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1E Edition Experience: Did/Do you Play 1E AD&D? How Was/Is It?

How Did/Do You Feel About 1E D&D?

  • I'm playing it right now; I'll have to let you know later.

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • I'm playing it right now and so far, I don't like it.

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    165

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
Recent posts in this thread (and in a couple of others) serve to illustrate that even now, decades later, some folks are still confusing the player with the character, and the DM with the enemy. Which might be how some of us end up taking this game too personally, and getting too defensive.
What the? I for one shall remain firmly in the enemy camp. Fear my numerous minions and unbridled hatred of characters...
 

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clearstream

Be just and fear not...
Its popularity now is more a tribute to skillful marketing and the general rise of geek culture than it is a testament to the underlying superiority of the latest edition.
I think that they are not dichotomous. Geek culture rose and the latest edition mechanics are superior. The eventual refinement of the core d20 system is a good example. Another might be neo-Vancian casting. Advantage/Disadvantage. All through there are mechanics that couldn't have existed without the years of designer experimentation (and not just by TSR/WotC) that lie between 1e and 5e.

Or to put it another way, the thesis that 5e is not mechanically superior to 1e would seem to rest on the work of numerous designers across multiple companies and years being fruitless.

Yet there is also SO MUCH in 1E that is short-sighted, contradictory, readily used in a mean-spirited way and far clunkier and a block to smoother play and fun. Because it is a product of its time - an edition that was created before "RPG design" was a PROFESSION and everything that was done with it was new and different that all later editions would build on - it MUST be house-ruled in order to address these issues. However, that was always what DM's were EXPECTED to do anyway. No "professional" game designer sitting anywhere that isn't MY TABLE really knows precisely what I need and want from D&D as the DM, much less what 4, 6, 10 players at my table all individually want and need. Those designers can only GUESS and aim their game at one particular chunk of demographics, and they can be right most of the time but rarely, so rarely, are they going to have got it just right for everyone at any given table.

Despite all its flaws, 1E AD&D is equally worthy, if not more worthy than 5E. It's more accommodating of customization than 5E could hope to be, even though that accommodation is effectively mandatory for every game.
I agree with some of what you say here. Especially that there was much that had to be house-ruled to work, and that in many ways it is perfectly fine to have that assumption, including for the reasons you stated.

However, I am not quite following how 1e was easier to customise than 5e? It might be so, because 5e is a tighter system and one often finds that the ramifications of a group's changes ripple through the mechanics in ways that they might not guess because they might under-appreciate the expertise and playtesting time that went into crafting those mechanics. But then, that seems to amount to saying that just because mechanics are more in need of fixing, it is easier to fix them...
 

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
Cool!

But leave your players in one piece, so they can come back next week and have their characters hated some more... :)
In one piece, and thrilled by the challenge, ideally. With hearts filled with greed and a corrosive desire for vengeance, or with selfless concern for righting wrongs and overturning evil. What a DM must not be, in my view, is neutral. It is not a DM's task to present a bland world, that collapses for players like a pile of cotton-wool into which they meaninglessly fall. In fact, I think a DM must maintain an internal polarity, enemy and friend to players in one.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I agree with some of what you say here. Especially that there was much that had to be house-ruled to work, and that in many ways it is perfectly fine to have that assumption, including for the reasons you stated.

However, I am not quite following how 1e was easier to customise than 5e? It might be so, because 5e is a tighter system and one often finds that the ramifications of a group's changes ripple through the mechanics in ways that they might not guess because they might under-appreciate the expertise and playtesting time that went into crafting those mechanics. But then, that seems to amount to saying that just because mechanics are more in need of fixing, it is easier to fix them...
You're conflating two or three different things here.

The relative ease of kitbashing 1e vs 5e is not related to the level of requirement to do so. Without question, kitbashes to 5e are far more likely to have unforeseen knock-on effects than with 1e, and fixing those knock-on effects will also be more difficult.

I've spent ages wrangling 1e into a system I'm more or less happy with; were I ever to adopt 5e I'd have to do much of the same work over again in order to get what I want out of it, only that work would be at a greater degree of difficulty and at much higher risk of wrecking things due to knock-ons.

And while one can appreciate the amount of effort and playtesting time that went in to crafting the mechanics, that effort and time becomes irrelevant if those mechanics don't in the end do what you want them to do: you've still gotta kitbash 'em.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
What a DM must not be, in my view, is neutral. It is not a DM's task to present a bland world, that collapses for players like a pile of cotton-wool into which they meaninglessly fall. In fact, I think a DM must maintain an internal polarity, enemy and friend to players in one.
Hmmm...I'd reword this to say it's a DM's task to neutrally present a not-bland world whose wool is made of steel rather than cotton. :)
 

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
You're conflating two or three different things here.

