Men & Magic
"Elves: Elves can begin as either Fighting-Men or Magic-Users and freely switch class whenever they choose, from adventure to adventure, but not during the course of a single game. Thus, they gain the benefits of both classes and may use both weaponry and spells. They may use magic armor and still act as Magic-Users. However, they may not progress beyond 4th level Fighting-Man (Hero) nor 8th level magic-User (Warlock). Elves are more able to note secret and hidden doors. They also gain the advantages noted in the CHAINMAIL rules when fighting certain fantastic creatures. Finally, Elves are able to speak the languages of Orcs, Hobgoblins and Gnolls in addition to their own (Elvish) and the other usual tongues."The above passage concerning elves as player characters has probably generated more questions and confusion than any other in Men & Magic. The more I read it, the more I think that a total lack of a phrase such as ‘at the same time’ leads me to deduce that indeed an elf must decide which class to pursue between adventures. While the elf never has to remove his magic armor, even when he decides to cast spells for an upcoming excursion, he or she is either one or the other for each adventure, but not both ‘at the same time’. Indeed this means that an elf player character will need to alter certain class specific details whenever he opts for the other class (such as re-rolling hits and rewriting saving throws). It looks as if a revision of my house rules is in order.
"Other Character Types: There is no reason that players cannot be allowed to play as virtually anything, provided they begin relatively weak and work up to the top, i.e., a player wishing to be a Dragon would have to begin as let us say, a “young” one and progress upwards in the usual manner, steps being predetermined by the campaign referee."While I’ve never personally been too keen on this sort of thing, I believe that the authors are trying to convey that anything is possible with D&D, and that if a referee wanted to, he could indeed construct a ‘Fantastic Medieval Wargame Campaign’ for a party of Dragon player characters. The predominant theme here is that everyone starts ‘weak’ and needs to experience the same challenges and obstacles in their pursuits of experience, wealth and fame. A theme that was presented over 30 years ago as a campaign concept in Men & Magic, and has influenced countless games since.
"Character Alignment, Including Various Monsters and Creatures: Before the game begins it is not only necessary to select a role, but it is also necessary to determine what stance the character will take - Law, Neutrality, or Chaos."Much has been written and debated about this original D&D Alignment system. Pulp fiction inspirations aside, my take on this is it is a result of the need to add actual sides to the game, much in the same way that all wargames prior to this rather unique iteration pitted players or sides in a conflict against one another in a table-top miniatures simulation. You had Bob versus Bill, with Neutral forces who might be added through the course of a game to one side or the other, either as mercenary units or once certain criteria where met. (edit: a few days after typing this I noticed in CHAINMAIL a passage titled 'GENERAL LINE-UP' which include Law-Neutral-Chaos. This supports my ‘line-up’ or picking sides theory). There is no mention of moral codes, ethics or doctrines which might govern the behavior of a particular individual player character or non-player character. There are even some creature types which are either Law or Neutrality; Chaos or Neutrality; or that appear in all three columns on the Law-Neutrality-Chaos Table. Men and Lycanthropes are listed in all three columns. Many monsters which are considered ‘evil’ in later editions of D&D appear here in both Neutrality and Chaos; for example Orcs, Ogres and Minotaurs. Men, though, are the only ‘default’ playable race which appears in the Chaos column. As mentioned earlier in the Characters section, Neutral Clerics are in fact required to declare which ‘side’ they are on prior to attaining 7th level. The fact that Anti-Clerics become synonymous with Evil Clerics in later passages leads me to believe that Evil is always on the side of Chaos, and that Good is always on the side of Law, but not vice-versa. Good and Evil were added in later editions, Law and Chaos were retained, and the entire scope of Alignment became unnecessarily involved once the various codes were mingled. But such subsequent editions and ways of considering Alignment are not the intent of this reading of Men & Magic. Furthermore, there is no mention of penalties or drawbacks for switching from one Alignment to another (provided it is permitted by the three column table), except for the brief explanation in the Clerics section which speaks to the loss of help from “above” after constructing a stronghold. From all of this I construe that there are Protagonists, Antagonists and the Indifferent in between who are either non-committal or not intelligent enough to care. Exactly how Law and Chaos are defined, whether it be Good guys and Bad guys or Order and Anarchy, is left to the referee to decide. Perhaps Clerics simply have a higher ethical and moral standard, being the only ones truly concerned with Good and Evil, and that each situation dictates whether or not Alignment even comes into play.
"Changing Character Class: In order for men to change class they must have a score of 16 or better in the prime requisite (see below) of the class they wish to change to, and this score must be unmodified. A Cleric with a “strength” of 15, for example, could not become a Fighting-Man. In any event Magic-Users cannot become Clerics and vice-versa."This rather vague passage does not clarify whether a 4th level Cleric with a 16 strength can become a 4th level Fighting-Man, or a 1st level Fighting-Man. On the one hand we have a very stringent prerequisite for making such a change, and on the other hand we have no penalty for making such a change. If there is no penalty for changing classes, it would be possible for all men with very high intelligence or wisdom to begin as Fighting-Men, and then switch to Magic-User or Cleric once they had advanced in experience. But why would such a change be restricted to only those with a very high score in the new class’s prime requisite? Are we to assume that, through the course of play, the character in question is utilizing this ability enough to compensate for not actually practicing the other class? When switching from Magic-User or Cleric to Fighting-Man, having a very high strength could justify such a 4th to 4th level change, but not the other way around. In the end I assume that a character making such a change in fact starts anew at 1st level, and must recalculate Hits and saving throws. I would allow such a character to retain his prior experience, but only insomuch as it pertains to his original class, incase he or she desired and was able to change back to it. A character with a 16 or better in both strength and intelligence, or strength and wisdom is fairly rare, so allowing such men to switch class between adventures, like Elves can, would not be unfair nor unbalanced, but it might potentially cause issues for a Cleric’s moral or ethical demands. I would handle such a situation on a case by case basis, if it ever actually arose in a game.
~Sham, Quixotic Referee