Thursday, November 9, 2017

Advanced Edition SWCL

One of my favorite (if not the favorite) retro-clones is Labyrinth Lord. As I have said on many occasions, the reason I like it so much is its modularity. Goblinoid Games has produced a whole line of compatible titles from different genres so that you can port into your game whatever ideas, races, classes, magic, items, etc. you want. In terms of playing AD&D, Labyrinth Lord Advanced Edition Companion is my favorite version because it gets rid of all the fiddly stuff I don’t like about 1e and smooths out the corners with all the stuff I love about B/X.

I have been busy of late making alternate versions of SWCL and I thought it would be fun to do an Advanced Edition treatment to the rules. The questions becomes, what exactly is missing from SWCL that would justify an “Advanced Edition?” Here are a few ideas:

  • Gnomes
  • Half-Elves
  • Half-Orcs
  • Illusionists
  • “Gygaxian” Monsters
  • Artifact/Relic-like Magic Items
  • Ability Inflation

In terms of the missing races, I want to take advantage of Moldvay’s description of Gnomes:
Gnomes are a human-like race related to dwarves
Sounds a bit like a half-dwarf. Thus, all the missing races can be understood to be half-bloods. As such, they can be any class just like their human parent; however, they don’t get the full-blown the racial abilities of their non-human parent. Rather, they get to advance in one of the Optional Classes without having to put in an extra adventure every level to advance. The Optional Classes would be as follows:

  • Half-Elf: Ranger
  • Half-Orc: Assassin
  • Gnome (Half-Dwarf): Illusionist

Speaking of the Illusionist Optional Class, we need to make one:
Illusionists function exactly as Thieves, except they can cast a limited number of Magic-user spells as if they were a magic-user of one level lower. The spells Illusionists can cast are as follows:
1st Level: Charm Person, Detect Magic, Light
2nd Level: Illusion, Invisibility
3rd Level: Dispel Magic, Summon (Illusory) Monster
By “Gygaxian” Monsters, I mean those monsters that suggest a monster ecology. For example, Hobgoblins can speak the language of carnivorous apes and these creatures can be found in Hobgoblin lairs. Therefore, the plan is to find 10 or so monsters that can interact with the monsters provided in SWCL to create more "Gygaxian" monster ecologies.

The Magic Items in SWCL are wonderfully simple and generic. The Magic Items of AD&D are often quite specific. For example: Sword +1 Flame Tongue +2 vs. regenerating creatures, +3 vs. cold-using or avian creatures, +4 vs. undead. What I am suggesting is that rather than introduce Hand of Vecna-level magical artifacts to the game, add some of those wonderfully specific magic items found in the 1e DMG as one-of-a-kind magic items worthy of going on a quest for.

Finally, for me, one of the most iconic aspects of AD&D (and one of its most ridiculous features) was exceptional Strength: all those fighters running around with 18/xx Strength. I have no real desire to go there; however, something must be done to encourage and reward players for being human, otherwise there are no human rangers, assassins, illusionists, etc. Thus, the Optional Rule that humans get to switch out their lowest stat with a 15 will become standard.

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