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


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overgeeked

B/X Known World
but my point was at no point early in game history was there ever an expectation of low magic
There was also no assumption of high magic. It was left to the referee. Just because treasure is listed in a module does not mean the referee has to keep it there. Monty Haul referees were called out as bad back in the day. Don’t assume all AD&D characters were festooned with magic items.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Reincarnate gets around system shock in 1e, and MUs can cast it. It even works on elves and half orcs.
Sure, provided the receiving character's player is cool with potentially having to play a badger or a basic kobold. IME most (all?) are not.

Reincarnation is bad news, and used only as a desperate last resort here except by certain chaotic types.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Sure, provided the receiving character's player is cool with potentially having to play a badger or a basic kobold. IME most (all?) are not.

Reincarnation is bad news, and used only as a desperate last resort here except by certain chaotic types.
Or as punishment.

“The person reincarnated will recall the majority of his or her former life and form, but the class they have, if any, in their new incarnation might be different indeed. Abilities and speech are likewise often changed.”

Built in level drain in the vast majority of cases. You’re not playing a badger with 15 levels of fighter. You’re just a badger now. Good luck.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
There was also no assumption of high magic. It was left to the referee. Just because treasure is listed in a module does not mean the referee has to keep it there. Monty Haul referees were called out as bad back in the day. Don’t assume all AD&D characters were festooned with magic items.
I wouldn't go that far.

Modules were generally assumed to be the standards for what an adventure should vaguely look like. They had lots of treasure in them, so naturally most homebrew modules followed this pattern.

Result: any long-lasting 1e character was-is very likely to have a pretty good load of magic on board; or at the very least to have gone through a lot if they've been unlucky with AoE-damage-caused magic meltdowns.
 

Oofta

Legend
Well, aside from the loss of a Con point each time, which eventually becomes a real problem... :)
If you die that many times, perhaps it's time to rethink something. Like getting more henchmen, or a dog that you teach to fetch the ball you throw down the creepy hallway. 🤔
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
I wouldn't go that far.

Modules were generally assumed to be the standards for what an adventure should vaguely look like. They had lots of treasure in them, so naturally most homebrew modules followed this pattern.

Result: any long-lasting 1e character was-is very likely to have a pretty good load of magic on board; or at the very least to have gone through a lot if they've been unlucky with AoE-damage-caused magic meltdowns.
Huh. Maybe that’s a your group thing or maybe it was an our group thing. When we started at higher levels you only started with one magic weapon, one magic armor, and one misc magic item. All approved by the referee, of course. We did far more consumables and single-use magic items (today a lot of people call them cyphers) and things like leveling up magic items in the fiction (go on this quest and your +1 becomes a +2, do this favor for the witch and she makes your sword a flame tongue, etc). We hated the golf bag of magic weapons thing.
 


Voadam

Legend
Well, aside from the loss of a Con point each time, which eventually becomes a real problem... :)
Its been a while but I can't find a reference to that for reincarnation.

Reincarnate (Necromantic)
Level: 7 Components: V, S, M
Range: Touch Casting Time: 1 turn
Duration: Permanent Saving Throw: None
Area of Effect: Person touched
Explanation/Description: Druids have the capability of bringing back the dead in another body if death occurred no more than a week before the casting of the spell. The person reincarnated will recall the majority of his or her former life and form, but the class they have, if any, in their new incarnation might be different indeed. Abilities and speech are likewise often changed. The table below gives the reincarnation possibilities of this spell:
Die Roll Incarnation
01-03 badger
04-08 bear, black
09-12 bear, brown
13-16 boar, wild
17-19 centaur
20-23 dryad
24-28 eagle
29-31 elf
32-34 faun
35-36 fox
37-40 gnome
41-44 hawk
45-58 human
59-61 lynx
62-64 owl
65-68 pixie
69-70 raccoon
71-75 stag
76-80 wolf
81-85 wolverine
86-00 use magic-user reincarnation
Any sort of player character can be reincarnated. If an elf, gnome or human is indicated, the character must be created. When the corpse is touched, the new incarnation will appear in the area within 1 to 6 turns. (Cf. sixth level magic-user spell reincarnation.)

DMG commentary:
Reincarnation: Regardless of the form of the creature in which the character is reincarnated, allow the new form to progress as far as possible in characteristics and abilities. For example, a badger character could grow to giant size, have maximum hit points, plus bonus points for a high constitution, and the intelligence level of its former character. A centaur reincarnation might eventually gain hit dice up to 5, 6, 7, or even 8, and it would be eligible to wear armor, use magic items, etc.

Reincarnation (Necromantic)
Level: 6 Components: V, S, M
Range: Touch Casting Time: 1 turn
Duration: Permanent Saving Throw: None
Area of Effect: Person touched
Explanation/Description: This spell is similar to the seventh level druid spell of the same name (q.v.). It does not require any saving throw for system shock or resurrection survival. The corpse is touched, and a new incarnation of the person will appear in the area in 1 to 6 turns, providing the person has not been dead for longer than 1 day per level of experience of the magic-user. The new incarnation will be:
Die Roll Incarnation
01-05 bugbear
06-11 dwarf
12-18 elf
19-23 gnoll
24-28 gnome
29-33 goblin
34-40 half-elf
41-47 halfling
48-54 haIf-orc
55-59 hobgoblin
60-73 human
74-79 kobold
80-85 orc
86-90 ogre
91-95 ogre mage
96-00 troll
Note: Very good or very evil persons will not be reincarnated as creatures whose general alignment is the opposite. The material components of the spell are a small drum and a drop of blood.

DMG commentary:
Reincarnation: See the cleric spell of the same name for commentary on this spell.

The con limit and con loss seem raise dead/resurrection specific.

1e PH page 12 under Constitution:

"It is of utmost importance to understand that a character’s initial constitution score is also the maximum number of times the character can be raised from the dead/resurrected, and that each such revivification reduces the character’s constitution score by 1. Although a character’s constitution can be restored to its former score, or even raised above this number, by magical means, this in no way alters the initial score limitation, nor does such magical change in constitution restore to the character additional chances for revivification. Thus, if a character has an initial constitution of 15, he or she can never be brought back to life by a raise dead or resurrection spell more often than 15 times. Note that a rod of resurrection is considered the same as a spell of the same sort. The 16th death is final and irrevocable without use of some other magical means such as a wish."

and

"Resurrection Survival shows the percentage chance the character has of being successfully raised from the dead or resurrected by a cleric. The score of the percentile dice must be equal to or less than the number shown on the table, or the character fails to be revivified and is completely and totally dead forever. Remember that a character can never be raised from the dead/resurrected a total number of times in excess of the character’s initial constitution score."
 


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