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General Did D&D Die with TSR?

Volund

Explorer
I played my last game of 1e around 1983 and didn't play D&D again until a 5e meetup in 2016. I walked away from that first 5e session saying, "Wow, that felt just like it did in 1979 when I started." I've been playing 5e ever since. D&D didn't die with TSR. In fact, TSR almost killed it in the 1990's and WotC revived it and has been a great custodian. I just started playing an OSR campaign using OSE and there is a close kinship between rule sets separated by decades.
 

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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Here are some of the biggest differences that I was hung up on when first learning 3rd edition:
1) tactical movement on a grid
2) attacks of opportunity (for nearly everything)
3) feats
4) class "balance"
5) Challenge Rating
6) 0-level spells, cantrips, and ever-present spells
7) prestige classes
8) the d20 DC system for skills (that took away all DM rulings, as everything was codified)
9) character wealth by level baked into the system

The game looked different too. The art style was no longer based in fantasy illustrations, rather than "this is D&D 'dungeon punk' and it can't represent a character from history, fantasy fiction, etc."

I'm not presenting this as a value judgment. I like things about 3.x - the present. But it seems to be that the game forever shifted in 3rd edition. I can't even run the games in the style I used to 20 years ago or play characters the same way. I don't think anyone does in modern D&D.

Anyone else realizing this?
I'm with you on all but #4. 3e was the most unbalanced edition made. :)
 



teitan

Hero
3.0 was still very much in line with AD&D. They just made it so it made more sense and skills were handled consistently as opposed to a mix of extremely low percentages vs More favorable ability checks. Feats and Skills complimented the Non Weapon Proficiency System. The big change was 3.5 when they leaned heavily into gamism and it became about “builds” right out of the core. System mastery was always a thing in D&D and 3.0 certainly rewarded it but 3.5 encouraged the ivory tower with not just numerous feats and prestige classes amping up in power every few months with new releases but also the new base classes and races amping up that power curve as well. Top that off with a move away from classic D&D races and classes and the game became something very different and at an accelerated rate compared to in 2e with new races and kits. 5e brought D&D back for me. I loved 3e for a long time though. Core plus 1 was a great house rule to reign things in. I started playing Pathfinder 1e recently and I am remembering how much I enjoyed 3e but as a DM I love the pick up and play of 5e.
 

RobJN

Explorer
Seems like someone needs to listen to the "Five Generations of Designers" Garycon panel, that was on the Plot Points Podcast: (cool, didn't know it'd embed the podcast stream thingie in there!)
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Add me to the list of people who absolutely play DnD today in the same style as AD&D. A few years back, I even wrote a 5e super dungeon that is very much 80s feel. Almost 80s overload lol. For example, the "Lord's of Rock" are three stone golems. The illustration of them will he familiar to fans of Rush 😂

And the interior art is by Brian Glad Thomas, whose style is almost exactly like that of the late Jim Holloway

1596511000993.png
 
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Retreater

Legend
If D&D died when 3e came out, I guess I've never actually played D&D. It's changed greatly, from what I've heard, but it feels very much alive to me and the millions of current D&D 5e players around the world.
I've been gaming in WotC's D&D longer now than I played in TSR's game (which was only a little more than a decade for me). The d20 system (and its derivatives) are definitely my base for tabletop RPGs (despite playing many other systems, just not as long term or frequently).
I don't mean to imply that people who play more modern versions of the game aren't playing a version of D&D or that it's not legitimate. I'm just curious if there is enough of the core game remaining that the current edition is identifiable to the original design and feel of the game.
An analogy might be from the video game industry. Could you be someone who played Atari 2600 back in the early 1980s - say a shooter like Centipede - then pick up a modern PS4 controller to play Call of Duty (or whatever)? Both are video games and might be fun experiences, but they are very dissimilar.
 

ccs

40th lv DM
I don't mean to imply that people who play more modern versions of the game aren't playing a version of D&D or that it's not legitimate. I'm just curious if there is enough of the core game remaining that the current edition is identifiable to the original design and feel of the game.

The general opinion on this is Yes.
My own opinion on this is Yes.

And I've seen plenty of examples at the shop of people who played D&D back in the 80s picking up the 5e books & resuming play as if next to nothing had really changed in all the years between.

An analogy might be from the video game industry. Could you be someone who played Atari 2600 back in the early 1980s - say a shooter like Centipede - then pick up a modern PS4 controller to play Call of Duty (or whatever)? Both are video games and might be fun experiences, but they are very dissimilar.

That's because they they are actually different games. Current Call of Duty is not an evolution of Centipede.
 

Parmandur

Legend
I've been gaming in WotC's D&D longer now than I played in TSR's game (which was only a little more than a decade for me). The d20 system (and its derivatives) are definitely my base for tabletop RPGs (despite playing many other systems, just not as long term or frequently).
I don't mean to imply that people who play more modern versions of the game aren't playing a version of D&D or that it's not legitimate. I'm just curious if there is enough of the core game remaining that the current edition is identifiable to the original design and feel of the game.
An analogy might be from the video game industry. Could you be someone who played Atari 2600 back in the early 1980s - say a shooter like Centipede - then pick up a modern PS4 controller to play Call of Duty (or whatever)? Both are video games and might be fun experiences, but they are very dissimilar.

A better example might be someone who played Super Mario Bros in 1987 picking up the Switch today and playing Mario Maker.
 

ZeshinX

Adventurer
I didn't find it died when WotC took over, but it become something very different. Oh it still had all the right terms, the basic mechanics were there (and cleaned up to boot), better organized and 3e felt very much like a cohesive system whereas 2e felt like a hodge podge of various mechanics.

The big difference I found (but only in time) was that 3e leaned far more heavily in the simulation approach (rules for everything), while 2e was much more abstract (DM ruling).

I'd played 1e/2e for quite a while (started around '85, but played regularly starting in '88). I loved it dearly, but as time passed (and I got older), I started to get annoyed with many of the restrictions and seemingly arbitrary rules. Why were classes restricted by race? What the heck was the point of level limits? Racial minimums and maximums? Why did non-weapon prof checks roll low and saves roll high? Etc, etc. We used some houserules to mitigate some small things, but we kept playing and enjoying it for what it was.

Then 3e came and it was remarkable. The rules made sense! They were cohesive! Classes and races banished in 2e by the idiotic moral panic were back...it was excellent. Classes had more variability, more customizability (via feats)...it was D&D on steroids. It was a little more complex but easy enough to follow due to wildly better organization of rules (and the d20 mechanic was easy to use). Then 3.5 hit and it was great. A significant housecleaning.

Then, as time passed, and we moved to PF 1e as we skipped 4e (it felt more like a changeling to us than actual D&D)....I started seeing the cracks. So many fiddly bonuses and penalties and a gawd damn rule for every damn thing. The term "build" crept into the lexicon to such a disgusting degree that seemingly everyone I talked to at my FLGS had forgotten this is a role-playing game...a game about creating interesting characters that did wonderful and terrible things (at least that was always my biggest take away from D&D). They couldn't tell me a damn thing about WHO their character was, but they could rattle of a comprehensive list of all the bonuses, feats, abilities and DPR and whatthehellhappened???? It got to be so repugnant to me, I just stopped going to the FLGS and ordered books on Amazon instead. For a time I even called them the FLBS (Friendly local build store).

3.x/PF 1e also introduced this curiously bizarre aura of a Players vs DM sort of approach to rules. Maybe it was always there in D&D...but holy crap did I see a LOT of contests between DMs and players where players could actually out-maneuver a DM if their system mastery was sufficient, and actually overrule a DM. This boggled my mind. Sure, disagreements have always been part of the game, but 3.x/PF 1e has that unique escalating quality to it for some reason. My table was spared this, since we've been playing together for the better part of 30 years...but yeesh.

My group and I enjoyed the hell out of 3.x/PF1e but we burned out in 2016 and immediately dropped that ruleset and campaign and started over in 5e. Been enjoying it since and you wouldn't be able to pay us to go back to 3.x.

I checked out PF 2e, but that left me with the feeling of "this is to Pathfinder what 4e was to D&D".
 

