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In the Year of Our Lord, 1066, Uther Pendragon, Duke of Normandy, sailed his army across the English Channel and defeated King Vortigern at the Battle of Hastings.  He moved quickly to consolidate his rule over the island, which lasted from A.D. 1066 until his death in A.D. 1215.  In that year, the boy Arthur, foster son of Sir Ector of the Castle of the Forest Sauvage, was revealed to be Uther’s son and heir by pulling the sword Excalibur from the stone.  Although he had the backing of Merlin, and the miracle to substantiate his claim to the throne, Arthur was immediately beset by rebellion, led by King Lot of Orkney.  With war brought the usual scavengers of civilization; monsters who seized the opportunity to pillage and wreak havoc on a defenseless people.  Arthur, guided by Merlin, re-established the national Adventurers’ Guild that his father had previously abolished.  A royal stipend was given to the Guild to train up new heroes to fight the darkness which had spread over the land.

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BECMI #8

Having learned the ins and outs of money management, we move on to Experience, and to the “grimacing with tongue sticking out” emoji.

Experience points are a numerical representation of a character’s personal growth and learning. Halleck, by killing a goblin and a snake, and by collecting treasure, is a better, more well-rounded person than he was before doing those things. He is 230 points better, in fact; 200 points for collecting treasure (one point for each gold coin equivalent), and 30 points total for killing the snake and the goblin. When (and if!) Halleck manages to accrue 2,000 experience points, then he moves up in rank, from Level 1 to Level 2. He will get more hit points (which are a numerical representation of his ability to continue fighting), and sometimes his Saving Throws will improve. He can also become better at hitting things with things. Since Halleck is a human, then he has the potential to reach as high as 36th level!

Dice are discussed on the bottom half o’ the page. This ain’t Monopoly! D&D has more than the usual six-sided dice. There are also four, eight, ten, twelve, and twenty-sided dice that will be used. The reader is instructed to “get to know them well”. Meet their parents; that sort of thing.

Ten-sided dice can be used to make a “percentage roll”. Pro Tip: Thieves will be the class that uses percentage rolls early and often. Roll the ten-sided die (abbreviated 1d10, or simply d10) twice. The first roll determines the “tens place”, and the second roll the “ones place”. Rolling two zeros means you rolled a “100”.

If you roll a seven or an eleven on the “come out” roll, and you had placed a bet on the “Pass Line”, then you win. If you roll a two, three, or twelve, however…Oh, sorry. Wrong game.

The next section is Halleck’s second solo adventure. I took a peek ahead, and I think it should prove quite exciting.

BECMI #7

 

The little paragraph says that we are done with “the hardest part” of studying the  character sheet. It warns, as well, to be very careful when reading about money and experience.

“Turn the Sheet Over”

I suppose I should add an image of a character sheet, to facilitate this discussion:

B. Mentzer Character Sheet 1.1

 

CharsheetCharsheet2

If you look at the back, you can see a section labelled “Equipment Carried”, which is divided into two sections, labelled “Magic Items”, and “Normal Items”, respectively. I will let you guess what each section is for. In the book, it says to write “Potion of Healing” in the “Magic Items” box, and advises that the upcoming adventure assumes Ending #1 (Halleck failed his saving throw). There is a list of items to write down in the “Normal Items” box; the low down dirty skunk, Bargle, stole some of Halleck’s gear, but, fortunately, and despite being “poor, but famous”, Halleck had the wherewithal to have a spare set of adventuring equipment. Huzzah!

The section below “Equipment Carried” is “Other Notes”. This is where you put your other notes. Notes like, “Caves near town; met Bargle, Chaotic Magic-User”. Just so you, you know, don’t forget about this guy.

Below “Other Notes” is where the good stuff goes: Money.

There are five types of coins: Copper, Silver, Electrum, Gold, and Platinum. The low-down, dirty cur Bargle stole most of Halleck’s money, but our intrepid hero managed to keep some of it, 200 gp’s (“Gold Pieces”) worth, to be exact. It’s not all in gold coins,  however; Halleck has some gold coins, but also has a few platinum pieces, electrum (a gold-silver alloy), silver, copper, and a valuable gem. He’s loaded with booty. There is a conversion rate: 1 Platinum Piece is worth 5 gold pieces. 1 Gold Piece is worth 2 Electrum pieces, or 10 silver pieces, or 100 copper pieces.

