Favorite things about your favorite edition: MECHANICS/RULES ONLY

Sacrosanct

Legend
Similar to the other thread, but the opposite. This thread is meant for talking about mechanics/rules only. No fluff, no business practices, only actual mechanical rules. Of your favorite editions, what are the rules you liked best about them?

Note: An additional rule here: No negative comments about another edition. This includes responding to another poster who might have said they like "x" and you reply with "that was garbage." This thread is only to talk about the parts you like.

The results from the previous thread, where we talked about favorite things that weren't rules related:

1e’s take on a bit of levity/not take itself too seriously, create a sense of weird and wonder, and encouragement to create your worlds
2e’s focus on fluff and campaign settings (Al Qadim, etc), especially the weird art of Planescape (much props to Tony D)
3e’s opening the ruleset to fans, and shift away from cheesecake
4e’s cosmology (particulary Feywild, and Shadowfell)
5e’s large umbrella to bring in new players and slow release schedule, and fluff in the monster manual
 

JonnyP71

Explorer
1E - strictly defined race/class themes and limitations - something I much prefer to the 'anything goes' style of later editions.

1E - uneven class progression - giving each class a chance to shine at different levels, there were no stressing over keeping the party levels relatively even either. (also true for 2E)
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
My favorite edition was 1e with some 2e elements from 1981 to 2012. Still probably is my favorite edition, but 5e has pretty much made it a tie. So I have a couple answers

1e. Classes were designed with niche protection. I really like that. I've always felt D&D was a team sport, with each team member having a different specialty, just like sports teams
2e. Priest spheres and mage specialty schools. I also thought thief skill progression was a huge improvement, but with a skill based system since, 5e does it better
5e. Bounded accuracy is the big one, I think. I also am a big fan of how feats and backgrounds offer a ton of customization without needing to multi-class. HUGE fan of that.
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
1E - strictly defined race/class themes and limitations - something I much prefer to the 'anything goes' style of later editions.

1E - uneven class progression - giving each class a chance to shine at different levels, there were no stressing over keeping the party levels relatively even either. (also true for 2E)
From 1e (since I know it best)

Agree on the defined race/class themes and limitations. Playing without them is like playing tennis without a net.

Don't care about uneven class progression, BUT ... I do miss uneven classes. You know what? Not everything needs perfect balance. You want to suffer as a Magic User for four levels, so you can kick butt later? More power to you!

I miss saving throws and attack matrices tied to character LEVEL and not to ABILITY SCORE. I think the treadmill of ability scores is really stupid, and it's the thing I hate the most. *Yawn* another character with a 20 dex. Join the line. Whereas getting better at things because you increase in level? Golden.

I miss lower levels of magic (in terms of spells), and I also miss having characters defined by what they do and acquire, as opposed to just gaining lots of innate abilities. More adventure, less chargen and mapping it out 20th level.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest
2e
- Kits - yeah, I know, many were unevenly designed, but I submit the idea was still a good one and Al-Qadim put them to fabulous use
- much needed boost to dragon power
- thief abilities being personally adjustable
- specialty priests
- wizard school specialization

3e
- Ability score damage. I really liked having an alternative track other than hit points. It made updating A4 - Dungeons of the Slave Lords a breeze. Why couldn't PCs cast anything but lowest level spells? Drug-induced casting ability damage! Poisons too deadly/too weak in previous editions - damage the stats!
- unifying ability score bonus progression
- sneak attack not being as conditional as backstab
- ability score increases via level-up
- spontaneous healing spells
- decoupling ability score hard requirements from classes
- positive benefits to playing human compared to demi-humans rather than level limits hampering demi-humans

PF
- modification of 3e's negative levels that no longer attacked actual character levels. Level draining could still be broadly dangerous without being as metagamey as level loss.
- barbarian rage measured in rounds
- major boosts to ranger's favored enemy/favored terrain powers
- major boost to utility of paladin's smite
- important reforms to wildshaping
- half elves and half orcs having the same stat bonuses as humans

