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D&D 1E Seriously contemplating an attempt at a retro AD&D

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Dex doesn't apply to AC while casting per the rules of 1E. Once again you're interpreting the games and editions through the lens of your personal table.
Not at all - I wasn't referring to AC while casting, I was referring to AC in general. While casting they lose Dex and one could argue they should also lose the benefits of bracers as well given as using them requires moving one's arms not in accordance with the somatic components of the spell being cast.
And making a Fighter/Mage dependent on finding bracers and rings to do their shtick is pretty cruddy. IME. 🤷‍♂️
I DMed a Dex-based single-class Fighter once who went the ring-bracers route and eventually got her AC down to (I think) -9. It's very do-able, and IMO not "cruddy" at all.
As for whether multiclassing is overpowered... it's a tricky thing. It gives more options, but between the split hit die and the slower leveling, it generally means a substantial reduction to hit points if you multiclass Fighter with M-U. Even with full armor usage, you're inevitably more fragile than the true front rank warrior classes, and your fighting and casting are a bit inferior to the single classed characters. And you still are subject to being able to do only one thing on any given round.
This assumes a F-MU multiclass; there's a bunch of other options as well. The biggest benefit of a multiclass is that due to their flexibility they can get involved in a greater percentage of encounters overall, thus meaning they'll tend to get more xp over the long run than will a single-class; and this somewhat mitigates their slower advancement.
The bigger imbalance is, of course, all the free powers demihumans get. Especially elves.
Agreed. We toned Elves down ages ago; as written, they're close to broken. Never mind that their by-RAW inability to be revived from death - which I think was seen as the corollary drawback to all their powers - tends to get ignored.
As you say, the class and level restrictions in 1E, while well-intentioned in terms of evoking an implied setting, were never actually balanced. Making every race use the same multiclassing system and giving humans racial benefits like every other race were two of WotC's key innovations, and ways in which their editions are manifestly better balanced and designed than TSR's.
Putting everyone on the same multiclassing system is fine in principle, and makes a lot of sense. The argument then becomes one of how that multiclassing system should work (I don't like the WotC-era "additive" system at all), but that's a different discussion.

Giving Humans racial benefits is not fine, in that they are supposed to be the zero baseline against which everything else is compared.

Where WotC messed it up (I'd use much stronger words there if I could) is in taking away penalties from species who are worse at things than are Humans, e.g. Wisdom penalty for Elves or Strength penalty for Hobbits. This left Humans in the cold, so they had to get some benefits in order to keep up, which just moves the zero line to a different place and power-creeps the game.
I DO think that giving demihumans different options can work and be balanced. This is one reason I like B/X so much. Demihumans work differently than humans and have different advantages and disadvantages, but these things are factored into their xp charts directly and the classes are gated behind minimum ability score requirements, rather than races giving bonuses ideally suited for min-maxing. In some ways I think race as class is actually superior design because it allows you to have the flavor of the implied setting without the min-maxing which race & class mix & match has always enabled and encouraged.
My mileage varies here, in that I've never been a fan of race-as-class for PC-playable species. The min-maxing issue can (and probably has to) be dealt with in other ways.
 

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TiQuinn

Registered User
Dex doesn't apply to AC while casting per the rules of 1E. Once again you're interpreting the games and editions through the lens of your personal table. And making a Fighter/Mage dependent on finding bracers and rings to do their shtick is pretty cruddy. IME. 🤷‍♂️
So my thoughts on this is that of course a F/MU is going to want to go with bracers of defense or elven chain, etc to boost their AC and being dependent upon that is by design. The way that a 1e or 2e character really differentiates itself from others is by acquiring magic items rather than class abilities like in later editions. The downside is that you are weaker to start and you have to earn your abilities through items. The upside is that the magic is different for each character, and the DM can tailor things to be even more dynamic than class abilities as a result if they want to.
 

pawsplay

Hero
You might be a fighter with Strength 15, but then you find the gauntlets of ogre power, and you're hot sauce. You're a crummy little wizard conserving your spell slots... until you get that wand of magic missile, and two scrolls of fireball. You're a cleric, and healing people is your jam, and then you get a mace +1, +3 against lycanthropes.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
You might be a fighter with Strength 15, but then you find the gauntlets of ogre power, and you're hot sauce. You're a crummy little wizard conserving your spell slots... until you get that wand of magic missile, and two scrolls of fireball. You're a cleric, and healing people is your jam, and then you get a mace +1, +3 against lycanthropes.
“But there’s no customization!”

