Questions When Running OD&D

As I said in my last post I’m considering trying to run some LBB-centric Dungeons & Dragons. If I do it will be (at least initially) pickup games at the FLGS. As such I’m trying to anticipate the most common questions/assumptions I’ll face and have ready answers.

So far I have:

  • I want to play a thief. I have a variety of thief classes for Swords & Wizardry White Box. I’ll ask the player a bit what he is after and use one that matches best or just use the adventurer from Pars Fortuna.
  • What do weapons all do the same damage I have this cool article about weapons effects from Knockspell 05 that we’ll use.

What ones would you ask or expect players to ask?

Did OD&D Forbid Armor for Magic-Users?

Lately I’ve had some interest in actually running straight LBB Dungeons & Dragons and only adding items as they came up in play.

As a result I’ve actually sat down and read my books for the first time since the late 70s (when I ran a weird mix of Holmes, PHB, OD&D (with supplements), and The Best of the Dragon in JHS/HS). Yesterday it jumped out that there is no direct denial of regular armor to the magic user:

Men and Magic pg.6:

Top level magic-users are perhaps the most powerful characters in the game, but it is a long, hard road to the top, and to begin with they are weak, so survival is often the question, unless fighters protect the low-level magical types until they have worked up. The whole plethora of enchanted items lies at the magic-users beck and call, save the arms and armor of the fighters (see, however, Elves); Magic-Users may arm themselves with daggers only. Wizards and above may manufacture for their own use (or for sale) such items as potions, scrolls, and just about anything else magical. Costs are commensurate with the value of the item, as is the amount of game time required to enchant it.

First, the only limitation mentioned on normal equipment is the “may arm themselves with daggers only”. There is a limitation on armor as well but in context you could argue the phrase “save the arms and armor of the fighters” refers only and magic items and not regular weapons and armor. Following up on the elves reference (M&M pg. 8) we find:

Thus, they gain the benefits of both classes and may use both weaponry and spells. They may use magic armor and still act as Magic-Users.

This is an explicit reference to magic armor. Also note they may use “both weaponry and spells” not “weaponry, armor, and spells.” This seems to reinforce the idea that the limits are on magic-items only.

I wondered if maybe the notional that magic-users wore no armor was a carry-over from Chainmail but it does not appear to be the case (pg.30, emphasis mine):

WIZARDS (including Sorcerers at -1, Warlocks at -2, Magicians at -3, Seers at -4). In normal combat, all this class will fight as two Armored Foot, or two Medium Horse if mounted, and Wizards can handle magical weaponry. However, their chief prowess lies elsewhere.

Certainly, Chainmail expects wizards to have armor or the equivalent (perhaps via spells). Regardless, it does not help the argument that OD&D denied magic-users any armor. It does nat appear that armor or any carried item affect spell casting(M&M pg. 19):

Spells & Levels: The number above each column is the spell level (complexity, a somewhat subjective determination on the part of your authors). The number in each column opposite each applicable character indicates the number of spells of each level that can be used (remembered during any single adventure) by that character. Spells are listed and explained later. A spell used once may not be re-used in the same day.

Nothing about somatic, verbal, or material components. It seems that a magic-user would be able to wear weapons and armor and cast spells. It does, however, seem to indicate that each spell may only be taken once in memory so a wizard would only have one fireball, one lightening bolt, etc.

Now, I fully believe Gary always denied armor to Magic-User player characters and certainly did so explicitly in Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. However, unless I run across something else in the LBB I think I will allow magic-users to wear armor and use shields in a LBB centric game.