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


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EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
Are we suppose to follow the rules or scorn them??
You are supposed to follow them up until the moment you must scorn them, and then scorn them up until the moment they must be followed. The crimes of Eastasia can never be forgiven, for Eastasia has always been the enemy and Eurasia our ally, and now that it is on the move, we must ensure that these heinous Eurasian devils never imperil the prosperity of Oceania, which shall never occur so long as Eastasia stands with us.

More seriously, yes, I absolutely agree that there's a very weird disconnect in a lot of early-edition/OSR stuff. It's hard to even say "for certain things X, for others Y," because it doesn't even seem to be consistent on those domains. Sometimes, a rule is utterly essential and to fail to observe it is to ruin the game. Other times, the exact same rule may be a superfluous impediment that obviously should be dismissed with prejudice. Very rarely is any real reason or justification given for why this should be so. Encounter design, social interactions (the absolutely massive contradictions regarding reaction score/table/etc. never cease to amaze me), equipment, loot, rules regarding character classes or races, etc., etc. No rhyme or reason. Ineffable, transcendental understanding or bust, I guess.

Heck, in the post you linked there, Sacrosanct makes it pretty clear that time-tracking is quite casual in many cases, yet we also have direct from Gygax himself in AD&D: "YOU CAN NOT HAVE A MEANINGFUL CAMPAIGN IF STRICT TIME RECORDS ARE NOT KEPT." And in OD&D, an explicit connection between IRL time and game time, where "1 Week of actual time = 1 week of game time."
 
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Zardnaar

Legend
Again, it did depend where you lived. I'm sure that whatever corner of the world you grew up in has not changed one bit in the past 50 years.


Sure, some families like yours bought a Microwave on January 2nd 1980. For a lot of the rest of the country, Microwaves did not come around until the late 80s.

You never went hunting with a bow and arrow? You know this is a real thing?

And your not exactly growing up in a "rural" area if you just go to a store and buy food like it's 2023. A big part of the rural life is growing, trapping and hunting your own food.

Well, somethings are better then others. This is a simple fact, even if it's not liked. Even today, as I did as a kid, I make Lemonade with real lemons....not a couple of scoops of "lemon flavored drink mix". I make mashed potatoes with real potatoes, not some "just add water powered mix". I cook real meat, from a real killed animal on a fire....I don't buy frozen "BBQ shaped" food("made with some real meat!").

I have hundreds of real life skills, even beyond food and cooking. Life was different back in the day. We had to navigate by the sun and stars, no pocket GPS. For Astronomy we had to find things in the sky by using the celestial sphere, not just download a 'spacefinder app'. Once we left the immediate 'city' area, there was simply no way to get in touch with someone; we did not have cell phones with us at all times.

And, yes, today is much different. The vast majority of kids, even young people, don't have a lot of skills. Sure they don't "need" a lot of them, but it has gone very far towards the sci-fi apocalypse where people don't know how things work. Not even a joke here.....

Things that come up often, if you play Reality Simulation type RPGs. Hunting, fishing, making fire, cooking and such skills are unknown to many younger gamers. Of course, most modern games just do the "oh just have your character make a survival roll" or something like that.

And this gets into the having done things in real life. I've jumped, climbed, swung and otherwise done things...so I know what I, as an "average human" can do. And I've done a TON of stuff really just to "prove" it's possible. I've jumped off a barn, shot a bow in mid air, hit a far away bullseye, and landed in a pile of hay. And, in case your wondering...I'm not Hawkeye. But the point is that if I, a normal person can do it, it's possible for a lot of normal people to do it. I know this as I did it. The young folk watch the CGI spam in movies and think any of that is real.

Didn't shoot stuff for food but was working on a farm aged 13 and had been through keas/cubs/scouts.

Orientation was taught at school along with agriculture which involved planting crops (which I had already done with parents.

Could start fire without a flame source age 10, cook on said fire, and had a heap of badges down scout uniform (first aid, camping, firemaking etc).

That was 80's.
 


Zardnaar

Legend
Ummm. You realize scouting is still a thing right?

This whole, back in the day stuff is just such a tired cliche.

More people saying such things didn't happen.

Everyone had electricity for example but we had a neighbour cooking on a coal range until 1989/90.

And yeah working on a farm aged 13.

