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D&D 1E Giving an AD&D feel to 5e

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
Now this I've never heard of. It'd take a lot of trust in the DM, for sure, but I do find myself curious as to how this would look in play.
A small tangent, but its really fun! But I disagree with the poster that its a solution for players who doesnt know the rules well enough. I do it frequently BECAUSE I know my character sheet like the back of my hand and have a solid grip of the rules. So, I can ask the Dm to cue me when my hp drops under bloodied (50% hp) and critical (within 1 hit of being dropped to 0 hp).

So yeah, clearly not for everyone, but I can assure you that its worth trying at least once. :p
 

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I think people who came in with or got used to 3e carried that forward into 5e - and 5e can be run that way if you want, but you're right that it's not mandated by the system. So arguably 1e grognards & 5e newbies tend to play more alike, and it's the 3e Millennials who play different. :D
That does seem kind of true, now you point it out, the only people I know who I've seen really try the "I roll Persuasion!" (rather than describing how they do it) have all be people whose main experience of D&D was 3.XE/PF. I'm sure there are plenty of people from that era who don't, but I feel like it was the only edition where non-combat stuff wasn't as clearly fiction-lead.
 

Now this I've never heard of. It'd take a lot of trust in the DM, for sure, but I do find myself curious as to how this would look in play.
I'm really skeptical it ever happened as strictly as is being described, because any casters would constantly be pestering the DM about which spells they had memorized and what exactly those spells did. So I strongly suspect any casters involved had records of their spell lists at the very least, and in reality unless this was basically the D&D equivalent of consensual sub/dom, I strongly suspect players gradually accrued notes which effectively became character sheets.
 

Nine Hands

Explorer
I was thinking about what makes 5E "feel" like old AD&D games. Now, I have two opinions here, an easy path and a hard path.

The easy path, use an old adventure and just use the monsters in the module but use their 5E stats. Some adventures will be extremely deadly due to the differences between the editions and potential for a large number of enemies to fight. As mentioned, its an easy path for you, not so for the party, but that is their problem :)

The hard path is to hack the game system a little.
  • Cap ability scores at 16 (to match the lower bonuses found in AD&D). Magic items can exceed this.
  • Any spell or effect that gives you another saving throw after being affected (save at end of turn, etc), that save should not be allowed. You are affected for the full duration.
    • You could still allow a save, but with disadvantage.
    • Another thought is to make everyone proficient with saving throws (mirroring how AD&D save progression works). Maybe not all saving throws, but an expansion of saves would make the game feel more like AD&D.
  • Hirelings!
  • From the DMG
    • Skill Variants - Ability Check Proficiency. I originally wanted to get rid of all skill rolls, but this is a fair option for skill based characters.
    • No Backgrounds
      • Mainly since they give skills and features, the features are not a big deal but aren't an AD&D thing.
    • Rest Variants - Gritty Realism
    • Morale
I am a big fan of the variant rules in the DMG (Proficiency Dice are my jam) and I think you can easily use one or two to get the feel you want.

Someone also mentioned forcing the initial ASIs/Feat choices into taking Resilient (to give everyone better saving throws). I think that is a neat concept. I've always liked how characters become much better at saving throws all around although I think it hurts Monks who end up with proficiency in all saving throws at some point.
 

nevin

Adventurer
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.
Thats creativity not skill. Skill would be mastering all the rules and knowing whats optimal for every situation. I think the reason so many of us pine for the AD&D days is the DM was forced to make up stuff generating a lot of unknowns. Modern kiddies read all the books and there are very few unknowns therefore creativity becomes unnecessary
 

nevin

Adventurer
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.
First 5 or 6 you yonked up quicky then it slowed and at name level it slowed again. Level 10 not too bad. To get to level 20 should be years of gaming by AD&D rules if dm is following guidelines in book and not fudging anything
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
So? The Unearthed Arcana was widely used afaik. Why do you claim differently? You don't get to pick and choose convenient supplements and exclude others just because it makes your argument weak.

