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

Oofta

Legend
For all those people that broke potion bottles when someone was hit by an ogre's club, y'all played a far different game than I ever did. Following this rule, no one would have had potions for long in most of my games, getting hit by an ogre club or similar happened all the time.

For that matter, do you apply the rules to smash things in 5E? After all, a tiny bottle has 2HP according to chapter 8 of the DMG. Unless that potion bottle is stored in a bag of holding, seems like the same logic that applied then would apply now.
 

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Hussar

Legend
For all those people that broke potion bottles when someone was hit by an ogre's club, y'all played a far different game than I ever did. Following this rule, no one would have had potions for long in most of my games, getting hit by an ogre club or similar happened all the time.

For that matter, do you apply the rules to smash things in 5E? After all, a tiny bottle has 2HP according to chapter 8 of the DMG. Unless that potion bottle is stored in a bag of holding, seems like the same logic that applied then would apply now.
It would, though, explain why people talk about how they were blowing through equipment so quickly. That would certainly do it.
 

Again, I have to say, this is why I get so annoyed with these conversations.

I've been very, very careful, all the way along to be absolutely clear that I'm only talking about my own table and my own experience. I am in no way claiming that the way I played is in any way the "right" way or anything like that.

Yet, both @Maxperson and @overgeeked have tried quoting the rules at me over something that I've never heard even suggested in the past. Now, if that's the way it worked at your table? Fantastic. Whatever works. But, these attempts to claim that this is the "right and true" way to play the game, "Hello. Anyone using that item saving throw chart does. (@overgeeked above) is just so wrongheaded. No, not everyone played this way. No, this is not the only possible interpretation of the rules.

These conversations would be SO much more productive if people would stick to their own tables and experiences.
My experience more closely aligns with your experience here. In 2e we used the item saving throw when we felt it applied but we weren't rolling saving throws on the contents of your backpack every time a fireball hit you, though that was more about speed of play. We definitely didn't make people roll saves on their stuff when an ogre hit them, though to be fair I don't know that 2e had the verbiage anywhere to imply a save would be required if an ogre hit you.

@overgeeked and @Maxperson are you saying if an ogre struck a PC with a melee swing, you had them roll saves on all their stuff? If not all, how did you decide which stuff to roll for?

None of what I'm writing should be taken as "you're having badwrongfun". I'm legit interested in how different tables handled things. This is one of the things I love about forums like this.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
For all those people that broke potion bottles when someone was hit by an ogre's club, y'all played a far different game than I ever did. Following this rule, no one would have had potions for long in most of my games, getting hit by an ogre club or similar happened all the time.

For that matter, do you apply the rules to smash things in 5E? After all, a tiny bottle has 2HP according to chapter 8 of the DMG. Unless that potion bottle is stored in a bag of holding, seems like the same logic that applied then would apply now.

I only did it in severe cases not ogre hits you with club.

Saw an acid bolt destroy a holy avenger and a glyph of warding (flamestrike) incinerate chests full of potions, elven cloak/boots etc.
 

Oh, and since we're quoting the rules here, let's examine this one too shall we?



Huh, funny how things always seem to change as soon as we actually start opening the books.
Most modules that I've seen do tend to describe potions that you find as being in glass, so my guess is that's why people default mostly to that despite the DMG saying it's possible to find them in other materials.
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
Damn. That’s generous. We did 4d6 drop the lowest and arrange to taste. One set of six scores.

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.
Well, bear in mind that 4d6 drop lowest arrange to taste only gives an average of 12.24. With the AD&D ability score charts requiring a 15 or better for most stats to give a bonus (as low as 13 for a couple of them), and Gary's advice that a character normally needs at least two 15s or better, we realized that a single set usually wouldn't get you where you're meant to be. Multiple sets also gave a better chance of qualifying for one of the classes with higher requirements, like Ranger or Druid.

Note. I never said this.

Are you serious that you never had a fighter with a 14 or 15 Dex? Because that’s all you needed for AC bonuses.

Look I get that everyone seemed to play with characters whose highest stat was 12, but that’s not us. Hell look at the pre-gens in the modules. Those kinds of stats were common as dirt.

I mean really, a fighter with 17,10,9,15,16,12 for stats would raise eyebrows?
Totally fair point about the huge stats seen in modules. None of the recommended generation systems in the DMG would normally result in numbers like you commonly see in modules. In retrospect my guess is that Wishes and other magical increases were assumed to be responsible and must have been more common than they were in our games, where we took Gary's inveighing against Monty Haul campaigns very seriously. The alternate theory is that they were given better stats to compensate for having fewer magic items than you'd usually expect mid to high level characters to have.

