D&D 1E Giving an AD&D feel to 5e


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Hussar

Legend
Last time I ran A2 I ran it pretty much stock with a party averaging about 8-9 characters at any given time (there was a fair bit of turnover), of 3rd-4th level.

Five kills, two petrifications; just from the opponents in the module.
Yeah, using characters that are actually lower level than suggested by the module, you made the module deadly. I can see that.
 

Hussar

Legend
You are also flawed in saying that because a dragon appears in the module, you were meant to fight it. That's the whole point you're ignoring. No you're not. You don't have to. With the way the game is designed, you're encouraged to avoid combat when possible. Or come up with creative ways to handle the combat when it happens.
Have you read DL1 Dragon's of Despair? Because, well, you are pretty much supposed to fight that dragon. You most certainly were not encouraged to avoid it. But, hey, I'm going by my experience with the game. Now, I did agree that the lethality comes from the save or die stuff. Sure. Tons of that. But straight up combat damage? Not likely. The PC's as a group simply dealt far, far more damage than our monsters (which have about 1/4 of the HP of their 3e/4e/5e counterparts) could handle.

See, sure, you might not have that +2/level in bonus HP. But, your baddies had no bonuses at all. An ogre averaged 19 HP. Two longsword hits and our ogre dies. 42 hp hill giants anyone?
 

Hussar

Legend
For me, one of the biggest things you can add to give a 1e feel is morale rules. Part of the "combat is deadly" conversation that always gets left out is the fact that most monsters don't fight to the death and the morale rules meant that you could cause the baddies to flee generally somewhere around 1/2 to 2/3rds casualties/hp loss. Whack the leader of the group, kill a couple of others, and many groups of baddies would run.

1617608674055.png
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
Have you read DL1 Dragon's of Despair? Because, well, you are pretty much supposed to fight that dragon. You most certainly were not encouraged to avoid it. But, hey, I'm going by my experience with the game. Now, I did agree that the lethality comes from the save or die stuff. Sure. Tons of that. But straight up combat damage? Not likely. The PC's as a group simply dealt far, far more damage than our monsters (which have about 1/4 of the HP of their 3e/4e/5e counterparts) could handle.

See, sure, you might not have that +2/level in bonus HP. But, your baddies had no bonuses at all. An ogre averaged 19 HP. Two longsword hits and our ogre dies. 42 hp hill giants anyone?

If two longsword hits in your game do 19 points of damage, then I suspect you're playing monty haul D&D anyway, which explains a lot about your position.

Here is just one room in G1 (one of the modules you listed):
1617631678488.png


And that's not factoring in the other 25 giants and 14 dire wolves that are also down the hall. That's just the upper level.

Just perhaps you weren't expected to fight them all in standard combat :unsure: Half of the NPCs in the back had less than 60hp themselves.

No, just because a monster was in a module didn't mean you had to leap in and fight it. Not only is that flawed, it's the antithesis of how 1e was designed. I already provided you a quote from the DMG that advised what to do with players who always go to combat first. And one only has to look at how the rules actually worked to clearly see how taking a combat always approach would result in dead PCs left and right (and many died anyway).

Look at the moathouse in T1. That's a first level adventure. Poisonous snakes, blood draining ticks, paralyzing ghouls, deadly green slimes, and a final boss who ruined your day with one hold person spell. That's not even counting the toughness of the mundane foes in that. So when you look at how many hp PCs had, how much damage they were looking at, and save or die (not save or keep saving like 5e) with chances being you failed a saving throw if you had to make one, it is abundantly clear that the game was never designed to have every encounter fought. Even if you refuse to look at the rules or listen to me, the people who created the game said as much, and frequently. It's also basic human nature to look at the risk of something, the reward of something, and figure out that most of the reward was for things other than putting your PCs at risk by trying to fight everything, so why put your PCs at risk when you only got little reward for great threat?
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
If two longsword hits in your game do 19 points of damage, then I suspect you're playing monty haul D&D anyway, which explains a lot about your position.

Here is just one room in G1 (one of the modules you listed):
View attachment 135153

And that's not factoring in the other 25 giants and 14 dire wolves that are also down the hall. That's just the upper level.

Just perhaps you weren't expected to fight them all in standard combat :unsure: Half of the NPCs in the back had less than 60hp themselves.

