Showing posts with label B/X. Show all posts
Showing posts with label B/X. Show all posts

Sunday, March 20, 2022

AD&D e1, Dealing with Trouble at the Table - Part 1

Today, we go behind the 
curtain on my style of play.   
   
I ran e1 AD&D for as many as 12 players back in the day. 

Needless to say, a lot of trouble popped up at the table due to a large number of players. The obvious and primary problem was attendance. My way of dealing with this was not to run dungeons all the time and encourage the party to exit a dungeon whenever possible.  That at least opened the possibility of missing players' characters being left behind in a place of safety. It didn't always work out, but it significantly reduced the possibility of myself or someone else running an extra character. Wilderness and town settings are best for depositing a PC in a safe place. 

My "solution" was less than ideal. I would run the character in the background as an NPC and adjusted threats accordingly. It was rarely a good idea, but its what I did. 

The next major issue was the introduction of Unearthed Arcana to our campaign. I personally love the book, but I can count on one hand the number of times someone decided to be a Barbarian, Cavalier, or Theif-Acrobat. My players were far more interested in the new racial subtypes, spells, and weapons that were never a problem. The details in this tome are far more helpful than the mechanical changes. 

One thing I flat-out ignored was Fighter, Ranger, or Paladin as a subtype of Cavalier. No character class was a subtype of any other class in my campaigns. What helped in this regard is that I used to play B/X and let players use B/X characters in AD&D. You could be an Elf, a Fighter who was an elf, or whatever else was described in either set of rules. B/X characters tend to have lower stats, but when you're the DM who imposed the rule, you know that already and adjust accordingly. 

Cavaliers have so many new mechanics that are horrible for gameplay. Abilities or new mechanics based on alignment suck because that is the domain of Paladins or Assassins. It is too wild and inconsistent for players to remember. Starting at level 0 for one specific class is stupid. Tacking on a paragraph to the Cantrip descriptions kind of implies that Magic-Users and maybe Illusionists also start at level 0. 

Why not every character? Because it's stupid and adds nothing. Just weaken the party with a disease at level one if you want that. Worse, this book also lead to the idea that Magic-Users might have had three levels of level 0. It wasn't all that clear. 

What the hell? All I wanted from this book was to have Eric, Bobby, and Diana from the cartoon, not a tax audit form and root canal.  

To get around this, I completely eliminated the concept of level zero. In discussing this with the players, they all wanted that little bit of padding for their Hit Points at level 1. Ok, sure. What I wanted was a simple ruleset and a Cavalier that behaved more like a non-lawful good Paladin. 

I created a collection of "professional classes" which imparted a backstory, a field of special knowledge, and 1d6 HP to any player character class. There was also a slight chance that someone received a +1 with a tool-like weapon or the ability to wield a different type of weapon in lieu of a single weapon normally assigned by the main character class description. For example, a mason-turned Cleric received a +1 to hit with a hammer or a hunter-turned Magic-User knew how to use a lasso or perhaps a light spear instead of a quarterstaff. 

I even wrote a book about it called Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners. The "Zero" in the title secretly refers to my "no zero-level characters" edict. This is a trivia-like spoiler. No place in this title do I suggest to the reader not to use zero-level characters. Since I want to rewrite this book, you might want to wait to download it. 

My campaigns tended to be high magic, so tacking on a few extra HP to every character did nothing special, except weaken spell casters. The deal for spell casters was also more power, I permitted first-level characters access to their bonus spells right out of the gate. In my campaigns, a super wise Cleric could unleash an extra, higher-level spell at first level. I also used the same chart for Magic-Users, Illusionists, and Druids. 

Who cares? 

I gave every PC Fighting man an extra 1d6 HP. Let the power rush to everyone's head while guiding the squishy magic-using types away from florentine style dagger fights which ends them so quickly. 

One tale of woe stands out in my head. A case of pigheadedly ignoring mechanics. A player was having a difficult real-life and decided to burden me with his troubles by lashing out with a Paladin that wouldn't stick to his alignment. The rule on this is pretty simple. The Paladin loses their abilities and some experience until they conform to the class requirements or changes class and/or alignment. 

The reason for this rule is simple, to prevent mechanical abuse. 

As you can see, I play pretty fast and loose with mechanics anyway. I couldn't let the abuse continue but I didn't feel like removing powers from someone who was already suffering from a real-life loss. It was the wrong answer. 

When the first couple of abuses happened, I merely told the player that his character felt different about his chosen class. I didn't have an instant solution on the spot. When it happened in the next session, I addressed it in the same way. By the third session of abuse, I was ready to unload on him. 

And boy, did I. 

Instead of striping the Paladin of their powers, I assigned him an invisible angel NPC. Only his character

Cavaliers are dicks... and awesome.
saw it and heard it. I had a series of notes preplanned to handle many eventualities. The angel was not much of a burden, but was not especially helpful. 

The other player and characters glommed on to the fact that either the player or the Paladin was going nuts or really did have an invisible friend, but what it was exactly was a mystery. 

At first, I dealt with things by having him read sections of the gamebooks. Deities and Demigods - about his chosen god in particular. This seemed to reduce the amount of abuse by a good bit. Rather than engaging me in a challenging fashion, he was engaging with an NPC who operated under very strange rules that he didn't know. It's hard to violate rules you don't know. 

One huge problem was when the Paladin lost his warhorse. It was shot right out from under him and died. The hostile behaviors came right back until the player realized I already had a plan for this possibility. Initially, I provided a regular horse and a few strange, mystical events to set the player back and stand the character back up for the win. A Paladin without a steed is at a disadvantage. The rest of the party either had to accept these mystical events or guard him against himself. 

At various points, a stag, a dog, a cat appeared to assist him when needed. The angel confirmed that this was his God softening the blow and putting him on the right course to find a new warhorse. 

Amusingly, the player tried to suss out the exact rules I was using for providing animal guardians. He entered a cattle pen during combat, only to have the angel proclaim: 

"These are normal cows, son. This isn't how we should end." 

Ironically, the warhorse problem resolved itself when the Paladin had it resurrected via a wish spell meant to rescue a different party member. Amazingly, the Paladin wrote out a wish that fulfilled both issues, that was also not abusive and seemed very sincere. As a Paladian would, the player ascribed the wish to his diety and pleaded for his horse and teammate's lives.   

Some of these ideas I cribbed from Infocom games. Not the details, but the humorous tone the games used to get the player off the wrong track. Other times they inspired spur-of-the-moment gambits. More than a few scenarios came from fantasy novels, like the Damiano series. But the best one was preplanned from the get-go of deciding how to deal with this troublesome player. 

For example, lot of people play AD&D with the idea players don't die at 0 HP, they slowly fall to -10 before expiring. I decided to mess with this idea. When the Paladin, who already had a lot of HP to begin with, dropped to 9 or fewer hit points, his guardian angel intervened. The angel would envelop the Paladin with his wings and at the end of the round, would physically merge with him. The Paladin would have access to flight and two flaming scimitars, but his hit points were still at 9 or less and dropping one point per round like a character at 0 HP. 

Tick-tick-tick...

It took a year for this eventuality to happen. That's 52 weekly sessions where I needed "A PLAN". Real-life losses hang around for a good bit, so having "A PLAN" for the table is helpful. Hopefully, it doesn't involve kicking someone out of the game. 

(Although, that can be a plan, too. You should approach this like ending a marriage, with or without children. Because other players may act like children. Don't do it lightly. ) 

After dozens of sessions, most of the party realized that there was something strange about the situation.  When the angel finally revealed itself, the party cheered. There were half a dozen mock, "I knew it!" exclamations and applause. They really enjoyed the reveal. 

The important bit here is creating a bit of mystery and investment for the other people at the table. Otherwise, it smacks favoritism and Mary-Sue'ing. One portion of this was explaining the mechanic, not the consequences of the mechanic. 

No one, not even the Paladin's player knew what would happen if the combat lasted long enough for him to drop to 0 HP. I didn't state what would happen so as to drag the party into the event. They all needed the combat to end in less than 9 rounds. I didn't say that, but that's how life works. I honestly had no idea what would happen and luckily, the party rose to the challenge and now we'll never know. 

While I loved the experience of dealing with this troublesome player in a creative way, I only wish to bring the inspired magic (and maybe an invisible angel) back to my table. Troublesome players are often not fun.  

Jeeze. I didn't mean to burn through 2000 words on one tale of table trouble. I have appended the words, "Part 1" to this title as I can see I will be back to discuss other problems another day. 

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Question From The Hive Mind - Variable Damage in B/X

Ah, the dreaded Variable Damage "option" from B/X. Variable damage mucks with so much, but I can't see any other way of having it. If I said it once, I've said it a million times... I've always used a blend of B/X and AD&D so variable damage was baked right into my campaigns. But I have used both. 

