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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Character Generation II

In my brief history of D&D character generation and stat importance yesterday, I left out a rule that has existed since OD&D, through every edition of Basic from Holmes to Cyclopedia with minor variations, but got skipped in AD&D; the ability to alter a Prime Requisite Ability score by lowering another stat or stats. Given the importance of exceptional ability scores in AD&D I find this to be a curious rule to drop; I mean in the first paragraph on page 9 of the 1st edition AD&D Players Handbook it says that "The premise of the game is that each player character is above average -- at least in some respects-- and has superior potential. Furthermore, it is usually essential to the character's survival to be exceptional (with a rating of 15 or above) in no fewer than two ability characteristics."; and yet, the ability to alter your randomly generated ability scores is absent from AD&D, forcing you to rely on luck alone (or cheating) to create a character with at least two 15+ ability scores.

In OD&D, where your ability scores aren't nearly as important, you can raise your Strength if you are a Fighting Man, your Wisdom if you are a Cleric or your Intelligence if you are a Magic-User*, at the cost of two for one or three for one, depending on your class and the stat you are decreasing, for instance Fighting Men trade Intelligence at minus two for plus one point of Strength, but Wisdom at minus three to plus one point of Strength. You are never allowed to drop Intelligence or Wisdom to below average, or nine (9), so if you rolled poorly I guess you don't get to trade. It works similarly for both Clerics and Magic-Users.

In all versions of Basic, you can't touch Charisma or Constitution, and the addition of the Thief class means that Dexterity can be raised but not lowered. They all have slightly different versions of the rule; Holmes and Moldvay go through on a class by class basis and tell you what Ability Score can be lowered to raise your Prime Requisite, and what it will cost. I don't have Mentzer, but I assume it's the same as Cyclopedia, where you can pretty much drop points at a 2:1 ratio as long as you don't drop below 9, raise above 18, and you don't touch Constitution, Dexterity or Charisma for lowering purposes.

*Did EGG have a real issue with using the words Wizard or Sorcerer? Magic-User is such a ponderous name for the class I am surprised that it caught on, and yet, three decades after I started using the term I still use it.