Friday, January 30, 2009

it came from Holmes

Gauntlets of Ogre Power – the character wearing these gauntlets adds from 2-8 points to damage caused when striking with any weapon – doing 2-8 hit points merely with his fist – because of the additional power these gauntlets bestow. This power also allows him to grasp and crush things with great ease, just as if he were an ogre (18 strength). The wearer is able to carry weight equal to an additional 1,000 gold pieces in his hands without suffering from being overloaded or encumbered. The gauntlets do not add to hit probability.
Dungeons & Dragons as edited by Eric Holmes, page 39.

One funny thing here is that ogres under Holmes Basic do d10 points of damage, not 2d4. That’s the sort of little inconsistency that drives rules lawyers mad if they can neither correct it nor exploit it. Speaking of rules lawyers, when I read this passage I can almost hear some whiny player demanding to know why their 18 Strength fighter doesn’t do d6+2d4 damage in melee combat. “Because you cheated on chargen” seems the most reasonable response to this vile miscreant, but what if we hypothetically indulged him? What if stat modifiers were variable, in the form of extra dice added to various operations, instead of flat adds? Something like this:



















For Strength the modifier above obviously applies to melee damage, but I think we could squeeze some other uses out of some chart like this one. The Intelligence modifier could apply to starting languages or spells, for instance. The Wisdom modifier could be added to the roll for number of undead turned. The Dex mod I would apply to missile damage. For Constitution the modifier could replace the standard system for bonuses to hit dice, but since the value is so large the bonus would apply only at chargen. (I.e. an 18 Con character gets +d10 hit points at 1st level, but no further bonuses at higher levels.) Using Charisma with the chart above is a tough nut. Maybe the total henchmen you can bring on an expedition fluctuates? Or their morale randomly flitters up and down from session to session?

I’m not really arguing for the merits of the numbers I use above; that’s meant merely as a sample of this line of thinking. Really, I’m not even arguing that this is a good idea. Plenty of referees will balk at such large bonuses, as they only encourage an over-reliance on buff stats instead of player wits. Rereading the Gauntlets of Ogre Power entry just got me thinking along these lines and I thought I’d share.