28 November 2016

Fantasy Monday: OD&D Single Volume Read-Through, Pt. 2


     Well, in an attempt to continue coverage of Greyharp's single volume compilation of the Original Dungeons & Dragons LBBs that I began here. Today, I'll cover "Spells & Magic" and "Adventuring Rules." Let's get to it, then!



Section 3: Spells and Magic

     Spell-casting and memorization seems similar enough to later editions. There is the clarification that more than one of any given spell can be memorized and/or cast from a scroll per day. I remember arguing with a DM back in my early B/X days that that's how it was, but he said if I wanted a second magic missile, then I would have to learn it a second time when leveling. Lame.
     Spell books are next with the charming notation that each level of spells requires its own book! Ouch! And to replace or copy cost 2,000 g.p./level...that's a 2,000 g.p. investment given by the master to his apprentice!
     Apparently only clerics have reversible spells. Interesting. This also seems to be a function of alignment (i.e., Lawful clerics can cast Finger of Death, but they better have a darn good reason!).
     Spell research is merely a function of money and time; each period of research costs the base for the level (2,000 g.p. per) and gives a 20% chance of success. Fairly simple. Creating magic items is the same, but can only be done by Wizards (8th level and above). Pay 2,000 g.p. and spend two months and you too can enchant armor to +1! Of course, the wizard won't be doing anything else and I'm sure he has his own things to do, so....explains why items are worth more than it costs to make them.


     On a side note, there are no rules for clerics making scrolls. A quick glance forward to the magic item section produces this line: "All scrolls are spells for Magic-Users, and regardless of the level of the spell they can be used by any Magic-User capable of reading them." Oops. However, the Type of Scroll chart has the notation: "*There is a 25% chance that any scroll of spells found will contain those usable by clerics." So it makes sense that clerics can produce scrolls in a manner similar to magic-users. Potions are another thing, and they should stay firmly in the hands of Wizards.
     Next we have the Spell Lists. Few surprises here. All fairly basic. No magic missile, making sleep the combat spell du jour. Cleric lists are the same: familiar with some little differences; bless is 2nd level, which is a little different. There is a typo here in that the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd level lists for clerics are marked 4th, 5th, and 6th, but that's minor. (On a side note, this also means that the group in Doctor Demento's "I'm Always the First to Die" are playing B/X because the magic-user learns "the two standard spells, magic missile  and light.")
     Going through the Spell explanation section, little stands out. 
     Charm Person notes that the spells works on "two-legged, generally mammalian figures near to or less than man-size." Lizardmen are out, then? 
     Contact Higher Plane is interesting as the planar cosmology has yet to be defined; there are 10 higher planes rated from the 3rd to the 13th with a greater number of questions and accuracy the higher one goes, but with an increased chance of caster insanity as well. Unlike the AD&D version which caps out a 50% chance of insanity, OD&D takes it up to a 95% chance at the highest level of veracity!
     That's all that really stands out, other than the dimensions of spells being given entirely in map inches (walls, for example).


Section 4: Adventuring Rules

     This section starts off with time and movement. No surprises here: 10 minute turns, with two movements allowed per turn. It is interesting to note that unarmored hobbits have the same movement rate, 12", as unarmored men. Then we come to our old friend: encumbrance. 
     First of, every character has the same encumbrance profile: 750/1000/1500, based on "coin weight" (i.e., 10 coins weight 1 lb.) and conforming to light, heavy, and armored foot movement of 12"/9"/6". No adjustments for size, race, sex, or strength. So, in a way, more simple. Realistic? Well, this is a game not a strict simulation, so it's probably OK as it stands. Encumbrance is still one of those things I eyeball--that is, until the players are saying they're carrying a kitchen sink list.


     Resting is required, 1 turn/hour, although no penalties are mentioned for not doing so. "Light and Darkness" has the interesting note of "Monsters are assumed to have permanent infravision as long as they are not serving some character." So, the orc henchman you pick up loses his infravision for hanging out with a "hoomie?" Tough break, there. On doors, even dwarfs get a better "hear noise" roll than humans (1-2, same as elves and hobbits)! "Traps are usually sprung by a roll or a 1 or a 2 when any character passes over or by them." Good to know. And falling is the familiar 1d6 per 10 feet but without an upper limit. Oh joy!
     The Wilderness section (only about a half-page of material) gives some basic rules and charts for movement on the hex map and chance of becoming lost. Each hex is 5 miles across and a man can cross 3 hexes a day in normal terrain, a man on a light horse 10, for example.
     The section continues with guidelines for hiring retainers, mercenaries, and specialists. Hirelings are more akin to what AD&D calls henchmen, and it is a more expensive and demanding process than getting mercenaries because the player-character is essentially hiring a low-level PC class type. The rules do note the possibility of using charm spells or enticements on Men encountered in dungeons (as they are then considered "monsters"). This seems to be the only way to entice high-level class-types into service.


     Normal hirelings are simpler to hire and require the posting of notices and expense from 100-600 gold pieces. Availability and success is up to the DM. Specialists are "rare" and cover the range from armorer to spy. An interesting note on orcs explains their prevalence among the armies of Chaos: "Chaotic characters may wish to employ Orcs; Orc support and upkeep is only half that of a man." It's a bargain! Well, that and you have do the pesky Chaos thing, but hey, Warduke and Death Dealer for the win, am I right?



     This section ends off with rules for awarding experience. Familiar ground once again. Experience is awarded for monsters defeated and treasure gained. Only one level can be gained per award, and the example given places the character 1 point shy of 3rd level. An interesting part of the passage is as follows:

Gains in experience points will be relative; thus an 8th level Magic-User operating on the 5th dungeon level would be awarded 5/8 experience. Let us assume he gains 7,000 Gold Pieces by defeating a Troll (which is a 7th level monster, as it has over 6 Hit Dice). Had the monster been only a 5th level one experience would be awarded on a 5/8 basis as already stated, but as the monster guarding the treasure was a 7th level one experience would be awarded on a 7/8 basis thus; 7,000 G.P. + 700 for killing the Troll = 7,700 divided by 8 = 962.5 x 7 = 6,037.5. (pg. 30).

Well, that takes care of monster levels versus player levels very simply. Of course, unfortunately for those 1st levels that manage to take out a 4 HD Ogre or even a 6 HD Minotaur, the reverse is not true. "Experience points are never awarded above a 1 for 1 basis, so even if a character defeats a higher level monster he will not receive experience points above the total of treasure combined with the monster's kill value." Oh well.
   That's all for this time, mi amigos. Tune in next time when I go over "Encounters and Combat." Adios! Or, in other words, scram! :)



Post a Comment