THAC0 (/ˈθækoʊ/, thack-oh) is an abbreviation for To Hit Armor Class Zero (0). To calculate if a hit succeeds you would take the AC of the target and subtract it from the attacker's THAC0, then roll a 20-sided die; if the die rolls equal to or higher than the calculated number, the attack hits. That is, THAC0 − AC = roll needed to hit.
This means that a good character will try to get both their AC and THAC0 values as low as possible!
- Example: If the player has an AC of 5 and THAC0 of 10, and the enemy has an AC of 12 and THAC0 of 18:
Chance of player hitting the enemy: 10 - 12 = -2. Although it may seem that with these numbers it is impossible to miss, a roll is still required as a roll of a natural 1 is ALWAYS considered a miss.
Chance of enemy hitting the player: 18 - 5 = 13. this is a difficult target to hit, since a roll of 13 or above is required.
- Another example: If a target has an AC of −3 and the attacker has a THAC0 of 8, 8 − (−3) = 11. The attacker must roll 11 or greater to hit.
Fighter classes have the best THAC0 progression and spell users have the worst. Lower THAC0 is better, since you have to roll equal to or higher than the to-hit number.
For more on THAC0, consult the AD&D 1st/2nd edition DM Guide(s).