AD&D is imbalanced. There, I said it. The classes are imbalanced. The races are imbalanced. Many of the monsters feel imbalanced. Everything about the game reeks of imbalance.
But is imbalance necessarily a bad thing? I don’t think so.
My players are just learning the basic combat rules. We’re only 2 full sessions in, due to crazy schedules, so we’re still working it out. I’m still working it out. So as we engaged our first serious combat opportunity, I thought, let’s keep the guard rails on:
4 PCs (a fighter, an assassin, an illusionist-thief, and a cleric)
1 allied PC (Elmo, if you’re familiar with The Village of Hommlet)
3 opposing NPCs (2 bandits and one fenced-in wild horse)
Everything about the encounter reeks of caution:
- One less NPC than the PCs
- The wild horse was fenced-in, just in case the 2 bandits were too much
But there was more than meets the eye:
- The Monster Manual recommends bandits be in group of…wait for it…20-200!
- Wild horses appear in packs of 5-30
So, yeah, I was pulling my punches. But why? I wanted to allow the players to learn the system without their characters getting slaughtered. Is that so bad to do? The game feels so imbalanced–weighted against low-level PCs–I don’t want them to get frustrated with the system. In the end, this is the question I found myself facing:
Can I trust the numbers in the books—or do I need to flub them?
Well, I learned from the experience big-time. Here’s how: