Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Rescuing a Rob Conley Comment from Obscurity

Posted on Grognardia by Rob Conley:
The Chainmail tables are meant to capture the penetration difference. The assumption was if the blow manages to penetrate it is going to kill the individual. Consider each blow in chainmail to do 1 pt of damage and normal men have 1 hp.

OD&D changes this so that damage is now a 1d6 and normal men start off with 1d6 hit points. This is to represent the variability of people and the vagaries of combat.

(Waxing Gygas me thinks)

Then in Greyhawk come the realization that some weapons are better able to hurt people if they hit. The force behind the two-handed sword is way more than a one-hander. The different types of trauma, (slash, stab, blunt) are just arbitrarily factored in.

Later on as RPGs grew more complex some start making the distinction. (GURPS, Rolemaster, Harnmaster, etc).

Separate but parallel is the need to fold in all the non-armor modifiers particularly for monsters. In the beginning AC was a straight forward representation of armor types but became divorced from the under lying armor system to become a scale measuring how are things are to hit. D20 take this to it's logical conclusions' giving armor a modifier

This whole disconnect is why in AD&D the weapon vs AC says to look at what the guy is wearing not his numerical AC.

If you want to use modifiers versus AC and not violate IP what you should do is return the chainmail roots and just list the modifiers for each weapons and include any notes for particular monsters.

You can derive the values from the chainmail table. For example (note I don't have chainmail in front of me so I making stuff up)

+3 vs no armor
+2 vs leather
+1 vs chain
+0 vs plate
-2 vs Dragons
+1 vs Chimeras
+1 vs Trolls
+2 vs Purple Worms

You can get as complex or simple as you want as well as avoiding IP problems.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Motivations from OSRIC

A fundamental, driving assumption of OSRIC-compatible games is that the player characters are, at least partially, motivated by a desire (or need) for wealth. This need not necessarily be for reasons of greed; a cleric or paladin character, for example, could be driven to acquire money to donate to the poor, or to enable his or her superiors to construct a new church.
This has been expressed elsewhere (and by myself), but never as concisely!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Melee - Are we doing it wrong?

Years of video, miniature, and roleplaying games have propogated the idea that 'melee' is virtually any form of combat not using ranged/missile weapons or spells. Perhaps a better term than "hand to hand" or "close combat" is needed, but 'melee' is not it. Not to pick on 3rd and 4th edition D&D, but the carefully plotted movements on a grid only exacerbate the issue. The goals: give players choices, making decisions interesting and tactical, and encourage character teamwork. Nothing wrong there. The result: 5 foot squares, fixed targets, and relatively static positions.

Sorry for getting all wikipedia on y'all, but the term melee means "when groups become locked together in combat with no regard to group tactics or fighting as an organized unit; each participant fights as an individual." Why is the dictionary quoting important? Because it's historical accurate (for simulation fans) and it's what Gygax and company were thinking of (for you Grognards), and it's fun.

Look at a couple of cool (choreographed) movie fights:

Princesss Bride

Errol Flynn

Even when it's not planned:

Sure, duels are your typically melee, but it gives you a taste of the fluctaution of position and movement. People are moving, switching positions. Someone moves five feet, the other follow. Fixed formation fights can occur (Greek phalanxes, shield-walls, and Roman infantry techniques). They have their place and deserve their own rules. Perhaps trained fighters could use them in a dungeon corridor, but the positioning should be the exception, not the default assumption.

The idea is that melees are a mess and disorganized. The AD&D rules reflect that. Firing missile into Melee. Closing vs Charging. Spell casting during melee.

How do we reflect that?

Mosh Pits

There is a zone of melee and zones (areas) outside it. Closing and Charging (per AD&D) get you into the zone. Fleeing and falling back get you out. Smart spell casters stay out alltogether. Large areas may have more than one melee zone. Firing missile weapons? Take your chances on shooting into the melee, or try to target some outside of the zone.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Words of Wisdom on D&D Economies

A few words of wisdom while I catch up on posts:

There is no question that the prices and costs of the game are based on inflationary economy, one where a sudden influx of silver and gold has driven everything well beyond its normal value. The reasoning behind this is simple. An active campaign will most certainly bring a steady flow of wealth into a base area, as adventurers come from successful trips into dungeon and wilderness. If the economy of the area is one which more accurately reflects that of medieval England, let us say, where coppers and silver coins are usual and a gold piece remarkable, such an influx of new money, even in copper and silver, would cause an inflationary spiral. This would necessitate you adjusting costs accordingly and then upping dungeon treasures somewhat to keep pace. If a near-maximum is assumed, then the economics of the area can remain relatively constant, and the DM will have to adjust costs only for things in demand or short supply - weapons, oil, holy water, men-at-arms, whatever.