5e
- The simplicity of Advantage/Disadvantage.
- reeling in the number explosion and boosting utility of weaker monsters with bounded accuracy
- simplified action economy
- bonus actions
- more flexible use of prepped spells in spell slots

I can probably come up with more...
 

mortwatcher

Explorer
4e - the clearly defined roles of party members. Skill challenges
5e- bounded accuracy - less counting for me = amazing feature. PORTENT - I love messing with things. Being a physical combatant compared to caster is not such a huge trap option like it was in previous editions.
 

MonkeezOnFire

Explorer
I like 5e in general because to me it hits the Goldilocks sweetspot of complexity. Back in high school when we tried to play 3.5 based solely using the SRD and trying to identify which options were traps out of the plethora of content. On the other end of the spectrum we tried playing some OSR games which are very rules light but to my taste don't give you a lot of features to play with. Levelling up as a fighter was mostly just watching my numbers go up instead of getting any new options or mechanics.

To me 5e is the perfect middle ground giving you just enough rules and mechanics to sign post what kinds of things the characters can do in combat, but at the same time abstracts free form actions so that when you want to do some Errol Flynn type stunt you don't find out that the rules say that you first take an opportunity attack because you don't have the feat for that.
 

TwoSix

Lover of things you hate
3e
d20 + mods >= TN. Simple, powerful, the core of the game since then. Why change perfection?
Multiclassing. The gold standard. There's a reason that 5e went back to it.
Feats. Of all of 3e's evolutions, adding PC rules that weren't bound to class was probably the biggest one.
Prestige classes. Highlighted the joys of 3e's "LEGO block" character building. Hobbled by too-strict and arcane requirements (the early decision to not make "Class Level X" a normal entry requirement was really bad in hindsight). Racial and class "alternate class levels" in later 3.5 highlighted how flexible this system was.

4e
Push/Pull/Slide X. Simple rules to make the battlefield dynamic and compelling.
Paragon Paths/Epic Destinies. Prestige Classes on steroids. Hamstrung only by the fact that they advanced in parallel with your class, ideally, they would have been class replacements, not addons. (To see this concept perfected, look at Shadow of the Demon Lord.)
Keywords. Basic indexing for how to know if Rule X applies to Effect Y. 5e kept these and just put them in the description block, because they work.
Healing Surges. Let's keep healing finite, but have it scale to level. Works for me.

5e
Advantage/Disadvantage. Technically used in 4e, but made the core of the system in 5e. Simple, but mechanically compelling.
Bounded Accuracy. Hey, instead of scaling attacks and defense AND damage and hit points, let's just increase damage and hit points. The same attrition combat D&D is based on, but no more whiffing, even when it's 20th level characters versus goblins.
 

Giltonio_Santos

Adventurer
The advanced systems for weapon and non-weapon proficiency in 2e is probably what I still miss from it. Even if the actual execution could be better, I like the fact that, when compared to 3e, your proficiency slots are not diluted into dozens of skill ranks, while at the same time not falling into the 5e situation where almost no progress happens (and Intelligence is mainly a dump stat).

Once you had the rules for expertise, weapon mastery and fighting styles into place, it became even better. We also used an optional rule to allow warriors to use their additional proficiency slots from Intelligence for weapon proficiency, making intelligent warriors an option with actual gameplay value. Overall, I believe the feats+skills model that replaced the 2e rules from 3.0 onward is more elegant, but not as good.

Yes, I know I'm probably alone here, but I miss those rules. :)
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
5E:
- Bounded Accuracy.
- Subclasses.
- Streamlined rules in general ("rulings not rules").
- No magic item expectations.
- No "System Mastery" garbage -- min-maxing has been reined in quite a bit.
- "Close enough" game balance. This is actually very complementary to the above point. The 5E design doesn't (usually) allow characters to be super super overpowered, because that way ends in tears. But it also doesn't try to make everything exactly mathematically precisely balanced, because that way lies madness. These two features also works extremely well in a "rulings not rules" environment with no magic items expectations, because that approach gives the DM more tools to balance characters on the back-end.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Trying to think of anything unique that hasn't already been mentioned.

