Monday, January 23, 2012

The Myth of THAC0 - E6'ing the OSR (First Thoughts)

First things first - here is a link to the E6 rules (all 13 pages including the OGL).  It a fairly quick read.  Essentially, it is a series of house rules to enable you to have your 3X campaign max out at 6th level, yet still allow for character improvement.

A few things to note from the OSR side of things - it uses feats.  After hitting 6th level, players will spend newly earned expo on attaining new feats.  We in the OSR despise feats.  Or, at the very least, we don't feel we need them.

Still, the examples used for spell casters are well thought out, and can easily carry over to an OSR version of the rules as they grant new spells known or spell casting slots (remember, standard progression ends at 6th level)

An E6 OSR game would have the following benefits:
     THAC0 capped at sixth level, giving a character a max to hit adjustment for level of +6
     Hit Dice capped at 6th level, reducing the potential of excessive hit point pool
     Appropriate Armor Class should stay reasonable
     Casters come into their own and are effective without the game busting spells of the higher levels
     Thieves have decent class ability without being excessive

Still, part of the fun of roleplaying is character advancement and improvement.  Without feats to draw upon, what can characters spend expo on to improve?

Fighter / Fighter sub classes could spend on weapon of choice, specialization, improved attack rate, a small (1 or 2 point) HP bump and possibly some specifically chosen (limited number) of feats from 3e, like Power Attack and Cleave

Clerics could spend on a weapon of choice (deity specific), new spell slots, improved turning, improved healing, minor magic item creation

Thieves could spend on increasing their thieving abilities and backstab, two weapon fighting feat

Magic Users could spend on new (extra) spell slots, new learned spells, minor magic item creation

Also small stat bumps could be bought, not to exceed racial maximums.

I'm sure there are other benefits these classes could learn to keep the improvement going without the class leveling / hps / THAC0 and AC going much past what is appropriate for level 6.  Let me know of any you might think of.

Yes, its an artificial ceiling.  But as a few have pointed out in the comments to the other Myth of THAC0 posts, some of the best campaigns top out in the mid levels.  This is a way to keep the campaign at that sweet point.

Let me know what you think.  I'm looking at a simple set of guidelines that would work with any of the OSR / Basic / Advanced rules.  I've got ideas, but I'm always willing to work with yours.


  1. It's uncanny how I've been pondering something and you post about it. I first came across E6 a couple of years ago and thought it was pretty cool, for what it was. I started rethinking it a few days ago as a way of having a campaign that never really loses that "Oh, shit! A troll!" feeling. But then I thought: what really captures that sense of danger and wonder better than the modest power curve of 0e? Nothing I can think of. Even though I like E6 from a philosophical perspective, it is an artificial ceiling. The 0e power curve is what it is. So, I've turned my attention (back) to S&W WhiteBox.

  2. I really like the spirit behind E6. If I ever ran it, I would probably drop skills too.

    Using the level progression in B/X ends up yielding a similar feel to me (just treat level 14 as the max for the human classes). That also has the advantage of capping magic-user spells at 6 and cleric spells at 5 (just like in the 3 LBBs).

  3. I agree with everything you guys said...I've been thinking of e6 about lately too, and applying it to my homebrew 2nd ed. world.
    Could add that spark to get people interested..
    Thanx for adding fuel to my fire!

  4. I've also been giving E6 a lot of my mental energies of late, though like many in the OSR, I loathe feats, apart from Leadership.

    My idea to redeem E6 is simple: switch feats and ability increases around, and enforce 3d6 for character stats at character generation.

    So every time you'd get a feat in 3e, you increase one of your stats. At 4th level, instead of the ability increase, you get Leadership and get a henchman + maybe some followers.


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