D&D General The Crab Bucket Fallacy

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Specialty priest were one of the most awesome concepts in D&D, and have never been equalled. Execution can always be better and is subject to preference in any case.
Please don't mistake me, I completely loved mythos priests! They were among my favorite things to play! But looking back, I can totally see how there was a serious problem with their implementation, when you can play a priest out of Legends and Lore and be handed abilities of other classes like warrior Thac0 or exceptional strength, or the ability to cast Wizard spells, let along unique abilities like "oh hey, it says here I get -1 to AC per level until level 10!" (Hermes, I believe) or "huh, so at level 11 I just...go to level 12?" (Sif).

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Months back, I arranged a game with my old AD&D GM to join my current 5e D&D group. I'd pitched them an "old school" 2e experience and they seemed interested. Everyone had their characters made and we started the first session. Pretty quickly, the nightmares began.

"Wait, so AC goes down, right?"

"Yes, that's correct."

"Then that +1 chain mail we found is cursed?"

"No no, +1 bonuses subtract from AC."

(Another player) "Wait, that can't be right, my Dexterity gives me a -2 to AC, that's good, isn't it?"

"Yes, it is..."

(Third player) "I'm still trying to understand why everything isn't a penalty if a lower Thac0 is good. Like, my Thac0 is 19, but I get +2 to hit from my Strength and +1 to hit from my Weapon Specialization. Wouldn't it be easier to say my Thac0 is 16?"

(AD&D friend) "No, see, you add the bonus to the die roll, then you compare that to the Thac0."

(Third player) "But...look, AC goes down, right? So why not have low numbers be good on the d20 and subtract all modifiers? So instead of +3 to hit, I'd have -3 to hit, and if I want to hit AC 3, then I need to roll a 6 on the die or less."

(AD&D friend) "Uh..."

(Fourth player, chiming in) "Then you'd have to make ability checks work the same way."

"Well actually, that is how they work."

(Fourth player) "...so wait. We roll high to attack to hit a low number, but low on skill checks? This is all backwards!"

(AD&D friend, not getting everyone's frustration) "Well, sometimes you roll d% too!"

It was decided after that session to go back to 5e, and my AD&D friend has been put out about it ever since.
Yeah, the 5e players that are used to a coherent system instantly see what utter chaotic madness AD&D design was. It appeared like that to me even back in the day, and I have zero desire to go back to it. I might miss some concepts and tropes, but how the actual system was built... just no.

Sure. But there’s also a lot of 4E fans who have been singing its praised since the height of the Edition Wars. There’s no denying 4E is a well-designed game. It’s tight, it works, it delivers what it promised. It just wasn’t what enough long-time D&D fans wanted at the time.
One of the biggest problems of 4e is that it was released way before it was ready. They gave themselves 24 hours from project initiation to game launch - and went back to the drawing board 10 months in because they'd produced something unfun. Which meant that the restart was 14 months from restart to books in stores.

But why would a Rogue even apply Expertise to Athletics, it's one of the less useful skills.
I guess, if you wanted to emulate the wall-crawling of the original Thief class, and couldn't get any sort of access to spider climb...
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Expertise on Athletics is very useful. Many GMs (myself included) don’t allow you to use Acrobatics for climbing, and Rogues tend to have low Strength. So if Climbing is a key part of the Rogue archetype for you, Athletics is important.

There are also roleplay reasons. I would expect a Rogue with a Sailor background would want expertise in Athletics so the mechanics reflect what their character should be good at (climbing and swimming).

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
You're absolutely right. I created my own matrix for which armor type different sorts of monsters' AC counted as. Hard Shell? Plate. Tough hide, well, hide? Scales? It wasn't hard, see.... 😏
The problem was, some monsters gained their AC from factors like great agility or supernatural defenses that weren't called out explicitly as such by the designer.


Not your screen monkey (he/him) 🇺🇦🇵🇸🏳️‍⚧️
What do you mean? As I mentioned above, WvA was an optional rule in 2e (that no one used). There are a lot more situational and other modifiers to attack rolls in 3e as core rules than there were in 2e.
Not what I meant. How many attacks against a shield-wielding target got to use the shield bonus? Or Dex bonus, depending on the direction of the attack? At least those were pretty much all gone in 3e.
It's possible the DM shielded you from incorporating some of those on your own, but they sure did clutter up the AD&D combat head space.

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
(I'm not saying it wasn't nuts, I'm just saying I had some fun coping with it)
I'm glad you did, I wish I'd had you around back then, because the first time I used a Bulette, with it's three different AC's (and, at the time, I had no idea if 1e even had a rule for called shots- actually I still don't, but I know 2e does) turned into a horrendous mess, lol.

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