To be honest, I never paid much attention to the BECMI reaction table.
I'm usually more interested in B/X and I thought that the BECMI table was just a needlessly convoluted version of the B/X table I liked, requiring multiple rolls to achieve the same result.
I was completely wrong, of course.
The part I overlooked is the asterisk. It explains in a succinct manner a number of questions I had with B/X reactions:
- When do you use Charisma for reaction rolls?
- What happens in an "uncertain" result?
- What happens if the NPC is still uncertain after several rolls/actions?
It doesn't answer all questions of course, nor does it address all the issues I have with encounters, but it is a great starting point - probably much better than B/X.
It could probably be simplified to two rolls instead of three. Or to a single table with pone roll affecting the next, such as the Rules Cyclopedia (which also has a tendency towards hostility that I find appropriate for most monsters):
And as much as I dislike the number of rolls you need to create an encounter, I have to admit this "roll again" part has an interesting risk reward dynamic:
"The NPC is obviously hostile, so what do we do?"
If we have something to offer, or a charismatic PC who can talk to him (in the same language), maybe negotiating is our best bet. Even if we do, however, there is a chance the NPC will suddenly use this opportunity to attack us!
And, of course, you only need one roll to start the encounter - further rolls depend entirely of the PCs actions.
So you have cool "social mechanics" or even "roleplaying minigame", which is as interesting as combat - since it can also involve initiative, intimidation, role-playing AND "roll-playing" (or player skill AND character skill), languages, alignment, spells, etc.
And you can use this table regardless of your preferred D&D edition or OSR game.
These "social mechanics" are often and unjustly maligned in OSR circles - "just role-play it!" - but IMO these are great rules from a game that definitely has old school cred (Mentzer red box).
And, of course, this is just a refinement of a rule that was contained in the original D&D.
Social mechanics are here from the start.