5E Is 5e "Easy Mode?"

Sadras

Hero
It's very clear that what I wrote is 180 degrees away from what you are claiming I wrote.
Apologies for that misunderstanding.
I would take it one step further and lay more blame at the designers door given their published adventures match the way most groups play which means their designer guidelines are ignored by the very same designers. They should have rather increased the potency of monsters and/or decreased the effectiveness of PC's.
 
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lowkey13

Guest
So, I'm tweaking my house rules, and really going back to what I wanted to do in the first place which is leverage the streamlined rules of 5e but on an AD&D framework. To that end, I decided to look at the Proficiency/Expertise of 5e compared to the to-hit tables for AD&D (which I think was largely consistent through 3.5e, but I haven't double-checked), and found some very interesting things.

A lot of folks, me included, often feel like 5e is a lot easier than older editions when it comes to the chance of success.

In general, I haven't liked Expertise since a +12 sounds quite high to me (well, us). Part of this is because I like the concept of a system that has non-proficient/proficient/expert divisions. We'd also like that to be consistent across all types of proficiencies - skills, combat, and saves. We don't have armor proficiency, so it doesn't have to apply there.

Anyway, too see how that would scale, I started with combat.

What would happen if we allowed expertise in combat for a +12 bonus? Whoa, that sounds huge, doesn't it?

Except in AD&D at 17th level a Cleric had a +10, a Rogue was +8, a Wizard +5, and a Fighter a whopping +16! By 20th level that cleric is +12, the rogue +9, the wizard +6, and the fighter a +19.

Of course, this is only part of the equation, since the AC/DC of a check may be different in 5e than earlier editions, which is something else to investigate. But I certainly didn't remember the to-hit bonuses to be this high (and also forgot how much better at combat a cleric was than a rogue).

Seems like 5e may not be as "over-powered" as I initially thought...

Anyway, I thought others might find that interesting.
Thinking about this, and trying to disambiguate it from the other thread (is 5e the "least-challenging"), I have a few separate thoughts.

I think it would help by confining the analysis, as you did, to 1e (AD&D). Preferably prior to UA, since that introduces complication and optional rules that start making it harder to compare (specialization in weapons, cavalier/paladin weirdness, and so on).

From that, I think that there are multiple ways to look at it. Let's start by acknowledging the obvious- it's really hard to compare base rules. Because 1e, notoriously, doesn't run great "out of the box," and so you can start getting into all sorts of complications - for example, are you using Weapons v. AC adjustments?

Now, with all those caveats out of the way, let's examine the question you are asking in a general sort of way ... that is to say, how do 1e and 5e generally compare?

People correctly say that 5e is "swingy" at very low levels. Until at least 3rd level, combat can (CAN) be deadly because of the swinginess. But 1e isn't swingy- it's deadly. Combat is a deadly activity at low levels, and remains so for some time. Even at higher levels, because of the difference in hit points etc. and level assumptions, combat can remain deadly.

That brings us to more observations- 1e is designed to have maximal "niche" protection between classes, and 5e has almost none. Put more simply- all classes in 5e have some use in different situations, and you can pick and choose certain abilities (or MC them or feat them) fairly easily in 5e. Combine some subclasses, archetypes, races, etc., and there is a fairly minimal amount of niche protection. On the other hand, in 1e, if you want to find and remove traps, or you want to cast a fireball, or you need a front-line melee combatant, your choices were much more limited.

Then we have to get to the level comparisons. The usual standard of play that I have seen in 5e is that 1-15 is fairly standard (and amazingly quick!) and 16+ is much more rare. AD&D, for the most part, tended to top off at name level. Yes, there were so-called "Monty Haul" campaigns, but there did not tend to be a lot of 10+ level characters (or NPCs) in a typical AD&D campaign.

It continues with other facets of the game (save or die becomes save or suck; level drain disappears; healing by default occurs in 5e to an extent undreamed of in 1e). Even looking at the way characters advance; it is very difficult to talk about the power of a "standard" name-level character in AD&D, because the majority of a PC's power and differentiation came from the acquisition and use of magic items; contrast that with 5e, wherein a PC gets a large amount of power simply from class abilities, and the game is designed to allow magic items to be "ribbons" that aren't necessary.

But ... I'm not sure it necessarily means that 5e is "easy mode." Because it depends on what you're looking for, and what the goals of the game qua game are. For example, it is indisputable to me that many early videogames are "hard" in the sense that you have a limited amount of lives before you have a "game over," whereas a modern game often just sets you back somewhere (perhaps a prior save point). But I'm not sure that it's proper to say that all modern games are "easy mode" so much as to say that the goals of the game have changed with the gestalt of the time; would it really make sense in, say, Assassin's Creed to have 3 lives?

