Originally Posted by Onyx
Mr. Gygax, a question regarding a fundamental of D&D that has always weighed heavy in my mind (and if it's not one you want to tackle, I understand :P).

Heh, Onyx...

You surely do dramatize things 

This applies only to OAD&D.
Later forms of the D&D game I am not responsible for.

Now I think you mean duplication, not duplicity, in the two combat factors you are so concerned with, AC and HP.
If you think having both is trickery, well, what can I say other than all games are based on the fallacious, they are not real.

Anyway, on to the basic assumptions employed in those two factors.

AC is the measure of how difficult it is to make an effective attack on a target subject.
One might broaden it by including dodging and parrying, but those are subsumed in the single number, as is indicated by the addition of Dex bonus, thus obviating the need for a lot of additional adjustments and dice rolling.
The game is not a combat simulation, after all.

Hit points for characters are a combination of actual physical health and the character's skill in avoiding serious harm from attacks aimed at him that actually hit.
This is a further measure of the defender's increasing ability to slip blows and dodge, as mentioned above in regards AC.
While AC increases mainly by the wearing of superior protectionm HPs increase with the character's accumulating experience in combat reflected by level increase.

In combination the two give a base protection and survivability for the beginning character and allow that base to increase as the character increases in experience.
It does not pretend to realism, but it does reflect the effects of increasing skill in a relatively accurate manner while avoiding tedious simulation-oriented considerations and endless dice rolling.

As someone who has designed a number of military miniatures rules sets, I could have made combat in the OAD&D game far more complex, including all manner of considerations for footing, elevation of the opponents, capacity to dodge, parrying skill, opponents using natural weapons, etc.
Knowing that the game was not all about combat, I skipped as much of that as I could by having the main factors subsume lessers, ignoring the rest.
It is a role-playing exercise where all manner of other game considerations come into play, not just fighting.

Oh, least I forget, when magic is mixed into the formula, getting anything vaguely resembling reality becomes wholly problematical <paranoid>


Originally Posted by Tuzenbach
Of course! As a matter of fact, I very rarely assigned shields to my characters. I always meant for them to have a sort of a roguish flavor. I mean, if you look at movies like "Krull" and such, NONE of the "good guys" had shields or helmets or even plate mail. Thus, I tried to follow suit whenever possible. Armour heavier/bulkier than normal chain I tended to shun. Plus, there's just so much more you can do shieldless than shield-burdened.

In any event, the Drow in question was (and still is!) a Fighter/Assassin. Stealth is crucial. Can't climb walls, move silently, hide in shadows, etc. shielded.

Only in the movies. while berserkers might have gotten by with such foolishness, once warfare became as organized as it had been before the Dark Ages, the value of armor was fully understood. the Swiss Pikemen had littlesave for front rank men, but their weapons kept opponents at bay, their crossbowmen keeping enemy missile units occupied.