AEC Changes to Racial Abilities

Here is a summary of the significant changes in character races from the 1e advanced game to Labyrinth Lord’s Advanced Edition Companion:

    Dwarves:

  • Lost orcish language
  • Lost +1 to-hit vs. half-orcs, goblins, hobgoblins, and orcs
  • Lost -4 defense bonus vs. ogres, trolls, ogre magi, giants, and titans
  • Saving throw bonuses vs. magic and poison are handled differently with roughly similar results
  • Gained saving throw bonuses vs. breath weapons
    Elves:

  • Lost 90% resistance to sleep and charm
  • Lost +1 to-hit with bows
  • Lost gnome, halfling, hobgoblin, orcish, and gnoll languages
  • Gained kobold language
  • Lost surprise bonus when alone or with only other elves
  • Gained resistance to ghoul’s paralyzation
    Gnomes:

  • Gained orcish language
  • Lost ability to communicate with burrowing mammals
  • Saving throw bonuses vs. magic are handled differently with roughly similar results
  • Gained saving throw bonuses vs. poison and breath weapons
  • Lost +1 to-hit vs. kobolds and goblins
    Halflings:

  • Saving throw bonuses vs. magic and poison are handled differently with roughly similar results
  • Gained saving throw bonuses vs. breath weapons
  • Lost all racial languages (6 total)…halfings in core LL also list no languages
  • Lost infravision (some breeds)
  • Lost tunnel observation skills
  • Lost surprise bonus when alone or with only other halflings
  • Gained ability to hide in wilderness
  • Gained ability to hid in shadows underground
  • Gained initiative bonus when alone or with only other halflings
  • Gained +1 to-hit on all missile attacks
    Half-Elves:

  • Lost 30% resistance to sleep and charm
  • Gained resistance to ghoul’s paralyzation
  • Lost gnome, halfling, and goblin languages
    Half-Orcs:

  • Gained ability to detect secret and hidden doors

I haven’t looked at changes to racial level limits or thief skill adjustments yet.

To be honest, now that I look more closely and make a list, the changes are lot more significant than I had thought when I wrote my review. I will add a link to this list from the review. Personally, I don’t really mind seeing what is generally a “powering-down” of the demi-human races, but this seems a bit excessive.

My guess is that it is due to how the race-classes were written up in the 1981 B/X game, which mostly carried over into Labyrinth Lord. When making the AEC races match racial abilities of the core LL race-classes, a lot had to go. Much of it, though nice flavor, isn’t really necessary. But some of it is more than just cosmetic.

This isn’t a knock against LL or the AEC, as I really like the simplified mechanics and write-ups of the basic game. And taking advanced stuff and porting it into a basic game was no mean trick, so this list is meant as an observation, not a criticism. If every little advanced bit was more or less duplicated in the AEC, it wouldn’t be a basic game any more, would it? The beauty of the AEC is that it makes using the advanced stuff in a basic game a snap. And it does it well.

Even if elves don’t get a +1 with bows other than crossbows.

UPDATE: Some seem to have taken this listing as a knock against the AEC for some reason. I haven’t quite figured out how that happened, as it’s merely a quick listing of simple fact and my written conclusion is generally supportive of the decisions made.

I merely thought that a look at some of the details would be interesting. I’ve played LL (and a very little S&W) exclusively over the past year, haven’t played 1e AD&D since 1989 or so, and the differences were greater than I had remembered. I thought others may be interested, too, in a look at some details. I’m mystified how that could bother anyone.

UPDATE 2: Grognardia linked to this post and Dan Proctor’s comments. That in itself is cool, but I encourage you to check out what James has to say on the subject.

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