No, just because a monster was in a module didn't mean you had to leap in and fight it. Not only is that flawed, it's the antithesis of how 1e was designed. I already provided you a quote from the DMG that advised what to do with players who always go to combat first. And one only has to look at how the rules actually worked to clearly see how taking a combat always approach would result in dead PCs left and right (and many died anyway).

Look at the moathouse in T1. That's a first level adventure. Poisonous snakes, blood draining ticks, paralyzing ghouls, deadly green slimes, and a final boss who ruined your day with one hold person spell. That's not even counting the toughness of the mundane foes in that. So when you look at how many hp PCs had, how much damage they were looking at, and save or die (not save or keep saving like 5e) with chances being you failed a saving throw if you had to make one, it is abundantly clear that the game was never designed to have every encounter fought. Even if you refuse to look at the rules or listen to me, the people who created the game said as much, and frequently. It's also basic human nature to look at the risk of something, the reward of something, and figure out that most of the reward was for things other than putting your PCs at risk by trying to fight everything, so why put your PCs at risk when you only got little reward for great threat?

I think a lot of this is due to the slide from "combat as war" to "combat as sport". Combat is given a lot of room in D&D - rule wise, time wise, effort wise. So some have started to see it as "the thing". And the encounters become "balanced" so that the PCs can show up, do their thing, and expect to win.

But in combat as war, there is no guarantee of "balanced" encounters. And the way to win is to engineer a situation where you can crush the enemy. In war, the best battle is when the foe doesn't get to fight back. You aren't there to have "manly contest of arms", you are here to win and not die.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
I think it would be far easier to take a good OSR rules set and just give it a patina of 5E with a couple of tweaks. Going the opposite route seems like a needless amount of work. 5E is, in may ways, designed not to feel too much like AD&D, at least in nothing but the most superficial ways, so why work against the design of the game?

I like 5E by the way.(y)
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
If two longsword hits in your game do 19 points of damage, then I suspect you're playing monty haul D&D anyway, which explains a lot about your position.
At the sort of level where you're going into the G series you've probably got at least a +2 weapon if you're a Fighter. Chances are pretty good you're also getting a damage bonus from Strength, even if it's a mere +1. (Str 17 gives this) Against big things like Ogres, longswords do d12 damage in 1e, so 6.5 on average. And hey, look at that - (6.5 + 3) x 2 = 19. :)

And that's before any sort of weapon specialization.
Here is just one room in G1 (one of the modules you listed):
View attachment 135153

And that's not factoring in the other 25 giants and 14 dire wolves that are also down the hall. That's just the upper level.
Yeah, that's not a room anyone wants to face-charge into. A classic example of a situation where your best tactic is to nibble at the edges - sortie in, pick off a few of 'em as they wander the halls, bail out until the resulting hubbub has died away, then repeat.
No, just because a monster was in a module didn't mean you had to leap in and fight it. Not only is that flawed, it's the antithesis of how 1e was designed. I already provided you a quote from the DMG that advised what to do with players who always go to combat first. And one only has to look at how the rules actually worked to clearly see how taking a combat always approach would result in dead PCs left and right (and many died anyway).
Agreed.
Look at the moathouse in T1. That's a first level adventure.
Though, to be fair, a bloody nasty one; possibly the nastiest 1st-level adventure you'll ever find. :)
 

teitan

Legend
That slow level progression was such a big part of earlier gaming. The joy of hitting 2nd level after so many trials and near-death scrapes. You felt forged in fire. Just getting a +1 longsword that glowed in the dark felt like drawing forth Excalibur. In 5e, you can easily get to 2nd level after your first adventure.
The thing I miss the most as a DM! Best way to emulate that is "milestones" but don't make them story based. Just level them up when you feel it is appropriate. I am using XP for my Theros campaign and they are levelling quickly, which is fitting for the setting but were I to run Greyhawk I would have them levelling every two or three adventures with a slow crawl after level 7 of 4 adventures or thereabouts.
 

Hussar

Legend
Umm, a longsword vs larger target is d12 damage. Two hits, without any bonuses, is still max 24 points of damage. Enough to kill an average ogre. Or, as @Lanefan put it, certainly not unreasonable.

And, yeah, look at that encounter. Two fireballs and poof, encounter over. Like I said, 42 hp giants.