(So was double damage for a 20. I tried fumbles on a 1 exactly twice. Fumbles suck because they make no sense. Aggression against a critter results in harm to the aggressor... hmm. No thanks, it weakens everyone.) 

Under B/X, a character did 1d6 + strength bonuses, which could be up to 3 points for an 18 strength. The average of that was 3.5 plus 1-3 extra points. It's simple to compare a 1d8 hit die for a monster to an average character. The average roll on a 1d8 is 4.5, so your average adventurer probably wouldn't down a monster in one mightly swing. They would do it on two hits. Or if profoundly unlucky, five hits. A fighter might do it in one due to those bonuses, but many other player characters are punished for taking a high strength over something else. 

Looking at the variable damage table, only 4 weapons do 1d8 or better. Using only the averages of die rolls, a guy with a sword or battle axe should take out a 1 HD monster in one round. A polearm or two handed sword would also do it, at the expense of having a lower AC meaning the montser could hit you a little better. Against multi-hit die creatures, the two handed sword or pole arm is a clear winner. 

But adventures have a variety of hit point dice which makes a PC getting hit different from a monster being hit. A Dwarf and Fighter were on par with monsters, they are combat beasts. Everyone else is worse than a 1 HD monster, but had some control over their AC or the use of special abilities to make sure they weren't outclassed. Basically, PC control the pace of combat to remove the possibility of a creature taking a swipe at the squishy 1d4 Magic User or Thief. 

Monsters are all over the place when it comes to damage. They get a number of attacks plus a damage die for each. They are not ruled by the 1d6 non-variable damage rule, but they are balanced for it. There is a tendency to give 1 HD monsters 1d6 points of damage or no better than 1d8 or 2d4. NPC Elves are an anomaly, getting 1+1 hit dice and 1d8 for damage. They must be seasoned Elves. 

There is a balance of character power against monster power in B/X when using standard 1d6 damage rules. But the balance shifts when variable damage is allowed. In the general form, by increasing some damage, I am expecting monsters to lose 1 round of combat survivability. A 1 HD monster should survive two rounds with 1d6 points of damage, but when that shifts 1d8 points of damage it means they survive one round less or just a single round.

The dynamic stays the same for multi-hit die monsters but is a little more fluid as the actual die rolls will change things. 

In switching to variable damage, a couple of "other things" happen, all of which follow the form of "begging the question". It creates a logical flaw. A fighter might question why an axe to the head does different damage for a big axe or little axe. Isn't it lodged in the target's brain?  All Magic-Users are now limited to 1d4 hit points of damage, they don't get missile weapons (except for thrown daggers or darts in AD&D), and most importantly, they can't wield a sword like Gandalf. 

The superhero, Magik with a sword.

In my mind, the last item is most important but let's skip that for a moment. 

What variable damage does is weaken Magic Users to 1d4 or 2/3rds of the hitting power. It also brings up "what is a hit point?" If some weapons are more powerful than others, but all are lethal, what does a hit point mean? 

To me, it means that characters and monsters possess an inherent "toughness". Not like the toughness of a wall that just stands there taking abuse, but an ability to shake off stuff that would make other people lay down and quit. They aren't dead, destroyed, or whatever, they merely can't rise again. Some of this "toughness" is just luck meaning a hit isn't exactly a hit either. It could be a miss that forces someone to stumble and twist a knee.  

In taking this view of hit points, I can give swords back to Magic-Users as a modified standard damage rule. They can never do more than 1d4 points of physical damage because they either don't have the right weapon or the right training to do better. I suppose I could up this to 1d6, but I feel that makes Thieves less combat savvy than Magic-Users. 

As they should. In the Basic game, everyone hits the same as there is just one table. In the Expert rules, we see a shift where Fighters hit more often than Clerics and Magic-Users hit the least frequently. Aside from this one detail, I have totally ignored the ability to hit focusing only on the damage done. 

Ah, your standard, non-standard +1 sword.
One thing about Gandalf, all versions of Gandalf, is he only uses a staff or magic sword. He doesn't even get a dagger like a Magic-User. In live-action films, he isn't a swordfighter. He tends to foil attacks with the sword, use it as a magical prop, or swing it a club. He does not look like any other swordfighter I have seen. Because he isn't. And I am happy to let my Magic-User Player Characters behave like this. 

