I’ve quickly discovered when planning an OD&D game a GM soon must decide to Greyhawk or not.
And it turns out to be a bigger choice than I’d thought. Greyhawk is almost a near-reset of the game.
Last time I discussed “unlocking” character classes and abilities as the campaign progresses, yet content from Greyhawk can fundamentally change the game.
Classes now have different Hit Dice, as do monsters, which go from 1d6 hit points per “level” to 1d8. That in itself is a game changer.
Fighters (“Fighting Men”) can now have bonuses to hit and damage for having high strength. I do agree with Gary Gygax’s assessment on this issue: fighters needed a little more boost.
But exceptional/percentile strength?
If rolling the standard 3d6 method of generating scores, getting exceptional strength is hard to do. It’s a little easier with 4d6. But when it happens, watch out! I have played a character with an 18/00 before in AD&D Second Edition; the character unbalanced the game.
And exceptional strength in OD&D would probably unbalance the game even more.
Just that +2 to +4 bonus to hit gives a lot more power to fighters, not mention the damage bonuses (+3 to +6).
Combined with variable weapon damage, all characters (except magic-users), caused more damage to monsters than under the original rules. The standard “sword” went from 1d6 to 1d8 (I’m not even going to get into the damage versus larger creatures and the rationality behind it).
Maybe that’s why Gygax boosted monsters 1d8 Hit Dice per level. Characters were dealing out too much damage for the average monster to take.
And, of course, there’s the Thief…
Giving players the justification to steal from fellow party members since 1975. (Though they’re really bad at it at lower levels).
Also, because the Thief, you’ve got rules for multi-classing, which opens up even more options and things to consider.
Why would anybody play a single-classed human thief? Human thieves were weak.
Play a Hobbit. Hobbits get bonuses across the board to their thieving abilities.
Or a multi-classed elven fighter/magic-user/thief. Experience points gets divided between your classes, but you’d have a potent character.
Each new rule altered the game. And some of the rules contradict or replace had gone before.
It’s no wonder so many groups in the mid-1970s came up with their own house rules (as told by DM David).
In the end, if I were to run an Original D&D Campaign, I’d just use some of the monster and magic items. I’d pick what I’d want and discard the rest.
That’s the neat thing about earlier editions of Dungeons & Dragons: because the rules were thrown together hodge-podge, you can choose what you want easily house rule the rest.