But, hey, keep proving me right by pointing to the extreme examples of encounters in modules as to how lethal the game was. It's funny. Gygax complained about how many players were hitting double digit levels, back in the 70's. I wonder how they did it if @Sacrosanct is right. After all, according to him, no one should have ever advanced past third level in all the years of gaming. :erm:

It's like the "slow progression". That's another myth. The DMG actually flat out states you should be hitting name level in a year of gaming. 2e? Oh, ok, fair enough. No xp for gp? Yup, that's going to slow advancement to a crawl. Totally fair. But AD&D? Naw, you yoinked up levels quick as you please.
 

S'mon

Legend
I think a lot of this is due to the slide from "combat as war" to "combat as sport". Combat is given a lot of room in D&D - rule wise, time wise, effort wise. So some have started to see it as "the thing". And the encounters become "balanced" so that the PCs can show up, do their thing, and expect to win.

But in combat as war, there is no guarantee of "balanced" encounters. And the way to win is to engineer a situation where you can crush the enemy. In war, the best battle is when the foe doesn't get to fight back. You aren't there to have "manly contest of arms", you are here to win and not die.

5e definitely accommodates 'combat as war' a heck of a lot better than 4e did. A 4e D&D game where you avoided combat, or tried to ensure you only fought unbalanced easy win battles, would feel very odd. 5e goes back a long way towards allowing an older more strategic style of play I find. Although it can be run in a 4e 'my precious encounter' style, some of the spells are close to 3e 'I win buttons'; 4e definitely does 'combat as sport' the best.

IMC one 3rd-4th level PC group are in a dungeon suitable for level 1 PCs, and players having a good time. Another 3rd-5th level PC group are defending a dwarf hold from an overwhelming orc army, and players also having a good (if stressful!) time. Neither are in anything remotely balanced.
 

S'mon

Legend
Though, to be fair, a bloody nasty one; possibly the nastiest 1st-level adventure you'll ever find. :)

laughs in Horror on the Hill :D

At least in Hommlet the PCs have a home base and the opportunity to recruit various NPCs at the Inn of the Welcome Wench; some like Elmo are extremely powerful and useful. Or be like Rufus & Burne and recruit the local bandits to your service! :)

When I ran T1 the party swiftly recruited Fulnok of Ferd, along with Shukura an NPC Cleric I added, this definitely beefed them up for the Moathouse. Later on they joined with Elmo too. Meanwhile a bunch of the nastier NPC adventurers eventually formed their own rival party...
 
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S'mon

Legend
The thing I miss the most as a DM! Best way to emulate that is "milestones" but don't make them story based. Just level them up when you feel it is appropriate. I am using XP for my Theros campaign and they are levelling quickly, which is fitting for the setting but were I to run Greyhawk I would have them levelling every two or three adventures with a slow crawl after level 7 of 4 adventures or thereabouts.

You can run level 1 5e using groups of CR 1/8, 25 XP monsters, and it will take a typical PC group several sessions to make the 300 XP for level 2. There's a pretty good range of these at the back of the MM, plus kobolds & giant rats, both of which are very scary in 5e.
 

S'mon

Legend
I think it would be far easier to take a good OSR rules set and just give it a patina of 5E with a couple of tweaks. Going the opposite route seems like a needless amount of work. 5E is, in may ways, designed not to feel too much like AD&D, at least in nothing but the most superficial ways, so why work against the design of the game?

I like 5E by the way.(y)

My experience is pretty much the opposite - I find 5e an extremely flexible system with well designed modular elements that can be easily added & removed to change the feel. 1 week long rest, training to level, no feats, no multiclassing* - these are all official options which make 5e feel a lot more like 1e & a lot less like 3e.

*1e style multiclassing is a lot better represented by some of the subclasses/paths, like Eldritch Knight for Fighter-Mage, Arcane Trickster for Thief-Mage, War Priest for Fighter-Cleric, etc. EK & AT have a similar spell level cap to most of the 1e demi-human class combinations.
 
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Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
That crunch isn't the only thing making AD&D feel like it does. The emphasis on a particlar sort of skilled play is very different from 5E. I agree that 5R E is quite flexible, but in this case it feels like reinventing rhe wheel when you already have thatbwheel on your shelf. YMMV.
 

the_redbeard

Explorer
I think it would be far easier to take a good OSR rules set and just give it a patina of 5E with a couple of tweaks. Going the opposite route seems like a needless amount of work. 5E is, in may ways, designed not to feel too much like AD&D, at least in nothing but the most superficial ways, so why work against the design of the game?

