Ailments for the Poor Fighter

I discussed the poverty of options for the poor fighter recently. And concluded that extra attacks seems to be the go-to solution for giving the fighter something extra. I think it's a poor solution. For one, I think breaking the action economy is generally undesirable. It makes it the impact of a lot of other bennies exponential, it slows down combat and adds tactical decision-points that mostly don't really add anything to the combat experience, other than the fighter being better than he was. I also think it is a bad fit for the low resolution of the D&D combat round. A round is already 6-60 seconds long (depending on edition) and we are supposed to understand that the attack roll and subsequent damage roll is the sum of a rally of blows exchanged. So how does extra attack fit into this? It seems to me a high-resolution manoeuvre retrofitted into a low-resolution attack sequence. As I see it, extra damage is a mechanic that plays much better into this abstraction. Four E

The Fighter Across All Editions of TSR D&D

Ok, it's time to get back to elf-games. And why not look at the class that is simultaneously the most beloved and under-appreciated class in the history of D&D? I was going to include assessments of WotC fighters too, but honestly, they end up being so different, and embedded into different systems, that it's like comparing apples and oranges. I would still like to look at the 3e fighter, as that has at least a little continuity with TSR D&D but I think that's for a different post on why feats aren't so bad after all and have a place in all versions of D&D... Moving ON , let's dig in: OD&D : Fighting-Men, as they are called. They get d6 hit die like everyone else, but they start at HD 1+1 and gain more HD as they level than clerics or magic-users (at level 10, the fighter has 10+1, cleric 7+2 and and magic-user 7). They have no armor or weapon restrictions. For weapons, this only matters in regards to which weapons are typically magical (swords, figh

The Difficult-to-Believe Case of Zak Smith's Innocence

I honestly did not imagine myself to be writing a piece like this on this blog. But I feel morally obligated to do so, given that I previously wrote a piece based on the firm assumption of his guilt . Yesterday,  Jeff Rients shared a link to an article based on an upcoming research paper  by Dr. Clio Weisman. I'd encourage anyone who has, or has had, some interest in the OSR community and/or held some sort of opinion on the case of Zak Smith, to read it after reading this one. tl;dr - The article is about the utterly bizarre lying, harassing and slandering behaviour that has somehow become prevalent in certain sectors of the Rennaisance-Formerly-Known-as-OSR. And Zak Smith sat at the heart of it, as its principal recipient. Dr. Weisman thus chose him as her case study.  Long story short, Dr. Weisman lays out a meticulous and researched case that shows Smith to be targeted by OSR trolls for many years with a series of slanderous harassment campaigns, and also to be the victim of who

Streamlined Mechanics aren't all they are made out to be

I'll tell you what I instinctively disliked the first time I opened the 3e Player's Handbook:  Priest spell levels going all the way up to 9th level.  Now, the reasons for this change seem fairly obvious to my mind. It streamlines spell progression for priests and wizards and makes it easier to gauge power level of a priest vs wizard spell.  But are those actually good  reasons? Is streamlining in and of itself a positive? Perhaps being able to gauge power level is useful, but tangentially so if so. How often do you need to compare a priest spell to a wizard spell and determine how powerful they are compared to each other?  As for streamlining spell progression between wizards and priests - This may seem useful as it makes progression transparently equal (getting rid of different XP tables was another move to ensure everybody progressed at the same pace. An alleged virtue I would question the virtue of), but it belies a point that is central to the argument of this blog post: H

New Design

 That is all.

Standing up for D&D's Gen X: 2e (Part 2)

This is part 2 of a 2 part series. Part 1 is about 2e rules. Part 2 is about 2e 'culture'.  Here's my dirty little secret that I never told anyone before: I actually really liked the Complete Book of Elves. I am just going to leave that bombshell hanging in the air and return to it later in this post, in the hope that the shock value of that statement will minimise the impact of what I am going to say next. The aesthetic of 2nd edition expanded and improved the D&D genre of fantasy. I am going to interject here and say that this post covers two 'cultural' parts - Genre/aesthetics and Style of play. Right now we're obviously talking the first part, but I will get to the second further down. Alright, back to the topic at hand: Let's ignore the masochistic"I prefer the cheapass sketches to top of the line artists" argument that you see 1st editioners espouse every now and then as insular nostalgic nonsense and go to a second point:  Most 1e grogn

Standing up for D&D's Gen X: 2e (Part 1)

This is part 1 of 2 about 2nd edition. Part 1 will focus on the rules aspects. Part 2 on the nebulous 'culture' aspect of 2e. Out there in real life, I just about made the cut for an elder millennial. But in terms of DnD generations, I am very much Gen X - The Forgotten Generation.  Sandwiched in between the cantankerous curmudgeons of the B/X and AD&D 1e old schoolers who from their loftily perched blogs, abrasively champion their refined and sophisticated simple gaming ways and dour-weird piss-bag adventure aesthetics (all hail Erol Otus!) and the guileless charoppers of 3e that revelled in posting "build guides" on message boards for prestige classes and tricked out feat chains, considered Wayne Reynolds real cool and thought planning out their Conjurer 3/Incantatrix 10/Fatespinner 4 15 levels in advance to be a fine act of character development Is the un-championed generation X of 2nd edition romantic railroaders and the sad fools who learned their naive D&