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

teitan

Legend
I can't think of anything more antithetical to old school play than milestone leveling. Even the alternative you suggest misses the point. XP for recovered gold does the thing it is supposed to: focus play on results (recovering that treasure) not process (killing monsters). The XP is hidden behind a secret door, or trapped, or in the monster's lair. How are you bunch of crazy fools going to not only get it, but get it out and back to town safely?
Good for you man. That's great, but the default in 5e is much to quick, so milestone is a more efficient way to emulate old school without house ruling in the old XP charts and at that point, just buy the 1e books off DM's Guild.
 

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S'mon

Legend
I can't think of anything more antithetical to old school play than milestone leveling.

I agree, and I find the 5e XP system works ok for slow advancement anyway. The trick is to use mostly low-challenge monsters and a more status quo approach to the environment. 5e PCs only advance quickly if they are fed a string of level appropriate combats. If they have to carefully pick fights, run away, and fight hordes of low xp creatures, advancement rate is slowed. Using individual XP, PCs only earn XP if present, and new PCs come in at a lower level slows things, too.

In my Faerun Adventures game using 5e RAW XP the most successful PCs have levelled up from 1-7 in 16 months of play, playing about 3 hours/week on average (currently 6 hours/fortnight, previously short 3 hour weekly sessions). One PC is nearing 8th level after last session he accidentally solo'd an encounter meant for a full party. :) Edit: A full level 9 party. :D
 

Yora

Legend
But do you want to always run big encounters with large numbers of enemies, that take correspondingly longer just to reduce XP? Surely there are easier ways than this.

And milestone XP can absolutely be about reaults rather than process. That's what the whole idea seems to be all about. You just have to select the things that make up the milestones and the amount of XP accordingly. Returning with a treasure haul can be a milestone. And you can even adjust the XP award precisely to the gp value instead of one of the generic amounts.
 

S'mon

Legend
But do you want to always run big encounters with large numbers of enemies, that take correspondingly longer just to reduce XP? Surely there are easier ways than this.

Big encounters with large numbers of enemies are certainly old school - until 3e they were routine. I run in a pretty organic/naturalistic way, sure the PCs might come across small/weak foes, but enemies who stand & fight do so because they think they can win. The PCs do occasionally fight a dragon or other high challenge opponent of course. In those cases typically either the dragon has allies or terrain advantages.

Milestones put all the power & responsibility for advancement in the hands of the GM, they also mean you can't have PCs with variable XP totals advancing differently. I don't like them even for a 'new school' game, and definitely not for old school sandboxing.

Edit: I have not found combat length in 5e to be a problem BTW, all my players seem happy. Edit 2: My player groups are 7-8 PCs so combat is fairly lengthy anyway.
 
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Nefermandias

Adventurer
But do you want to always run big encounters with large numbers of enemies, that take correspondingly longer just to reduce XP? Surely there are easier ways than this.

And milestone XP can absolutely be about reaults rather than process. That's what the whole idea seems to be all about. You just have to select the things that make up the milestones and the amount of XP accordingly. Returning with a treasure haul can be a milestone. And you can even adjust the XP award precisely to the gp value instead of one of the generic amounts.
That's absolutely right. The problem is that people on the internet doesn't seem to know the difference between Milestone Experience and Advancement Without XP. They are both very different and mutually exclusive options in the DMG.
 

S'mon

Legend
And milestone XP can absolutely be about reaults rather than process. That's what the whole idea seems to be all about. You just have to select the things that make up the milestones and the amount of XP accordingly. Returning with a treasure haul can be a milestone. And you can even adjust the XP award precisely to the gp value instead of one of the generic amounts.

You seem to be talking here about using the XP system, not milestone levelling? Yes the GM can certainly adjust how & when XP is awarded. I definitely give out XP for goal achievements, including obtaining treasure where that is the goal, or rescuing prisoners, or exploration. I have an XP chart I use for non-combat achievements which gives good results for me.

Edit: I use the standard 5e XP awards for combat XP level 1-10 as I find they do not give over-fast advancement. For my Faerun sandbox I plan to halve awards level 11-20 though.
 

Nefermandias

Adventurer
You seem to be talking here about using the XP system, not milestone levelling? Yes the GM can certainly adjust how & when XP is awarded. I definitely give out XP for goal achievements, including obtaining treasure where that is the goal, or rescuing prisoners, or exploration. I have an XP chart I use for non-combat achievements which gives good results for me.

Edit: I use the standard 5e XP awards for combat XP level 1-10 as I find they do not give over-fast advancement. For my Faerun sandbox I plan to halve awards level 11-20 though.
No. He's talking about milestones. Milestones is a system where you award XP for certain tasks (collecting gold pieces is a perfectly valid target for milestone XP). You are the one getting confused by another optional rule called "Advancement Without XP" They are both in the DMG.
 

