There are a lot of rules like this in OD&D that are seemingly random and don't make much sense. The problem, I think, is that the majority of D&D gamers don't play the game in the same way that Gary did. The newer players were using D&D to simulate grand fantasy and heroic questing rather than the looting of ancient ruins. So, a lot of rules got lost in translation, because they didn't make sense with what people were doing with D&D. Played closer to Gary's vision, they seem a lot more sensible.
Nathan P. Mahney - Save or Die!