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Expanded Armor Types
I've been analyzing Labyrinth Lord from the opposite direction these days, meaning I'm looking at what I can house rule from BX into LL to make it more to my tastes rather than the other way around. There are enough things I like about each system that house ruling from one direction vs. the other doesn't seem to matter much to me, and LL does have the draw of being more easily accessible to potential players (in that they can pretty easily obtain a book if they wanted).

So there are two big areas in LL that diverge from BX that bother me: spells and equipment. When I say equipment, really I mean armor. Let's face it, that's the first thing anyone looks at when deciding how to spend their starting money. What armor can I afford. BX is pretty easy in this regard. You have 3d6 gp to start, and you have three choices: leather, chain mail, and plate mail. As plate only costs 60 gp in BX, you have to roll pretty badly to not be able to afford it, though if you're also considering a lot of other gear you might want to make the trade off of less armor for more other weapons and gear.

LL, I suspect adhered more closely to the SRD in regards to armor. There are a lot of varieties. While LL does increase starting money to 3d8 gp, there's still no way a starting player could afford the 600gp plate mail. This sort of makes armor into a level progression item, just like hp or attack bonus. As you go up in level, you start to get more money, and now you can afford the fancy armor. If you want more options as you level, I suppose this is desirable. Personally, my tastes tend in the other direction, but I can see the argument for this.

However, after writing my hireling generator, I noticed something else pretty elegant about the three armor system. In BX the base unarmored AC is 9. The three armor types go down by two from there, with leather at AC 7, chain at AC 5, and plate at AC 3. If you add in a shield, you get the full range of ACs from 9 down to 2. Of course, magic items and Dexterity can further tune it from there, but there's somethign really nice about there being one specific armor combination for each AC value.

With the expanded armor, I don't see much gain. Sure, I guess you could probably find a way to get one of the even ACs and still have both hands free. But you also have weirdo things like leather and padded armor offering the same AC, but padded both costs and weighs less. Why would anoyone ever buy leather?

Looking over the rest of the equipment list, while LL is more expansive, the prices are comparable. I think a simple house rule to get BX style armor would simply be:

Starting money is 3d6 gp. Only three types of armor exist: plate mail costs 60gp, chain mail 40gp, and leather 20gp. Shields are still available at 10 gp. All other equipment costs are per the LL book.

I think I'll likely use that. I prefer the simplicity, and the fact that armor type is just a personal preference and not a system of advancement. Why make it more complicated?
December 9th, 2009 - 09:38 am | Comments (2) | PERMALINK

BX Spells in Labyrinth Lord
As mentioned in my previous post, the two big areas in LL that diverge from B/X is in spells and armor. I addressed armor with a pretty quick house rule, but spells are stickier. What I'm talking about here specifically is not the details of any given spell, but the spell lists available to spell casting characters at given levels.

I did a close comparison of the spell lists, noting which spells were added, removed, and renamed in Labyrinth Lord. Here's a PDF of my results:


Now, the renames I don't really care about, and they're few enough. I will probably used the old names simply out of habit, but it's easy enough to remember that Arcane Lock and Wizard Lock are the same thing.

Ignoring the renames, the magic-user spell list is very easy to follow the difference. Basically, LL just adds three more levels of spells. To be honest, my players will likely never see these levels either way, so the difference is pretty moot. However, I tend to agree with Mr. Maliszewski's opinion on this, that removing effects like wish, symbol, and the mass spells will lead to a less fragile world and one more in line with the kind of settings I enjoy.

The cleric spells, however, cause me more problems. Again, chopping off the top levels we get rid of annoying effects like Restoration, Resurrection, etc. However, the cleric spell list has modifications starting at third level and does adds something I really don't like -- direct damage clerical spells. You see them as early as fifth level with Flame Strike and then again at sixth with Blade Barrier. I don't mind adding another cure spell (Cure Critical at 5th), and I do kind of like the idea of clerics able to Animate Dead just as magic-users do, though I'm not crazy about them doing it at 3rd level, two spell levels before magic-users.

Ultimately, I think the answer is to simply stick to the B/X spell list wholesale. I could try and find a middle ground here, but either way I'm stuck with writing up and distributing to my players an entire spell list. And that's just much easier to do when I'm just copying them from one place to another.

Taking a page from Delta's book, I created a spell book for any future LL games I run. Mine isn't nearly as fancy as Delta's, who actually wrote his from scratch (and it's quite good, I definitely recommend it to anyone interested in a nice OD&D or Swords & Wizardry supplement). Instead, I just took scans of the B/X books and did a straight OCR on the spells, and then cleaned up the formatting a bit.

I'm hesitant to post a link to the file. Then again, if WotC really cared enough about my blog's tiny readership getting this small piece of their work, let them send a cease and desist. I'll take it right down.

December 9th, 2009 - 02:33 pm | Comments (0) | PERMALINK

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