I permit Magic Users to use swords. I immediately describe such an item as being both magical and not a weapon. It is more like a personal fetish, a device that is possessed by a spirit of power. They do 1d4 for damage but don't have to be set down to the cast. This allows the player to have the "flavor" of the weapon without a significant bonus. I also encourage the Magic Users to have a sigil or power glyph on all weapons. They believe the item is there for the power, therefore it is marked and useful. The marking only really identifies the weapon as suitable for a magic-using person. In my world, silver weapons count as "magic" because they have some attributes of magic or special weapons, so this might crossover to ones meant for Magic-Users.

One bonus that I confer to all Magic-Users with any weapons is, if someone steps into melee range, they can abandon a cast spell to swing that weapon without losing the spell. A hit still foils a spell and they lose it. As an item of power, it assists them to switch tasks from mystical to physical but isn't a perfect defense. The reverse is not true, they can't switch to casting once the weapon is swung. They have to wait for the next round. They also have a defense to use in retreat. Someone without a weapon has nothing and is going to get hit or chased if they back up. 

There is a couple of advantages in having an ill-defined definition of hit points that variable weapon damage causes. One, it really doesn't deviate from the rules too much except for shorting the staying power of monsters and NPCs. Second, it permits flavoring to settings because the concept of hit points is softer. You can easily tack on other rules like natural 20s do double damage or -10 hit points is death. I personally use the -10 hit as death because makes everyone tougher, it forces the players to either verify the kill with a coup de grace which eliminates the need to create an endless parade of suspiciously similar NPC because the original guy got back up. Having that padding softens the blow of a bad hit point roll. 

The flip side of this is, 1d6 standard damage allows for different sorts of creative add ons. The rule basically says anything is a weapon, torch, stick, or sword which makes Magic-Users tougher because those daggers and staves do the same damage. You could spin this into a high magic campaign where Magic-Users and magical creatures can do 1d6 of damage with a thought or glance. Who cares if they don't physically use a stick to poke the target? That's really kind of cool and can only happen when you have a very stylized or abstract combat system.  

Variable damage or standard damage are both effective methods of play, which one you pick is based on desire and need for the campaign. 

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Review - Necrotic Gnome's Old School Essentials Advanced Fantasy

Allelujah! I found a great title to start with, Necrotic Gnome's Old-School Essentials Advanced Fantasy. 

I lost my 1e books and wanted a replacement. I know Necrotic Gnome has been threatening me with a Kickstarter of physical books, but I couldn't wait for a printed copy. I ordered both the Player's Tome and Referee's Tome from DriveThruRPG. Previously, I had been making do with the short free edition which is pretty fine. 

Title: Advanced Fantasy Player's Tome
Rule Set: Old-School Essentials
Year: 2021
Author: Gavin Norman
Publisher: Necrotic Gnome
Pages: 257 pages
Rating: 5 of 5 Gold Stars

Advanced Fantasy
Player's Tome

SM06 The Warren
Advanced Fantasy
Player's Tome

Title: Advanced Fantasy Referee's Tome
Rule Set: Old-School Essentials
Year: 2021
Author: Gavin Norman
Publisher: Necrotic Gnome
Pages: 257 pages
Rating: 5 of 5 Gold Stars

Advanced Fantasy
Referee's Tome

Advanced Fantasy<br />Referee's Tome
Advanced Fantasy
Referee's Tome


What I was expecting was an updated rendition of the 1e D&D books. I was wrong. 

These books have more in common with the B/X sets or perhaps the Rules Cyclopedia. But wait! That's not all. The author, Gavin Norman set out to refine B/X by remove some warts and flaws. Not only was he successful, but he also went on to fix all of the Unearthed Arcana classes and the accursed Bard class of e1. Somehow, he has three different editions fused in one. Impressive. 

What fascinates me the most is how there is a basic and advanced method of character generation. The basic method uses race as a class while the advanced method allows all races to engage in a class. With a tiny modification, this is exactly how I play. The rules do not say is if you can mix basic and advanced methods of characters, but why the hell not. I allow for Basic Elves and AD&D Elven Clerics. 

The books are well-paced for teaching new players from a single set of books, which is right in line with what the original B/X books did. Timely information is presented when it's needed and not before. Mr. Norman has also rolled in some welcome updates, such as THAC0 and ascending AC. I hate them both because they are too user-friendly, but this set competently explains all three methods to suit the taste of all three player bases. 

Both books are 257 pages long a-piece. The Player's Tome is really the shining star of the set as it contains the most varied information. The Referee's Tome approximates the DMG and Monster Manual of e1 all in one book. B/X didn't have a DMG until the Red Box if I remember correctly and this format avoids getting all murky like the e1 DMG. 

So, where are the flaws? Well, there aren't any or many that I could find. More like chatter from the peanut gallery. 

