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

Thomas Shey

Legend
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.

As I've noted, to not have this, said DMs would have to have actively avoided using the default treasure generation tables.
 

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Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
While that might be a factor with some people, most of the time it comes up people are clearly talking about magic item presence, so I don't think your statement is, in general, true.

I am not sure how to respond to that; while that might have been the case in the 3e/4e era of "designated magic items per level," and "shop until you drop," it is certainly not something I've seen in reference to 5e.

And since 5e has been the game for the past decade, I try to keep my references current. ;)
 


nevin

Hero
,
As I've noted, to not have this, said DMs would have to have actively avoided using the default treasure generation tables.
you'd be surprised. I've stumbled onto several over the years where the DM picked the monsters, rolled the loot straight from the tables and moved on. I suspect those kinds of games are what put us in the "magic items are bad" era.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
i'm gonna side with Thomas this one. Calling DND a low magic game because magic items "aren't a major" part of it is so far beyond hair splitting I don't even see the original hair. Magic Items were an integral part of the game. magical traps, magical chests, magical potions, magical keys, magical armor, magical creatures. The entire game was predicated on Two Things. MAGIC and COMBAT.

Well, you can side with him all you want, but I'm not sure what he's talking about.

I have yet to see someone say that (in comparison with 5e), AD&D was a low magic item game.

Instead, it was a low magic game, in terms of the innate abilities of characters. It's a major distinction.

If you have a combat, any combat, in 5e, you will have spellcasting every single round (because of cantrips, if nothing else). That didn't happen in AD&D, which could have multiple combats without the casting of a spell.
 

nevin

Hero
I disagree that magic has never been one of the key things in the game. It's not just stats. It's a triangle of Stats, Class Powers, Magic items to give you the third leg.
 

nevin

Hero
Well, you can side with him all you want, but I'm not sure what he's talking about.

I have yet to see someone say that (in comparison with 5e), AD&D was a low magic item game.

Instead, it was a low magic game, in terms of the innate abilities of characters. It's a major distinction.

If you have a combat, any combat, in 5e, you will have spellcasting every single round (because of cantrips, if nothing else). That didn't happen in AD&D, which could have multiple combats without the casting of a spell.
your fast I deleted that right after i wrote it. But I disagree on the low magic in terms of innate abilities. I think that's changing the definition to win the argument. It may be your definition but it's almost certainly not what people argue about in most forums about low magic games.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
your fast I deleted that right after i wrote it. But I disagree on the low magic in terms of innate abilities. I think that's changing the definition to win the argument. It may be your definition but it's almost certainly not what people argue about in most forums about low magic games.

You're completely right. All I do is try to win internet debates! I have clearly never, ever, ever given any thought whatsoever to this topic before.






Obviously, I lack any deep though on these types of things and just change my opinions all willy-nilly. Thanks for the pointer.
 


Thomas Shey

Legend
of course. The game has always allowed the DM to modify, ignore and adjust on the fly without that it would just be a video game without the video. How lame would that be.

Yes, but there's a lot of "People who had a lot of magic items around were not following the game" that makes assumptions about game cultures that is not baked into the early books at least at all. To the best of my knowledge, I very rarely just "put in" magic items by fiat; I might have sometimes used table inappropriately out of confusion (I probably gave treasure to relatively small groups of orcs and things in dungeons that was really intended for full villages a few times early on) but for the most part I looked at the probability of treasure listed with monsters, rolled to see if it was there, then used the suggested values. I wasn't just pulling it out of thin air.

But that lead to a lot of magic items over time. And with tables that came up a lot (swords, for example) some of them were pretty robust at pretty low levels (just because you were generating a lot of magic swords).

So I tend to view the whole "in the Old Days magic wasn't as common" through the lens of "Based on what?" If its just based on people's personal experiences, then they shouldn't be overgeneralizing, and its certainly not based on anything the rulebooks imply.
 

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