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Friday, October 5, 2012

Delving Deeper: Characters

Delving Deeper is getting closer to its actual release, I can't do a full review until I see the actual product, of course, but I've been going through the PDFs looking just at system changes, since the raison d'ĂȘtre of Delving Deeper is to be a truer clone of the original rules than any other. This post is about character creation.

There are a few tweaks in the ability scores, but the things that stand out are the changes to languages and followers. The number of languages known is governed by the higher of two abilities: Intelligence and Wisdom. This change is based on an interpretation of a passage in Men & Magic that I've seen floating around for a while: "Wisdom rating will act much as does that for intelligence." Some people take that to mean that Wisdom functions exactly like Intelligence in every way, and therefore it should govern languages. I interpret this a different way, as I imagine most people do, so I was a little surprised to see this. It's easy to ignore, of course. The number of followers is governed by Charisma, pretty much as in the original rules, but the maximum number is 10 instead of 12. Again, a minor issue, but it does seem to limit characters a little more than the original rules do.

The three main classes are pretty much the same as the original rules, but two class abilities have been changed. First: the Fighter gets a number of attacks against 1 hit die or less opponents equal to the Fighter's level. This may not sound radical, but look closer at that wording: the Fighter doesn't just get to attack multiple opponents, but actually gets multiple attacks. That's a significant difference. We've all tinkered with the "fighter versus cannon fodder" rule, but this just feels wrong to me. I'll be changing this back to 1 opponent per level.

Second: Cleric spell-casting is better, and worse. DD does follow the original rules in that 1st level Clerics can't cast spells; however, instead of being limited to only two spells maximum per spell level until name level,  the Cleric spell progression in DD looks more like the M-U progression, which means Clerics cast more spells... but also means that 4th and 5th level spells are delayed. A 7th level Cleric in D&D can cast a 5th level spell, but a DD Cleric doesn't get those spells for another three levels.

The Thief is presented as an optional class. DD's Thief is closer to the pre-Greyhawk Thief, which was either published in a 'zine or maybe never published at all. Instead of using a table of percentages, DD Thieves have a flat 4 in 6 chance to use any thief ability, and the phenomenal rather than mundane nature of those abilities is carefully spelled out. I like this version of the Thief quite a bit, but I notice that Thief skills don't advance with level at all. I think I'd ameliorate that a little by saying that the Thief gets a +1 bonus on any use of thief skills if the level/HD of an opponent monster or character is less than half the Thief's level. I'd probably even use the dungeon level as the level of traps and locks, to give high-level Thieves a better chance against some locks and traps.

Elves are a little different in two ways. In DD, Elves start with one class only, either Fighter or Magic-User, rather than starting out with both, as most people who played post-Greyhawk interpret them. However, Elves (and, in fact, any non-human) can change class freely back and forth, regardless of their ability scores. This is the way I handle class-switching for elven Fighter/Magic-Users and halfling Fighter/Thieves, so I'm OK with this change; it fits with the original rules, even if that's not actually in the original rules.

I'm almost all the way through the spell descriptions, so I'll be doing that soon.


  1. It is interesting that you mention the Fighter's multiple attacks, as this is how I have been interpreting it - so how do you resolve combat between a, say, 4th level Fighter and 5 orcs?

    1. I interpret the Fighter ability as "fight a number of opponents equal to the Fighter's level, each round". In other words, a 4th level Fighter facing five orcs can attack four of the orcs in the first round, possibly killing one or two, and attack all the remaining orcs in the second round.

      According to Mike Mornard, the way Gary would have run it would be to roll a d4 (because the Fighter is 4th level) and say, "That's how many orcs you kill this round." I'm actually tempted to switch to something midway between that: Fighter gets one attack roll, but a separate damage roll per opponent, up to a number of d6s equal to the Fighter's level.

    2. Another way: the fighter has several attack rolls against one foe of 1- HD (one for every level). If he manages to kill his foe (with one, or two, or three attacks rolls, he can use the reminding rolls against th next one...

    3. @Talysman

      That's a very interesting method. I think I may adopt it. One attack roll, and if it hits, 1dN kills (where N is the fighter's level). That would lead to a higher level fighter being able to kill from 0 to N one-HD creatures. I like that it only requires one roll.


      That is similar to the cleave feat in later editions.