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2e, the most lethal edition?

billd91

Earl of Cornbread
First four pages...a LOT of picking and choosing here on rules...
(2e DMG, original printing, pg 75).

If you are including the optional rules of 1e, you should also use the optional rules of 2e. 2e also isn't a 0 HP point (at exactly 0 HP you are unconscious, lower than that...you be DEAD...though a DM can allow it as low as -3 I suppose), and a LOT more lenient and nicer overall.
Here's the thing - the death's door rule isn't presented as optional in 1e, whereas it is in 2e. So this really isn't a case of cherry picking or including the optional rule in 1e but ditching it in 2e.
 

billd91

Earl of Cornbread
You are in fact wrong. It seems you don't understand what alternative means. By definition, an alternative is not the default. It's an ALTERNATIVE to the default. I'm sure you saw how the sentence right before method I is mentioned, it explicitly says method I is an alternative.

It also seems like you and @Jer are confused by Gygax recommending that you try an alternative to the default. Suggesting an alternative to the default, because the default will often result in PC death does not change the default from 3d6 to another method. It just means that he doesn't like the default.
There is literally no method in 1e described or implied as default. The PH says that the DM will tell players how to generate the scores and the DMG right out advocates NOT doing just 3d6 six times, presenting 4 other methods. The word alternative doesn't need to mean that it is an alternative to a fictional default 3d6 in order. Rather, they are alternates of each other and no single one of them is given primacy.
 

Maxperson

Orcus on an on Day
There is literally no method in 1e described or implied as default.
He mentions 3d6 BEFORE talking about the alternatives. That's clearly the default, given that 1e evolved from Basic.

The word alternative doesn't need to mean that it is an alternative to a fictional default 3d6 in order.
Correct. Gygax's words about 3d6 PRIOR to giving the alternatives establish 3d6 as the baseline.

Look. I get it. 3d6 did suck and we almost always used the 4d6 alternative. That didn't change what the default was, though.
 

Jer

Explorer
He mentions 3d6 BEFORE talking about the alternatives. That's clearly the default, given that 1e evolved from Basic.



Correct. Gygax's words about 3d6 PRIOR to giving the alternatives establish 3d6 as the baseline.

Look. I get it. 3d6 did suck and we almost always used the 4d6 alternative. That didn't change what the default was, though.
You are presuming that Gygax's writing is like what we see in modern rulebooks. it isn't - Gygax's writing is not the methodical writing of a modern game designer writing a rules manual. Gygax had his own style of writing which is in many places - including this one - much more like a person making an academic argument about the rules you should follow than a person just laying down the rules.

If he had wanted it to be the default why would he include an entire paragraph of argument of why it's a terrible choice? It's just not logical that he would lay out an argument about why 3d6 down the line was bad if that's how he's expecting you to play the game. You have to think about the audience of the book - his paragraph of intro text is a justification for DMs who are used to playing OD&D and who have always used 3d6 down the line. He's arguing that it's a bad idea to do that and then laying out four alternative ways to roll stats. Could it have been clearer? Of course it could - the entire DMG could have been clearer. It's his prose style - it's part of what gives the DMG its charm.

But honestly I've been having this argument with people younger than me for going on 30 years at this point. So I concede that I'm never going to change anyone's mind about this. If you want to believe that despite an entire paragraph explaining why it's a bad idea to roll 3d6 down the line for stats Gygax ALSO thought it should be the default for his game, and only provided four alternatives for rolling stats because, I dunno, he was bored when he wrote up those rules or something, then more power to you. Heck you're in good company - I've always thought that was the stance of the folks who put together 2e. My read on their prose that was quoted earlier in this thread is exactly that - they thought anything other than 3d6 down the line was for whiny players who wanted to be able to actually play a Ranger or a Paladin or one of the other classes in the PHB they'd spent good money on, and if you as a DM want to coddle those whiny players and their desire to play something that had a stat minimum on it, well, that's your choice. But that's not the way D&D "should" be played in their eyes.
 