S'mon

Legend
Here's one version of my non-combat awards chart. Note these awards are in addition to standard monster xp awards. Obtaining a Tier 1 treasure hoard without combat might be a Tier 1 moderate award, 50 XP per PC.

Low Level (Tier 1) XP awards (per PC)

Easy Achievement: 10 XP (Challenge 0)
Minor Achievement: 25 XP (Challenge 1/8)
Moderate Achievement: 50 XP (Challenge 1/4)
Major Achievement: 100 XP (Challenge 1/2)
Very Hard Achievement: 200 XP (Challenge 1)
Exceptional Achievement: 450 XP (Challenge 2)

Mid Level (Tier 2) XP awards (per PC)
Easy 50 XP (Challenge 1/4)
Minor 100 XP (Challenge 1/2)
Moderate 200 XP (Challenge 1)
Major 450 XP (Challenge 2)
Very Hard 700 XP (Challenge 3)
Exceptional 1100 XP (Challenge 4)

High Level (Tier 3) XP awards (per PC)
Easy 200 XP (Challenge 1)
Minor 450 XP (Challenge 2)
Moderate 700 XP (Challenge 3)
Major 1100 XP (Challenge 4)
Very Hard 1800 XP (Challenge 5)
Exceptional 2300 XP (Challenge 6)

Epic Level (Tier 4) XP awards (per PC)
Easy 700 XP (Challenge 3)
Minor 1100 XP (Challenge 4)
Moderate 1800 XP (Challenge 5)
Major 2300 XP (Challenge 6)
Very Hard 2900 XP (Challenge 7)
Exceptional 5000 XP (Challenge 8)

XP awards tend to increase over time, as the scale of achievements increase.
Acquiring significant Treasure is usually worth some XP, as is rescuing prisoners, infiltrating a guarded keep, exploring a cavern network, etc. A typical major session award for non-combat achievements might be 25 XP per PC at level 1, rising to ca 100 XP per PC at level 4.
 

S'mon

Legend
No. He's talking about milestones. Milestones is a system where you award XP for certain tasks (collecting gold pieces is a perfectly valid target for milestone XP). You are the one getting confused by another optional rule called "Advancement Without XP" They are both in the DMG.

Apologies - as you know, most people on the Internet use 'Milestone levelling' to mean ad hoc levelling when the GM says so - "level when you reach a Milestone", Story Based Advancement per page 261 of DMG.
 
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Yora

Legend
You can also award XP when characters complete significant milestones. When preparing your adventure, designate certain events or challenges as milestones, as with the following examples:
  • Accomplishing one in a series of goals necessary to complete the adventure.
  • Discovering a hidden location or piece of information relevant to the adventure.
  • Reaching an important destination.
The DMG of course assumes adventures to be scripted stories, because anything else is forgotten esoteric lore found only in occult ancient tomes. But it works just as well with fixed pre-established achievements that the players can pursue on their own initiative.
 

S'mon

Legend
Here's a simpler version of my non combat awards chart, intended for PCs starting at level 3:

Non-Combat XP Awards, per PC. Tier 1, 2, 3, 4
Minor: 100/200/300/500 - overcome a moderate non-combat challenge
Moderate: 200/400/600/1000 - typical session award, minor quest completion
Major: 400/800/1200/2000 - substantial quest completion
Mighty: 1000/2000/3000/5000 - major quest completion

So in my level 17 Primeval Thule campaign I use the XP awards from the far right column (Tier 4).
 

Reynard

Legend
Good for you man. That's great, but the default in 5e is much to quick, so milestone is a more efficient way to emulate old school without house ruling in the old XP charts and at that point, just buy the 1e books off DM's Guild.
I agree: don't use 5E to emulate old school play. Just play an old school version of D&D.

EDIT: Rereading that comes off more dismissive than I intended. My point was more that if you believe it takes a lot of work to get 5E to an old school state, then it seems like wasted effort when those games (and etroclones) are accessible.
 
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I dont believe it but I just read posts 1-132 straight through, took a few hours but...can I get my milestone xp now?

I read through this thread because I have alot of feelings toward 5E as @Yora . I think one of my problems is that I need to go back and re-read the 3 core books with the experience of the last 4-5 years of gaming and get a better understanding of what 5E rather than what its not. Then decide where I want to make changes.

One thing I've noticed browsing through some 2E MMs earlier tonight after posting in the "Obscure monsters that you got great use out of" thread was this. The 5E MM seems almost exclusively dedicated to creatures for hostile, combat purposes. There's really none that fill non-combat, non-hostile roles to center encounters/adventures around. I'm sure there's many more from previous editions but two that come to mind that aren't there that would make the game feel old school to me are things like Brownies and Leprechauns.
 