The one thing that amused me was the author named a spell "Pass-Wall". Back in the Moldvay version of B/X, it was spelled "Passwall" and was completely omitted from the books except for the Staff of Wizardry description, which doesn't explain the spell. See, real peanut gallery stuff. 

I am not a fan of the short monster stat blocks like a module synopsis but have to admit it allows for the presentation of far more critters than a full quarter page stat block of the e1 Monster Manual. I always got warm fuzzies when I found a module that included an appendix with full stat blocks for new monsters. If Necrotic Gnome changed its mind and created a Monster Manual with full stat blocks, I'd totally buy that. 

The last item, I don't even know how to quantify. There is too much art. WTF? Did I say that? I love all of the art, but the format is meant for the beautiful full-color, hardback version of the book. I have a printable pdf. If I print this thing, it's going to have qualities similar to a '79 era xerox. That makes me sad and I can't wait to purchase a hard copy. 

There you have it, I found three flaws and two of them make me want to purchase a physical copy of something I already have. 

So, I guess this is another 5 gold star review. But you don't have to take my word for it, check out what some other reviewers said about this set: 

RPG.net Review: "The bullet-point presentation hits the sweet spot when it comes to saving space (and thus cramming more material between the books' pages) as well as creating concise texts with zero ambiguity."

Reviews from R'lyeh: "What is notable with all of these Classes is that the designer has tried to keep them unique, to keep their abilities from encroaching on those of Classes, and to keep them from being too powerful."

Mr. Tim Brannan gives the physical set a glorious, jealously inducing review on The Other Side Blog.  I can't wait for these to become available again. 

Again, if you haven't followed these bloggers, now is the time. Or you could cut to the chase and follow Campaign Wiki's OSR feed. It is amazing. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Introduction: How to...

If I've said it once, I've said it 100 times. The 1981 Basic Edition of D&D is my edition of Dungeons and Dragons. Before that, I had the 1979 AD&D books which seemed a little opaque to 7 and 8 year old me. But by 9, I could grasp all of the ins and outs of the Moldvay set. 

D&D Basic Set Rulebook (B/X ed.) (Basic)

D&D Basic Set Rulebook (B/X ed.) (Basic)
D&D Expert Set Rulebook (B/X ed.) (Basic)
D&D Expert Set Rulebook (B/X ed.) (Basic)
D&D Expert Set Rulebook (B/X ed.) (Basic)

At 49, I set a challenge of reviewing 52 gaming culture significant titles. I've done novels, movies, game modules, supplements but only a handful of rule sets. The reason is pretty clear, how does one review old or new products which emulate old games? Everyone should know everything about them already. 

A month or so ago, a reader whom I shall call Blackrazor gave me dozens of books to replace the ones I lost. Additionally, he threw in a bunch of things I have never seen. By way of thanks to my readers, I want to review them. 

This loops me back to my original observation that everyone who plays these games should know them. So true. 

Back in February of this year, I reviewed The White Box by Atlas Games. This product isn't a game, it's a developer's tool to create games. In that review, I mentioned that the vast majority of essays written for this title explore the pedagogy of games. Pedagogy is the method and practice of teaching. 

This nicely brings me around to this little piece of artwork: 


The Moldvay version of D&D was meant to teach from the book, as opposed to the methods used in the prior editions. It's a fine distinction, in intent, scope, and for my purposes, a perfect distinction.  

OD&D, Holmes, and AD&D e1 are very fine games, but they were not designed and developed as the Moldvay books were which is very evident in terms of play and players. These three sets were designed with the intention that one person would own the books and that one person would teach the rules. Moldvay on the other hand, explains the rules with an almost boardgame approach so that players pick a role and act on it rather than the exploration of roles (and rules) that older editions supposed. 

It's the method of teaching that changes between editions. Players were always cautioned against reading the DM's material. But in a generic sense, meaning they shouldn't metagame. Knowing the rules was always encouraged, but defining which rules were in play was the purview of the DM. So, when players hit those OD&D-type games, they often knew how to run a game even when in action as a player character, but they learned directly from the person hosting the game. In B/X the rules themselves teach. 

Going forward, I hope to review several B/X sets from the point of view of how the rules convey the pedagogy of the game. 

I have 10 more entries for my 2021 review series, if I could make whole rulesets half of those, I think I will have succeeded in this adventure.  

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Seeking Zeros (Product Plug)

I'm looking for a few zeros and not in the way you'd expect.

