Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Rools!? We don't need no stinkin' Rools!

My earlier post today was designed to be a shameless lead-in to this topic, but I liked the other topic so much that I felt it needed it's own entry. While considering the OD&D foundations as proposed by Finarvyn, I realized that all of these were covered in Vol. I, Men & Magic. Then it hit me that Vol. I IS the rules for OD&D. The game mechanics are covered in this volume, the table is set, so to speak, and much of the detailed information such as Experience Tables, Saving Throws, and Spell Descriptions is in Vol. I.

I then laid out a question in a new thread over at OD&D Discussion, asking how would one go about making a workable OD&D campaign using nothing other than Vol. I.

I know it's an idea and approach that will require a great deal of consideration if one were actually willing to undertake such a project. It's an idea that I find would allow a huge amount of home brewing. After all, now that I am thinking even farther along these lines, I feel that Vol.s II and III are basically supplemental information adding to the rules set forth in Vol. I.

Call me a heretic, but I am truly coming around to this opinion. In the spirit of this approach, I think a starting point would be to see exactly what IS defined in Vol. I, and consider if a full game could evolve from the rules presented therein. Better yet, maybe the best approach would be to see what IS NOT in Vol. I by glancing through Vol. II and III (even though this is not in the spirit of that original topic I presented at Fin's forum).

Here then are the topics covered in II and III that would need to be 'dreamt up' or home brewed.

Vol. II:

1. Monsters, their stats and descriptions.
2. Treasure, random tables and descriptions.
3. Magic Item Saving Throws.
4. Coin Exchange Rate, random Gem and Jewel tables.

Vol. III:

1. Sample Dungeon and suggestions, random guide for stocking the rooms.
2. Movement and Turn rules while underground.
3. Guides for Secret and Stuck Doors, Traps and Surprise.
4. Wandering Monsters.
5. Some Wilderness, Stronghold and Retainer information.
6. Character Support and Upkeep.
7. Land and Sea Miniatures guides.
8. Healing Wounds and Time.

That's it. Could one make a campaign without the above information?

Vol. III seems to have some actual rules that one might find indispensible. Movement and Turns, Doors, Surprise. The rest seems supplemental or situational at best. I would think that even these could be defined as a DM ran his own campaign. Is it really necessary to have rules set forth for all doors and traps, or every encounter in regard to surprise? A competent DM could make a judgement or ruling for each situation based on a logical approach. After all, most OD&D Grognards prefer a situational approach, rather than one involving simply dicing for results.

That said, in Solstice I have indeed included more 'dicing for results' rules than those mentioned above. One thing I never do as a DM, though, is allow dice to replace actual roleplaying, thought or logic in my games. I've always considered such dicing situations to be guidelines and suggestions. I don't, for example, allow a character to find a generic trap and remove it by dice alone.

It appears to me that if one set out using nothing more than Vol. I, the things that would need to be defined would be many of the things which all of us OD&D players are already home brewing. Monsters, Treasure and handling Dungeon Exploration (I call it Delving). This leaves out Coin Exchange rates and miscellaneous 'Between Adventures' type rules which, as defined in OD&D, are vague at best.

I realize that I am brushing this topic with rather large strokes. But the more I consider this idea, the more I keep coming back to looking at Vol. I as the OD&D rules. The rest is essentially supplemental.

After all, as a hard core home brewer, I think it's an interesting notion that one would have to invent everything else, including all Monsters and Treasure, and to then consider from where one might find inspiration. Inspiration and home brewing are the reasons I have found myself now worshipping at the altar of OD&D...or rather, at the altar of Men & Magic.



Anonymous said...

Men & Magic really is the core rulebook for OD&D, in the same way that the Player's Handbook is the most useful and important book in AD&D. Heck, the Castles & Crusades game system has a PH and they've never gotten around to a DMG.
- Finarvyn

Sham aka Dave said...

The difference being that AD&D without the DMG is missing actual game rules, though. Combat Rules, Saving Throws, both of which are a part of M&M.

I understand what you are saying, though Fin. And thanks for the observation. I'm not familiar with C&C, but I suspect that means it's rules are laid out like M&M's.