Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Chargen Lab: D&D Rules Cyclopedia

I thought I'd do some articles on character generation in various editions of D&D  to lead up to Monday's official release of 5e.  I would like to say that it is the same character so that we can compare and contrast the various editions, but differences in the chargen methods across editions make that impossible.  We'll start with the D&D Rules Cyclopedia, because that's what's on my desk at the moment.

Name: Rodgar
Class: Fighter 1
Alignment: Chaotic
HP: 7    AC: 4 (5)
THAC0: 20    Melee: +1    Ranged: +1

Str: 13     +1       Saves
Int: 8        -1       12    Death Ray/Poison
Wis: 12    +0       13    Magic Wands
Dex: 13   +1       14    Paralysis/Turn To Stone
Con: 8     -1       15    Breath Attack
Cha: 9    +0       16    Rod/Staff/Spell

Proficiencies:  Any armor,  shields,  any weapon

Class Abilities
  •  Prime Requisite: +5% XP for Strength 13-15.
  •  Maneuvers: Lance Attack,  Set Spear vs. Charge
Languages: Common (Spoken, reading, simple written word)
Money: 10 GP
  •  Scale Mail: AC 5, 400cn
  •  Short Bow: 1d6 damage, range 50/100/150, 20cn
    •  20 shots (10cn)
  •  Sword: 1d8+1 damage, 60cn
Encumbrance: 500 cn
Movement: Normal- 90ft/turn, Encounter- 30ft/round, Run- 90ft/round

  • Armor Class: Prior to 3rd Edition, the lower the armor class, the better, since it's really a modifier to THAC0.  Rodgar here has a base AC of 5 because he's wearing Scale Mail, and then his Dexterity is high enough to adjust it by a further 1, meaning Rodgar is AC 4.  He could take a shield to improve it to AC 3, but I like to keep a bit of starting money to buy adventuring gear when the game properly starts.
  • THAC0: This is short for 'To Hit Armor Class 0', and serves as a target number for attack rolls.  Everybody starts with a THAC0 of 20 at level 1, and the DM subtracts the target's AC from the attacker's THAC0 to get an adjusted target number.  It's easier to just add the target's AC to the attack roll total and compare against the THAC0 number.
  • Ability Scores: There was no fudging here.  The rules want you to roll 3d6 straight down the line, and that's the order the ability scores are listed in this edition..  The rules allow me to sacrifice other things to make Rodgar's Strength better, but I like the fact that Rodgar's ability scores make him out to be kind of a country bumpkin.
  • Saving Throws: In the D&D Rules Cyclopedia, saves are a roll high scheme.  You roll 1d20 and try to roll higher than your save number.
  • Prime Requisite: In early editions of D&D, characters got extra XP for getting high scores in ability scores that are the most important to the class.  Rodgar here gets +5% XP because his Strength score falls between 13 and 15.
  • Equipment Weights:  Everything in the Rules Cyclopedia is measured in 'coins', shortened to 'cn'.  It comes out to be 1/10th of a pound.  I find the idea rather convenient, if slightly counter-intuitive to how we think about weight in the real world.
  • Sword: In this edition, long swords are just 'normal' swords.  The +1 damage comes from Rodgar's 13 Strength.
  • Encumbrance: Apparently in the Rules Cyclopedia, your strength has zero bearing on how much you can carry.
  • Movement: Determined by adding up how many coins of weight you're carrying, not adjusted by Strength.