Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Some Selective Play-Testing and Reflection

My new rules modifications for Classic D&D seem to be going well enough. Most players converted over to the new system, finding a way to more or less keep their PC the same (Don's still playing a dragonborn, a race which got axed, but did update his class from Fighter/Magic-User to Lark, and Jeff is still running the old Ranger class that gets Druid spells). Of the new Fighter (and Assassin/Paladin/Lark) combat options that have been tried out, both my younger son and Jeremy opted to go with Defense (+2 AC, +4 if attacker is giant sized) for their Fighter Combat Style (a 4th level ability), while my older son went with Cleave (like the 3E feat) and Don went with, I think, Iaijutsu (like a backstab: +4 to hit, x2 damage; but only on the first round of combat if you get initiative). 

Cleave and Iaijutsu haven't come up yet (pretty sure my son could have used Cleave last game, but we forgot about it). Defense is obviously overpowered. Not sure what I was thinking there. Obviously I was thinking of the Halfling bonus to AC vs large creatures, but +2 base was ridiculous. Even 5E's Defense ability for Fighters is only +1. I will change it. At 5th level, Jeremy's Fighter has AC 23 (I use ascending, obviously), and my younger son has AC 22 at 4th level. I'll be toning that one down a bit, and re-evaluating all of the Fighter Combat Options (a bonus ability at 4th level). 

Yesterday, Delta posted this discussion of the Fighter's ability to attack multiple low level enemies across editions.

It's interesting on its own, but since I've given my Fighter class the Sweep ability (from 2nd level) to make one attack per level vs 1HD or lower opponents in Classic (which if you haven't read Delta's thread, Frank Mentzer is commented as thinking is totally unnecessary in Classic D&D). But they also get an option to Cleave (drop an opponent to 0hp, gain a bonus attack on a nearby enemy) AND at higher levels gain multiple attacks against more powerful opponents with 1+1HD or more (2 attacks at 8th level, 3 attacks at 12th level, level cap 15th), I feel like I'm just handing out extra attacks like candy! 

Still, I've got to say the Sweep ability has been pretty useful in games so far, as it helps speed up fights with the weaklings. 

This past weekend, I ran my procedural dungeon crawl game with the boys. Their encounters skewed humanoid, so they made good use of Sweeps. First encounter with 16 bandits, and after negotiations failed, the bandits were wiped out quickly. Fire beetles and giant black widow spiders were spotted, but left alone. A group of warriors appeared, but were evaded. A Red Knight appeared (as a "special") and tried to arm wrestle the PCs (the boys' PCs legit won with good rolls)! Then they tricked a pair of white apes into opening a portcullis to allow access to a ruined castle. In the next room were (as determined by random roll) 40 orcs. They tricked the orcs and apes into fighting, leaving 29 orcs alive when the apes were finally defeated. Then they went to town, using Sweep, and the Sweep ability evened the odds, although both characters took some fairly heavy damage, even with my younger son's PC's amazing AC. In the end, all the orcs were cut down and the pair returned to town with the loot.

In my West Marches game that same evening, they finished off Quasqueton. Well, not completely finished, there were secret doors they missed, despite having a wand of secret door detection which helped. They didn't always think to use it, though. Most of the 1st level was already explored, and they had about half of the second level explored when the session started. So they put in the effort to finish it off. They encountered troglodytes (which proved to be the toughest fight of the evening!), a pair of ettins (spells rendered them ineffective), wraiths (only one level drain, Justin's PC - and just as he was about to reach the level cap for a half-elf Warlock, before the dragonborn blasted them and himself with a fireball), some ghouls, and gnolls. They avoided stirring up the bats in the giant cavern. And they finally found Zelligar's wand (Roghan's spear and armor had already been recovered). 

As for the character abilities under the new rule set, Nate has been searching for a way to make use of the Shaman (cleric subclass) ability to perform rituals, but they haven't really come up yet. The three rituals they can perform 1) allow detection of astral/ethereal creatures, 2) sanctify a small area for 24 hours, 3) allow up to four creatures suffering from poison, disease, etc. to make a new saving throw. 

The other area that's come to my attention through the game is the Paladin's Aura ability. Denis has been confused the past few sessions about it. The effects are fine, but the wording is poor. I need to rewrite the section to make it more clear.


  1. The BX clone I use has a "feat light" system of proficiencies that are some what class based.

    That, plus damage bonuses for fighters as they go up in level plus extra attacks up to level each time you drop someone to 0 hp has dramatically changed our combats. Especially since monsters get it too.

    The fighters feel epic without being overpowered.

    Also consider +1 AC with an increase to +2 based on level (say 1/2 way to "max" level)

    If you have crits, consider a fighter skill being crit on 19 or 20 and/or crit on 10 over roll needed. (I need a 6 to hit, so I roll a 16+ to crit).

    Other may include +1 hit and or damage to ranged, some limited stealth (additional chance to surprise), bonuses based on weapon type (+ hit/dam), etc. Better to have smaller bonuses evey third level than big ones every 4.

  2. I don't do crits in my game, but I do have (borrowed from IIRC the defunct Tales of the Rambling Bumblers blog) the idea of "any sort of special attack - disarm, shove, sand in eyes, arm-lock - is done with a normal attack roll. The target can decide to accept the effects of the special attack, or take weapon damage. But if the attack roll is a natural 20, they have no choice but to take the effect." That's the closest I come to a crit in my game.

    I like the idea of dividing the AC bonus for the Defense ability into +1 at low level, +2 at high level. In fact, I might consider ways to give each a small boost at say Name Level. Thanks for the ideas!