I like 5E by the way.(y)
Not AD&D, but there's a really good B/X-ification of 5e called "Into the Unknown".
It keeps the chassis of 5e, and :

Into the Unknown said:
• No Feats – in order to reduce decision points during character creation, to have fewer different mechanics in play and to augment the maxim that “anyone can try anything”.
• No Skills – This has been replaced by the broader “Proficiency Areas” to give fewer decision points during character creation and emphasize proficiency as a meaningful aspect of your character.
• Only goes to 10th level – most games never go beyond 9th level. ItU is focused on where 95% of the gameplay lies and supports the kind of play seen at those levels. The Companion rules, to be released later, will cover high level play.
• Simpler & fewer backgrounds – To keep the decision points manageable, ItU has a smaller selection attempting to cover all bases. It is simpler, yet allows flexibility to cover all bases.
• No Multi-classing – A simple multiclassing system will be found in the Companion rules.
• Condensed weapons list – ItU folds many different weapons into basically being the same weapon mechanically, with differences between weapons being mechanically distinct.
• Gold for XP – To give players different incentives than just killing things on the way to completing an adventurer goal, ItU relies on Gold-for-XP as the primary source of XP.
• No spellcasting focus or trivial spell components – Detracts from simplicity.
• Simpler encumbrance system – ItU tracks encumbrance in Stones and Items carried, rather than tracking pounds of many items.
• Different overland travel system – ItU focuses on hex-based movement for overland travel to
focus more on the element of exploration and uses a simple unified track to manage encumbrance, weather, terrain, etc.
• Reaction rolls – ItU’s default assumption is that initial encounter reactions have an element of unpredictability and that not all enemies necessarily want to fight you.
• Morale – All creatures have a morale score, which can be rolled against by the GM when fights go badly, to see if they flee or surrender, reflecting the fact that not all creatures will necessarily want to fight to the death.
• Henchmen – ItU assumes the party may want to hire henchmen to help keep them alive on adventures and has basic rules to address this.
• Harsher Healing rules – Hit dice for healing is a more sparse resource.
• Shorter Short Rests – These usually take only 10 minutes, but the gm may decide that different circumstances change the time required for long and shorts rests.
• Proficient Saving Throws - All PCs add their proficiency bonus to any saving throw.
• Simpler reach rules – Rather than having to track exact distance between opponents, battlemap style, reach weapons simply provoke opportunity attacks when opponents move within 5 feet of you.
• More coverage of improvised attacks – Since everyone can try anything, ItU has more focus on stunts and improvised attacks. It also encourages fighters to get creative by giving them proficiency with any improvised attack.
• Time Tracking – ItU has stronger focus on tracking time to maintain pacing in the game.
• Full Compatibility – The changes made in ItU have been balanced towards retaining full compatibility to 5e, so that a 5e character easily can join a gametable playing ItU with no conversion needed and vice versa.

Admittedly, some of those changes (no multi-classing and no trivial spell components) are B/X, not AD&D. But most of the other differences between 5e and AD&D mentioned in this thread are there - and more.
An important one is that EVERYONE GETS BETTER AT ALL SAVES. This is one of those key ingredients keeping fighters competitive in old school rules systems, which is that the martial classes aren't pushovers to saving throws versus spells at all in high level play.

This is the 2nd time I've pitched Into the Unknown (and even currently on sale!) in different threads this week. No, I didn't write the game. I've just been running campaigns in it for a while and have a session zero for another one in less than 2 weeks. Counting the days.
 

nevin

Hero
8. Include speed factor as per DMG
9. Roll for Hit Points.
10. Cap Hit Points rolling as per AD&D.
11. No full hit points after resting.
Its 1 hp + con bonus per day of complete rest i believe.
12. Magic items should be where power creep comes in.
13. Also 1 hour per spell level memorized. So it could take days to memorize all your spells.
 


nevin

Hero
That crunch isn't the only thing making AD&D feel like it does. The emphasis on a particlar sort of skilled play is very different from 5E. I agree that 5R E is quite flexible, but in this case it feels like reinventing rhe wheel when you already have thatbwheel on your shelf. YMMV.
I dont know that id say skilled play. Its really a different game. Its like trying to make world of warcraft more like EQ1. Slower and harsher in every way. Some like that some dont
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
I dont know that id say skilled play. Its really a different game. Its like trying to make world of warcraft more like EQ1. Slower and harsher in every way. Some like that some dont
Skilled play is precisely the thing here, actually. The term refers to the playstyle of RPGs that preference player ingenuity over character ability. This is generally true of D&D prior to 2E, and very much not true of 5E.
 

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