Favorite things about your favorite edition: MECHANICS/RULES ONLY
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  1. #1
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    Favorite things about your favorite edition: MECHANICS/RULES ONLY

    Similar to the other thread, but the opposite. This thread is meant for talking about mechanics/rules only. No fluff, no business practices, only actual mechanical rules. Of your favorite editions, what are the rules you liked best about them?

    Note: An additional rule here: No negative comments about another edition. This includes responding to another poster who might have said they like "x" and you reply with "that was garbage." This thread is only to talk about the parts you like.

    The results from the previous thread, where we talked about favorite things that weren't rules related:

    1es take on a bit of levity/not take itself too seriously, create a sense of weird and wonder, and encouragement to create your worlds
    2es focus on fluff and campaign settings (Al Qadim, etc), especially the weird art of Planescape (much props to Tony D)
    3es opening the ruleset to fans, and shift away from cheesecake
    4es cosmology (particulary Feywild, and Shadowfell)
    5es large umbrella to bring in new players and slow release schedule, and fluff in the monster manual
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    1E - strictly defined race/class themes and limitations - something I much prefer to the 'anything goes' style of later editions.

    1E - uneven class progression - giving each class a chance to shine at different levels, there were no stressing over keeping the party levels relatively even either. (also true for 2E)
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    My favorite edition was 1e with some 2e elements from 1981 to 2012. Still probably is my favorite edition, but 5e has pretty much made it a tie. So I have a couple answers

    1e. Classes were designed with niche protection. I really like that. I've always felt D&D was a team sport, with each team member having a different specialty, just like sports teams
    2e. Priest spheres and mage specialty schools. I also thought thief skill progression was a huge improvement, but with a skill based system since, 5e does it better
    5e. Bounded accuracy is the big one, I think. I also am a big fan of how feats and backgrounds offer a ton of customization without needing to multi-class. HUGE fan of that.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonnyP71 View Post
    1E - strictly defined race/class themes and limitations - something I much prefer to the 'anything goes' style of later editions.

    1E - uneven class progression - giving each class a chance to shine at different levels, there were no stressing over keeping the party levels relatively even either. (also true for 2E)
    From 1e (since I know it best)

    Agree on the defined race/class themes and limitations. Playing without them is like playing tennis without a net.

    Don't care about uneven class progression, BUT ... I do miss uneven classes. You know what? Not everything needs perfect balance. You want to suffer as a Magic User for four levels, so you can kick butt later? More power to you!

    I miss saving throws and attack matrices tied to character LEVEL and not to ABILITY SCORE. I think the treadmill of ability scores is really stupid, and it's the thing I hate the most. *Yawn* another character with a 20 dex. Join the line. Whereas getting better at things because you increase in level? Golden.

    I miss lower levels of magic (in terms of spells), and I also miss having characters defined by what they do and acquire, as opposed to just gaining lots of innate abilities. More adventure, less chargen and mapping it out 20th level.
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  5. #5
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    2e
    - Kits - yeah, I know, many were unevenly designed, but I submit the idea was still a good one and Al-Qadim put them to fabulous use
    - much needed boost to dragon power
    - thief abilities being personally adjustable
    - specialty priests
    - wizard school specialization

    3e
    - Ability score damage. I really liked having an alternative track other than hit points. It made updating A4 - Dungeons of the Slave Lords a breeze. Why couldn't PCs cast anything but lowest level spells? Drug-induced casting ability damage! Poisons too deadly/too weak in previous editions - damage the stats!
    - unifying ability score bonus progression
    - sneak attack not being as conditional as backstab
    - ability score increases via level-up
    - spontaneous healing spells
    - decoupling ability score hard requirements from classes
    - positive benefits to playing human compared to demi-humans rather than level limits hampering demi-humans

    PF
    - modification of 3e's negative levels that no longer attacked actual character levels. Level draining could still be broadly dangerous without being as metagamey as level loss.
    - barbarian rage measured in rounds
    - major boosts to ranger's favored enemy/favored terrain powers
    - major boost to utility of paladin's smite
    - important reforms to wildshaping
    - half elves and half orcs having the same stat bonuses as humans

    5e
    - The simplicity of Advantage/Disadvantage.
    - reeling in the number explosion and boosting utility of weaker monsters with bounded accuracy
    - simplified action economy
    - bonus actions
    - more flexible use of prepped spells in spell slots

    I can probably come up with more...

