I’m trying not to turn into a raving fanboy, but posts like this make it difficult. For a few months it has been nagging at my mind that to-hit bonuses are not the carrot I always thought they were. I love playing fighters, so to-hit bonuses were the bread-and-butter to my character growth (along with hit points, those being the only things a fighter gets for leveling, oh, and better saves).
A lot of digital ink has been spilt over lengthy D&D combats and that is, in fact, a major selling point for any game comparing itself to D&D, including inter-edition in-fighting. At some point it started dawning on me that combats take so long because to-hit numbers don’t really change. Creature AC gets more challenging almost in lock-step with the character’s ability to successfully engage more powerful creatures. The thing that doesn’t scale, especially from the character perspective, is damage output. HP go thru the roof, eventually, for characters and creatures. So, when the chance to hit remains fairly constant, damage output remains fairly constant, and HP scale upward with level, combats will get longer and longer. It’s simple math.
Old School Hack breaks that paradigm. Hit Points not only start stressfully low, they stay there. The chance of hitting an opponent does not scale with level. Fighters get a one-time +1 to hit, by virtue of being fighters. Fighters also have the intrinsic ability to cause an extra point of damage. To someone who is more familiar with later editions of the game I’m sure those “bonuses” aren’t worth the graphite it would take to write them on your character sheet. To old school gamers and devotees of a more reasonable power curve, those bonuses are sweet indeed.
This does raise a question, though. Once the characters pass into the 5-8th level tier, and 9-12th beyond that, I wonder if there will be Talents introduced to increase survivability. Personally, I would like to see some that affect an enemy’s hit chance, without having crazy AC numbers. I know shields soak damage, so maybe enchanted shields that can soak more than normal. There is also the use of APs to soak damage, but that is “expensive”. Some sort of Dodge talent or the like would be good. Just something to get the fighter more comfortable with being on-point heading into the dragon’s lair.