Wednesday, December 28, 2011

OD&D - In Need of a PC Power-Up?

Ahhh, OD&D!  There is something awesome about those Little Brown Books in the White Box from 1974.  This is a game that frequently beckons to me.  There's something about the raw ingenuity, the quasi-Gonzo aspects to the game, and the complete lack of power-gaming that is very appealing.  And it feels like everything hinges on good roleplaying, on clever puzzle solving... on PLAYER skill.  Dice rolls aren't that important in creating characters.  All weapons do 1d6 damage.  There is no To-Hit or Damage bonus from high strength.  The maximum hit point bonus from CON?  +1.  The maximum missile weapon bonus from DEX?  +1.  There are many other examples of this in OD&D.

However, that same minimalist aspect of the game that is so appealing also makes it somewhat limiting.  Pc's are perhaps at too much of the weak extreme.  My gaming buddy Adam refers to his OD&D characters as "Farmers!"  I think this was a common sentiment among certain players in the 1970's.  Thus, when the supplements (Greyhawk, Blackmoor, etc) were published, PC's were given a huge shot in the arm.  All of the ability bonuses that are familiar from AD&D were first introduced in these supplements, along with variable weapon damage and other PC Power-Ups.  So if you used the LBB's along with Greyhawk, you got something that is very close to an AD&D character. 

The problem with using the supplements is that it just feels too much like AD&D.  And if I want to play AD&D, I'll just play AD&D.  :)  Which I frequently do.

What I've always wanted is something inbetween.  (Which you kind of get in B/X - which is one reason why I love that game.  More on that another day!).  By that I mean that I'd like characters that are more powerful than the 1974 "farmers," yet not nearly as bad-ass as the quasi-AD&D characters from the supplements.  Perhaps, given my druthers, I'd use the following system:
  • Variable weapon damage from Greyhawk
  • Variable hit points by class (d10 for Fighters, d8 for Clerics, d4 for MU's & Thieves)
  • +1 bonus for any ability scores of 13-16
  • +2 bonus for any ability scores of 17-18
  • STR bonus would be for To-Hit and Damage
  • DEX bonus would be for AC and Missile Fire
  • CON bonus would be for Hit Points
  • INT bonus for Number of Languages
  • WIS bonus for Magical Saves
  • CHA bonus for Henchmen, Loyalty, etc
  • Roll 3d6 for ability scores - and arrange as desired (point swapping permitted as outlined in Men & Magic)
To me, this would make +1 bonuses fairly common.  You could easily envision a PC having one or two of these bonuses.  Then again, a +2 bonus is quite rare!  In any entire party of adventurers, you might only see a total of 1-2 such bonuses.  Someone with a 17 strength is truly epic in their might!

I think this feels like my OD&D sweet spot.

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