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

Friday, September 24, 2010

Does the B/X Fighter need to be "buffed"?

A little while ago a short thread started on Dragonsfoot about adding multiple attacks for fighters as they advance in levels. The thread specifically focused on BECMI but that is close enough to B/X for me to comment.

The thesis put forward in the thread is that the damage output of fighters is dwarfed by spellcasters in later levels and that by adding extra attacks the fighter can keep up.

I don't think this is necessary. One of the reasons why I love B/X is that the by-the-book rules for spellbooks (whether intentionally written this way or not) is that magic-users and elves may only have as many spells in their spellbook as they are able to cast each day. I believe that this limits spellcasters so that such tweaks are unnecessary. Yes, a couple of times per day they may be able do things the fighter can't but the magic-user's limited resources and versatility keeps the fighter very relevant.

What do you think? Do B/X fighters need "buffing"?

10 comments:

  1. Fighters start to feel underpowered vs. magic-users around level 5 when the heavy artillery spells start to appear, but my only real beef is that there are XP bands where a cleric has higher hp and better chances to hit.

    Therefore, I like swapping cleric and fighter XP requirements. That way, fighters always outclass clerics in hand-to-hand combat. If a M-U survives to 5th by-the-book, then all the power to them.

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  2. I haven't really played enough to judge, but I think fighters don't need any 'buffing up'.

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  3. Hey K-Slacker,
    I have heard that before about Swords & Wizardry but never really checked it out. But looking at B/X, I don't see it. Below is a quick table showing the XP required to reach the various cleric levels, the cleric THAC0 and the corresponding level and THAC0 for fighters (sorry if the formatting doesn't turn out). I don't see a point where clerics surpass fighters. I could be missing something - it is getting late on a Friday evening and I am a bottle of red wine later.

    XP..…CLevel..….CTHAC0……Flevel……..FTHAC0
    0………….1………………19………………1……………….19
    1500……..2………………19………………1……………...19
    3000……..3………………19………………2……………...19
    6000……..4………………19………………3……………...19
    12000…….5……………..17………………4……………...17
    25000…….6……………..17………………5……………...17
    50000…….7……………..17………………6……………...17
    100000…..8……………..17………………7……………...14
    200000…..9……………..14………………8……………...14
    300000….10…………….14……………….9……………..14
    400000….11…………….14……………..10……………..12
    500000….12…………….14……………..11……………..12
    600000….13…………….12……………..12……………..12
    700000….14…………….12……………..12……………..12

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  4. My B/X Companion has fighters gaining multiple attacks, though not till 15th level...based on my reading of the B/X books that was "supposed to happen."

    At any level below 15? No. No buffing needed. Fighters are plenty hard, and generally the "last guy standing" in any party.

    (and by the by...when I was a kid and played B/X prior to switching to AD&D, we DID have a fighter greater than 14th level that had NO multiple attacks...and she was still plenty hard and always the last "man" standing!)

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  5. Booosted? Definitely. AD&D did a decent job by implementing the 1d10 hit die, adding extra attacks, and allowing fighters to derive more benefit from high Strength and Constitution than other classes.

    Regarding the "by the book rules for spellbooks": I suppose if you really want to run it that way, nobody can stop you, but I think it's a clear case of adhering to the letter of the rules rather than their spirit, since context (every version of the game before and since) makes it clear that this is a simple misinterpretation. I'd never make run a M-U in a game with that rule in effect, because I'd obviously be getting screwed.

    No, I think it's almost always better to improve weak classes that "nerf" strong ones. I'd do two things:

    1. Allow the d10 hit die for fighters (and the d6 for thieves, but that's a whole other post).

    2. Allow multiple attacks as per AD&D.

    That ought to do it. It seems like a lot, but spells are not to be underestimated. They're a big, big deal, expecially in a system where none of them have long casting times that make them hard to use in combat, expensive/rare components, or serious drawbacks (B/X vs. AD&D Haste).

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  6. I do think figters get hosed, especially if you add any other fighter-type classes to your game. Adding a few light rules that make figters cool can help. I let fighters, and only fighters, wield two-handed weapons with an increase in damage die by one. Give them the shield splintered rule too (or something like it) and things look pretty good with only minor tweaks.

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  7. One thing that nobody mentions regarding fighters in B/X is survivability! Yes, the magic-user has tremendous damage output (even if it is limited use) around 5th level, but magic-users are hosed for armor and have very few hit points. The magic-user in my last AD&D campaign died because he was in the rear and the party was surprised from behind... it took only two blows from a minotaur to kill him. Aside from combat, many hazards and traps that have the potential to damage the entire party will endanger the M-U, who only has about half the hit points of the fighter.

    One thing I did in my last D&D campaign was to give fighters a limited form of Weapon Mastery. (I curbed some of the benefits and damage increases, as I think they get way out of line, but that's another story)

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  8. Now that it is no longer Friday night, let's look at the other half of the cleric vs fighter King of the Ring… hit points.

    XP..…CLevel..….CAvgHP……Flevel……..FAvgHP
    0………….1………………3.5…..………1……………….4.5
    1500……..2………………7………………1………………4.5
    3000……..3………………10.5……………2……………9
    6000……..4………………14………………3………………13.5
    12000…….5……………..17.5……………4………………18
    25000…….6……………..21………………5………………22.5
    50000…….7……………..24.5……………6………………27
    100000…..8……………..28………………7………………31.5
    200000…..9……………..31.5……………8………………36
    300000….10…………….35……………….9……………..40.5
    400000….11…………….38.5…………..10……………..45
    500000….12…………….42……………..11……………..49.5
    600000….13…………….45.5…………..12……………..54
    700000….14…………….49……………..12……………..54

    So yes, from a hit point perspective the Cleric does intermittently surpass Fighters at low (from 1,500 to 12,000) experience point levels. However, I don't think the discrepancy is enough to tip the scales too far in the Clerics favour as the discrepancy only lasts for a short time and they have a lower average damage output and are still without the ability to use magic swords. And as I have seen the first sets of magic armour usually go to the fighter - partly out of necessity of their lower hit points it appears.

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  9. An couple of ideas/houserules I was considering for a C&C campaignwas to give Fighters, Knights, Paladins and Barbarians (so in B/X fighters) +2 AC when using a shield. Fighter got an additional +1 to AC in melee because fighting is their specialty.

    But looking at the charts in the comments above, my first reaction is to smooth out their THAC0 progression. So THAC0 would go 19,19,18,17,16,15,14,14,13,12,12,11,10,10,9 etc.

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  10. I'd vote no buffing necessary. Remember that fighters have much better defences (AC + hit points) than magic-users. No matter how much spell damage the MU can cause, he won't survive many hits, slogging into melee, or being a sniper's target.

    Remember modules where the bad guy's tactics start off with something like, "he picks off obvious spell-casters first"? Aiming for the wizard is a solid strategy: he's potentially the most dangerous target, but also the easiest to hit. Fighters have more staying power, which I think is more valuable than being able to deliver the same amount of damage per round as the MU.

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