  I'm too much of a programmer to feel comfortable with that kind of thing, I guess.  Ah well, I'll just go over and sit with Mr. Spock in the corner and commiserate for a while.   "It seems highly illogical".  "Indeed, it does."

Edit:  Ok my friends out on the IntArW3bZ tell me that I have misinterpreted the way that chart should be read.  The correct reading is ... 

"Plate and shield are harder to hit ... a 3rd level fighter needs a 17 or higher to hit an opponent in plate with shield, but only needs a 12 to hit a target in leather armor"


"The more armor the target is wearing, the higher you need to roll... not because you are encumbered, but because they are a harder target. Off of those charts, there's no stated penalty or bonus to your attack roll when armored, only a target you need to meet or exceed."

 So yes, I really had the wrong interpretation of this chart.  The way you should read it is "If my Character is X Level, this is what he needs to roll above in order to hit Armor Class X".  

I kinda had it backwards there.  Thanks guys for clarifying how the chart works!

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