Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Saving Throws in Mentzer Expert Set

I am working on a general comparison of the B/X and BECMI rulesets and as part of that project I had to compare saving throws. That's when I noticed that the BECMI Expert Set has something of a problem: Inconsistent saving throw tables. The saving throw tables are printed twice, once with each character class description and once as part of the combat tables. Sadly those saving throw tables don't agree. Take, for example, the saving throws for halflings. On page 19 we find the following table:

1-34-67-8
Death/Poison864
Magic Wands975
Paralysis/Stone1086
Dragon Breath13107
Rod/Staff/Spell12108

But then on page 29 we find the following table:

1-34-67-8
Death/Poison852
Magic Wands963
Paralysis/Stone1074
Breath Attack1385
Rod/Staff/Spell1294

It doesn't end there, in fact most of the saving throw tables are different between those two locations in the book. As far as I can tell only those for thieves are the same between the class description and the combat tables.

I am still trying for figure this out. There are simply too many differences to treat this as "just a typo" which was my first suspicion. It seems more likely that one set of tables comes from an earlier version of the manuscript. Overall the tables printed with the class descriptions seem more sane, so I would assume that the tables on page 29 are "wrong" and from an earlier draft. Just a guess of course. Opinions anyone?

Update 2014/05/07: Apparently later printings of the Expert Set correct this inconsistency by using the saving throw tables from page 29 everywhere. But the Rules Cyclopedia is actually different again! For example the "Halfling 4-6" saving throws are 5/6/7/9/8 in that edition. That's a more consistent pattern again, but it's also the third variation of this mess. Makes one wonder how modules could possibly be "tuned" to a certain power level at all...

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