There is no "my argument." I was just pointing out that you are using odd assumptions. Let me explain.

On the internet, no one knows you are a dog. For all I know, you could be a grognard who gamed with Gygax in the 70s. Or you could have picked up the game in the late 80s, primarily playing 2e, and are backdating your knowledge. Or you never played the game, and are looking stuff up in order to argue points (as opposed to discuss them).

The reason I say this is, going to what I said earlier-
That said, individual experiences could differ. With all the house rules, and regional and table differences, not to mention the prevalence of Monty Haul campaigns, it was certainly possible to play 1e on "easy mode" (just like you could really hammer a party in 5e by putting some effort into it). It's just not how the game is normally set up.

In other words, much moreso than later editions (especially 3e on), OD&D and 1e varied a great deal based on table differences, regional differences, and differences in time. When I see someone casually insist a default that 1e used weapon specialization (a rule that was not even introduced until 1e was at the end of the lifecycle, and hardly prevalent) I generally believe that the person likely wasn't playing 1e through the majority of the lifecycle of the edition; it would be similar to insisting that ability scores were not static, because every table had a Cavalier/Paladin, or that of course tables were using comeliness.

I did not say that no one used Unearthed Arcana, or no one used any of it, ever. Making any type of sweeping generalization of 1e is notoriously difficult. But it is true that just based on the date alone (publication in Dec. 1985, with widespread availability in 1986, and 2e published in 1989), it was certainly not core 1e. Moreover, many tables that played 1e IME quickly rejected most or all of UA, given that it was a cashgrab that was wildly unbalanced and made little sense in toto.

Importantly, I was only pointing out that it was odd for someone to mix and match arguments about the G series (and the core 1e) with assertions that came from UA. YMMV.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
Thats creativity not skill. Skill would be mastering all the rules and knowing whats optimal for every situation. I think the reason so many of us pine for the AD&D days is the DM was forced to make up stuff generating a lot of unknowns. Modern kiddies read all the books and there are very few unknowns therefore creativity becomes unnecessary
I think you're missing the fact that there's an actual term, skilled play, that describes that style. The definition there is what it is.
 

Er...I dunno, the roll-under-stat mechanic came from somewhere and that sure looks like a (better version of an) ability check to me. But it was always driven by the DM, players couldn't just do it proactively as such things simply weren't accepted practice at the time.

Now this I've never heard of. It'd take a lot of trust in the DM, for sure, but I do find myself curious as to how this would look in play.
This was brought on by Andre Norton and Joel Rosenberg(Guardians of the Flame Book)...where the party starts in the real world and gets portaled to a fantasy world. Through experimentation, you find out if you are strong, smart, charismatic... The DM has to give you enough clues about how you interact with the world and how the world interacts with you. It's an attempt to take out meta gaming because anything you know is fair game.
 

Greg K

Adventurer
Not sure about 3.0 but 3.5 had a combo of mechanics in +2/-2 & the various bonus types that would encourage players to get creative and describe the kinds of things they were trying to do but they were hidden away in the dmg and took a permissive GM to really do much with so players would often give up on them

Correct, It was called the DM's Best Friend and it was in the 3.0 DMG. In 3.0, there was also an additional note called "Going Beyond the Rule" in which the DM could use modifiers from 2 to 20 (not sure if it was in 3.5, but I seem to recall that, in the past, others have stated it was). The example given for extending the modifier was applying a +20 modifer to DC for practically impossible tasks.
I can't believe that I forgot to mention the DM's Best friend . In past posts on skilled play in 3e, in addition to discussing players needing to figure out the lever combination, I have discussed how the two could be used in combination. The DM could use the the DM's best friend to find clues when searching, but still require the players to state that their character is taking an appropriate action for success . For example, when trying to find a a secret door that must be opened by pulling the sconce or a specific book on a shelf, the player find visual clues on the sconce or disturbed dust on the shelf which could point to the correct method of opening the door. Someone, specifically, searching the sconce or shelf would get a big bonus to notice the clue. Someone less specific might get no bonus or penalty. If either discoves the clue, the player would still have to state their character is pulling on the object. And, or course, if the players just randomly happen perform the correct action on their own, they are still successful.
 