Zardnaar

Legend
I've been gaming in WotC's D&D longer now than I played in TSR's game (which was only a little more than a decade for me). The d20 system (and its derivatives) are definitely my base for tabletop RPGs (despite playing many other systems, just not as long term or frequently).
I don't mean to imply that people who play more modern versions of the game aren't playing a version of D&D or that it's not legitimate. I'm just curious if there is enough of the core game remaining that the current edition is identifiable to the original design and feel of the game.
An analogy might be from the video game industry. Could you be someone who played Atari 2600 back in the early 1980s - say a shooter like Centipede - then pick up a modern PS4 controller to play Call of Duty (or whatever)? Both are video games and might be fun experiences, but they are very dissimilar.

5E hasn't diverged as much.

Old D&D did die, idk if d20 universally is always better though
 

Campbell

Legend
If you are talking about D&D in the sense of a wonderfully focused game about dungeon delving where the lore served the needs of play rather than the other way around that died well before 3rd Edition. Second Edition pretty much ran away from the core experience of the game by placing less emphasis on emergent exploratory play and more emphasis on linear storytelling. Chastising what was once considered skilled play as metagaming certainly did not help matters either.
 

ccs

40th lv DM
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.

Oh stop with that emasculated DM nonsense.
We've had a codified skill system in D&D since 1e with the Non-Weapon Proficiencies . Around 1985. Or was it '86? Go read the Dungeoneer's Survival Guide, The Wilderness Survival Guide, &/or Oriental Adventures. It was slightly clunky. It boiled down to; On a d20, with various modifiers, Roll Under your relevant stat.
Most played it that the lower you rolled the better the result.
So, assuming this optional system was being used at the table, DMs have been tasked with deciding what/how much info to give out based on a d20 roll for about 35 years.

Wich wasn't really much different than many were already doing it prior to these books & "official rules". Just now each class only had so many skills they could use & it was made slightly clunky.

And then pretty much this same system appears in 2e. This time it's right there in the PHB.
So once again, the DM has been tasked with determining what/how much info to give out on a dice roll.

The only thing 3e did was flip it from Roll Low to Roll High & introduce target DCs.
But somehow this time it was all removed from the DMs hands?? Pfft. Same job, different edition. Player rolls dice, tells you total. You decide how much to tell them. And if there's info you want to give them? Well.... You're the DM. You literally have the power (and the job!) to create the world, play everything in it that's not one of the PCs & can completely dictate what the PCs see/hear/smell/taste/feel(touch/& even know, etc. So you can just give it to them if you want. But if you really really really must set a DC? Because the rules say to? Just set it really low.
 

ccs

40th lv DM
3.x/PF 1e also introduced this curiously bizarre aura of a Players vs DM sort of approach to rules. Maybe it was always there in D&D...but holy crap did I see a LOT of contests between DMs and players where players could actually out-maneuver a DM if their system mastery was sufficient, and actually overrule a DM. This boggled my mind. Sure, disagreements have always been part of the game, but 3.x/PF 1e has that unique escalating quality to it for some reason. My table was spared this, since we've been playing together for the better part of 30 years...but yeesh.

Lol. There is NO degree of system mastery that can trump the power of an actual DM.


I checked out PF 2e, but that left me with the feeling of "this is to Pathfinder what 4e was to D&D"

Yeah, it wasn't as bad, but I wasn't impressed.
 

NaturalZero

Adventurer
1) tactical movement on a grid

I remember being a kid, picking up a 2e book, and wondering why characters could only move a few inches on their turn. After fully coming into the game with 3.5, i realized that 2e was assuming that you were using tactical miniatures.
 

Stormonu

Legend
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 will agree that this has changed significantly. Initial 1E and B/X D&D very much relied on "what you know is what your character knows". However, as D&D advanced, the obvious issue with this came to the fore. You are not your character. There are things your hero may do better - or worse than you, and using yourself as the basis isn't the best way to handle this. Examples are those playing characters with very high stats - the geeky gamer whose character has an 18 Strength isn't likely to bench 180 lbs. as much as the wallflower player is to be able to smooj the town gaurd as his 18 Charisma character will. Seperating what the gamer knows/can do vs. their character is important - but doesn't take away from the player's ability to make choices either.

And any DM who can't pass on adventure critical information to keep the game going because of one bad roll isn't a very good DM, IMHO.
 

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