AD&D 1st Edition Vanilla Essence: 1E Demographics and the Implied Setting - Page 5


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  1. #41
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    ø Ignore gizmo33
    Quote Originally Posted by Remathilis
    3e's demographics are a response to a couple of fundamental questions...

    1.) In a world of animated dead, crushing golems, powerful intelligent swords, and cursed rings, who makes all this stuff?
    2.) Where were that PC (my best friend who just rolled up as a new character) before he joined our group?
    3.) If guards kill orc raiders for years on end, don't they get the same Xp as I do?
    4.) "Don't worry, I can steal every last coin from the mayor's vault. I'm 6th level, what can they possibly do to me?"
    These are interesting questions, I see them come up all of the time, and I have a few problems with what seems to be the conventional wisdom. In order:

    1. A 5,000 year old campaign world over time could produce plenty of golems, intelligent swords, etc. without all of those wizards existing in the current campaign year. Also, I don't think the DnD rules are such a simulation that there aren't other means for creating these items other than those outlined in the rules. This was especially the case in 1E, where demon lords and such could create items where no explicit power in their stat block gave them the ability to do so (just as no explicit power allowed them to grant cleric spells). It's a question of how complete you expect the rules to be - IMO the rules are geared towards those elements most likely to come up during the adventure - and a power that allows a demon lord to create an intelligent sword over time is not such an element.

    3. A guard who is responsible for the death of more than one or two orcs in his career is an exceptional individual IMO. In any case I think the advice in 1E was that powerful characters would be more prevalent in dangerous areas. 3E doesn't solve this problem anyway because AFAIK there's no distinction made between peaceful and dangerous areas.

    4. A mayor who can't deal with his local problems requests help from the local duke, who in turn would request help from the King. It's a natural result of stingy demographics that if 6th level thieves are that rare that the mayor can't deal with them, then 6th level thieves aren't common enough to cause problems in other areas of the kingdom, meaning the Duke doesn't have worse threats to deal with.

    (Edit: Oh - also 3E sort of created a problem in this area anyway, because a CR 6 creature (like the thief in the example) is as powerful as two CR 4 creatures in theory. However, IIRC this was not the case in 1E - two 4th level thieves could probably kill a 6th level thief pretty easily. This means that large groups of low-level mooks were more capable of dealing with mid-level characters than they are now.)
    Last edited by gizmo33; Monday, 13th August, 2007 at 10:38 PM.

 

  • #42
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    ø Ignore Baron Opal
    Very interesting, Sepulchrave.

    At what scale would you consider the minimum or maximum? If I count out the demos for a 1 million people kingdom I will get very different demographics than 1000 towns of 1000 people. Granted, determining who goes where would be a chore.

    Does this become the villian / ally pool? If there are competing adventuring parties, are their numbers drawn from these ranks? Put another way, once you determine what the distribution is, who are the exceptions from the rule?
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  • #43
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    ø Ignore Jeph
    I'd put all those extras in the larger population centers, or in relative isolation. Like, for each town you end up with a few characters in the 5-6 range, but if you add them all together you've got a few in the 10-12 range, and you don't want to just throw a dart at the map and plunk these personalities down in some random hickory town... those NPCs would be the high priest of the grand temple in the capital city, the reclusive archivist in the wizard's tower in the mountains, the spirit-mediator in the depths of the dark forest, and so on.
    In all probability, that is. Which is a great relief to me personally.
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    ø Ignore mmadsen
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    Quote Originally Posted by Remathilis
    One of the biggest changes you cite, but its not really given proper attention, is the removal of name level. In all older D&D, 9th-11th level was special in the same way epic level is now special.
    I really think that's the key point, and it explains so much of the difference between editions.
    Quote Originally Posted by Remathilis
    In a world of animated dead, crushing golems, powerful intelligent swords, and cursed rings, who makes all this stuff?
    Most fantasy assumes a great fallen empire in the past, and most of those magic items don't degrade over time.
    Quote Originally Posted by Remathilis
    If guards kill orc raiders for years on end, don't they get the same Xp as I do?
    Sure, but how much combat does an average soldier even see, and if he sees much combat, does he survive it? PCs are living an oddly blessed existence, where they keep stumbling across challenges just within their reach.
    Quote Originally Posted by Remathilis
    "Don't worry, I can steal every last coin from the mayor's vault. I'm 6th level, what can they possibly do to me?"
    That sounds like the start of a great adventure...

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    ø Ignore grodog
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sepulchrave II
    Heroes and the 1% Solution
    Many years ago, I read an article in White Dwarf magazine (I think an issue numbering in the 50s or 60s) which alluded to the likely incidence of high-level characters – specifically high level Magic-Users – in a campaign. I suspect that Lew Pulpisher wrote the article, and I think it was about (and against the notion of) 'Magic Shops' although I can't be sure – it's been twenty years since I read it, and my mags are in a box somewhere in Britain and I'm in the States. I might be conflating two different articles.
    Found it, Sep. It's "Magimart: Buying and Selling Magic Items" by Lewis Pulsipher in WD 43 (July 1983), page 15. For reference, I posted the article to my site @ http://www.greyhawkonline.com/grodog...D43-page15.pdf

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    ø Ignore grodog
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    Sep---

    Will you be using some of the ideas herein for your looming B/X campaign, or have your thoughts on 1e demographics changed quite a bit over the past couple of years?

