D&D General Lethality, AD&D, and 5e: Looking Back at the Deadliest Edition


Not your screen monkey (he/him)
I guess I'm confusing they fact that they can use any weapon with what they can use per level.
There's a difference between "can use" and "can use with full proficiency". They can use any at any level, but they have a limited (albeit increasing by level) number of ones they use with full proficiency.

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Morkus from Orkus
Just to briefly interject- it wasn't just fireballs. It could be dragonbreath.


The item saving throw table applied to acid, crushing blows, normal blows, disintegrate, falling, fireballs, magical fire, normal fire, frost, lightning, and electricity.

Falling was a killer of potions, especially because you had a 1 point penalty for each 5' after the initial 5' of falling. So a fall of 35' (for example) would give your items a -6 on saves, and potions would save on a 13 to begin with- meaning your potions in vials would need a 19 or higher, each, to survive the fall.
Yep. I didn't feel like spelling all of that out. Included crushing and tossed the rest into other spells and traps. :p

Tons of ways to lose items unless the DM put on the kid gloves.

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
Funny that you reference Critical Role when Matt has killed off multiple PCs and come close to TPKs on occasion.

Admittedly most were raised, but that's always been an option and its not automatic in his game.
Calling something not automatic when every attempt succeeds in practice packs less punch then you would imagine.


B/X Known World
Eh. 17-18 Strength (or other prime requisite) would be quite common in AD&D IME. Pretty much everyone I played with DID use generous ability rolling methods. I think our most common over years was 4d6 drop lowest, roll three sets and pick one. Having a couple of scores high enough for bonuses would be pretty common (and Gygax suggested that a PC should have at least two scores of 15 or better in the PH), but three at the 16+ range is pretty fortunate. We never did point-swapping to Prime Requisite in AD&D though, which I think Hussar said his group did.
Damn. That’s generous. We did 4d6 drop the lowest and arrange to taste. One set of six scores.
Did you ever see the blog post Jeff Rients did with a simplified way to calculate fireball volume in dungeons? Love it.

No, I had not. Thank you. We did something similar back in the day. Assumed all rooms were 10ft tall and counted up how many 5x5x10 rectangles the fireball’s volume would fill.


Victoria Rules
Somewhere around here I posted the magic items from Keep on the borderlands. I don't know what drugs where involved with the idea that Gygax and company advocated a low magic game but just perusing a few of those old module's will end that silly thought with any functioning brain.
You're assuming the PCs find all that magic. IME in a typical module they generally tend to find between 1/2 and 3/4 of it, which takes care of your 1/3 reduction right there. :)


Victoria Rules
The amount of magical items that were typically given out in an AD&D published adventure was definitely more than you'll see in a typical 5e adventure, at least from my experience. The thing is AD&D placed more of an emphasis on those items for increasing a player's power. 5e puts a lot of focus on the build for determining your power level and magic items are often not really needed to be effective in combat.
And, I repeat, magic items were also more easily broken/destroyed in 1e which meant finding replacements became important.

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