Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Provocative Satement & a Magic Item

Any rule or section of a rule system that requires an acronym is probably too complicated. (I'm thinking THAC0, AOO, etc)

And, now, following the Joeskythedungeonbrawler’s rule an item:

Anan's Veil

A chunk of cloudy-grey crystal, as long as it is held the veil obscures the presence of the holder; no one will notice or remember their presence. Unfortunately, it also obscures the world to the holder; everything is a swirling grey, all sense of direction and memory of landmarks is lost. Only those most driven by vengeance or passion have dared try the Veil as a tool.


  1. I'm not sure I agree with your assertion. While I concur that THAC0 and AOO are horrible acronyms, some simple renaming and use of keywords can go a long way toward rules clarity.

    For example, swap THAC0 with "Attack Target Number" and AOO with "Opportunity Attack" and you keep the same concept in plain English. I think 4e already made that second change, although I believe they streamlined the associated rule as well. I think that one of 4e's strengths (regardless of how you feel about it overall) is its use of keywords to denote rule objects for ease of learning and speed of play.

    Of course, you could also say that the rules of 4e (and AD&D in general) only needs these terms because of their greater complexity and granularity, which itself can make things difficult to learn or adjudicate.

  2. Hey, thanks for the comment Jonathan.

    The idea in your last paragraph was what I was getting at; the fact that a system requires an acronym to convey how you determine if you hit something means the method of determining whether you hit something is pretty complicated.

    Not sure I belive it myself, just a thought. Let's see, for Swords & Wizardry it would be Roll over enemy AC, or: ROEAC. Of course, the acronym is more obscuring in this case so maybe my claim stands.

  3. I also disagree with you (though I love the blog!). I personally find thaco much, much easier than flipping back and forth between various hd based combat tables, which essentially amount to the same thing (same to hit values anyway) except, instead of one number (and, I admit, an acronym) there's a gazillion numbers and a chart.

  4. Hey nextautumn, thanks, yeah, THAC0 is easier than charts, I think that's sort of my point. It was invented to try to deal with the complexity in the system.

    Swords & Wizardry's approach is pretty simple, if you use ascending AC, the to-hit # is your enemy's AC or above. But I didn't mean to go on a jihad against THAC0, just a thought about how acronyms are generally used to hide complexity and might be a good indicator for a place that needs retooling in a system.


  6. Hey Joesky, I'm honored to have you drop by. Thanks, and unfortunately I didn't draw the picture. Oddly enough, it's from a book on the marvels of industry:

    Les merveilles de l'industrie; ou, Description des principales industries modernes

    found here: