After one hundred sessions of Moldvay/Cook, the stalwart heroes of our Glantri campaign are taking a vacation in Ravenloft with OSRIC. I’m only playing casually, but it’s my first exposure to the AD&D 1e ruleset, and it’s eye-opening.
the old man of the mountain loves the e.e.o.c.
For one thing, the ceiling is really low. I’m mainly familiar with level caps from B/X, where they set in around 128K experience points for Halflings and around 600K points for Elves and Dwarves–in any case, far beyond anything we’ve ever achieved in three years of play, even in the comparatively Monty Haul White Sandbox game. As a result, I had never understood the disdain for level caps I’d sometimes see online. But in 1e, if you’re not careful, you can hit the level cap at around 30K, which is where we’re starting. By that point, most races are already beginning to feel the pinch outside of their stereotypical classes.
Relatedly: what is up with the level cap for Assassins? A Gnome with anything less than 17 Intelligence and 17 Dexterity tops out at Illusionist 5, but could reach level 8 as an Assassin. Are you a Half-Elf with 16 Strength? Well, you could reach Ranger 5 or Assassin 11. Practically all of the races have greater room for advancement in the Assassins Guild than anywhere else. I never knew the Black Hand was such a big believer in affirmative action hires.
shut up and give me the cheese
Due to character creation methods–4d6 drop lowest, arrange to taste, 1:1 stat swapping, 30K experience starting–we’ve got more cheddar than the state of Wisconsin, and that’s entirely by design. We’re tromping into Castle Ravenloft with:
- Elf Fighter/Thief with 18 Dex
- Elf Fighter/Mage/Thief (gettin’ mediocre all over the place)
- Half-Orc Fighter/Cleric (pro-wrestler, worships the Blood God, radioactive, wields a stop sign)
- Elf Assassin with 17 Str and 18 Dex
- Hengeyokai (Crane) Shukenja
- Half-Elf Fighter with 13 Str (that’s me)
I rolled pretty blandly, and I didn’t want to mess around with my stats since 4d6 drop lowest is plenty generous for my taste. Fighter was the only class I could qualify for without being absolutely terrible. It’s my first time in several years playing a Fighter.
Let us say that I am only holding my own due to force of personality.
Here is how twinked out we are: the Assassin and the Elf F/T both have Thief Abilities above 50%. I didn’t realize there would ever come a time when a Thief was not statistically doomed to disappointment. Maybe being an Elf with 18 Dex has something to do with it.
One of our companions is a Hengeyokai, a race from 1985’s Oriental Adventures. Many of the Asians I know have a hard time digesting cheese, so they placed it all in this book for storage. The Hengeyokai is basically a Were-__________, in this case a Were-Crane, so he can fly pretty much at will and has double-strength infravision. He is also a Shukenja, which is like a lightly armored Cleric. On first reading Oriental Adventures, the Shukenja looked like the least interesting class by far. But, as always, I was mistaken. The Shukenja’s spell list apparently includes such gems as Plot Dump, Locate McGuffin, Slay Named NPC, and Win Adventure. All of which are second-level spells.
Seriously: one of the things this dude can do is force an enemy to save every time he’s struck by weapons or else take an extra 6 points of damage. Or: give a character a base 30% chance to instinctively spot traps or other sources of danger. Plus: fly like an eagle.
This player initially rolled even worse stats than I did, and the fact that he created this powerhouse is a huge testament to his rules-savvy. It is really nicely done.
In the meantime, I’ve decided that the only thing I can offer the party is literal meat-shielding. I’m hoping that Strahd will try to eat my female Half-Elf with 15 Charisma first, and thus buy my companions a round or two. When I die, I’m coming back as a Drow Cavalier/Acrobat.
joesky, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you
- Level: Cleric 2
- Range: 5′
- Duration: Permanent
- This spell conjures a holy piece of self-regenerating cheese. Any mice, rats, were-rats, rat-men, or so on, must Save vs. Spells or be unable to resist nibbling from it. They might end up fighting over it, at Dungeon Master’s discretion. Rat-creatures who have eaten the cheese may be commanded as if charmed when the Cleric plays a pipe. If continual cheese is cast at a creature’s eyes, it must save or be the subject of innumerable puns about Green Bay.