TLDR; different games are better suited for different purposes. Aspects of 5e make it more likely that a character will survive from level 1 to level 20, but I don't know that this means it is "easy mode" in a pejorative sense.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
So this is what we're going to do today...repeat the identical thread which already exists, with the same responses that already exist...and the same responses to those responses which already exist...

OK then.
>shrug< Sure, why not - I mean hell, aren't we all on lockdown anyway with nothing else to do? :)
 

Ilbranteloth

Explorer
All that said, I would say that even when you play within the guidelines, it is still easy mode compared to the older editions, simply because of other rule changes ... for example:

Save or die -> save or suck.
Level loss -> doesn't exist.
System shock + loss of constitution -> doesn't exist.
Death at 0 -> Whack-a-mole.
Need for clerical healing -> Oprah healing (You get healing, and you get healing, and YOU get a free car ...um, healing).
One thing that I've pointed out elsewhere is that it's actually harder to die in AD&D than 5e, although the consequences are quite different.

In AD&D, you didn't die until you reached -10 hp. From the 1e DMG:

"When any creature is brought to 0 hit points (optionally as low as -3 hit points from the same blow which brought the total to 0), it is unconscious. In each of the next succeeding rounds 1 additional (negative) hit point will be lost until -10 is reached and the creature dies. ... It ceases immediately on any round a friendly creature administers aid to the unconscious one."

Note that it's "any" creature and it doesn't require any checks, just providing aid. Where it differs is the consequences:

"Any character brought to 0 (or fewer) hit points and then revived will remain in a coma for 1-6 turns (10-60 minutes). Thereafter, he or she must rest for a full week, minimum. ... This is true even if cure spells and/or healing potions are given to him or her, although if a heal spell is bestowed the prohibition no longer applied.

If any creature reaches a state of -6 or greater negative hit points before being revived, this could indicate scarring or the loss of some member, if you so choose."


Note that this became an optional rule in 2e, otherwise you died at 0 hp.

And frankly, it's the "get knocked to 0 hit points, then get revived an act like nothing happened" aspect of 5e death and dying that I like the least.

So in AD&D it takes 7-10 rounds to die. In 5e, it can take 3-5 rounds to die.

In AD&D, however, you will die without assistance. In 5e you can spontaneously recover.

In AD&D, you are finished adventuring for a week. Your party has to drag you around and protect you, leave you there and protect you, or everybody returns to town to recover. In 5e, you just continue.

So AD&D feels more challenging because you have to work hard to make sure nobody is reduced to 0 hit points. That dramatically alters your tactics in combat. But mathematically, it's actually easier.

--

Although I haven't done the math, I suspect that this holds true across combat. For example:

I think that ACs in 5e are generally lower than AD&D.
I think that hit points are generally higher in 5e than AD&D.

But I think it might take roughly the same amount of rounds to win a combat.

That is, I think that it takes fewer hits to kill a monster in AD&D, but you hit less frequently. So the number of rounds is probably similar.

In 5e, you hit more frequently, but it takes more hits to kill the monsters (not including burst damage, etc.).

It could be mathematically identical, but the feel is different between hitting more than less frequently.

Combine this with the fact that in AD&D you're trying to avoid being reduced to 0 hp, rather than the often encouraged "it's most advantageous to wait until 0 hp to apply healing), I think that it reinforces the idea that AD&D is more challenging.

--

Aside from the lack of save or die, and things like level drain, the one thing that I think does make 5e easier is the frequency and amount of healing. This is particularly evident in something like Tomb of Horrors, since each day you start with full hit points in 5e. This more than anything has greatly altered how older adventures play in 5e. In fact, I should complete an extensive study I started as to how deadly ToH is in AD&D (it's not as deadly as you think). But it's virtually impossible to have the same experience in ToH in 5e.

Overall, I think AD&D is actually "easier" in most regards when looking at the math, but the feel is much different. The slow healing combined with "don't get dropped to 0 hit points" is what gives it a much grittier feel, even if the math itself doesn't bear that out. And I admittedly haven't verified all the math yet.

In the end, it's probably the feel that matters more than anything. And I think this is a good example of the feel that I think 5e is lacking for our game (and why we've made so many changes).
 
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lowkey13

Guest
One thing that I've pointed out elsewhere is that it's actually harder to die in AD&D than 5e, although the consequences are quite different.

