D&D General Anyone else go from 1st Edition to 5E?

MrTemplar

Villager
I played TTRPGs from about 1978 to 2000, and then stopped and started back again at the beginning of Covid, when my adult son wanted to get a game going. I played AD&D initially back in the day, then quickly moved to other games, normally being the DM, and did not really revisit D&D until I got back into the hobby a few years ago. Anyone else make a similar leap in editions? What have been the most surprising things you have had to get used to?
 

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overgeeked

B/X Known World
I played TTRPGs from about 1978 to 2000, and then stopped and started back again at the beginning of Covid, when my adult son wanted to get a game going. I played AD&D initially back in the day, then quickly moved to other games, normally being the DM, and did not really revisit D&D until I got back into the hobby a few years ago. Anyone else make a similar leap in editions? What have been the most surprising things you have had to get used to?
Almost the same trip for me. I started in '84 with B/X and moved to AD&D rather soon after. We stuck with that through 2E, 3E, 3.5, but we switched to 4E before hitting 5E. We took a few breaks as a group, but I've never stopped playing or running RPGs.

There are two big things to get used to. One is the rules and the other is the player expectations.

Some rules are better described, others weirdly opaque. Some rules are deceptively similar, others wildly new and different. Switching editions incrementally is harder to do, I think as they're usually more similar than different. But going AD&D to 4E to 5E was pretty smooth, all things considered. The power creep is absolutely staggering. In AD&D you had zero to hero; in 5E you have superhero to god. The game shifted from sword & sorcery to epic high fantasy.

What's absolutely mind boggling and basically impossible for me to get used to is the change in player expectations. I've been running 5E for the life of the edition, almost 10 years now, and players seem to want a whole lot of stuff that's simply alien to me and antithetical to how I run games. I don't know if this is a generational shift, growing influence of video games, huge surge in new players without any grasp of the institutional knowledge of the hobby, or something else entirely. But, in my experience, 5E players just want to win all the time, succeed at everything, not be challenged in any meaningful way, never lose a character, and for the entire game world to shift, morph, and change specifically to suit their desire for the ultimate in curated power fantasy. There's also a strong push for huge sweeping backstories for 1st-level characters with zero XP, an obsession with RAW, rejecting DIY, treating the referee as the enemy, and power gaming.

I've had players rage quit for: taking one point of damage, being told mold earth cantrip not making their character an earth-bending master, interrupting a long rest, using minor house rules, not being able to nova and long rest between every single fight, rolling stats, being asked to not read the module, being asked to not have the Monster Manual open at the table to check monster stat blocks, asked not to cheat, enforcing the rules when it hindered a character, not ignoring the rules when it would make a character more awesome, etc.
 


Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
2e, then 3e, 3.5, some pathfinder, barely touched 4e, and now 5e.

... not to mention the gurps, Hero 5e, traveler, exalted, warhammer frpg 2nd ed, troika!, the GLOG, Star wars Saga etc etc, along the way...
 

I did more or less this (wasn't the DM in 5e), for a campaign and a half.

Thoughts:

Lethality and difficulty level in general is way down. Death saves? Recovering all your HP after a day of rest? <shrug> Guess it lets you focus more on role-playing, but I kind of feel like being an adventurer should be dangerous. These are the equivalents of Special Forces commandos and Navy SEALs. Hey, I'm sure this has been adequately studied by the company and they are not going to change it on my say-so.

Much more customization. Even fighters have a few different paths they can follow. I think this is a good thing.

More options have been added as far as races/ancestries and classes; while the old standbys like humans, dwarves, elves, and halflings and fighters, magic-users (->wizards), clerics, and thieves are still there, you have new races like tiefling and new classes like sorcerer and warlock. It's funny how they keep making wizard knock-offs, but whatever; the base wizard is kind of restrictive and magic is one of the draws of a fantasy world, so it makes sense.

They collapsed a lot of the bonuses and penalties (+1, +3 against something) into advantage and disadvantage. Some loss of lore but it seems like it simplifies bookkeeping, which has got to be a boon to a DM.

