AD&D 1st Edition Vanilla Essence: 1E Demographics and the Implied Setting - Page 2

+ Log in or register to post
Page 2 of 7 FirstFirst 1234567 LastLast
Results 11 to 20 of 61
  1. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Sepulchrave II
    The populations of characters above 1st level is not addressed in the 1E DMG, but the White Dwarf article to which I refer assumed a survival rate of 50% from each level to the next after all, adventuring is a hazardous business. This seemed reasonable to me; Skip Williams assumes the same incidence of higher-level characters in the 2E supplement Dungeon Master's Option: High-Level Campaigns, possibly from the same source.
    Wow, long post (didn't read all of it). I did work on 1E demographics in the past (spreadsheet attached below). Obviously you found the important 1E DMG rule that only 1% of humans have the capacity to gain levels.

    What I don't subscribe to is the half-advance-each level rule. Although widely accepted and easy to remember, it does not match up with other details in the 1E AD&D rules. If you compare to things like: (1) mercenary leader levels (vs. number of troops), (2) leader-types for men (as in bandits, buccaneers, nomads, etc.), (3) rulers listed in Greyhawk (vs. population figures), then the 50% rule fails to produce enough high-level NPCs.

    What works more accurately is a 50% every two levels rule -- or in other words, about 70% for each single level boost. To get more detailed, what I do is adjust that a bit per class: e.g., 65% for wizards, 62% clerics, 60% fighters and thieves, as the class functions get more physically dangerous. (This also winds up resolving about the same maximum level over all the character classes, since the latter are more common by the rules.)

    That's what I find gives the right number of officers (per number of mercenary troops in DMG), the right number of high-level rulers (per percentage table in Greyhawk boxed set), a fair number of high-level wizards on the Greyhawk continent (about 30 Mages, a bit fewer 20 Archmages), and so forth. So that's what I always use for demographics in all my campaigns since 1E. (Spreadsheet attached below.)

    In other regards, I'm really struck by how much I agree with what I've read of your thinking -- I completely agree with the importance of the exercise (who the hell is the most powerful person on this continent, or this kingdom or city?), with the sources that you're looking at, etc. I completely agree that the 3E NPC classes were a really bad idea -- what I would recommend in 3E is using simply "unclassed humanoids" (see MM creature types) for the majority of peasant NPCs.
    Attached Files Attached Files
    Last edited by Delta; Friday, 10th August, 2007 at 08:36 PM.
    ADVANCED DUNGEONS &DRAGONS is first and foremost a game for the fun and enjoyment of those who seek to use imagination and creativity. This is not to say that where it does not interfere with the flow of the game that the highest degree of realism hasnt been attempted, but neither is a serious approach to play discouraged. (1E DMG p. 9)

    Dan's Diminutive d20 (v1.1):
    Delta's D&D Hotspot:


  • #12
    Registered User
    Gallant (Lvl 3)

    der_kluge's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Tempe, AZ

    Block der_kluge

    When you said this was long, you weren't just whistling Dixie!

    That said, I think your ideas are spot on. Though, I don't believe everyone is as "worried" about demographics as perhaps you are, I think it's a good thinking exercise.

    I've got that thread that you referenced opened in another tab, and I'll read it next. Though I suspect that author will mention something along the same lines as I'm about to say here: It seems to me that 1st edition and 3rd edition are quite different (as you describe) in terms of power level. I suspect this has as much to do with the fact that 3rd edition seems to move more away from realism and more towards becoming a "game" for games' sake. For example, Baldur's Gate would be pretty boring if you did nothing but interact with 0-level people all the time. So - to be more interesting, the world is "bumped up" to speak and it becomes more fantastical as a result. PCs become less powerful in the scope, but a number of immediate challenges become available. And, if you're of the opinion that "challenges=fun", then the game becomes more fun.

    So, how do we make the game more fun? We add more challenges. How do we do that? We make PCs less powerful in the scope of the universe.

    I suspect a thought process much like this one was what led to where we are. Though, I certainly doubt such a thing was a conscious effort on any one individuals part, though I suspect that Ed Greenwood is partially to blame since Forgotten Realms' high-powered focus certainly has attributed a lot to the feel of the 3rd edition game.

    It also seems to me that 1st edition games tended to be - as you suggest, in this liminal zone where adventure occurred. For me, that was always one of the more bizarre aspects of the game. Indeed, if you refer to some of Gygax's own editorials regarding the earliest of games, they followed a pretty predictable formula - gather resources, head to the dungeon, face traps, kill monsters, find treasure, head back to town. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. At some point, folks wanted to try to adventure within the cities themselves - but the idea probably seemed at least somewhat counter-intuitive given the nature of the original game. Thus, the power level of the game shifted in favor of "the people" in order to make the towns themselves more interesting.

    So, ultimately, it comes down to a matter of personal taste. I do prefer the approach you've outlined, however, as it does tend to present the game in more of a realistic manner.

