So, today I played my first game of the CalTech
version of Dungeons and Dragons. This particular version of the game grew out of the original first edition of D&D and has been evolving since then. It is interesting in that it represents a divergent evolution compared to 3.5.
There are several things that make this particular D&D distinct. Firstly, you can see the first edition shining through--elves and dwarves are classes and there are no explicit races. Furthermore, classes have explicit stat requirements that dictate whether or not you can use such a class. The game also provides for explicit multiclassing in the form of 2, 3, etc class characters. The only requirement is that such characters must meet the stat requirements of both classes and often have some other stats rather high.
Another major distinction is that the armor and weapon rules are much more complex. The target number of any strike is based upon a combination of the weapon being used, the armor being worn, the attack number of the attacker and defense number of the defender. This results in common references to matrices.
The game makes use of 8 different statistics instead of the usual 6. Added to the list are agility and size. There are also interesting rules for rearranging points in stats. Generally speaking, it seems as though you can trade two points in one stat for one point in another so long as you don't drop the stat below 9.
The game also is played somewhat differently than I am used to D&D being played. Each player maintains (usually) 3 characters and runs two of them per session. They do this because character deaths are rather common. Unfortunately, needing more than one character significantly increased the burden of initial creation for me. Also, there are two character creation "modes". One of these modes is for the "design character". The DC character can have rolled stats rearranged in any way and get a few bonus points/free rearranges.
My DC was a Mage/Fighter with an 18 in strength and a 17 in IQ. Because of when I started in the yearly cycle (the universe resets every August), I began at level 12. This let me pick from the selection of spells which had been researched by the various players over the course of the year. One spell that quickly became my favorite was "Str X 1-5". This spell was a level 5 spell which multiplied the user's strength by 1d5 for 1d10 turns (1d10 * 6 phases). My character managed to roll max on both of these at the beginning of combat, giving me a 90 in strength for essentially the entire combat. The bonuses given by my absurd strength gave me 8 attacks per round which did 20d6+18 each if they hit. I would consider this something of an "edge case." Unfortunately, my character rolled poorly on her hit dice, and was at one hit point for nearly all of the combat due to a critical hit from an archer (while she was invisible) during the second phase of the first turn of combat.
My secondary character (a cleric) was able to keep my main character from taking any further damage, and the mage/fighter eventually found a good way to both attack and defend--she ripped the door to the fortress off its hinges and used it as a combination weapon and full cover. Good times.
Two characters in the party died, one we were able to resurrect. All in all, I think it was a good session and I'll probably stick with the game for a while.
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