D&D 5E The Decrease in Desire for Magic in D&D

We never get a lot of freeform idea on make areas that are fun and wonderous to explore, just a bunch of suggestions on busy work to make it more 'challenging'.
Truth! And this is precisely what I would expect from the DMG, instead of 25 pages on planar travel and pages and pages of random tables.

One of the most frustrating things about the DMG is that most of it doesn’t seem to have been written for beginner DMs at all.
 

log in or register to remove this ad


Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
But when my arrows are counted and the weight of my food slows my character down, the eldritch-blasting warlock and the goodberry-druid that doesn't need to commit a precious spell slot for that particular spell are out of place. That's why in my experience, players looking for attrition games are also the players looking for a game with reduced magic. That's where the Venn diagram meets.

Oh, I see. Yes, in D&D players who like tracking resources will probably also be drawn to low-magic settings because magic de-emphasizes/trivializes that aspect of the game. But that doesn’t mean those players seek low magic in general, just that D&D 5e forces that trade off. I misunderstood the claim.
 

Laurefindel

Legend
Oh, I see. Yes, in D&D players who like tracking resources will probably also be drawn to low-magic settings because magic de-emphasizes/trivializes that aspect of the game. But that doesn’t mean those players seek low magic in general, just that D&D 5e forces that trade off. I misunderstood the claim.
I think the claim wasn’t clear. And you’re right, this shouldn’t be a generalization.
[edit] French took over and removed negation…
 
Last edited:

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
I need to preface this post, I realized. I'm not against people who like to play games a certain way. If you and your group have fun, that's great. However, when it comes to the complaints I hear, well....

What surprises me is how some people who prefer older versions of D&D act like people wanting less restrictions on casters is a new thing. I mean, looking in my 1e DMG, I see Rings of Wizardry that double spell slots of a given level, Boccob's Blessed Books that can contain a whole spell library that fits in your backpack, and powerful Wands and Staves that can only be used by Wizards.

By 2e, the Tome of Magic (1991), we have spells that conjure spell components and lower magic resistance of enemies.

And as far as resource management goes, well, Murlynd's Spoons, Quivers of Ehlonna, Daern's Instant Fortress, Rods of Splendor, Bags of Holding, Portable Holes, Heward's Handy Haversack, etc., etc., have been in the game for a very long time as well.

Now I know, someone might say "well the DM decides if these things enter the game", but that's never really changed. It seems obvious to me that this "problem" (if you think it is one) has never really been one for D&D. You were always meant to be able to find ways to progress beyond worrying about starving in the wilderness, being picked apart by wolves, and finding a place to take a nap.

Characters were meant to have a means to become more magical, and grow beyond the limits of their class and race. This is part of what makes D&D, well, D&D!

What people are waxing nostalgic for isn't some lost ancient D&D, but the "low level experience".

A friend of mine, Tom, once said he wanted to run a 1e game the way the game was "meant to be played". When I asked him about this, he brought up how the game is the most fun at levels 1-7, and that he wanted to institute the training cost rules- ie, that you had to pay X amount of cash to gain levels on top of xp, and that this would keep characters poor and eventually they'd need so much gold to hit higher levels that it wouldn't be worth it.

"But Tom", I said, "don't you get experience points for finding gold in the first place? I mean, you don't get very much from fighting monsters anyways. So by the time even a Thief is looking at 8th level, shouldn't he have earned something like 40 thousand gold pieces in treasure?"

We quibbled about the exact amount of xp would come from treasure, but eventually he mumbled something about "guild dues". "So basically, the only way this works is if, on top of training costs, you artificially keep characters poor."

"Well, that's the way we played", was his response.

"And this was fun?"

"...sometimes?"

"I see. Well if you're going to run, I'm in, but I got to say, it feels like you're fighting the system to get the experience you want."

That game never did materialize, because by the next time we spoke, he'd dusted off his Runemaster books, lol.

When I think of gaming along these lines, I'm reminded of old PC games like Ultima, Wizardry, Bard's Tale, or Might & Magic, which often had you worry about carrying around torches and food. But interestingly, most of those games also eventually let spellcasters create light, conjure food, or teleport out of dungeons, as even the creators of those games knew that as the game progressed, these things would become tedious to the player.

So it's not a surprise to me why D&D has continued this trend of phasing out these sorts of things, since they've been doing it since the early days of the game.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I mean, in all the 5e I've played, that's generally what happens. The enemies and the melee rush towards each other, and just swing until someone falls down. DM's seem terrified of giving anyone a free hit on their monsters, and melee characters generally do more damage anyways, while ranged characters just plink away.
Interesting. In my group I will give free swings on monsters if it's to the monster's advantage to be elsewhere, and the players will give me free swings(especially casters in melee) in order to get away from a bad situation.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
I need to preface this post, I realized. I'm not against people who like to play games a certain way. If you and your group have fun, that's great. However, when it comes to the complaints I hear, well....
I'll preface my response by saying everyone's experiences will vary, of course, so I am only addressing mine as the OP (inspired by your post in the other thread LOL).

What surprises me is how some people who prefer older versions of D&D act like people wanting less restrictions on casters is a new thing. I mean, looking in my 1e DMG, I see Rings of Wizardry that double spell slots of a given level, Boccob's Blessed Books that can contain a whole spell library that fits in your backpack, and powerful Wands and Staves that can only be used by Wizards.
It is a new thing. Rings of Wizardry were incredibly rare (less than 1 in 2220 by the DMG when rolling randomly), as were the powerful RSW that Wizards (and others) could use. Of course in 1E, you wanted those items, since casting in combat was incredibly risky (any hit or failed save ruined your spell and lost the slot). You couldn't move if there were somatic components (most of the better spells), so no DEX to AC or saves, etc. The DMG actually suggests casters resort to such items if at all possible due to this.

By 2e, the Tome of Magic (1991), we have spells that conjure spell components and lower magic resistance of enemies.
Sure, but then you are using a spell to conjure components for other spells--a higher "magic tax" if you will.

And as far as resource management goes, well, Murlynd's Spoons, Quivers of Ehlonna, Daern's Instant Fortress, Rods of Splendor, Bags of Holding, Portable Holes, Heward's Handy Haversack, etc., etc., have been in the game for a very long time as well.
Sure, they have, but again are rare in most cases! The Girdle of Many Pouches was my favorite magic item for this very reason!

But, in AD&D, if you failed your save, your then made saves for all your equipment. Do you know what the save is for leather against a fireball? 13 or higher. So, if I failed my save against an opponent's fireball (assuming I lived, since with lower HP was in question...), I had a 60% chance my GoMP would be destroyed!


Now I know, someone might say "well the DM decides if these things enter the game", but that's never really changed. It seems obvious to me that this "problem" (if you think it is one) has never really been one for D&D. You were always meant to be able to find ways to progress beyond worrying about starving in the wilderness, being picked apart by wolves, and finding a place to take a nap.
Yes, the DM can make that decision--just as they could in 5E. But this was most definitely a problem in AD&D without the DM removing such items unless your DM ran a Monty Hall type game--in which case magic items were everywhere LOL! :)

IME (anyway) you weren't meant to find ways around these problems, but you were always on the look out for them since they made the game easier for your character. A Bag of Holding was great to have, until you lost it (destroyed or stolen), at which time you lost everything in it.

Characters were meant to have a means to become more magical, and grow beyond the limits of their class and race. This is part of what makes D&D, well, D&D!
I agree to a point, but in AD&D you either became more magical via magic items or spells, but only casters through spells, and then often temporary boosts until spells wore off (sure there were exceptions for really high level play).

What people are waxing nostalgic for isn't some lost ancient D&D, but the "low level experience".
Yes and no. I've discussed this at length now with current and former players after posting the OP. As I said there I never had issues with spells like Tiny Hut, Goodberry, or Teleport in AD&D. But in reviewing the two systems (and those spells) I've realized a big part of it is the automatic and "easy" nature of magic in 5E, as well as its prevalence in numerous non-caster classes.

Magic has become more powerful in many ways as well. Yes, I believe some of this was for a desire to simplify some elements, but I really don't know why. It wasn't complicated IMO and was a factor towards balancing casters with other classes (along with requiring more XP and lower HP for magic-users).

In 5E, there are too many magical races, classes, and subclass for me. Spells are too easy, too accommodating, etc.

A friend of mine, Tom, once said he wanted to run a 1e game the way the game was "meant to be played". When I asked him about this, he brought up how the game is the most fun at levels 1-7, and that he wanted to institute the training cost rules- ie, that you had to pay X amount of cash to gain levels on top of xp, and that this would keep characters poor and eventually they'd need so much gold to hit higher levels that it wouldn't be worth it.

"But Tom", I said, "don't you get experience points for finding gold in the first place? I mean, you don't get very much from fighting monsters anyways. So by the time even a Thief is looking at 8th level, shouldn't he have earned something like 40 thousand gold pieces in treasure?"

We quibbled about the exact amount of xp would come from treasure, but eventually he mumbled something about "guild dues". "So basically, the only way this works is if, on top of training costs, you artificially keep characters poor."

"Well, that's the way we played", was his response.

"And this was fun?"

"...sometimes?"

"I see. Well if you're going to run, I'm in, but I got to say, it feels like you're fighting the system to get the experience you want."

That game never did materialize, because by the next time we spoke, he'd dusted off his Runemaster books, lol.
I always used training costs, but it wasn't to keep PCs "poor". XP for gold was usually low (1 XP / 5 gp) unless the battle was hard (then it could be as high as 1 XP / 1 gp).

Really, lower levels were more about surviving to reach higher levels, at which point you might have a magic item which made managing most resources a non-factor.