Yeah, there is. Magic items, gear, RP choices, quests, etc. There’s no feats. Huge difference.
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
Not at all - I wasn't referring to AC while casting, I was referring to AC in general. While casting they lose Dex and one could argue they should also lose the benefits of bracers as well given as using them requires moving one's arms not in accordance with the somatic components of the spell being cast.
One could certainly invent more restrictions, sure. There is of course (as far as I'm aware; open to a text reference if I'm missing some ruling in Dragon or UA) no rule saying that you have to move your arms around to gain the defensive protection of magical bracers, just as there is no such rule with rings, cloaks, or worn armor. Every table I have played at has seen all such magical protective devices as giving a passive defensive bonus akin to a minor force field. The enchantment makes it a bit harder to hit the target, deflecting some (but not all) blows. Much like defensive spells which grant an AC bonus, such as Protection from Evil.

I DMed a Dex-based single-class Fighter once who went the ring-bracers route and eventually got her AC down to (I think) -9. It's very do-able, and IMO not "cruddy" at all.
You misunderstand, I assume unintentionally. With the AD&D DMG including items such as Bracers of Defence AC 2, Cloaks of Protection up to +5, and Rings of Protection up to +6, it's obviously possible for a character not wearing armor to get quite a good AC. What's cruddy IMO is making a character's core functions dependent on finding particular magic items (AND getting them in the treasure division).

A Fighter or Cleric or Thief or M-U gets to do their shtick regardless of what items they find. Obviously they get better when they find items. An F-MU gets to do their shtick (fight wearing armor and cast spells) right from the start as well, under the OE and 1E rules, without being dependent on magic items. In 2E that changed. And obviously in your table's house rules.

This assumes a F-MU multiclass; there's a bunch of other options as well.
Yes, obviously. I'm talking about the topic we're discussing. Other multiclass combos aren't subject to the same issue. The issue we're discussing is casting MU spells in armor and whether it's a game balance problem. This issue only applies to MU multiclass combos (and Gnome multi-classed Illusionists as an edge case, sure), because the other spellcasting classes (Cleric and Druid) can cast in armor in the first place.

The biggest benefit of a multiclass is that due to their flexibility they can get involved in a greater percentage of encounters overall, thus meaning they'll tend to get more xp over the long run than will a single-class; and this somewhat mitigates their slower advancement.
This sounds again like you're inadvertently applying table/house rules.

Per 1E AD&D xp from treasure is divided however the players choose to divide the treasure, and xp from monsters (usually much smaller than treasure xp) is divided evenly between "all surviving characters who took part (no matter how insignificantly) in slaying the monsters" (DMG p85). "No matter how insignificantly" meant you just had to be present, because if you're there for the encounter you share in the risk.

Maybe your table ruled differently back in the day. I know some tables had house rules requiring characters to deal damage to get XP for a monster (or even to deal the killing blow!, leading to "kill-stealing"), but by the 80s these were widely considered to be bad rules because they screw over support characters.

Per 2E AD&D all xp is divided evenly between all surviving characters, and optionally including ones raised from the dead (DMG p47). With the exception of Individual Experience Awards (an optional rule, see p48).

Agreed. We toned Elves down ages ago; as written, they're close to broken. Never mind that their by-RAW inability to be revived from death - which I think was seen as the corollary drawback to all their powers - tends to get ignored.

Putting everyone on the same multiclassing system is fine in principle, and makes a lot of sense. The argument then becomes one of how that multiclassing system should work (I don't like the WotC-era "additive" system at all), but that's a different discussion.

Giving Humans racial benefits is not fine, in that they are supposed to be the zero baseline against which everything else is compared.

Where WotC messed it up (I'd use much stronger words there if I could) is in taking away penalties from species who are worse at things than are Humans, e.g. Wisdom penalty for Elves or Strength penalty for Hobbits. This left Humans in the cold, so they had to get some benefits in order to keep up, which just moves the zero line to a different place and power-creeps the game.
Of course giving humans racial benefits is fine. Your preference to keep them "a zero baseline against which everything is compared" is purely a subjective preference, and it's one which led to human characters being rare at most tables unless humans were given other goodies (like the incredibly generous ability generation Method V from Unearthed Arcana, designed to let humans reliably qualify for the more powerful classes like Paladin, Ranger, Barbarian, and Cavalier).