  • #47
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    I donīt really think the post was so thought out, or to clarify, the assumptions made are based on rules that fail to represent a functioning game world.
    Thatīs due to the fact that the opposition is much more powerful than the depicted societies could defend against in a meaningful way.
    If I take the Monster Manuals into account, no matter which edition, pick a creature and examine itīs ecology and possible population, itīll show that a mostly class-less and no- to lowlevel world couldnīt possible put up any resistance.

    [Additional Thought] Youīd need o chance "a" to "the" to simulate the monsters with the low demographig, so changing "a hydra" to "the hydra", making every capable monster unique and reducing their number to the equivalent number of possible named level characters, thereby dismantling any meaningful sense of simulation.
    Last edited by Coldwyn; Friday, 19th June, 2009 at 11:58 AM.
    What do you mean? Iīve been camping with the girls and I didnīt touch īem? That makes me evil?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Whizbang Dustyboots View Post
    I disagree with dumping NPC classes, and here's why: After a certain (low) point, the party bard or rogue will never fail to be able to sneak past the town guards, never fail to be able to shortchange the local innkeeper, will never fail to be able to hoodwink a knowledgeable craftsperson.
    Why would you want the PC to fail?

    I think PCs using abilities within their area of expertise should not be failing vs mundane people. The Rogue should be able to sneak past the soldiers in the castle, just as the Fighter could kill them with his swordand the Wizard go Invisible or Fireball them without fail. Higher failure rates on skill checks really shaft the skill-based PCs IMO, especially when they're also weak in combat.

    Anyway, great article from the OP, sorry I missed it first time round - August 2007 my son was 2 months old, so not surprising!

    Gearing up to run 4e, my perspective has shifted a lot. Unlike 1e through even 3e, 4e steers hard away from any rules-as-physics, and encourages arbitrary or ad-hoc statting of NPCs.

    Currently I don't think I'm going to be using any PC-class NPCs in my upcoming 4e campaign, rather all NPCs will be statted as 'monsters', like the sample Humans in the MM. What were high-level spellcasters will be given a Ritual Casting level; blaster wizard types can use the human warmage stats from the MM, increased or decreased in level. Warrior types can use eg the Human Bandit or Human Guard stats, possibly with different special powers.
    ***Henry/S'mon Super Quick d20 NPC Generation System*** The Gods of the Copybook Headings With Terror and Slaughter Return!

    eriktheguy, on S'mon's latest idea:
    There are 2 major problems with your idea:
    1: It is far too awesome
    2: see 1

  • #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coldwyn View Post
    I donīt really think the post was so thought out, or to clarify, the assumptions made are based on rules that fail to represent a functioning game world.
    Thatīs due to the fact that the opposition is much more powerful than the depicted societies could defend against in a meaningful way.
    If I take the Monster Manuals into account, no matter which edition, pick a creature and examine itīs ecology and possible population, itīll show that a mostly class-less and no- to lowlevel world couldnīt possible put up any resistance.
    I think you need to grok the concept of the Threshold, as Joseph Campbell puts it, between

    (1) The Real World - the World of Real People per Sep, the Mundane World, or as Gygax put it in B2 the Realm of Man and

    (2) The Myth-World, the World of Adventure, Campbell's Underworld, Gygax's Realm of Chaos.

    Creatures from (2), the inhabitants of the Monster Manual, simply don't/can't manifest in (1). This was strongly implicit in Gygax's OD&D, weakened somewhat in AD&D (with its vampires and demons in the town encounter table), and explicitly abandoned in 3e (Monte Cook's "This is a mistake" advice in the 3e DMG).

    Gygax makes clear in eg B2, or the 1983 World of Greyhawk demographics advice, that the Threshold, the liminal zone, the area of "high PC activity", does not follow the rules of the Mundane World when it comes to demographics, because this is where heroes & villains both concentrate. The heroes are there to hold back the Realm of Chaos and/or expand the Realm of Man. The villains are there to do the opposite. If the heroes fail, *then* Chaos floods into the Realm of Man and the perytons and gargoyles start eating the 0th level NPCs.

    Places like Gygax's Hommlet are clearly on the Threshold. Their demographics are irrelevant when creating a 'real world' backdrop against which the PCs adventure.

    Of course this Gygax/Campbell 'Frontier/Threshold' approach is not the only way to play D&D. Bob Bledsaw's Wilderlands has almost no identifable Frontier, at most it has islands of Law in a world of Chaos.
    ***Henry/S'mon Super Quick d20 NPC Generation System*** The Gods of the Copybook Headings With Terror and Slaughter Return!

    eriktheguy, on S'mon's latest idea:
    There are 2 major problems with your idea:
    1: It is far too awesome
    2: see 1

  • #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coldwyn View Post
    [Additional Thought] Youīd need o chance "a" to "the" to simulate the monsters with the low demographig, so changing "a hydra" to "the hydra", making every capable monster unique and reducing their number to the equivalent number of possible named level characters, thereby dismantling any meaningful sense of simulation.
    You'd be simulating mythic Greece or the Sagas, Beowulf and medieval Romance...
    ***Henry/S'mon Super Quick d20 NPC Generation System*** The Gods of the Copybook Headings With Terror and Slaughter Return!

    eriktheguy, on S'mon's latest idea:
    There are 2 major problems with your idea:
    1: It is far too awesome
    2: see 1

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