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2e, the most lethal edition?

Sacrosanct

Slayer of Keraptis
After all of the discussions, I think there is some movement in how I view which edition was the most lethal RAW

Before:

2e<<b/x<<1e/OD&D<<<<3e<<5e<<4e

Now:
2e<B/x</1e/OD&D<3e<<<5e<4e

That is, still 2e, but only slightly over the other three which are almost equal. 3e a bit more lethal than originally thought, with the gap between 1e and 3e smaller than between 3e and 5e

4e still remains as least lethal because I haven’t hardly played it so I’m relying on others’ feedback, which has been a lot of “you had to try hard to kill a PC in 4e”

Of course, I imagine opinions will vary
 

Zardnaar

Adventurer
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


Yeh in a world of D&D caliber magic that isnt the guy standing in front its often the one with the pointy hat
Party sizes were larger they often thought you would have a second rank of pikemen behind the Frontline. And you would bait people into 10' wide passages.

I don't think many people okay 2E RAW phb only doing 1E adventures. If you do yeah it's harder than 1E.
 
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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I think one of the things you guys are forgetting when comparing save or die spells/effects/etc. vs. saves and other "lethal rules" is that in 1e and 2e you very often died before any of that came into play. Rolling for hit points at 1st level meant that you often had PC deaths and TPKs in the first encounter you came across as most hits would knock out even a fighter who didn't get a lucky hit point roll.

3e's max hit points meant that you were far more likely to survive 1st and 2nd level, which skyrocketed your chances of survival compared to prior editions.

I played under many different 3e DMs. Some more challenging than others, and yet I had very, very few PCs die. I had more 1e PCs die than I can remember, often multiple PCs a game session. 2e was much less deadly for some reason, but still far more deadly than 3e.
 

Sacrosanct

Slayer of Keraptis
Party sizes were larger they often thought you would have a second rank of pikemen behind the Frontline. And you would bait people into 10' wife passages.

.
Wow! That is bad. "Just one freaking time it would be nice to come home with the dishes already done!"
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Wow! That is bad. "Just one freaking time it would be nice to come home with the dishes already done!"
I think this is one of those perception is greater than reality moments, and wives just SEEM to be 10'. Whatever you do, though, please don't tell my wife I said that. :eek:
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Party sizes were larger they often thought you would have a second rank of pikemen behind the Frontline.
Row of pikeman... LOL you must have been gaming with entirely different people than me.. never saw once in my gaming career a row of pikeman in the party that sounds so heroic like the fighters are incompetent buffoons oh yeah they were.

The infamous doorway let's play bugs bunny and pop one out so we always have one not everyone was only doing tunnel fighting nor thought it really needed to be the only story...

Row of Pikeman... LOL
 
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Zardnaar

Adventurer
Row of pikeman... LOL you must have been gaming with entirely different people than me.. never saw once in my gaming career a row of pikeman in the party that sounds so heroic like the fighters are incompetent buffoons oh yeah they were.
Fighters are very good in OSR games. OD&D mentions party sizes of 20, 6 to 8 PCs plus Henchmen also allows for a lot more bodies.

The expectation does seem to skew towards more bodies.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Fighters are very good in OSR games. OD&D mentions party sizes of 20, 6 to 8 PCs plus Henchmen.
Except they needed doorways and extra rows of pikeman to do anything at all apparently AD&D was my first experience and I didnt see in home games or conventions much different sizes of party than I have seen in 3e and in 4e or 5e.
 

Zardnaar

Adventurer
Except they needed doorways and extra rows of pikeman to do anything at all apparently AD&D was my first experience and I didnt see in home games or conventions much different sizes of party than I have seen in 3e and in 4e or 5e.
No parties are similar size. I met a bit if power creep into the game to make up for it. Weapon rules in the RC, or DM allowed UA for 1st Ed, Fighters Handbook 2E.

OSR adventures often have NPCs to rescue often with things like "if equipped NPC may serve as henchmen".
 
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GreyLord

Adventurer
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.
Death's Door is NOT a 1e optional rule...because it isn't IN 1e.

