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View Full Version : Thaco, how I miss it.



Kaewin
05-04-2009, 11:51 AM
The old mechanic for combat in the old days. I never thought it was hard. I recently gotten my players into an classic D&D game. I found a copy of the character sheet and printed them out. On the bottom is a chart for THAC0. My players are having problems with it. When they roll to hit they shout out , 15, 17 16 and so on. Does it look like I have memorized all of the charts? Do I know everybodies bonuses and THAC0. What is so hard for this mechanic?

They started on 2nd a year before 3rd came out. Since then its been 3rd, 3.5 and 4th. They can't figure it out. AND they all think they are the smartest things in the world. One of my players she hates doing calculis to play.

Does anyone want to weigh in?

Valdar
05-04-2009, 12:44 PM
THAC0 isn't that hard- it's pretty much the way they came up with the to-hit tables in 1e. If you wrote out tables for to-hit vs. AC for the various classes based on THAC0, they'd look exactly like the 1e tables.

Your player is confusing "calculus" with "calculations". If your player is complaining about doing calculus at the table, I suggest you make her compute the blast effect of a volumetric fireball based on the topology of the room that it went off in. THAT would be calculus. THAC0 uses a different branch of mathematics known as "simple arithmetic".

Sounds to me like you have players that have gotten used to having the computer do the math for them. I can sympathize.

fmitchell
05-04-2009, 01:30 PM
To quote Wikipedia:


The die roll needed to hit other armor classes could be computed by subtracting the armor class from the THAC0. The lower one's THAC0, the more likely a hit would be successful.

If your players do just fine with 3.x and 4e, I'd suggest they go back get their Grade School Equivalency Exam; they must have learned addition but not that incomprehensibly complex subject subtraction.

Granted, adding numbers tends to be faster than subtracting them, but if your players can't be bothered to subtract numbers at all, maybe you should adapt the D&D rules for Candyland.

mnemenoi
05-04-2009, 01:37 PM
Its simply unfamiliar to them, give it some time and they will get it. It just takes a few sessions to get it sorted out. I was raised on Thaco, so 3.0 rules seem tedious and overly complicated, but I think its all about perspective. Learning new systems, rather they be old or new can be somewhat confusing especially if they use similar names and ideas.

Kaewin
05-04-2009, 01:46 PM
They had trhe problem the first time sround. I think it's laziness. One guy hates to be called stupid and remembers having bad algebra skills.


You guys are right they like me doing the work for them instead of doing it themselves.

Arch Lich Thoth-Amon
05-04-2009, 02:13 PM
I always thought THAC0 was pretty simple. Havent used it in a while, but when i do, the knowledge of using it always comes right back. In fact, at the last Con i was attending, everyone around our table figured it out pretty quickly.

Moritz
05-04-2009, 04:16 PM
THAC0 Table (http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&ct=res&cd=7&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.geocities.com%2FTimesSquare%2 FCastle%2F2683%2Fdocs%2Fthac0fum.doc&ei=5Vr_SeeyDZi-M9KXkcwE&usg=AFQjCNEX8EliBX0iMRCi2rLOQkrwhAN3QA&sig2=isGYzVdgnP90tZBDy5SQ9g)

Click that if you want the table in *.doc format.

Dytrrnikl
05-04-2009, 05:12 PM
I always thought the THAC0 mechanic was pretty simple...roll attack, subtract roll from THAC0 that's the AC you hit. I said this to my player's when 3E first came out - that BAB mechanic with attribute set up created a system where one is more likely to be hit than not. To this day, I firmly believe that to be the case.

Sascha
05-04-2009, 05:31 PM
Never cared for THAC0, myself; even now that I understand the math behind both it and 3.x's to-hit, I'd still go with 3.x. THAC0 has an extra step that deals with potentially subtracting a negative, which experience has taught me is rather easy to screw up, even for those good with the maths. I much prefer the straightforward method.

However, the original comment seems to be less about THAC0 and more about differing expectations between the editions. Seriously, I've had more 3.x DMs keep a monster's AC secret than 1/2E; you sorta had to just declare the roll in those cases and hope the DM has the math correct. (Also, it could be the players themselves are ill-suited to the game. Not much THAC0 can do for that ;))

Arch Lich Thoth-Amon
05-04-2009, 05:33 PM
I still have my original THAC0 cardboard wheel. Damn, the name of it escapes me at the moment.

