log in or register to remove this ad

 

D&D 1E Giving an AD&D feel to 5e

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Everybody brings up UA and no one mentions the Thief-Acrobat...

The thief-acrobat was one of those concepts that sounded great, and you wanted to be great, but was terrible.

Weirdly, everything else in UA was total power creep, but the T-A was actually underpowered, and considering it was based on the Thief ...
 

log in or register to remove this ad

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.
Yeah I was trying very hard to think of a counter-example to this, but even 3E, which massively felt like a nerf for most martials, imho, because it added countless rules which made them weaker, not stronger, still overall shifted power from the DM to the players.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Supporter
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."
I'm not ignoring that there's an important distinction here; I've played and enjoyed both types of games. But I think you're skipping over the freedom of not being able to be told "No" when you declare what you do. When you cast a spell, the DM can counterspell, or possibly enforce some narrative limitation on it, but they can't say "that spell doesn't work right now", and that's very liberating. (There's a reason I always play spellcasters in D&D.)

There's a reason that every edition after OD&D moved in the direction of more player choices and more codification, and it was because the market wanted games that provided players more tools to realize their character vision and to have more say as to what happens at the table.
 

Greg K

Adventurer
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.
Except that, according to Skip Williams, he (Skip) was largely influential in the move toward codification. In interviews, Skip stated that Gygax, originally, did not want more rules codification- it was many players that wanted them. D&D players would call both Gary's house and TSR asking for rules clarifications and how to handle situations not covered. Gary and many others at TSR employees did not understand why players were calling. To Gary and many TSR employees, the players calling missed the point that individual DMs should be deciding those answers themselves. Furthermore, Skip as a player, had a strong preference for games with codified rules, wanted more rules codification for D&D, and talked Gary into the benefits of rules codification (including for organized play and tournaments which Gary was already interested in pursuing).

We also know from Gary's post 3e release interviews on this site and elsewhere, that his preferred edition to run (at least in later years) was OD&D with the three orignal booklets and a few house rules on character generation. Even when running AD&D, he states that he ignored several of the rules which were, originally, included at the behest of his players (I am not clear if this was always the case or something that happened with time).
 
Last edited:

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
I'm not ignoring that there's an important distinction here; I've played and enjoyed both types of games. But I think you're skipping over the freedom of not being able to be told "No" when you declare what you do. When you cast a spell, the DM can counterspell, or possibly enforce some narrative limitation on it, but they can't say "that spell doesn't work right now", and that's very liberating. (There's a reason I always play spellcasters in D&D.)

There's a reason that every edition after OD&D moved in the direction of more player choices and more codification, and it was because the market wanted games that provided players more tools to realize their character vision and to have more say as to what happens at the table.

Oh. No. I don't agree with what you stated in the last bit. Far from it.

Instead, I would say that the following things can be true:

A. The evolution of different TTRPGs has occurred, such that there are various alternatives for more narrative and unstructured play. These games can exist with various levels of determining "authority" between the participants at the table.

B. The concentration of authority in the DM (GM, referee) tends to be pronounced in D&D for multiple historical reasons; it is entirely possible to play D&D in a rules-lite manner without that specific devolution of authority.

C. The primary direction of codification of rules, ESPECIALLY player-facing rules, has to do (in 3e on, although you could argue starting with the 2e kits) with selling more books, to more players, because that's where the money is. It's a larger consumer base than just DMs. And if you make chargen its own mini-game, you can make more money.

So I would strongly disagree with the last part of your statement.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Except that, according to Skip Williams, he (Skip) was largely influential in the move toward codification. In interviews, Skip stated that Gygax, originally, did not want more rules codification- it was many players that wanted them. D&D players would call both Gary's house and TSR asking for rules clarifications and how to handle situations not covered. Gary and many others at TSR employees did not understand why players were calling. To Gary and many TSR employees, the players calling missed the point that individual DMs should be deciding those answers themselves. Furthermore, Skip as a player, had a strong preference for games with codified rules, wanted more rules codification for D&D, and talked Gary into the benefits of rules codification (including for organized play and tournaments which Gary was already interested in pursuing).

We also know from Gary's post 3e release interviews on this site and elsewhere, that his preferred edition to run (at least in later years) was OD&D with the three orignal booklets and a few house rules on character generation. Even when running AD&D, he states that he ignored several of the rules which were, originally, included at the behest of his players (I am not clear if this was always the case or something that happened with time).

Mmm.

1. I think it is inarguable that Gary played with less rules than we see now, even though he liked making them (see also, Cyborg Commando).

2. I think it is also inarguable that I originally set this up as Gygax/Arneson, and Gary definitely was more into codification than Dave was.

3. Finally, Gary was often confused by what the players wanted. "Why would they want modules?" "Why would they want a campaign setting?" "Boy, it seems weird that the whole 'turn undead' thing took off, huh?" :)
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Supporter
C. The primary direction of codification of rules, ESPECIALLY player-facing rules, has to do (in 3e on, although you could argue starting with the 2e kits) with selling more books, to more players, because that's where the money is. It's a larger consumer base than just DMs. And if you make chargen its own mini-game, you can make more money.

So I would strongly disagree with the last part of your statement.
Sure, but why do player-facing rules sell better? If they didn't provide utility to the players, then they wouldn't sell so well. And I'd argue that utility is providing the players leverage to make statements in play.
 


TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Supporter
Because .... wait for it ... I know you're going to like this ....

There are more players. :)

If there are more players than DMs, then there is a larger market for the product.
That still puts you in the position that players continue to buy things that are actively detrimental to providing them with more options at the table, as opposed to just asking the DM for whatever they want. Which seems strange!
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
That still puts you in the position that players continue to buy things that are actively detrimental to providing them with more options at the table, as opposed to just asking the DM for whatever they want. Which seems strange!

Not really.

Once that particular battle was lost in D&D, say, by the mid-80s at the latest, it makes perfect sense.

In other words, once you have resigned yourself to only doing what is explicitly allowed in the rules, then it also makes sense that you will pay money to give yourself additional rules options.

It's almost beautiful, isn't it? It's capitalism, distilled to its essence. Restrict your freedom, sell it back to you piece by piece, and make you grateful for being able to buy it. ;)
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest
Yeah I was trying very hard to think of a counter-example to this, but even 3E, which massively felt like a nerf for most martials, imho, because it added countless rules which made them weaker, not stronger, still overall shifted power from the DM to the players.
I never saw it as a nerf to martials because most of the rules involving martials was a restatement, often with more clarity, of what was already there in previous editions. Rather, it lifted a lot of the codified restrictions on casters in ways that a lot of people had already, if informally, done.
 

I never saw it as a nerf to martials because most of the rules involving martials was a restatement, often with more clarity, of what was already there in previous editions.
That's not really true, though, because the heavy rules codification and changes, made it so that stuff which 2E encouraged you to interpret as a called shot, with instant effect, now had a penalty at least as large as 2E's called shot, and on top of that, did stuff like give the target an opposed check with modifiers almost certain to favour monstrous enemies and so on.

Basically what 3E did was add a lot more penalties and lot more rolls, and that had the net effect of reducing the effectiveness of martials.

On top of that, the iterative attack penalty was not only unforgivably bad design which made the game significantly slower and more annoying to run, but a direct, massive and unarguable nerf to martials, particularly Warriors. It just should never have been a thing. That alone is enough to make 3E a massive nerf to martials.

What it offered to martials, though, was feats to "buy back" the ability to do stuff which would previously have worked better as a called shot in 2E, and then not only buy it back, but later improve on it and make it a gimmick move that they could quite reliably do. And it also gave them access to stuff like ludicrous weapons via things like Monkey Grip and Spiked Chains and codified reach and so on. Overall, still probably a loss because of iterative attacks (it cannot be overstated how gigantic a nerf that was esp. if you were comparing to Combat & Tactics, which 3E seemed to heavily draw on).

And yeah as you say casters just got restrictions lifted and even more power shifted their way. PF came not to praise casters but to bury them, but ended up praising them instead anyway, because whilst it nerfed some save-or-dies and so on, it lifted even more restrictions from casters.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest
On top of that, the iterative attack penalty was not only unforgivably bad design which made the game significantly slower and more annoying to run, but a direct, massive and unarguable nerf to martials, particularly Warriors. It just should never have been a thing. That alone is enough to make 3E a massive nerf to martials.
Whether you liked the mechanic or not, whether you thought it had usability issues or not, it wasn't a nerf. When fighters got multiple attacks, their output in damage didn't double in AD&D. The iterative attack penalty was a method of stepping their damage output upward that was similar to them getting their attack rate increased by a half attack/round.
 