In OE and 1E as designed humans WERE given racial benefits. They were allowed unlimited level advancement, access to all character classes, and the least costly/restrictive means of being raised from the dead. Of course the problem with this was that most of these racial bonuses weren't actually very useful or were negated by house rules, because they didn't apply at low and mid levels where everyone played, only at higher levels which not all campaigns would reach. And by the time a game DID reach high levels, as you know, DMs would be reluctant to impose level limits and resurrection restrictions on demihuman characters players had been playing usually for years by that point. It was just bad design.

It usually resulted in those higher-level downsides to demihumans being ignored or reduced, and thus the human racial benefits never materialized. Except for class access, which was restricted by high ability score requirements for the really badass classes, hence Gary giving us Method V in UA to make humans more powerful and make sure they could qualify for their desired class. While of course a lot of tables ignored Method V, finding it over the top powerful, every table I ever played AD&D with DID use more generous ability rolling methods than the ones in the DMG.

In the WotC editions the various groups I've been in have had A LOT more human characters. Folks like playing them, and they feel better playing them when they don't have to handicap themselves to do so.

Even with a mix of ability score bonuses AND penalties, separate race & class is always one of the most basic game elements enabling and encouraging min-maxing.

My mileage varies here, in that I've never been a fan of race-as-class for PC-playable species. The min-maxing issue can (and probably has to) be dealt with in other ways.
Sure, it can be. But just taking away one of the two MAIN things in the rules that can be min-maxed is certainly effective.

If you do race as class and remove "arrange to taste" in ability score generation, that get rid of 90%+ of all AD&D min-maxing.

So my thoughts on this is that of course a F/MU is going to want to go with bracers of defense or elven chain, etc to boost their AC and being dependent upon that is by design.
I reiterate, this is NOT the rule in 1E. A multiclassed F/MU in OE and 1E is able to wear normal armor and cast. It is designed to do both, just as is the simplified Elf class in B/X and BECMI. The restriction on a multiclassed character casting MU spells in armor did not exist for the first 15 years of the game, until 2nd ed imposed it. The multiclassed MU (F/MU, MU/T, F/MU/T, F/MU/C) is not dependent on finding the right magic items to be able to fight and cast.

So my thoughts on this is that of course a F/MU is going to want to go with bracers of defense or elven chain, etc to boost their AC and being dependent upon that is by design. The way that a 1e or 2e character really differentiates itself from others is by acquiring magic items rather than class abilities like in later editions. The downside is that you are weaker to start and you have to earn your abilities through items. The upside is that the magic is different for each character, and the DM can tailor things to be even more dynamic than class abilities as a result if they want to.

You might be a fighter with Strength 15, but then you find the gauntlets of ogre power, and you're hot sauce. You're a crummy little wizard conserving your spell slots... until you get that wand of magic missile, and two scrolls of fireball. You're a cleric, and healing people is your jam, and then you get a mace +1, +3 against lycanthropes.
Sure, and this is all well and good and fun. But it normally doesn't apply to core functions of the class. The two exceptions per the rules are multiclassed thieves (who are restricted to Thief armor options "while operating as thieves"), and dual-classed humans of any class combination.
 


Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
I was just responding to your statement which was a digression from the normal 1E rules.
I'm sorry; maybe I haven't had enough coffee today. I'm not following you.

In the rules as written for 1E, a multiclass F/MU is not dependent on finding bracers or rings or cloaks of protection to do their thing. They could just wear armor from level 1 and cast. That changed in 2E and they became dependent on magic items.

In 1E human dual-class F/MUs ARE dependent on bracers and rings and such to do their thing, but that's less of a problem because they're assumed to be higher level and likely have access to such items by the time they're changing classes. Certainly so by the time they exceed their old class's level with their new class.
 
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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
One could certainly invent more restrictions, sure. There is of course (as far as I'm aware; open to a text reference if I'm missing some ruling in Dragon or UA) no rule saying that you have to move your arms around to gain the defensive protection of magical bracers, just as there is no such rule with rings, cloaks, or worn armor. Every table I have played at has seen all such magical protective devices as giving a passive defensive bonus akin to a minor force field. The enchantment makes it a bit harder to hit the target, deflecting some (but not all) blows. Much like defensive spells which grant an AC bonus, such as Protection from Evil.
I've always seen bracers as equivalent to shields with regards to when they can and can't be of use. Rings, cloaks, etc are passive and thus always-on, while bracers and dexterity are active and thus their use to defend against an attack disrupts casting.
You misunderstand, I assume unintentionally. With the AD&D DMG including items such as Bracers of Defence AC 2, Cloaks of Protection up to +5, and Rings of Protection up to +6, it's obviously possible for a character not wearing armor to get quite a good AC. What's cruddy IMO is making a character's core functions dependent on finding particular magic items (AND getting them in the treasure division).

