So... while almost every thread on this here board is a "let's play" or a discussion of current
game rules... this is not that kind of thread. You guys and your current editions that are actually playable. Sheez.
Recently there's been a great deal of giddy excitement and/or bowel-clutching consternation over the the "Player's Handbook Deux" coming out later this year. It reminded me a bit of when I first started playing DnD back in the late 80's... and one somewhat infamous book in particular:
This dude's mind was blown by reading TSR's Unearthed Arcana
If you're fond of nostalgia, you can find this book at Paizo as a pdf for a few bucks, or you might even find one on eBay. Some of you may be men like me, who are getting too old to hang out in bars and find themselves occasionally finding books like these on the weekend. And if you are, and if you have this book, join in
so that these damn kids can know how good they have it these days.
I pulled this baby off the shelf last week and realized how unrecognizable AD&D might be to some people who have become accustomed to the balanced and easy to play 3.x and 4th edition. My own brain has adjusted enough to where certain pages I just go how the fuck did I ever figure this out as a kid
. Well, the beautiful part is that I probably wasn't playing the game as intended back then anyway, but I was having fun, so it didn't matter!
But man oh man... was this big news back in the day!
New races! Barbarians! Druids! Polearms
! My goodness, it was thrilling.
Because I was a dorky stripling who had my face buried in a Conan book, I was most excited about getting to play a Barbarian. And who wouldn't be?
So let's turn it to page 18, the first page I probably turned to when I got my hands on this book. Ooh, look at that scary character on the facing page... not exactly what I had in mind... but let's read
The barbarian wasn't actually it's own class... it was a sub-class
of the fighter. You had to have rolled good strength, constitution, dexterity and
wisdom just to qualify for it! And if you did, you lucky dog! You could be a barbarian and get all of this...
- As a barbarian, you got a bonus to armor class for having points of dexterity over 14, so long as your armor wasn't "of the fairly bulky or bulky type". You also got more hit points for per point of constitution over 14! And who could forget that big fat 12-sided hit die. Only the d20 was bigger! Look at that 12-sider, wizard... yeah... the enemy could kill three of you before they took me down. (They were technically called "magic-users" back then, maybe it was more politically correct or something, but I just like saying the word "wizard".)
- That nice fighter combat table... mmm... yep, you got to use that since you were technically a fighter. Your weapon and armor choices were a bit limited, but being a goddamn barbarian was more than enough reward.
- Magic? You hated magic (and anyone who used it... wizard) if you were a barbarian. Hating magic was "your thing". So much that "at low levels of experience, refuse to employ any sort of magic item if they recognize it as such. They will often seek to destroy mageic items, and if successful they recieve an experience-point reward as if they possessed the destroyed items." Whoah! Break shit, flip off the wizard and get xp for it? Hell, you had to be second level before you could freely associate with clerics... before that it's all "fuck you and your healing, you churchy bastard". Wizards? Well you could tolerate them if necessary at 6th level... but man, those guys were on thin ice. Fucking wizards and their "magic-using".
- Summon a Goddamn Barbarian Horde. Oh yeah. At 8th level, if you were in your native territory you could call in some of your buddies, as they were outlined as "Men" in the Monster Manual. At 8th level you could summon over 200 of these motherfuckers to kick ass and rampage for a number of weeks equal to your experience level. It took a week to get the gang together... but man, what a week. "Oh hey, that's a nice College of Magic you have here in Arcana City. I'll be back in a week to visit, kay?"
- Primary abilities such as: Climbing Cliffs and Trees and Hiding in Natural Surroundings. That's right thief, you're not the only one who can climb and hide in shit anymore. Oh, and by the way, you goddamn thieves, think twice before backstabbing me, because one of my other abilities is to be able to tell that you're trying to do that.
- Secondary abilities that (so long as you were familiar with your surroundings) allowed you to Survive in the wild, administer First Aid, Track stuff like Rangers (that other fighter sub-class that wasn't as cool as Barbarian) and do other outdoorsy stuff like predict the weather and detect plants and animals kinda like Druids (a Cleric Sub-Class).
- Tertiary skills that you might have depending upon where your barbarian is from. Things like Horsemanship, Running really fast for a long time, Snare building, or imitating the sound of animals.
There's a few helpful paragraphs on page 20 that give suggestions as to how you and your DM can customize your Barbarian to the World of Greyhawk Campaign Setting, or even your very own
Man, being a barbarian was pretty great. So far it looks like the 4th Edition PHB 2 version will be pretty great too, and I'm excited about it. I may even get to play a 4e Barbarian at some point, but......if he ever runs across my old character with 300 of his best savage howling cohorts... well Mr. Primal Striker Guy is fucked.