playing D&D with Mike Mornard: how did this get in the manual

This entry is part 6 of 12 in the series D&D with Mike Mornard

When I last gamed with Mike Mornard, I also him a few miscellaneous questions about OD&D: largely about where various game elements came from. Here are his equally miscellaneous answers:

  • Mike is thanked prominently on the Greyhawk supplement. What were his contributions? Mike and Rob Kuntz were big proponents of variable weapon damage, so that every weapon doesn’t do 1d6 damage. (They weren’t involved, though, in the change in PC hit dice from 1d6). Mike also suggested the acid-spitting giant slug, which is cribbed from a Conan story.
  • When we were splitting our loot, which included a +1 shield and a couple of hundred gold, Mike said, “The process we often used for splitting treasure was this: everyone rolls percentile dice. The highest roller earns first choice of treasure.” This actually reminded me of the Need or Greed loot-rolling system which was reinvented for World of Warcraft.
  • The early books suggest that campaigns might have 50 people in the same world, but they wouldn’t all show up on the same night. Different groups would play on different nights. The cleric at our table was played by Alex of Bad Wrong Fun, who is setting up a similarly ambitious campaign in New York today.
  • Mike had a couple of tactical tips, which reminded me of this fact: OD&D “marching order” suggests that D&D parties march in formation, not the free-wheeling skirmish squads I’m used to from 3e/4e battlemats. OD&D parties march in squares, and it matters what rank you’re in. The second rank of fighters can use spears or other polearms. Handaxes are useful because you can use them in melee, but also throw them if the monsters are threatening a different part of your formation.
  • Also, said Mike, the OD&D thief is not a “rogue”, or lightly-armored damage specialist. As a thief, I was better off staying in the middle of the formation, or lurking in the shadows, and not gallivanting around the battlefield looking for opportunities to backstab. A thief could backstab in a pinch, but it wasn’t his bread and butter.
  • Finally, Mike says he doesn’t know why Gary didn’t record this fact in a book somewhere: when he modified the combat system he got from Dave, he was consciously imitating the battle in the Errol Flynn Robin Hood movie. A movie hero never goes down early with a lucky critical, but low-level guys can be dropped with one hit.

    Watch the fight on youtube!

    It strikes me that the designers of 4e recognized this goal and made it explicit with their rules for minions and boss monsters.

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  • One Response to “playing D&D with Mike Mornard: how did this get in the manual”

    1. Michael (Gronan) Mornard says:

      Sorry, I should have clarified — we split the gold (and gems, jewelry, etc) evenly and diced for the magic items.

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