Friday, August 19, 2011

The Red Headed Step-Children of AD&D - Unearthed Arcana Classes

I remember when Unearthed Arcana was released for AD&D. It was a huge expansion of the core rules. Weapon Specializations for the fighter class and sub classes, new spells (some of which added to the Illusionists repertoire as I recall - I think my fav was Phantom Armor), new races and new classes.

The Thief-Acrobat reminding me a bit of the original AD&D Bard class, as it was a class that broke the established rules just by it's very existence. It splits off the main Thief class in the middling levels and goes off on a branch of it's own - kinda like a "prestige class" for those in the 3x state of mind. A Thief-Acrobat had some amazing abilities to move around, but his thieving abilities were stalled. I don't recall anyone in any of the groups I played in choosing one.

Cavalier - The "knight" as one thinks of it in romantic literature, this class and the Cavalier-Paladin were pretty impossible to run as written from a "role playing" standpoint. The thing is, the role playing restrictions and hinderances were there to balance the gameplay bonuses and powers. That never happened in games I played in. Maybe because it was our High School years, these powerhouses were unbalanced as all heck.

The Barbarian - fun as all hell to play as a player - D12 HD, super DEX and Con bonuses, xp for destroying magic items (and a horrible XP chart, so you need all those XP) wont adventure with Arcane Casters - played properly one barbarian could destroy a party from within. Two? We killed a campaign the third session in.

Hmmm, next I'll have to hit upon the races.


  1. We really enjoyed the weapon specialization rules. Like you, we found the cavalier and barbarian to be a mess. Each level, the Cavalier's stats could be increased with some kind of percentile check. Yuck.

    Gygax wrote that book correct?

    Oh, we also liked the cantrips. Gotta love those. :)

  2. The first broken munchkin cheese splatbook?

  3. Unearthed Arcana made me cut off ties with a kid who played a lot of D&D. His munchkinism offended me. My munchkinism probably offended him as well. He had Unearthed Arcana and Oriental Adventures, but somehow neither of those interested me much.

    Someone ran the numbers on archery specialists and determined that a specialist archer could kill a deity from Deities and Demi-Gods, just by shooting lots of arrows. So ... yeah - broken cheese.

  4. I included stuff in Unearthed Arcana in my AD&D1 game back in 2009. I had to modify the barbarian so that he would be able to adventure with casters. I changed him so that he simply would not allow magic to be cast on him until he hit the level at which he could associate with that kind of caster. By that point, I decided the barbarian trusted that caster type due to long association or just overall worldy experience. I still think the basic idea of the class is neat, but I would probably rewrite it entirely.

    I made the acrobat into a stand alone class playable from 1st level. Although I got some nods on the blog for the class, nobody in my game ever wanted to play one, so I have no idea if it is any good or not.

    Weapon specialization for melee weapons works fine. Weapon specialization for bows is ridiculous, and I was secretly relieved when the party's bow specialist was cut down in a hail of laser fire. (Yes, laser fire.) I think, if I ran it again, I'd change it to be more in line with melee weapon specialization.

  5. "...and I was secretly relieved when the party's bow specialist was cut down in a hail of laser fire..."

    Haw Haw!


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