As much as I’m looking forward to getting back to the stark simplicity of OD&D (as streamlined and simplified by Original Edition Delta) there are certain rules from Dungeon Crawl Classics that I’m unwilling to do without because they fix what seems to me to be genuine problems with OD&D (at least for me and my players).
- Mighty Deeds for Fighters. The DCC Mighty Deeds rule just makes Fighting Men more fun to play, and really makes up for the relative lack of options that FM get as they level up and the other classes get more and better abilities. More than that, it gives me as Dungeon Master and simple and consistent way of adjudicating all the crazy shenanigans that Fighting Men ought to be getting up to: tripping, disarming, swinging from chandeliers, throwing sand in the face of the foe, etc. Of course I can make rulings on the fly, but I appreciate having a rough framework to help. Gygax, et. al. had an actuarial approach to combat: as long as over hundreds of rolls the statistics worked out, who cares what happens moment by moment in a combat round. Only everybody I play with regularly, that’s who. Even back in the 70’s we never really paid attention to the “fast and furious” one minute combat rounds.
- Luck instead of Wisdom. Since OED removes Clerics, and I agree with the reasons for doing that, it leaves Wisdom as a dead stat. Luck is better for a pulpy game, and the ability to spend Luck when you really need to succeed, coupled with the sure knowledge that your Luck is running out when you do that does great things for the game, IMO. It also helps with the the problem I sometimes perceive of an allegedly competent character getting a few unlucky rolls and coming across as a useless twerp; yes, in the long run the probabilities will prevail, but in a game with a decent dose of lethality we may all be dead before the long run. I’m not usually a fan of “meta” game currencies like Hero points and the like, but Luck is different… characters like Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser worry about their luck in a way that makes more sense with Luck as a spendable resource than just what you get from rolls of the dice.
- Luck Die for Thieves. as per DCC Thieves cans add their Luck Die to any of their rolls by spending a point of Luck, which they recover 1 point per level per night. Thieves in OD&D suck, and OED just simplifies the math around that. I know all the apologetics for really low chances of success at anything except climbing (not even reaching 50-50 chances until nearly name level), and probably have written a few myself. The fact remains that, except for climbing, you’d be better off playing a Fighting Man or Magic User that sneaks around and steals stuff. The Luck Die fixes all that. Even with your terrible starting probabilities, if you spend Luck you can make it count when it’s important.
- Recovering Spells Through Spellburn. I’m not going whole hog into the DCC spell charts, because as great as I think they are, some of my players seem to really resent the randomness. So we’ll be using the clearly defined OED Book of Spells and the usual spells per day charts, but since I think that oh, you’re out of spells, you can just throw daggers is and always was lame, while the 5e solution of endless cantrips makes the game feel like a JRPG setting I’m going to let Wizards attempt to cast an already expended spell via Spellburning. Same as DCC rules, it’s a point of Spellburn per level of spell… plus to succeed they’ll have to roll a check against DC 11+ spell level. The points of Spellburn to recover the spell won’t add to the roll, but I’ll probably let them burn more to try to make sure that the spell actually goes off. I’m definitely going to make them roll on the creepy Spellburn actions chart instead of just ticking off the points of STR, DEX or CON.
- Rolling the Body. Instead of death at zero HP or Delta’s rule allowing a Death Save, just roll the body after combat per DCC: roll less than your remaining Luck and you miraculously survived… you haven’t burned all your Luck, have you? Heh. Heh. The loss of a point from a random physical attribute will keep this from being a permanent “Get Out of Death Free” card even for players who hoard their Luck.
- Crits and Fumbles from DCC. I like Delta’s rule about being able to save against crits and fumbles, as well as 1 HD or less creatures not generating crits, but the Good Hits and Bad Misses chart from the Dragon magazine that he uses strikes me as both too bland and too punishing. I think I prefer the DCC charts as well as the way that Fighters’ crits are better than other classes and improve with level. I think I’m also going to keep DCC’s rule that Thieves crit on back-stab, too, instead of just boring old double damage; the victim will still get a save as per Delta.
- Dwarves can smell gold, and Elves are allergic to iron. Those are just too much fun in RP terms to part with. Magic armor and weapons won’t pose a problem to elves, that would be too cruel, but they better stick to leather and weapons like bows and spears or try to find some mithril until they can get magic. I note that in OD&D encounters in the wild, bands of Elves have AC 5, which implies either chain without a shield or (more likely at least in this setting) Leather, Shield and a +1 from DEX.