Saturday, February 28, 2009

Interesting notes from OD&D

Tiers of Play

OD&D had three tiers of play. Levels 1-4 were for Veteran fighters. Levels 5-8 were for Heroes. And level 9-12 were Superheroes (or "name" levels).


I was perusing my OD&D PDFs last night and found an interesting rule buried in the naval combat section. A character's Command Radius is based on their CHA. If an allied NPC is within the command radius, they have a 4/6 chance each round to understand and follow a command.

This is obviously a holdover from wargaming, which often models supply, C2, etc. But I think it has merit.

Say we stick with OD&D-style modifiers for stats (ranging from -3 to +3). A character's effective command radius is 4 +/- CHA modifier paces, furlongs, or leagues. The time it takes to give a command is based on the scale, as is the type of unit commanded. The number of units commanded is equal to 4 +/- CHA modifier.

Orders given within the command radius have a 4/6 chance of success. Orders beyond that have a 2/6 chance of success, or nil if circumstances prohibit communication.

VETERAN: Paces (individuals) / round
HEROES: Furlongs (platoons) / turn
SUPERHEROES: Leagues (companies) / hour

So, a low level character can effectively give orders to several other individuals within 4 or so paces (hexes, squares, etc). As he grows in power, he gives orders to larger groups (perhaps a troop of horse, a phalanx of pikemen, etc) spread out over a sector of the battlefield. And at the highest levels of experience, he is commanding an entire battalion spread out over many miles. For example, a SUPERHERO with good CHA would have strong C2 over a 5 league radius; so he can sit in his castle and send his patrol of heavy horse to go patrol 15 miles in every radius. If they stray further then they might not get his orders in a timely manner.

If he has urgent orders then he could attempt to distort scale as I have previously discussed, perhaps with several Command Checks of some sort (liberal arts based perhaps?) each lasting a Turn instead of an Hour.

A more appropriate scale might be:
VETERAN: Paces (individuals) / rounds
VETERAN: Furlongs (squads) / turns
HEROES: Leagues (platoons) / hours
SUPERHEROES: Marathons (companies) / days

That would have superheroes being truely significant nobles with a regional interest; our above example would feature a ruler that has effective C2 over forces ranging over a 120 mile radius area, which would be many campaign squares.

Also note that by giving a chance of failure to understand orders we help to preserve the economy of actions.

Easy, Medium, and Hard Checks

The Cleric in OD&D can Turn Undead. The type of undead turned is dependent on a 2d6 roll. Target Numbers are always 7, 9, and 11. Interestingly, this gives "easy" (7 -- 58%), "moderate" (9 -- 29%) and "hard" (11 - 8%) checks. Its easy to remember on the fly, and a =1 bonus here adjusts the odds to the following: Easy 58% --> 72% (14% change), Moderate 29% --> 42% (13% change), and Hard 8% --> 17% (9% change). This is different from a D20, where a +1 to the roll would give a flat +5% to all odds.


DL said...

hrm... when I first started reading this, I thought "needless complication," but I am especially intrigued by the larger scale applicability.

Though, I must say I disagree with your assertion that it preserves "action economy." 2/3 chance to get an extra action > 0 chance, but it does help to reduce the 'swat team' feel.

Depending on how you make the troops misunderstand orders, 4/6 might be a harsh failure rate.

Vedron said...

Well, if giving an order requires your action for the round... Then it makes sense to give orders if (A) your henchmen is in a better position than you are, (B) you don't want to be on the front line, or (C) you have 2-3 henchmen in the fight.

Vedron said...

I think you'd need a simple table for "lack of orders," or maybe just force a morale check with a significant bonus (you don't want troops to rout due to lack of orders, but it is reasonable for them to fall back fighting!).

Or just say they stand in place and defend themselves.