The rule discussed is AN OPTIONAL rule...so, if one is including THAT optional rule, they should include ALL optional rules from the core 2e as well. (and in truth, I only include it as optional, because a core rule was misinterpreted to work in that fashion, which some DM's did, not that the rule actually was in the DMG anywhere to even be found).

There IS NO rule like that in 1e. The closest you get is the ZERO HIT POINT Rule. This defines that someone who is reduced to EXACTLY Zero HIT Points in 1e is unconscious. The DM has the OPTION To allow this to go down to -3 Hitpoints AS LONG as it was from the same blow that reduced them to zero hitpoints. (-10 is what they can run out of HP after that each round, but if they are reduced lower than -3 HP by any hit, they are dead as per the rules, and that's only if the DM takes that option, core rules without the option is if they are reduced lower than 0 Hitpoints by any blow or hit).

There is NO Death's Door option in 1e. Without the DM's option, it doesn't even go below 0. If you are at exactly 0 Hitpionts after a blow, you are unconscious, otherwise, without a DM's Option...YOU ARE DEAD.

Just because you misinterpreted the rule, does NOT make it a standard rule in the DMG.

However, your misinterpretation was NOT uncommon, hence why the Death's Door option was included in the 2e DMG. Death's door was not the default core rule in 1e OR 2e. The misinterpretation occasionally was (though overall, most groups just ruled that you died at 0 HP in 1e anyways...except the munchkins no one played with, and as such were typically barred from official tournaments and actual official games anyways) utilized, often enough that you see this in 2e.

So, in truth, the Original post was talking about a rule in a way that did not even EXIST in 1e...but instead was talking about a misinterpretation of it (common as that was...as 2e readily can point out). That misinterpretation was normally run just like the 2e optional rule...so...if you are including a misinterpretation of a rule in 1e...rather than the actual rules themselves...a misinterpretation that is NOWHERE discussed in the 1e DMG (if we take the words as explicit, which in 1e sometimes were hard to follow...though in this instance it is pretty clear as it includes the -3 HP from the same blow option for DM's if they desire....and NO MORE than -3 HP) than by default you must include the 2e options.

In that light, Weapon Specialization is 2e core...giving fighters more damage overall...and there are some spells that were tweaked to be a tad more powerful in 2e (for example...stone skin I believe). In addition, more spell options and combinations overall made PC's a tad easier to handle.

I stand by what I said before, ESPECIALLY in light of your misinterpretation of 1e rules...that Any edition 1st - 3rd could be the most deadly edition. IT really depended on your DM and the game they ran as well as how they interpreted the rules and how they ran the game.

Anecdotal experience through the years from when OD&D came out to present would seem to indicate that 1e in how it was typically run in the early 80s was probably the most deadly form of D&D run (whether due to the style of DMing at the time, or rules interpretations, or otherwise), while in general, BX or BECMI D&D when run by experienced groups would be deadliest form of D&D over the long period (several decades).

That said, I've seen very deadly games of 2e where TPKs were common, and I've seen 3e games also follow the same pattern.
 
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Tony Vargas

Adventurer
4e still remains as least lethal because I haven’t hardly played it so I’m relying on others’ feedback, which has been a lot of “you had to try hard to kill a PC in 4e”
Of course, I imagine opinions will vary
Not much variance, on that count, I'd think. The EL guidelines of 4e were quite straightforward, relatively dependable, and an exact-at-level encounter was a resource-ablating 'speed bump' (same intent as a single CR=Level encounter in 3e), that'd break deadly only towards the end of an unusually long day (8+ encounters in all likelihood). Lower ELs below level -1 or 2 rapidly became trivial, above level +4 or 5, TPK territory. It was very easy to color inside the lines. If you /always/ stuck to exactly EL=level, though, and didn't have quite long days, you'd get encounters that may have remained tactically engaging, but would have eventually felt like foregone conclusions without much drama, precisely because the guidelines did deliver fairly consistently.