OE/1E: distilling complexity into a relatively simple set of the rules that let me play a fantasy character. Multiclassing even if it was a bit flaky. Probably more but my books are unavailable at the moment and I'm too old to remember back that far.
2E: Specialization and clerical spheres were mentioned so I'll go with Skills and Powers. I know, a lot of people probably hated it but I really liked the flexibility. That and I had a blast playing my barbarian that was compulsively honest so that I could get a few more points. I even liked the min/maxing you could do with split ability scores even if it was easy to abuse.
3.x: Feats and minor actions. They got carried away with the action types after a while, but I still prefer minor actions to bonus actions along with always being able to "trade down".
4E: Umm ... something, something ... gee look at that! Time to move on.
5E: The simplicity, and stripping away some of the detritus that had attached itself to previous editions (I'm looking at you, umpteem billion bonuses and penalties I have to track all the time) along with bounded accuracy. Special mention to advantage/disadvantage.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
2E: Specialization and clerical spheres were mentioned so I'll go with Skills and Powers. I know, a lot of people probably hated it but I really liked the flexibility. That and I had a blast playing my barbarian that was compulsively honest so that I could get a few more points. I even liked the min/maxing you could do with split ability scores even if it was easy to abuse.
.
I actually liked skills and powers as well. One of my favorite characters was a paladin (sorry lowkey) of Ilmatr, who couldn't wear armor of any type. But he did have d12 for hit points and early cleric spells. His ethos was that pain brings purity, and those options really supported it. I.e., lower AC and insisting on being a front line fighter meant taking more damage, but higher HP and earlier access to healing meant equal staying power. I get how some people used the book to min/max, but I used the options to support the role playing aspect of what I wanted, and was a huge addition to the 2e toolset.
 

HJFudge

Visitor
4E: Interesting choices that mattered in character creation/leveling up, Balance amongst classes, Combat was interesting and engaging, less trap choices than previous editions, better structure for skills, Mechanics leading to more engaging Roleplay in general (I.e. the rules didn't get in the way of the roleplay)

Edited cause I listed something twice
 

aco175

Adventurer
I liked 4e monster creation. There seemed to be a shift from making a stronger monster by giving it more HP and a magic weapon. 3e made making monsters tougher by giving class levels and 4e seemed to be easy when you could give them powers. 5e seemed to start off by not having scaling monsters, but w see some popping up in supplements.

3e I liked the d20 mechanic where it made things so much easier than THAC0. Not that it was hard once you got used to it, but you did not need so many charts. I also like 3e multiclassing and wish 5e had something better than it has now.
 
Similar to the other thread, but the opposite. This thread is meant for talking about mechanics/rules only. No fluff, no business practices, only actual mechanical rules. Of your favorite editions, what are the rules you liked best about them?
Wait? Edition/s/? plural! Cool.

1e: Weapon v Armor type adjustments! Subdual damage. Attack & Save Matrixes (they were complex, but not complicated, and the save matrixes gave good results that preserved higher level characters, the 'heroes' of the story, in a world of SoDs). The Druid class. The Fighter's 1 attack/level vs less-than-1-HD monsters mechanic. Monsters using different rules & stat blocks from PCs. Spells listed by class, then level, only then alphabetically.

3e: Multiclassing. Prestige Classes. NPC Classes. The Fighter. The Sorcerer. Feats. Esp: Great Cleave, Spring Attack, WWA, and Combat Expertise. Combat Maneuvers. AoOs. Threat range/crit-x. BAB. Unified exp progression. Wealth/level guidelines. Swarms. 'Re-skinning' the appearance of the PC & his gear explicitly in the hands of the player.

4e: AEDU. Source & Role. Martial Powers. Arcane Powers. Powers listed by class, then level, and only then alphabetically. Re-skinning said powers explicitly in the hands of the player. Racial Powers. The Warlord, Fighter, Rogue, Wizard, Artificer, Shaman, and even Ardent classes, and the Skald, Berserker, and Elemental Sorcerer sub-classes - OK, and the Witch sub-class. Monsters using different rules & stat blocks from PCs. Monster Roles & Secondary roles (yes, that includes minions). Encounter guidelines. MM3 on a business card. Swarms. Companion characters. Skills. Skill Challenges, Esp XP for Skill Challenges equivalent to combat encounters. Group Checks. Unified exp progression. The 1/2 bonus. Wealth/level guidelines. Healing Surges. Bloodied & keywords, in general. Combat Advantage. OAs. Mark mechanics. Max + dice crits. Weapon qualities. FORT/REF/WILL as defenses. Saves and Sustain actions as duration mechanisms. Themes. Epic Destinies. Healing Surges. Milestones. Action Points. Item Daily Uses...
 
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Dannyalcatraz

Moderator
Staff member
3.X: Feats opening up PC design flexibility, liberalized multiclassing, largely decoupling stats from class, the more intuitive AC system, meaningful skills, the unified D20 mechanic

4Ed: the Warlock
 

Monayuris

Explorer
From my favorite editions...

B/X:
Race as Class: simple clear choices at character creation. Minimizes decision points.
Treasure Types: Different monsters tend to collect different types of treasure.
Morale / Reactions: makes encounters dynamic and unique
Saving throws: I find the old style saving throw categories to be so much more evocative. A save vs death ray is WAY cooler than a constitution or Fortitude save (boring!)

5E:
Advantage/disadvantage: eliminates fishing for incremental minor bonuses.
Bounded Accuracy: keeps bonuses and target numbers reasonable. Systems without tend to just inflate the numbers. No more +36 to attack against AC 44 nonsense.
Concentration: reins in spell casters and removes over the top stacking of buffs.
Attunement: avoids Christmas tree. I especially like Items that have interesting things that need to be done to attune. For example the moonblade.
 

Manbearcat

Adventurer
B/X

- The tight, holistic focus of design around its play paradigm.
- The Exploration Turn/Rest > Wandering Monster Clock > Resource Attrition/Risk Reward Cycle Loop.
- Monster Reactions/Morale.
- Gold for xp.

4e

- (Again) The tight, holistic focus of design around its play paradigm.
- Scene based resolution with solid mechanics/means to support it (both combat and noncombat and all the interacting in-betweens and Fail Forward, Change the Situation, Stakes in Skill Challenges).
- All the Magic the Gathering tech and feel (action economy interactions, keyword tech, build/deck/unit synergies)
- Related to above, the dynamic, meaningful-choice-and-theme-laden combat (and the ease of GMing interesting, diverse combats with a variety of goals); Forced Movement, Terrain, Interesting Monsters and Syngergies, Great Balance and Encounter Budget Design.
- Depth and diversity of theme in cosmology, in protagonists, in antagonists.
 

reelo

Explorer
1E - strictly defined race/class themes and limitations - something I much prefer to the 'anything goes' style of later editions.

1E - uneven class progression - giving each class a chance to shine at different levels, there were no stressing over keeping the party levels relatively even either. (also true for 2E)


B/X

- The tight, holistic focus of design around its play paradigm.
- The Exploration Turn/Rest > Wandering Monster Clock > Resource Attrition/Risk Reward Cycle Loop.
- Monster Reactions/Morale.
- Gold for xp.
Same for me. BX seems less about collaboratively storytelling and more about collaborative problem-solving and ressource management. That's not to say storytelling isn't possible or encouraged, but "player smarts" are as vital, if not more so, than character/class abilities.
 

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