TVs, computers. Microwaves were also really expensive we got ours kinda early due to stepfathers job.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
@Mannahnin - Regarding the availability of resurrection and raise dead, while I find this an interesting question, I am going to "call" your question and "raise" you an additional concern.
Well, I'm out. I have a "dead" hand.
I often reference the rule in AD&D about half-orcs and elves- specifically, that they cannot be brought back from the dead through those methods (absent a Rod of Resurrection, which works for ... um ... reasons). I have often wondered how common that rule was enforced in other campaigns; based on what I've observed others saying, it would seem that this is one of the most unused rules in AD&D, outside of people (such as myself) who always recognized that elves are soulless automatons with dead eyes and a scourge upon the land.

So question 1- did anyone else see this rule enforced?
I was in games where it was enforced, but generally it was not. Probably one in five tables I played at enforced it.
And question 2! Reincarnation was an available spell (Druid 7, MU 6). How common was the use of this spell on PCs instead of raise dead or resurrection in your AD&D campaigns, and why?
I never saw it used after the first few times. The reason is that no one really wanted to play a bear, wolf, owl or fox. Even the MU table had entries no one wanted to play.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I can buy all of this. Definitely a working theory. But it still doesn't explain why, if the distinction is the spirit/soul thing per Deities and Demigods, why a Rod of Resurrection, and only the Rod, works.
Yeah. I've always wondered about that as well. I think some of the group I played with used the rod as the foundation to ignore the actual rule. If one worked, why shouldn't the other.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
AD&D 2e PHB, page 24 (in original printing), chart 11 (ages), asterisk associated with elf age limit: "* Upon attaining this age, an elf does not die. Rather he feels compelled to migrate tosome mysterious, other land, departing the world of men."
I still use that rule in my games regardless of the edition. I'm a Tolkien fan, so immortal elves are a thing that I really like. PC elves don't even have to migrate when they hit that age. Not that one has ever come close to hitting that age. My games don't span several centuries of time.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
More people saying such things didn't happen.

Everyone had electricity for example but we had a neighbour cooking on a coal range until 1989/90.

And yeah working on a farm aged 13.

TVs, computers. Microwaves were also really expensive we got ours kinda early due to stepfathers job.
It was less "this never happened" and more "this was an outlier even by then" as compared to Bloodtide's assumption that most people of the time experienced it. Even moreso since even by then "most people" (at least in the areas D&D reached) were primarily city dwellers.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Heck, in the post you linked there, Sacrosanct makes it pretty clear that time-tracking is quite casual in many cases, yet we also have direct from Gygax himself in AD&D: "YOU CAN NOT HAVE A MEANINGFUL CAMPAIGN IF STRICT TIME RECORDS ARE NOT KEPT."
In a way, they're both right; and which is right at any given point depends on the type of campaign you're running.

If you're running a single-party linear campaign with no offshoot characters then time tracking (other than for spell durations) becomes far less important. It just doesn't really matter all that much whether it takes 5 days or 8 days to sail from Praetos to Purides; what matters is that the party gets there and then does whatever it does.

BUT - if you're running a multi-party campaign (as Gygax did) with characters and parties potentially meeting and interacting then tracking time becomes absolutely vital. If Party A, for example, is sailing from Praetos to Purides it can make a huge difference if the trip takes 5 days or 8 if another Party (B) is in Purides now but will leave on Day 7 - can those parties potentially meet up and exchange info/items/characters, or not? Or if Party A does something that potentially affects Parties B, C and D elsewhere I need to know what date that occurred on.

One example from my current campaign: two parties, acting completely independently, had (unrelated) missions that took them to the same ruined city. I had to track time carefully for each as there was a very real possibility that, had they ended up there at the same time, they could have mistakenly seen each other as opposition and-or got in each others way. As it turned out it's a bloody good thing for one group that they weren't there at the same time, as the other group (who arrived first) made that city much more ruined* before they left; and in so doing made the second-to-arrive group's job much more difficult than it would have been.

* - what was long thought to be a steep hill overlooking the city was in fact a buried spaceship a la Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull; the party managed to get it started and fly it away, taking half the hill with it and dropping most of the rest on the ruined city. Very messy. They then crashed and destroyed the spaceship on a beach a few hundred miles away - what a waste! :)
And in OD&D, an explicit connection between IRL time and game time, where "1 Week of actual time = 1 week of game time."
Not sure if anyone other than Gygax ever used this one.
 

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