Today I did a review of my products on DriveThruRPG and realized I am pretty close to some thresholds I'd like to hit. Here is a list of my total downloads for all 5 of my products.

AD&D Character Sheet For Use with Unearthed Arcana - 91
Compass Rose Inn Minisetting - 135
Kobold Folly Minisetting - 122
Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners - 244
Swashbucklers Character Class - 87

What I would like to see is at least 100 for my Character Sheet and Swashbuckler Character Class. I wish I was at 250 for Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners.

Let me recap what each product is:

The Character Sheet is just a character sheet with the 7 stats from AD&D and Unearthed Arcana, 1st edition.

The Swashbuckler Character Class is a gimmick character class, someplace between thief and fighter. The Swashbuckler does little to no damage per round, attempting to set themselves for killing strike on a roll of 20 or better. They are fast and adventurous, but perhaps not the greatest warriors. Very Errol Flynn.

Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners is a framework for creating NPC characters with specific non-combat abilities which balanced for D&D and AD&D 1st Edition. The booklet can also be used to create secondary or professional skills for PCs, which don't push the limits or make them OP.

The Compass Rose Inn Minisetting and Kobold's Folly are two maps sets for a generic campaign setting and are rules agnostic. They come with maps that can be printed as 1 inch=5 feet battlemat. Character backgrounds are provided to make these locations come to life with gossip and intrigue. 

I would like to invite all of you to download these products. Each is Pay What You Want. In this time of crisis, the "Pay" and "Want" should go away. Download them at $0.00. It's cool, that's how this works. Help me reach these goals, even though they are probably silly.

I appreciate every download.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Character Buffs - Zero to Hero

D&D and AD&D had a system of allowing characters to be buffed by adding some sort of skill to one of the regular classes via professional skills. Noticeably short on details, it encouraged DMs and players to think outside of the box. AD&D had the ranger and monk classes which featured two hit dice at first level while clerics were buffed with not just first level spells, but bonus spells based on Wisdom scores.

With the release of Unearthed Arcane, players received a model for having a character start below 1st level in the form of the cavaliers. Magic users received cantrips which hinted at powers before first level. Weapon mastery made fighting classes much stronger while pushing other classes into the non-combat skills.

Obviously, the cavalier and thief acrobat were nods to the cartoon. Clearly TSR wanted to change and update their product long before 2.0.

At the time, 2.0 wasn't available to me and by the time it was, I was already too invested in AD&D. Basically, I was unwilling to change. I had a large group of players, between 5 to 12 players per session, a few of them running 2 character at the same time.

What made this possible was an embryonic idea to codify low-level, non-combat oriented characters. While much of this was roleplay for my players, a bit of it dove into the skills possessed by these secondary characters.

Fast forward 33 years to 2018. That stack of notes, rules of thumb and memories of the fun were transformed into an actual pamphlet so that others could implement these types of secondary characters into their campaigns. Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners was born.

It started with a list of 50 professions from the middle ages. In January 2019, the list increased by 9 and later reached 61 in October of the same year. The professions are broken into 3 groups: Sedentary, Active and Laboring which determines their hit points. The characters are average people, so they have ability scores generated by average dice, numbers 2-5 weight towards 3 and 4 or collectively as 9 to 12. Combat skills were limited to using the tools of the trade, which are poor cousins of real weapons. Each new "class" has its own abilities, which are flexible and sometimes overlapping. The classes feature their own levels, from 1-5 which have nothing to do with combat or treasure hunting.

These rules were meant to flesh out NPC classes and includes a table of modifiers for hiring them. But I also wanted to make rules for converting a non-player character to one the main classes in D&D and AD&D.

Once a professional becomes a fully fleshed out player character, I needed to include rules for the tools of the trade. Can a mason turned magic user use a hammer? Sure, why not. Within limits. Stats for mauls, hammers, woodworking axes, zaxes and various other implements were created. These improvised or unusual weapons were define in such a way so as to delineate them from traditional weapons of war. In the right hands, they are powerful tools, in the wrong hands they are poor cousins of their martial variants.

Due to the use of average dice for these characters, a path to "rescuing" a hopeless character was created. All of these rules were designed with the existing D&D and AD&D classes in mind. While not entirely balanced, because the regular classes are not balanced, they are not overpowering. The intent was to flesh out bit part NPC and color player characters with a background.

I hope you will take the time to read Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners and incorporate it into your game. I also have a character sheet for use with characters designed with Unearthed Arcana. Both are available at DriveThruRPG at a suggest price of $0.99 or PWYW.