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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Swapping Gold for Strength

Timrod has a post about 3d6 in order, followed by allowing players to swap the gold pieces/wealth roll for one ability score. This is not only something I've thought about doing myself, it could reduce the bite of the "hardcore" class first/abilities second approach I was discussing yesterday. The "problem", if you can call it that, is that players get hung up on getting the best scores possible and ignoring some perfectly viable class options because they wouldn't have the best possible score. You could theoretically do just as well with a low-Strength, high Charisma fighter in pre-Greyhawk OD&D, but if you give players the arrange-to-taste or swap any two scores option (or let them roll scores first,) they will avoid such a supposedly non-optimal character. Letting them swap wealth with one ability score gives players a little taste of character design without completely embracing min/maxing.

Of course, a gold swap option probably has less of an impact in OD&D than AD&D, since there's less reason to avoid low scores. But on the other hand, gold (and Charisma and Constitution) are far more important than the other ability scores, in terms of character effectiveness. You will get players who would rather be a rich Fighter or Magic-User, or making a choice whether they want more followers in the long-term or more equipment and mercenaries in the short-term.


  1. I should probably point out that the reason I enacted the Gold Swap rule was that we choose character class before we roll abilities; ability scores are not driving class selection. Even with the gold swap--which actually only comes into play about 50% of the time--we have plenty of non-optimal characters on the table.

    Also, I think gold swap in OD&D would still be pretty impactful--possibly even moreso than AD&D--because there is almost no incentive not to trade a high ability score for a low Gold score. Armor is a lot cheaper in OD&D to the point that plate mail is a realistic option for wealthy 1st level characters--or at least it was in S&W. Add the Holmesian 100GP Scroll Rule and even MUs will be getting in on this game.

    1. You're probably right, except for a couple situations. High Con, uniform rolls for everything else, for example. Or High Charisma being a temptation.