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D&D General Did D&D Die with TSR?

dave2008

Legend
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.
Actually 4e was incredibly easy to do TotM if you were used to it. WE came to 4e straight from 1e and had no issue doing TotM in 4e. I actually think it was easier than 1e becuase everything was defined so well. I constantly used grid paper to keep track of things in 1e, but found I didn't need that in 4e.
 

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dave2008

Legend
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.
That is a you and your group issue then. They are not requirements for playing 4e or 5e (I know because we've played barely tactical, TotM 4e and 5e for the past 12 years. We had to use more grids (grid paper, not maps) and minis when we played 1e than I've had to use in 4e or 5e. Now I don't know about 3e as we didn't play that edition, but yoru experience is nothing like mine if 4e an 5e. 5e in particular feels very similar to our 1e play.
 
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Campbell

Legend
B/X is very near and dear to my heart. It's in competition for my favorite version of the game mostly with Freebooters on the Frontier, and other B/X variants (like Worlds Without Number and The Nightmares Underneath).

The idea that early versions of D&D did not meaningfully place constraints on the DM/referee is something I find silly. We are talking about a game with rules for checking for hex crawling, exploration turns, secret doors, wandering monster checks, morale, surprise, and reaction rolls. All things I miss in more modern D&D.
 


I'm skeptical. I think the major shift happened during late 2e with the introduction of Skills and Power and Combat and Tactics. So many of 3e's developments came from those two books. Early and late 2e are two completely different games.
 

Orius

Adventurer
If it weren't for WotC, D&D may very well have died with TSR.

As for the various editions, I basically seen them as two separate forks of the original D&D, with Holmes belonging to OD&D.

AD&D came first, and regardless of what some players want to believe everything WotC has put out is a continuation of that lineage. They're called 3e, 4e, and 5e for a reason. If one looks at the developments of 2e over the course of the 90s, the links to 3e are pretty evident.

The classic D&D game is a sepeate system. Moldvay did not follow Holmes with his Basic set, and the work done by Cook, Marsh, Mentzer, and Allston followed up on it. Now, B/X generally was very similar to 1e, but the systems started to diverge with Mentzer's work on Companion and Masters, and the differences got even bigger with 2e and then the RC being noticably different systems. And since 2e was much more popular, the D&D line eventually died out.
 

ZeshinX

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

Oh I agree completely. I just witnessed that kind of insanity pretty much exclusively with 3.x/PF1e in the FLGS before I finally stopped going. I couldn't stop shaking my head when I'd see it happening.
 

teitan

Hero
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.

it was not a codified skill system because Thieves Skills worked off a very unfavorable percentile system while NWP worked off very favorable ability checks.
 

Aldarc

Legend
5E more or less consumed the OSR, while at the same time bringing in a hefty newer generation. Neat trick.
Can't say that I agree. I believe that 5e courted OSR briefly at the beginning of its market life, but then reneged on that once it garnered immense popularity, particularly among more mainstream audiences. It undoubtedly brought a number of prior gamers back, but that doesn't really mean that it consumed the OSR movement. Though 5e appeals to some people who like the older editions of D&D (from which OSR draws inspiration) - mainly those with the understanding of OSR as "rulings not rules" and more streamlined classes/rules - there is a LOT about 5e that still feels antithetical to OSR movement. (Hello, adventure path design.) So I'm not really sure how much of the OSR that 5e actually consumed as the OSR indie scene is still strong and kicking. OSR is arguably stronger now than it was at the time that 5e was released.
 

cbwjm

Hero
Actually 4e was incredibly easy to do TotM if you were used to it. WE came to 4e straight from 1e and had no issue doing TotM in 4e. I actually think it was easier than 1e becuase everything was defined so well. I constantly used grid paper to keep track of things in 1e, but found I didn't need that in 4e.
That could very well be true, but I think when we started playing the grid maps were so prevalent and the feel of the game felt like it needed a grid more than previous editions. I think it was just the way it was presented.
 

dave2008

Legend
That could very well be true, but I think when we started playing the grid maps were so prevalent and the feel of the game felt like it needed a grid more than previous editions. I think it was just the way it was presented.
Could be. We skipped 3e and I think that is when the grid based play started, so by the time 4e came around it was just expected by many I guess?
 

Can't say that I agree. I believe that 5e courted OSR briefly at the beginning of its market life, but then reneged on that once it garnered immense popularity, particularly among more mainstream audiences. It undoubtedly brought a number of prior gamers back, but that doesn't really mean that it consumed the OSR movement. Though 5e appeals to some people who like the older editions of D&D (from which OSR draws inspiration) - mainly those with the understanding of OSR as "rulings not rules" and more streamlined classes/rules - there is a LOT about 5e that still feels antithetical to OSR movement. (Hello, adventure path design.) So I'm not really sure how much of the OSR that 5e actually consumed as the OSR indie scene is still strong and kicking. OSR is arguably stronger now than it was at the time that 5e was released.

What really drove the OSR underground was the announcement that Google planned to disassemble Google+. Such many cool things happened there circa 2010-2014. FLAILSNAILS was my single greatest D&D experience and helped my develop the DMing style I continue to this day.

Honestly, I'm still not sure where the central OSR hub is anymore.
 

Aldarc

Legend
What really drove the OSR underground was the announcement that Google planned to disassemble Google+. Such many cool things happened there circa 2010-2014. FLAILSNAILS was my single greatest D&D experience and helped my develop the DMing style I continue to this day.

Honestly, I'm still not sure where the central OSR hub is anymore.
Discord and Reddit. That said, I don't think that OSR really had a central hub. More like a series of interconnected hubs.

It's just difficult for me to believe that 5e consumed the OSR movement when a significant number of OSR games have won Ennies the past half a decade.
 

GreyLord

Hero
Real D&D, or that written or based upon that game which was created by Arneson and Gygax...yes...it died for the most part when 3e was published. If people wanted to see that game continue, it would have been better if it were never bought by WoTC.

3e was about as much D&D as Diablo and Diablo 2 were D&D. Sure, there are a great many similarities, but they are basically different games.

3e started a new trend, that where you replaced the entire system with another incompatible system when you declared a new edition. Thus, when 4e came out it wasn't really compatible with 3.X, and when 5e came out, it wasn't really compatible with 4e. It's behind the idea that books sell, and core rules are the best sellers, so why not force everyone to buy a new set of core rules.

Now there are similarities between D20 that came out, and AD&D (just like there are similarities between Palladium Roleplaying or RIFTS and D&D), but in essence they are different games.

The creators of D20 took many ideas of D&D and AD&D and from that created their own game, got the rights to the title of D&D...and slapped it on their game instead of the old systems.

For Americans, a similar idea would be if Burger King bought Mcdonalds...then slapped the name Mcdonalds on every Burger King. They still sell hamburgers and fries, they still have chicken nuggets, and at the core they may look the same as they ever were from the outside...but in truth...Burger King is NOT Mcdonalds. People may say Burger King's owner saved Mcdonalds...but did it really...or did it just slap the Mcdonalds name on something similar and forever kill off the actual McDonalds. You no longer have Big Macs (varied XP leveling), and Mcdonald Fries as they made them are a thing of the past (AD&D multiclassing). You no longer have Chicken McNuggets (vancian casting that can be disrupted easily and saving throws as they used to be) even if you still have Chicken Nuggets (you still have vancian casting of sorts, and concentration checks...but they aren't really the same as the past).

So, yes, AD&D and the original D&D game and their legacy were killed when TSR died.

But this is in the past. Mine is an unpopular opinion today. It's long gone. These arguments are from a time decades ago. This was already talked about in far too much detail in times past. Much like how modern face cards have changed how card games are played from how they were with tarot decks (for most at least, most don't even know about tarot decks, much less how to play games with them, at least for the couple hundred or more years), the D&D now is NOT the same D&D as it used to be.

And, though I was NOT okay with it back then, I have grown to live with it now, and so now...it's okay as life has gone on, the world hasn't ended, and people are still playing Roleplaying games and things they call D&D, even if it's not what D&D was originally envisioned to be. Considering the world today, that might even be a good thing considering some of the relics of D&D's past in relation to modern concerns that have risen up in recent times. Those times of arguments in the past probably are better left buried, and the games of today for the current generation are probably a better fit for many of the issues of today. We have more empathy (or I think many do) for those who were discriminated in the past, or profiled or stereotyped in ways that were offensive, ways that AD&D and the old D&D were not designed to deal with, but new games and new RPGs being made now...can be.

And in that way, for D&D as it is called today, being able to be designed in consideration of modern day ethics and culture, is probably a better thing to see than holding onto relics of the past for the new generation

PS: And, with that said, even though D20 killed AD&D Dead...dead...dead...along with OD&D and BECMI and BX, they had a short rerelease several years ago, and now are available on DMS guild...so while dead in most ways...they are still allowed to be seen and bought by the few curious individuals who wish to see what the game used to be all about...and the old relics like me who still play.
 

Yeah, skills were pretty firmly in place by early 2nd edition. It may have been an "optional" rule but I never played any 2nd edition game that didn't include non-weapon proficiencies.

And the early aesthetic of the game - dungeon crawling before progressing to quasi-wargaming stronghold management around 9-12th level - was really only in 2nd edition as a vestige. No one played that way, in fact, I think even in 1st edition few outside of the Lake Geneva or Blackmoor crew played like that. By late 2nd edition there were so many exceptions to class and level limits. There was optional rules everyhwere. 3rd edition was more of a factor of the game slowly adjusting itself to how it was actually played rather than a total reinvention.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
1) tactical movement on a grid
3) feats
5) Challenge Rating
7) prestige classes

I don't see how these four fundamentally alter the way the game is played between 3e and older editions.

1) I have played BECMI on a grid back in the day, I don't know if it was our DM's house rule, maybe it was not the standard but nevertheless
3) feats are just plug-in abilities, they have an effect in how you level up your PC but not necessarily in how you play the game
5) players don't even need what CR is, for a DM it's just an additional tool for encounter building
7) was the old Bard that different? how about kits? the fact that there were 100s of PrCls published doesn't matter, if people abused them instead of taking 1 (or none at all) per PC, it's their fault

2) attacks of opportunity (for nearly everything)
4) class "balance"
6) 0-level spells, cantrips, and ever-present spells
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

These certainly changed the game big time instead.

2) AoOs were all over the place in 3e and massively defined how characters played in a combat encounter, even if indirectly i.e. by shoving players to not doing certain things in order to avoid AoOs. They definitely shaped 3e combat in a certain way that is different from both older and newer editions (5e OAs have a much lesser impact). They forced players to think a lot more in terms of exact actions and movements.

4) Very different approaches between pre-3e and post-3e. In older edition the main idea of class balance was to choose between the egg today or the chicken tomorrow. Be an ant or a cicada: "suck now to shine later, or shine now to suck later". Honestly, it was an awful idea that stinked of cheap moral lessons.

6) Here is a major shift in mechanics that also affected narrative. Older editions carried a much stronger "magic is rare" feeling that is definitely lost since 3e. In 20 years of the "modern" editions of D&D I have seen countless discussions about the various ways to setting up a low-magic game, clearly showing that there is a large number of gamers who would like (at least sometimes) to recreate that feeling. OTOH I am pretty sure there were at least as many people who felt that magic was way too rare in older editions.

8) Pros and cons about this one too. The 3e-specific d20 DC system was really very codified and standardized. Some groups like having hard rules to rely on, and others like free-form rulings without limitations. Both have their own strength and weaknesses. 3e clearly went pretty extreme with this, and it's understandable that it alienated older editions players. If codification is about having rules and DCs for everything (something on which 5e has lessened significantly, bringing back more DM's rulings), standardization is about the general mechanics (d20) apply to lots of things: 5e still retains this idea, but it still doesn't work very well without some DM's rulings (we still have the issue with extreme swinginess that doesn't work the same well for all skills).

9) Definitely a huge deal in 3e, related to the edition's general purpose of balancing everyone. Caused a lot of problems to any group who didn't want to play a monty haul game. No surprise here that 5e has left this behind.
 

Azzy

KMF DM
The click-baity title is positively laughable, but whatever.

Besides a few mentions of IP and repetition of similar fantasy tropes, there was essentially no connection between 3rd edition and any other TSR product. It seemed like the same amount of difference between West End Games' d6 Star Wars and the system created by Fantasy Flight.

Here are some of the biggest differences that I was hung up on when first learning 3rd edition:
1) tactical movement on a grid

The 1e AD&D DMG has suggestions for miniatues and using grids. The 2e AD&D Player's Option: Combat & Tactics goes all out with tacticle combat with miniatures and grids (an obvious precursor to 3e).

2) attacks of opportunity (for nearly everything)

1e had attacks against retreating creatures. 2e's Combat & Tactics had attacks of oppurtunity.

Feats didn't exist as such, but 3e's skills and feats are essentially a bifurcation of AD&D's nonweapon proficiences (with things like blind fighter and weapon specialization becoming the archetypes for feats and most everything else becoming skills).

4) class "balance"

Classes having different XP charts were an early (and bad) attempt at class balance.

5) Challenge Rating

True for the most part, but pre-3e made some vague attempts to gauge a monster's power level. 1e introduced a "Level/X.P." entry for monsters and the XP value of a monster was determined by how powerful it was. BECMI did similar with a varying amount of asterisks to indicate monsters with special abilities, and thus greater XP. However, these were never codified with any attempt to encounter guidelines and most people, in my experience (pun intended), just spit-balled things. I do think that encounter guidelines are a good innovation, but of varying degrees of quality.

6) 0-level spells, cantrips, and ever-present spells

1e did introduce cantrips in UA, and a number of them could be memorized in a 1st-level slot. These got contracted into the cantrip spell in 2e and was the obvious precursor to 3e's prestidigitation and 0-level spells. At-will spells was definitely a late 3.5 addition (with the warlock and reserve feats) that was carried on to to 4e and 5e.

7) prestige classes

The paladins, avengers, and druids of BECMI would like a word with you.

8) the d20 DC system for skills (that took away all DM rulings, as everything was codified)

I don't think the SC system took anything away—it was essentially the equivalent of giving penalties and bonuses to nonweapon proficiency roll. But, yeah, 3e over codified everything.

9) character wealth by level baked into the system

Yeah, this a new thing (and something I came to detest).

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."

While I was not fan of the dungeonpunk aesthetic, Darksun and Planescape in particular were kinda out there in their own ways.

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 agree with the basic premise, 3e morphed D&D into something different—but still familiar.

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.

I don't know. A lot of these aren't as big a difference as you suggest, and 2e's Player's Options books were a dry run of several of these 3e features. (Fortunately, some of those ideas didn't make it into 3e.)

Also, your not being able to run things in the same style really doesn't reflect my experience at all.
 


TheSword

Legend
I do think the weirdness and risk taking did take a hit when WOC took over. TSR weren’t really beholden to anyone which meant they could do pretty much what they wanted. Dark Sun, Ravenloft, Planescape, Al Quadim, Maztica, Birthright, Council of Wyrms...all came in a relatively short period of time.

For 3e the only really weird and wonderful thing to come out was Eberron. Otherwise it was pretty much more of what we already had.

4e did the Dark Sun reprint but that didn’t really go anywhere or bring anything new.

5e is playing it safe.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved 3e and 5e and bought a disgusting number of their products. But there was definitely a feel that TSR was more adventurous (reckless) than WOC. For good and bad.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
You know what? Let's go even further here!

D&D DIDN'T "DIE" WITH 3E! D&D WAS ACTUALLY BORN WITH 3E!

Up until 3E, we had this amorphus blob of a thing lying within an amniotic sack that was nothing more than a bunch of disparate rule cells that needed to spend years gestating in order to eventually be born as a fully-formed creature! WotC was the obstetrician that helped give birth to D&D!

There we go! Let's see how that hot take plays to the cheap seats! ;)
 

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