Sacrosanct

Slayer of Keraptis
He mentions 3d6 BEFORE talking about the alternatives. That's clearly the default, given that 1e evolved from Basic.
.
He says, specifically, "While it is possible to generate some fairly playable characters by rolling 3d6, there is often an..."

Nowhere does it say the method is 3d6 in order. it just says "by rolling 3d6". If a player had the PHB, which says refer to the DMG, and they had the DMG, how would they know 3d6 in order is the default? Nowhere does it say that? roll 3d6 how? In order? Out of order? Roll only 3d6 and use the result for each ability score? That sentence doesn't tell you. What it does tell you is that you shouldn't use it.

There are only 4 methods give to players in how to generate stats in 1e, and Method I is roll 4d6 drop lowest. Show me in 1e where it states the words "3d6 in order" is the default method.

*Edit* Also, 1e didn't evolve from basic. 1e and basic both evolved from OD&D on separate lines.
 
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smetzger

Villager
1) You cannot exclude the modules in analysis of which edition is more deadly. These were as much a part of 1e and 2e as the rules. We used them over and over again. They also influenced how we designed our own adventures.
- 1e modules where much more deadly than anything that came later on.

2) As far as roll up method. eh... no body used 3d6 keep in order. except maybe for followers and npcs
- a wash here

3) Personal experience is relevant. It may not be 100% accurate but it is relevant to an analysis.
- I had way more PC deaths and TPKs in 1e

Therefore, I vote 1e as more deadly than 2e.

No, idea how anyone can say 3e is more deadly. Maybe if you played the lowly Fighter. But play a Wizard, Cleric, or Druid and your effectiveness is much higher.
 

Sacrosanct

Slayer of Keraptis
1) You cannot exclude the modules in analysis of which edition is more deadly. These were as much a part of 1e and 2e as the rules. We used them over and over again. They also influenced how we designed our own adventures.
.
Once again, because how people play is subjective, in order to have an objective analysis, you have to evaluate based on how it was designed, and what the rules were as written. Those modules you're talking about were designed for tournament use (and the point of tournaments was to be extra deadly because of how scoring was done). They were not designed as a standard home dungeon crawl. Because many people used them that way doesn't change the fact that the game wasn't designed that way.

Besides, that's a moot point anyway, because 2e was designed for people to use all of those same modules in 2e. It's why 2e didn't have nearly as many modules but focused on campaign settings. And why 2e had THAC0 instead of ascending AC. Steve Winter himself admitted in an interview why they didn't use ascending AC was because their design goal was to allow people who had all this 1e stuff to keep using it.
 

Tony Vargas

Adventurer
No we had a homebrewed campaign which at low levels was based on B10 Night's Dark Terror. We had a TPK around 5th level were we got caught up in overlapping auras or blasts from from some undead and went down quickly.
OK, I had noticed you said something about auras, and now that definitely reminds me of an encounter in, IIRC, PoS, with Chillborn Zombies. In 4e, virtually all auras didn't stack when overlapping, but - wonders of exception-based design - a few explicitly did...
...and illustrated why they shouldn't've. ;)

We also used to also get really strung out in terms of long rests in 4e. We once went a whole level/ 8-9 encounters (when we were about 26th level) on one long rest, we had no daily abilities and about 3 healing surges left in whole party by the end. Good times.
I can't recall exactly where, but I heard that 8 encounters was the original intended pacing of 4e, but it turned out to be more like 3-5 (or 1) out in the wild, which contributed to the MM3 monster math update.

Ironic that 5e has once again set the theoretical-balance-point target at 6-8.


