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D&D General Rulings, not Rules: How Will You Solve the Bard / Half Elf Dilemma?

How would you rule on the AD&D (1e) Bard / Half-Elf Conundrum

  • 1. Ban bards. With extreme prejudice.

    Votes: 8 11.1%
  • 2. Characters are not multiclass nor dual class, but "pre-bard" until they become a bard.

    Votes: 13 18.1%
  • 3. Both humans and half-elves follow the rules for dual-classing until they become bards.

    Votes: 12 16.7%
  • 4. Half-elves may multiclass (Fighter/Thief) into bard.

    Votes: 21 29.2%
  • 5. Use a custom/Dragon/3PP Bard class that doesn't have the fighter/thief prerequisite.

    Votes: 11 15.3%
  • 6. Other- I will explain my own awesome ruling in the comments. JUST WAIT FOR IT!

    Votes: 7 9.7%

  • Total voters
    72
  • Poll closed .

Mannahnin

Adventurer
I'm voting 6, simply because, were I to actually be confronted with this puzzle, I would probably unravel it thus:

Bard does indeed create a sort of 'rule of its own'. You are not a 'pre-bard', BUT you can, as either a human or half-elf, dual class, starting as a fighter, and if you both meet the prerequisites to be a bard, and switch to thief within the allotted level range, then you can continue as a thief, without meeting the standard dual classing requirements. You can then switch to Bard within the designated level range window indicated. IF you were to NOT switch to Bard, you would simply stop leveling, unless you met the normal dual class requirements (IE you better be human for starters) since such progress has no rule making it legal.

Once you switch to Bard, there's no more questions to answer, you made it to Bard, you stay a Bard. If, during your advancement, you were to lose the qualifications to become a bard, then again you would still be able to advance in your current class or do whatever, assuming such was legal for other reasons (the dual class rules, etc.). If not, then you would simply stop advancing at all, until you could come back into compliance.

All of the above I would consider to be the 'baseline' from which any additional rulings might be made on a situational basis. That is, the DM is always free to change the rules, and might do so in return for free beer, good quality pizza delivered frequently, or other unspecified considerations.
This is how I would rule/resolve the conumdrum of "how do PH Bards work in 1E".

That being said, I think the revised, cleaned up Bard from Dragon 56's "Singing a New Tune" is a better alternative.

While I'm at it, I also note that the Sage Advice column in this issue, immediately following that article, is entirely devoted to questions about PH Bards. It doesn't really resolve this thread's question, though.
 

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This is how I would rule/resolve the conumdrum of "how do PH Bards work in 1E".

That being said, I think the revised, cleaned up Bard from Dragon 56's "Singing a New Tune" is a better alternative.

While I'm at it, I also note that the Sage Advice column in this issue, immediately following that article, is entirely devoted to questions about PH Bards. It doesn't really resolve this thread's question, though.
Yeah, you could do that, or use the 2e bard, etc. I don't think there's one best solution. I'm kind of assuming that a player, in a 1e game using mostly core 1e rules, comes to me and says she's going to play a bard (and has the stats required for the class). Anyway, some of the choices come later, and you really don't even need to decide anything until the PC reaches level 7 fighter.

And honestly, we only took PC side rules as guidelines to what was 'undoubtedly possible' in an ordinary sense. A lot of characters got weird things happening to them, reincarnation, one character got a hand cut off and a magical sword grafted on (with special powers), and on and on. Curses, haha. But also sometimes weird advantages and such that are not really something the rules can handle. So, by name level I'd think a good fraction of characters were no longer entirely described by the rules in terms of what their class/race/level/features were exactly.

Nowadays you might just have the PC take some feat or whatever, or MC into another class, or something. Back then we just did 'whatever', nobody cared about 'following the rules' anyway, not really.
 



Orius

Adventurer
I goofed up my analysis, I forgot that AD&D's dual-classing started over at first level. I had it mixed up with 3e style multiclassing.
 



Shroompunk Warlord

Archdruid of the Warp Zones
Upon reviewing my copy of the Player's Handbook, I appear to be mistaken-- which is odd, because I remember the argument with my first DM very clearly whereupon he insisted that just because it was printed in the book, in black and white, didn't mean we were using it.

Which is odd, that conversation didn't come up when my first PC was blatantly illegal by-the-book.

I'm sorry. And a little disconcerted.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Upon reviewing my copy of the Player's Handbook, I appear to be mistaken-- which is odd, because I remember the argument with my first DM very clearly whereupon he insisted that just because it was printed in the book, in black and white, didn't mean we were using it.

Which is odd, that conversation didn't come up when my first PC was blatantly illegal by-the-book.

I'm sorry. And a little disconcerted.

Don't worry. You're probably confusing it with the other rule:

Every month, all characters must make a human sacrifice of one (1) Bard.

