D&D General Changing Order of Character Creation, from 1e to 2024

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
Yes, but....

That method (WHICH WAS INSANELY GOOD!) was only available for humans. Often forgotten.

Why? Eh, because Gygax!

(Gygax did prefer humans, and I s'pose demi-humans were able to multiclass which presented difficulties with that method, but c'mon. That was a crazy way to get an insanely good character. IF ... you were going to play a human.)
Honestly, parties with no humans at all (unless everyone is the same species) feel weird to me, like you're trying to be unrelatable.

Your mileage may vary, of course.
 

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Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
All of which can be mixed by picking race/background 2nd and 3rd. :)

But really, race and background are ultimately narrative gloss, unless the race or background is really out there. Class is where the bulk of the mechanical experience comes from.

As you like to point out, you don't need mechanics to differentiate your characters. You can play human fighter A completely differently from human fighter B simply by engaging the narrative layer. But you can't have a different mechanical experience without actually varying the mechanics, which means picking different classes.
Class isn't the only place where mechanical differentiation occurs, and maybe those other areas ought to be emphasized more. Origin/Culture/Background/Destiny are certainly a bigger deal in Level Up than their equivalents are in WotC 5e, and I think that's a good thing.
 

ezo

Where is that Singe?
That's why I occasionally kill player characters at points in the campaign. No saves or anything. IRL, you have no control about whether you have cancer, a heart-attack, or some other medical condition. And sometimes a tree falls on you and you die. Realism.
Well, that isn't like real life though, is it?

Such things are random, and in many cases there are lots of things you can do to reduce those chances of occuring (such as regular exercise and a proper diet to help against the chances of a heart-attack). The odds are also so incredibly small for most such things, many people live their entire lives without dying due to such causes.

So, if you are choosing such things, it isn't the same thing at all. ;)

AD&D actually had rules for some sorts of random events like becoming diseased. :D

All of which can be mixed by picking race/background 2nd and 3rd. :)
Sure. But my point was the randomness of ability scores and race in the sense of organic growth for the character concept. You are born a certain race (human, dwarf, tiefling, whatever), you grow up (developing your ability scores), and your background (life before adventuring) develops. Since all of these things occur before you become an adventurer, that is my preference for the order. My PC (as a "living entity") goes through this process.

But really, race and background are ultimately narrative gloss, unless the race or background is really out there. Class is where the bulk of the mechanical experience comes from.
Again, agreed. Race has some traits, and backgrounds a bit of features (mostly proficiencies), but you could remove all of those and just have class as the "defining" source.

As you like to point out, you don't need mechanics to differentiate your characters. You can play human fighter A completely differently from human fighter B simply by engaging the narrative layer. But you can't have a different mechanical experience without actually varying the mechanics, which means picking different classes.
I agree with the first part (as you say, I've said it before), but not with the second.

You can have a mechanically different experience by playing the same class. Of course, most mechanics are universal (all PCs have hit points, roll hit dice, roll for attacks, checks, and saves, etc.) regardless of class, so I'm talking about the mechanics which stem from class-related features, which depending on your class selection, mostly come from either class or from subclass, but some are also fairly balanced even in that respect.

We played a group of all monks in one game. Each played fairly differently from the others. 🤷‍♂️

Class isn't the only place where mechanical differentiation occurs, and maybe those other areas ought to be emphasized more.
Agreed. Nearly all the house-rules and homebrew I've worked on or in collaboration with others has made one of two things happen:

1. Race and Background are emphazised more, to the point of Background becoming Level 0.
2. Class is de-emphasized to be closer to the baseline of race and background (for a simpler-style of game).
 

TwoSix

"Diegetics", by L. Ron Gygax
I agree with the first part (as you say, I've said it before), but not with the second.

You can have a mechanically different experience by playing the same class. Of course, most mechanics are universal (all PCs have hit points, roll hit dice, roll for attacks, checks, and saves, etc.) regardless of class, so I'm talking about the mechanics which stem from class-related features, which depending on your class selection, mostly come from either class or from subclass, but some are also fairly balanced even in that respect.

