THAC0 – Afterthought 39

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TOTALLY EXTREME!  We get around to explaining the concept of hitting Armor Class 0, which was noticeably missing from our recent review of AD&D 2nd Edition.  So we handle it, just for you.  Also, we answer all your gosh darn questions, sheesh.  Fine.

13 responses to “THAC0 – Afterthought 39

  1. The thing about Thac0 is that for the first couple years after 2nd edition came out, you had angry grognards complaining about how it replaced the real hardcore player system mastery feat of memorizing five pages of ‘to hit vs armor class’ tables, including the four or five edge cases where it didn’t work exactly like Thac0 does, with a little bit of simple math for lazy 2nd edition gamers. (So when someone does try to grognard Thac0 at you, the proper response is to one-up them and go to the tables. Or just point and laugh.)

    And the other thing about it is that everyone working there knew how dumb it was and how much better the armor class rules that wound up in 3rd and forward would be, but they really thought they needed backwards compatability for their module base/long running campaigns.

  2. I enjoyed this show. Made me remeber back . I played First Edition AD&D for years, did not play second edition, but have played a lot of 3e. Some thoughts:

    THAC0 changed the to hit factors a lot. In 1e the attacks would plateu at 20 for several levels before it went to 21. I was happy with 3e getting rid of combat tables and THAC0. I found an article in Dragon #249 Peter Adkinson, the founder and owner of Wizards of the Coast back then, wrote an article titled “Out of Character: Simplifying THAC0 and Armor Class.” That was back in 1998, and suggests using an ascending AC and having the attack as a bonus to a d20 roll. Equal or beat the AC, you hit. For 2e! It worked out the same as THAC0 in probability, and was the genesis for 3e’s system.

    Back in the 1st edition I played a the Bard Class a lot, not the one in the Player’s Handbook (cuz that is dumbass), but it was written as a normal class you could take at level one. It was really good. No theif abilities, but he could cast Illusionist and Drid spells.

    I was moving on to other games by the time 2e came out. The fact they removed devils and demons from the game to appease Christian crazies. It was like they gave in.

    • Your history of THAC0 is interesting, but I thought that there were still plenty of demons in 2nd edition. I seem to remember owning a lot of 2nd ed monster manuals that had pages upon pages of Tanar’ri and Baatezu. Did you mean that they started to build their own cosmology and differentiate it from traditional mythological demons?

      • I believe what stilleon meant is that they weren’t called demons or devils, but rather Tanar’ri and Baatezu, in response to the Satanic Panic of the era. And then 3E changed them back. Looking back, it was really goofy like a bunch of things in D&D’s history (such as AD&D being created in part to avoid paying royalties to Dave Arneson).

      • They were renamed. It pissd me off that they were. I hate it when a company bows to pressure. That is also why they did not have half orcs. Too “evil” for kids to play.

  3. I’d like to run a game for you but, unfortunately, you have convinced me that every game system is terrible.

  4. As a British person, I have to deal with older people going “Maybe it’ll be a good thing if we fuck our economy up and kowtow to a bunch of people who will literally turn into terrorists the instant you remind them it was a non-binding referendum! After all, it’s marginally more popular than not fucking everything up!”


  5. 2nd edition: d20+AC>=Thaco
    3rd edition: d20+BAB>=AC

    I neither see the big deal with Thaco pride, nor with anti-thaco sentiment. They are equally simple, and identical mathematically. I personally prefer thaco because AC runs between -10 and +10, where bab runs between 0 and 20, and I personally find mentally subtracting single digits slightly easier than mentally adding double digits, and I find that AC ~ 3 tends to be the norm where as BAB~8 tends to be the norm which is also slightly easier (but neither is difficult, so whatever)

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