In AD&D, you didn't die until you reached -10 hp. From the 1e DMG:

"When any creature is brought to 0 hit points (optionally as low as -3 hit points from the same blow which brought the total to 0), it is unconscious. In each of the next succeeding rounds 1 additional (negative) hit point will be lost until -10 is reached and the creature dies. ... It ceases immediately on any round a friendly creature administers aid to the unconscious one."

SNIP
So, you don't understand that rule. That is specifically for what happens when you are brought to EXACTLY 0 hp (optionally, as low as -3 hp).

If a blow takes you to -1hp, you are dead.

So .... um, yeah. It's much, much, much easier to die. Sorry.



So AD&D feels more challenging because you have to work hard to make sure nobody is reduced to 0 hit points. That dramatically alters your tactics in combat. But mathematically, it's actually easier.
No.


I think that ACs in 5e are generally lower than AD&D.
Yes.

I think that hit points are generally higher in 5e than AD&D.
Yes.

But I think it might take roughly the same amount of rounds to win a combat.
That is, I think that it takes fewer hits to kill a monster in AD&D, but you hit less frequently. So the number of rounds is probably similar.

In 5e, you hit more frequently, but it takes more hits to kill the monsters (not including burst damage, etc.).

It could be mathematically identical, but the feel is different between hitting more than less frequently.
NO! Again, you are missing the forest for the trees. Not everything is equal.

I've played 1e for decades, I've played 5e since it's come out. The differences aren't just in "feel."

This is a bizarre conversation; you played OD&D and 1e (pre-UA), right? Level drain, save-or-die, d4 HP, lack of healing, death when you get knocked below 0hp (ahem).

Right? I am very confused by this whole thing.

EDIT- just compare, for example, the orchard in Tharizdun in the 1e module and find anything similar in 5e. I don't think you can. Completely different gestalt.
 

Seramus

Adventurer
It's not easy mode, but the attrition model means that at least some of the fights in a day are probably going to be easy. This gives the DM a lot of leeway when it comes to encounter balance, because an unbalanced encounter usually just consumes more resources.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
So, you don't understand that rule. That is specifically for what happens when you are brought to EXACTLY 0 hp (optionally, as low as -3 hp).

If a blow takes you to -1hp, you are dead.
In fairness, we always interpreted that passage the same way as @Ilbranteloth did - that unconsciousness was at 0 and death was at -10.

Of course, we then went on to complicate the hell out of it... :)

EDIT- just compare, for example, the orchard in Tharizdun in the 1e module and find anything similar in 5e. I don't think you can. Completely different gestalt.
More to the point, maybe: would successfully using the orchard be anywhere near as big a deal in 5e, given that 5e's base mechanics already provide similar benefits on a regular basis anyway?
 
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lowkey13

Guest
In fairness, we always interpreted that passage the same way as @Ilbranteloth did - that unconsciousness was at 0 and death was at -10.

Of course, we then went on to complicate the hell out of it... :)
There were many different variant and house rules designed to lessen the impact of the harshness of the game, not to mention the prevalence of DM and player fudging. ("Oh, the wraith missed you again.")

But that doesn't change the quoted rule. ;)

More to the point, maybe: would successfully using the orchard be anywhere near as big a deal in 5e, given that 5e's base mechanics already provide similar benefits on a regular basis anyway?
As I wrote, it's a completely different gestalt. Nothing in 5e would either have such an emphasis on a small ability score boost, nor would nothing in 5e be so likely to cause death with no ability to be brought back to life, and with such indecipherable and random rules.

Point is, going back to my original response, trying to determine if 5e is "easy mode" or "the least challenging edition" misses the essential issue; it is a different game, for a different time, with different expectations.
 

Todd Roybark

Adventurer
In 1e if you had max hp of 50 and were down to 5 hp and took 16 hp in damage you were killed.
1e Magic Missile for the win, unless they had a Brooch of Shielding, then it was Dimension Door time, because casting spells in CQC was really tough to do by RAW in 1e.
 
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lowkey13

Guest
Here is the full text, @Lanefan

Zero Hit Points:
When any creature is brought to 0 hit points (optionally as low as -3 hit points if from the same blow which brought the total to 0), it is unconscious. In each of the next succeeding rounds 1 additional (negative) point will be lost until -10 is reached and the creature dies. Such loss and death are caused from bleeding, shock, convulsions, non-respiration, and similar causes. It ceases immediately on any round a friendly creature administers aid to the unconscious one. Aid consists of binding wounds, starting respiration, administering a draught (spirits, healing potion, etc.), or otherwise doing whatever is necessary to restore life.

