the Random Wizard's Top 10 Troll Questions

I’ve not usually a big fan of blog-propagated questionnaires, but this one looked good, because it will force me to articulate a few of my thoughts on my D&D game. These are Random Wizard’s Top 10 Troll Questions. I already posted answers to the 20 Quick Questions on Rules that he mentions, for my D&D game. My answers to the 20 Quick Questions are in the game’s GitHub repo.

1. Race (Elf, Dwarf, Halfling) as a class? Yes or no?

Yes. I like the idea of matching classes up with monster manual entries. I have a Fighter class for now, but will probably break it up to Bandit and Soldier, eventually, to match my game’s monster manual. So, I match elf or dwarf up with the monster manual entry. Goblins, in my manual, break down into a number of very distinct groups. If someone was to play a goblin, I’d make a per-group class, or at least have rules for specialization within the goblin class, the same way I customize clerics per-church.

2. Do demi-humans have souls?

The nature of the personal life force of a sentient creature is sort of blurry in my game, but the rough answer is, “Yes, but some demi-humans have different kinds of souls.” Elves are often unable to interact with the technology of the ancient empire, for example, because it doesn’t consider them to be alive at all.

3. Ascending or descending armor class?

Descending. I really like using THAC0, I find it very easy to do the math in my head. In fact, everyone I’ve played with does, once I get them to stop reacting violently to “this stupid thing I hate from 2E” and see how simple the rule is.

4. Demi-human level limits?

Probably, it hasn’t come up. In fact, human level limits, too. I don’t see anybody PC breaking past level 12-14 in my game, ever.

5. Should Thief be a class?

Yes. Actually, a few classes. When I get around to it, I want to break Thief into Assassin, Burglar, and Dungeoneer. Or, the other way to put this is: I do like the idea of classes for skill-based archetypes, but I think that Thief, as written, is not a very good such class. I’m not sure who it best represents in the fiction? With its d4 hit dice, it’s neither the Grey Mouser nor Conan, both of whom would otherwise be decent candidates.

6. Do characters get non-weapon skills?

Kinda. I should really codify it. Basically, I assume that characters are good at the stuff related their archetype. (This is part of why I like more specialized classes than “Fighter.”) If the player wants to declare that his or her character has an unusual skill for some reason, I’ll allow it at least a few times.

I don’t like skill lists.

7. Are magic-users more powerful than fighters (and, if yes, what level do they take the lead)?

We’re using pretty basic fighter and magic-user classes, most of the time. Even the tweaks I’d like to make won’t change the balance much I think. So, at low levels, the fighters are more powerful. So far, we haven’t seen any magic-user survive long enough to overtake the fighters.

I’ve been slowly tweaking the rules to try to change the balance just a little.

8. Do you use alignment languages?


I have publicly stated my bafflement by alignment languages before, and although I was glad to get a pretty clear answer as to why they existed, I didn’t think they were really justified. When different cults have secret languages, they’re just secret languages.

9. XP for gold, or XP for objectives (thieves disarming traps, etc…)?

Yeah, sure, XP for all kinds of stuff. Gold, monsters, traps, fast-talking, whatever. I wrote about gold as experience before.

10. Which is the best edition?


Right now, I use the Moldvay Basic Set as the go-to reference, with plenty of stuff from Cook’s Expert Set. I’d like to read Holmes, as I have read good things, and it looks like at least I should steal some of its rules for stuff, but I don’t have a copy. I stole some of the psionics rules from 2E, and 1E has tons of tables and stuff to steal. I’m hacking in something like Action Points when I backport my 4E campaign to Basic. They’re all fun, but I think Moldvay is a great framework from which to start hacking, and that’s what I’ve done.

Bonus Question: Unified XP level tables or individual XP level tables for each class?

Individual tables. I really like unified XP, in theory, because it can make multiclassing a lot simpler. In practice, I’ve never really liked how it works.

Written on August 2, 2013
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