AD&D 1st Edition Elves Not Exactly Tolkien

A lot of people tend to forget that AD&D Elves are not exactly the same as Tolkien’s elves.

Long Lived Elves vs Immortal Elves

AD&D 1st edition elves grow old and die. Although long lived, they go through lifecycles. Tolkien’s elves reach adult maturity and then apparently stop aging.

Youthful Stature vs Greater Build

AD&D 1st edition elves stand around 5′ tall and have a slight build. Tolkien’s elves are typically man sized; some older elves stand much taller than most men.

Tolkien’s elves are tied directly to the cosmology of Arda (the world of Middle Earth), and by design are meant to grow old within the world, until the final breaking of the world.





Non-Human Cleric Limits in AD&D 1st Edition

A peculiarity of AD&D is that players can only play human, half-elf and half-orc clerics. Only humans have no limits on levels they achieve as Clerics; half elves are limited to 5th level and half-orcs are limited to 4th level. Players aren’t allowed to play elf (max 7th level), dwarf (max 8th level) and gnome (max 7th level) clerics. Players cannot play halfling clerics at all, and halfling druids can only reach up to 5th level. Continue reading Non-Human Cleric Limits in AD&D 1st Edition

The First Age Mythologies

It would be easy to just jump to the obvious book to come up with the mythologies that should be available in The First Age – we aren’t going to do that. I only want to look at what the PB, MM and perhaps what the DMG provides. With Titans, Medusa, Minotaur, Triton, Satyr, Pegasus, Nymph, Merman, Hydra, Harpy and Centaur – its clear we have a strong Greek presence. But there are many, many creatures taken from mythologies from around the world. Continue reading The First Age Mythologies

Superior Requirements for Magic Users & Clerics

Want to make spell casters more exotic? Increase the minimum ability requirements. That’s what I did in my 950 AD alternate history campaign. To gain levels in those classes, the minimum score is 15. If you are using the 4d6 drop the lowest die method of generating characters, the chances are of getting a store of 15 or higher is roughly 23.2%. If your game master allows you to assign ability scores as you like, chances are good that your party will have a Magic User or Cleric in it.

Using the straight up method of 3d6 though, like the NPC population, chances drop to 9.3%, and that makes no guarantee that the 15 or higher stat is in Intelligence or Wisdom. Now also take into account the following factors:

  • There may be a literacy requirement before any order of Clerics or Magic Users will admit a student
  • There may be limitations based on gender or race
  • There may be limits based on age (making it harder for someone to pick up a level later)

If you are running a low magic campaign, its worth it to consider raising the bar.


Primeval Thule Playtest

I participated in a two hour play test of Sasquatch Game Studios Primeval Thule Campaign Setting with Pathfinder. Our band began as slaves in an Elven city-state arena, from which we escaped with the help of a rampant purple worm and the uncovering of hidden catacombs underneath the arena floor. The atmosphere was much like a Lovecraftian dark version of Robert E Howard’s Hyperborea.

The playtest included some experimentation with alternative rules dealing with the Lovecraftian horrors we encountered in the catacombs. They were effective and, characters could interactively improve their trait during the adventure – though its much easier to lose them!

The game also introduces at least one alternative PC race, plus a sort of traits system that made backgrounds interesting without much complexity.

  1. I will write more later about Primeval Thule since there may be more revealed about it during PaizoCon. You can find news about this setting also on the Sasquatch Game Studio Facebook page and the Sasquatch Studio Twitter Page.

The GM’s Job is to be Defeated by the Players…

I wanted to make a quick response to Troll in the Corner’s Gamemastering 211: Advanced GMing for Majors (Introduction) statement:

To put it bluntly, the GM’s job is to be defeated by the players in the most entertaining way for everyone involved. With this core concept in mind, it’s easy to see how the role of GM can be both fulfilling and frustrating. There are, of course, many other responsibilities that fall to the GM, plenty of which are enjoyable.

He’s got a lot of very good advice, but this tidbit sends the wrong message in an attempt at brevity. This might be the case if the GM was structuring his adventure like a story or video game, with increasing levels of difficulty based on linear encounters, so that each encounter is progressive rather than simulationist. Another exception might be if its a simple dungeon crawl where the party is never expected to leave the confines of the dungeon. But in either case, it creates the wrong sort of dichotomy that the players are actually competing against the GM; that the players have to defeat the GM, or the GM has to defeat the players. In that case, the GMs impartiality and fairness could be called into question.


10 Ways to Be a Better Role-Playing Game Player

There has been a lot of follow up recently over on The RPG Site about the article 11 Ways to Be a Better Role-Player. I am only going to commit to 10, but Ill do my best. This specifically covers what I see are best practices in being a good player of the game – so they all involve playing within a social environment as well as interacting with the specific system of the game. Continue reading 10 Ways to Be a Better Role-Playing Game Player

D&D Next Competes with All Previous Incarnations of D&D

Mike Mearl’s This Week in D&D: Feats and Skills and Options, Oh My! takes an interesting look at how D&D 5 / D&D Next works. I have recapped his bullet points of the system here with some edits for clarity:

  • All characters gain a +1 bonus to an ability score of their choice at various levels, depending on the class.
  • You can trade a +1 bonus to an ability score for a feat if your group uses feats.

In other words, Feats are optional and don’t appear in the basic game.

  • Skills are an optional system that your DM might want to use.
  • Skills are optional and don’t appear in the basic game.

Skills therefore go hand in hand with Feats.

  • Backgrounds give out a combination of areas of knowledge, proficiencies with tools and objects, and special benefits.
  • An area of knowledge is a situational, +10 bonus to Intelligence checks.
  • A proficiency indicates you know how to use an item.
  • The unique benefits are social connections, tricks, and other abilities.

Backgrounds do appear separate from Classes, and seem to fill in what might have previously been a sub-class in previous incarnations of D&D. If I am reading this correctly though, backgrounds by their nature of what they cover subsume the need for separate Skill and Feat systems.

So the competition here is quite interesting. This is how I see it:

  • Basic D&D maps to the new Basic Game – Backgrounds – Races as Classes
  • AD&D 1st Edition & early AD&D 2nd Edition maps to the Basic Game + Backgrounds (for effective sub-classing, weapon proficiencies)
  • Later AD&D 2nd Edition (Skills Option Era) & D&D 3.x map to the full rules set with Skills and Feats

This is a fascinating way to update the game, since it effectively provides a great way to scale your existing game to a new version of the system without that much work – just what Old School type players would want.

There are some interesting threads on this topic over on TheRPGSite as well.