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I did not say that no one used Unearthed Arcana, or no one used any of it, ever. Making any type of sweeping generalization of 1e is notoriously difficult. But it is true that just based on the date alone (publication in Dec. 1985, with widespread availability in 1986, and 2e published in 1989), it was certainly not core 1e. Moreover, many tables that played 1e IME quickly rejected most or all of UA, given that it was a cashgrab that was wildly unbalanced and made little sense in toto.
The only thing I remember about UA in my group at the time was Barbarians...I had a great adventure where the Barbarian in the party found a magic sword and tossed it in an underground stream...The party flipped out not expecting that...

I don't remember anything else from UA. Our group broke up in '87(I moved) and I didn't play D&D again seriously for the next 20 years.
 

Correct, It was called the DM's Best Friend and it was in the 3.0 DMG. In 3.0, there was also an additional note called "Going Beyond the Rule" in which the DM could use modifiers from 2 to 20 (not sure if it was in 3.5, but I seem to recall that, in the past, others have stated it was). The example given was applying a +20 modifer to DC for practically impossible tasks.
I can't believe that I forgot to mention the DM's Best friend in my prior post on skilled play in 3e as I have noted it in the past in addition to discussing players needing to figure out the lever combination and how the two could be used in combination in 3e. The DM could use the the DM's best friend to find clues when searching, but still require the players to state that their character is taking an appropriate action for success . For example, when trying to find a a secret door that must be opened by pulling the sconce or a specific book on a shelf, the player find visual clues on the sconce or disturbed dust on the shelf which could point to the correct method of opening the door. Someone, specifically, searching the sconce or shelf would get a big bonus to notice the clue. Someone less specific might get no bonus or penalty. If either discoves the clue, the player would still have to state their character is pulling on the object. And, or course, if the players just randomly happen perform the correct action on their own, they are still successful.
[/QUOTE]

Thanks for pointing me at that! Never taken the time to find it but I've long wondered where we all got the +2/-2 since 5e so oddly left it & bonus types out when they did so much to enable both players & GMs. Looks like it was on 3.5 dmg30 with the bonus types & stacking stuff a few pages earlier on pg21
1617813819438.png

1617813843839.png

1617814004145.png
Rereading it after all of these years it's almost inconceivable that wotc has spent so long ignoring it in favor of 5e's theory that an absence of rules for this stuff is what somehow really enables people.
 
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Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
The only thing I remember about UA in my group at the time was Barbarians...I had a great adventure where the Barbarian in the party found a magic sword and tossed it in an underground stream...The party flipped out not expecting that...

I don't remember anything else from UA. Our group broke up in '87(I moved) and I didn't play D&D again seriously for the next 20 years.

The whole backstory of UA is pretty simple ...

At the time, TSR badly needed money (this is a recurring theme with the company).

Gygax returned from Hollywood (the less said about that, the better) to try and right the ship. We had two hardcover books come out in quick succession in order to raise revenue- Oriental Adventures and Unearthed Arcana. OA was primarily written by Zeb Cook.

UA was authorized by Gygax, and was primarily prior Dragon Magazine articles (most of them by Gygax, and most of them prior to 1983) with a few changes and edits.

The irony of his authorization of his work to save TSR is that by the time of its publication, he was already out of the company. Anyway, UA is interesting because it is both terrible (it was really just a grabbag of half-baked and non-baked ideas floated in Dragon Magazine) while also providing the seed for ideas that would later become part of the game-
A skill system (previously in OA as well).
Cantrips.
Barbarians, cavaliers.
Expanded non-human races and lifting (just a little, but still) the level and class limits on non-humans.
etc.

