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Archive for the ‘Dungeons and Dragons Basic’ Category

A discussion of alignments begins this next section. The character the reader has just played (“Halleck” in my case) is described as one of the “good guys” (you took poor Aleena’s dead body back to her church, because it was the right thing to do), while Bargle the Bandit and his goblin minion were characterized as the “bad guys” (they cared for no one but themselves, and were selfish and nasty).

Halleck, because he wants to do the right thing regardless of the situation, is described as being of “Lawful” alignment. He “tries to protect others and defeat monsters”. Aleena was also of Lawful Alignment, which is part of the reason she and Halleck got on so famously. Bargle the Bandit, however was of the opposite, “Chaotic” alignment. He only cared about others insofar as he could exploit them for personal gain. The ten-foot rattlesnake was of “Neutral” Alignment, which meant it was concerned with neither Law nor Chaos. It was dangerous, but not willfully malicious.

The reader is next notified of a second adventure, which begins on page 13, but first, some discussion of the Character Sheet. A character sheet “already filled out” is referenced; it is in the middle of the book, and is printed on a perforated sheet that the reader is encouraged to detach and look at. The only problem is that the sheet is not filled out completely, or correctly. The saving throws seem to be right for a fighter, but the ability scores are different from those listed in this section.

What’s interesting is that this fighter (“Halleck”) and the sample characters listed elsewhere in the book seem to be using an array of scores, consisting of 17, 16, 14, 11, 9, 8. In 4th edition, which makes using an array the standard rule, the array is 16, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10. In the 4th Edition “Essentials” Player books, three arrays are given: 16, 14, 14, 11, 10, 10; 16, 16, 12, 11, 11, 8; or 18, 14, 11, 10, 10, 8. I digress, but, in any case, I would feel comfortable, as a DM, in allowing players to use this “Basic Edition Array” when creating characters, even though the scores are not officially given as such. I might require that the scores be used “as is”, though, and disallow the exchange of ability points (a process explained later).

In the next section, we will learn all about ability score adjustments.

 

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Six member party: Elf, Dwarf, Thief, Magic-User, Halfling, Cleric

Basic Adventuring Party w Color 1.2 (2)

Basic Adventuring Party w Color 1.2 (3)

 

BECMI Party in Color (2)

BECMI Party in Color (3)

BAC2 (2)

BAC2 (3)

 

 

 

 

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Basic D&D includes “Level Titles” for each character class. Players are instructed to use these titles when interacting with each other and NPCs. For example, a third-level dwarf would introduce himself as “Thorin the Dwarven Swordmaster” instead of “Thorin the Level Three Fighter”.

Here are my updated level titles:

CLASS TITLES

Cleric:
Level 1: Deacon
Level 2: ArchDeacon
Level 3: Pastor
Level 4: Priest
Level 5: Elder
Level 6: Bishop
Level 7: Archbishop
Level 8: Cardinal
Level 9 (and after): Patriarch

Dwarf:

Level 1: Delver
Level 2: Dungeoneer
Level 3: Adventurer
Level 4: Minewarden
Level 5: Caveshield
Level 6: Axemaster
Level 7: Dwarf Squire
Level 8: Dwarf Knight
Level 9 (and after): Dwarf Lord
Elf:
Level 1: Mystic Swordsman
Level 2: Magician-at-Arms
Level 3: Leftenant of the Scrolls
Level 4: Captain of the Scrolls
Level 5: Battle Mage
Level 6: Warrior Mage
Level 7: Mage Squire
Level 8: Mage Knight
Level 9 – 10: Mage Lord

Fighter:

Level 1: Sergeant
Level 2: Master Sergeant
Level 3: Leftenant
Level 4: Captain
Level 5: Squire
Level 6: Knight
Level 7: Knight Captain
Level 8: Baronet
Level 9 (and after): Lord

Halfling:
Level 1: Yeoman
Level 2: Franklin
Level 3: Constable
Level 4: Bailiff
Level 5: Reeve
Level 6: Sheriff
Level 7: Gentleman
Level 8: Squire
Magic User:
Level 1: Wizard’s Apprentice
Level 2: Illusionist
Level 3: Enchanter
Level 4: Transmuter
Level 5: Invoker
Level 6: Conjurer
Level 7: Magician
Level 8: Wizard
Level 9 (and after): Archmage

Thief:
Level 1: Apprentice
Level 2: Pickpocket
Level 3: Footpad
Level 4: Burglar
Level 5: Robber
Level 6: Highwayman
Level 7: Thief
Level 8: Master Thief
Level 9 (and after): Prince of Thieves

In the original Basic Game, there are a few titles that do not make sense to me. The cleric, for example, has a list of Christian-derived titles (Vicar, Bishop, etc.), but right between “Bishop” and “Patriarch”, where “Archbishop” is the obvious fit, is the title “Lama”, which is a honorary title in Tibetan Buddhism.

