D&D General And the Druid Explodes: Understanding the AD&D Design Space's Legacy

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
What do you understand Gygaxian Naturalism to mean?

My understanding is that it means he tried to have the game world embody a certain self-consistent logic. For example, the trolls in one room of the dungeon having a food source of giant cave crickets in a nearby area. Or the extensive description of an ogre treasure horde in the 1E DMG, containing trade goods, furniture, furs and other items which would plausibly be the booty of their raiding and pillaging local villages and merchant caravans (rather than simply x amount of coins and gems). Or the layouts of the various lairs in the Caves of Chaos having functional rooms, like guard rooms, lookout points, sleeping chambers, there being children and women present in the lairs, etc. Or Frank Mentzer's classic example of having reviewed the manuscript for the Keep on the Borderlands and noticing that there was a ranking priest but the map was missing a chapel. So he added one. Allegedly other folks at TSR thought this was a bold thing for the new guy to do, correcting an oversight by The Illustrious Founder, and expected him to get slapped down, but so the story goes Gary agreed that this was an oversight and approved the addition.

In that passage I think Gary was using "realism" to mean strict adherence to fact or history (and mocking the idea that such is possible with a fantasy world) such as would often be expected by historical wargamers, and which some competitors (e.g. the makers of Chivalry & Sorcery) claimed to be attempting, with extremely detailed, "more realistic" rules.
That is exactly how I see it. Thank you.
 

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Voadam

Legend
But those are arbitrary judgements by you and your group, remember.

The PH tells us, in reference to Druids, that "metallic armor spoils their magical powers". You are making a decision to interpret that this spoilage is temporary. Perhaps choosing to wear metallic armor EVER breaks an oath/taboo/geas they take as part of gaining their magical powers, with the consequence that such powers are permanently "spoiled". Taboos and geasa are common in Irish myth and legend, where a hero suffers tragedy if the prohibition is ever broken.

One could choose to follow the rules strictly by interpreting the Magic-User weapon restrictions similarly. That as part of the training and rituals which imbue the M-U with their powers, they take on certain inflexible taboos and prohibitions, and if they ever break them, they would lose their powers (or at minimum, per the example of The Character With Two Classes, lose all xp for the adventure as their transgression disturbed their mental balance and interfered with their studies). Such a prohibition could apply to the use of weapons other than the staff and dagger (common ritual tools and symbols) as well as the dart (maybe it has some ritual symbolism, like the mistletoe dart which slew Baldur in Norse myth).

I can certainly understand that you find the absolute prohibitions to offend your sense of verisimilitude because the justifications given in the text are minimal and not as detailed as these I've suggested above. But you've still made a choice there. To import assumptions from outside the game (since detailed justifications haven't been given, there is no possible justification), and to depart from the written rules to better suit your own feelings about and preferences for the game. Rather than to find or invent more detailed justifications which work for you so you can stick by the rules. In this you're definitely in good company, clearly sharing an ethos with the designers of 3rd edition.
Those are not absolute prohibitions of "cannot," those are consequences of breaking a prohibition.

Sticking with cannot the druid would try to put on armor but fail. Gandalf the magic user would try to use a magic sword but could not do so.

So a geasa type thing could work but it would not be the traditional Celtic curse if broken, but a magical effect that stopped it from happening despite trying to do so.

Think Wheel of Time Oath Rod prohibition on lying.

So a D&D druid could not put on magic metal armor even if they were willing to accept a curse, permanent disruption of their magic, loss of xp gain, even exploding or whatever.

This can work for a druid, magical nature class special ultra geasa like effects that are actual supernatural prohibitions, not consequences for violations.

This justification is not such a great fit for thief weapon restrictions though, or even fitting with the 1e magic user given narrative explanations about lack of training with weapons.
 
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No. They were monsters before they were a pc class (0e D&D Greyhawk) and they were trying to make fantasy magical Celtic cultists with sickles and sacrifices at Stonehenge. Chain mail just did not fit the image.
Ironically, magical Celtic cultists used metal and even turned into animals with metal in them. They did wear a lot of hides, though. :ROFLMAO:
 

Weren't cleric/magic-users held to the MU restriction against wearing any armor?
Clerics were allowed to use beefy armor from the get go, as they were envisioned to have "staying power" like fighting men, but use support spells instead of whacking people. They DID have a restriction against using Slashing and Piercing weapons, with the IC justification that they refused to draw blood (but smashing people is apparently okay).
 

Voadam

Legend
They DID have a restriction against using Slashing and Piercing weapons, with the IC justification that they refused to draw blood (but smashing people is apparently okay).
Based off the apocryphal story of Bishop Odo using that justification. Bishop Odo was the Norman knight and warlord (and well, bishop) half-brother of William the Conqueror shown in the Bayeux tapestry leading his troops wearing full knight armor and wielding a big club.

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As wikipedia notes:

The Latin annotation embroidered onto the Tapestry above his image reads: HIC ODO EPS BACULU TENENS CONFORTAT PUEROS ("EPS" abbreviating episcopus "bishop" and "BACULU" omitting a final mbaculum "cudgel"), in English "Here Odo the bishop holding a club strengthens the boys". It has been suggested that his clerical status forbade him from using a sword,[1] though this is doubtful: the club was a common weapon and used often by leadership[2] including by Duke William himself, as also depicted in the same part of the Tapestry.
 

The biggest issue for me with any druid armor type restrictions is just having an explanation that doesn't involve "choosing to play this character means choosing never to do this". I say that despite the fact that I have no problems with such a social contract in and of itself--for instance, saying choosing to play a character in this campaign means choosing not to betray the other characters. I don't even have a problem with a DM insisting that they like the druid armor restriction amd choosing to play in the game means choosing not to try to circumvent it.

