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

nevin

Hero
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've been making this point for years to the give us more rules crowd. Once it's in the book there are always a very significant percentage of the population that feel obligated to follow the rules...... It's that simple.
 

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Oofta

Legend
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).

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.
I had a PC that was a bit of a tinkerer even though there wasn't really any rule support for it. So yes, he had all of his potions in a bandolier of steel containers. Not that we ever had a DM said they broke that I can remember, but it didn't hurt to be safe.
 

nevin

Hero
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).
no the reason the paladins 10 item restriction was in place because the Paladin was based on a Church version of the Paladin and Wealth is considered a pathway to evil. Also the Paladin effectively had built in magic items. Any holy sword even a +1 or +0 gave the paladin a flat 50% magic resistance to any spell cast by any caster at thier level. and it was on a sliding scale. 15th level paladin vs 10 level mage made it 75% flat resistance. Paladins didn't need a lot of magic items. They were the church's answer to arrogant mages trying to rule or change the world.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
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. :)
That's fair. Though for us the changes were less because they didn't make sense and more that we just preferred to change X into Y or to add/remove Z to/from the game. The rest was just picking which of Gary's contradictions to use and which to ignore.
It doesn't matter how you ran or run your game, I'm just pointing out that effectively the same rules exist in 5E.
Sure, you could change 5e into 1e, though then you're just playing 1e. However, it takes a LOT more work to do certain things in 5e. If you don't change 5e into 1e whole cloth, then the game being balanced around tons of hit points, many resources, bouncing up and down at 0 hit points, only really being able to be killed by 3 failed death saves after the first few levels, etc., makes it take much more effort to change 5e to be as lethal as 1e was by default.
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.
Nor did that happen in 1e. The club typically impacted the armor or shield.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
no the reason the paladins 10 item restriction was in place because the Paladin was based on a Church version of the Paladin and Wealth is considered a pathway to evil. Also the Paladin effectively had built in magic items. Any holy sword even a +1 or +0 gave the paladin a flat 50% magic resistance to any spell cast by any caster at thier level. and it was on a sliding scale. 15th level paladin vs 10 level mage made it 75% flat resistance. Paladins didn't need a lot of magic items. They were the church's answer to arrogant mages trying to rule or change the world.

No. Obviously, I didn't address the root cause of the restriction in my post- just stating that it was more onerous than a 10-item restriction because it specified the specific items restricted.

That said, the reason for the restrictions was gamist. It was another example of Gygaxian gatekeeping- something that was very popular in early (TSR-era) D&D, but quickly lost favor.

The two ways to use Gygaxian gatekeeping were simple-
First, you would restrict something by making it hard to qualify for. While this had some basis in verisimilitude, it had the unfortunate effect of creating the whole, "In order to be awesome, you already have to be awesome!" An example of this is the heightened ability requirements of subclasses.

Second was the drawbacks. In order to get powerful abilities, there would be concomitant drawbacks. You want to play a Paladin? Great- but you have to apply all the "strictures"- magic items restrictions, wealth restrictions, hireling restrictions, alignment restrictions, and most importantly, association restrictions. You want to play a demi-human with abilities baked in? Great, hope you're not expecting to advance all the levels (or get raised if you're an elf). And so on.

I hate to break it to you, but the Church does not, in fact, have a magic item restriction. ;)
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
no the reason the paladins 10 item restriction was in place because the Paladin was based on a Church version of the Paladin and Wealth is considered a pathway to evil. Also the Paladin effectively had built in magic items. Any holy sword even a +1 or +0 gave the paladin a flat 50% magic resistance to any spell cast by any caster at thier level. and it was on a sliding scale. 15th level paladin vs 10 level mage made it 75% flat resistance. Paladins didn't need a lot of magic items. They were the church's answer to arrogant mages trying to rule or change the world.
I'm going to disagree with you both, though @Snarf Zagyg tends to have sources to back up what he writes. I feel that the justification was wealth being a pathway to evil, but the restriction comes as a balancing mechanism to a powerful class with nifty abilities. Restrict to 10 items and the other classes could gain ground on the paladin by having more of them. I did see most tables house rule that potions did not count as magic items for that restriction, since they were common and one use items.
 

nevin

Hero
I'm going to disagree with you both, though @Snarf Zagyg tends to have sources to back up what he writes. I feel that the justification was wealth being a pathway to evil, but the restriction comes as a balancing mechanism to a powerful class with nifty abilities. Restrict to 10 items and the other classes could gain ground on the paladin by having more of them. I did see most tables house rule that potions did not count as magic items for that restriction, since they were common and one use items.
you just reiterated my argument. Nothing you said disagreed with what i said.....;)
 

nevin

Hero
No. Obviously, I didn't address the root cause of the restriction in my post- just stating that it was more onerous than a 10-item restriction because it specified the specific items restricted.

That said, the reason for the restrictions was gamist. It was another example of Gygaxian gatekeeping- something that was very popular in early (TSR-era) D&D, but quickly lost favor.

The two ways to use Gygaxian gatekeeping were simple-
First, you would restrict something by making it hard to qualify for. While this had some basis in verisimilitude, it had the unfortunate effect of creating the whole, "In order to be awesome, you already have to be awesome!" An example of this is the heightened ability requirements of subclasses.

Second was the drawbacks. In order to get powerful abilities, there would be concomitant drawbacks. You want to play a Paladin? Great- but you have to apply all the "strictures"- magic items restrictions, wealth restrictions, hireling restrictions, alignment restrictions, and most importantly, association restrictions. You want to play a demi-human with abilities baked in? Great, hope you're not expecting to advance all the levels (or get raised if you're an elf). And so on.

I hate to break it to you, but the Church does not, in fact, have a magic item restriction. ;)
I hate to break it to you but the Church for all of it's existance has told people that giving your money to the church so they can do good things helps you get to heaven. And when we are talking the time of knights Wealth was considered a gateway to evil by the church. Still is actually.

  • 1 Timothy 6:10-11: For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows. But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness.

  • Hebrews 13:5: Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.”

  • Luke 12:15: Then he said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.”

God takes care of those who forsake the worldly things and focus on the holy things. Definitely a church doctrine.

  • Philippians 4:19: And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.
  • Proverbs 10:22: The blessing of the Lord makes a person rich, and he adds no sorrow with it.
  • 2 Corinthians 9:8: And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.
  • Jeremiah 17:7-8: But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I hate to break it to you but the Church for all of it's existance has told people that giving your money to the church so they can do good things helps you get to heaven. And when we are talking the time of knights Wealth was considered a gateway to evil by the church. Still is actually.

<removed due to being real world religion>
That might be true, but paladins ARE the church of whatever god they followed, just like clerics are, so having the masses give paladins wealth wouldn't have gone against that.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
I hate to break it to you but the Church for all of it's existance has told people that giving your money to the church so they can do good things helps you get to heaven. And when we are talking the time of knights Wealth was considered a gateway to evil by the church. Still is actually.

Two things- one, we don't do religion on EnWorld.

Two, again, and this might come as a shock to you- there is no restriction on magic items. Because ... magic items, as far as I know, do not exist in the real world.

If you have evidence otherwise, feel free to share with the class!


ETA- as for how we know this was inserted for gamist reasons, I would point out that the CLERIC does not have a similar restriction.
 

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