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D&D General On Powerful Classes, 1e, and why the Original Gygaxian Gatekeeping Failed

Dioltach

Legend
I do think Mentzer Companion Set (15-25) added a lot of great stuff, but Masters never impressed me or felt necessary.
I never got beyond the first few levels of BECMI, but the impression I got was that Masters was aimed pretty much at bridging the gap from "Hero" to "Godlike". It's great that it provides those rules, for groups that want to go that route, but I don't think many will.
 

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S'mon

Legend
I never got beyond the first few levels of BECMI, but the impression I got was that Masters was aimed pretty much at bridging the gap from "Hero" to "Godlike". It's great that it provides those rules, for groups that want to go that route, but I don't think many will.

You're right, there is a big focus on Questing for Immortality. So instead of 36 being a capstone as implied in eg Cook Expert, 25-36 become transitional levels to a different game.
 

Voadam

Legend
IME with XP needed to level doubling every level, and awards also increasing steeply, the 10% bonus is rarely noticeable.
In mine when using 1e xp charts it took a long time to level up, so hitting that levelling point a number of games early was noticeable if you were looking, particularly for spellcasters who had noticeable gains with levels.

The feeling was lessened however because everyone was on different xp tracks from their classes or multiclassing or from having been at different games which earned different amounts so it was not obviously apparent.

In 3.5 when I played a crafting aasimar wizard who was one level behind everybody else I was surprised at how emotionally impactful it felt to regularly get more xp than the rest of the party for facing the same CR monsters even though I prefer to not track xp and prefer milestone/story advancement.

From a design standpoint I prefer 3.5's system of getting more xp for facing comparatively tougher challenges with the result of evening out party power rather than 1e's bonus xp for the already more powerful to double down on the rich getting richer.

I prefer the system to reward a weaker character surviving through player skill and luck rather than rewarding a weak character dying and being replaced by someone with a shot at better random rolls.
 

ehren37

Adventurer
You know what else would be cool (and I’ve heard some folks here say they do something similar) is an ability score draft. The DM rolls up a number of ability scores equal to six times the number of PCs being created, and the players take turns drafting scores and assigning them to the ability of their choice.
We did something similar, only everyone rolled a set of stats (4d6, in order) in order. Anyone could pick any of the stat sets, or use point buy. We had two sets of stats be used by multiple characters. Worked pretty well, though it did helped cement my hatred of paladins in 5E as broken.
 
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mach1.9pants

Adventurer
In mine when using 1e xp charts it took a long time to level up, so hitting that levelling point a number of games early was noticeable if you were looking, particularly for spellcasters who had noticeable gains with levels.

The feeling was lessened however because everyone was on different xp tracks from their classes or multiclassing or from having been at different games which earned different amounts so it was not obviously apparent.

In 3.5 when I played a crafting aasimar wizard who was one level behind everybody else I was surprised at how emotionally impactful it felt to regularly get more xp than the rest of the party for facing the same CR monsters even though I prefer to not track xp and prefer milestone/story advancement.

From a design standpoint I prefer 3.5's system of getting more xp for facing comparatively tougher challenges with the result of evening out party power rather than 1e's bonus xp for the already more powerful to double down on the rich getting richer.

I prefer the system to reward a weaker character surviving through player skill and luck rather than rewarding a weak character dying and being replaced by someone with a shot at better random rolls.
When you added in replacement first level PCs, the others protected them in combat, and when the gold was brought into town we always gave them all (or max they could get XP from) so they leveled up really fast. Often the party was only adventuring enough to get them to the next level. Also, when you started out, always gave the clerics the gold, so they would get to second level and that lovely CLW! Ah, gaming the system in the olden days 😛
 

When you added in replacement first level PCs, the others protected them in combat, and when the gold was brought into town we always gave them all (or max they could get XP from) so they leveled up really fast. Often the party was only adventuring enough to get them to the next level. Also, when you started out, always gave the clerics the gold, so they would get to second level and that lovely CLW! Ah, gaming the system in the olden days 😛
Nice, but it would not have worked out in my games as the gold exp was.given equally for each character. So 10000 gold between 5 characters would net each of them 2000 xp no matter how the gold was actually distributed. The same was done with magical treasure as everyone that participated in its recovery would get equal shares.