Malruhn
05-04-2009, 09:32 PM
I really enjoyed THAC0... and it was quite natural... like reading English. There are so very many illogical mechanics involved, but it was what I grew up on!

I've found that I MUCH prefer the new system. It's nothing but addition and prayer that your addition pwns the BBEG's addition.

The new system took one full step out Instead of looking on a convoluted table with positive and negative numbers, getting a second value and comparing your addition to the value, now you just compare your addition to their addition.

Easy is best in my mind.

Oldgamer
05-05-2009, 10:52 AM
I think both ends of the To Hit scale are easy, especially once you grasp the overall concept. I had a little hard time picking up 3.x because I had been using THAC0 for 20 years or so and it didn't make sense at first, but I picked it up pretty quick, I'd say within a few minutes of reading the PHB cleared up a lot :)

templeorder
05-06-2009, 01:50 PM
THAC0 is very simple... its just a matter of being used to it. While it does not seem difficult, learning another system is not always easy. When i built my own, it took 2-3 months before i could stop looking up every single thing and i created the thing myself (with some help)! I "gre up" on THAC0 and prefer it...

MortonStromgal
05-06-2009, 02:49 PM
..My players are having problems with it. When they roll to hit they shout out , 15, 17 16 and so on. Does it look like I have memorized all of the charts? Do I know everybodies bonuses and THAC0. What is so hard for this mechanic?

When we played players would always shout out how much they made or missed their THAC0 by. So if my THAC0 is 15 and i made a 19 after mods I yelled out made it by 4, or if I rolled a 12 I yelled out missed it by 3. Then the DM would subtract the armor class and tell us what happened.

Kaewin
05-07-2009, 09:58 AM
I do think its the math that confuses them. They just don't want to do the effort. But if it was dollars being used .....

tesral
05-11-2009, 12:52 AM
Used it, knew it, don't miss it.

Webhead
05-11-2009, 09:34 PM
I don't miss THAC0 as a mechanic so much as the fond role playing memories that THAC0 bring to mind. Say the word THAC0 and suddenly I'm 16 again and laying with character sheet in-hand on the floor of a friend's bedroom at 2:00 A.M. or on the patio at Borders surrounded by friends laughing, chucking dice and imagining ourselves in a far-away land.

nijineko
05-13-2009, 04:22 PM
I don't miss THAC0 as a mechanic so much as the fond role playing memories that THAC0 bring to mind. Say the word THAC0 and suddenly I'm 16 again and laying with character sheet in-hand on the floor of a friend's bedroom at 2:00 A.M. or on the patio at Borders surrounded by friends laughing, chucking dice and imagining ourselves in a far-away land.

*ditto* (except for place-locations)

shilar
05-22-2009, 11:50 PM
Never thought Thac0 was hard just didn't like it because of the whole some scores were better high(stats and thief skills) some better low(AC and saving throws) thing. Contributed to the whole the game was complicated misconception among new players.

tesral
05-23-2009, 10:33 AM
Well, it was complicated, for exactly the reason you state. Every little thing had it's own mechanic unrelated to anything else.

The best move Lizards made was to stick with a d20 for the whole game. While not the ideal system (no system is) the d20 has been the core of the game from the start and it simplifies the mechanics. The second best was positive AC. Making the DC and AC (avoiding the band pun) the target number was streamlining the game could use.

I am currently playing what would be best described as a d20ed 2nd edition game. I call it MD&D 2.8. I took what I saw as the positive aspects of the system and put them into my game without other changes.

Dark
05-23-2009, 11:07 AM
Question a d20ed 2nd edition game? :confused:

tesral
05-23-2009, 12:15 PM
Question a d20ed 2nd edition game? :confused:

Well, no feats. Feats being the biggest additional difference in system between 2e and 3e. I'm still using class XP charts. I still have 7 level spell progression for the clerics.

I'm still using the old spells and old spell names. Mind you I went through the entire spell list with a fine tooth comb if you will. I got rid of every example of "nice spell, don't use it" I could find. I simplified several overly complicated spells. I added spells that we have added to the list over the years. However the flavor of the spells has not changed. Oh yes, and I eliminated every vestige of alignment.

I kept theiving abilities thieving abilities while converting to a d20 system. I did not turn rogues into lousy figthers with a butt-load of skills. Bards got the same treatment while allowing them to have more than one magical traditiion.