We played a group of all monks in one game. Each played fairly differently from the others. 🤷‍♂️
Well, sure, but subclass is just another level of class, so I think we’re mostly in agreement here.

Agreed. Nearly all the house-rules and homebrew I've worked on or in collaboration with others has made one of two things happen:

1. Race and Background are emphazised more, to the point of Background becoming Level 0.
2. Class is de-emphasized to be closer to the baseline of race and background (for a simpler-style of game).
As someone currently running a classless 5e game, I have no issues here.

Most of my arguments above are about what the currently published game DOES do. Arguments about what the 5e engine COULD do with proper homebrewing is a whole separate line of discussion.
 


Remathilis

Legend
To be honest, I'd forgotten about that. I had a rather muddled initial experience with D&D though, cause my group was AD&D1e with some B/X added in, then next year 2e was released which we incorporated some of. So my memory is a tangled fusion of those three systems.
People have a memory, which I think is partially false, of PCs routinely making it high level with ability scores below a 13. That absolutlely runs opposite to darn near every experience I had, every experience other people who played back then had, and many of the pre-gen characters of that era. High scores were important, so important that people would make sure they had them hook-or-crook.
 

Remathilis

Legend
Of course, this is what Gary said in the printed material for mass consumption. Every time I’ve been able to see ‘behind the curtain’ of games developers playing their own games, it very rarely hews to ‘rules as written’. In fact, sometimes I wonder if they’re playing the same game, but they are. So Gary might have written that in the PHB, but his home game was likely very different, much like as much as we talk about ‘playing DnD’, every single table is going to do things differently for a host of reasons.
Which of course is usually the answer with the 1e Core Rulebooks get cited for anything: "I mean, nobody actually USED the rules as written! We just kinda did our own thing and vibed on it. But AD&D was perfect because we ignored, rewrote, and otherwise changed so much of it."
 

Quickleaf

Legend
People have a memory, which I think is partially false, of PCs routinely making it high level with ability scores below a 13. That absolutlely runs opposite to darn near every experience I had, every experience other people who played back then had, and many of the pre-gen characters of that era. High scores were important, so important that people would make sure they had them hook-or-crook.
Yeah, I’ve found /rediscovered many things I like about 1e - escape pursuit evasion rules being a good example - but that whole “you gotta have super heroic stats to be worthwhile as a character” is not one of them. Muuuch prefer the B/X, OSR, OSE 3d6 method that’s about getting through chargen fast and lets you be mediocre or weak in some ways and still adventure. That always felt more true to old school games - it’s what ideas you have and outside the box solutions that matter more than stats
 

Remathilis

Legend
Or for people who prefer a bit of challenge in what they play instead of "I want what I want when I want it all the time" attitudes... ;)

When my friend introduced me to D&D, back a long time ago, he sold me on a single line: "it's like a video game, but you get to make up your own characters and stories." THAT sold me on RPGs. I was the one creating my own character the way I wanted to. If he had said "It's like a video game, but you get to gamble and maybe you'll get the character you want." I'd probably have passed and be on my 59th playthrough of Skyrim right now. The value of an TTRPG, moreso than any other media, is that I make my own character and the DM gets to challenge them. The idea that I am in not in control of that process to me removes the quintessential element of what makes TTRPGs better than MMOs or other video games. Take that away and I might as well make another WoW toon for the Lulz.
 

Remathilis

Legend
Yeah, I’ve found /rediscovered many things I like about 1e - escape pursuit evasion rules being a good example - but that whole “you gotta have super heroic stats to be worthwhile as a character” is not one of them. Muuuch prefer the B/X, OSR, OSE 3d6 method that’s about getting through chargen fast and lets you be mediocre or weak in some ways and still adventure. That always felt more true to old school games - it’s what ideas you have and outside the box solutions that matter more than stats

I prefer the power level of Basic much more than AD&D, but I also like AD&D's options. The perfect game would be something like Basic Fantasy which is built in the style of B/X and keeps characters grounded to that level, but also added elements from AD&D (race and class separate) and even 3e (upwards AC) to blend new and old well.
 

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