Official Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Players Handbook (by Gary Gygax)

1st Edition and far from mint condition

I collected all my role playing books and paraphernalia and put them on a shelf for no good reason at all. I remembered playing these at around the same age my son is now. I remembered how many hours, days and weeks of fun I had inventing things for me and my friends to do. Couldn’t find my Players Handbook, though. I figured at one point or another I had loaned it out to someone or it got lost in the shuffle. At one panicked point I thought I got really drunk one night and sold them to my friend’s brother.

Last night, I found it on the floor of my son’s room. He’d been reading it. I guess he lost interest. He enjoys other role playing games. Mostly battle based games like Warhammer 40K. But apparently not AD&D.

I’ve gone through a phase of researching the best game for him to play. I’ve already written about that. I couldn’t land on which one to use. There are so many. I went back and forth with the idea to write my own but it’s so much work. But it’s not the worst idea. And besides – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I like my polyhedral dice. They’re pretty.

So I got to thinking about some game systems use the probability of polyhedral dice to influence actions in a game.

There are 36 possible outcomes from rolling two six sided dice (2d6). For example, 9 can happen 4 times from rolling two dice. You can get it by rolling 3+6, 4+5, 5+4, or 6+3. So, 4/36 is 0.1111… or about 11%.

The number 3, on the other hand, can only be rolled two ways 1 + 2 and 2 + 1. Which is a probability of .0556 or 5.56%.

For all the years I’ve played, never have I ever put this math into consideration or asked myself if there was hard gaming math behind any of the games I played.

As I lay in bed this morning, nursing a headache that probably was created by my first doses of Sertraline (Zoloft is what it’s generally called – who comes up with these names? Is there a system for that?) I started to wonder about all of these things and came up with a table of abilities for a character not much different than the one Gygax set out in his Player’s Handbook.

You have physical (Strength, Agility and Health) and mental (Intelligence, Wisdom, Character). There are 3 categories it applies to – Attack, Defence, and Feats. Based on your score you have ability modifiers for each. The skills you can acquire are based on the combined mental score. The acts you can perform are based on your combined physical score (say, a gymnastics move) or the individual score. I’m not breaking new ground here – all games systems do that.

But I’ve never seen one with a single table to define them all.

I think what I’ll do now and just keep on whittling away at it and see what I come up with.

What’s inspiring me is the thought of sitting with my son and rolling up a character and running a one-off adventure. We’ve played short games for a couple of hours each but like the Player’s Handbook on the floor of his room, he lost interest. My goal is a one-page gaming system that inspires him to want to play more.

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