These are in response to Random Wizard.
(1). Race (Elf, Dwarf, Halfling) as a class? Yes or no? — Yes, yes, yes. A thousand times yes. Multi-classing and race/class splits are pretty much a horrible kludgey hack. Switching to race-as-class forced a designer to actually sit down and think about how things should actually work most of the time, rather then getting caught up in tinkering with an unworkable mess. If you have a better idea, then go make a real class for your game… but you probably don’t need to. The core archetypes are pretty well covered with the standard range of classes.
(2). Do demi-humans have souls? — This has never come up in my games. While this is an interesting footnote to gaming history, I can’t imagine D&D actually having the sort of design where one choice or another could damage the way it works. A choice on this is more interesting from a setting design standpoint than any “balance” it could supposedly give to the various classes and races.
(3). Ascending or descending armor class? — I have no idea about the controversy that has emerged over this one. Armor class starts at 9 or so and then does down from there. It’s always been that way. I see no reason to change it. This is sort of like where 5th edition Car Wars had to switch everything to roll under. Just completely idiotic! The confusion and arguments engendered by these sorts of changes do not make up for the supposed efficiency improvements that they purportedly add to the game. The fact that Swords & Wizardry takes the time to allow for both approaches is a huge waste of page space and is just one more thing to explain when picking up the system. Every time I look at a stat in that game I have to wonder what’s being used and whether or not it matters. It’s just a stupid waste of brain cells.
(4). Demi-human level limits? — This was more of a thing in AD&D, I guess, but yeah, sure, why not…? I can’t imagine that there are too many groups that will get to the point in their campaign where this matters, so this is really sort of a non-issue at this stage. If it did matter in a game, I agree with the guy that said that the limits are cool because the dem-human will get to the end-game winning big-wheel stage sooner, and that’s just frabjous.
(5). Should thief be a class? — Yeah, sure. But they can suck up the fact that they only have 1d4 hit points. Sure, they’ll get to level three faster than anybody else and it won’t be a problem forever… but they can sweat a little until they get there as far as I’m concerned. It makes them act a little more thief-like.
(6). Do characters get non-weapon skills? — No. Your class description covers most of what you will do in the game. If you want some sort of skill system, you’re playing the wrong game. Zork provides a better model for running the game than just about anything else– and you don’t need an elaborate system for that style of play.
(7). Are magic-users more powerful than fighters (and, if yes, what level do they take the lead)? — It depends. The classes are designed to complement each other and to also allow different players to take charge as circumstances evolve. So while the magic-user can be a sort of artillery piece in the game, he still has to be supported by the other classes in order to be effective. Likewise, the fighter will be more powerful when the magic-user runs out of spells. This dynamic is a key factor of D&D’s genius and a big part of why it is so compelling at the table.
(8). Do you use alignment languages? — Technically, yes. They make no sense to me, but I guess they aren’t so bad if there’s only three alignments to choose from. I think the guy that said to treat them like a Dune-style battle language had the right idea… but if you lose the language in the event of an alignment change…? What then…? I have no idea. I sort of dare this to ever matter and trust in my capacity to rule on the spot based on what the players are doing.
(9). XP for gold, or XP for objectives (thieves disarming traps, etc…)? — XP for gold is pretty much all you need, but a little bit tossed in for killing monsters is okay, I guess. XP for objectives sounds like a great way for someone to define just exactly how people are “supposed” to play, which I think is anathema to very idea of role playing games. Far better to have a primary objective that is both clear and broad… and then get out of the way of the players as they choose their own way in the wide, wide world.
(10). Which is the best edition; ODD, Holmes, Moldvay, Mentzer, Rules Cyclopedia, 1E ADD, 2E ADD, 3E ADD, 4E ADD, Next ? — ODD is wild, wooly, strange, unkempt, and freakish. Holmes was a step in the right direction. Mentzer is mass market D&D, sure, but the idea that anyone would go to level 36 twice is just preposterous. Rules Cyclopedia merely compiles something that had already gone on too long. AD&D is incomprehensible and unplayable. 2E AD&D is bloated and sanitized. 3E D&D tends to focus on a linear set of tactical combats that the players are supposed to win with their last hit point, which is not really D&D when you get down to it– it’s My Precious Encounter™. 4E attempts to implement World of Warcraft on the tabletop without leveraging any of the real strengths of role playing games. “Next” looks like it may succeed in providing the worst of all worlds when it comes to D&D games, but who knows? Really, the Moldvay game is the purest, most refined, best designed iteration of the game. Combined with the Cook/Marsh Expert set, it provides for all of the D&D experience that anyone should ever need.
Bonus Question: Unified XP level tables or individual XP level tables for each class? — Definitely individual XP tables by class. It is interesting to see the different characters increase in power in a staggered way depending on their class and prime requisite bonus.