Following on the same topic on another thread published at https://www.rpgpub.com/threads/od-d-fighters-and-number-of-attacks.4437/
In there, Moonglum said:
“I my opinion, the failure to adapt Chainmail's approach to increasing offensive output with increasing level was sort of disastrous for the balance of play in D&D, and much of what followed in further developments of the system were just repeated attempts to fix the problems created by that mistake. The basic issue is that fighters don't actually get much better at fighting as they go up in level; it just takes more for them to die. This is frustrating in general, feels stupid in comparison to the way magic using classes and even thieves advance, and leads to slow, boring fights. Can you imagine anything more boring, in actual play at the table, than two 10th level fighters having duel with no magic equipment and no house rules? It would take forever to resolve, nothing interesting would happen, and the end would be the anti-climactic moment when one of them finally scrapes zero HP.
Attempts to address these problems include making it almost obligatory to equip fighters with powerful magic items, creating sub-classes with cool powerzzz and functionally making them magic using, and layering on sub-systems of proficiencies and feats that kind of paper over their anemic offensive output. None of it really works. In an alternative universe, original D&D would have taken it as a core design concept that a fighter's offensive output scales sort of linearly with increasing level, and then found a way to let them use those increasing actions/output creatively enough that there are some fun things to do each turn.”
That is exactly the crux of my ideia. In the past I’ve come from playing and running D&D (Mentzer), and years running an AD&D campaign from 1st though 3rd edition, after having some prior contact and experience with DragonQuest, coupled with some pages from Chivalry & Sorcery. I remember reading D&D for the first time and thinking “Hit Dice” were the dice you used to hit your opponents. It took me some time to understand they were only meant to roll hit points. I believe the relation of HD to Fighting Capability was lost in translation. I found recently OD&D was that was just the thing I though the game was really missing. Also I think robertsconley is right about that making rules on top of the game text would make it even better: a blows system like Chivalry & Sorcery, a parry option for some blows, etc. But the thing is... as written (though not exactly as played, and for several reasons), the HD/FC system from Original D&D was a very sensible one and showed a lot of promise to explore. Alas, that was not the road taken.
First of all, because of the ideia of interpreting “vs. normal man“ as written in Man&Magic, page 5 as being equal to “1 HD or less” is IMHO just wrong, conceptually and systematically, if you go by the books as written.
Contrarily to the most widespread belief, I believe OD&D, as written, does exactly the opposite thing, by closing the gap and bridging two of the main 3 Chainmail combat systems: “man-to-man” and the “fantasy supplement”. Man&Magic, page 5 gives you the way for enabling to bridge that gap, telling you by examples how to use a Troll in Man-to-man combat by way of OD&D (with its Hit Dice/ Fighting Capability concepts): The Troll attacks with as many attacks as it has HD. That is the general rule. Some cases, like the Cleric, show is that it is possible to have a stronger defensive progression (HD) than offensive (FC). Likewise some monsters and troop types/NPCs have different defensive/offensive ratios, which could be explained case by case. As robertsconley mentions, to invent solution for those cases it would not be hard for an audience that were used to making rulings on the basis of how it worked in life, fiction, or film, and specially by extrapolating how it worked in Chainmail, where the bridge between the “fantasy combat” and the “mass combat” scale was already present: see for instance the text where Lycanthropes attack as four heavy foot and defend as four armored foot, how elves could fight using the man-to-man and the fantasy combat tables, How Treants melee as six armored foot in combat , how Wights melee (attack) as light horse and defend as an heavy horse, as a Basilisk have a petrifying gaze, defendes as a Lyncathrope and otherwise did not attack, etc... By giving HD to the monsters what OD&D was doing was closing the gap between fantasy combat and man-to-man combat, enabling the translation (as 1 HD = 1 man).
This alone enables a clever group to fight every monster on the 3LLB using Man-to-man rules in OD&D. I think reverting to the fantasy supplement rules as separate from the man-to-man and making it the sole province of heroes is downplaying this innovation present in the text of both 3LLB and Chainmail, if you really want to be purist about those texts. Mostly, it seems a missed opportunity not to follow this line of reasoning. At the very least I think a faithful retroclone, like DD, should account for this interpretation as possible.