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  Click here to go to the first special guest post in this thread.   Thread: 2e debate...in need of answers...

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    2e debate...in need of answers...

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    Just throwing this out there to the 2e experts...Whilst entertaining my players at the house the other day, an interesting exchange popped up in regards to the variance of different editions of D&D...and someone asked what is the advantage, if any, of THAC0 in 2e over 3.x, or 4e...having little experience with 2e myself, i thought i would bow to the experts.

    So in a nutshell, How is THAC0 better than 3.x, or 4e? OR Is it?
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    It isn't inherently better in any way. Essentially, it is just an inversed form of BAB.

    Rather than counting upwards from 0 and using a positive AC progression, THAC0 counts downwards from 20 and uses negative AC progression.

    Statistically they mean the same thing, they are just separated by their individual quirks. For example (as best I recall), 2E considered -10 AC to be the absolute limit of Armor Class. No character could have an AC value better than -10. 3E allows you to reach any level of AC. You could have a character with AC 60 in 3E. In 2E, your absolute best is -10 (by the RAW).

    So, neither is "better". They are just 2 different methods of getting the same statistical end result.

    What tends to trip people up about THAC0 is that not all modifiers move in the same direction. A positive number to hit from attributes and magic is good. The higher the better. But Armor Class is the opposite and negative numbers are good. The lower the better. That tends to confuse people.
    Last edited by Webhead; 05-07-2009 at 09:38 PM.
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    I was going to chime in but Webhead pretty much covered it.
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    Comparing 1st level THAC0 and Base Attack Bonus (BAB) progressions. Assume no other modifiers (stats, gear, etc).

    AC 0 in 1/2E works out to be AC 20 in 3.x (armor factor 10)
    - 1/2E: base AC 10, subtract 10 for armor = final AC 0
    - 3.x: base ac 10, add 10 for armor = final AC 20

    Starting THAC0 for all classes was 20, as I recall. Result: any class needs a 20 on the roll to hit.

    With the 3.x BAB system, Average and Poor progression started at +0; they, too, need a 20 to hit an equivalent-AC target. Good BAB progression starts with a +1, so that number drops to 19.

    Comparison: at first level, assuming no modifiers beyond BAB, good progression classes hit more often than their THAC0 equivalents, by 5%.

    Obviously, vary the armor bonus and the resulting hit percentage changes, as does a change in level-based THAC0 and BAB; the stat modifiers are the big variable between the editions, but one doesn't need to consider those to look at the underlying mechanic.

    If my memory serves, the fighter THAC0 changes mirror good BAB progression - 1 shift per level - so the BAB-equivalent will have a (theoretical) 5% leg up on older editions, vs the same armor equivalent. I'd have to look at the old tables to compare to average and poor BAB progression, but I *think* they mirror THAC0 in level adjustments. (It's been a while since I saw pre-3.x materials, so my memory could be rather faulty; those with the books on hand, please correct the numbers as necessary )
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    Quote Originally Posted by Webhead View Post
    What tends to trip people up about THAC0 is that not all modifiers move in the same direction. A positive number to hit from attributes and magic is good. The higher the better. But Armor Class is the opposite and negative numbers are good. The lower the better. That tends to confuse people.
    Yeah, this is the part of the THAC0/AC relationship that just made no sense to me, back in the day. Even though the math works out to be the same target numbers, it seems like a roundabout way to get it. Straightforward math is so preferred, heh.
    Last edited by Sascha; 05-07-2009 at 09:59 PM. Reason: Automerged Double Post

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    The only major difference that I can think of between the THAC0 system of 2E and the BAB system of 3E is that, in 2E, only Fighters were ever granted extra attacks at higher levels. All other classes continued to progress their THAC0 value but they never got multiple attacks as a result of it.

    In 3E, all characters receive multiple attacks regardless of class once they reach a certain BAB value.

    Which of these rules you prefer is simply a matter of opinion.
    Last edited by Webhead; 05-07-2009 at 10:10 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Baron_Samedi View Post
    So in a nutshell, How is THAC0 better than 3.x, or 4e? OR Is it?
    The only advantage I can see for THAC0 is as a player you know that if you make your roll you hit the guy in standard plate mail. So if the DM said "your surrounded by bandits in leather armour" you would know you hit them for sure...

    ... the flip side is you could just know that standard AC for BAB edition on standard full plate is 18...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Webhead View Post
    The only major difference that I can think of between the THAC0 system of 2E and the BAB system of 3E is that, in 2E, only Fighters were ever granted extra attacks at higher levels. All other classes continued to progress their THAC0 value but they never got multiple attacks as a result of it.
    This not true. All classes eventually got extra attacks, but at a much slower rate than in 3e. It was notated differently though, all warrior classes had 3/2 attacks per round, if memory serves at around 6th lvl, 5th for Fighters. That's right 3 attacks every 2 rounds, which meant "1 attack every odd numbered round, and 2 attacks the even ones.", the highest the chart went to was 5/4 for the warrior classes 3 Divine casters and thief, 3/2 Mages. It's been awhile though, so some of those may be off abit.
    Last edited by BrotherDog; 05-08-2009 at 06:01 AM.

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    It is like comparing Apples to Oranges and asking which is better. Inherently its choice and comfort, what you are familiar with. While one might actually discuss the difference between 1st and 2nd edition systems they shared all the same basics, with 3rd edition they remade and reshaped the system. At that point I think there is really no valid way to make a comparison as it is entirely a different animal. I was explained 3rd editions system and actually thought it sounded great, if they had created it about 10 years prior I would likely have been using it, but that not being the case I choose to stick with 2nd.

    I think when we really come down to it, D&D is a role playing game and the rules are necessary, but they just get in the way usually.

    Most popular games seem to have to balance a fairly simple system and allow complex rules for certain people that like them. Otherwise we would all be spending 8 hours creating Runequest characters. I guess its just a matter of compromise and marketability.

    In my humble opinion I think its all a matter of what you like.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mnemenoi View Post
    It is like comparing Apples to Oranges and asking which is better.

    In my humble opinion I think its all a matter of what you like.
    I agree - between 2 and 3e its soooo different. My own personal style (though it may just be habit/comfort) is still 1+2e...

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    Like mnemenoi said, " It is like comparing apples to oranges..."

    Since I have started to play in a 3.0 game online here in the chat, I see the difference in the two versions. They are different systems. There really isn't a real way to compare them against each other.

    Since 2E came first, I will use it for the base. Thaco = To Hit Armor Class 0. Yes, the Armor Classes ranged from 10 as the worst to -10 as the best. To be able to compare it, 3.X and 4, they would have had to use 20 as the best possible AC and 0 as the worst. This would have basically just inverted the positions of the best and worst ACs. They would still have had to used a roll to hit AC 10 as the center. Since this is not how it works, there is no way to really compare the two, other than which is preferred by the person that is playing the game.

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    I am likely straying, but I think the answers covered it (short of a mathematical evaluation of the difference in probabilities based on -10 to 10 vs. 0 to infinity).

    Short of that, 2e also had a great deal more "special" defenses, perhaps as a working resolution to higher level characters hit chances or perhaps to add flavor. Material requirements like "cold iron" or "silver" as one aspect or various environmental or physical traits like invisibility or phasing etc. I rather liked these ideas for themselves, but never really embraced the DM vs. player philosophy of early DnD that generally led to their invention.

    On the other hand, I find it very sad to trade the spontaneous creativity and imagination in the early systems for largely (exponentially worsening over time) inspirationally void WotC and later editions. Somewhere along the way the concept of "house rules" twisted into a pejorative. Personalizing the game transitioned from a unique and creative resolution offering each group opportunities for a creative and collaborative reflection of itself in a shared hobby to mere proof of fault in creation, a reflection of author shortcomings or editorial imperfection causing harmful diversity and nonconforming thought.

    The result was a uniform scrubbing of any ambivalence while touting a perverse explosion of unmanageable choices and perverse system of statistical rewards favoring calculation and manipulation over creative individual and cooperative development. Perhaps tied to the concurrent grand revolution of marketing and lawyer over artist and author resulting in merger of the same, downsizing of the latter, and replacement by the previous? Either way, shortage of principal (principle?) and single minded fiscal motivation soon efficiently deposed any residual substance for arrogance, consideration for ego, and slyly swapped grand design for hype at a an unbelievable cost savings and encompassing a satisfying eradication of all remaining spirit with retention of promise for same gratis!