But, yeah, comeliness? Barbarians that almost couldn't exist in a party (along with cavaliers and paladins that also couldn't exist in a party)? Allowing you to play new races like Duergar and Drow, unless, you know, you ever wanted to play above-ground, or around other people.

Just poorly thought out in so many ways. Kind of like a Dragon article!
 

I'm really skeptical it ever happened as strictly as is being described, because any casters would constantly be pestering the DM about which spells they had memorized and what exactly those spells did. So I strongly suspect any casters involved had records of their spell lists at the very least, and in reality unless this was basically the D&D equivalent of consensual sub/dom, I strongly suspect players gradually accrued notes which effectively became character sheets.
yes...you did keep notes about your character, but they were descriptive and not number-based. You might have a list of known weapons and that you were strong. If you were a mage, you might keep a name, list of spell components, range, and description of what the spell did.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Supporter
There is a I think a genuinely interesting underlying point here, which is mostly to do with spells. In early D&D, spells were basically the only time you got to tell the DM what happened, as it were. I mean, he/she was still in charge, but if you wanted to do something without a spell, it was kind of "Mother May I?". Whereas if you had a spell, it said it what it did, and the DM kind of had "put that in his pipe and smoke it", as it were. And what we've seen evolve is characters who don't have spells gradually get access to more abilities which aren't "Mother May I?", but rather stuff like, "My character can jump 30ft", so you don't have to say "Oh DM, can my character jump 30ft?" "No.", because it's on your character sheet that you could.

But spellcasters have always had that.

And I think did we just find the root cause of LFQW? Kinda? Of the basic imbalance between casters and non-casters? I'm sure it's actually a well-visited place with a gift shop and so on, but I think this is a kind of key point - casters got to say what happened (which is thematically kind of appropriate from a sort of Sparrowhawk-ish/TH White Merlin-ish perspective especially), whereas other people had to ask.
Oh yeah, that's absolutely true. I mean, codified rules in general (as we saw from 3.0 on) are a way to move authority from the DM to the players; spells are just the original and most successful implementation in D&D of giving the player more control over the story.

This conversation popped up all the time during the Edition War, a lot of times it got contrasted with "Mother-May-I" play, where the players had to check with the DM about the feasibility of most of their actions.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
The whole backstory of UA is pretty simple ...

At the time, TSR badly needed money (this is a recurring theme with the company).

Gygax returned from Hollywood (the less said about that, the better) to try and right the ship. We had two hardcover books come out in quick succession in order to raise revenue- Oriental Adventures and Unearthed Arcana. OA was primarily written by Zeb Cook.

UA was authorized by Gygax, and was primarily prior Dragon Magazine articles (most of them by Gygax, and most of them prior to 1983) with a few changes and edits.

The irony of his authorization of his work to save TSR is that by the time of its publication, he was already out of the company. Anyway, UA is interesting because it is both terrible (it was really just a grabbag of half-baked and non-baked ideas floated in Dragon Magazine) while also providing the seed for ideas that would later become part of the game-
A skill system (previously in OA as well).
Cantrips.
Barbarians, cavaliers.
Expanded non-human races and lifting (just a little, but still) the level and class limits on non-humans.
etc.

But, yeah, comeliness? Barbarians that almost couldn't exist in a party (along with cavaliers and paladins that also couldn't exist in a party)? Allowing you to play new races like Duergar and Drow, unless, you know, you ever wanted to play above-ground, or around other people.

Just poorly thought out in so many ways. Kind of like a Dragon article!
When UA gets brought up, everyone talks about Cavaliers and Barbarians, but the biggest game breaking thing in that book was the new method for stat generation. 9d6 for your primary stat, 8d6 for the next, etc as you work your way down. You were assured to have 17s or 18s in your top 3 or 4 abilities, and that was just...too much.

