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D&D General Is power creep bad?

Is power creep, particularly in D&D, a bad thing?

  • More power is always better (or why steroids were good for baseball)

    Votes: 3 2.3%
  • Power creep is fun when you also boost the old content

    Votes: 34 26.2%
  • Meh, whatever

    Votes: 23 17.7%
  • I'd rather they stick to a base power level, but its still playable

    Votes: 36 27.7%
  • Sweet Mary, mother of God, why? (or why are there apples and cinnamon in my oatmeal?)

    Votes: 23 17.7%
  • Other, I'll explain.

    Votes: 11 8.5%

Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
I have to ask if you're serious, because for the life of me, I never understood the upside to level drain. Ok, you're now a level weaker. Which means you are less able to contribute to whatever part you're a member of- possibly forever!

Was 100% joking. I do think the 5e replacements could be more serious, though.
 

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DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
See I cut my teeth in AD&D when it took forever to gain a level, and when you encounter a creature that could level drain, there wasn't anything you could do about it- not getting hit isn't really an option (well, I mean, it is an option, if the DM is allowing parries and such, but the first time you realize your opponent is a vampire/wight/spectre/wraith you probably weren't prepared for it).

Losing because you failed a roll is rough. Losing because the DM succeeded at a roll? Blah.

I never used level draining monsters as a DM because it just felt unnecessarily cruel- killing the PC's is usually more merciful!
Yep, started with AD&D and B/X as well.

ALWAYS LOVED LEVEL DRAIN! Both as player and DM. It hurt so much when it happened it was great in its own way. :)
 



James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Supporter
I would say that if you are trying to engage in a stand up fight with a level draining monster in AD&D, you are either very unlucky (got surprised by wights) or not really approaching them game the way it is meant to be played. I think folks often misinterpret why we have "weaker" monsters in 5E in regards to save or die, level drain and so on. it isn't because "5E is kids stuff or for dirty casuals" or any of that. it's because 5E is the MCU of D&D editions, designed to be full of bombastic action set pieces and peopled by larger than life heroes. Of course you don't want level drain in that game -- it's counter to the goal. But that doesn't mean it's "bad design" as people often accuse. It is just intended for a very different style of play.
I didn't say it was bad design, though I can see why my position can be interpreted that way. I said I don't see how it's good design. Is the juice worth the squeeze?

Consider the classic AD&D format. You come to a door, the Rogue checks it, unlocks it, steps back. Fighter opens the door. Roll for initiative! Immediately you get jumped by wraith spiders! Unlike you, they don't have a speed factor added to their initiative for their attacks- each of which is a level drain attack! As your allies flee in terror, you realize that now that you're engaged in melee, you open yourself up to a free attack from each and every level draining monster you are now in melee with to flee. Which of course, unless you stated that action when you rolled initiative (and why would you, it was just a bunch of spiders?), you're now forced to take your attacks and wait until next turn....*

You died because...you did what you were supposed to do? Of course, AD&D is full of situations like this, such as all the "haha, gotcha" monsters that murder you because you didn't think a bunny rabbit was a serious threat.

The only upside I can see to this is...the Fighter dies. A lot. And everyone has a chuckle at the player's expense.

*You might be saying, "aw, that would never happen". I assure you it totally did, in Ruins of Undermountain II: The Deep levels.
 

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
I didn't say it was bad design, though I can see why my position can be interpreted that way. I said I don't see how it's good design. Is the juice worth the squeeze?

Consider the classic AD&D format. You come to a door, the Rogue checks it, unlocks it, steps back. Fighter opens the door. Roll for initiative! Immediately you get jumped by wraith spiders! Unlike you, they don't have a speed factor added to their initiative for their attacks- each of which is a level drain attack! As your allies flee in terror, you realize that now that you're engaged in melee, you open yourself up to a free attack from each and every level draining monster you are now in melee with to flee. Which of course, unless you stated that action when you rolled initiative (and why would you, it was just a bunch of spiders?), you're now forced to take your attacks and wait until next turn....*

You died because...you did what you were supposed to do? Of course, AD&D is full of situations like this, such as all the "haha, gotcha" monsters that murder you because you didn't think a bunny rabbit was a serious threat.