Yora

Legend
That was one of the things I noticed as well right when 5th edition first came out. Reducing the length of stat blocks was a very welcome change compared to 3rd edition, and there really was no need for monsters that have 20 different combat spells. But they very much went overboard with that.
In 3rd edition, the aboleth can use at will illusionary wall and mirage arcana (improved hallucinary terrain) to alter the environment, veil (mass disguise self) to alter its minions, use persistent image (permanent silent image) and programmed image (triggered delayed silent image), and use projected image to talk and cast spells through a remote controlled illusion of itself.
In 5th edition, it can drain hit points from a creature it charmed,
 

That was one of the things I noticed as well right when 5th edition first came out. Reducing the length of stat blocks was a very welcome change compared to 3rd edition, and there really was no need for monsters that have 20 different combat spells. But they very much went overboard with that.
In 3rd edition, the aboleth can use at will illusionary wall and mirage arcana (improved hallucinary terrain) to alter the environment, veil (mass disguise self) to alter its minions, use persistent image (permanent silent image) and programmed image (triggered delayed silent image), and use projected image to talk and cast spells through a remote controlled illusion of itself.
In 5th edition, it can drain hit points from a creature it charmed,
I miss the habitat/society and ecology sections among a few other features of the old 2E stat blocks. They arent necessary but were useful in creating "sensible" encounters and determining how creature will react within them. I play with a DM whose only played 5E and I think those things would give him more tools when running games so everything isnt so combat heavy.
 

Reynard

Legend
I miss the habitat/society and ecology sections among a few other features of the old 2E stat blocks. They arent necessary but were useful in creating "sensible" encounters and determining how creature will react within them. I play with a DM whose only played 5E and I think those things would give him more tools when running games so everything isnt so combat heavy.
The 2E Monstrous Manual is easily in my top 3 favorite D&D books of all time.
 

The 2E Monstrous Manual is easily in my top 3 favorite D&D books of all time.
So much variety of different creatures in them. Very little if any wasted space; all useful content, a small square with a picture of the creature (except the Invisible stalker is just a blank square iirc). But you are right the hardbound 2E Monstrous Manual would be on my short list of books if I had to choose a few to play D&D with for the rest of my life. All the monster books in 2E all started with: "HOW TO USE THIS BOOK", which was a great succinct introduction. I read the entry for the Bogie Brownie last night. I thought to myself I could take the information on that one single page and introduce them into my campaign in a starter adventure and run it without having to roll a single die all game. That's what old school means to me. WotC getting rid of that format was one of, if not the worst thing they did with 3E and editions after.
 

Reynard

Legend
So much variety of different creatures in them. Very little if any wasted space; all useful content, a small square with a picture of the creature (except the Invisible stalker is just a blank square iirc). But you are right the hardbound 2E Monstrous Manual would be on my short list of books if I had to choose a few to play D&D with for the rest of my life. All the monster books in 2E all started with: "HOW TO USE THIS BOOK", which was a great succinct introduction. I read the entry for the Bogie Brownie last night. I thought to myself I could take the information on that one single page and introduce them into my campaign in a starter adventure and run it without having to roll a single die all game. That's what old school means to me. WotC getting rid of that format was one of, if not the worst thing they did with 3E and editions after.
Emphasis mine.

I love 2E but I don't think it qualifies as "old school." in fact, I think it is the dividing line between "old school" and "middle school" D&D. Those awesome fluff entries in the 2E MM are a perfect example. Old school (Original, Basic, 1E) was less wordy and more utilitarian in almost everything it did, from monsters descriptions to spells to adventure keys.
 

Emphasis mine.

I love 2E but I don't think it qualifies as "old school." in fact, I think it is the dividing line between "old school" and "middle school" D&D. Those awesome fluff entries in the 2E MM are a perfect example. Old school (Original, Basic, 1E) was less wordy and more utilitarian in almost everything it did, from monsters descriptions to spells to adventure keys.
Fair enough, I can see that, and correct 2E extremely expanded on the entries. I played more 2E than 1E. We were still figuring out the game in the early to mid 80s when playing 1E, and every DM did whatever they wanted. Most of games were short games for a week or two or pickup games with a different group so we didnt play in extended campaigns or huge dungeon crawls. Although the rules were different 1E and 2E could both be used in the same game with minimal adjustment. Eventually we went full on 2E. We started playing alot more often, sandboxing, running extended campaigns and playing more complex PCs. So 2E to me is "old school" as thats the edition we got the most/best milage out of.
 

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