Things Necropraxis Beat Me To
Meaningless! Meaningless! There's nothing new under the sun! I wanted to take this time to appreciate Brendan S of the Necropraxis blog. I think we all recognize him for the hazard die which has basically swept old-school play, but there are many other ideas Brendan came up with.
- Rationalized Hit Dice: A systematic reevaluation of OD&D-style (d6-only) hit dice, attempting to standardize rates of acquisition for the three main classes. I was originally going to include something like this in the FMC optional rules before deciding it felt too arbitrary; little did I know that Brendan already came up with something like it!
- Backpack Encumbrance: Rather than counting pounds, only keep track of a character's armor type and whether or not they are wearing a backpack. I thought I was clever for generalizing D&D Basic's simple encumbrance from treasure to backpacks, but Brendan beat me to it!
- Ascending AC in OD&D: Isn't it kind of funny that you can read the first row of target numbers for combat as ascending armor class? Hahahaha. He did that already.
- Hit Dice as Attack Bonus: It exists. It's been done. Using the rationalized hit dice above.
What this tells me is that when it comes to optimizing OD&D as an individual system (not including its supplements), there's basically few ways to go and they're all about consolidating disparate subsystems. This is without compromising the unique, particular play style of OD&D compared to its successors in AD&D and D&D Basic. This, to me, leads to an obvious question: does there exist an optimal, modern OD&D? The answer, I think, is also obvious: yes.
I don't want to editorialize FMC since its aim isn't to provide a specific reading or reinterpretation of OD&D, but to confront the reader with the impossibility of an objective reading (and, by extension, how it produces multiple contradictory readings). However, it's so tempting to transform it into a modernization of the ruleset as it was at one point conceived. What might a modernized OD&D need?
- "Rationalized" hit dice, as above.
- Simplified encumbrance, as above.
- Ascending armor class, as above.
- Attack bonuses based on hit dice, as above.
- An interface between individual and mass combat, by abstracting groups of figures into units.
There's probably room for many more changes and optimizations! But I think the above is a start, and also that we have Necropraxis to thank for presenting such a cohesive vision of OD&D that does not bow to its later revisions.
I’m going to run OD&D/FMC this weekend (twice, actually)—probably, if we do another session, I’ll start introducing modernizations like the ones above. Playing it as written is basically a novelty, but I think we will all appreciate QOL improvements for this janky mess of a rulebook!