Beyond the Pale

Confession time: I like ascending armor class.

And as long as we’re baring our souls regardless of consequences here, another confession: I use ascending AC in my oldschool game.

As far as I can tell, ascending AC is the only thing that gets the THAC0 people and the attack matrix people to put aside their differences and join forces….

“There’s no pitchfork on the weapons list.”
“Just use trident?”
“No trident, either. I play B/X.”
“This is oldschool, dammit. Make something up.”
“1d6+1 damage?”
“Sure. Sounds good. Whatever.”
“We got them out because someone’s using ascending AC.”
“Maybe 1d8+1 would be better.”

Oldschoolers, somewhere, probably


“Kilgore, I’m going to cut your heart out with a +3 spoon!”

“Then it begins!” [Kilgore exits; AC changes from 3 to 16.]

“Why a spoon, cousin? Why not an Axe of the Dwarvish Lords?”

“Because it’s DULL, you twit. It’ll hurt more.”

Right now, I’m guessing, if anyone reads this

Anyway, I actually did use ascending AC in a Swords & Wizardry game in about 2009. I liked the idea then and thought I’d use it for a while in that game to try it out. But that campaign petered out after 3 or 4 sessions and I didn’t give AAC another go until last summer as a player in 5e. A few months back, I started using it on my end in a B/X game and now am making it official.

Unlike a lot of AAC supporters who insist that they can’t do the math that THAC0 requires or think that looking at a number on a sheet is too difficult and time-consuming, I see no issues at all with regular descending AC. It works just fine and is not an impediment to play. Obviously, it’s not a big issue, seeing as how I’ve gamed perfectly fine with it for close to four decades. But AAC with attack bonus is an elegant and, I believe, slightly superior method that I’m not going to dismiss just because Gary didn’t do it that way.

I’ve also got a few other newschoolisms that I like and am using (at least on a trial basis) in my KAOSE (Kilgore’s Advanced Old-School Essentials) game. Cantrips, faster healing, death saves, and ability score increases are among them. Some of them are directly from 5e with tweaks to make them fit, some of them are older ideas I’ve used for many years that are similar to things in newer editions. Oldschool games shouldn’t reject ideas from newer editions any more than newschool games should reject ideas from older editions.

So go break out your pitchforks, folks. Just remember to get your torches from the 1e AD&D equipment list because they illuminate a 40′ radius rather than the 30′ radius from B/X torches.

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