Weapon Class - Armor Class

What if Armor wasn't represented by a number, but by a code? To some degree that was the original intent of Armor Class.

Page 38 of the 1st edition AD&D Player's Handbook has an interesting artifact left over from Chainmail that is the Armor Class system. I don't recall ever actually using this in play as it is too cumbersome and didn't seem worth the complication for whatever game play it is supposed to add. Today we think of AC as an ascending (or descending) number representing improved defense against weapons, and that is true to an extent. More specifically AC represented a specific type of armor which some weapons were better or worse against as shown on the Weapon Types table.

This concept comes from the Man-to-Man Melee Table in Chainmail (this is my cleaned up reinterpretation of that table):

Taking notes from that idea here is a further extrapolation of the concept, grouping weapons into classes by their similarity. A Weapon Class. So the number does not represent offensive or defensive strength so much as a short hand or code for the weapon/armor it stands for. They could just as well be called A, B, C instead of 1, 2, 3.


Inspiration, Swiping, and Copying

This full page illustration by Darlene in the original Dungeon Master's Guide always fascinated me. It represented a type of fantasy that was being replaced by darker, heavier fantasy by artists like Frazetta and that is more of the norm these days. Now, I loves me some Frazetta. I have almost every art book, and am constantly on the lookout for every Frazetta image I can find to add to my inspiration folder. However, I sometimes wonder what books would look like had this more classical type of fantasy become the norm in gaming. Oh, we still see plenty of classic stuff, but it is definitely in the minority.

This drawing Darlene made reminds me of the great late 19th century illustrator Aubrey Beardsley, and he drew a composition that is quite similar. I wonder of she got some inspiration from this?

Composition by Aubrey Beardsley for The Lady of the Lake telleth Arthur of the sword Excalibur, from 'Le Morte d'Arthur' by Sir Thomas Malory.
1893-94 (lithograph)

In the illustration field being inspired, or what is called "swiping" is common and not frowned on by professionals. Everyone does it, even the legends like Norman Rockwell. We all stand on the shoulders of giants, as the saying goes, and there are hundreds of years of art history we learn from, draw inspiration from, and add our little bit to. In fact you can learn a lot about the artists you most admire by looking at the artists they admired.

This post almost belongs on my art blog, but D&D fans are most likely to be familiar with this illustration. Also, I do occasional fan art here that is my interpretation of old school illustrations that inspired me when I was a kid learning how to draw. This is quite different from literally copying or tracing other artist's work and calling it your own.

The Ultimate Blog of RPG Blogs

I found this out courtesy of the DM In Exile http://aloneinthelabyrinth.blogspot.com/. It is a truly impressive collection of over 450 RPG related blogs, mostly of the old school flavor. It isn't just a list, but each features a thoughtful paragraph describing the blog. If there isn't enough gaming stuff on the internet for you to read go check it out.


Re-Imagining the DMG Cover

One of the items on my "would be fun to do someday" list is re-imagining the original ADnD covers in a modern style, but not too modern. When doing fan art or re-envisioning something a few questions come up. How far can you push it? What has to remain the same?

I've collected some references and done some sketches to answer these questions. I don't know if I'll go through with this and actually do full fledged paintings, but I might. One of the first things I sketched were the characters on the DMG and how they would look from the front. I've done a lot of character designs over the years in video games and in tabletop so I took the same approach to these designs. This first attempt is pretty safe and quite conservative with the characters. Not really changing anything. As I was doing this it occurred to me that it is not clear what the girl's character class is. Is she a thief? Or a magic-user? She seems to be holding her hand in a gesture to cast a spell, and a dagger isn't out of place for either class. I think I'm going to go with magic-user, though I suppose making her a thief would round out the party better.

The efreeti as cool as it is, has some opportunities for some really fascinating designs. Especially in the jewelry and its face.

Probably the most interesting part of this would be creating the city of brass floating over a burning ocean of oil. That could be made to look exceptionally brilliant. I haven't done any sketches for that part yet, but I am thinking how the front and back could be better integrated in a wrap around cover.


Blog Roll!

Some cool blogs I stumbled across in my recent journeys across the internets.

Nuclear Haruspex is an interesting hodge podge of stuff. Some random generators, which are always fun. Some OSR stuff, and some other ramblings about RPGs in general and GLOG (The Goblin Laws of Gaming) in particular.

Cratered Land has a variety of RPG stuff from OSR to Mechwarrior and more. And I appreciate the artists are given credit.

Whimsical Mountain. Primarily an OSR blog.

And Goblin Punch is the source of GLOG.

Here's a rotting pumpkin that looks like a face. Happy October!