It is advised that, when collecting treasure after an adventure, take the most valuable coinage first, then fill up the rest of the sack with the coins of lesser value. As an aside, according to Matthew Colville, one of the elements of the game was finding a treasure hoard worth many thousands of gold pieces–but all in copper coins. This would challenge the players to figure out how to manage the logistics of retrieving the treasure and transporting it back to town. Great fun, huh?

 

 

BECMI #6

So, Saving Throws get a brief three paragraphs. Halleck already encountered two situations in which he had to make saving throws–once, against the snake (a Poison saving throw) and once against the low-down dirty dog Bargle (a Saving Throw vs. Spells). The player checks his character’s saving throw chart, finds the target number for the type of throw, and rolls a d20. The goal is a number equal to or greater than the number on the chart.

As an aside, if you look up discussions about Moldvay B/X rules versus Mentzer BECMI Rules, you might see the argument that Moldvay is better for reference, while Mentzer is better for learning how to play the game. Well, that isn’t quite true, when the subject concerns saving throw tables. In Moldvay, one must search through the rules to find the chart that lists every class’ saving throw chart. Mentzer, however, gives the various class saving throw charts in the class description section. Much easier to reference.

In any case, the easiest saving throws (lowest target numbers) are for Death Ray/Poison, while the hardest saving throws are made against Spells, Rods, Staves, and Wands.

As a second aside, if you ever watch the excellent videos by Matt Colville, called “Making a Fighter in Every Edition of D&D” (he has completed up to 2nd edition, so far), you will hear him discuss how the only thing special about the “Dwarf Class” is the dwarf’s ability to detect sloping passages, new construction, etc., while in a dungeon environment, and how pretty much useless this special ability is. He even goes so far as to search through the TSR published adventure modules to see if they put any sloping passages in them for dwarves to detect. The Temple of Elemental Evil was the only one that he could find.

However, there is another reason to play a dwarf, and that is the excellent saving throws, which are better than any other class, except Halfling, which has the same Saving Throw numbers as the Dwarf.

That’s pretty much it, for Saving Throws.

The next few paragraphs describe how Halleck, as a fighter, does not have any special abilities. He just fights really well.

The section after that mentions the Combat Chart that is on the Character Sheet, which will be used in group games, but will not be needed for the second solo adventure, which is coming up.

Becmi #5

Ability Score Adjustments. So, Ability Scores range from a low of three to a high of eighteen. For low or high scores, there are adjustments that must be made to simulate the character’s interaction with the world. A score of nine to twelve is considered within the normal range of most folk’s abilities. If a character’s score is higher than this normal range, then he gets a bonus to certain die rolls, and if the score is lower than normal, he suffers a penalty to his rolls.

STRENGTH: this ability determines how successful attacks are, and affect the damage inflicted by successful attacks. It doesn’t specify, here, but the Strength ability applies to melee, not ranged, attacks. Strength also affects the character’s attempts to open stuck doors and/or lifting huge rocks. Halleck’s Strength score of 17 gives him a 2 point bonus to his attack rolls, damage rolls, and to the various muscular-based activities he attempts. The show-off.

INTELLIGENCE: this ability’s sphere of activity isn’t described, excepting for the use of languages. Halleck’s score of “9” is considered average, and as a result he knows two languages: Commonese, and his alignment language of Lawish. Characters don’t use their alignment language, unless they have to, it says, which means they will never, ever use their alignment language.

WISDOM: this ability score affects certain saving throws, and apparently does nothing else (I jest; clerics’ spellcasting depends on the wisdom score, but that is not revealed in this section of the rules). Halleck’s wisdom score is 8, which means that he will suffer a one point penalty when an enemy casts a magic spell against him. Aleena had a bonus to her saving throws against magic, which, unfortunately, did not prevent her from being killed by a magic spell, ironically enough. As an aside, it is,mentioned here that Aleena’s low Strength score incurred a one point penalty to her attack rolls. I had assumed that the sample cleric that is listed in the middle of this booklet was supposed to represent Aleena’s ability scores, but this cleric has a Strength score of “9”, which is “average”, and suffers no penalty.

DEXTERITY: this ability score affects the use of missile weapons (a.k.a. ranged attacks), and how quickly the character acts compared to enemies. Halleck’s is “average” (it is listed on the previous page that Halleck’s Dexterity score goes to eleven).

CONSTITUTION: this ability score determines hit points. Halleck’s is high (a score of 16), and grants him a two,point bonus to his hit points (8 hit points rather than 6). A lower score might mean fewerr hit points.

CHARISMA: this ability score affects the character’s interaction with other characters. Halleck’s score of 14 gives him a one point bonus when he meets and converses with others.

Next topic: Saving Throws

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