Here's the thing - the death's door rule isn't presented as optional in 1e, whereas it is in 2e. So this really isn't a case of cherry picking or including the optional rule in 1e but ditching it in 2e.
As was pointed out, up-thread, the standard version of that rule was /exactly/ 0. So if you were knocked from positive to -1 or lower , you were dead. That 1 point difference should have no meaningful impact on comparative lethality. And, while it may not have been presented as an optional rule (really, all rules in the DMG were optional in a sense, as they were the DM's province, and he could choose when or whether to introduce a given rule), if it wasn't optional, it was a contradiction or rule change from the PH1 (one of many, and the DMG also contradicted itself here & there).

Turn on the 'optional' versions, and in 2e, you could be knocked from positive to -9 and still survive a round, while in 1e, the lower bound to be at death's door was -3. That 6-pt difference, though, would /surely/ have been overwhelmed by the damage boosts on the monster side in 2e. So it doesn't help, by itself, even if you go with the widely used options. (And, IMX, 1e DMs often - always, IIRC, but, it's a limited sample from almost 40 years ago, so I'll go with the weaselly 'often' - ran death's door the way 2e would later present it.)

No, idea how anyone can say 3e is more deadly. Maybe if you played the lowly Fighter. But play a Wizard, Cleric, or Druid and your effectiveness is much higher.
Your enemies could have Tier 1 class levels, too. How much more deadly do you need? ;)


Once again, because how people play is subjective, in order to have an objective analysis, you have to evaluate based on how it was designed, and what the rules were as written.
Which is a special challenge when the rules had both explicit alternate options /and/ outright contradictory or vague sections that required interpretations that could be as or more different from eachother than actual variants!

And, 'once again,' the RaW in the TSR era had no encounter guidelines, so there's no comparing the lethality of a 3e encounter of CR = level to the equivalent in earlier editions, as there simply was no equivalent. (and, no the HD/levels equivalence used in a few specific rules does not even approach that)

Besides, that's a moot point anyway, because 2e was designed for people to use all of those same modules in 2e. It's why 2e didn't have nearly as many modules but focused on campaign settings. And why 2e had THAC0 instead of ascending AC. Steve Winter himself admitted in an interview why they didn't use ascending AC was because their design goal was to allow people who had all this 1e stuff to keep using it.
Makes sense.
 
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smetzger

Villager
Once again, because how people play is subjective, in order to have an objective analysis, you have to evaluate based on how it was designed, and what the rules were as written. Those modules you're talking about were designed for tournament use (and the point of tournaments was to be extra deadly because of how scoring was done). They were not designed as a standard home dungeon crawl. Because many people used them that way doesn't change the fact that the game wasn't designed that way.
I disagree.

The 1e modules were originally designed for tournaments. But they were sold to the public, people bought them, and they greatly influenced how the game was played.
I am proposing that the general play style in 1e was more lethal. How the game is played has as much influence on lethality as the actual rules.
 

Sacrosanct

Slayer of Keraptis
I disagree.

The 1e modules were originally designed for tournaments. But they were sold to the public, people bought them, and they greatly influenced how the game was played.
I am proposing that the general play style in 1e was more lethal. How the game is played has as much influence on lethality as the actual rules.
You can disagree, but what I'm arguing is objective. Those tourney modules were designed specifically to be extra deadly than how the game was designed to be played at home. That's an objective fact. It's also an objective fact that 2e was designed for players to use all of the old 1e material (including modules) to be played. So at the very least, if you're using those modules as a reason why 1e was deadlier, then the very same thing applies to 2e because 2e was designed intentionally to use them.
 

smetzger

Villager
Those tourney modules were designed specifically to be extra deadly than how the game was designed to be played at home. That's an objective fact.
I believe they were designed to be deadly. But I do not believe they were designed to be 'extra deadly than how the game was designed to be played at home'

What is your evidence that this is an objective fact?
 

Sacrosanct

Slayer of Keraptis
I believe they were designed to be deadly. But I do not believe they were designed to be 'extra deadly than how the game was designed to be played at home'

What is your evidence that this is an objective fact?
Because the whole point of a tournament module is to score you on how far each table made it in the adventure. I.e., they were never meant to be finished. Alive at any rate. If everyone finished the module, then everyone would have the same scoring. Those modules were specifically designed to be extra challenging and deadly because that's how the scoring system was based on. Well, ToH had an additional background of being designed to be extra extra deadly because Gygax was tired of cocky players. That module was specifically designed to kill PCs as fast as possible.
 

