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

Again, this is why I absolutely hate these conversations. Selective quotes and selective memory. First it was about fighters being able to use all weapons, now it's ogres that always hit your backpack with every attack. :erm:
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.
I am going to universalize this and say that many to most participating in the 'how high-/low-magic was the game' tangent have been very good at selectively interpreting both rules written and implied intent to their pre-assumed stance. I'll state again that I think it is a foolish because the one standard about that era was that there was no standard. All the different interpretations over ogre club hits isn't going to more greatly influence total magic items than other factors -- how often a DM would include rust monsters, how often PCs died in ways that made their magic items unrecoverable vs. salvageable, how often the adventure of the week was 'you are taken prisoner, awaking in a cell with none of your gear'. These kind of things will add a 'x 1d1000%' modifier to the acquired magic item totals while we are bickering about how common something that may or may not shave off 10% of potions actually happened (or even more uselessly, whether people ought to have been ruling one way or another).
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.
I don't remember it really being mentioned much (or at least repeated much in areas we re-read a lot) what the potion containers were made of. I know at some point we got old enough to have had field trips to frontier-era settlements and seen how sheet-glass windows (where present) differed from modern ones even hundreds of years later than the era D&D vaguely approximated. That lead us to realize that medieval castles wouldn't have had a lot of glass windows, and maybe modern day glass bottles (this would have been in the early 80s, when soda pop usually came in glass) might not have been the standard. I think we figured out metal and pottery containers quickly after that and inter-mixed those with glass. I think somewhere along the line a leather vail was mentioned in a Dragonlance novel or the like (or maybe we just read about goat-skin bottles and the like) and we realized that lots of stuff bitd were carried in animal skins/organs. I think we started with all-glass (and plate glass windows and toilet paper and toothbrushes) and ended with (when relevant) random determination between all sorts of (mostly medievally accurate) options for containers. And then things like The Complete Thieves Handbook came out with all sorts of options like hidden compartments in everything and tar paper to help you break glass windows without making noise and things started drifting towards 'medieval accurate, if James Bond's Q was alive at the time' and half the potions would have been housed in someone's elaborate hands-free potion-feeding device or the like.
 
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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Really?

Show me anywhere where you can "assume" that an ogre's attack hit your armor. Or your shield.
In AD&D? It's all about the DM making decisions about things. What we did back then was if the creature hit you by exactly your AC or missed by 1, then it contacted your shield. So chain and shield was AC 4. Chain mail alone was AC 5. That shield was responsible for the AC of 5 becoming a 4. As for armor, if you were solidly hit then either it hit your armor or it hit your unprotected head which would have killed you. Since it didn't kill you, it hit your armor.
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?
See above. And I already explained the pack. Hit from behind it would either hit your armor or your head, and since you didn't die and your pack was in-between your armor and the weapon, that's what got hit.
And not a single player has ever called shenanigans on this?
Nope. Because we used reason to figure out what got hit.
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?
I did play with some DMs who made up hit location tables, but it wasn't necessary as I show above. And yes, what's good for the goose is good for the gander.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
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.
I haven't seen anyone say that it's the "right and true" way to play the game. We're showing you the rules and saying how we played. AD&D 1e and 2e were very much house ruled editions. We played one way and you played another. The reason we're quoting you the rules is that you keep asking where we get it from. Showing you where we get it from isn't an indictment of how you play or a declaration that playing by those rules is the "right and true" way to play.
 
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Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
I am going to universalize this and say that many to most participating in the 'how high-/low-magic was the game' tangent have been very good at selectively interpreting both rules written and implied intent to their pre-assumed stance. I'll state again that I think it is a foolish because the one standard about that era was that there was no standard. All the different interpretations over ogre club hits isn't going to more greatly influence total magic items than other factors -- how often a DM would include rust monsters, how often PCs died in ways that made their magic items unrecoverable vs. salvageable, how often the adventure of the week was 'you are taken prisoner, awaking in a cell with none of your gear. These kind of things will add a 'x 1d1000%' modifier to the acquired magic item totals while we are bickering about how common something that may or may not shave off 10% of potions actually happened (or even more uselessly, whether people ought to have been ruling one way or another).

It's fun to dredge up the old and obscure rules.

It's not fun to argue that other people weren't playing the game right because they were, or were not, following the old and obscure rules.