I did adopt the 3 saving throw system. It just works. I found the idea stunning in simplicity.

Skills got a through work over. I like the direction 3e took skills, but not the skills themselves in some cases, or the way skills were parceled out.

Celebrimbdal
05-24-2009, 09:46 AM
The THACO system is not so much hard as it is counter-intuitive. I put something like 20 years into 1e and 2e and was resistant to converting to 3.0 when it came out. Now I run 3.5 and do not have any desire to play under those old, arcane, pedantic rules ever again. They were great when they were great, but in comparison to the internal consistency of the 3.5 rules and how much more smoothly the game runs now, 3.5 wins hands down.

Once in a while I feel nostalgic enough to miss those old charts and systems, so I just pull out my old 1e DM screen (you know, the one with the entire separate screen full of charts just for psionics?) and get a good laugh at the hours spent poring over those charts. It was fun then, but so was my hairstyle at the time. Now it just seems silly.

gajenx
05-24-2009, 10:12 AM
To me THACO was never hard to do it was just counter intuitive for many things when I tried to explain it. I mostly told players that is your target number you need when you add in any bonus to hit (from magic or stats) + adding or subtracting the AC.

Though overall the THACO chart is the same in progression, minus the Rogue THACO when you look at the d20 Base Attack bonus chart.

MrFrost
05-25-2009, 10:20 AM
not a fan of Thac0, once you hit -10 AC as many had it was pointless playing anymore. It was really flawed, i do enjoy 3E system.

gajenx
05-25-2009, 10:49 AM
the same can be said for once you can fairly easily hit AC 20 in 3.0 and 3.5 it would be pointless to continue playing still, since 3.0/3.5 AC 20 = 2e AC -10. By that token a fighter with a +2 weapon and like a 14 Strength at level 10 in 3.0/3.5 has a bonus of +14 to hit minimum not counting feats. so by level 10 he has a 70% chance to hit what was AC -10 using his BAB/THACO. So are you saying it is pointless to be playing games for fighter types after level 10 then?

In 2e it was much harder to get the massive bonuses you can get in 3.0 or 3.5.

Webhead
05-25-2009, 12:20 PM
the same can be said for once you can fairly easily hit AC 20 in 3.0 and 3.5 it would be pointless to continue playing still, since 3.0/3.5 AC 20 = 2e AC -10...

Actually, AC -10 in 2E was eqivalent to AC 30 in 3.X not AC 20. All PCs begin with AC 10. AC 0 was ten points higher which is eqivalent to AC 20. -10 was ten points higher than that, so AC 30.


...In 2e it was much harder to get the massive bonuses you can get in 3.0 or 3.5.

Agreed. There wasn't a lot of "stacking" and different categories of bonuses going on in 2E that has become the epitome of 3.X. Trying to reach -10 AC was a long term goal for some players and one that was notoriously hard to do (I once had a character with artifact-level armor and my AC only ever topped out at -6!!!).

Meanwhile, I've seen 3.X characters at higher levels legitimately reach Armor Classes that were in the mid-to-upper 40's thanks to clever bonus stacking and power selection. :rolleyes:

gajenx
05-25-2009, 12:28 PM
Well my group did the math it still is not so much there since a first level 2e character was suppose to have a 50/50 shot to hit AC 10. This is the same with 3.x at first level you have your 50/50 shot no matter what so AC 10 is still like AC 10. That is why in 2e when goblins had like AC 8 or 9 they have AC 12 or so now; it's still the same. The difference is in 3.x they allow characters to have AC better than -10 equivalent so there is more of a challenge to the fighter archtypes at the higher levels, where the to hit challenge was not in 2e.

MrFrost
05-25-2009, 05:37 PM
the same can be said for once you can fairly easily hit AC 20 in 3.0 and 3.5 it would be pointless to continue playing still, since 3.0/3.5 AC 20 = 2e AC -10. By that token a fighter with a +2 weapon and like a 14 Strength at level 10 in 3.0/3.5 has a bonus of +14 to hit minimum not counting feats. so by level 10 he has a 70% chance to hit what was AC -10 using his BAB/THACO. So are you saying it is pointless to be playing games for fighter types after level 10 then?

In 2e it was much harder to get the massive bonuses you can get in 3.0 or 3.5.

