D&D 5E How Old-School is 5th Edition? Can it even do Old-School?

Yora

Legend
I got the three books and think they are fine. But not a single other book that WotC released for 5th edition looks like it'd be worth looking into.
 

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overgeeked

B/X Known World
Fireball that leaves people still standing.
Depends on who you hit with it, really. At 8d6 damage that averages 28. Looking at CR3 monsters, that's anywhere from most their hit points to half their hit points from one attack. As it's an AoE, it's designed for use against more creatures...which means more, lower CR nasties...which means you're increasingly likely to wipe them out...with one shot. That's not low fantasy. At all.

A 120ft range, 20ft radius sphere, for 8d6 fire damage, DEX save for half, fire goes around corners and ignites anything flammable. It's the single most OP spell for its level. Even the designers have flat out stated it is and intentionally so. Being able to do that twice a day without cost. That's not low fantasy. At all.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
Starting with fireball doesn’t sound like low fantasy.
I guess it depends on what you consider low fantasy.

Is the "low" part because of the level of perceived power? rarity? both? or something else?

You can certainly have a fireball in low fantasy, IF having one is significant in power, rare, both, or... well, something else. ;)

A while ago I had a poll about the power of spells and their respective levels. 3rd level spells was the baseline for what was considered "powerful", but a larger cluster was also present at 5th level, and others even higher. I often ask "Would the typical commoner in your setting commonly have seen a fireball spell?" For me, the answer is certainly "no". Possible, sure, but the vast majority of commoners would never see or experience spells of 3rd level of higher. Such a thing would be likely be a once-in-a-lifetime thing, a tale to tell your grandchildren about. Now, that is different from knowing about the spell, and that could be another issue of considering a setting low fantasy.
 

Depends on who you hit with it, really. At 8d6 damage that averages 28. Looking at CR3 monsters, that's anywhere from most their hit points to half their hit points from one attack. As it's an AoE, it's designed for use against more creatures...which means more, lower CR nasties...which means you're increasingly likely to wipe them out...with one shot. That's not low fantasy. At all.

A 120ft range, 20ft radius sphere, for 8d6 fire damage, DEX save for half, fire goes around corners and ignites anything flammable. It's the single most OP spell for its level. Even the designers have flat out stated it is and intentionally so. Being able to do that twice a day without cost. That's not low fantasy. At all.
Yeah, fireball abandons balance for branding.
 

To me, those other risks only matter in D&D if death is also on the table.
To me the important part of that sentence is "in D&D". Other RPGs have mechanically defined penalties like actual wounds in ways that D&D never has and even Level Drain was pretty simplistic.

So yes, death matters relatively much much more than anything else (other than rust monsters) in D&D.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
Depends on who you hit with it, really. At 8d6 damage that averages 28. Looking at CR3 monsters, that's anywhere from most their hit points to half their hit points from one attack.
I would argue this a bit. In my monster database, the 56 CR3 creatures range from 30-90 hp, averaging 56, with the distribution shown below:

1646333337171.png


Even assuming a failed save, the 28 points of damage (while certainly significant) for CR 3 would not be "most their hit points to half their hit points."

Yes, if you decrease the CR, such as CR 1, a failed fireball would (given the average HP of CR 1 creatures) have a good chance of taking them out with one spell.

