Wizards, Power Levels, Complexity, and Choosing Spells

Attack and Defense on the Fantasy Combat Table

“The possibilities for employing such creatures are almost endless, and the abilities and weaknesses of each should be decided upon prior to the game they are to be used in. For example, a giant spider might be unkillable by normal men, but will kill them unless they roll a save of 8 or better, and it would combat fantastic opponents as if it were a Lycanthrope” (Chainmail, 36, entry Giant Spiders and Insects).

In the last few monster descriptions (36-7), Gygax and Perren give examples of adding new creatures to the Chainmail system using the framework of the rules. Chimerea and other such mythical flyers, for instance, are treated “as the most nearly corresponding type of creature covered herein.” Giant Wolves attack as Light Horse and move as Medium Horse. Versus fantasy creatures, they get two attacks “as men” (which I read as two Light Horse), and they defend as a Wight. In the example cited above, a spider’s poison is modeled by a saving roll.

To assign attacks and defenses as an existing creature on the Fantasy Combat Table, some analysis is required. Scrutinizing the table, we see that each creature attacks with varying success against the others, and the creature’s defense is subsumed into the opponent’s attack. So, a dragon hits a wizard with a two-dice roll of 10, while the wizard hits the dragon with a 9. There is no separate defense roll.

Totaling all a creature’s attack target scores, we get a clearer, though simplified, view. Likewise, for defense.

The score required for each attacker-defender pair makes sense—or at least can be justified. Figuring out whether one creature is more or less powerful than another, however, is difficult. Totaling all a creature’s attack target scores, we get a clearer, though simplified, view. Likewise, for defense.

Fantastic Opponents by Attacks and Defenses

In the two tables below, creatures are ranked by best attacks and best defenses, respectively. The stronger attacker has a lower total. The stronger defender, a higher.

Order of Best Attacker
Rank Creature Attacker Defender
1 Dragon 82 130
2 Elemental 86 121
3 Super Hero 91 110
4 Giant 92 118
5 Treant 95 115
6 Wizard 99 121
7 Roc 101 109
8 Hero 117 76
9 Lycanthrope 118 78
10 Troll, Ogre 118 86
11 Wraith 119 108
12 Wight, Ghoul 121 67
Order of Best Defender
Rank Creature Attacker Defender
1 Dragon 82 130
2 Elemental 86 121
3 Wizard 99 121
4 Giant 92 118
5 Treant 95 115
6 Super Hero 91 110
7 Roc 101 109
8 Wraith 119 108
9 Troll, Ogre 118 86
10 Lycanthrope 118 78
11 Hero 117 76
12 Wight, Ghoul 121 67

Using these tables, we can more easily find the general power of a new creature. Once narrowed to a range of two or three existing creatures, we decide on an equivocal creature by a brief examination of those creature’s attacks and defenses, perhaps choosing one creature for attacks and another for defenses. One step further, if a couple scores vary widely from our vision of the new creature, we might assign different scores, taking the example of some opponents versus True Trolls (table, 34).

Comparing Creatures by Rank

Further analysis reveals the order of attackers mostly corresponds to that of defenders. Dragons and elementals, for example, are ranked first and second in both orders. Wights are last.

Rank Attacker Defender
1 Dragon Dragon
2 Elemental Elemental
3 Super Hero Wizard
4 Giant Giant
5 Treant Treant
6 Wizard Super Hero
7 Roc Roc
8 Hero Wraith
9 Lycanthrope Troll, Ogre
10 Troll, Ogre Lycanthrope
11 Wraith Hero
12 Wight, Ghoul Wight, Ghoul

In this table, we see that some types are ranked differently for attacks and defenses and that these are paired (italicized). Super-heroes are ranked third as attackers, sixth as defenders, while wizards are the reverse: third as defenders, sixth as attackers. The same with the pairs hero-wraith and lycanthrope-ogre.

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