First of all the rules explain that here are three (3) classes. I had to chuckle about the numeral - as if that sentence were misleading ;-) Especially compared to much of what is to come ;-) The three classes are
- Fighting-Men (occasionally spelled with or without dash)
So let's look at the classes in more detail in distill their abilities:
- "They include the characters of elves and dwarves and even hobbits.". Again the "even" emphasis made me chuckle. Someone doesn't seem to like hobbits here or is it just me hearing some sarcasm? But maybe the author wanted to stress that even puny hobbits can be brave fighters. We'll probably never now.
- "All magical weaponry is usable by fighters.". I wonder about magical weaponry is stressed as this implies a certain presumption about non-magical weaponry, as if there were no limits to that.
- "They gain the advantage of more 'hit dice'" (hit points).
- They can become barons (details omitted here).
The section starts with a statement about the initially very weak setup of Magic-Users but also states that they have the potential to become the most powerful characters in the game. Then it proceeds to explain the abilities:
- "The whole plethora of magic items lies at the magic-users beck and call, save the arms and amor of the fighters...". So it's all about magic, baby. Which basically suggests that magic poor campaigns were not the norm during the early days. Otherwise this "advantage" would not be worth much.
- "Magic-Users may arm themselves with daggers only." I find this sentence very peculiar. Maybe because I am a native German and don't understand the intricacies of the English language too well. But for me at first reading this implies that Magic-Users may wear armor. At least it could be interpreted that way looking at the translation of "to arm". And taking into account that the later section on Elves also states that elves have the special advantage of being able to wear magical armor and cast spells at the same time. Probably this is just a misunderstanding on my behalf but I need the English readers of this blog to elaborate on the various meanings of "...arm themselves with daggers only". Does this definitely and without doubt mean that they may not wear armor... or is there room for interpretation? And how much room?
- "Wizards (11th level) and above may manufacture... items...". A power that hardly will come into use taking into account the time it takes to get to 11th level.
- Magical research for spells can be done at any level. This is something I totally love. My favorite character of all times was a magic user kind of addicted to spell research and I love the option to do this whenever money is available.
So we go to the final character class:
Clerics are introduced as being a class that shares advantages from both other classes in that
- they have access to all magical armor and all non-edged magical weapons (exluding arrows). Again I find this pretty strange. No mention about non-magical weapons and specifically no rule restricting them from using either edged non-magical weapons or non-magical arrows. And one also starts to wonder why arrows are excluded while quarrels are not (both usually being considered piercing weapons). This reinforces my bewilderment about whether magic-users actually might be allowed to wear armor.
- They are able to use more magical items than fighters.
- When they reach the level of Patriarch (8th level) they can build a stronghold, gather followers and can start to collect tithes. Clerics gain more money from the territories than fighters and their church supports them building their stronghold with paying 50% of the costs.
- They have access to spells of their own.
- They must choose either Law or Chaos as their alignment when they reach 7th level. If a cleric changes sides he loses all benefits gained so far (especially followers). I wonder what the rationale behind this might be - it seems there are neutral clerics up to level 6 but not of a higher level. This seems to imply interesting cosmological aspects into the game - as if the world were tied in a struggle between Law and Chaos of Moorcockian scope, so that practicioners of the faith are bound to associate with one side or another if they want to get access to the higher spheres of power. This reminds me a little bit of the well-stressed Arthurian view on a world where the old faith (of druids, the balance, nature) is slowly suppressed and one has to choose one of the new more powerful religions (or a side within a given pantheon) in order to become more powerful. Very interesting and very unexpected. It's something I would not take into the rules as content except maybe for a sidebar weighing these implications. BTW, this section also mentions that there are distinct differences between clerics of law and chaos - without providing any rules for now. I'm curious what the remainder of the set has to offer in that respect.
As someone who not yet read OD&D in detail I am surprised about how different the ancient makeup of classes is to more modern variants of xD&D:
- No mentioning of turning undead so far.
- No rules about memorizing spells so far.
- No weapon skills (one of the things I always disliked about AD&D 1st and 2nd edition).
- Rather strange limitations to clerics who have to choose a potentially new side at some point in their career.
- Everything is explained in very loose and broad terms.
It is extremely interesting to approach Whitebox OD&D in this way and I'm itching to write down distilled rules and start testing them. And I'm sooooo curious about the rest of the rules that I can't wait to continue.
Sadly I will be on two conferences next week (giving talks on each and doing the booth from Tueday to Thursday) so I guess there won't be much time for new updates. See you till the end of the week, I will try to continue reading a bit more of OD&D and I will start with the setup for my Indesign based revision of the rules and type the first actual parts of 'The Fantasy Game'.