Posted by Rampant Coyote on November 3, 2016
These articles (I’m late linking to them) are about the “Gold Box” official adaptation of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons to computers. While they are officially entitled, “Why the Economy Sucks in SSI’s Gold Box Games,” they mostly talk about how the dice & paper evolved and how SSI adapted it – and the compromises they had to make to get a game intended for human moderation… and one riddled with confusing, sometimes contradictory rules.
I understand that even Gary Gygax himself didn’t adhere to the rules too strongly. IIRC, he included the weapon speed modifier tables at the behest of a player but never actually used them, and the encumbrance rules were more of a threat in his campaigns than a regularly-followed rule. If you seemed to be carrying too much crap around with you, it’d be time for an audit. And I guess the (cool-sounding but poorly implemented) psionics rules were lobbied for by Brian Blume, and Gygax later regretted putting them in there. (But hey, Dark Sun fans can be forever grateful… otherwise that might never have been a part of D&D).
The second article goes more to the point of the economy, but it also paints a picture of how the “official” AD&D rules and its money sinks were quite a bit different from what most of us played. In some campaigns, we did do the whole paying-money-to-level-up thing, and we noticed right away that its only purpose was to keep the party very, very poor. And the whole idea of hiring a veritable army of henchmen, hirelings, and so forth… I don’t think we ever did something like that.
The thing is… a lot of the limiting factor in old-school AD&D was logistics. I’m a geek, and so I actually find logistical challenges interesting once in a while. A long while. Every game session, trying to pay all the hirelings and figure out how to haul all the treasure out of the dungeon and go from town-to-town to try and sell it all? No. That is not fun. That’s something to be abstracted out of the game, maybe mentioned in passing. It’s something one might be in the middle of doing when some other adventure happens.
An important thing to remember – as noted in the second post – is that there may be a weird treasure-accumulation problem in these games, but that’s noteworthy primarily because the games were not only outstanding in their time, but also quite enjoyable today, old-school graphics and UI clunkiness notwithstanding.
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