Monday, March 28, 2011

Munchkins of the Old School - Revealed!

Warning:  edition gripes are imminent...

Yesterday I put up the first cut of the Treasure by Module list to help with campaign planning; I'll add more modules to it in the coming days.  A few readers pointed out in the comments that there are legitimate differences in the editions regarding experience and experience for monsters; I didn't think it could be that big, Guy provided an example, so I put it to the test.  I tallied up all monsters in the vaunted B2 Keep on the Borderlands, to see how the experience totals fared between BX, AD&D, and a few of the popular clone games.  Here goes - observations are below:

Moldvay Basic
Treasure:  31,000
Monster:  6,520
Total XP:  37,520
Monsters are 17%
Labyrinth Lord
Treasure:  31,000
Monster:  7,130
Total XP:  38,130
Monsters are 19%
Lamentations of the Flame Princess
Treasure:  31,000
Monster:  6,640
Total XP:  37,640
Monsters are 18%
Swords & Wizardry Core
Treasure:  31,000
Monster:  8,995
Total XP:  39,995
Monsters are 22%
AD&D 1st Edition
Treasure:  31,000
Monster:  10,846
Magic Items:  24,270
Total XP:  66,116
Monsters are 16%, 35% if you don't use magic item XP
You see that AD&D total?  You gotta be kidding me!  Using the various classic D&D rules sets, a group finishing the keep will be halfway to level 3 - but that will also depend on the number of henchman, attrition, things like that.  But the differences aren't that great between BX and the clone editions.

But the AD&D party doing the same adventure will be almost level 4 for doing the same work.  Not only are they soaking up more XP for monsters, but the XP for magic items is over the top.  Sure, go ahead and roll 4d6 in order, arrange the stats to get your 18/xx strength and min max like crazy, but let's double the XP too!  People need to level FASTER.

I guess I didn't see the impact of the power creep until laying it out like that.

Okay, let's forget the righteous bitching about AD&D for a minute - besides, if I looked at it 30 years ago, I would have figured it out then and the munchkinism would be old news; I'm sure plenty of folks house rule away magic item XP to restore their sanity.  I do have a legitimate campaign planning concern.  A big part of why we started a Greyhawk game last summer was to get the group to the point where we could do the G and D series of modules.  I considered it one of those bucket list items; "Someday I want to see a party of adventurers make it to the Vault of the Drow and loot the Fane of Lolth".  (And who knows, maybe by the time we're there, some enterprising OSR person will have created a fitting finale to the series, instead of the monstrosity that is Q1 Queen of the Demonweb Pits.  Hint hint.)

We've obviously been using a Frankenstein rules set  - core rules from LotFP, monsters and magic from BX, and a healthy does of Labyrinth Lord's Advanced Edition Companion for AD&D monsters; I figured AEC would help me convert those later AD&D modules.

However, since an AD&D party is getting almost twice as much experience as a Classic party doing the same work, I may have some bigger adjustments to make.  Those G and D series modules are combat heavy and magic rich, and a Classic group won't keep pace with just the gold XP alone.