Thursday, November 3, 2016

Switching sytems (again): LL/BX incoming

Last post was about a bunch of things that have gotten in my way to playing recently.

One of the things I didn't mention was Swords & Wizardry not lining up well with everything I wanted.

Don't get me wrong; it's a good system. You can start playing a game in 15 minutes if you have even the most casual experience with D&D, and all the parts are well-fitted.

But it's missing a few things. Specifically, the things that bothered me the most were a lack of morale rules, reaction rules, and a lack of explicit support and guidelines for domain or hex-crawl play.

Those are both easy enough to get around. Higher-level play guides abound across the OSR and are largely agnostic about the exact system. And I could just steal ML scores off of a different version.

Ultimately, however, it got to be one of those roadblocks I was talking about. I wanted to go through the monster selection and add in ML scores in-line, rather than having to look them up or just wholesale use stats from somewhere else. I wanted to splice in rules for henchers/retainers/whatever. I wanted to do a few other things, and it added up to a bunch of work.

Add in that LL/BX is (are) probably the most popular system in the blogosphere, meaning you have a bunch of (admittedly low-effort) conversions if you want to use most things out there, like new classes or spell ideas or whatever, and there's a fair bit to be gained by switching over.

There were some things that were keeping me back. Primary among them were the level-system expansion from 10 to 20 levels, split saves, to-hit matrices and race as class. I'm over these, now.

I like 10 levels. It's nice and clean and doesn't bog down higher-level play. I might even keep it; PCs don't gain much by getting higher level. Or I might cut it off at 15. Ultimately, though, it doesn't really matter; levels in the double digits rarely actually happen anyway. It's certainly the end-game, and I can treat it that way while still throwing you a sop for going out adventuring. Or you can retire.

Split saves are kind of a pain. They're a little silly, too, in that they don't necessarily match up well with categories that would be useful in play. That said, they're also a little attractive; there's something 'traditional' about the system. Plus, unlike with a unified save number, you won't forget you have a +2 against poison. At least, not usually.

Related to that is the fact that in LL/BX monster saves are written as 'F3' or 'C1' or whatever. This means I have to look it up on the table. That's not as big a deal as it felt at first, though; the tables are small and easy to read, and I can excise them instead of flipping through the book for them.

The big objection is Race As Class. This was a full-stop no for me for a good long while. Recently, however, I've been re-thinking things, and it doesn't seem that bad. The race/class system with multi-class elves and the like is a little clunky anyway. It's still a little weird, but I'm willing to give it a try and see how I like it.

To recap:
  • Switching over gives me a fairly large set of advantages with low cost. I can more easily use a broader range of material, and it obviates a good set of work I wanted to do to make S&W more to my liking
  • Plus, I have the B/X books, so I can compare and decide in any given case. (I also have the LBBs, but S&W is much more different from those than LL is from B/X, and they're hard to read.)
  • There are some obstacles that were previously keeping me from seriously considering LL, but I'm over them.
If you've made it this far, you've earned an Otus Tax.

Vegepygmy is best pygmy


  1. If you want to split race from class, check out the Advanced Edition Compansion for LL.

    1. I've been giving it a good hard look. I'll probably end up incorporating large parts of it. However, (1) LL is already a large jump in complexity for me, even if it's a generally 'good' jump, I think, and (2) I'm actually growing to like race-as-class the more I live with it.

      So we'll see.