It's the only way to keep the numbers down.
 

Mannahnin

Adventurer
Upon reviewing my copy of the Player's Handbook, I appear to be mistaken-- which is odd, because I remember the argument with my first DM very clearly whereupon he insisted that just because it was printed in the book, in black and white, didn't mean we were using it.

Which is odd, that conversation didn't come up when my first PC was blatantly illegal by-the-book.

I'm sorry. And a little disconcerted.
I seem to remember a requirement to be True Neutral in AD&D. I was actually curious about the human sacrifice part. :)
 

NotAYakk

Legend
As a general D&D problem, you simply use bards for comic relief.

As for half-elves and the other half-races, rather than making them about interbreeding per se, I like making the half-races "a wizard did it".

In particular, my current default is that an ancient empire made a deal with Devils, and the noble class became Tieflings as a result. They proceeded to do biomancy and generated half-elves, half-orc, muls, and other "hybrid" races as specialized labor.

This being ages after the fall of the empire, the biomancied races still exist. Elves and humans with no half-elf blood are unlikely to produce offspring, but half-elves who breed with elves and humans can produce half or full blooded (in appearance) children; those children may also carry the cross-species fertility ability.
 

Shroompunk Warlord

Archdruid of the Warp Zones
I seem to remember a requirement to be True Neutral in AD&D. I was actually curious about the human sacrifice part. :)

Yeah, the strict True Neutral requirement was present in 1e and 2e. I could have sworn that the human sacrifice bit was part of the Druid's class description in the 1e PHB, for the last thirty years. specifically because I thought it was a rule that I specifically needed to ignore and I was specifically glad that it had been "removed" in 2e.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest
Yeah, the strict True Neutral requirement was present in 1e and 2e. I could have sworn that the human sacrifice bit was part of the Druid's class description in the 1e PHB, for the last thirty years. specifically because I thought it was a rule that I specifically needed to ignore and I was specifically glad that it had been "removed" in 2e.
The only thing I've been able to find is an article in Strategic Review (#6 or Vol2 #1) called "The Meaning of Law and Chaos in Dungeons and Dragons". It got reprinted in a Best of the Dragon and so might be your source.
Gygax said:
"Druids serve only themselves and nature, they occasionally make human sacrifice, but on the other hand they aid the folk in agriculture and animal husbandry. Druids are, therefore, neutral - although slightly predisposed towards evil actions."
This was when druids appeared on the monster list of the original Greyhawk supplement and long before they were PCs.
 


Gilladian

Adventurer
Yeah, well, there are a lot of rules we made up or ignored at various times, including level limits and other racial restrictions (notably a lot of that made it into 2e). I think its also a good idea to just go with the 2e bard, since we have it. It really is NOT a bad class design. Kinda fun, does most of what the 1e bard did, just at the correct level scale.

Anyway, one thing is for sure. Bards were stupid overpowered. I think exactly ONE character in all our play EVER actually made it to Bard, but since you start at the base of an XP curve and get new hit dice, you will have a STUPID number of hit points. I remember that character ended up with like 168 HP (I think it must have had a big CON bonus, her stats were utterly ridiculous). Nobody else ever actually made it to bard, though a couple tried.
Theyson had 5 18’s and a 17 for stats (in charisma, I think) and was, as mentiond, a demi-god. Boy, was he fun to play, tho! (Hi, Tod!)
 

Mannahnin

Adventurer
The only thing I've been able to find is an article in Strategic Review (#6 or Vol2 #1) called "The Meaning of Law and Chaos in Dungeons and Dragons". It got reprinted in a Best of the Dragon and so might be your source.

Gygax said:
"Druids serve only themselves and nature, they occasionally make human sacrifice, but on the other hand they aid the folk in agriculture and animal husbandry. Druids are, therefore, neutral - although slightly predisposed towards evil actions."

This was when druids appeared on the monster list of the original Greyhawk supplement and long before they were PCs.
Nice find. Gygax no doubt basing that on Roman accounts that the ancient Celts did some human sacrifices of convicted criminals and possibly others (like the Lindow Man).
 