When fighters got multiple attacks, their output in damage didn't double in AD&D. The iterative attack penalty was a method of stepping their damage output upward that was similar to them getting their attack rate increased by a half attack/round.
Don't agree, we did the math at the time. Relative to all factors involved it was a huge nerf. Compared to Combat & Tactics, it was a gigantic nerf. So unless we missed something back then, which I don't think we did, it was a big nerf. Remember I'm talking in relative terms too, monster HP and the amount of damage casters could output and so on needs to considered as part of this. You have to factor in specialization as well, for Fighters (though in 2E there were ways for non-Fighters to access it, albeit many of them FR-specific), esp. with C&T's multiple levels of specialization.
 

I know a lot of us Grognards would like to go back to the good old days of D&D. I think part of it we look back with rose-colored glasses. I'm not sure I would, I grew up playing White Box D&D. I went to Gen Con 12 and bought the DM's Guide. Matter of fact I bought like 10 of them for myself and my friends as none of them went to GenCon. I ate up anything D&D back then. There was the occasional module from TSR or Judges Guild and the Dragon Magazine and a little bit later White Dwarf.

Part of what I like about 5E vs AD&D.
  • That we no longer have THAC0. THAC0 was because D&D began from Chainmail. Chainmail was a miniature-based melee combat game at 1 to 1 figure. They loved tables and were used to cross-reference to hit something. (Note original D&D started at AC9 and was changed to 10 in AD&D).
  • The Melee class is worthwhile. The problem with high AC, is it makes melee classes less useful. If you are going to have melee's whiff, then you make magic-users more powerful.
  • A Good Synergy between classes. Every class feels like it is useful. My only fault with the classes is a fighter and rangers. Not much to do than swing that old melee weapon. AD&D also had this problem. 4th edition went too far in making melee feel like mages. The only way to really make rangers useful is to make the environment part of the game.
  • Milestone leveling. You don't have to kill everything to level up.
  • I like that skills are linked to abilities. We just need to train our players in how to roleplay and not game it.
Things I like that AD&D got right and are missing or drastically changed in 5E.
  • Its roots were Original D&D(aka White Box D&D). It really didn't stray far from it. It was simple and pretty much in the DM's hands.
  • Death was always close by. Though probably a bit too close, which caused lots of fudging of dice rolls or you would be starting your campaign all over.
  • Alignment was tracked and was used to reign in characters. I grew up reading Michael Moorcock and the whole law versus chaos.
  • Level Drain, it was scary. Probably a bit too scary. I may homebrew it as levels of exhaustion.
  • Training to level up. It was expensive and was a sink that pulled gold and magic items out of the campaign.
 

Hussar

Legend
Heh.

I love the irony of being told that my experience doesn't count, while at the same time people are claiming that their experience was universal. Or, being told that every table was different back in the day ( a point I definitely agree with) while at the same time telling me that my table didn't really exist (didn't have experience with the game).

Or that playing with Unearthed Arcana=Monty Haul gaming. ROTFLMAO. Hrmmm, judgmental much? Apparently, according to some in this thread, you only ever got above 3rd level in AD&D by being a massive munchkin with a Monty Haul DM. Because, well, the game was SO lethal that it is inconceivable that you could possibly succeed at anything.

Look, I'll agree that AD&D was very lethal due to the plethora of save or die effects. Totally agree with that. But, the other stuff? Not so much.

Then again, AD&D is incredibly schizophrenic. If you played mostly modules in AD&D, you had a VERY different experience with the game than those who did mostly home-brew. The modules, by and large, did not support this "avoid encounters" style of play because, well, in most modules, most encounters weren't avoidable. The maps were too linear, for one thing, to avoid encounters. And the modules were set up that you couldn't avoid stuff.
 

Don't agree, we did the math at the time. Relative to all factors involved it was a huge nerf. Compared to Combat & Tactics, it was a gigantic nerf. So unless we missed something back then, which I don't think we did, it was a big nerf. Remember I'm talking in relative terms too, monster HP and the amount of damage casters could output and so on needs to considered as part of this. You have to factor in specialization as well, for Fighters (though in 2E there were ways for non-Fighters to access it, albeit many of them FR-specific), esp. with C&T's multiple levels of specialization.
So I was not alone to have made that "discovery"... The term feat tax came later but you are 100% right on that. 3.xed and PF only pushed casters to sky and nerfed the martial classes into a bottomless pit, unless the over specialized into a specific set of feats that taken one after the would allow you to do a maneuver with penalties at first (compared to 2ed), to come to equalize what a martial would do in 2ed. To finally be better but at high levels... It was not a really good edition for martial classes despite what was perceived. The illusion of choice was strong in the 3.xed/PF. All hail the CODZILLA!