The only upside I can see to this is...the Fighter dies. A lot. And everyone has a chuckle at the player's expense.

*You might be saying, "aw, that would never happen". I assure you it totally did, in Ruins of Undermountain II: The Deep levels.
It is absolutely true that if the GM (or module writer) wants to screw you, you're dead. But, I would argue that the social contract at a AD&D table assumes the players will have the information at their disposal to make decisions that mitigate the threats. That's kind of the whole point of that style of dungeon crawl: find the treasure, and avoid combat or at least turn it to your advantage. The third in your example should have listened and searched for signs and the GM should have told them what they found. The "gotcha" is supposed to be aimed at lazy players who thought they were playing Diablo.


But I digress.
 

MGibster

Legend
I'm not an unreasonable man expecting any game to be perfectly balanced, but power creep is evidence of a flawed design. Ideally, characters of X level should be similarly powered regardless of class. I haven't seen many RPGs ruined by powercreep, but I've seen plenty of other games hampered by it. Warhammer 40k 9th edition has a huge powercreep problem to the detriment of the playerbase. It's no fun when your army is outclassed by almost everything else in the game. Just ask the poor Imperial Guards.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
See I cut my teeth in AD&D when it took forever to gain a level, and when you encounter a creature that could level drain, there wasn't anything you could do about it- not getting hit isn't really an option (well, I mean, it is an option, if the DM is allowing parries and such, but the first time you realize your opponent is a vampire/wight/spectre/wraith you probably weren't prepared for it).

Losing because you failed a roll is rough. Losing because the DM succeeded at a roll? Blah.

I never used level draining monsters as a DM because it just felt unnecessarily cruel- killing the PC's is usually more merciful!
That's why Restoration existed as a spell: to allow you to, at a cost, get lost levels back.

Level drainers show up in my games now and then; as do petrifiers (I mean hell, there's one in B2 - a 1st-level module!), creatures with save-or-die effects, aging-causers, and all sorts of other jolly things.

And yet even with all that, parties survive and carry on and eventually get rich and successful.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I didn't say it was bad design, though I can see why my position can be interpreted that way. I said I don't see how it's good design. Is the juice worth the squeeze?

Consider the classic AD&D format. You come to a door, the Rogue checks it, unlocks it, steps back. Fighter opens the door. Roll for initiative! Immediately you get jumped by wraith spiders! Unlike you, they don't have a speed factor added to their initiative for their attacks- each of which is a level drain attack! As your allies flee in terror, you realize that now that you're engaged in melee, you open yourself up to a free attack from each and every level draining monster you are now in melee with to flee. Which of course, unless you stated that action when you rolled initiative (and why would you, it was just a bunch of spiders?), you're now forced to take your attacks and wait until next turn....*

You died because...you did what you were supposed to do? Of course, AD&D is full of situations like this, such as all the "haha, gotcha" monsters that murder you because you didn't think a bunny rabbit was a serious threat.

The only upside I can see to this is...the Fighter dies. A lot.
I have numbers here, built up using a lot of data from 40+ years of play in our crew, that says the last statement above is untrue.

The Fighter in our games doesn't die any more (or any less) often than doe any other class, ignoring a few classes with a very small sample size that run to extremes each way.
*You might be saying, "aw, that would never happen". I assure you it totally did, in Ruins of Undermountain II: The Deep levels.
Never played or DMed any of R-of-U and have never even seen any of it other than R-of-U I.
 

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Supporter
I'm not an unreasonable man expecting any game to be perfectly balanced, but power creep is evidence of a flawed design. Ideally, characters of X level should be similarly powered regardless of class. I haven't seen many RPGs ruined by powercreep, but I've seen plenty of other games hampered by it. Warhammer 40k 9th edition has a huge powercreep problem to the detriment of the playerbase. It's no fun when your army is outclassed by almost everything else in the game. Just ask the poor Imperial Guards.
Warhammer 40k does have some problems, but it's not solely due to power creep (which sells books), but horrible balance decisions. Like any time they decide to make a Guardsman's "flashlight laser" worse.
 

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