Finally, for purposes of 1e, Gygax wrote in such a way that his verbiage made all rules obscure. As for old .... that goes without saying.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
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.
See my post to @Hussar. :)
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
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.
I once had a character of mine fall around 80 feet while carrying 30 potions of healing. I can't remember why the group gave all the potions we had found to me, but I had them. All of them broke. Fortunately for me that particular DM ruled that some of the potion liquid seeped into my body through all of the cuts the zillions of shards of glass caused, healing me. I took little or no damage from that fall.
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.
5e is the rulings over rules edition. It's trivial to make a ruling that potions have to save in the same manner that they did in 1e.
 


I read again the foreword and first Pages of 1ed DMG.
what I see there is an invitation to enter into an experience of imagination, fantasy, creativity.
Gygax describe his process to handle the game like an amazing discovery and try to communicate it and invite other DM to join the hobby.

At these time mid70, early 80, DnD was a very unusual game.
Experimenting fantasy, sharing a world, having power over the players, a lot of people didnt know what was the boundary and the attitude to take.

Some DM turn into bullying boss, some games turn into personal conflict between players-DM about power an authority. I see it enough. The basic concept of house ruling and DM fiat was for some people a mind blowing thing.

The lethality we discuss here follow the same path. PCs death is not a goal into DND. It’s a part of the game that can be helpful or harmful depends how DM handle it. We can never know for sure how a character is linked deeply into a player mind. So killing a PC is not only a matter of applying the rules, being firm and punishing the foolish players. It‘s also a social interaction, a way to share imagination, fantasy and provide a unique experience like the rest of the game.
 

Oofta

Legend
I once had a character of mine fall around 80 feet while carrying 30 potions of healing. I can't remember why the group gave all the potions we had found to me, but I had them. All of them broke. Fortunately for me that particular DM ruled that some of the potion liquid seeped into my body through all of the cuts the zillions of shards of glass caused, healing me. I took little or no damage from that fall.

5e is the rulings over rules edition. It's trivial to make a ruling that potions have to save in the same manner that they did in 1e.

If 5E is rulings over rules then AD&D was "the rules don't make a lot of sense so use it as the starting for your game rules" edition. :)

It doesn't matter how you ran or run your game, I'm just pointing out that effectively the same rules exist in 5E. Under the right circumstances (and if it was fun) I might have potion bottles shatter myself. Hasn't happened yet that I can remember, but there's always a first time. It's just not going to be every time someone is hit with the equivalent of an ogre's club.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
I read again the foreword and first Pages of 1ed DMG.
what I see there is an invitation to enter into an experience of imagination, fantasy, creativity.
Gygax describe his process to handle the game like an amazing discovery and try to communicate it and invite other DM to join the hobby.

At these time mid70, early 80, DnD was a very unusual game.
Experimenting fantasy, sharing a world, having power over the players, a lot of people didnt know what was the boundary and the attitude to take.

Some DM turn into bullying boss, some games turn into personal conflict between players-DM about power an authority. I see it enough. The basic concept of house ruling and DM fiat was for some people a mind blowing thing.

That's not quite correct. You have to put the AD&D DMG into the perspective of it's time in order to understand why it's so muddled.

In the beginning, you had OD&D. OD&D wasn't so much a game that you played, as it was a toolkit for creating your own game. I need to emphasize this- it was pretty much impossible to play OD&D "straight out of the box" (with just the LBBs). So OD&D was necessarily a game that relied on supplements, magazine articles, 3PP, rulings at different tables, and being taught, usually in person.

As I've noted in other threads, we can see this in a few ways. First, a lot of the early RPGs were created out of OD&D- many of them, even the first superhero RPG, were simply OD&D campaigns with custom rules. Second, there were different cultures of play- notably, there was a difference between the more narrative-heavy "SciFi" crowd and the more "Skill/Death" wargame crowd. That's ... it's kind of a simple way to look at it, but it's detailed in a lot more depth in The Elusive Shift.

So what you're seeing in AD&D and the DMG is Gygax at war with himself. On the one had, you'll see a lot of passages from Gygax as the hobbyist when he extolls the the virtues of making the campaign your own, playing up to the fun and the imagination of the game, and so on. On the other hand, you'll see a lot of passages from Gygax as businessman, where he talks about how AD&D is the only true game and you have to follow the rules.

Which is why the advice in the book seems to swing randomly from "make it your own" to "the rules are not mutable," sometimes within the same paragraph.

There is a similar split with regard to handling players. On the one hand, Gygax is constantly talking about engaging players, making it more welcoming, and discusses how high-level players will go to other worlds. But ... he also makes sure to continually admonish the DM to keep a tight check on players and repeatedly warns the reader that all players are power-hungry and will try to abuse the system.

In short, you can find support for almost anything within it, if you look hard enough.
 

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