Conversely, you'd get more variation in difficulty (and more possibility of lethality) running exactly CR=level in 3e or as exactly as possible to the 5e 'budget' guidelines.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
4e still remains as least lethal because I haven’t hardly played it so I’m relying on others’ feedback, which has been a lot of “you had to try hard to kill a PC in 4e”

Of course, I imagine opinions will vary
Not much variance, on that count, I'd think. The EL guidelines of 4e were quite straightforward, relatively dependable, and an exact-at-level encounter was a resource-ablating 'speed bump' (same intent as a single CR=Level encounter in 3e), that'd break deadly only towards the end of an unusually long day (8+ encounters in all likelihood). Lower ELs below level -1 or 2 rapidly became trivial, above level +4 or 5, TPK territory. It was very easy to color inside the lines. If you /always/ stuck to exactly EL=level, though, and didn't have quite long days, you'd get encounters that may have remained tactically engaging, but would have eventually felt like foregone conclusions without much drama, precisely because the guidelines did deliver fairly consistently.

Conversely, you'd get more variation in difficulty (and more possibility of lethality) running exactly CR=level in 3e or as exactly as possible to the 5e 'budget' guidelines.
I would express it as there was less random fluctuation and you are more aware of how how a given challenge will resolve... its not "trying hard" its predictably hard... less oops more planned on the verge of tpk because i designed the encounter that way.

DM choices ARE decisive and blaming the dice less a thing.

There were ways of Jinxing the EL guidelines even in 4e so its not completely predictable and as people leveled the party synergy getting stronger and maybe players optimizing more meant no +4 levels were no longer likely to be on the edge of deadly at level 24
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
There IS NO rule like that in 1e. The closest you get is the ZERO HIT POINT Rule. This defines that someone who is reduced to EXACTLY Zero HIT Points in 1e is unconscious. The DM has the OPTION To allow this to go down to -3 Hitpoints AS LONG as it was from the same blow that reduced them to zero hitpoints. (-10 is what they can run out of HP after that each round, but if they are reduced lower than -3 HP by any hit, they are dead as per the rules, and that's only if the DM takes that option, core rules without the option is if they are reduced lower than 0 Hitpoints by any blow or hit).

There is NO Death's Door option in 1e. Without the DM's option, it doesn't even go below 0. If you are at exactly 0 Hitpionts after a blow, you are unconscious, otherwise, without a DM's Option...YOU ARE DEAD.
This is the 1e rule from page 82 of the 1e DMG.

"When any creature is brought to 0 hit poinis (optionally as low as -3 hit points if from the same blow which brought the total to 0), it is unconscious. In each of the next succeeding rounds 1 additional (negative) point will be lost until -10 is reached and the creature dies."

Going to -10 wasn't an option. It was the 1e rule. The up to -3 option you mentioned was to allow the DM to simply make the PC unconscious at up to -3, which would then not require the loss of further hit points towards -10.
 

Tony Vargas

Adventurer
There were ways of Jinxing the EL guidelines even in 4e so its not completely predictable and as people leveled the party synergy getting stronger and maybe players optimizing more meant no +4 levels were no longer likely to be on the edge of deadly at level 24
Oh, yeah. Especially some messed up monsters early on, and the off-kilter encounters in KotS and the like, could be deadlier than EL would indicate, and, until the MM3, if you weren't playing like 8-enounter days, EL=Level could seem a little too easy. It'd've made more sense, as a practical matter of how it seemed 4e got played 'in the wild' to peg monster math/EL to a 3-5 encounter day, and not discounting the idea of the single-encounter day.

Just as fighting one solo or a score of minions were meant to be in the range of valid challenges, very long and very short days could've been better designed for, in spite of AEDU classes being balanced to the point 'day-length' didn't matter for /class/ balance, encounter balance (design) could've benefited.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
It'd've made more sense, as a practical matter of how it seemed 4e got played 'in the wild' to peg monster math/EL to a 3-5 encounter day, and not discounting the idea of the single-encounter day.
Yes 3 to 5 is reasonable... though I have known many editions where the designers thought X was the target and players did 1 significant battle with only a few scrapes otherwise besides that so I it may just be people being people.

