[House Rules]Specially Unequal

One of the great things about  B/X and (by extension) ACKS, is its simplicity.  So many of the elements of the system show off this simplicity that it’s really a shining point if you are looking for a game that plays fast and quick.

But simplifying everything does, occasionally, leave some things to be desired.

One area where I personally don’t appreciate the simplicity is in grading the ‘Special’ experience bonus.  To say that a creature’s ability to Energy Drain a target is worth the same bonus experience as another creature’s ability to fly is disingenuous I believe.  In the Advanced versions of the game, this was ‘fixed’ in a variety of ways.  Based on my own experience, I’m going to incorporate a bit of that in ‘grading’ how much my monsters should be worth.  Yes, this means that pcs will get a bit more experience for defeating a monster, but when a creature has an ability that can permanently destroy a character with a lucky roll…I’m okay with that.  When you consider that this means a wight would be worth a whopping 30 xp more, versus its ability to steal a level…yeah,  no problem here.

Bonus                   Power

*                             AC of 9+ (0- in descending AC games)

*                             Blood Drain

*                             Breath Weapon that does less than 20 points max damage

**                           Breath Weapon that does more than 21 points max damage

*                             Cast level 1 or 2 spells

**                           Cast level 3+ spells

*                             Cleave

*                             Disease

***                        Level Drain (one level)

****                      Level Drain (two levels)

*                             Flight

*                             High Constitution (+1 or +2 HP per HD)

**                           High Constitution (+3 or +4 HP per HD)

*                             High Dexterity (+1 or +2 to Init and AC)

**                           High Dexterity (+3 or +4 to Init and AC)

*                             High Intelligence

*                             High Strength (+1 or +2 to hit/damage)

**                           High Strength (+3 or +4 to hit/damage)

*                             Hit only by silver/magic

**                           Hit only by +3 or greater magic

*                             Immunity to a spell

*                             Immunity or half damage from any type of weapon

*                             Invisibility

*                             Missile weapon use

**                           Multiple attacks that can cause over 30 damage

**                           Paralysis attack

***                         Petrification  attack

**                           Poison

**                           Single attack that causes more than 20 points of damage

**                           Special unlisted attack (webbing, entrapment, etc)

*                             Special Defenses such as Undead immunities

**                           Swallows targets whole

*                             Thief Abilities

*                             Using magical items against the party

**                           Weakness or fear effects

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[House Rules]Everyone is Skilled Part 2-Proficiencies

Using Proficiencies with Skills

Ok, so that quick and dirty skill system kept coming up in my mind and I realized that maybe I could pick out the proficiencies that would need to be ‘fixed’ to work with the system.  Let’s see how that goes.

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[House Rules]Everyone is Skilled (Thieves Still Suck)

As I previously mentioned, there are a plethora of ways to ‘fix’ thieves (beyond leaving them out of the game entirely).  This originally started as another means of ‘fixing’ thieves, and not one I came up with on my own either (see below).  However, the idea stuck with me so long that I couldn’t NOT do something with it.  I know a lot of people hate skill systems with a passion, and I get that.  Equally, I’ve played with a lot of players that feel hamstrung by characters without some crunch ‘meat’ on their bones.  Take this as you will.  Personally I could use something like this quite easily.

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[House Rules]Thieves Suck-Solutions Part 3

As I previously mentioned, there are a plethora of ways to ‘fix’ thieves (beyond leaving them out of the game entirely).  So I’ll show case a few, some from other versions of the game, and others from Bloggers or my own ideas.

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[House Rules]Thieves Suck-Solutions Part 2

As I previously mentioned, there are a plethora of ways to ‘fix’ thieves (beyond leaving them out of the game entirely).  So I’ll show case a few, some from other versions of the game, and others from Bloggers or my own ideas.
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[House Rules]Thieves Suck-Solutions Part 1

As I previously mentioned, there are a plethora of ways to ‘fix’ thieves (beyond leaving them out of the game entirely).  So I’ll show case a few, some from other versions of the game, and others from Bloggers or my own ideas.

Continue reading

Thieves Suck

Seriously, they do.

But the question is, why?

Ever since Black Dougal died to that poison needle trap in the back of the Red Moldvey Basic D&D book (my first D&D book), I knew that thieves were a pretty crap choice.  Hell, if they get killed off in the example of play, then how good could they be?

When I envisioned thieves, I thought of people like this:

Fighter? Wizard? Either way, you just walked into the wrong bar hombre.

Or maybe this:

I’m Batm… errr… Master of the Night!

Or possibly someone like this:

Queen of Thieves

What D&D gave me were guys like this:

You guys fight that monster just one more round… I promise, I’m totally going to back stab it… just as soon as I figure out what’s up with my freakish rib cage!

And this:

Screw risking my life in some monster filled hole… there’s all this treasure above ground in town, and these fat rich guys just walk around wearing it!

Now, in part this disconnect comes from me not realizing how deeply mired Dungeons and Dragons was in the Swords and Sorcery genre, rather than the High Fantasy of Tolkien or the Arthurian Mythos.  But I also secretly believe that Gygax just didn’t like the idea of the thief so he made it intentionally suck.

I mean, let’s look at Fighters.  They start out in B/X as Veterans. These characters are not farm boys given their father’s swords.  No, these people have seen action.  So much so that they are potentially twice as touch as a ‘normal human’.  Wizards, while limited to a single spell a day can potentially dominate a person for a month, or put a military squad out of action with a Sleep spell.  Ok, Clerics get the short end of the stick.  They are sub-par warriors at 1st level, though they need less experience so they balance out a bit.

Then, in comes Thieves in Greyhawk.  The 1st level Thief has… laughable… chances of success at level 1.  Fighters, Wizards, and Clerics have reliable talents.  While their combat ability might not be great compared to what it will eventually become, they can still function in their roles.  But the thief really can’t.  They are relegated to the back of the party, plinking away with their bows and praying to the gods that they never get called on to use their skills in a hot zone.

I’m not the only one who noticed the problem.  It get’s noticed and mentioned, all-the-time.  All kinds of DMs try all kinds of houserules to help make the class workable, or subsume the thief abilities into the skill sets of every class.  Some DMs have gone so far as to let thief skills automatically succeed, which is a radical idea I’m actually considering.

But, ACKS provides some interesting options in the Player’s Companion.  So, I’m going to try and play around with that first before I gut the system completely.   More on that idea soon…