Then I got to the part about Armor Class and how to use ascending and descending AC charts in combat...and felt compelled to thank my lucky stars that our group has always chosen ascending AC whenever we have been offered the choice.
Okay..a quick refresher course in old-school weirdness for those of you who are late coming to the party and can't remember back to the times before there were Feats and when Half-Orcs were only allowed to be monsters.
For some odd reason, back in the early days of The Game We All Know, it seemed like a good idea to let the lack of armour be represented by 9, and the very best magical protection to be represented by a -9.
Uh-huh... less is more.... makes sense to me.
So in the beginning when there was combat, and you were a first level Fighting Person,and you wanted to attack an orc with an AC of 6, you consulted a table and saw that you needed to roll a 13.
Then along came THACO. (That's "To Hit Armor Class 0") in the 2nd edition of The Game We All Know, and suddenly each character had their own special "to hit" number based on what type of character they were and how large their group was. Of course there were tables provided to find your THACO number. Then, when facing an orc with AC 6, all you had to do was take your THACO number and subtract the orc's AC from it to know what you had to roll. This was ..and I'm quoting here.. "speed the play of combat greatly"
Ummm.. oookay... so I subtract... unless of course the orc is armoured like a tank with AC-5...in which case I add...right? Math is haaaard. I'm just a girrrrrrl!
Then somewhere around the end of the last century, some lazy person like myself got the bright idea to flip-flop the AC so that it goes up instead of down as you add on armour, and then to give your character a "Base Attack Bonus" instead of making you consult another table. I mean seriously... if we wanted to consult charts and tables all night long, we'd be playing Bosses & Board Rooms.
Well...getting back to the here and now..and closer to my elusive point...I was reading through S&W Core Rules and came across the bit about ascending and descending...and how you can either use the table as it was intended OR if you choose to use ascending AC, a simple formula..which I will quote.
"Here’s how it’s done: each character class gainsAnd somewhere, some poor schmuck is going NOW WHY DIDN'T I THINK OF THAT!
a base “to-hit” bonus as their levels increase. Add this
bonus to your attack roll, and if the result is equal to or
greater than the opponent’s AC, the attack hits."
Now I normally consider myself to be just weird enough that I can actually find the bizarre logic behind just about anything, no matter how silly..but this one has me stumped. Perhaps descending AC is legacy rules from some old mothbally tactical historical game that TSR wrote back when TSR used to write such things..or maybe somebody wanted to make the math unnecessarily complicated so that non-nerds would shrink back in fear upon encountering such esoteric arithmatic.
But far be it from me to pontificate about which method of AC numbering is "right" and which isn't. I certainly don't mean to say anybody out there needs to change if they prefer the descending method...but I am genuninely curious as to why.
And for what it's worth, in the two years I played 2nd edition The Game, I NEVER was able to totally wrap my head around THACO. I'd just grin stupidly and allow the DM to tell me how badly I flubbed the attack and to which corner of the room my sword flew from my hand.