Modifiers or 10 Different “To Hit” Tables?

Soliciting a little input here, for Adventures Dark and Deep™. It occurs to me that I have two choices when it comes to the melee “to hit” tables:

  • 1 table, and a chart listing modifiers (as in, 6th level clerics get +X, d12 HD monsters get +Y, etc.). 


  • 10 different tables; one for each different class and hit die type of monster

I think the choice is pretty clear-cut, but I wanted to put it out there as a sanity check. Any watertight arguments for or against either approach? And before anyone chimes in with it, THAC0 is not an option.

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Wargamer and RPG'er since the 1970's, author of Adventures Dark and Deep, Castle of the Mad Archmage, and other things, and proprietor of the Greyhawk Grognard blog.

11 thoughts on “Modifiers or 10 Different “To Hit” Tables?

  1. Does a multiclass character get to combine modifiers? 🙂

    From a player view, it would seem less complicated to have charts per class. It's short, it's simple, it wins! Sort of D&D-esque with seperate attack tables per class, so it gets another point for nostalgia.


  2. Damn! No Wheel of THACO? Heh

    Personally, I'd go with the modifiers, mainly cause I killed my old DMG flipping thru the combat charts.

  3. Modifiers man. I know people like charts for nostalgia but adding up numbers and comparing against an AC is way way faster. And mathematically it is the same thing.

  4. I say charts. I understand the modifier camp's position but there are typically so many modifiers to keep track of, I never end up using any of them, instead arbitrarily assigning -2s when I feel a modifier is called for.

    So long as you have somewhere to copy the chart down on your character sheet, it's much easier than memorizing a bunch of modifiers and is far less work (since the chart only changes at most once every time you level up).

  5. Plus, tables can easily account for things like different penalties/bonuses for penetration based on the type of armor your enemy is wearing (something no edition than 1st has done) whereas doing this with modifiers would be a ton of work.

  6. THAC-ow!

    Oh, right. Hmm. For me, I think the issue depends on just how many modifiers would ultimately end up having to apply to the final roll.

    I happily admit I love tables. I love staring at tables and writing tables, but modifiers have a place too. Generally, though, I'd stick to a series of easily-memorizable generic modifiers applicable to circumstances, with individual tables for particular classes and monster types.

    I feel it makes things cleaner, easier to learn as a new player and possibly leaves a slightly faster pace to combat overall. Plus, it allows more room to be flexible between scales across different charts while still allowing the exceptions with a small selection of roll-modifiers.

  7. My opinion is that hit and save numbers should be not only easy to refer to in play, but transparent to the player. With that I prefer a simple procedural rule (look at your class based to hit bonus, add opponent descending AC, add that to d20 and you hit on 20+) to a chart that incorporates mysterious things like specific AC modifiers.

  8. You could probably do both. One master chart showing effective fighter level versus armour class, with each class being related to the fighter. Then you just add fighter level if you want to do it by the numbers, or compare on the chart if you want to use the chart.

  9. Some—perhaps most—find tables or multiple tables cumbersome. Some of us, however, find individual tables a lot faster. (I’m terribly slow at doing arithmetic in my head, so anything that lets me do less is a win for me.)

    I’m with Matthew. I don’t see why you have to choose. I’d probably put the one table in the rules and have a supplement with the 10 tables.

    And as baronkohinar points out, demonstrating how to calculate/copy the relevant line(s) onto a character record sheet is good too. This is what I have players do these days.

  10. There is something about using the class-specific table for "your" character that enhances your identification with him/her. Just one of those subtle in-game feelings.

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