On an other note for our topic.
AD&D is still a great edition to play. I still have fond memories and yes, many rules and rulings were solely in the DM's hands, but I fo not think it was for the worst (unless your DM was an adversarial jerk).

1ed was deadlier, but so can 5ed if you remove overnight healing. In fact, I have never seen more TPK than in 5ed!!! I must stress that I have removed overnight healing from the go of 5ed. Me and my players, we found that rule to be... unsatisfying? Or at the very least, it does not suit us very well. Then, as we adjusted to 5ed, the t
TPK became a lot less common, but still possible. Usually from a combination of a streak of bad die rolls and poor decisions from the players (never ever let the alert go off when the enemy is waiting for you...)

We are now playing OotA, a second try for one group, and already, at 5th levels, two players are using revolts as their character died. So yep, 5ed can be made to feel like 1ed. Just remove the overnight healing, it works wonders.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Heh.

I love the irony of being told that my experience doesn't count, while at the same time people are claiming that their experience was universal. Or, being told that every table was different back in the day ( a point I definitely agree with) while at the same time telling me that my table didn't really exist (didn't have experience with the game).

So that's not what has been happening, and I am unclear why you are going into some sort of victim-status.

Most people have been clear that your experience is your own; it is just very difficult to reconcile your specific claims that you make (that are not the same as what others are familiar with) with your seeming inability to discuss ... what your specific experience is? In other words, you make many assertions as to what "1e is" because that's what (for example) "linear modules" or "G1" or "UA" do, but don't really explain why your table played the way it did. Or even when you were playing- it's pretty well known that the playing experience tended to change from the 70s to to the late 80s.

Unless I missed it, multiple people have discussed how time and geography could matter a great deal, and yet you have not shared your specific experience, which makes it exceptionally hard to discern where you are coming from.
 

Heh.

I love the irony of being told that my experience doesn't count, while at the same time people are claiming that their experience was universal. Or, being told that every table was different back in the day ( a point I definitely agree with) while at the same time telling me that my table didn't really exist (didn't have experience with the game).

Or that playing with Unearthed Arcana=Monty Haul gaming. ROTFLMAO. Hrmmm, judgmental much? Apparently, according to some in this thread, you only ever got above 3rd level in AD&D by being a massive munchkin with a Monty Haul DM. Because, well, the game was SO lethal that it is inconceivable that you could possibly succeed at anything.

Look, I'll agree that AD&D was very lethal due to the plethora of save or die effects. Totally agree with that. But, the other stuff? Not so much.

Then again, AD&D is incredibly schizophrenic. If you played mostly modules in AD&D, you had a VERY different experience with the game than those who did mostly home-brew. The modules, by and large, did not support this "avoid encounters" style of play because, well, in most modules, most encounters weren't avoidable. The maps were too linear, for one thing, to avoid encounters. And the modules were set up that you couldn't avoid stuff.
Did your players found every single secret doors in every module they ever played? I know that mine did not. Just take the ToEE. I played this adventure with two or three dozen different group, and the Prince Thromel was found... 3 or 4 times only... About half of the groups that survived never concluded the adventure with the death/banishment of Zuggtmoy and the other half did not even survived past their encounter at the start of the sub level four... and some did not even made it past sublevel 3... Quite a few died in the nodes.

A lot of the magic items in the modules were not even meant to be found. Most players would just walk past them as they were either covered in garbage or hidden in secret doors that were not easily found. How many groups ever walked past the lich in descent of the drow? Quite a lot I assure you. And of those that found that lich, about half negotiated their exit with gifts of magic and begging for their lives.

And I could go on and on and on. As exploring too much, or taking too much time might call for random encounters and those random encounters could be deadly. It was an art to find the right spot between exploring enough to find good stuff to not miss too much and too much and getting killed because the random encounters drew too much of your precious resources. A group that decided to be thorough could well spell its doom. So no, not all magical items were meant to be found.

PS: And many magical items were in the hands of enemies that could escape quite fast if it was needed. The dwarf in the abode of the fire giant king comes to mind. He pestered the players of some of my groups for a long time during their descent into the drow caverns.
 

teitan

Hero
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.
You keep saying things like this and yet how you express indicates you don’t have much experience with 1e in it’s time frame. UA was a broken mess and every DM I played with didn’t allow it beyond some hand picked spells. One let me be a thief-acrobat but it took some twisting. It wasn’t like it is today where players feel entitled to play and use everything published by WOTC. It was very DIY and heavy house rules. Weapon Mastery from BECMI was more commonly used in 1e than Weapon Specialization.
 

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top