A Fighter or Cleric or Thief or M-U gets to do their shtick regardless of what items they find.
Provided those items are of use to that class.

The only use a Thief is gonna get out of +3 plate mail is to sell it for a boatload of gold. Ditto a Mage. And thus, by extension the way I see it, the same would apply to a F-T or a F-MU.
Obviously they get better when they find items. An F-MU gets to do their shtick (fight wearing armor and cast spells) right from the start as well, under the OE and 1E rules, without being dependent on magic items. In 2E that changed. And obviously in your table's house rules.
Which is far from the first example of our house rules accurately forecasting what 2e would do. :)
Yes, obviously. I'm talking about the topic we're discussing. Other multiclass combos aren't subject to the same issue.
Well, yes they are. A Fighter-Thief can't do much thieving in plate mail.
The issue we're discussing is casting MU spells in armor and whether it's a game balance problem. This issue only applies to MU multiclass combos (and Gnome multi-classed Illusionists as an edge case, sure), because the other spellcasting classes (Cleric and Druid) can cast in armor in the first place.
Druids can't wear metal armour, thus if one allows a multiclassed Druid one would think it too can't wear metal armour.
This sounds again like you're inadvertently applying table/house rules.

Per 1E AD&D xp from treasure is divided however the players choose to divide the treasure,
We haven't given xp for treasure since before I started playing.
and xp from monsters (usually much smaller than treasure xp) is divided evenly between "all surviving characters who took part (no matter how insignificantly) in slaying the monsters" (DMG p85). "No matter how insignificantly" meant you just had to be present, because if you're there for the encounter you share in the risk.
That's open to interpretation around what "take part" means. We usually read it as meaning a bit more than just being there, but actually doing damage isn't required: if you tried to do damage, or took damage, or were at significant risk, or contributed in other meaningful ways e.g. pulling the fallen out of the battle and patching them up, you got xp; but if all you did was stand back and watch or hide behind a rock you got nothing.
Maybe your table ruled differently back in the day. I know some tables had house rules requiring characters to deal damage to get XP for a monster (or even to deal the killing blow!, leading to "kill-stealing"), but by the 80s these were widely considered to be bad rules because they screw over support characters.

Per 2E AD&D all xp is divided evenly between all surviving characters, and optionally including ones raised from the dead (DMG p47). With the exception of Individual Experience Awards (an optional rule, see p48).
We give those who die and come back half xp for the fight in which they died.

Just dividing xp between all survivors without regard to contribution or risk strongly encourages and highly rewards playing hang-back cowards, which is easy to do in a big party. And giving xp to characters who aren't even there (as in, are still back in town) just to keep everyone even is IMO ludicrous, though posts from people on these forums have shown that's how some tables do/did it.
Of course giving humans racial benefits is fine. Your preference to keep them "a zero baseline against which everything is compared" is purely a subjective preference, and it's one which led to human characters being rare at most tables unless humans were given other goodies (like the incredibly generous ability generation Method V from Unearthed Arcana, designed to let humans reliably qualify for the more powerful classes like Paladin, Ranger, Barbarian, and Cavalier).
My experience differs: even though we've opened up the class-species possibilities far beyond 1e RAW limits, Humans have always been the most common PC species in our games, in part I think because we still have stat penalties as well as bonuses for other species and people don't want to take the hit unless it directly lines up with their character idea.

And while our stat generation method is generous, it's nowhere near as crazy as that UA method. :)

That said, we're generally not hard-core optimizers here. If we were, Part-Elf would be the species-du-jour (as in, nobody would play anything else!) as they've overall got the most going for them mechanically in our system.
In OE and 1E as designed humans WERE given racial benefits. They were allowed unlimited level advancement, access to all character classes, and the least costly/restrictive means of being raised from the dead. Of course the problem with this was that most of these racial bonuses weren't actually very useful or were negated by house rules, because they didn't apply at low and mid levels where everyone played, only at higher levels which not all campaigns would reach. And by the time a game DID reach high levels, as you know, DMs would be reluctant to impose level limits and resurrection restrictions on demihuman characters players had been playing usually for years by that point. It was just bad design.