I still wouldn't necessarily expect all three of Str, Dex, and Con to be high enough for bonuses. 4d6 drop lowest (the most common method then as now, as far as I can tell) rarely gets you there. My group's usual practice of giving three sets tripled the chances, but it certainly wasn't guaranteed or expected.

Probably in the old, old 3D6 days. I can't see why it would after 4D6-toss-lowest..

at some tables it would. Remember a lot of tables started with 3d6, some even with 3d6 in order. When I say I played far more rogues than I ever wanted in the early days I do not exagerate. But to be fair not all tables ran that way. And a lot of the ones that did would work in stat boosting items or even magical boons that just boosted your stats. Find the right wizard , cleric , fey lord or dragon and anything might be possible.
Yeah, evidently a fair number of tables kept to 3d6, which is crazy to me. But it must have been enough that they were a major proportion of the player write-in input for 2nd ed, because they made 3d6 the default method in that edition.

I always like to point people to the 1e AD&D PHB which says very clearly that a PC should have no less than two stats of 15 or higher. People playing 3d6 straight were not playing the way Gygax was directing.
Yup.

It doesn’t say that. What it says is: “Furthermore, it is usually essential to the character's survival to be exceptional (with a rating of 15 or above) in no fewer than two ability characteristics.”

“Usually essential” is not “no character shall have less than two 15s.”

Weird because exactly that method is a listed option in the DMG.
I can't agree. The stat tables are clearly built with the expectation of multiple high scores, and the daylight between "usually essential" and "mandatory" is vanishingly small. I think it's only there to allow for people who want to play on hard mode. Voadam's contrast between AD&D and B/X here is on-point. B/X only requires a 13 or better for most stats to get a bonus, and allows point-swapping to the Prime Requisite, so despite being 3d6 down the line you're almost always going to qualify for at least a +1.
 
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Zardnaar

Legend
Well, bear in mind that 4d6 drop lowest arrange to taste only gives an average of 12.24. With the AD&D ability score charts requiring a 15 or better for most stats to give a bonus (as low as 13 for a couple of them), and Gary's advice that a character normally needs at least two 15s or better, we realized that a single set usually wouldn't get you where you're meant to be. Multiple sets also gave a better chance of qualifying for one of the classes with higher requirements, like Ranger or Druid.


Totally fair point about the huge stats seen in modules. None of the recommended generation systems in the DMG would normally result in numbers like you commonly see in modules. In retrospect my guess is that Wishes and other magical increases were assumed to be responsible and must have been more common than they were in our games, where we took Gary's inveighing against Monty Haul campaigns very seriously.

I still wouldn't necessarily expect all three of Str, Dex, and Con to be high enough for bonuses. 4d6 drop lowest (the most common method then as now, as far as I can tell) rarely gets you there. My group's usual practice of giving three sets tripled the chances, but it certainly wasn't guaranteed or expected.




Yeah, evidently a fair number of tables kept to 3d6, which is crazy to me. But it must have been enough that they were a major proportion of the player write-in input for 2nd ed, because they made 3d6 the default method in that edition.


Yup.


I can't agree. The stat tables are clearly built with the expectation of multiple high scores, and the daylight between "usually essential" and "mandatory" is vanishly small. I think it's only there to allow for people who want to play on hard mode. Voadam's contrast between AD&D and B/X here is on-point. B/X only requires a 13 or better for most stats to get a bonus, and allows point-swapping to the Prime Requisite, so despite being 3d6 down the line you're almost always going to qualify for at least a +1.

I suspect Gygax and Co either fudged their characters stats, chose what they wanted or rolled multiple stat and picked one.

We often did something like 4d6 drop lowest 4 times.

Best I ever got (legit) was something like 12,14 17,17,17,18 on 3d6 rolled in front of the DM. Saw some characters with 3-5 on more than 1 stat.

I had one guy try it on and roll 20 sets "rules don't say you cant".

Aged 18 or so.
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
My experience more closely aligns with your experience here. In 2e we used the item saving throw when we felt it applied but we weren't rolling saving throws on the contents of your backpack every time a fireball hit you, though that was more about speed of play. We definitely didn't make people roll saves on their stuff when an ogre hit them, though to be fair I don't know that 2e had the verbiage anywhere to imply a save would be required if an ogre hit you.