  6. #6
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    4e - the clearly defined roles of party members. Skill challenges
    5e- bounded accuracy - less counting for me = amazing feature. PORTENT - I love messing with things. Being a physical combatant compared to caster is not such a huge trap option like it was in previous editions.
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    I like 5e in general because to me it hits the Goldilocks sweetspot of complexity. Back in high school when we tried to play 3.5 based solely using the SRD and trying to identify which options were traps out of the plethora of content. On the other end of the spectrum we tried playing some OSR games which are very rules light but to my taste don't give you a lot of features to play with. Levelling up as a fighter was mostly just watching my numbers go up instead of getting any new options or mechanics.

    To me 5e is the perfect middle ground giving you just enough rules and mechanics to sign post what kinds of things the characters can do in combat, but at the same time abstracts free form actions so that when you want to do some Errol Flynn type stunt you don't find out that the rules say that you first take an opportunity attack because you don't have the feat for that.

  8. #8
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    3e
    d20 + mods >= TN. Simple, powerful, the core of the game since then. Why change perfection?
    Multiclassing. The gold standard. There's a reason that 5e went back to it.
    Feats. Of all of 3e's evolutions, adding PC rules that weren't bound to class was probably the biggest one.
    Prestige classes. Highlighted the joys of 3e's "LEGO block" character building. Hobbled by too-strict and arcane requirements (the early decision to not make "Class Level X" a normal entry requirement was really bad in hindsight). Racial and class "alternate class levels" in later 3.5 highlighted how flexible this system was.

    4e
    Push/Pull/Slide X. Simple rules to make the battlefield dynamic and compelling.
    Paragon Paths/Epic Destinies. Prestige Classes on steroids. Hamstrung only by the fact that they advanced in parallel with your class, ideally, they would have been class replacements, not addons. (To see this concept perfected, look at Shadow of the Demon Lord.)
    Keywords. Basic indexing for how to know if Rule X applies to Effect Y. 5e kept these and just put them in the description block, because they work.
    Healing Surges. Let's keep healing finite, but have it scale to level. Works for me.

    5e
    Advantage/Disadvantage. Technically used in 4e, but made the core of the system in 5e. Simple, but mechanically compelling.
    Bounded Accuracy. Hey, instead of scaling attacks and defense AND damage and hit points, let's just increase damage and hit points. The same attrition combat D&D is based on, but no more whiffing, even when it's 20th level characters versus goblins.
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    The advanced systems for weapon and non-weapon proficiency in 2e is probably what I still miss from it. Even if the actual execution could be better, I like the fact that, when compared to 3e, your proficiency slots are not diluted into dozens of skill ranks, while at the same time not falling into the 5e situation where almost no progress happens (and Intelligence is mainly a dump stat).

    Once you had the rules for expertise, weapon mastery and fighting styles into place, it became even better. We also used an optional rule to allow warriors to use their additional proficiency slots from Intelligence for weapon proficiency, making intelligent warriors an option with actual gameplay value. Overall, I believe the feats+skills model that replaced the 2e rules from 3.0 onward is more elegant, but not as good.

    Yes, I know I'm probably alone here, but I miss those rules.
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  10. #10
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    5E:
    - Bounded Accuracy.
    - Subclasses.
    - Streamlined rules in general ("rulings not rules").
    - No magic item expectations.
    - No "System Mastery" garbage -- min-maxing has been reined in quite a bit.
    - "Close enough" game balance. This is actually very complementary to the above point. The 5E design doesn't (usually) allow characters to be super super overpowered, because that way ends in tears. But it also doesn't try to make everything exactly mathematically precisely balanced, because that way lies madness. These two features also works extremely well in a "rulings not rules" environment with no magic items expectations, because that approach gives the DM more tools to balance characters on the back-end.
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