Removing THAC0

If there were one thing in particular that I could say is keeping people from joining my game, it would be the general combat system revolving around THAC0. When 3rd edition hit more years ago that I want to count, it killed THAC0, and the people rejoiced. Although I think in general the spirit of the game also left during that time as well, the move to a d20 combat system was generally a good one. I hold several reservations. However, I think the time has come to bastardize this old system and entertain what the world would be like if THAC0 was more like a BAB, and Armor increased in rating for the better. Without adding hundreds of annoying combat rules and maneuvers, I’m hoping it turns into a simpler form of 2e, rather than the min/max feat whoring that 3e and beyond have charged headlong into.

I’ve considered 5e, but I think there’s far more there than I want to adopt at this time. I’m playing in a pathfinder game, that’s about as far away from my beaten path that I’m hardly comfortable with. No need to aggravate it further. This does make me wonder how people have done it in the past. Did everyone just up and move over to 3e instead of trying to rewrite what is commonly considered the core of 2e? It really can’t be that difficult, at least not in this day and age where the majority of the books are not only online, but editable in large degree provided you have reasonable tech skills (as a sysadmin, this is nothing). I’ve spent the past several years pulling from the classic books, compiling spells into online formats, parsing and rewriting rules on the fly as needed. I don’t think it would have been possible when 3e initially released to do major revisions to the game, but it is now.

I can search for every reference to Armor, AC, and THAC0 in an extensive list of the core books I treat as sacred, make the modifications needed, and share them online to my players. When I started playing 2e, we all had our own sets of books, and that was just to try and keep a finger on the pulse of what is possible, let alone attempt to write our own errata based on what makes sense for specific situations. The rules in 2e, as I prefer them, are a bit loose and undefined. It leaves room to play out situations without it all hinging on that die roll. The difference between the d20pfsrd combat page, and what exists in the 2e PHB and DMG is extensive. Is this for the better? I guess it’s necessary for playing a board game, but when I look at the things in the pfsrd, I don’t consider much of it as more than flavor text for a 2e game. But there it is, clearly spelled out, defined, with specific interactions and rules built right in.

I could get into how I feel about Feats as well, but it’s probably easy to guess. Now I’m not talking about pulling in all of the combat rules and feats and skills into 2e, just modifying the THAC0 system as it exists, into a BAB system. Taking one of the biggest struggles new players have with the system and retiring it.


3 thoughts on “Removing THAC0

  1. I agree, the spirit of the game went out the window when the word “synergy” started being applied to character sheet creation. I’ve seen a few good hybrid systems that try to augment thaco, or take the good elements of 2e while leaving it behind. The results are usually…messy.


    • I’ll do my best to keep it clean. Looking forward to linking the full revision of the PHB on the blog, but it’s a lot of work. I’m working hard on this at the moment in order to start a second campaign with a fresh set of new players. I’m curious how well received it will be when it’s not current friends and gamers digesting the material.

      I feel the time to set off with this course is quickly losing it’s edge, as players migrate from one major edition to another, I feel it’s more likely some will bite at the old school rules instead of shelling out a couple hundred dollars in books for a system that isn’t quite finished yet.


      • There always seems to be a surge in interest in old systems or new takes on old systems, after the new shiny edition has had time to settle, and the next is yet to be announced.


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