I seem to remember a requirement to be True Neutral in AD&D. I was actually curious about the human sacrifice part. :)
"The druid is a sub-class of clerics. They are the only absolute neutrals (see
ALIGNMENT), viewing good and evil, law and chaos, as balancing forces
of nature which are necessary for the continuation of all things."
--1e PHB p20 at the start of the section "The Druid"

I would consider that a stricture requiring the True Neutral alignment from Druids. Noting that the MM generally lists animals and such with Alignment: Neutral. PHB appendix III simply labels the center of the chart 'Neutral' but it does not include any associated text. However the Alignment CHAPTER describes 'True Neutral' and doesn't mention any other sort of 'Neutral'. I think it is pretty safe to assume that 'Neutral' is not a PC alignment, just a placeholder that means something similar to what 'Unaligned' means in later editions. This seems pretty consistent and it is hard to argue that Druids are not restricted to True Neutral, at least without some other source which contradicts this. Depending on how you read the alignment chapter, Druids may be able to move along either axis of neutrality. There is no specific "if you change alignment you lose your powers" kind of text, so it is a bit up to the DM/players as to how they see this. In that sense it might be possible to BECOME a druid of a different alignment, though it is probably going to be costly and the PHB seems to indicate you can only move on one axis, ever.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Depending on how you read the alignment chapter, Druids may be able to move along either axis of neutrality. There is no specific "if you change alignment you lose your powers" kind of text, so it is a bit up to the DM/players as to how they see this. In that sense it might be possible to BECOME a druid of a different alignment, though it is probably going to be costly and the PHB seems to indicate you can only move on one axis, ever.

FYI-

Dragon 53, Sage Advice (This is the Q & A I've been thinking of expanding to a larger article, and it happens to be on point):

Q. Can a human fighter split class into a monk if he has the required abilities?

A. Even though the answer to this question can easily be found in the AD&D rules, it gives the sage an opportunity to emphasize some points which a lot of players and DMs seem to have misinterpreted. Assuming that “split class” means “become multi-classed,” the answer is NO. Humans cannot be multiclassed characters, period. And, since only humans can become monks, no character can be a multi-classed monk. If “split class” instead means “become a character with two classes,” the answer is a qualified yes. Nothing in the rule books specifically prohibits a character from taking up the monk class as a second class, or temporarily abandoning monkish pursuits to gain experience in a new class. However, a monk (or would-be monk) who travels this path would effectively forsake all chance of advancement to the higher levels of the monk class — and it should probably be stipulated that no upper-level monk (8th or higher) can decide to stop being a monk and take up a new class in any event, because an unlawful act of that sort would seriously harm the monkish organizational structure. The Players Handbook says that “nearly any combination of classes” is possible, but points out that alignment restrictions will make some switches impossible without being disqualified from the former class; for instance, a monk (must be lawful) can never decide to study as a druid (must be true neutral) without changing alignment and losing his right to be a monk, or vice versa.
 

Theyson had 5 18’s and a 17 for stats (in charisma, I think) and was, as mentiond, a demi-god. Boy, was he fun to play, tho! (Hi, Tod!)
Hi Sis. :) All I remember is that when I ran G2 for you all Thayson simply JUMPED OFF THE CLIFF because 10d6 or so of damage wasn't worth even worrying about! The rest of the party was around 11th level or so IIRC and some of them had maybe 40HP or less. That character was definitely a monstrosity, rules-wise.

Not quite as crazy as Mike Pockette's Monty Haul game PCs though that were 25th level and had every artifact you can imagine.
 

FYI-

Dragon 53, Sage Advice (This is the Q & A I've been thinking of expanding to a larger article, and it happens to be on point):

Q. Can a human fighter split class into a monk if he has the required abilities?

A. Even though the answer to this question can easily be found in the AD&D rules, it gives the sage an opportunity to emphasize some points which a lot of players and DMs seem to have misinterpreted. Assuming that “split class” means “become multi-classed,” the answer is NO. Humans cannot be multiclassed characters, period. And, since only humans can become monks, no character can be a multi-classed monk. If “split class” instead means “become a character with two classes,” the answer is a qualified yes. Nothing in the rule books specifically prohibits a character from taking up the monk class as a second class, or temporarily abandoning monkish pursuits to gain experience in a new class. However, a monk (or would-be monk) who travels this path would effectively forsake all chance of advancement to the higher levels of the monk class — and it should probably be stipulated that no upper-level monk (8th or higher) can decide to stop being a monk and take up a new class in any event, because an unlawful act of that sort would seriously harm the monkish organizational structure. The Players Handbook says that “nearly any combination of classes” is possible, but points out that alignment restrictions will make some switches impossible without being disqualified from the former class; for instance, a monk (must be lawful) can never decide to study as a druid (must be true neutral) without changing alignment and losing his right to be a monk, or vice versa.
That text does not exist in my copy of the PHB (I used one which lists itself as '6th Printing, January 1980'). So I am not certain exactly where the author quoted that from. Perhaps it was added in later editions of the book...

Not that I disagree with the general thought, but the original text which we played by doesn't actually say anything about maintaining your initial alignment being necessary. Though SOME classes obviously do state something like that with more or less force. It is also a bit unclear when they talk about maintaining alignment if it means in ALL AXES or only in one. The Monk is quite specific about its lawfulness requirement. I guess you could argue about whether switching to another class would violate that... It is kind of moot, as the ability requirements would be absurd for most games!
 

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