AD&D 1st Edition Vanilla Essence: 1E Demographics and the Implied Setting - Page 6




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  1. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by S'mon View Post
    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.
    Like "spots of brightness" or something...
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  • #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by Charwoman Gene View Post
    Like "spots of brightness" or something...
    Yeah, it's been well noted that the 4e Points of Light paradigm maps very closely onto the Wilderlands; indeed many 4e concepts seem derived from the Wilderlands (and I know some 4e designers are Wilderlands fans).
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  • #53
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    Fantastic thread, and it brings up a lot of interesting questions. I really like the idea of reminding the players that they're special and different, and surrounded by Real People.

    4e can fall a little bit into the trap of escalating power levels (you fight with the Kings Guards... who are conveniently all 11th level Soldiers...), which can mean that sometimes you can step back and say "But if the King has 6 11th level Guards hanging around, why aren't they out conquering the Kingdom for him?"

    I think I'm going to make it clear in my own game that people that aren't PC's are effectively "1st level" and have only the minimum of a skill training or two to mark them out. With that kind of thing, like you say, the can be differentiated from each other whilst still being less powerful than the Pc's in nearly every way.

    Plus it makes it easy for a 1st level Real Person to match skills with a PC. +5 for trained, +2 or 3 stat bonus, possibly +3 for a skill focus feat (assuming all Real People get one feat) gives a score of +11 or so - easily challenging in an opposed skill check for any Heroic tier character.
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  • #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by S'mon View Post
    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.
    I really like this as a conception for a campaign world. It makes a really clear distinction between different areas, and also neatly explains why the PC's end up doing so much of the "hero" work in a world - they are the ones that are on the Threshold all the time, and so this stuff just keeps happening to them.
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  • #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathew_Freeman View Post
    I think I'm going to make it clear in my own game that people that aren't PC's are effectively "1st level" and have only the minimum of a skill training or two to mark them out. With that kind of thing, like you say, the can be differentiated from each other whilst still being less powerful than the Pc's in nearly every way.
    Hi Matt - that's pretty much how I'm going to do it in my 4e campaign. I'm assigning Ritual Caster levels to spellcaster NPCs, who may or may not have any combat-casting ability. At the same time I'll assign appropriate skill mods to expert NPCs like smiths, where necessary. For hit point total & combat stats, making them 1st level (probably artillery or skirmisher) should work, or they can just be Human Rabble.

    For combatant 'mundane' NPCs like town guards, the MM & MM2 stats for Human Guard, Human Bandit, Human Noble, Human Cavalier et al are useable, and can be levelled up or down several levels - eg an 8th level version of the MM Human Guard would work well for Overking's Palace Guard IMC. If I were running a Paragon campaign though I might stat them as eg 15th level Minions instead.
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  • #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathew_Freeman View Post
    I really like this as a conception for a campaign world. It makes a really clear distinction between different areas, and also neatly explains why the PC's end up doing so much of the "hero" work in a world - they are the ones that are on the Threshold all the time, and so this stuff just keeps happening to them.
    It's noticeable that many CRPGs like Diablo & Diablo II, which tap into the classic Gygaxian model, use this. If Joseph Campbell ('Hero With A Thousand Faces') is right, it has a powerful mythic resonance, which helps explain why D&D is so much more successful than other RPGs. In a game like Diablo, the PCs' powers only function beyond the Threshold; "in town" you can't fight people, you can only talk and buy things!

    In OD&D's original books, 'adventure' took place only in "The Underworld & Wilderness", and thus it stuck very close to the Campbell paradigm - which notably is not the Swords & Sorcery paradigm at all. It's a mythic paradigm, and you see it in Star Wars as well as many many 'mythic' 'fairy tale' 'fantasy' type movies & books, including The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings*.

    But Swords & Sorcery is modernist, not mythic. In S&S evil lives in the mean streets of the City, and in the hearts of Men. It's Raymond Chandler - "Down These Mean Streets a Man Must Go". The hideous monsters of the Outer Dark pale before the horrors of the human psyche.

    *Lord of the Rings does of course include a final bleak flourish to Modernism - The Scouring of the Shire. It's notable that Peter Jackson rejected that, along with the humourous elements in the original books, and created something much more in line with traditional Romance of the 19th century & earlier.
    ***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

  • #57
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    I'm sorely tempted to start a separate thread to put an end to the myth (yes, myth) that leveled characters in AD&D are this "rare commodity". They're not. Sepulchrave subscribes to the "1% fallacy". The "1% fallacy" is that in AD&D, only 1% of the population had levels, while the rest of the NPCs are zero-level nobodies. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    He mentions this:

    Quote Originally Posted by Sepulchrave II
    In any event, the numbers were burned into my mind. For a long time, when I was playing AD&D, I used them when I was designing settlements in order to determine the incidence of PC-class characters: I know some still use this system (S'mon, amongst others), or variations thereof. Here are the magic numbers:

    * 1% of characters are PC-class; the remaining 99% are 0-level
    * For every PC-class character of level N, there are half as many PC-class characters of level (N+1)


    Bear in mind that this was 1E, and we don't have 0-level characters anymore. But the assumed incidence of PC-class characters is more-or-less 1E canon (if such ever existed). On p.35 of the 1E Dungeon Masters Guide it states:
    Quote Originally Posted by From the 1e DMG
    Human and half-orc characters suitable for level advancement are found at a ratio of 1 in 100.
    Unfortunately, the OP takes this quote completely out of context. That magic number of 1%? It refers to the level advancement of henchmen. Now before anyone says, "so what?"....please allow me to point out a couple things. For starters, in AD&D, you can already have class levels, and be unsuitable for level advancement. For an example, check out the 1e DMG on page 30. That section is devoted to "expert hirelings", and one of those hirelings is labeled as a "Captain", which is simply a capable leader who happens to be a fighter of 5th to 8th-level. Again, you might say..."so"? And I'd say, "captains are incapable of working upwards in level". In other words, they have levels, but they don't advance.

    Oddly, that's not even my main point. If you really want an idea of the level of NPCs you might encounter in 1e, then just skim through the City/Town Encounters Matrix in the 1e DMG, on page 190. It's a perfect example of what to expect if you travel through any town or city. If you read it, you'll see that over half the encounters have NPCs that could easily mulch a 1st-level Fighter. But don't take my word for it. Read it.

  • #58
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    SL - The DMG Town Encounter table is intended to provide exciting city encounters for D&D's core level range. In terms of demographics, the highest level NPCs on it - around 12th level - are likely to be the most powerful people in the city. You see similar from the Random Fortress table, albeit it's intended for 'Wilderness' fortresses beyond the Threshold (making up 1 in 20 random Wilderness encounters), not castles within the mundane civilised world. Its Fortress rulers are typically 9th-12th level, up to 14th for some classes.

    However you are right that that 1% figure is for 'heroic', PC-type NPCs, who can gain XP and advance as PCs. It does not include fixed-level NPCs like mercenaries and sages. It probably doesn't include the leader-type NPCs in the Men section of the MM, like Pirate Chiefs (although again those are Wilderness encounters, you don't expect to battle 20-200 Bandits + Leaders while travelling the roads of Furyondy, unless the DM is very mean).

    You also need to take account that cities are power centres for a wide area; a rural population around 20 times that of the city. A city of 30,000 will likely hold most of the highest level NPCs from a rural hinterland (including market towns) of around 600,000 - in Greyhawk; in the real middle ages it'd typically be 3 million to 6 million+, but Greyhawk population figures are all very low, as has been noted.

    Thus, when the PCs walk through the city and the GM rolls up an encounter with a 12th level high priest, that may well be the highest level Cleric in a population of hundreds of thousands of people.

    A final point - the 1/2 ratio is for levels up to name level. After name level the 1e XP curve flattens out and the ratio becomes more like 3/2, per the 1983 Greyhawk set. Actually at the highest levels it gets more like 1/1 as progression increases rapidly while lethality declines; that's how you get 29th level Arch-Mages.
    ***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

  • #59
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    What a great discussion; I'd missed it last time round. I'll archive it for posterity when the new discussion has died down.

    For myself, I'm always torn between campaign worlds where so much of the "good stuff" has already happened (the great warriors and mages lived in the past, and we live in the ruins of what they left behind) and worlds where someone cool and interesting could be right around the corner (we are the history makers, we change the world). Elements of both appear in my games, so I've never come down on one side or the other, but the great majority of everyday NPCs are 0-level, and always will be (even if they have interesting backstory, as appropriate).
    Most sorts of diversion in men, children and other animals, are in imitation of fighting.

    -Jonathan Swift

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sacrificial Lamb View Post
    If you really want an idea of the level of NPCs you might encounter in 1e, then just skim through the City/Town Encounters Matrix in the 1e DMG, on page 190. It's a perfect example of what to expect if you travel through any town or city. If you read it, you'll see that over half the encounters have NPCs that could easily mulch a 1st-level Fighter.
    But what if the encounter table is for PCs only? Like heroes in adventure fiction, they lead coincidence strewn lives quite different from those of ordinary people.

    PCs go in a tavern and it's a front for the Thieves' Guild. PC gets a girlfriend and she turns out to be a succubus. They travel by boat and it's attacked by pirates. They step outside the front door and get eaten by an ankheg. Normal people don't experience any of that, they go in a tavern and have a quiet drink.

    The encounter tables may not be simulationist.

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