What doesn't work for me is if there is no in-world explanation of what the consequences would have been if someone had chosen to do such a thing. "You're character permanently becomes unplayable because..." is fine if the answer is "they lose all class levels and go insane", or "they would be forever hunted by their former order" (and we don't want that in this campaign), etc.

I would have some issue with the supernatural geas element, unless at least one other class had some sort of similar restriction. It's too weird to make druidic armor the most sacred taboo in the whole multiverse. If it were the case that it wasn't a unique element, I'd still find it the least satisfying way of handling it, but I'd be able to work with it.

And with any of that, such an extreme restriction is quite likely to set up situations where the logic of the rule gets put to the test. What if you are captured and have armor forcibly put on you? Are there any situations where an exception is allowed in-world. If not, are there any cases where the DM would not throw a fit if you willingly chose to permanently sacrifice your character by violating the restriction for some greater good (like saving a forest full of puppies and orphan trees)?

I'm not sure why, but occasionally in the past I've seen pushbacks against even the modest sorts of requests I've expressed in this post. I'm not sure if it's just a matter of people assuming the opposite side in a discussion is automatically supporting the most extreme version of opposing views, or if it's a reaction to negative experiences with antagonistic players demanding explanations as a way of trying to control the game rather than attempting to make sense of the game so they can interact with it as intended, or something else entirely, but it just strikes me as odd.
 

The biggest issue for me with any druid armor type restrictions is just having an explanation that doesn't involve "choosing to play this character means choosing never to do this".
As a point of humor, I always liked the idea that druids know heat metal. Any battle or scuffle against other druids means you WILL get heat metal cast on you. So nobody wears metal as a matter of practical survival. Once you are strong enough to endure a heat metal, you earn the right to wear metal at your own risk.
 

ad_hoc

(they/them)
The biggest issue for me with any druid armor type restrictions is just having an explanation that doesn't involve "choosing to play this character means choosing never to do this". I say that despite the fact that I have no problems with such a social contract in and of itself--for instance, saying choosing to play a character in this campaign means choosing not to betray the other characters. I don't even have a problem with a DM insisting that they like the druid armor restriction amd choosing to play in the game means choosing not to try to circumvent it.

What doesn't work for me is if there is no in-world explanation of what the consequences would have been if someone had chosen to do such a thing. "You're character permanently becomes unplayable because..." is fine if the answer is "they lose all class levels and go insane", or "they would be forever hunted by their former order" (and we don't want that in this campaign), etc.

I would have some issue with the supernatural geas element, unless at least one other class had some sort of similar restriction. It's too weird to make druidic armor the most sacred taboo in the whole multiverse. If it were the case that it wasn't a unique element, I'd still find it the least satisfying way of handling it, but I'd be able to work with it.

And with any of that, such an extreme restriction is quite likely to set up situations where the logic of the rule gets put to the test. What if you are captured and have armor forcibly put on you? Are there any situations where an exception is allowed in-world. If not, are there any cases where the DM would not throw a fit if you willingly chose to permanently sacrifice your character by violating the restriction for some greater good (like saving a forest full of puppies and orphan trees)?

I'm not sure why, but occasionally in the past I've seen pushbacks against even the modest sorts of requests I've expressed in this post. I'm not sure if it's just a matter of people assuming the opposite side in a discussion is automatically supporting the most extreme version of opposing views, or if it's a reaction to negative experiences with antagonistic players demanding explanations as a way of trying to control the game rather than attempting to make sense of the game so they can interact with it as intended, or something else entirely, but it just strikes me as odd.

You characterize not wearing metal armour as 'extreme' and then wonder why your 'modest' posts get so much push back.

I would start with not making it out to be this grand thing when at most tables it isn't.
 

You characterize not wearing metal armour as 'extreme' and then wonder why your 'modest' posts get so much push back.
I'm characterizing the nature of the restriction--that one particular class in the whole multiverse has a potentially inviolable armor prohibition--as extreme, not the details of the restriction.

However, as far as the details relate to that nature, armor is a pretty bad example. It's a worse restriction that moral conduct or even weapons. A case could be made that if you are dominated into swinging a weapon you it isn't you doing it. But if armor is put on your unconscious body, you are still wearing it. No choice, and now the group has to figure out "what happens if that happens"? which is why this is actually a big deal (even if it is a big deal about a small part of the game that most people will never run into).

I hate to throw around words that people just argue round and round about semantically, but it's about:
1) Setting consistency
2) Player agency
3) Everyone trying to understand their fellow players/DM

And those really are big deals anytime they come up.
 

ad_hoc

(they/them)
I'm characterizing the nature of the restriction--that one particular class in the whole multiverse has a potentially inviolable armor prohibition--as extreme, not the details of the restriction.

However, as far as the details relate to that nature, armor is a pretty bad example. It's a worse restriction that moral conduct or even weapons. A case could be made that if you are dominated into swinging a weapon you it isn't you doing it. But if armor is put on your unconscious body, you are still wearing it. No choice, and now the group has to figure out "what happens if that happens"? which is why this is actually a big deal (even if it is a big deal about a small part of the game that most people will never run into).

I hate to throw around words that people just argue round and round about semantically, but it's about:
1) Setting consistency
2) Player agency
3) Everyone trying to understand their fellow players/DM

And those really are big deals anytime they come up.

The PHB is not all that is possible in the multiverse.

It contains a very small sample of the sorts of people who exist.

This not like 3e where NPCs are created using codified rules. NPCs can have whatever characteristics are wanted by the DM.

The only limit is imagination.
 

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