Some of the titles I arranged differently, to try to represent more of a progression. For example, the magic-user would be able to master illusions before learning and mastering enchantments. Once the magic user masters enchanting objects and organisms, he learns to magically change them (transmutation), then begins to learn to magically summon energy forces (evocation), and then summon physical objects (conjuration).

In the Basic Game, Elves have dual titles, representing their ability to simultaneously fill the fighter and magic user roles. So, the elf’s first-level title is “Veteran Medium”, which is a combination of the Fighter’s “Veteran” title and the Magic-User’s “Medium” title. I thought up names that seemed more appropriate. Same with Dwarves and Halflings, who in  Basic D&D share the same titles as the Fighter.

Looking at the list, I’m thinking that it might be better to use the titles “Elf Squire, Elf Knight, and Elf Lord”; maybe just “Elf Lord”. The Halfling’s title of “Squire” might need to be “Halfling Squire” to avoid confusion with the Fighter’s title of the same name. The Halfling Squire I envision as more of the “country gentleman” than “knight’s apprentice”, which is a bit anachronistic, but, hey, it’s D&D.

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Several other bloggers and contributors to role-playing fora have written their thoughts of the Mentzer Basic D&D Rulebooks. Here is one I found the past couple of days, and it’s very interesting.

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First, the front-and-back of the character sheet:

B. Mentzer Character Sheet 1.1

 

Next, the game data reference sheet (from the Basic Player’s Manual):

A. Mentzer Basic PM Reference Sheets

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Halleck and Aleena see a light ahead, and hear someone berating someone else who “sounds like a goblin”. Probably has an ugly, wrinkly, gray voice. Anyway, there’s a back and forth where the goblin swears that he has only seen Halleck and Aleena. Aleena whispers that she knows that guy’s voice, and that it is Bargle the Bandit. It turns out that Bargle is one of those “bad” magic-users. Aleena counsels that going back would be a mistake, because of the ghouls, and that fighting Bargle is the more prudent course, since he only has one goblin with him. She mentions that Bargle probably has the goblin ensorcelled. Bargle is described as a bearded man in a black robe. He casts a spell that makes himself invisible. Before he can make the goblin invisible, too, Halleck and Aleena charge into the room.

Halleck takes on the goblin, while Aleena says she will fight Bargle’s spells with her own. This indicates that she is at least level 3. Clerics in Basic do not get any spells at first level; they get one spell at second level, and two spells at third level.  Aleena already cast one spell, to cure Halleck’s wounds. Regardless, she is fated to die, and she does, after a quick and fierce battle. Bargle casts “Magic Missile”, which conjures a golden arrow that floats in the air. He points at Aleena, it hits her, and she falls down, dead. Halleck kills the goblin. At least, I’m pretty sure he does; there is a sentence saying that if your character’s hit points fall to zero, you won’t be going home. Every time you miss the goblin hits for two points of damage.

Aleena is dead, the goblin is dead, and Halleck is ready to usher Bargle into that same state, when Bargle casts a third spell (Invisibility, Magic Missile, and now Charm Person). The Saving throw is much higher–Halleck needs a 17 or greater to save. There are two endings, based on whether you make the save or not. If Halleck makes the save, he avoids getting magically tricked into being Bargle’s new friend, and he kills him dead, dead, dead (unless, of course, he misses, at which point Bargle screams and runs away). If Halleck fails the save, then he suddenly sees that Bargle is not such a bad guy, really. Bargle was actually helping Halleck and Aleena to fight the goblin, as it turns out. Halleck and Bargle make their escape from the dungeon, Bargle casts a fourth spell (Sleep) and Halleck wakes up some time later.

Whether he is charmed or not, Halleck carries Aleena’s dead body back to town, and delivers it to the church. If he made the Saving Throw against Bargle’s “Charming” spell, then Halleck gets a Potion of Growth, which will make him turn into a giant for a couple of hours. If he didn’t make the Saving Throw, then Halleck gets back to town too late, and the only potion that the church has left is a potion of healing. In either case, the church officials stress the potion’s value, and urge Halleck to save it for a future adventure.

The few paragraphs that follow discuss what the purpose of games are, and the unique nature of the Dungeons & Dragons game. Then, it moves on to “what happens next”.

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Halleck stands with sword in hand, facing down a snake. It’s a ten footer, but it’s got some sweet loot and, uh, 3 hp. See the last post if you don’t know what an “hp” is.

