Researching OD&D at the OD&D discussion boards
In the past couple of weeks I had a lot of fun reading through the various postings at the OD&D discussion boards (and I'm still going strong). I find the comments there very helpful in getting into the right mindset for reading the little brown books and to get sensitive about the finer formulations used in the rules.
While I try to avoid loose interpretations and house rules of players I occasionally find stuff that brings my view of OD&D in 1975 into the right angle. Getting rid of preconceptions is a rather tough task. One such instance was the case about arms and armor for wizards and therefor I dedicate todays post to a number of threads that still might become important in future posts in this blog as I venture ahead into the more complex details of OD&D. So here is a collection of interesting threads for your enjoyment and as a marker for me to get back to at a later point.
This thread contains some discussion about the number of players in OD&D campaigns, which nicely fits my discussion of the Recommended Equipment section.
Here we have some more discussion of wizards in armor, which nicely contradicts my comments :-) Here you can find more of that stuff.
Here we find some interesting remarks about clerics having to choose between Law and Chaos at level seven. I already commented on this and don't see any problem with clerics having to choose. Specifically I have to disagree for now with the posters about the rules being unclear about the fact of whether clerics might have to be neutral or not - clearly they can be of that alignment (as I so far have not found any place contradicting this and as otherwise the rule about having to choose Law or Chaos wouldn't make any sense at all). But even more important in that thread seem to be the comments about the differences in OD&D printings, which seem to be far greater than I had expected. Currently I seem to own a sixth edition printing (according to the Acaeum) and I wonder if there is any legal and simple way to acquire earlier editions as PDF left? As far as I understand the removed PDF versions also were sixth edition versions?
People discuss the classes being used in the first campaigns, the evolution of classes and magic-users at first level.
Here is some interesting discussion on playing non-standard races, as well as here with ideas for balrogs as player characters. While I doubt that I will add much detail to the rules in 'The Fantasy Game' concerning this I find the discussion inspiring.
There are remarks about the various rulings concerning abilities, e.g. to be able to withstand adversity with a constitution of 13-14 (also here), the use of non-combat statistics or mental stats, experience bonuses for high ability scores, ability bonuses (which I will 'fix' using Garys house rules), trading ability points and 3d6 in order.
Then there are some foggy rules parts in OD&D concerning languages, which folks try to clarify here.
There are various postings about skill systems in OD&D, such as this, this and this. The basic approach for 'The Fantasy Game' has already been laid out in my comments on abilities versus attributes but I will come back to those points when finalizing the rules on ability tests.
An important area seems to be the discussion of experience charts and advancement - something I'm getting to in the near future. This thread extrapolates experience points and tries to get rid of some of the more confusing parts of level progression. Additionally various quirks of the tables are discussed like hit point progression (also here and this one about rerolling hit points, like this one), hit points at first level, high level characters in the initial campaigns and hit point progressions analyzed.
Personally I like level titles a lot and here are other chiming in, with additional useful remarks about the place of 1st level fighting-men.
Here is some interesting discussion of the attack matrices. While I still believe that I am going to use the Chainmail rules looking at them won't hurt. Here you can find a lot more comments about pre-supplemental 1 combat which interests me greatly but needs to be read when I get to those parts. This is supplemented by discussion about base attack bonuses for fighting-men across the various editions of D&D. In any case the integration of Chainmail into the rules is a point of discussion again and again, also here and here (2d6 combat). Chainmail heroes and superheroes are discussed, too, as well as the effects of using Chainmail for elves.
There is some discussion about the high mortality rate of starting characters, which I will address later on by providing an option for starting at higher levels, derived from Gary Gygax' house rules. The discussion of heroic character generation nicely supports my own idea.
Then there is some discussion about spells, e.g. the literal use of Protection from Evil (which I am very interested in).
This errata collection needs to be analyzed with a lot of care (which I will postpone for later).
Finally there are some threads about the implied discrimination of halflings in OD&D: This one resolves around hobbits not being able to be raised from the dead with the spell of the same name. Here is more hobbit/halfling advocacy. But there also is some nice round-up about the facts about hobbits.
And this is just the cream on the top, there so much more interesting stuff that I only managed to filter by focussing on the little brown books and nothing else. Enjoy - you will see me getting back to this stuff quite often.