Original Edition Delta is back.
Not that it ever was away … but instead of different parts of house rules split up in smaller folders, we now have a consolidated version, with explanations. And so its author calls it “verbose”, even though it is still slim and short.
Delta’s verbose extended edition is practically a complete game. Although…
Not quite – for one, the spell descriptions are still in the separate Book of Spells, for another, it takes basics of D&D type games for granted, so it is not fit for a complete beginner. But for someone who has already played at least one more traditional Old School Game, the content is enough to work with.
For those it is a simplified approach, designed to make the rules streamlined enough to run games with hardly any need to ever refer to the rules. The “Target 20” core mechanic is quickly covered right on page 1, and makes clever use of descending armor in and ascending dice system.
Funny that Delta calls this edition “verbose”, when it much rather represents an attempt to cut to the bones of the old school rules.
Let’s take a quick look at the Extended Delta.
Generally, it is pretty much as the older Delta Rules were, and the few changes are quickly summed up right at the start. The main change is that everything is bundled up into one streamlined booklet.
- Target 20 system: Every roll is d20 + level + modifiers, with a result of 20 or more indicating success.
- Wizards can memorise every spell only once, to enforce creativity and variety, not hogging of sleep spells.
- Still no clerics (not technically new)
- New thief advancement, no longer +1 every two levels, but rather following a simple algorithm.
- Silver standard (also not technically new)
- Encumbrance in “stones”. Great for British readers. Puzzling for continentals.
- Melee weapons get special perks by type to give them something more besides damage dice.
Fighters gain a +1 bonus to hit every level (like in Lamentations of the Flame Princess).
Fighters also get the Chainmail-adjacent multiattack, just like Full Metal Plate Mail: Against groups of 1 HD enemies, they can attack as many as they have fighter-levels. Simple enough (remember, simplicity is the name of this game): A fifth level fighter can attack five 1 HD goons every round. Do these two features stack? Yes, they do. So the fighter is a regular lawnmower of low-level goons. That makes him formidable, but he can still be killed by sufficient numbers.
The names of the Saving Throw categories vary from edition to edition, with separate tables for every class at every level. Delta tries to simplify that into (remember: Target 20, so higher plusses make for easier rolls!)
- +0 for spells,
- +1 for breath,
- +2 vs. stone (petrify?),
- +3 vs. wands, and
- +4 vs. death.
And that’s for everyone.
Quick comparison to the original 1974 style saves for Fighters of Level 1-3:
- Death Ray or Poison, 12.
- Wands, 13.
- Petrification, 14.
- Dragon Breath, 15.
- Spells, 16.
Spell saves are successful on the target number or higher. For spells that means 5 out of 20 successful rolls. For Poison, 9 out of 20 success-chances.
A spell save in Delta is successful on 2 out of 20 rolls, then 3, then 4 out of 20 successful hits at higher levels.
A poison save succeeds on 1 roll out of 20, then 2, then 3.
Characters start out much, much!! more vulnerable to saving throw conditions than in the original game, but they catch up over time. On Level 6, they make a poison save on 7 out of 20, while in the original game they make that on 11 out of 20 options.
That is an uncharacteristically strong deviation. The author is in the habit of starting characters at level 3, so he does not really feel this difference. For groups that start on level 1 it is something to keep in mind. Some playtesting is in order to see how that shakes out in the wild.
Thieves use their level and attribute-mod to power their thief skills, so this is another case of: Let’s see how that shakes out in play. Their to-hit bonus rises by 1 alternating between every and every 2 levels. Wizards raise their to hit by 1 every 2 levels. And they can only memorise 1 instance of a spell, to enforce more variety. No “I memorise 5 sleep spells”, which sounds odd anyways. Memorise 1 sleep spell and some other spells and think about how to use them. I like that.
Movement is a uniform 60′ per round, as a light jog. A leisurely walk is 30′. Jogging faster doubles the standard to 120, and running doubles that to 240 feet in a round.
Ranged attacks, like casting, demand standing still for the round.
And these rules allow 1 death save at reaching 0 HP: Failure is death, Success means the character stabilises at 0 and coughs and wheezes until he is brought to safety so he can heal.
Buffet of Hazards
Useful entries for overburdened GMs are the hazards: Some sample diseases, drowning rules, and traps. Watery pits, poison spikes, slashing traps and scything blades, all are listed beautifully and ready to be plucked into a setting. Complete with very quick descriptions: Falling block: 5×10 foot area, 6d6 damage, save “Stone” for half. And quite aggressive gas traps. Not to be trifled with.
Monster tables show number appearing, HD, damage (mostly 1d6 or 2d6) and Treasure type, etc. All in one handy format.
It really begs to be used properly.
- Like in the first version, the equipment and weapon tables manage a feat that eludes most every other set of roleplaying game rules: Namely, that it shows damage, weight, and cost, all together in one table. I don’t know why others do not manage that, but it is a fact of the hobby.
- Like the earlier version it cuts out my favourite class, the cleric. But it is friendly in that it adds an appendix with bonus spells going beyond the Book of Spells; for druids, clerics, and outlier wizards.
- There is a bit of an issue with the styling, so before printing it, check how it displays page by page. The “Monster Equivalent HD” table, which is about assigning monsters to Dungeon levels, is such a candidate, where table 1 easily carries over to the next page.
- It does have stronghold rules, but they are stunted, pruned down to the naked root. They are apparently made for people who don’t love stronghold building but rather hope for some quick rule of thumb. Would need a test run to be sure.
- The extreme brevity of the document (again, it is really NOT verbose!) opens the door to misunderstandings. For example, it is said that blunt weapons and axes hit stronger AC better. It is spelled out that this is because of a thick hide or a heavy armor, but still it does not spell out that a very dexterous thief is not subject to this effect — namely, that if you have leather armor but your agility puts you into a better AC category, that you are not thereby hit easier with a club.
In other words, GMs are obliged to think. As said in the beginning, it is not for the complete beginner. Brevity and simplicity are the main goal, focus, and highest aspiration of the verbose Delta Rules. They clearly do not lift the burden of judgement off of a GM’s shoulders.
That is normally a good thing, but in a group that is very dependent on detailed explanations in the rules, nu-schoolers, or freshlings, it can lead to debates and even to conclusions that the system is not good.
If that’s you, And if you were to need some rule really desperately and cannot find it in there, then fill in the blanks with the original three LBB of 1974 or with one of the other OD&D clones of quality, like Delving Deeper or Full Metal Plate Mail.
Get it here: