Multiclassing BTB; plus the Headless

When Tom agreed to run AD&D, I went back to the Player’s Handbook to check out how multi-classing works in 1e.  I never liked the 3e version of multiclassing, which was a bit too easy to exploit (I recall running a half-orc barbarian/rogue/ranger that was certainly an ass kicker but I would have rather played an AD&D fighter/assassin…).

Since I was pretty set on running a half-orc cleric/assassin, I wanted to see how stuff like HP and XP would work after he hit the 4th level “ceiling” in cleric.  I think this may be where the AD&D rules are a little harsh.  The PHB write-up on cleric/assassins mentions that they are a good choice because of the extra HP from the cleric HD.  By the book, a cleric/assassin will have slightly better HP (for the first 4 levels) but afterward the drop-off is steep, because as the character continue to gain assassin levels beyond fourth, the HP accumulated are still divided by two.  That is, for any multi-classed character, HP are (total HD / classes).  So, at the beginning a multi-class gets a HP total that would be midway between the expected total for a character of the same level in either class (a 4th/4th c/a would have (4d8+4d6)/2 HP).  That’s cool.  But a low level limit in one class (and half-orc clerics are the most extreme case) will cause your c/a to have astonishingly low HP compared to PC of similar XP, as each assassin level of 5th+ will net just (d6/2) HP.  By 8th level, whatever advantage those first four levels with their extra 1 HP on average had has been lost.  From here on out, the character’s HP are worse than single-classed assassin of the same level (i.e., a character with 1/2 the XP).  Don’t get me wrong, the ability to cast a few clerical spells is damn nice for an assassin (command, light/darkness, sanctuary, and remove/cause fear at first level, and the killer Hold person and Silence, 15′ radius).  But it’s sort of a double-whammy, isn’t it?  Never get spells above 2nd level, and advance at 1/2 rate with 1/2 HP?  I know some old schoolers blanche at any mention of the dread word “balance” but what did Gary have against half-orcs? In my experience it’s those damn half-elves that unbalance everything 🙂

At any rate in Tom’s game he’s going with the slightly more lenient level limits in Unearthed Arcana which allow half-orc clerics to reach up to 6th level, and the hope of access to a third level spell makes this bargain much more palatable.  We can expect about 10-12 sessions max before the campaign goes on hiatus due to the bambino, so even the 4th level limit is probably not something we’ll be bucking against any time soon.  Still, it’s nice to think the combination is viable for the long term.

So enough whining about rules that will probably never actually come into play.  Joesky tax time:

New monster: The headless.

Aberrations created by some forgotten, but obviously mad, magic-user, these creatures appear in a human form lacking a neck and head.  Their senses somehow allow them find and attack their foes, perhaps through magical or psionic means.  Light, darkness, and purely visual illusions have no effect on them, but they can be fooled by illusions that incorporate sound or other tactile components, and they do respond to sound despite their lack of ears, so moving silently may allow one to slip by them.  They wear no armor and use no weapons on their own, as they are most often encountered, but Headless in the service of other monsters or NPCs (most commonly Beholders, magic-users, and evil high priests) may be armed and armored and would increase their AC and damage accordingly.

They do not seem to need to eat or drink, but are not undead.  It is unclear if they are created from normal humans or created entirely in a laboratory.  They can obey simple commands when led but if encountered with no NPC or monster leader, they move about in a loose flock, keeping with 10′ or so of each at all times.  They attack humans and demi-humans immediately (although some secret spells can control them) and will simply pound them into mush if they can, leaving the bodies uneaten but unrecognizable.  They carry and hoard no treasure but their lairs may be surrounded with the incidental leavings of their victims (a wilderness hex containing a headless lair should have treasure type B scattered about in small hoards, accompanied by piles of mush or splintered bones.

No. appearing: 2-16 (4-24) ; HD 2 ; AC 13  or by armor ; dam. d6 (fists) or by weapon ; Mv. 12″ ; Save: F2 ; Morale: 8.

If you played Ultima IV or V, or Ultima Underworld, you’ll recognize these guys.  If you want make them a little creepier, maybe use the Fletcher Hanks version with a single eye in their chests:

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Published in: on August 5, 2011 at 12:00 pm  Comments (5)  
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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hit points are not divided by 2 after max level in one class is achieved, only XP. This is BtB.

    • Oh, that’s very different … never mind.

      But seriously I was pretty sure the PHB says to take your HD rolls and divide by the number of classes, not levels … I could be wrong.

  2. On p19 in “Notes Regarding Character Classes Table 1.: the PHB gives the steps involved for determining hit points.

    “1. Roll the hit die (or dice) appropriate to each class the character is professing.
    2. Total the sum of all dice so rolled, and adjust for constitution (q.v.).
    3. Divide the total by the character’s classes (two or three), dropping fractions under ½, rounding fractions of ½ or greater upwards to the next whole number.
    4. The number derived (quotient) is the number of hit points the multi-classed character gains with the rise in that experience level.
    Note that when multi-classed characters are no longer able to progress in any given class, they no longer gain the hit dice for that class.”

    So while it does say that you no longer get the hit dice, it does not say to omit the professed class from the calculation once hit dice are no longer gained. While brutal, the RAW support Mike’s rant.

    However, note that a half-orc single-classed Cleric would stop gaining hit points entirely at 4th level, meaning that any half-orc Cleric is almost certain to be multi-classed. Level limits strongly dis-incentivize single-classed demi-humans, and the multi-classing rules serve to shape most PCs in the image of their “race-as-class” cousins from other editions.

  3. you cannot divide by zero. If you reach a level cap then the capped class is no longer used in the hit point calculation. This is direct from gary himself as quoted by both scottyg (a moderator at dragonsfoot an correspondent of Gary) and eracscousinsuncle(longtime member at dragonsfoot and another correspondent of Gary).

    Makes sense and good enough for me and my group.

    1/2 hp for twice the xp is ridiculous (for 2 class multiclasses) as is 1/3 the hp for three times the xp (for three class multiclasses- for example a half elf f/mu/cleric with 18 str and 17 int going from 5/7/7 – capped cleric levels- only gaining 3 hp when advancing to 8th level fighter and rolling a “10”.. and needing three times the xp of a human to get there besides.

    If you must have some fairer rules in an actual rulebook… the newest Swords and Wizardry Core rules and Swords and Wizardry Complete have a nice compromise – basically each level gained after the cap still uses the pre cap hd. (the half orc abover instance would still get (1d8+1d6)/2 for hit points… maiking the “The PHB write-up on cleric/assassins mentions that they are a good choice because of the extra HP from the cleric HD” true. The same statement is made regarding the fighter /thief multiclass…. yet a halfling fighter/thief hp using the “continue to divide after level cap) would be outstripped by a single class thief at levels 4/7 F/T and 7 T ! Hmm…. This means a 4th level fighter 7th level thief is a poorer fighter than a single class thief ? I dont think so.

    F/T T
    (1d10+1d6)/2 1d6

    level;max hp 1/1; 8 6
    2/2; 16 12
    3/3; 24 18
    4/4; 32 24
    fighter level cap 4/5: 35 30
    4/6; 38 36
    4/7; 41 42

  4. A single classed orc assassin would have more hit points than the muticlass. This interpretation is directly opposed to the text that says the multiclass combo is good for hit points. There was a nice big thread over at dragonsfoot hashing out the math a while ago. The consensus is, xp remains divided, but not hd. It’s a long thread so I cant boil it down here. But the logic of a f/as having fewer hitpoints than a single class assassin is counter intuitive.


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