14 May 2014

Bloat Not Lest Ye Become Bloated

The version of Dungeons & Dragons I prefer is Basic/Expert D&D plus whatever spells, monsters, and secondary skills I wish to import from AD&D. I have no need of rules bloatation devices. The beauty of Labyrinth Lord is that it combines the Basic and Expert rules into one rulebook, and then offers the Advanced Edition Companion so you can add what you like, just as we did it in the 1980s. My only reservation about this approach is that it occasionally allows AD&Disms to creep into the game unless one is vigilant. Take, for example, the description of the iron golem from the AEC: "Only weapons at least +3 or better can damage iron golems." This is the sort of thing that leads to an excessive proliferation of magic items, which leads to a trivialization of magic, which results in a watering down of the wondrous. In short, it detracts from the fantastical in a fantasy setting. It's a mundanization of the fantasy world. (Mundanization, from the verb mundanize, or mundanisation, from the verb mundanise, depending on your spelling preference. I think I just made it up.) Why? Because players will be worried that their magic weapons are not magical enough. They will become obsessed with upgrading their arsenal of magic weapons as if they were nothing but obsolete software. "A sword +2? Bah! I need at least +3! I might need to fight an iron golem."

Perhaps it's an oversight, or maybe it's just a way to convert Labyrinth Lord into a full-scale Advanced Bloated Labyrinth Lord (Positive Material Plane help us), but I know I will be ignoring any advanced bloatery I detect and replacing it with a suitable basic/expert solution. In this case, "Only magic weapons can damage iron golems." Ah, much better.

(See also Magical Spell: Ensorcel Weapon and Clerical Spell: Sanctify Weapon for other alternatives to magic weapon bloatification.)

N.B. For those who play in my games, any creature affected only by magic weapons is affected by any magic weapon regardless of its enchantment. There are more magical properties in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are embodied by combat bonuses.

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