A friend of mine introduced me to Dungeons & Dragons when I was in high school. He and his older brother had learned it from two other guys that I never met. That group had played a few times and that’s where a number of the rules originated that our group adopted back in those early days. Being new to us, none of us questioned those rules. I cringe today when I think back at how dumb we all were to never realize how silly some of those rules were.
This isn’t so bad really. I suspect most new groups start out this way. The first few sessions we had, we started in an unnamed town, rolled to determine how many days away the nearest town was, and started off down the road. We rolled a number of times each day for random encounters and fought our way to the next town. If we got there too quickly and people wanted to play longer, we would just roll for the next town and start off on our way again.
This is another one that I suspect most new groups go through. Everything we fought had treasure. It didn’t matter if they didn’t have any means to carry treasure or if they were a type of creature who wouldn’t care about treasure. At the end of each encounter, the DM would roll to see what the creature had on it. Almost everything had coins plus various other types of loot.
No one ever worried about encumbrance. It was just assumed that we would share the load and divvy everything up when we got home. The problem was, each “share” of that load commonly totaled many thousands of pounds just from coins! Some characters regularly carried around a half dozen sets of magic armor and a score of magic weapons “just in case”. After all, where are you supposed to put the stuff when you don’t have a house and there are no banks?
Weapon Type vs. Armor Type
There was a chart that detailed how well each weapon did against the various armor types. Unfortunately, the description didn’t explain this very well and the various armor types were represented by their AC value. For example, if you were using a warhammer against an opponent that was wearing platemail and a shield you were supposed to cross index warhammer with AC 2 to determine your modifier to hit. The original two guys that taught two of our members how to play misinterpreted this table. They thought it meant that the modifier was for any opponent with an AC of two. This resulted in some weapons being able to hit difficult ACs more readily than an easy one, or to be able to hit a range of 3-4 ACs all with the same roll. Again, none of us had the sense to stop and say “that doesn’t make any sense”.
The Strength table determines a character’s chance to Open Doors, with the chance increasing as the ability went up. Therefore, the character with the highest Strength would hit the door to open it. Since there is a table listing your chance to open doors, that must mean that ALL dungeon doors are difficult to open. Right?/facepalm
Sadly, it gets worse
This is, hands down, the dumbest thing we ever did. I’m not sure how it originated. Presumably, it’s because someone saw that there were spikes for sale on the equipment charts. What would you use spikes for in a dungeon? To spike the doors of course. Okay, I guess that makes sense. Unfortunately, no one ever assumed that the spikes were to spike the doors closed. :(
For the first couple of months of my D&D career, every time the party was faced with a door the strongest character would take a run at it, presumably head first, and attempt to bash the door open. Another character would then run up to attempt to spike the door open. If she failed, the door would immediately swing shut, trapping the fighter alone with whatever happened to be on the other side of the door. Then the party would have to franticly attempt to bash open the door again (with a lesser character’s Open Doors roll) and try again to spike the door open.
Although great stuff from a comedy relief point of view, It didn’t say much for our common sense.