Halleck has to roll an 11 to hit the snake, which means it’s easier to land a blow against it than against the goblin that Halleck fought a few moments before. However, unlike the goblin, the snake can actually hit back. I’ll let you read the gripping blow-by-blow of the battle (What do you mean, you haven’t yet purchased this off dmsguild.com?). I shall mention that the snake auto-hits twice, then hits Halleck no more.

Turning the page, we are given the distressing information that this rattlesnake is actually poisonous! I think they mean venomous! Did you know you could drink a gallon of venom with no ill effect, unless you have a mouth sore, or something? Not that I’ve tried it. Whatever. If the snake bites Halleck, it does one point of damage, but then the concept of the “Saving Throw” is introduced. For a fighter that is level three or below, his saving throw for poisons (or venoms) is 12. The player will want to roll a d20 and hope he gets a result at or above 12. That means that the snake’s bite did not envenom Halleck. If the player rolls less than a 12, then Halleck takes two more points of damage. It’s quite harrowing, but since the poisonous-venomous rattlesnake can only hit twice (“This fighter is Nintendo hard!” ~ P. V. Rattlesnake), the battle ends with Halleck still standing–perhaps only barely, though. He can recover his health with a few days’ rest, but why would he want to do the sensible thing? He’s here for treasure, and P.V. Rattlesnake’s little nest egg will barely cover the cost of replacing Halleck’s beautiful sword when he loses it later to the rust monster. Oops; spoilers.

Now, comes the most unrealistic part of this adventure: Halleck hears a voice, and shutters his lantern and peeks around the corner and sees a beautiful woman. She’s got her own lantern, and she seems to be praying. This is Aleena the cleric. Since she’s beautiful and religious, then I’m sure she’ll survive this adventure. She claims that she lives in the town nearby, so you’d think that Aleena and Halleck were already acquainted, but perhaps she’s lived a sheltered life, all cloistered in the cloister, and stuff. She probably ran through the hills, singing, before entering the cave.

Okay, I’ll stop. Aleena actually helps Halleck out quite a bit. She tells him which way the goblin went, she informs him what clerics are, and she restores his hit points. There is no talk of religion or gods or churches at this point; all we know from Aleena is that clerics can 1. Fight and 2. cast spells that “enter their minds”. She then invites Halleck to sit, and explains the differences between magic-users (not wizards, mages, or sorcerers) and clerics. Magic-users have book-learnin’ while clerics have meditation. She talks about types of attacks, like poison, that require Saving Throws.

We next read of another ability score (for the record, we have already spoken of Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, and Constitution): Charisma (CHA). Halleck is a likeable fellow; he was able to put Aleena at her ease, even after sneaking up on her with his lantern shuttered. His CHA score is 14.

We also learn about his Wisdom (WIS). This is his lowest ability score, at 8. Halleck is probably the kind of guy who would jump out of a plane at 25,000 feet without a parachute:

 

Aleena offers to assist Halleck, just like the beautiful alien women would help Captain Kirk. As soon as Aleena said she would help, Fate looked up from binge-watching “Early Edition” on DailyMotion, and frowned.

Halleck and Aleena, walking side by side, down dark corridors with lanterns half-shuttered. They run across a few ghouls–foul, undead creatures that seem to be a fairly tough monster for a first-level adventurer, especially since there are four of them. Here we get the first mention of a “church”: the symbol of one of the town churches hangs on Aleena’s silver necklace. She shouts, in a harsh voice, “BEGONE, vile things!” I wonder if she pronounces it “beegahn” or “beegohnee”. Whichever it is, it works, and the four ghouls scramble, Three Stooges style, out the door, while Yakety-sax plays on the dungeon intercom. (As an aside, the themes of The Three Stooges are “Three Blind Mice” and “Listen to the Mockingbird“; either of those would have been acceptable alternative tunes). Aleena pauses to let Halleck know of other types of creatures that are “neither dead nor alive, but something horribly in between!”

They proceed, and come across a door, which one sometimes finds in caves. Halleck can’t force it open, which is a pity, because it probably has a lot of sweet swag, according to Aleena. Aleena bemoans the lack of a thief. Halleck gives her the “WTQ?” look, and she explains that thieves can pick locks and disable traps. Well, this is Basic D&D, so they can eventually, but most of the time they won’t be any more effective than Halleck trying to break down the door. Aleena then lets slip that, while she usually tries to go adventuring with some companions–a thief, a magic-user, and a couple of fighters (Five Man Band, what?), this time around no one else wanted to join her. Considering how things are about to turn out, I don’t blame them; don’t blame them, at all.

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