Just as fighting one solo or a score of minions were meant to be in the range of valid challenges, very long and very short days could've been better designed for, in spite of AEDU classes being balanced to the point 'day-length' didn't matter for /class/ balance, encounter balance (design) could've benefited.
Sure that is the other end of the improvement how much tougher do you make it when you have X likely fights in a given span. 5e did seems to learn some from that.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
This is the 1e rule from page 82 of the 1e DMG.

"When any creature is brought to 0 hit poinis (optionally as low as -3 hit points if from the same blow which brought the total to 0), it is unconscious. In each of the next succeeding rounds 1 additional (negative) point will be lost until -10 is reached and the creature dies."

Going to -10 wasn't an option. It was the 1e rule. The up to -3 option you mentioned was to allow the DM to simply make the PC unconscious at up to -3, which would then not require the loss of further hit points towards -10.
That is how we interpreted it. From zero to optionally negative 3 nobody had to worry about you if you managed to drop negative farther than that it was a dying process although easily stopped.

We still died horribad easy but that rule did make it less absolute than what I saw in the old Blue Book D&D
 
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Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
There was a player designed expansion for 4e I think it was designed to show how the rules were flexible enough that without change you can make 4e as deadly as you wanted I think it was called 4th core?
 

Tony Vargas

Adventurer
There was a player designed expansion for 4e I think it was designed to show how the rules were flexible enough that without change you can make 4e as deadly as you wanted I think it was called 4th core?
I've heard about it but never checked it out. What did they do, just dial up encounters?
 

GreyLord

Adventurer
This is the 1e rule from page 82 of the 1e DMG.

"When any creature is brought to 0 hit poinis (optionally as low as -3 hit points if from the same blow which brought the total to 0), it is unconscious. In each of the next succeeding rounds 1 additional (negative) point will be lost until -10 is reached and the creature dies."

Going to -10 wasn't an option. It was the 1e rule. The up to -3 option you mentioned was to allow the DM to simply make the PC unconscious at up to -3, which would then not require the loss of further hit points towards -10.
Going to -10 was ONLY for those that the 0 Hit Point rule applied to. IT was NOT for anyone else.

The Zero Hit Point rule applied to those...(as you can plainly read above) when any creature is brought to 0 Hit points.

It CLARIFIES THAT AN OPTION could be that this could be as low as -3 Hitpoints if from the same blow.

If you don't use that option, any creature that falls below 0 hitpoints from a blow is dead.

That is why this is the ZERO HIT POINT rule.

NOT THE -10 HITPOINT RULE...NOT THE NEGATIVE HIT POINT RULE...but the ZERO HIT POINT RULE.

Anyways...frack it...going to rewrite the rest to a degree so it's not as aggressive. Basically, it's an optional rule that was pretty clear and clarified...but it was an optional RULE in the DMG 1e (whether you like it or not...the official rulings most times came from the PHB anyways...that said, it WAS sometimes used in the official events AS I HAVE described...not really as you think it worked).

SOOO...if you actually interpreted the rule as you say you did...did you ALSO not allow monsters to actually be dead until -10 HP.

That said, MOST people didn't even pay heed to the rule. They had characters and monsters die at 0 HP...and the DM would allow characters to be unconscious as they wanted or needed.

Gygax would be brutal in public games (similarly, people died in droves), but was FAR more lenient in home games (IMO, not necessarily everyone's opinion) where you could be hit and go down to -200 HP...but if his ideas warranted it, you'd simply be unconscious...and NOT dead. It was more of a DM's call than anything else.

And with that, a game can be as deadly or non-deadly as a DM wishes or understands the rules or runs their games.
 
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Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
I've heard about it but never checked it out. What did they do, just dial up encounters?
honestly I only remember their premise ... they may have grabbed random encounter difficulties for all I know so a few bad rolls in a row on the dms side and your group is eaten by a series of nasties which if you planned would be really nasty. Though i think a chase scene with lower difficultes ie a skill challenge would be how the second level + 4 would go down if they survived the first is how it would go down where I come from (and isn't insert monty python high pitched runaway kind of the goal). They might have used that to introduce the concept of skill challenges shrug.
 

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