This was to avoid the fact that many costly and high exp items were for magic user and clerical classes. By enforcing this rule, it was helping to calm down possible arguments about exp. This led, however, to the unforseen effect that you could not give more gold to help a lower character to level faster. Which led to people not wanting to die to have chance to roll up a new character.
 

David Howery

Adventurer
10% extra XP doesn't seem enough to make a big difference?
at higher levels, no, but at lower levels, you were scraping for every XP you could get, due to the lethality of being a new PC in 1E. In our case, I think it was just a matter of 'we all forgot about it'. 1E had so many odd rules tucked here and there, some were bound to fall between the cracks...
 

MGibster

Legend
at higher levels, no, but at lower levels, you were scraping for every XP you could get, due to the lethality of being a new PC in 1E. In our case, I think it was just a matter of 'we all forgot about it'. 1E had so many odd rules tucked here and there, some were bound to fall between the cracks...
If I ever meet the DM who ran a game of AD&D using rules as written 100% I will shake their hand and acknowledge them as the DM of DMs.
 

mach1.9pants

Adventurer

Nice, but it would not have worked out in my games as the gold exp was.given equally for each character. So 10000 gold between 5 characters would net each of them 2000 xp no matter how the gold was actually distributed. The same was done with magical treasure as everyone that participated in its recovery would get equal shares.

This was to avoid the fact that many costly and high exp items were for magic user and clerical classes. By enforcing this rule, it was helping to calm down possible arguments about exp. This led, however, to the unforseen effect that you could not give more gold to help a lower character to level faster. Which led to people not wanting to die to have chance to roll up a new character.
Yup. The rule that in-game treasure distribution controlled how much xp characters got did feel funny, and a lot of us house-ruled it.
 

Yup. The rule that in-game treasure distribution controlled how much xp characters got did feel funny, and a lot of us house-ruled it.
Indeed. But again, it was more of a desire to be "fair" by ensuring that everyone would get the same amount of gold. In addition, no magic items would give xp in relation to its gold value. Only for its xp value. This also had the effect of the MagicicanMart where thousands of magic items would be for sale. I always kept a very tight rein on what was and what was not available for sale. Worked very well in my games.
 

Aging Bard

Canaith
This thread made me register--hi! Quick background: played and DMed 1e back in the day (learned on OD&D in 1978!), kept extensive homebrew notes, am organizing them into the 1e Refit: clear rules & mechanics but maintaining a 1e feel.

One conclusion I have drawn from working on the Refit is to give the players choices and tradeoffs, and let those choices stand. For example, in the case of rolling for abilities and class ability minimums, I settled on a method that ultimately will let you play the class you want, but you will need to allow some risk to get better ability scores.

Adding a point buy to 1e is easy. Mine is a bit richer than 5e: 11-16 placed as desired. As has been noted, ability bonuses don't kick in until 15 or so in 1e, but that's a feature not a bug, part of that edition's feel. Now compare this to the "crazy" UA method of rolling 9d6 to 4d6 and dropping all but the highest three. This is less crazy than you might think if you do the (admittedly somewhat complex) math. For each of 7d6-9d6, the modal roll (single most likely) is 16, but the average roll is less than the mode in each case (14.9 for 7d6). In fact, the rounded averages for this method (9d6 to 4d6) are 16, 15, 15, 14, 14, 12. Higher, but not crazy higher, and I assure you (after lots of simulations) that this method can produce disappointing scores. Regardless of method, I then use a more or less 1 for 1 raising needed stats by lowering others (it's a bit more involved, but not much) to qualify for the desired class. The result is a mix of both higher and lower stats. I allow two other methods, one with less uncertainty than the UA method (DMG Method III but 5 rolls instead of 6) and one with much higher uncertainty and the possibility of some very high (and low!) stats.

Will this appeal to modern players? Given that one can always point buy, the uncertain options are add-ons and so should be neutral at worst. But I think a lot of 1e can be tweaked to give this result: give the players both choice and tradeoffs, not just choice, and I think you get a range of more interesting outcomes.
 

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