To be clear, I am not refuting your point, just thinking you were a bit over zealous in your estimations for CR 3 creatures.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
I guess it depends on what you consider low fantasy.
I think somewhere between how the wiki and TVTropes articles define it is about right. A grounded, mundane humanocentric setting with little to no magic.
Is the "low" part because of the level of perceived power? rarity? both? or something else?
Low magic. As is rare.
You can certainly have a fireball in low fantasy, IF having one is significant in power, rare, both, or... well, something else.
Sure. Low fantasy would be something like an E1 or 2...with half or more of the casters removed, and half or more of the spells removed, and drastically increased costs of acquiring and casting spells. Gritty realism resting. Etc.
A while ago I had a poll about the power of spells and their respective levels. 3rd level spells was the baseline for what was considered "powerful", but a larger cluster was also present at 5th level, and others even higher.
Well, I’ll go with the designers rather than an opinion poll.
I often ask "Would the typical commoner in your setting commonly have seen a fireball spell?" For me, the answer is certainly "no". Possible, sure, but the vast majority of commoners would never see or experience spells of 3rd level of higher. Such a thing would be likely be a once-in-a-lifetime thing, a tale to tell your grandchildren about. Now, that is different from knowing about the spell, and that could be another issue of considering a setting low fantasy.
Sure. Sounds about right to me. The bar for peasants seeing magic would be quite low in a low fantasy setting. It would be more that the vast majority have never seen any real magic. Rumors and whispers and old wives’ tales, absolutely.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
I would argue this a bit. In my monster database, the 56 CR3 creatures range from 30-90 hp, averaging 56, with the distribution shown below:

View attachment 152757

Even assuming a failed save, the 28 points of damage (while certainly significant) for CR 3 would not be "most their hit points to half their hit points."
So 30 - 28 isn’t most? Okay. And 58 - 28 isn’t half? Okay.
Yes, if you decrease the CR, such as CR 1, a failed fireball would (given the average HP of CR 1 creatures) have a good chance of taking them out with one spell.

To be clear, I am not refuting your point, just thinking you were a bit over zealous in your estimations for CR 3 creatures.
I opened MotM, found three CR3 monsters and went with those numbers. The extra data points don’t really refute that.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
Low magic. As is rare.
So, high level magic is certainly possible in a low fantasy game for you?

For example, a commoner is fleeing a town being assaulted by Agazrak the Archmage, who is flying 1000 feet above the town. The commoner crosses a bridge and looks back just in time to see four burning meteors strike the corner-towers of the town's keep, a vision of Armageddon to the commoner as the keep's walls crumble. The commoner knows dozens, maybe hundreds, of people died in that instant, and continues to flee for their life.

I opened MotM, found three CR3 monsters and went with those numbers. The extra data points don’t really refute that.
Then random chance led to you a poor claim:

Looking at CR3 monsters, that's anywhere from most their hit points to half their hit points from one attack.
It is, more properly:

anywhere from most their hit points to about 15% of their hit points.

That is a pretty wide range.

As I said, fireball is powerful, no doubt about it, when used properly and it can be devastating. That is what I was not trying to refute. The issue was more your broad claim. Making broad statements (as you did) based on 3 random choices does not make for a compelling argument. You were over zealous in your estimates, as 50% is no where near 15%.

A better broad statement might also be "about half their hit points on a failed save" as the average is 56 hit points (or close to it, I am sure there are creatures in 5E NOT in my personal database). One-quarter of a creature's hp (on a made save) is still very significant.
 



overgeeked

B/X Known World
I was thinking low fantasy as in swords & sorcery, vs high fantasy Tolkien-style epic trilogies.
Well, compare a Conan story with Lord of the Rings.

In Conan, all magic is evil and corrupting and anything supernatural is scary and bad. Wizards are almost all evil and the biggest “spell” I’ve come across is monster summoning. There’s maybe one magic item, a sword, that’s made to kill one creature. And it does.

In Lord of the Rings, you have a dozen magic rings, a dozen magic swords, magical phials, magic food, crystal balls, etc. I’m talking on the page or referenced, not the deep lore or the Simarillion. But, when it comes to magic spells…you’ve only got a few. Gandalf casts some when fighting the balrog, tries to dispel the domination of Theodin, and casts a light during the fight at Gondor. Maybe speak with animals to talk to that moth. So definitely more magic than Conan, but wildly, wildly under what your typical D&D game has. Most D&D wizards cast more spells in a day than Galdalf did in the entire series.
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
Lord of the Rings is more epic in scope than most Conan stories (although the first Conan story does involve nations and armies battling, as do one or two others), but the magic level in there is still pretty solidly Swords & Sorcery. Many of those magic items don't even appear in the narrative, or only in passing.
 

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