The whole thing seems...rounder and smoother somehow, with fewer weird points of arcana? There are more methods of damage at every spell level (back in baseline 1e there were no damage-dealing spells at 2nd level magic-user and no healing spells at 2nd or 3rd level cleric, and you had mostly magic missiles, fire, and electricity and cold when you got to higher levels) and you don't have the weird variety of weapons with slightly different damages (why is a bo stick different from a quarterstaff? does anyone know a glaive-guisarme from a guisarme-voulge?). It's better-developed from a game design point of view, certainly. Personally I think the world doesn't make sense, and a fantasy world even less so, but the new way is more fun for most people I guess.

As far as supplements go, they continue to churn out supplements as their business model demands, but there are a lot more player options and a lot less detail on the settings. This is less fun for casual reading but presumably more useful for actual players.

I can't say I'm all that crazy about the changes (I feel like a lot of the element of skill is gone), but you'd expect a game to change over 50 years, especially if the company's business model involves constantly coming out with new rules. C'est la vie; you can always play your own houseruled version, everyone else does. I don't know, I find it hard to get too worked up about this sort of thing. I was a huge fan of the original animated Transformers movie as a kid, when the Michael Bay ones came out I went to see the first one, shrugged, then forgot to see all the sequels. My childhood wasn't ruined; it still happened. Someone made a movie I didn't like. Big whoop.
 


Zardnaar

Legend
Nope my path went something like BECMI-2E, then tried 1E then 3,4,5. We used whatever we could find and then tried 1E via some grogs we supplied the players they supplied the DM and material.
 

aco175

Legend
@MrTemplar welcome to the boards, and welcome back to the game.

I played all the editions from the red box back in the early 80s. I was like 8 or 9 if I remember right. We played a demo game with a couple people from my father's work and then we had the red box the next week and some neighborhood kids and my father playing. We either merged or converted to 1e rather quickly. I'm not sure if we figured out the basic/1e split or made more games that bought modules. Each edition we have bought new books and played them. We generally liked each edition and think the 2024 changes will be fine and make a good enough game.
 


beancounter

(I/Me/Mine)
Yes, that pretty much describes my experience as well.

However, I did purchase 2E material, but never got a chance to play, and I participated in two or three 3E (or was it 3.5E ? ) sessions.

But beyond that, it's been 1E and 5E for me.
 

haakon1

Adventurer
Yes, but I’ve played every edition, and but not very much of 5e, and I haven’t played 1e since 2001, so I haven’t thought about that transition.
 
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Audiomancer

Adventurer
I played B/X and 1E back in the 80s, then stopped just as 2E was coming out (my gaming group broke up around that time, because we all scattered when we started college).

Fast forward to Fall 2014. I started seeing stories on the web along the lines of, “There’s a new edition of D&D, and it looks pretty good.” A couple of Amazon clicks later, and I had the core rulebooks. Though I didn’t find a table to play at until 2016.
 

To a degree. I played a little hybrid 1st/2nd edition, and a very little 3rd edition, but I played mostly 1st edition then 5e. I played other RPGs in the intervening period.
 

haakon1

Adventurer
To a degree. I played a little hybrid 1st/2nd edition, and a very little 3rd edition, but I played mostly 1st edition then 5e. I played other RPGs in the intervening period.
You seem a good person to tell the OP about 1e to 5e differences, as presumably you’ve played a lot of both more recently than most folks.
 

MGibster

Legend
Oh, boy! This would make a fantastic premise for a television show.

Myron Redding was just your average 14 year old AD&D enthusist who wanted nothing more but to return home from The Goblin's Cage hobby shop and read through his newly purchased Oriental Adventures book. However, fate would intervene in the form of a Randoolan Class IV light cruiser which picked him up and took him to the Blarfnarv solar system. Myron has returned home, but through the miracle of time dilation, what was 29 years on Earth was only 6 months to him! Now, in the year 2014, Myron must reacquaint himself with what it's like to be a Freshman in high school as well as the new 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons. Watch episode 1 as Myron laments the loss of the Advanced part of Dungeons & Dragons!
 


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