"Black Dougal gasps 'Poison!' and falls to the floor. He looks dead."

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Why B/X Is My Favorite #4

4. Race = Class and meaningful level limitations

I love the B/X race as class. To tie this to my last Why B/X is My Favorite post, to me race as class represents the purest form of the archetype system. It make races special. Playing an elf, dwarf or halfling should be more than playing a human with a special ability.

While this is also linked to a future post about:
8. A tight power scale with a max of 14th level.
I find that the lower level limits of demi-humans and the attribute requirements (assuming one is doing 3d6 in order) has the desired effect of keeping demi-humans rarer than humans. I prefer campaigns that are human dominated.

The first 3 books of OD&D play the same as B/X by default as the demi-human races were restricted to a single class - except for elves which are completely different.

While Mentzer's BECM also has race as class, it was very watered down by the expanded range of levels (1-36) and the expanded combat capabilities.

The separate race and classes of other editions just can't compare to me.

8 comments:

  1. I think Race = Class might be more palatable if the races got a bit more peculiar abilities.

    For instance, Elves should get their own unique spell list. Dwarves could get some minor powers at higher levels associated with mining and caving (like the detect slopes ability). Halflings could get something nifty too.

    I think the gazetteers did some of this that I liked, but it would have been nice to see this earlier.

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  2. One nagging problem I've noted, though, is that since most games don't extend to high levels, it's almost always better to play an elf than a magic-user and better to play a dwarf than a fighter.

    This is especially true if you cap players at 14th level, since I'd still play a 10th level elf over a 14th level M-U any day.

    If anything, this tells me that levels higher than 14 can be a good idea. If the M-U in my above example is 20th level or higher with still more room to grow instead of 14th and maxed, that makes him a viable choice compared to the elf.

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  3. "Elves should get their own unique spell list"
    I don't necessarily disagree with this. I am not a huge fan of the Gaz's but I frequently do use the druid spell list from OD&D for elves. I also think their should be some magic items usable only by magic-users and some only usable by elves.

    Dwarves and Halflings already get special stuff. Especially the halflings - their hiding ability is pretty twinked to start with.


    "This is especially true if you cap players at 14th level, since I'd still play a 10th level elf over a 14th level M-U any day."

    From a munch-kin perspective, I can see that. But I would rather play the M-U vs the elf. Not only do I get 6th level spells but I can cast fireball 37% sooner. That and I don't like elves.

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  4. "From a munch-kin perspective, I can see that. But I would rather play the M-U vs the elf. Not only do I get 6th level spells but I can cast fireball 37% sooner. That and I don't like elves."

    Yes, but a dedicated anti-
    Munchkin" can have fun playing the 0-level linkboy all campaign. :)

    Overall, I just don't think any one class should be that much better than another. I love B/X, but the demihuman superiority issue is a real problem.

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  5. I just don't think they are that superior. Now I agree that a 5th level elf vs a 5th level fighter or 5th level magic-user is more powerful. But, I believe an elf with 20,000 XP isn't really any better than a Fighter or magic-user with 20,000 XP.

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  6. Another thing I would like to add is that I am a big believer that NPCs and Monsters do not follow the same rules as PCs. The Queen of the Elves would be dread and alien - powerful and scary. Not that she would be a 10th level Wizard/Lord - she would be something else, something more...

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  7. I like the 1974 level limits:

    dwarves: 6th
    elves: 4th/8th
    hobbits: 4th

    That makes the level limits seriously meaningful.

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  8. Um...according to the Cook rules, non-demi-humans still go to level 36, even if you're not using the Mentzer rules. I moved to AD&D long before Mentzer's BECMI got published, but before THAT, we still had players above 14th level in the old B/X system.

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