It usually resulted in those higher-level downsides to demihumans being ignored or reduced, and thus the human racial benefits never materialized. Except for class access, which was restricted by high ability score requirements for the really badass classes, hence Gary giving us Method V in UA to make humans more powerful and make sure they could qualify for their desired class. While of course a lot of tables ignored Method V, finding it over the top powerful, every table I ever played AD&D with DID use more generous ability rolling methods than the ones in the DMG.
I never saw those class level limits etc. as being specific Human benefits, but instead saw them as variable penalties and drawbacks against other species. But then, I see Humans as the baseline.

And yeah, those level limits never made much sense anyway. :)
If you do race as class and remove "arrange to taste" in ability score generation, that get rid of 90%+ of all AD&D min-maxing.
We have both roll-and-arrange and separate class-species, and (other than a few specific players who are now long gone) the min-maxing hasn't been a big issue. I mean, obviously you arrange your stats to suit your intended class, but to me that just makes sense: a low-Dex person, for example, isn't likely to take up Thieving as a career and would be laughed out of the guild if he tried.
 

Voadam

Legend
I've always seen bracers as equivalent to shields with regards to when they can and can't be of use. Rings, cloaks, etc are passive and thus always-on, while bracers and dexterity are active and thus their use to defend against an attack disrupts casting.
While Wonder Woman bracers is a neat concept there is nothing in the text description to indicate the typical magic user wearers are actively using them like shields they cannot use. The text is that their magic bestows an AC.

Bracers of Defense: These items appear to be some sort of wrist or arm guards. Their magic bestows an effective armor class equal to actually wearing armor and employing a shield. Of course, if armor is actually worn, the bracers will not be effective, but they do work in conjunction with other magical items of protection. The armor class the bracers of defense bestow is determined by random dicing on the table below:
Armor Class
01-05 8
06-15 7
16-35 6
36-50 5
51-70 4
71-85 3
86-00 2

Druids can't wear metal armour, thus if one allows a multiclassed Druid one would think it too can't wear metal armour.
A couple things here. First 1e PH druids cannot multiclass. If they could presumably the entry would say whether multiclassed druids could or could not use armor or non druid weapons the way the multiclassed cleric ones do. :)

The druid text states that metal armor spoils druid magic, while the MU text states that their lack of martial training usually prohibits them from doing so.

Also clerics are prohibited from using edged weapons but multi-classed clerics in 1e can. :)
PH page 33: "Cleric combinations (with fighter types) may use edged weapons."

Additionally PH page 17: "Half-elven characters who choose the cleric as one of their multi-classes aren’t limited by that class’ proscriptions upon weapons usable, but they are quite restricted in level."
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
While Wonder Woman bracers is a neat concept there is nothing in the text description to indicate the typical magic user wearers are actively using them like shields they cannot use. The text is that their magic bestows an AC.
I always assumed the idea of defensive bracers came straight from the Wonder Woman comics.
Bracers of Defense: These items appear to be some sort of wrist or arm guards. Their magic bestows an effective armor class equal to actually wearing armor and employing a shield. Of course, if armor is actually worn, the bracers will not be effective, but they do work in conjunction with other magical items of protection. The armor class the bracers of defense bestow is determined by random dicing on the table below:
Armor Class
01-05 8
06-15 7
16-35 6
36-50 5
51-70 4
71-85 3
86-00 2
If read as being passive, their stacking with rings or protection kinda stops making sense.

But yes - typical Gygax - he's not clear about how bracers actually do their defending, and thus leaves it up to us to interpret.
A couple things here. First 1e PH druids cannot multiclass. If they could presumably the entry would say whether multiclassed druids could or could not use armor or non druid weapons the way the multiclassed cleric ones do. :)
I've had to think about this given that in my games Druids (who are now Nature Clerics) can multiclass.
The druid text states that metal armor spoils druid magic, while the MU text states that their lack of martial training usually prohibits them from doing so.

Also clerics are prohibited from using edged weapons but multi-classed clerics in 1e can. :)
PH page 33: "Cleric combinations (with fighter types) may use edged weapons."

Additionally PH page 17: "Half-elven characters who choose the cleric as one of their multi-classes aren’t limited by that class’ proscriptions upon weapons usable, but they are quite restricted in level."
With weapons, at least it's consistent: the less-restrictive option always takes precedence. With armour, I just went the other way and had it that the more-restrictive option always takes precedence. Keeps it simple. :)
 

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