Backstab multiplier

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cbarchuk
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Backstab multiplier

Post by cbarchuk »

This is more of a question for any B/X clone whether its Old School Essentials or LL but do you have any idea why there is no increasing backstab multiplier as there is in 0e, 1e, and 2e? I have a player in one of my games who's asking and I can't think of a reason. Anyway I'm thinking of house ruling it in but I just want to make its not game breaking.

0e, 1e, and 2e

1-4 x2
5-8 x3
9-12 x4

I'm playing Old School essentials so level cap will be level 14. If the above is too much for the power level of BX then I had three options I wanted to run by you to see what you think.

Option 1: Give x3 multiplier at level 9 and that's the max
Option 2: Keep it at x2 but allow the thief to add his level to the damage AFTER its multiplied. For example say I had a level 8 Thief with a 16 STR backstabbing with a Sword +2. I roll a 6 on the d8. Add STR and Magic bonus for a total of 10. Multiply that by 2 and get 20. And finally add my level of 8 for a grand total of 28 damage.
Option 3: (After doubling the damage) Add +1d6 at 5th level, +2d6 at 9th level, and +3d6 at 13th level

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merias
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Re: Backstab multiplier

Post by merias »

Good question! I had to double-check the AEC as well, because I thought the increasing AD&D 1e backstab multipliers were there - but they are not.

I'm not sure why there was never an increasing backstab multiplier in B/X or clones, but I'd just use the ones you posted, as they match 0e and 1e pretty closely as I recall. I don't think they would unbalance B/X, if anything I think they should be required so as not to nerf the thief too badly at higher levels.

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merias
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Re: Backstab multiplier

Post by merias »

Just another thought - in a game like LL that has the advancement charts go up to 20th level, I'd use the full AD&D 1e backstab multipliers, to include x5 damage at levels 13+.

cbarchuk
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Re: Backstab multiplier

Post by cbarchuk »

Here's my Thief revision table
Here's my Thief revision table
OSE Revised Thief Tables1024_1.jpg (74.83 KiB) Viewed 353 times
In the Old School Essentials rules the thief double ANY damage done. So it's implied that STR and Magic modifiers are also doubled which I agree with if the multiplier doesn't increase. The only reason I've seen for the lack of increase is its deemed unnecessary since Fighters only get one attack and Thieves can backstab with Two-Handed weapons. I personally don't like Thieves backstabbing with Polearms and such. So I'm leaning towards the bonus d6's added at levels 5, 9, and 13 and with that the limitation of one handed weapons.

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merias
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Re: Backstab multiplier

Post by merias »

Yeah that's a good point if you include any bonuses before you double the damage. Higher-level thieves would, I assume, have weapons with larger damage bonuses. Given that, and with your added damage bonuses, what you have seems playable.

I think I would not let a thief sneak in place for a backstab with anything larger than a sword, so the one-handed weapon seems a good limitation there.

Also I like your skill system, simple but allows for variety and a decent chance of doing something at 1st level. There are a couple of other ways I've seen to allow player choice with thief skills - my own variant that I think you've seen on my blog allows the player to pick a skill every other level or so, and there is the BFRPG method of allowing thieves at 2nd or higher level to distribute the 30% total bonuses they get at each level however they like. But I haven't seen anything like this before, I like it!

cbarchuk
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Re: Backstab multiplier

Post by cbarchuk »

Thanks! I didn't want to deal with any math or adding bonuses yada yada. Just a simple chart that contains everything. The two basic issues with thieves in BX, OSE, LL is their chances of success are abysmal at lower levels and then 100% at upper levels with almost no chance of failure. I wanted to alleviate both while adding tiny bit of customization. So the thief player can decide what kind of thief they are more or less. Most of my players want to know the odds and like rolling lots of dice. If you're a DM that prefers to look at thief skills as a kind of super natural thing then where you only have them roll if absolutely necessary then the skill percentages as written in the rules work great. They become more like a saving throw. It's the whole player skill vs. what's on my character sheet debate. My players want to know the odds and have the dice dictate most things so that's what my table attempts to address.

cbarchuk
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Re: Backstab multiplier

Post by cbarchuk »

Wanted to the add the same chart using the standard increasing multiplier at the same levels. This will produce similar damage results. If you go this route modifiers are not multiplied however. Here's a basic comparison of the two:

5th level Thief with a 16 STR and a Sword+2 (x2+1d6 / Modifiers multiplied)
Maximum backstab damage: 30

5th level Thief with a 16 STR and a Sword+2 (x3 multiplier. Modifiers not multiplied)
Maximum backstab damage: 28

9th level Thief with a 16 STR and a Sword+2 (x2+2d6 / Modifiers multiplied)
Maximum backstab damage: 36

9th level Thief with a 16 STR and a Sword+2 (x4 multiplier. Modifiers not multiplied)
Maximum backstab damage: 36

As you can see both produce about the same results though the standard multiplier will produce a higher average damage since there's not an extra dice being rolled. And this will remove the whole thieves backstabbing with a two-handed weapon non-sense.
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merias
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Re: Backstab multiplier

Post by merias »

I agree the standard multipliers will deal higher average damage. I prefer the standard multiplier, I think it's a bit simpler to roll once and just multiply, vs. roll a few times and add. But it's just personal preference since they are so close as far as the end result.

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