D&D General Did D&D Die with TSR?

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
With apologies to Billy Joel...

What's the matter with the dice I'm rolling?​
Can't you tell that you always want to roll high?​
Maybe I should fight some old school monsters?​
We all attack in order to stay alive​
Where have you been gamin' dude lately, sonny?​
You can't be this nerdy till you spend a lot of money​
Everybody's talkin' 'bout the new game​
Funny, but it's still D&D to me​

Saturday night and you're still hangin' around
Tired of living in your one horse town
You'd like to find a little hole in the ground
For awhile

So you go to the local game store in your tie dyed jeans
And you stare at the dice and the DM screens
Monsters and magic, now that's your scene
And you smile

Old School D&D will get you high tonight
And take you to your special island
Moldvay and Gygax will get you by tonight
Just a little roll, and you'll be smilin'
Oh yeah
 

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Lidgar

Gongfarmer
From my perspective, 3e was a more or less natural evolution of the game when considering late 2e rules supplements with Skillz and Powerz, multiple player kits, etc... Yeah, different, with new mechanics, but really no more fiddly than what S&P introduced under 2e with flanking, opportunity attacks, etc.

In other words, our group was already playing with many of the proto-concepts under 2e that 3e incorporated. For me, it felt more like an iteration, not a whole new system.
 

Retreater

Legend
So have you played 5e?

Yes, mostly as a DM, sometimes as often as 3-4 games per week. I've been with it since D&D Next. And I've written for the system. So yeah, I come to this realization being pretty familiar with 5e, which feels more like an off-shoot of the tree of 3rd edition than the previous editions. Not that there's anything inherently wrong with this.

I really don't see it like you do. Levels, classes, hit points, AC, alignment, the monsters, spells, settings, and a bunch of other D&D sacred cows, the list goes on and on. The claim that "there was essentially no connection between 3rd edition and any other TSR product" is one that bewilders me.

The window dressing is still there, but the play is so different that it seems a vastly different game to me. It's like changing Super Mario Bros to a FPS. Especially from TSR-era games to 3.x/4e.

Skills is a big change. Everything is codified. You are proficient in something or not. Everything is listed with your chance to jump, for example. Or your ability to recognize history. I don't feel like this would've even been a thing when I played TSR-era D&D. The DM would've told the sage what he or she recognized without a check. In this way, it's completely taken out of the DM's hands. Player makes a roll - whether or not they can identify it. They get a bad roll, and the DM can't share the information even if it's important. They get a good roll, and the DM has to give information that is unplanned or insignificant if it's unimportant.

I love tactical play, but it has definitely taken dominance in the game over the past 20 years. Moving pieces on a board is the default assumption in every game I've played since 2000. Before that, crude sketches on paper if anything.
 

cbwjm

Seb-wejem
I don't think the various groups I've played with have really required a grid for any edition except 4th. All others have easily been done with theatre of the mind.
 


With 5e and streams like Critical Role, D&D is more popular than ever. I am mostly familiar with the Forgotten Realms setting, and there have been changes that I haven't been happy about (mostly lore related), D&D is not as "niche" as it used to be, which is both a blessing and a curse, imho. 5e is more accessible to newcomers, as the mechanics seem to be generally easier, but there has been a shift. I wouldn't say it died though; it's very much alive.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Yes, mostly as a DM, sometimes as often as 3-4 games per week. I've been with it since D&D Next. And I've written for the system. So yeah, I come to this realization being pretty familiar with 5e, which feels more like an off-shoot of the tree of 3rd edition than the previous editions. Not that there's anything inherently wrong with this.



The window dressing is still there, but the play is so different that it seems a vastly different game to me. It's like changing Super Mario Bros to a FPS. Especially from TSR-era games to 3.x/4e.

Skills is a big change. Everything is codified. You are proficient in something or not. Everything is listed with your chance to jump, for example. Or your ability to recognize history. I don't feel like this would've even been a thing when I played TSR-era D&D. The DM would've told the sage what he or she recognized without a check. In this way, it's completely taken out of the DM's hands. Player makes a roll - whether or not they can identify it. They get a bad roll, and the DM can't share the information even if it's important. They get a good roll, and the DM has to give information that is unplanned or insignificant if it's unimportant.

I love tactical play, but it has definitely taken dominance in the game over the past 20 years. Moving pieces on a board is the default assumption in every game I've played since 2000. Before that, crude sketches on paper if anything.

We always did To in 3.x, but our playstyle may have been carried over by my friends from AD&D assumptions.
 


Cadence

Legend
Supporter
Skills is a big change. Everything is codified. You are proficient in something or not. Everything is listed with your chance to jump, for example. Or your ability to recognize history. I don't feel like this would've even been a thing when I played TSR-era D&D. The DM would've told the sage what he or she recognized without a check. In this way, it's completely taken out of the DM's hands. Player makes a roll - whether or not they can identify it. They get a bad roll, and the DM can't share the information even if it's important. They get a good roll, and the DM has to give information that is unplanned or insignificant if it's unimportant.

Are they more annoying than the painful thieves ability percentages or the race based secret door finding percents from earlier versions :)

I had the feeling that the use ofdice with skill challenges was a huge part of 4e. I like in 5e that it doesn't need to be.

Page 236 in the 5e DMG addresses this directly when it discusses how often the DM decides to use die rolls ("Rolling with it", "Ignoring the dice", and "The Middle Path"). "The extent to which you use them is entirely up to you."

Page 237 then offers that when deciding whether to use a roll or not, ask yourself if it is so easy and free of conflict and stress that there should be no chance of failure, or if the task is inappropriate or impossible, then don't roll.

Even if you go with all die rolling, the 5e rules as written allow the DM to let players succeed on a very easy task without a roll. The DMG also has a variant for other automatic successes. (The RAW of the variant is an auto succeed on anything that has a DC 5 or more below the relevant ability. Proficiency can do it for anything with a DC of 10 or less for low level characters, 15 or less for high level characters.) Since the DM picks the difficulty class, this takes care of a lot, even if the party and DM want to go straight by the book.

And then you also get to offer to let the characters use a different ability with a skill if it makes sense, and can grant advantage and disadvantage as you see fit. And If there is physically no way the players can identify something because of the items history, then just set the difficulty class appropriately. The table is common DCs, not the only ones.

I don't have my 3.5 books anymore, but PF has a section in its (really small) chapter on Gamemastering about fudging the die rolls as the DM. I wish PF had easy to find rules about modifying things like 5e does. I always ran it like it did.
 

GreenTengu

Adventurer
More people played D&D in the 5 years after 3.0 launched than were playing in the 5 years before WotC bought the game. The late 1990s was a dead era for D&D. The game would have effectively ended in 1995 with a decreasing number of people playing it afterwards.

The revised handbooks and the classic basic D&D set were pretty much the swan song of the old game. I can't diagnose everything that went wrong, but that really would have been the end had WotC not used the money they made off of Magic the Gathering (which was originally created to supplement D&D) and used it to buy out the D&D IP and revise the game so that characters had more depth and detail than in previous editions while also streamlining quite a lot of the disfunctional AD&D systems. AD&D had this philosophy that every time they wanted to expand the amount of detail and freedom one had in the game, they would invent all of these random subsystems that all worked in dramatically different ways. And far too often things relied on percentile die and massive tables.

Granted-- there are certain ways of play in which a more basic system would have been preferable. I think when it comes to play-by-mail/play-by-post or even chatroom play, the more basic the system-- the better off you are. But that would be more an argument in favor of the basic D&D.

3E introduced a whole new problem in the form of the feats. While it was a nice idea to be able to add more detail to a character, far too many of the feats were directly combat related to the point it felt that one absolutely had to take certain ones in order to play the class in a functional way. And as the list of feats expanded with ever more splat books, too many of those feats were either thematically trying to do the same thing and stacked their power or were otherwise multipliers of one another's power.

Building insane powerhouse characters was enabled almost exclusively through the feat system and finding the most broken combo became a game unto itself. But-- actually sitting down at the table and playing the game with a character who, say.... had the ability to attack all enemies within a 200' radius, through walls, and do trip attacks on them multiple times a turn using their spiked chain? It certainly makes it difficult to tell much of a story. And certainly there was no way to get that sort of result within the old school D&D system.
 

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