@overgeeked and @Maxperson are you saying if an ogre struck a PC with a melee swing, you had them roll saves on all their stuff? If not all, how did you decide which stuff to roll for?

None of what I'm writing should be taken as "you're having badwrongfun". I'm legit interested in how different tables handled things. This is one of the things I love about forums like this.
I'm with you on this. We only expected item saves to come into play if equipment was exposed directly to the attack. Not every time an ogre or giant hit your character. But falling into a pit could certainly count!

Most modules that I've seen do tend to describe potions that you find as being in glass, so my guess is that's why people default mostly to that despite the DMG saying it's possible to find them in other materials.
And why I repeatedly saw "buy metal flasks for all your potions" suggested in play strategy guides and articles over the years.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Supporter
Really?

Show me anywhere where you can "assume" that an ogre's attack hit your armor. Or your shield.

Sure, if the ogre is trying to break a glass bottle, fair enough. But, you're seriously suggesting that you make your players do item saving throws from every single successful attack from anything with the strength of an ogre (ie. a very strong human)? And you determine the location of that attack how? And not a single player has ever called shenanigans on this?

And, presumably, you'd force a saving throw from every monster being attacked by a fighter with a girdle of giant strength, right? I shatter that anti-paladin's armor with a single blow? After all, I'm going to be hitting an awful lot of times.

But, I must admit, I'm really curious how you determine hit locations. What rule is that?

A few things.

An ogre doesn't have the strength of a "very strong human." It has the strength of the strongest human; 18/00.

If a potion happens to be in a metal flask, then a save is made because it is a metal container. There is the entire metal saving throw matrix as well. It would certainly be prudent for an adventuring party to invest in metal flasks for potions. Do note that in the unusual situation when the typical party encounters a potion in a metal flask, the DM would not start by describing the color.

Yes, you most certainly should force item saving throws on the monsters and items in rooms occupied by monsters. After all, if you're going around and trying to fireball your way to victory, don't be surprised if you lose a lot of the treasure you were hoping for.

The reason that the Paladin's 10 item restriction is a major restriction is because 4 of the 10 items were weapons. Given that they were also allowed only 1 shield and 1 armor, that meant that the Paladin was restricted to 4 other magic items total. It was fairly standard in early D&D for fighters (and fighter subclasses) to have multiple magic weapons.

Finally, the reason most people call AD&D "low magic" has little to do with magic items, and everything to do with character abilities. Sure, there were a fair number of magic items (especially if you're into counting stats and simply sum up all of the ubiquitous +1 long and short swords in each module). But the reason it seems low magic compared to later editions is that it lacks cantrips and other character abilities that were constantly used as spells, and that while magic items (especially +1 and +2 items) were certainly ubiquitous, there was not an assumption of magic item shops to customize your character (the GP sale value was for sale by the characters only if they chose not to retain it).
 

Zardnaar

Legend
A few things.

An ogre doesn't have the strength of a "very strong human." It has the strength of the strongest human; 18/00.

If a potion happens to be in a metal flask, then a save is made because it is a metal container. There is the entire metal saving throw matrix as well. It would certainly be prudent for an adventuring party to invest in metal flasks for potions. Do note that in the unusual situation when the typical party encounters a potion in a metal flask, the DM would not start by describing the color.

Yes, you most certainly should force item saving throws on the monsters and items in rooms occupied by monsters. After all, if you're going around and trying to fireball your way to victory, don't be surprised if you lose a lot of the treasure you were hoping for.

The reason that the Paladin's 10 item restriction is a major restriction is because 4 of the 10 items were weapons. Given that they were also allowed only 1 shield and 1 armor, that meant that the Paladin was restricted to 4 other magic items total. It was fairly standard in early D&D for fighters (and fighter subclasses) to have multiple magic weapons.

Finally, the reason most people call AD&D "low magic" has little to do with magic items, and everything to do with character abilities. Sure, there were a fair number of magic items (especially if you're into counting stats and simply sum up all of the ubiquitous +1 long and short swords in each module). But the reason it seems low magic compared to later editions is that it lacks cantrips and other character abilities that were constantly used as spells, and that while magic items (especially +1 and +2 items) were certainly ubiquitous, there was not an assumption of magic item shops to customize your character (the GP sale value was for sale by the characters only if they chose not to retain it).

Official adventures had copious amounts of magic items. Individual DMs maybe not.

Think I handed out around 50% of official adventures items. Stat boosting ones were few and far between along with weapons+3 or higher.

One player acquired a frostbrand reasonably low level (6-8) they were still using it 5 levels later.
 

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