Sunday, September 05, 2010

D&D Basic Set part 18

Treasure: This section begins with a cursory explanation of the treasure tables, and also provides the exchange rates for the different types of coins. Electrum is given a concrete value for the first time here, being worth half a gold piece. Previously in OD&D it could be worth either half or double the value of gold, depending on the DM.

The section on determining the value of gems uses the same table as in OD&D, but it doesn’t provide for values above 1,000 gold pieces. Sorry folks, there’s no way to fluke a 500,000 gp gem any more.

The value of jewelry has also been greatly decreased, using only the least valuable entry from the OD&D chart. The rules for destroying jewelry and gems with fire and lightning have been retained, but they lack the precision of OD&D.

This is followed by an explanation of how to use the Treasure Tables, something that wasn’t given in OD&D. Holmes goes out of his way to stress that the treasures shown are very large, and should be guarded by a lot of monsters. Words to live by!

The actual treasure tables are much the same as those in OD&D, except that Holmes has added columns for electrum pieces and platinum pieces. There are also new Treasure Types from J to T, which provide much smaller treasure hoards intended for single creatures or small groups. The only other change is that there is a slightly smaller chance of finding magic items here than there was previously.

The table to determine what type of magic item you’ve found has been slightly altered, with the armour and miscellaneous weapons categories now combined.

Holmes has created his own tables for each category of item. Rather than a percentile dice roll as is required in OD&D, each table requires a single roll of 1d10. There are ten items on each table, meaning each has a 10% chance to come up. It’s a lot less fiddly than OD&D, but it also provides less granularity and choice of items. It makes sense for an intro game, though.

The Swords table is much the same as that in OD&D, with the following omitted: Sword +1 with 2-8 Wishes, Sword +2 with Charm Person, Life Draining Sword, and Sword +3 vs. Trolls. He has added a Cursed Sword -1, which is the first time a cursed sword with that particular penalty has entered the game. Supplement I had a Cursed Sword +1, which may have been a typo, but it also made the wielder seek out battle with as many monsters as possible, which is penalty enough without the negative modifier.

The Armor Table and the Weapons Table from OD&D have been combined here. You can no longer find armor of more than +1 bonus. Also omitted are the chance for 3-30 magic arrows, mace +2, war hammer +2 and +3, and the spear +2 and +3. Bad luck clerics, you only have one type of magic weapon to choose from. Holmes has brought in his own version of cursed armor, that adds +2 to the opponent’s chance to hit.

A ton of potions have been left out of Holmes, so instead I’ll list what is there: growth, diminution, giant strength, invisibility, gaseous form, speed, flying, delusion, poison and healing.

Holmes has done something interesting with scrolls. Along with the usual assortment of spell scrolls and protection scrolls, there are also options that allow a scroll to duplicate magic rings, potions or wands. I’m not sure there’s much there that isn’t already covered by spells, but then again Holmes only covers spell levels 1 and 2 – this is a neat way of getting some higher level spell scrolls into the game without having to give the actual spell descriptions.

There are also a lot of rings left out. Holmes has included rings of invisibility, animal control, plant control, weakness, protection +1, three wishes, regeneration, water walking, fire resistance, and contrariness.

Again, the selection of wands and staves is small, and many of the most powerful sorts such as the Staff of Wizardry didn’t make the cut. Included are: wand of magic detection, secret door and trap detection, fear, cold, paralysation, fire ball, staff of healing, snake staff, staff of striking and rod of cancellation.

Last of all is miscellaneous magic, a section that has been absolutely gutted by paring it down to ten items. Included are the crystal ball, medallion of ESP, bag of holding, elven cloak and boots, broom of flying, helm of telepathy, bag of devouring, helm of evil/good, rope of climbing and gauntlets of ogre power.

Magic Weapons and Armor: These work much the same as in OD&D, with most swords only getting a bonus to hit, while other weapons all get bonuses to hit and damage. Swords have been majorly nerfed here, as they no longer have intelligence and the raft of special abilities that come with it. A regular sword +1 is actually an inferior weapon to most of the miscellaneous types.

Potions: The potion of giant strength now specifically confers the strength of a stone giant, and thus is more powerful than the OD&D version. The potion of haste (called a potion of speed in the tables, as it was in OD&D) now allows the user twice as many attacks a round as well as the power to move at double speed. Otherwise, the potions listed work just as they did in OD&D.

Scrolls: A little more explanation is given regarding cursed scrolls, and the protection scrolls are simplified a little. But this is mostly just as it was in OD&D.

Rings: The ring of animal control (mammal control in OD&D) has been slightly altered in terms of how many animals can be controlled at a time. The ring of plant control is new, and it simply gives the wearer the ability to mentally control plants and fungi. The ring of weakness has been changed, as it now has a 5% chance to make its wearer stronger instead of weaker. The ring of protection has been majorly beefed up, now granting the same AC as plate mail +1. The original line in OD&D said that the ring ‘serves as +1 armor would, giving this bonus to defensive capabilities and saving throws’. I’ve always interpreted this as the ring granting a simple +1 bonus, but Holmes has definitely gone with the more powerful option. The ring of three wishes hasn’t been changed, but there is an added note that wishes can be curtailed with literal interpretations. The ring of contrariness has also not been changed, but this sentence is a doozy: “If, for example, the wearer is told to not kill himself, he will agree – and instead attempt to kill the person suggesting he not kill himself.” I’m not sure if it works logically, but it makes me laugh.

Wands and Staves: The same is those in OD&D.

Miscellaneous: There is now a 1-in-6 chance that someone in an Elven Cloak can be spotted. It is suggested that a Broom of Flying ought to have its command word engraved on the handle, or be otherwise easily accessible. Holmes gives a saving throw against the mind control ability of the Helm of Telepathy, which I approve of over OD&D’s more arcane percentile method. The Helm of Evil/Good was known as the Helm of Chaos/Law in OD&D. It still changes the wearer’s alignment to the opposite, but now this has been altered to suit the more complicated alignment system of Holmes. The Rope of Climbing is now said to be able to support 10,000 gp in weight. Gauntlets of Ogre Power are now given specific powers. They grant 2d4 extra points of damage per blow, and the ability to carry an extra 1,000 gp.

Holmes ends with a note on characters using their henchmen to test magic items, and how it can be a Very Bad Idea. Bad morale, henchmen demanding to keep beneficial items, revenge schemes for henchmen who get bad items… Good stuff. I’m almost certain this advice has appeared in the game before, but I’m mentioning it now just in case I’m wrong.

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