    Crushed were characters expressed in sophisticated personalities performed and developed for the pure enjoyment of both actor and audience alike in exchange for oppressive statistical behemoths near devoid of emotion. Where once a detailed character might develop in time, springing to life as if of its own volition at the behest of a skilled author; now the best hope was to flounder in well edited, well conforming, well marketed, utterly uninspired forms.

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    it maybe just the games I've played in f2f, but it seems to me that the shift went from easy on the DM (2e)to Hard on the Dm (3.).
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    Quote Originally Posted by traesin View Post
    it maybe just the games I've played in f2f, but it seems to me that the shift went from easy on the DM (2e)to Hard on the Dm (3.).
    I can't see where more prep is required. But I have been a heavy prep type form the beginning. I can wing it on the fly. I like having preparation.

    My 3e style notes are not any more or less complete than my 2e style notes.


    And yes, Webhead nailed it. It is the same thing turned on its head. I prefer BAB as being intrinsically simpler. DC/AC is the target number. Roll that or better. Frankly I feel that AD&D should have switched to positive armor class in 1979.
    Last edited by tesral; 09-01-2009 at 11:35 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BrotherDog View Post
    This not true. All classes eventually got extra attacks, but at a much slower rate than in 3e. It was notated differently though, all warrior classes had 3/2 attacks per round, if memory serves at around 6th lvl, 5th for Fighters. That's right 3 attacks every 2 rounds, which meant "1 attack every odd numbered round, and 2 attacks the even ones.", the highest the chart went to was 5/4 for the warrior classes 3 Divine casters and thief, 3/2 Mages. It's been awhile though, so some of those may be off abit.
    This isn't correct either. In the base 2E handbook, fighters were the only class to gain multiple attacks each round. I believe the logic behind this was because Rangers and Paladins had spells and some other nifty special abilities, Wizards/Bards/Cerics/Druids had magic and other abilties, and the Thief had the 8 thievery abilities and Backstab...whereas the only thing the fighter did was fight.

    Non-specialized Fighter Melee Weapons 1 attack/round up to level 6, 3 attacks per 2 rounds from 7th to 13th level, 2 attacks per round at 14th level and up.

    Ranged attacks varied depending on whether it was a bow, light crossbow or heavy crossbow, or type of thrown weapon.

    With specilization in melee, the fighter and only the fighter could get 3 attack every 2 rounds up to 6th, 2 attacks per round from 7th to 13th, and then 5 attacks per 2 rounds at 14th an higher. This also granted the fighter a +1 to hit and a +2 to damage.

    Fighting with two weapons only ever granted a single extra attack each round.

    Of course, if Expertise Proficiency was used then Rangers and Paladins could get the extra attacks that a fighter was granted from specialization but not the bonus to hit or damage.

    Now if you also took the Weapon Mastery rules from the horrible 2E Player's Option revision (Black covered books), then Weapon mastery granted a total bonus to hit and damage of +3 to each, High Mastery I believe granted one extra attack each round on top oif specialization, Grand Mastery increased the damage die to the next higher die.

    I think some weapons when thrown allowed everyone to gain multiple attacks, like darts I think.

    As for the topic of this post, I don't think it's possible to argue which is better BAB or THAC0. My own perception is that BAB leads to more successful attacks and thus more lethality than what I saw with 2E and THAC0. With 3E BAB and AC both move upwards in value, higher value equals better. In 2E AC and THAC0 both got lower, with only the fighter ever really gaining the best THAC0 - 0. Meaning at some point he pretty much hit everything, particularly if he had a +5 weapon and let's say 18/00 strength (granting a +3 to hit and +6 to damage).

    I'll have to pull out my 2E material just to be sure, but that pretty much covers what I can recall off the top of my head.

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    remember with Thac0, there was a limit to your attack bonus- there was a ceiling on how good you could get (w/o homebrew or some crazy epic rules)

    Thac0 was removed IMO cuz it confused new gamers, and it was limited by the AC system of that edition...

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