what I’d like to get with my easter bunny

Now, if Satan could hook me up with THIS stuff, that'd be another story

Things I wish D&D bothered to address – and which I would be tempted to pay for*

  • Combat where a party of 4-6 adventurers have their gang of 4-6 retainers each, without it becoming a big glob of rolling 25d20 and blowing your brains out with boredom.  Like small squad tactics or something, where your squad could be, like, a Hero, a displacer beast, and two Gnomes.
  • Some sort of guidance on social encounters.  (I know, I know!  I’m a communist who likes social mechanics.)
  • Advice on staging urban adventures – preferably as clear and as helpful as the dungeon creation and wilderness creation advice in Moldvay and Cook/Marsh.
  • Some kind of rules or help on the Endgame stuff, so that it’s more than just, “Oh, I see your castle would cost $X bazillion gold, and here are your YdZ first-level Red Shirts, use them in good health.”  The Mentzer Companion Rules are a step in the right direction but don’t really cut it in terms of practical advice.
  • A Thief class that actually makes freakin’ sense in the context of the default skill system of your campaign.  (Even the earliest editions of D&D had a skill system – yours.)

* = “tempted” is probably the key word here.

9 Responses to “what I’d like to get with my easter bunny”

  1. April 6, 2010 at 2:38 am

    Here is a good book for helpful advice on Endgame stuff:


  2. 2 Bargle
    April 6, 2010 at 3:39 am

    You make a great point about hirelings and retainers in combat. Take a 1st level fighter and 6th level fighter swinging at a kobold. The 6th level fighter has 3/2 attacks per round. Put another way–mathematically, he has the equivilant of giving the 1st level fighter a +4 “to hit”. I.E. average damage with a fighter with two attacks at +0 to hit and a fighter with one attack with +4 to hit average out.

    Perhaps the answer to hirelings is to have them give bonuses to the attack roll and damage of your main PC? The monster can attack your hirelings normally, but for each level/hireling you have, perhaps just add +2/+2 to hit and damage for your PC, obviating the need for extra rolls.

  3. 3 Eric W
    April 6, 2010 at 5:21 am

    Do I get extra hero points for naming a character Black Leaf or Elfstar?

    My favorite thing about that ‘Dark Dungeons’ Chick Tract is panel seven, where it implies that spells will work in real life. (http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/0046/0046_01.ASP)

  4. 4 James
    April 6, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    @Eric W. – are you implying spells DON’T work in real life? You must not have reached a high enough level. But yes, extra points for those names.

    @Bargle – that’s a really interesting idea. It would work pretty well if you weren’t using minis and could just abstract stuff out. If using minis there might need to be some positioning rules – these guys need to be able to attack the target in a certain way or something. There’d also have to be a way to handle more unusual retainers, like Ogres, Magic-Users, and Sprites.

  5. April 6, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    Have you been keeping up with Emprise! over at my blog?

    Sounds like almost everything you’re looking for is stuff that I’m planning on including.

  6. 6 James_Nostack
    April 6, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    Joseph, cool! I confess that I’ve been too busy to post to my own blog, let alone follow others’, but I’ll make an effort.

  7. April 6, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    James, are there later editions of D&D that do any of this stuff to your satisfaction? (The answer for me is “not really” – although I’ll be looking at Paizo’s Kingmaker with hopes for its endgame stuff – but I don’t want to answer for you.)

    If not, then one advantage of using old-school D&D is that it’s easier to add rules for something it doesn’t do than to try to re-work the designers’ unsatisfactory attempts which the players have already bought into, built their characters around, expect to use, etc.

    Some of this is, I think, what IO is saying when he cites “not getting in the way” as an under-appreciated virtue of an old-school system that looks fragmentary and inadequate compared to modern designs.

    Bargle, I like the idea of using mathematical analysis to sum the likely effects of having a lot of “squad members” making into attacks into a smaller number of dice rolls. I’d personally make it at least one separate roll, both to get the regression to the mean (your squad is unlikely to all hit or all miss) and to allow narrating the effects of what you do separately from what your henchmen do. Note, however, that I have 60 d20s in three different colors ready to test the proposition that the OD&D rules are already simple enough to make squad combat pretty fast as long as the squads aren’t too diverse (i.e, you can say “look for 14s on all the green dice, 16s on all the red ones, roll 1d6 for each d20 that hits that target).

    Joseph, I’d love either pointers to parts of Greyhawk Grognard that talk about your Emprise approaches to James’ wishlist or, when ready, beta copies of your work to comment on and start playtesting!

  8. 8 Lord Bodacious
    April 9, 2010 at 3:10 am

    Tavis, you’ve always seemed like a really good player and DM, but this just totally closed my on your credibility:

    ” …I have 60 d20s in three different colors … look for 14s on all the green dice, 16s on all the red ones, roll 1d6 for each d20 that hits that target…”

    I am impress.

  9. 9 Scott
    April 19, 2010 at 10:51 am

    If she is possessed by demons or devils, why bother invoking someone who’s not even statted out in Deities & Demigods?

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Past Adventures of the Mule

April 2010

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