The relative ease of kitbashing 1e vs 5e is not related to the level of requirement to do so. Without question, kitbashes to 5e are far more likely to have unforeseen knock-on effects than with 1e, and fixing those knock-on effects will also be more difficult.

I've spent ages wrangling 1e into a system I'm more or less happy with; were I ever to adopt 5e I'd have to do much of the same work over again in order to get what I want out of it, only that work would be at a greater degree of difficulty and at much higher risk of wrecking things due to knock-ons.

And while one can appreciate the amount of effort and playtesting time that went in to crafting the mechanics, that effort and time becomes irrelevant if those mechanics don't in the end do what you want them to do: you've still gotta kitbash 'em.
I think I now understand your point to be not that the 5e rules are not mechanically superior on some reasonable set of terms to 1e, but rather that on the terms you care about they are not superior. Those terms include low consequence for kit-bashing such as when rules are less knit together.

Sure, that's probably true.

I would frame it that there's less need to kit-bash 5e because the rules are technically superior, but if you wanted to kit-bash it might well be easier to start with 1e (or nothing, as that would be the maximum). My own approach to house-ruling 5e is quite conservative. I play around with a lot of ideas, model them, test some at the table, and then keep only those that seem to have high value (high consequence on play in ways that I value) with low cost (e.g. minimal mechanical knock-ons, other than those I want). Predicting the latter requires experience.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I think I now understand your point to be not that the 5e rules are not mechanically superior on some reasonable set of terms to 1e
Actually, I think it's mixed. 5e is better in some areas, 1e in others, and there's places where both are good and others where both aren't so good.

but rather that on the terms you care about they are not superior. Those terms include low consequence for kit-bashing such as when rules are less knit together.

Sure, that's probably true.
Hence my sometimes complaining about the designers initially promising a very modular system but later backing off. Very modular would have been great!

I would frame it that there's less need to kit-bash 5e because the rules are technically superior
Superior mostly for a certain type of game, I think: non-gritty, limited or no resource management or compounding attrition, quite player-friendly, etc. All of these can be changed, of course, but the system fights back - just look at all the threads there's been around something as theoretically simple as changing how rest and recovery work in 5e, and how many headaches such changes create.

I'm not sure 5e is as flexible as 1e if one wants to use it for different types of game, e.g. it's easy to play 1e in full-on heroic mode by just starting at higher-than-1st level, but not so easy to convince 5e to give you a true zero-to-hero (or even zero-to-zero) campaign like 1e can without some serious argument with the 5e system to make it better support the 'zero' end: there's too much of a mechanical gap between a commoner and a 1st-level character.

but if you wanted to kit-bash it might well be easier to start with 1e (or nothing, as that would be the maximum).
Much easier to start from a system and make changes than to start from nothing, I think. :)

My own approach to house-ruling 5e is quite conservative. I play around with a lot of ideas, model them, test some at the table, and then keep only those that seem to have high value (high consequence on play in ways that I value) with low cost (e.g. minimal mechanical knock-ons, other than those I want). Predicting the latter requires experience.
Yes, and some trial-by-error too as sometimes knock-ons don't rear their ugly heads until quite a while later i.e. when the campaign reaches higher level. (saw a lot of this in 3e which had similar knock-on problems, watching my DM at the time try to bash that system into what he wanted it to be)
 

Nikosandros

Golden Procrastinator
Much easier to start from a system and make changes than to start from nothing, I think. :)
Indeed. I also have some pages of houserules for AD&D, but the idea of writing a game from scratch is daunting and beyond my skills and my tenacity.
 

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
Superior mostly for a certain type of game, I think: non-gritty, limited or no resource management or compounding attrition, quite player-friendly, etc. All of these can be changed, of course, but the system fights back - just look at all the threads there's been around something as theoretically simple as changing how rest and recovery work in 5e, and how many headaches such changes create.
Well, rest and recovery wouldn't be my example of choice, as 5e is advancing a fix to one of the more pernicious problems for RPG mechanics... the 5MWD. 4e included overt efforts to address the same thing. Part of the problem is that systematising it results in bookkeeping overhead and harm to suspension of disbelief, while not systematising it may not effectively constrain mechanically minded players.

I really can't get on board with characterising it as theoretically simple. That there are so many threads in fact amounts to evidence of the contrary!

