Sunday, June 9, 2013
Swords & Wizardry gives fighters the benefit of extra attacks versus creatures with 1 hit die or less. This has a big impact, giving the fighter a serious advantage. Quantity of attacks really matters in old school D&D more than either hit dice or armor class, given how things average out. It also makes a much more significant gap between 1HD opponents and 2HD enemies, which I think I like: the bigger foes are more dire threats. Very interesting dynamic.
This is part of the key of old-school D&D, in whichever edition: if you play with too few PCs, you won't do well. People often look at the game's lethality, particularly in OD&D and "classic" (Holmes, B/X, BECMI, RC), as something that needs to be fixed - but it's fixed by sheer numbers. Quality of troops comes into it in certain ways, mainly in the ability to maintain those numbers, but Mike Mornard's core advice is correct. People wishing to survive the megadungeon should go into it with nine characters.
The other little tweak that's having a big impact is scroll creation, since I use the Holmes rules. It really gives magic-users a feel of not being useless until 5th level, and also helps "fix" their excess of wealth otherwise. The M-U in our Stonehell campaign has been using it for Sleep, which is great for avoiding fights where you're outnumbered.
A quirk of this that I've been thinking about is "inheritance." That is, once an M-U has made a scroll, it's there even if they die. This could come in particularly handy when a higher level M-U dies in the campaign with several scrolls in tact; a fresh replacement (1st level) would still be able to use, say, Web or Fireball or what you will at least once in a game.
So let's open this for conversation. What tweaks have you found to make a relatively big impact in your games?