Monday, February 13, 2012

Day 07 – The reason behind your blog’s name

This will an easy little one, so let’s get right on to it.
Why did I choose the name ‘Negative Thac0’ for this site? And I assume I ought to explain my alias ‘Maynard’ as well.
Negative Thac0 was first and foremost chosen because it’s a term only some hardcore D&D gamers will recognize. For those of you who haven’t been around long enough to play Advanced Dungeons and Dragons OR the Baldur’s Gate OR Icewind Dale 1, let me just inform you that THAC0 translates into ‘To Hit Armor Class 0’.
In modern times, RPG’s mostly operate out of the strict formula that higher is better. It’s a system for everyone, really. Having a +9 to hit that orc is certainly better than +7 when you have to top his Armor Class (AC) of 16 on a twenty-sided dice.
Back then, however, we didn’t care much for simplicity. No, we hated it. Frankly, anyone ever reading ‘AD&D: Combat and Tactics’ and actually utilizing the majority of the options truly hated his players or the entire humanity.
But at its core, THAC0 was a value you wanted to be low. Just like your AC. Lower was better.

Whenever you rolled to hit, you’d use the formula: Your THAC0 – your opponent’s AC = roll you need to hit on a D20. Simple as that. Warriors usually progressed swiftly with THAC0, whereas the academics had a rough time. Nothing new there.

Then there was the uncrowned king of monsters himself. The Tarrasque. Often regarded as the toughest core monsters among them all, this unique being possessed a line of qualities that could easily make life a bitch on the heroes. One of them, however, was its negative THAC0.
To my knowledge, the Tarrasque is the only (official) creature in AD&D that pulls this off. What makes it really interesting, is the fact that according to the second edition Monster Manual, a negative THAC0 means that the beast can only be hit on a natural 1 on the dice. This contradicts just about everything we’d learned from the system. THAC0 shouldn’t have an impact on defense, for example. Natural 1 is usually a really bad thing, and we celebrate natural 20’es instead. Seriously, what’s up with this guy?
Some people have written a lot about it on the web, fluffing it up by saying the beast is cursed, meaning you can never hit it intentionally, only by pure dumb luck. It makes sense to me. But it’s still one of a kind.
So yeah, there you have it. I really used to love this rule for its sheer unique quality.
Then there’s the name. Maynard, often used interchangeably, variations may occur. There’s not really much to say except it originates from Brother Maynard, from one of my favorite movies.

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