Yes, and some trial-by-error too as sometimes knock-ons don't rear their ugly heads until quite a while later i.e. when the campaign reaches higher level. (saw a lot of this in 3e which had similar knock-on problems, watching my DM at the time try to bash that system into what he wanted it to be)
Couldn't agree more. 3e was also very thoroughly stitched together. It's one of the things that seems really misunderstood about 5e. Just because the system plays in a streamlined fashion using many extensively play-tested and highly robust mechanics, it sometimes feels like people ironically end up being somewhat dismissive of RAW. Being "sophisticated" in this space entails that the feats of engineering should be less visible. That should lead to cherishing them, not dismissing them!

I did a lot of homebrew for 3e, and yes often did have to walk back a mechanic once I found the knock-on some several degrees removed from it. That too is part of the high value of the 5e rules. One can say about games that there is a correlation between playtest cycles and quality of the mechanics. Nintendo games are a great example. The home brewer - the individual DM and their group - typically have far less playtesting cycles than commercial designers have access to. Orders of magnitude less, generally.

As I think you already know and apply, the individual DM therefore is best served by solving for their specific problems. With all the various concerns and implications of that.
 

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
Indeed. I also have some pages of houserules for AD&D, but the idea of writing a game from scratch is daunting and beyond my skills and my tenacity.
Well, you can start with your core mechanic and build out from there. But for sure it is a huge undertaking. And the value of doing it is not the gain between what you achieve and zero, it is the gain between what you achieve and what you might have found in the work of others. It is that latter consideration that has stayed my hand: I never felt really convinced that what I had added much that was remarkable to the genre.

Although that is not precisely true. I started the first diceless game that I know of in my (large) gaming circle and that went on to inspire a friend to create an even better version. This was before Amber. Part of it I think is simply opportunity and access to good help and tools. NZ was quite a bit behind the US for that. I guess I am saying that my approach to starting from scratch was to minimise what needed to be built :D
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Well, rest and recovery wouldn't be my example of choice, as 5e is advancing a fix to one of the more pernicious problems for RPG mechanics... the 5MWD.
Which I've never seen as much of a problem, at least certainly not to the hand-wringing extent others seem to.

Even repeated 5MWDs can wear a party down if the recovery rates are slow enough.

4e included overt efforts to address the same thing. Part of the problem is that systematising it results in bookkeeping overhead and harm to suspension of disbelief, while not systematising it may not effectively constrain mechanically minded players.
Thing is, if a 5MWD is what the adventurers would realistically end up doing, and if they find or clear out a safe place to rest, who am I as DM to stop them?

Couldn't agree more. 3e was also very thoroughly stitched together. It's one of the things that seems really misunderstood about 5e. Just because the system plays in a streamlined fashion using many extensively play-tested and highly robust mechanics, it sometimes feels like people ironically end up being somewhat dismissive of RAW. Being "sophisticated" in this space entails that the feats of engineering should be less visible. That should lead to cherishing them, not dismissing them!
I'll happily dismiss any RAW, no matter how streamlined and-or robust, if it doesn't do what I want it to do where and when I want it done.

Take advantage/disadvantage in 5e. Great mechanic, simple, streamlined, ticks all the boxes. And completely overused in many situations where a more complex mechanic (usually a flat bonus or penalty) would do a better job; in which cases I'd dismiss and replace it. (in math terms, adv-disadv takes linearity and turns it into a distorted bell curve, where a flat bonus-penalty shifts the whole thing while leaving linearity intact)

As I think you already know and apply, the individual DM therefore is best served by solving for their specific problems. With all the various concerns and implications of that.
Agreed, as what's a problem to one DM might be a solution to another. :)
 

S'mon

Legend
1st level Unearthed Arcana 1e AD&D PCs in my current game seem vastly more powerful than 5e level 1 PCs; they are roughly equivalent to level 4 in 5e I'd say. But the amount of magic is much lower, though extremely powerful when used. The feel is very different from 5e; both higher powered and grittier. With little magic, fights tend to be more like '80s sword & sorcery film battles than flashy videogame fights.
 

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
Which I've never seen as much of a problem, at least certainly not to the hand-wringing extent others seem to.
I think you mean problem in a different sense then I do, right? For you it is not something in any urgent need of a solution. I mean that if it is something a designer wishes to solve, it is hard to do so.

Take advantage/disadvantage in 5e. Great mechanic, simple, streamlined, ticks all the boxes. And completely overused in many situations where a more complex mechanic (usually a flat bonus or penalty) would do a better job; in which cases I'd dismiss and replace it. (in math terms, adv-disadv takes linearity and turns it into a distorted bell curve, where a flat bonus-penalty shifts the whole thing while leaving linearity intact)
So true. I miss the circumstantial +/- 2 of 3e.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
1st level Unearthed Arcana 1e AD&D PCs in my current game seem vastly more powerful than 5e level 1 PCs; they are roughly equivalent to level 4 in 5e I'd say.
Yeah, UA (1e) classes were a horror show, as was its bizarre roll-up method. The only one I adopted was a toned-down version of the Cavalier; and it had a proper 0th-level version baked in as written!

