Originally, in this post, I explained a small modification to the known AC system used in D&D up to advanced second edition. My goal was to reintroduce something that was lost when the game migrated from wargaming to RPG, but then, as a final afterthought, I made some calculations and discovered that, well, my changes made little (although not insignificant) difference. Preceding a post with a disclaimer like “what you are going to read may not be as useful as it seems” is probably not the best hook, but I still believe there are a few interesting bits here and I may also have unwillingly solved an ancient argument about AC vs. damage reduction that sometimes still rises from its grave (spoiler: there is surprisingly little difference in the long run unless you make a completely different system from scratch.) Besides, I’m a believer in the idea of publishing negative results, even if they are not as eye-catching as positive ones.
I wrote this post yesterday, but for some reason, the auto-save function isn’t working, which means I had to write it – again.
Long story short, this is the second part of a well-received post I wrote a long time ago about how to interpret Hit Points in D&D (or similar games) in light of the literature that inspired it. The basic idea was that Hit Points shouldn’t be understood as an absolute value, at least if you want to “visualize” or describe what is happening when character lose hit points. By the way, this is not an esoteric interpretation because even the gamey 3.5 edition acknowledges that:
It took 20 years to make (and probably a few aneurysms)!
Always bet on the ‘Thal.
I stumbled upon this post at DYVERS about that modernist and recurrent issue of “complex morality” in games. I had actually written a huge blog post about the issue, dealing with its relation to original 0&1 D&D edition and how people don’t know how to play anymore, the lack of imagination and sadistic superego of today’s players, the pernicious effect of video game simplifications and post third-edition obsession with numbers in RPGs, how many people don’t seem to know what roleplay actually means or how you play morality (or immorality,) and how all of that ties to contemporary popular culture controversies and their guilt-inducing shenanigans. But then I reread the whole thing and… not even I understood what I had written. Therefore, here you have the tl.dr. version which is even better:
This will the first post in a series where I will address a gaming topic that has intrigued me for a long time, the suspicion that one of the games many people love (Dungeons & Dragons) has been seriously misinterpreted even by some of its most ardent followers. In other words, that you have been playing or -at the very least- interpreting it wrong. If nothing else, that at least there is another, and better, way to play it. As the title says, it’s a probability, not a necessity.
Some of you reading this may be grognards with a lot of practical experience with this stuff, and because I know some of you are also very interested in the literary side of D&D (and, as you will see, this is as much about books as about games,) your opinion and criticism would be greatly appreciated. You may consider many of this stuff “obvious,” but from what I have seen and read, I suspect it’s not for the majority of people.
In D&D, many animals, even tiny animals like rats, have stats. That means they have statistics for Armor Category, base attack (or THAC0), STR, DEX, etc. They even give you experience points in case you go on a cat or cow-killing rampage.