In 3/3.5 you should have a higher AC then 20 at later levels. AC 18 with a dex of +3 and chainmail could be an starting point with decent rolls. A good AC in 3.5 would be in the high 20's or beyond.

Zzarchov
05-27-2009, 10:41 PM
Thac0 is complicated? Really? Am I reading that right? Did you ACTUALLY play with Thac0?


If the die roll, plus your opponent's AC (and any magical or other bonus you have gotten) is equal to or higher than your Thac0 you hit.

Its exactly the same as 3e mechanically.

You have a d20 roll, plus a bonus and it has to exceed a target number.

Its not complicated, Im really doubting anyone even tried the mechanic if they had trouble with it and most likely just pre-emptively decided not to even attempt it, like when someone claims they don't like a certain type of food without having tasted it.

Or, the mechanic was explained incorrectly is the other option as always.

Xandros
05-27-2009, 10:51 PM
Thac0 is complicated? Really? Am I reading that right? Did you ACTUALLY play with Thac0?


If the die roll, plus your opponent's AC (and any magical or other bonus you have gotten) is equal to or higher than your Thac0 you hit.

Its exactly the same as 3e mechanically. It is the same mechanic, just looked at from a different angle.


Its not complicated, Im really doubting anyone even tried the mechanic if they had trouble with it and most likely just pre-emptively decided not to even attempt it, like when someone claims they don't like a certain type of food without having tasted it.

Or, the mechanic was explained incorrectly is the other option as always.I would guess that it is not what they were used to, and like you said, pre-emptively decided it was hard.

tesral
05-28-2009, 08:56 AM
Its not complicated, Im really doubting anyone even tried the mechanic if they had trouble with it and most likely just pre-emptively decided not to even attempt it, like when someone claims they don't like a certain type of food without having tasted it.

It is more complicated than BAB. There is the extra step as the AC is not the target number. Complicated compared to say, double entry bookkeeping? Not so much so.

gajenx
05-28-2009, 09:04 AM
I think it is just as complicated using 3.x stuff. Thaco was d20 + bonuses +/- AC. If your roll = THACO you hit.

3.x is roughly just as complicated d20 + bonus to hit + other modifiers = opponent's AC you hit.

Same basic math skills. For those that did not understand how THACO worked or claim it's complicated I do not understand way. THACO always made sense to me and was easy to get and do.

Oldgamer
05-28-2009, 10:38 AM
An extra step? Yes. Complicated? No. Anyone with 3rd grade math skills can play with THAC0, I was using it quite easily at 10 years old.

gajenx
05-28-2009, 11:25 AM
Um two-digit addition and subtraction with and without borrowing/re-grouping or carrying is taught in 2nd grade.

Zzarchov
05-28-2009, 12:03 PM
There is no extra step.

D20 roll plus modifiers (of which opponents AC was one) = Thac0 or greater = hit
D20 roll plus modifiers (of which Combat bonus/Thac0 was one) = Targets AC = hit

there is no extra step, it is switching two numbers in the equation (the combat skill and the AC) , one going from bonus to target number (or vice versa).

It is IDENTICAL.

tesral
05-28-2009, 12:06 PM
An extra step? Yes. Complicated? No. Anyone with 3rd grade math skills can play with THAC0, I was using it quite easily at 10 years old.

Calling it more complicated that BAB is not equating it with calculus. I was using THAC0 when I was over 30 so it can't be that bad. After all anyone 25 or under can tell you that anyone over 30 is as dumb as a box of hammers.

That said, THAC0 is more complicated than BAB. Anything the simplifies the process is better. Why? Because the simpler the process the quicker the game. Yes, it's the same mechanic. However it is a better expression of that mechanic.

Zzarchov
05-28-2009, 12:16 PM
I agree it is a better explanation, thac0 will not be missed. It was never truly complicated though.

Oldgamer
05-29-2009, 12:01 PM
No, I wont miss it either. I think it more straight forward for BAB, but being from the THAC0 school for around 20 years of playing and switching to BAB, I have no trouble processing THAC0 just as fast as BAB in my head.

William Murderface
06-06-2009, 12:30 PM
Thaco was one of the easiest systems to learn and i miss it very dearly the problem is is that nobody seems to want to understand the system or how it works nowadays they all just want to complain about how learning a new system when they could culture themselves and get it either way i miss thaco