  • #13
    Registered User
    Thaumaturgist (Lvl 9)

    pogre's Avatar

    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Mahomet, Illinois

    Block pogre

    I have not delved into this subject at length, but I have long ago rejected the 3e method. I always explain that PCs are fated by the deities to be heroes to explain their very fast rise in power. The rest of the world is fairly static with a very few fated characters wandering around. Some have called this the "Supers" approach, but it works for me.

  • #14
    Registered User
    Enchanter (Lvl 12)

    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Wichita, KS, USA

    Block grodog

    Sep, given that you're using Greyhawk as a comparison point for your demographics analysis, you may be interested in reading some detailed discussions on such over on (other good ones are also presently inaccessible in the now-offline Greytalk archives).

    You raise several valid points, which boil down to (on a simplified level, in my mind), 3.x's removal of Frequency from the MM (which I associate with all of the AD&D demographics intentions that were removed from 3.x and which then cascade out into 12th level PCs living in villages of 3000).

    I'll reply further tonight after I'm not supposed to be working

  • #15
    Recently reading Folkways by William Graham Sumner, and I am struck by how the idea of a liminal zone between Real People and the Fantastic World is a part of early human experience. Moreover, I think that this structure is a lot of where Sense of Wonder comes from within the game....the ability to compare the two zones and have them work in conjunction with each other.

    Your post was well thoguht out, and an interesting read.

    No longer associated with this site

  • #16
    Sepulchrave, I have to plug Gary Gygax's Living Fantasy again. It looks into exactly those 1E societal dynamics (with revisions to the role of clerics) at book length.

  • #17
    Registered User
    Minor Trickster (Lvl 4)

    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Los Angeles, CA

    Block T. Foster

    Fantastic post -- too good for a message board, this should be published as an article somewhere. A lot of the 3E-centric mechanical stuff went over my head, but I certainly agree with the general jist of the post in regards the feel of the game and scarcity of high-level adventuring-type NPCs. I once did a demographic thought-exercise of my own (don't remember the details or criteria that I used, didn't write down the results) and one thing that sticks out in my memory is that a population of 1 million was required for a 12th level magic-user, and that an 18th level magic-user required a population bigger than the entire world (meaning that you wouldn't see one every generation, but likely only once a century or so -- in the entire world (so if the last few 18th-level wizards have been in "China" or "India," then "Europe" may not have seen such a figure for 4 or 500 years). I also remember that I skewed the demographic of character-types towards low-levels, with 1st levels representing something like 75% of the total "classed-character" population. This isn't compatible with 'canonical' examples from modules or the World of Greyhawk, but fits my desired campaign-feel better.
    "AD&D is designed to be an amusing and diverting pastime, something which can fill a few hours or consume endless days, as the participants desire, but in no case something to be taken too seriously." - Gary Gygax (DMG, 1979)

    "There are people who regard the RPG as something more than an amusing game, more than a most entertaining hobby. They really do need to get a life" - Gary Gygax (EN World, 2004)

    The Knights & Knaves Alehouse
    Monsters of Myth

  • #18
    Community Supporter
    Acolyte (Lvl 2)

    Yair's Avatar

    Join Date
    Mar 2003

    Block Yair

    Very interesting indeed. An excellent post.

    Quote Originally Posted by pogre
    I always explain that PCs are fated by the deities to be heroes to explain their very fast rise in power. The rest of the world is fairly static with a very few fated characters wandering around. Some have called this the "Supers" approach, but it works for me.
    I like this approach a lot, too.

    This is a very cool thread.
    Want to see some interesting spells? A great magic system in action?
    Visit The Net Wizard's Grimoire wiki for a host of great Ars Magica spells!

  • #19
    Quote Originally Posted by T. Foster
    Fantastic post -- too good for a message board, this should be published as an article somewhere.
    Agreed....but I'm glad it is here on a messageboard nonetheless!
    No longer associated with this site

  • #20
    Registered User
    Acolyte (Lvl 2)

    Flynn's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Austin, TX
    I Defended The Walls!

    Block Flynn

    Very well thought out and well presented. I liked it so much, I downloaded the thread to add to my gaming files!

    In Like Flynn:

  • + Log in or register to post
    Page 2 of 7 FirstFirst 1234567 LastLast

    Similar Threads

    1. D&D and the Implied Setting
      By Lucias in forum Roleplaying Games General Discussion
      Replies: 108
      Last Post: Sunday, 3rd September, 2006, 11:28 PM
    2. Suggestions for vanilla campaign setting?
      By Droopy in forum Roleplaying Games General Discussion
      Replies: 33
      Last Post: Tuesday, 13th December, 2005, 12:09 AM
    3. Implied Setting Element Death
      By Voadam in forum Roleplaying Games General Discussion
      Replies: 8
      Last Post: Thursday, 28th August, 2003, 08:30 AM
    4. Implied setting elements made concrete
      By buzz in forum Roleplaying Games General Discussion
      Replies: 22
      Last Post: Wednesday, 27th August, 2003, 03:35 PM
    5. Implied Setting
      By Raving Raven in forum Roleplaying Games General Discussion
      Replies: 23
      Last Post: Tuesday, 21st January, 2003, 01:46 PM

    Posting Permissions

    • You may not post new threads
    • You may not post replies
    • You may not post attachments
    • You may not edit your posts