Tuesday, April 10, 2018

AD&D Players Handbook part 56: Morale, Mapping, Experience, Poison and Successful Adventuring

This section briefly outlines some things to consider when trying to get other character to obey your commands.  It mentions the confusion that can result when a party caller dictates one action, and an individual PC declares another, and suggests penalising the party for this.  It's a pretty foreign concept to me, having never played with a caller.  I suppose it was useful in large adventuring parties, but in the groups of 3 to 6 that I generally average it's never been necessary.
  Obedience also applies to hirelings and henchmen, with morale and loyalty being factors.  It also mentions the possibility that characters might be controlled by a powerful magic item.
  The final point that Gary hits on is that henchmen asked to wear or test a magic item will generally consider the item to be theirs afterwards.  Once cursed items were introduced to the game, it no doubt became standard procedure to get your henchmen to test items first before your PC does anything with them.  Here we have Gary's method of combating such tactics.

Here we get an outline of the concept of morale, and how it can affect the PCs.  Player characters never need to test it, as their actions are always dictated by the player, but monsters, henchmen and hirelings will all need to test it in various situations.  In general, a PC's henchmen will have better morale the better they're treated.
  Once again we have a section with no concrete rules at all.  It's odd just how much effort AD&D goes to in order to obscure the workings of the game from the players.  I really do think that this is all stuff they should know about.

It's recommended that at least one player makes a map while exploring a dungeon, and goes on to say that it doesn't matter whether the map is not exact, so long as it gives them an idea of how to get back.  I rarely get my players to map; in my experience the game flows better if I draw the map for them.  Still, I'd like to try it out, just to give them the possibility of becoming lost with an incorrect map.  The most important thing to remember is which character is actually making the map, so that if that character is separated from the party you can take the map away from the others.

Is it weird that is has teeth?

This simply tells the players that they'll need to specify a marching order for various dungeon passage widths, recommending that they'll need a rear guard.  The concept of the caller is brought up again, which I've already mentioned above that I'm not a huge fan of.

Characters gain experience points for defeating monsters and gaining treasure.  1 XP is gained per gold piece earned, with other treasures converted into their GP value for this purpose.  Magic items garner their full GP value in XP if sold, but are worth a minimal amount if kept and used.  XP earned is also modified downward if the monsters fought were weaker than the PCs, though nothing concrete is given.  Captured monsters grant as much XP as those killed, but you can also sell them on the open market, and gain XP for the gold earned, so obviously capturing and selling monsters is a quicker path to advancement.  It's also said that the amount of XP a monster is worth depends upon their hit points, which will be borne out in the DMG.  The Monster Manual had no XP values, so the exact worth of monsters was not yet apparent.
  PCs only get their XP once they have returned to a safe haven, so by the book there's no levelling up in the middle of an adventure.  We also get a little bit about characters only getting their full share of XP if they play their role effectively according to their character class.  Again, this will be elaborated on in the DMG, under the training rules.
  The idea of it being unrealistic to advance by gaining treasure is brought up, and dismissed quite thoroughly.  Gary pretty much just says that it's no more unrealistic than orcs, dragons and giants, and that things like training and study are assumed to happen during a character's downtime.
  Finally, I just want to note that it says right here that most NPCs are 0-level, without the ability to gain XP, and that PCs are "special" and "superior".  Obviously this is just a part of the game system, but what if it's baked into the setting as well?  What if only certain people have some undefined factor that makes them able to advance in power?  Some sort of divine blessing, or a genetic quirk?  I'm generally all for explaining the game system with in-world rationales, so I'll have to think a little more about this.

The various methods of using poison are discussed and ultimately discouraged.  Some methods, such as throwing a poison potion down a monster's throat, or tricking a monster into drinking one, are considered fair game, but Gary comes down hard on the use of envenomed weapons, declaring that they ruin the balance of the game.  He suggests a bunch of ways to discourage their use: social unacceptability, alignment restrictions, and the possibility that characters might nick themselves while handling their weapons, or hit their comrades.  It's even said that characters found with poison might be instantly slain, and have their bodies burned and ashes scattered (to prevent being raised from the dead, presumably).  Guys, Gary just really doesn't want you all using poison.
  There's an example at the end of what might happen should the Thieves Guild poison a gold-smithing and jewelry-making firm, rousing the ire of the Assassins Guild.  I'll take it as evidence that those Guilds would be present in Greyhawk City.  It also pretty much outright states that the activities of both are mostly tolerated, so long as they stay within their purview.  The Thieves Guild can pick pockets, rob homes, and waylay late-night revelers, and the authorities will leave them be.  Likewise, members of the Assassins Guild can commit premeditated murders and use poisons to kill people without fear of reprisal.  It's a weird set-up, but it's also a pretty solidly established fantasy staple, so I'm happy to roll with it.

Man, Gary really hates this guy.

This fairly lengthy section gives a lot of general advice for surviving adventures in AD&D, but it mostly boils down to two things: have an objective and stick to it, and make sure you can trust your fellow adventurers.  Other things are addressed, like making sure you have all the equipment you might need, as well as a good variety of spells and classes.  Wills are briefly touched on, for when you want to make sure your character's stuff goes to a relative when you die.  The importance of mapping is stressed again, as is the notion that avoiding monsters is generally better than fighting them.  It's an interesting window into how things were run in the Greyhawk campaign.

Not sure what I love more, the guy hoisting his axe in triumph, or the guy giving a knowing smile to the reader.

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