I think that's why several people like myself roll our eyes a bit whenever someone makes an argument that since UA was officially 1e, then 1e was played using those rules. Because, no, they weren't. Even if you ignore how the 1e game was being played for almost 10 years before UA came out and only lasted 2 years after (therefore the vast majority of people who played 1e didn't even have UA to use), there is the fact that every game table and group I played with when UA came out, immediately banned 90% of it unless you were playing a Monty Haul game.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Oh yeah, that's absolutely true. I mean, codified rules in general (as we saw from 3.0 on) are a way to move authority from the DM to the players; spells are just the original and most successful implementation in D&D of giving the player more control over the story.

This conversation popped up all the time during the Edition War, a lot of times it got contrasted with "Mother-May-I" play, where the players had to check with the DM about the feasibility of most of their actions.

Eh, I think that there are two completely different debates that have happened, and it totally depends on when you joined up in the debates.

The original debate was, in fact, the exact opposite of what it later became! As far back as the introduction of the thief class, many players did not want continuing codification of abilities because, to borrow the Latin expression, expressio unius est exclusio alterius (by explicitly stating that something must be done under a rule, you are excluding its ability to be performed any other way).

In fact, I'd go so far as to say that this is a classic Gygax/Arneson issue- wherein one side might want more and more codification (thereby making it more war-gamey and more ascertainable), and the other wanting it more free and improvisational.

Rules may bind the DM, but they also bind the players; in effect, instead of assuming that players can do what they want (subject to a neutral referee saying no), it becomes an issue of, "Can you find a rule that would let you do this, and then will the DM have the same interpretation of that rule?"

It's always a matter of perspective.
 

grimslade

Adventurer
Everybody brings up UA and no one mentions the Thief-Acrobat... Lousy barbarians smashing all my potion loot get all the attention. Plus pretty pictures of polearms! The horrible cheap binding on UA made it impossible to use.
The more I think about it. There doesn't need to be rule overhauls to 5E to make it feel like AD&D. You need a perspective shift. Less murder-hobo and more grave robbing diplomacy. Reward problem solving and use the rules to adjudicate the player's plan's success. You want it more gritty use the gritty realism adjustment. You want save or roll a new character? Go ahead. Really the more extreme the roll of the dice result could be, the more players will want to avoid rolling the dice. And that was what 1E felt like to me. I didn't want to risk that bit of probability because my luck was always bad it seemed.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Supporter
Rules may bind the DM, but they also bind the players; in effect, instead of assuming that players can do what they want (subject to a neutral referee saying no), it becomes an issue of, "Can you find a rule that would let you do this, and then will the DM have the same interpretation of that rule?"
I'd push back and say those are two different types of restriction. Codification of rules will restrict the options open to the character, but the overall balance of authority still swings towards the player.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
I'd push back and say those are two different types of restriction. Codification of rules will restrict the options open to the character, but the overall balance of authority still swings towards the player.

And I'd push back on that, and say that this distinction makes no sense. Allow me to illustrate:

A: "One thing I don't like about {insert game here} is that because everything is governed by abilities, I feel like I'm just looking for buttons to push."

B: "Oh, that's not correct. See, you as a player can do anything. Only your character is limited by the fact that you have to have an ability to do something!"

A: "Uh ......"

I understand your point vis-a-vis authority. That's a trivially simple one that anyone can illustrate:

Rule A: If you hit, you do damage to the target.
Rule B: If you hit, you do d6 damage.

Rule A (until the parameters have been determined) does not provide clarity to the player; how much damage? What effects? What, exactly, can their character do?

Rule B is clear. There will always be some interpretation, or Rule 0, but the player knows that if they mash Button B (Rule B) and hit, they will do d6 damage, and the DM will acknowledge this.

HOWEVER, the player who relies on mashing B will only mash B. Will they try to do the damage of a disarm? Will they aim a blow for the head to know the enemy unconscious? Will they try and bash the target over the cliff?

You quickly lose the ... Arneson-ian freedom of play (even if it is negotiated) in favor of a constrained certainty. "I do d6 damage, and nothing else. I can't open that lock, because I'm not a thief. I cannot create a new spell because there isn't a rule for it. Etc."
 

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