Wednesday, June 30, 2010

D&D Basic Set part 4

Today I get into the portion of the book that deals with adventuring.

Time and Movement in the Dungeons: No changes from OD&D here. We get a turn defined as ten minutes in the game, and unencumbered characters are said to be able to move 240 feet in that time if they are moving cautiously. Characters can go double that speed if they aren't being careful. Fully armoured characters move half that, and those with armour and a heavy load move a mere 60 feet a turn. It's interesting to note that there seems to be no distinction between the different types of armour in their effect on movement. A character is either fully armoured or unarmoured, with nothing in between. Does that mean a character in leather is as slow as one in plate mail? I'll probably house-rule that one.

Encumbrance: There's a rudimentary system in place for encumbrance that is simple yet effective. As noted above, a character is either armoured or unarmoured. An unarmoured character can move 240 feet per turn, and an armoured one can move 120. A character who is carrying a heavy load of equipment will move at the same rate as an armoured character, and a character both wearing armour and carrying a heavy load will move 60 feet per turn. The various items on the equipment list aren't given a weight, but players are encouraged to note down where they are carrying everything. Otherwise, it looks like you just eyeball it and decide if the character is heavily loaded or not. The only guideline given is for coins: all coins weigh the same, and a character carrying 600 coins is heavily loaded. Strength doesn't factor into it, except for one sentence where it mentions that fighters are likely to carry more stuff, but their high strength offsets it.

Also, we get an NPC: Malchor the Magic-User. We don't learn much about him, except for the equipment he takes into the dungeon with him. But he'll be an NPC hanging around the Adventurer's Guild in my campaign.

Light: This section on light sources in the dungeon provides a number of clarifications to the OD&D rules. The ability of Elves and Dwarves to see in the dark is reiterated, and its range of 60 feet is brought in from Supplement I. Torches are now given a duration of six turns (1 hour), while lanterns are said to burn for 24 turns (4 hours). We also get the first indication of the nature of infravision, when it is said that Dwarves and Elves lose their ability to see 60 feet in the dark if they are near a light source.

Traps and Doors: Traps, as in OD&D, are sprung on a roll of 1 or 2 on 1d6. This seems to apply mostly to pit traps and the like. The rules for doors are also the same, with most of them being stuck and requiring a roll of 1 or 2 to open. It's also good to see that doors still always swing shut behind the players, and that monsters can open doors automatically. It seems that Holmes is about as forgiving to the PCs as Gary was. Secret doors also work the same. No sense changing what works, now, is there?

Surprise: Yep, it's still a case of rolling 1d6, and being surprised on a 1 or 2. The chance for a character to drop what he is holding when surprised is still present, but it has dropped from 25% to 1-in-6.

Wandering Monsters: Now, here's a big difference right off the bat. In OD&D, the DM checks for wandering monsters at the end of every turn. In these rules, the DM only rolls at the end of every third turn. That's a significant drop in the number of random encounters, from an average of one an hour to an average of one every three hours. The determination of encounter distance has also been altered, from 20-80 feet to 20-120 feet.

The number of wandering monsters encountered is greatly clarified. In OD&D it was left very nebulous, but here we get a basic range for every result on the tables. There's also a bit about increasing the numbers on lower levels of the dungeon, or if characters are travelling in greater numbers, or for higher level characters. This is mostly from OD&D, except for the part about increasing numbers for higher-level parties. This is something I don't agree with, as it smacks of the phenomenon often seen in computer games, where the world scales up with your character. I'll still use it, rationalising that the monsters have gotten better at knowing when dangerous PCs are lurking the dungeons. But I don't gotta like it!

As to the wandering monster tables themselves, there are significant changes in what monsters appear. It's mostly based on the tables from Supplement I, but things have been rearranged, monsters have been added and others have been taken out.

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