Sacrosanct

Slayer of Keraptis
On a side note, I don't know why there's this repeated claim that you didn't balance monsters in AD&D. Just because something didn't have a CR, doesn't mean AD&D didn't have a system to ensure monsters were relatively balanced against player level. Start on pg 90 of the DMG which tells you how to do it, then reference pg 174 to see the tables of what monsters in what frequency would typically be found in an appropriate level dungeon matching the PCs level.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
On a side note, I don't know why there's this repeated claim that you didn't balance monsters in AD&D. Just because something didn't have a CR, doesn't mean AD&D didn't have a system to ensure monsters were relatively balanced against player level. Start on pg 90 of the DMG which tells you how to do it, then reference pg 174 to see the tables of what monsters in what frequency would typically be found in an appropriate level dungeon matching the PCs level.
Level appropriate is a bad word LOL
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Agree. Different types of pacing within editions in addition to pacing across editions is an issue that makes comparisons really tricky. We had a lot of encounters in mid to high level 4e where were beyond level +4, if you had daily powers or even party synergised encounter powers on tap.

We also used to also get really strung out in terms of long rests in 4e. We once went a whole level/ 8-9 encounters (when we were about 26th level) on one long rest, we had no daily abilities and about 3 healing surges left in whole party by the end. Good times.
Nods there is definitely that... but there is also how tactical you are willing to play the adversaries pulling your punches by having enemies play more than a bit dumb was pretty common back in the day 4e felt fair if that makes any sense.
 

Maxperson

Orcus on an on Day
Telling DMs to not use it is about as far from expressing it as a default as I can imagine.
You can go farther by expressing it as an alternative. This is from the NPC section a bit farther on. When creating general NPCs...

"General Characters: Roll 3d6 for each ability as usual, but use average scoring by considering any 1 as a 3 and any 6 as a 4."

You create general NPCs not by rolling 3d6 for each ability, but rather by rolling 3d6 as usual, since 3d6 for each ability is the default.
 

Tony Vargas

Adventurer
Level appropriate is a bad word LOL
Now that I think of it, there were other references to Level /n/ Monsters here and there in 1e. Summoning for instance.

And a whole little blurb about how they used the word 'level' for a /lot/ of different things that didn't necessarily correspond.

Nods there is definitely that... but there is also how tactical you are willing to play the adversaries pulling your punches by having enemies play more than a bit dumb was pretty common back in the day 4e felt fair if that makes any sense.
Oh, yeah, but you could be subtle about it. DM's Screen hides a multitude of sins.

One of the biggest things was the convention that many melee monsters would 'attack the greatest threat' or 'attack the strongest enemy' or something else that meant "Ignore that there's no mechanical way the Fighter can 'protect' his allies."
 

Zardnaar

Explorer
There early adventures were tourney modules because people wanted to buy them. The idea was you would design your own.

Modules that came later like X1,I6, B5, B10, Even Temple of Elemental evil stood out because they were different in tone to the older adventures.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Now that I think of it, there were other references to Level /n/ Monsters here and there in 1e. Summoning for instance.

And a whole little blurb about how they used the word 'level' for a /lot/ of different things that didn't necessarily correspond.

Oh, yeah, but you could be subtle about it. DM's Screen hides a multitude of sins.
Not from the DM himself which is what we were discussing... a DM finding themselves now able to cut loose instead of faking it. This meant many 4e DMs were reporting more player kills than they ever had with any edition previously

One of the biggest things was the convention that many melee monsters would 'attack the greatest threat'
Yeh in a world of D&D caliber magic that isnt the guy standing in front its often the one with the pointy hat
 

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