Saturday, March 21, 2009

Blast from the Past: OD&D Fighting Men & Swords

I just reread my little three books and found a few interesting tidbits about fighting men. Their advantages were thus:

- Best HD
- Good XP progression
- Unlimited level advancement
- Second best land development (clerics were best) at high levels
- Ability to use swords.

Originally, all weapons did the same damage. The advantage of swords was that they were the best magical weapon by far. In OD&D, magic blades were ALWAYS unique. Straight +1 or +2 weapons were rare. It was more common to find a +1 vs all, +2 vs. something specific. Additionally, every magic sword had some degree of intelligence (and alignment). This had two effects. First, it made INT important for the fighter. Because the PC's "ego" score was based on STR & INT, if you wanted to be able to use a powerful sword, you needed to have decent intellect. Second, it made it unlikely that a player would accumulate a "stable" of magic weapons. Intelligent weapons tend to dislike rivals so lesser blades would be discarded in favor of a single stronger weapon.

Magic swords also always came with some sort of supernatural power (almost like a magic spell in a can). Magic blades allowed a fighter to keep up with a magic-user at higher levels. Because his blade could detect secret doors, the fighter could put the demihumans in their place. If it had some more potent magical power (as might be common at higher levels), he could stay current with the magic-user, even in exploration-based or problem-solving adventures.

I think its telling that pole arms generated a stable of special abilities in later versions of the game. In order to be a decent choice compared to uber-swords, the polearm needed to have some sort of advantage (double damage vs. charges, for example).

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