Any character brought to 0 (or fewer) hit points and then revived will remain in a corna far 1-6turns. Thereafter, he or she must rest for a full week, minimum. He or she will be incapable of any activity other than that necessary to move slowly to a place of rest and eat and sleep when there. The character cannot attack, defend, cast spells, use magic devices, carry burdens, run, study, research, or do anything else. This is true even if cure spells and/or healing potions are given to him or her, although if a heal spell is bestowed the prohibition no longer applies.

If any creature reaches a state of -6 or greater negative paints before being revived, this could indicate scarring or the loss of some member, if you so choose. For example, a character struck by a fireball and then treated when at -9 might have horrible scar tissue on exposed areas of flesh - hands, arms, neck, face.
So, notice that the heading- it's a subheading, under the "HIT POINTS" section, called, "Zero Hit Points". The first sentence ie explicit - when any creature is brought to 0 hit points (optionally as low as -3) it is unconscious. This is the specialized case for when a hit doesn't kill you (take you negative) but instead drops you to 0hp.

Why is this specialized and optional rule for zero hit points in the DMG? Look at the PHB section for damage:

Damage is meted out in hit points. If any creature reaches 0 or negative hit points, it is dead.

The specialized rule for unconsciousness is in contrast to the general principle that 0hp = dead that was well understood.

See, e.g., Len Lakofka in dragon Magazine #26 - June 1979 (killed is zero hp). This is the same as in OD&D, Holmes Basic, and Moldvay Basic.

I think that a lot of the confusion comes in from people who ended up playing a lot of 2e, and remember the "Hovering on Death's Door" rule, which is similar but different than the 1e DMG rule.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
4e had way more tactical levers to pull to make encounters more or less difficult without even changing the total XP budget.
Yeh the tactics is nice but I think there is a bigger benefit for me
Balance serves story flexibility and 5e feels way less flexible as a storytelling goes in 4e you can have any number of encounters a day without everything being blown out of the water by casters.
Further out of combat balance was better too with characters that invest heavily in skills could be just as awesome without being a caster
 
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Ilbranteloth

Explorer
This fascination to paint 5e as anything less than easy mode is bizarre.
In my case I was just surprised at the math, since I hadn't directly compared it. Overall I agree with many others' assessments that it's a different game for many different reasons.

I'm much less concerned about whether it's easy or hard, as I am about the game having the feel that I originally learned and loved, which is heavily influenced by Holmes Basic/B2 and AD&D along with many Dragon articles and eventually the Forgotten Realms Gray Box.

We'll all have different experiences and goals in our games, and what we consider easy/hard, etc. is quite different from person to person. But as I continue to tweak, looking back at the math from those editions has altered how I'm approaching it a bit.
 

Essafah

Explorer
No 5E is not easy mode. What 5E is about is having PCs be larger than life action style heroes and as both a DM and player I think this is fine and keeps in like with many classic larger than life Sword & sorcery heroes of old like Conan who may or may not be born to a lower social class but whose innate abilities are clearly beyond the normal human to mythic in nature. As an player who started many editions ago. I think this change is and play style is good.
 

Ilbranteloth

Explorer
Here is the full text, @Lanefan



So, notice that the heading- it's a subheading, under the "HIT POINTS" section, called, "Zero Hit Points". The first sentence ie explicit - when any creature is brought to 0 hit points (optionally as low as -3) it is unconscious. This is the specialized case for when a hit doesn't kill you (take you negative) but instead drops you to 0hp.

Why is this specialized and optional rule for zero hit points in the DMG? Look at the PHB section for damage:

Damage is meted out in hit points. If any creature reaches 0 or negative hit points, it is dead.

The specialized rule for unconsciousness is in contrast to the general principle that 0hp = dead that was well understood.

See, e.g., Len Lakofka in dragon Magazine #26 - June 1979 (killed is zero hp). This is the same as in OD&D, Holmes Basic, and Moldvay Basic.

I think that a lot of the confusion comes in from people who ended up playing a lot of 2e, and remember the "Hovering on Death's Door" rule, which is similar but different than the 1e DMG rule.
No, the "confusion" didn't come from 2e for us. That was how we always interpreted that rule. We figured that since the DMG was published later the rule was a new addition, superseded the earlier "holdover" from OD&D/Basic and we liked it. I seem to recall my friend's parents played the same way (we were kids after all).

Even today it seems an oddly specific and complex rule for a relatively rare circumstance (being reduced to exactly 0 hit points, with the optional -3 extension to make it more likely) for such a thorough rule to be written. I don't recall the Dragon article, so I dug it out. Are you referring to a sentence on the article on how to become a lich? If so, I'm impressed. Even I wouldn't have found that reference or considered it as clarification for a rule in the DMG. Maybe I missed another reference in my skim through the issue?

In any event, I'll agree that upon closer examination, that appears to be the intent (the example of combat on pg 71 supports it as well). Regardless, everybody I knew who played AD&D used the -10 rule, and yes, we continued to use it in 2e, although we stuck with the 1e version. I recall it being one of the rules that we specifically pointed out that made AD&D "more realistic" than what became BECMI and evidence of the authors' war gaming and love of history, since many deaths in war are from infection rather than actually dying on the battlefield.

It seems like we weren't the only ones, so I'm not sure it was "well understood."

Regardless, I agree that the feel and the type of game is quite different between the two. I think Tomb of Horrors is a good example of a 1e adventure that really doesn't translate well to 5e, and I'm not sure it really translated well to any later edition. At least not if you're looking to get the same feel out of the adventure.

But thanks, I learned something today!
 

Ilbranteloth

Explorer
No 5E is not easy mode. What 5E is about is having PCs be larger than life action style heroes and as both a DM and player I think this is fine and keeps in like with many classic larger than life Sword & sorcery heroes of old like Conan who may or may not be born to a lower social class but whose innate abilities are clearly beyond the normal human to mythic in nature. As an player who started many editions ago. I think this change is and play style is good.
This I definitely agree with. For a mass-market game in the age of the MCU, this is exactly what it should be. Unfortunately, it's also not really what I want.

The new mechanics are strong, and Adventures in Middle Earth is an amazing template for how you can tone 5e down to a much more AD&D feel. It also shows how you can modify races, classes, etc. to tie them into the setting more tightly, just like they did in 1e/2e.

But that's OK, because if they designed what I want, it wouldn't be selling nearly as well. I will say that when we started with D&D Next, and even with the final version of 5e, I was extremely excited and my initial reaction was, "now this is D&D." Especially at low levels they really nailed it. It's when I started digging a little deeper, plus getting to higher levels, that it veered more toward the BECMI model than the AD&D model. So we did what we've always done, and have made it into the game we want to play.

Right now, since I have some time, I thought I'd try to finally get our rules into a format where I could put it on DMsGuild as an AD&D/5e mashup, which is what led me to look more closely at how they differ. What I've learned is that while I think our feel is still very AD&D-like, we've found that we really have chosen to take ideas from all editions and it's really something that's uniquely ours. But that's kind of always how I thought it should be.
 

Ilbranteloth

Explorer
EDIT- just compare, for example, the orchard in Tharizdun in the 1e module and find anything similar in 5e. I don't think you can. Completely different gestalt.
I'm kind of wondering what you're getting at with this? Not saying you're wrong, just don't understand.

It's a classic 1e puzzle, where each PC needs to figure out which tree relates to them, and it provides a bonus for success (and a big one in that era where increasing Ability Scores was not baked into the rules). It's also a lesson in greed. Rather than an arbitrary, "it only works once," it actually has an in-world answer to why everybody can't just eat more fruit.

Are you saying that 5e doesn't do this sort of thing at all?

I'd agree with that, other than republishing older adventures. 5e is built on bonuses alone, rather than bonuses and penalties. D&D as a whole has shied away from player-solved puzzles. I think a big part of this is that it's much harder to design a puzzle for players so it's not too hard or too easy. Spoilers are also an issue. But I think the real reason is the increased desire for "balance" and that you can design for PC skill much easier than for player skill.

Having said that, I'll also admit that I haven't run any of the 5e APs, so perhaps there are things similar to this that I'm not readily aware of.

I miss those sort of things myself, but I do think it requires a certain sort of gamer mentality that is probably absent in a lot of gamers today. They just aren't used to them at this point. Player skill is now more focused on the character build and finding creative use of manipulating the mechanics/rules (I'm not saying that's a bad thing, just different). Sure, there were always players trying to find loopholes in the rules, but then the DM was assumed to have the authority to say, "no."
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
No 5E is not easy mode. What 5E is about is having PCs be larger than life action style heroes
Personally I feel the large than life was first invoked in Chainmail with the superhero called out as a one man army who could drive enemies from the field with his presence alone and
(it was only poking its head through a window in AD&D and felt a bit lost ) but 2e brought the flavor back at least in naming a fairly large number of Demigods in 2e phb as inspirational characters descriptions particularly for the fighter ok the mechanics didnt do as well as later 3e or 4e definitely did or 5e perhaps can do but its been part of the mix a long time.
 

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