OSR Experiments #5: Interlude with BORG

No, I don't mean the Star Trek race of cybernetic hive minders. I mean the fighter Borg whose character sheet is filled out on page B5 of Moldvay basic D&D. I just figured that I rebuilt five characters from D&D into Dark Dungeon from sketch. But I never cared to explain how you would actually convert a character instead of rebuilding one.

Frankly, I'm not sure you can just convert one. But if you would, then it would be in a way somewhat like this. Use the table below to convert the ability scores. Scores above 15 cannot be attained if you are but first level. For each level after 1 you already gained, you may raise a point somewhere above 5.

D&D range     Dark Dungeon
3-6                    -2
7-8                    -1
9-10                    0
11                       1
12                       2
13                       3
14                       4
15                       5
16                       5 (can be raised to 6 after gaining a level)
17                       5 (can be raised to 7 after gaining two levels)
18                       5 (can be raised to 8 after gaining three levels)

Make sure you add up all the ability points, double them and see how many skill points you used in abilities. You have to subtract those from the total skill points you can shell out for skills, faith and disciplines. The total skill points for a character, skills and abilities (double) combined are 50 plus 5 for each level of the character.

So, first level fighter Borg would convert like this:

Str 17           Str 5 (might be raised to 7 by class level 3 or above)
Int 8             Int -1
Wis 10         Wil 0
Dex 7          Dex -1
Con 15        Con 5
Chr 6           App -2

Borg is dead ugly, clumsy, and not too bright. And he only uses 12 (6x2) skill points on his abilities. Which would leave him 38 points to put in all sorts of combat and other skills.

Using this kind of conversion flattens the characters a bit at lower levels for Dark Dungeon. Which makes sense, as Dark Dungeon knows no hit points like D&D. Hit points make lower levels weaker in D&D, and higher levels stronger. In Dark Dungeon that's different. There's just skills and abilities. A higher “level” there would translate in the prerogative of more points above the normal ceiling of skill and ability level 5.

I'm not sure how realistic Borg is in game terms. In the parties I played in he either wouldn't have been played at all, or he would have died fairly soon being launched as stupid cannon fodder. I guess Moldvay included the example in the hope of raising a new generation of players accustomed to high aswell as low scores, and a more “fair” distribution of ability scores. As players, we never fancied that style. Heroes need to be special. And even if that doesn't have to translate into six abilities at 16+, it sure did mean that for us for a while.

Once abilities are rolled up, a D&D character would be finished by rolling up hit points and buying equipment. But a dark dungeon character would have to be given skills from the template.

I'll leave that to you to figure out. Borg sure would have proficiencies with the weapons in his equipment list. The longsword, the daggers, the shield and the short bow.

Next issue, we'll finally look at the Haunted Keep.

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