Monday, January 23, 2012

The Myth of THAC0 - And the Compounding of Hit Points

There were a lot of really great comments on my first two Myth of THAC0 posts. A few touched on the issue of buckets of Hit Points.

As bad as it was in AD&D 1e & 2e, especially with Rangers that had a CON bonus, it's gotten worse with later editions.

Up until 2e, HD capped at name level (generally between 9th and 11th levels). 3e kept the dice rolling with each level gained, there was no limit, and a high CON's bonus to Hit Points just increased the never ending pool.

Pathfinder adds even more HP, increasing the HD size of all classes but the fighter and cleric one size up, so a rogue with d6 in 3e now has a d8. Max HP are given at first level also.

D&D 4e starts players with 15 + CON, so figure an average of 25 HP at first level.

Higher HP will lead to longer combats unless offset by increasing THAC0 or lowering the effects of armor. All three are intricately connected. The last thing a game at my table needs is longer combats.

Still, excessive HP can still be a problem even in OSR style games. How do we keep the game in it's sweet spot - the lower and mid levels?

I'll be taking a look over the next few days at E6, the OGL game that tops out at 6th level, with the idea of seeing if the concepts can be applied to OSR gaming.


  1. I don't see how character hitpoints contribute to longer combats. Unless you're assuming they'll have to reach 0 (and die) each combat. I guess if they have fewer hitpoints they will run away sooner ;)

    Point is there doesn't have to be correlation between character hits and DM "monster" hits. Having monsters use all the same systems and as much detail as characters is one of the horrific complexifiers of 3ed

    Look fwd to your E6 analysis

  2. Ugh, THAC0 has come back from the grave to give me a headache once again! Begone, foul spirit! Return to the vile tomb from whence thou came!

  3. All I get out of this is I should be playing BRP/RQ/Legend.

    Fly limbs, Fly!


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