Sunday, April 26, 2009

What's Really Going On...

The version of D&D that we were playing was this one...

These days it's referred to as "The Holmes Edition Basic Set". A gentleman by the name of Eric Holmes took all the information that was in the original, now called "Classic", D&D boxed sets that came out a few years before, and compiled all the info into this set. This was the first set to be called "Basic Dungeons & Dragons".

At the time, it came with a bonus introductory adventure module, called "In Search of the Unknown". It was a full two-level dungeon map, complete with background and room descriptions, but it lacked monsters or treasure. That was the DM's job, to "stock" it.

Glendor the Fourth, my character for Steve's little starting adventure, was taken from the back of the "In Search of the Unknown" book. The designer, Mike Carr, conveniently provided several pre-generated characters of each type, so that you wouldn't have to get bogged down in the details (albeit much simpler than today's details) of character creation. I'm guessing that these characters were probably ones the TSR staff used when playtesting the rules.

I picked Glendor by name, as Steve didn't let us see the stats, but he turned out to be a pretty good character. His stats were (out of a maximum value of 18):

Strength 17
Intelligence 10
Wisdom 9
Constitution 14
Dexterity 9
Charisma 14

So, strong, healthy, and charismatic. He didn't need to be smart, wise or dexterous to swing a sword, so I was satisfied. As I said, I don't remember what Craig's character was. If he subscribes here, maybe he can fill in the detail about that, if he recalls.

I'm sure that most people reading this blog will have played an rpg or two in their time, but as a basic primer on how the game works... it's all based on chance. You roll a 20-sided die (like the one near the top of the page) to see if you hit your opponent. The higher the roll, the better. How powerful a monster is usually dictates how hard it is to hit it, and the more experienced your character is, the easier it is for you to hit. There was a table in the book that worked all this out. You had the monster's "Armor Class", which was a number to represent how hard it was to hit, and you had your character's "level", which was a number to represent your experience. You cross referenced one with the other in the table, and it came up with a specific number that you had to roll equal to or above in order to hit with your weapon. If you hit, you rolled another kind of die in order to tell how much damage you did to the creature.

Everything has Hit Points. This is a number that represents how tough you are. It's how many hits you take before you die. When you roll whatever die it is for your damage, once you've hit your opponent, the number you roll is subtracted from the monster's total hit points. Once it reached zero, it was dead.

Some characters had spells. Magic Users and Clerics. Magic Users were the classic wizards, like Gandalf and Merlin. They could fire off a magic missile attack... which was a little bolt of magic that did damage, or much bigger things when they were more experienced, like blast their enemies with a fireball! Clerics were warriors and healers. They could restore lost hit points through the power of their god. There were thieves, who could pick pockets and open locked doors and chests. There were elves, who could wear armor and use swords and bows, but also could cast spells. There were dwarves and halflings as well, who were basically fighters.

This was all very "basic", as you would suspect, but it was a great place to start. I still own a copy of that set. It's not the same one I started playing with. I never did own this set until a few years ago. By the time I had it in my head to buy the rules, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons books had already hit the shelves, so I started buying those.

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