But the amount of magic is much lower, though extremely powerful when used. The feel is very different from 5e; both higher powered and grittier. With little magic, fights tend to be more like '80s sword & sorcery film battles than flashy videogame fights.
In general I'm sure this is true, though doubtless some will soon jump in with anecdotal exceptions... :)
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I think you mean problem in a different sense then I do, right? For you it is not something in any urgent need of a solution. I mean that if it is something a designer wishes to solve, it is hard to do so.
I'd go further and say it's impossible to solve without either telling DMs how to run their games or telling people how to play their characters, both of which should be free choice.

So why worry about it?

So true. I miss the circumstantial +/- 2 of 3e.
I'd miss just being able to assign situational bonuses or penalties and having them logically stack....

"You're swinging around on a rope, holding on with one hand while you try to attack Begbob - who you can barely reach - with the rapier in your other hand? OK. The motion of the rope (and thus you) puts -2 on your to-hit attempt, and you'll be -1 more due to reach. Oh, and forget about any Dex bonuses to hit on this one..."
 

S'mon

Legend
Yeah, UA (1e) classes were a horror show, as was its bizarre roll-up method. The only one I adopted was a toned-down version of the Cavalier; and it had a proper 0th-level version baked in as written!

In general I'm sure this is true, though doubtless some will soon jump in with anecdotal exceptions... :)
Yeah, I'm just describing my current game. PCs start with max hp at 1st level. Lowkey13's new Mulhorandi Ranger-1 PC has CON 17 & 22 hit points, I described him as a well known hero, scourge of the desert wastes - at 0 XP! :D
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Yeah, I'm just describing my current game. PCs start with max hp at 1st level. Lowkey13's new Mulhorandi Ranger-1 PC has CON 17 & 22 hit points, I described him as a well known hero, scourge of the desert wastes - at 0 XP! :D
His slogan must have been "I was there too." :)
 

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
I'd go further and say it's impossible to solve without either telling DMs how to run their games or telling people how to play their characters, both of which should be free choice.
Say there was a mechanic that says you can't wear plate armour because your strength ability score is too low. Isn't that telling people how to play their character, just as much as it would be to mechanically define the meaning of "resting"?

The objection seems to say there a mechanical rather than narrative method for managing rests should be preferred, because a narrative method risks telling people how to play their character whereas a mechanical method will be no different from the mechanic for their AC on wearing certain armour. It's a constraint. Constraints are what make games.

"To play a game is to attempt to achieve a specific state of affairs [prelusory goal], using only means permitted by rules [lusory means], where the rules prohibit use of more efficient in favour of less efficient means [constitutive rules], and where the rules are accepted just because they make possible such activity [lusory attitude]." -Suits
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Say there was a mechanic that says you can't wear plate armour because your strength ability score is too low. Isn't that telling people how to play their character, just as much as it would be to mechanically define the meaning of "resting"?
No.

Saying you need to be a certain strength, or combination of strength and bulk, in order to effectively wear plate armour is perfectly realistic. It makes sense.

But telling players that their PCs aren't allowed to rest (or that DMs are instructed to disturb that rest until some peg-point is reached) when logic and self-preservation would say that they should isn't realistic at all, and makes no sense other than from a perspective of pure small-g gamism.

The objection seems to say there a mechanical rather than narrative method for managing rests should be preferred, because a narrative method risks telling people how to play their character whereas a mechanical method will be no different from the mechanic for their AC on wearing certain armour. It's a constraint. Constraints are what make games.
Other way around. My objection is that mechanical management of rests forces undue and unwarranted constraints on to the players and-or the DM; where narrative management - with the players in this case controlling the narrative and making the decisions - has no such problems.

I agree that constraints make games, but those restraints have to make sense in the context of what the game is trying to achieve.

A chess rook can only move in straight lines, while a bishop can only go diagonal. These are constraints that make perfect sense in context, that context being the game is trying to force the players to think their moves out within those constraints.

But D&D isn't just trying to achieve this, it's also trying to achieve a state where players and the DM between them control what happens in the fiction. Mechanical resting constraints fight this control

Another example of the same thing would be the game forcing a particular method of in-party treasury division, instead of leaving it up to each individual party/table to determine its method for itself.
 

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