When I think of gaming along these lines, I'm reminded of old PC games like Ultima, Wizardry, Bard's Tale, or Might & Magic, which often had you worry about carrying around torches and food. But interestingly, most of those games also eventually let spellcasters create light, conjure food, or teleport out of dungeons, as even the creators of those games knew that as the game progressed, these things would become tedious to the player.
I don't think it was because such things were tedious (at least I know they weren't to me). Proper resource management and preparation for the adventure was a "mini-game" in some ways. If the game style had a lot of times when you were trekking into unknown reaches where food, water, etc. was hard to come by, spell slots had to be devoted to these things, and if anything happened to that spellcaster, the party could be in serious trouble!

So it's not a surprise to me why D&D has continued this trend of phasing out these sorts of things, since they've been doing it since the early days of the game.
Again, they haven't been doing it since the beginning in the fashion you describe IME. A lot of tables did choose to ignore such things because it wasn't important to them--their concern was more about combat or story points. To others it eventually became an after thought which would only occasionally become an issue ("Ok, you had three weeks of rations and food in your backpack, but it was all destroyed in that fireball so now your PC has no food or water...what will you do?"). And to some it remained a point of challenge on a more regular basis. 🤷‍♂️
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
Interesting. In my group I will give free swings on monsters if it's to the monster's advantage to be elsewhere, and the players will give me free swings(especially casters in melee) in order to get away from a bad situation.
I'm not entirely certain what causes the change in playstyles. What I think is occurring (and it's just a guess) is that some DM's feel that if a fight ends too quickly, it wasn't "challenging enough". So if you let the melee guys dish out extra damage, killing monsters faster, then you run out of monsters more quickly.

On the flipside, a DM who takes the long view and remembers they have more encounters that day, will happily sacrifice their pawns to give some pressure to ranged characters and casters.

The number of encounters per adventuring day probably factors into this as well- I've yet to play a 5e game with more than 3-4 encounters per diem. In AL, this is the standard, after all, and even in a home game, I've noticed 1 session is roughly 1 adventuring day, even though there's no real reason for this to be the case, outside of maybe not wanting to track resource expenditures from session to session?

Just theorizing. When I run, intelligent foes will make threat assessments and move accordingly, but generally, moving away to ignore someone waving a sword in your face is something I think is a bad move, so enemies tend only to do that if the person they are in battle with has too high AC or too little damage.

I had a guy who played a Cleric "tank" in an AL game once. He used a shield and his tactic was to cast Shield of Faith, run up to the monsters, and take the Dodge action.

He was incredibly annoyed when I had a monster just walk away from him, saying that wasn't "fair".

"Look, unless you have some ability to keep the guy around, he's not exactly terrified of someone who isn't attacking, is impossible to hit, and is going to do, what, d8+3 with his little hammer, when there's a guy throwing fireballs around."

He apparently went and complained to all the other AL DM's about me, and when it got back to me, I had a good laugh about it.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
I had a guy who played a Cleric "tank" in an AL game once. He used a shield and his tactic was to cast Shield of Faith, run up to the monsters, and take the Dodge action.

He was incredibly annoyed when I had a monster just walk away from him, saying that wasn't "fair".

"Look, unless you have some ability to keep the guy around, he's not exactly terrified of someone who isn't attacking, is impossible to hit, and is going to do, what, d8+3 with his little hammer, when there's a guy throwing fireballs around."

He apparently went and complained to all the other AL DM's about me, and when it got back to me, I had a good laugh about it.
Did they disengage from him, or did he get in an OA?

Because if they disengage, he served his purpose since they didn't get to attack, either.

If he got an OA against the first one (especially if he hit), then he did attack, so why did the others leave?

My point is there is an issue with running monsters due to metagame knowledge. For example, five guys were around him, he only gets one OA, so the other four know they can walk away without using the disengage action--that is kind of cheesy IMO.

And how do they know he is "impossible to hit"?

Don't get me wrong, targeting the "wizard-looking-PC-in-robes-waving-his-hands-around-and-chanting-mumbo-jumbo" is a great idea (few enemies like fireballs after all...), but depending on how this scene played out I could see he might (maybe, mind you) have a valid point. 🤷‍♂️
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
I'll preface my response by saying everyone's experiences will vary, of course, so I am only addressing mine as the OP (inspired by your post in the other thread LOL).


It is a new thing. Rings of Wizardry were incredibly rare (less than 1 in 2220 by the DMG when rolling randomly), as were the powerful RSW that Wizards (and others) could use. Of course in 1E, you wanted those items, since casting in combat was incredibly risky (any hit or failed save ruined your spell and lost the slot). You couldn't move if there were somatic components (most of the better spells), so no DEX to AC or saves, etc. The DMG actually suggests casters resort to such items if at all possible due to this.


Sure, but then you are using a spell to conjure components for other spells--a higher "magic tax" if you will.


Sure, they have, but again are rare in most cases! The Girdle of Many Pouches was my favorite magic item for this very reason!

But, in AD&D, if you failed your save, your then made saves for all your equipment. Do you know what the save is for leather against a fireball? 13 or higher. So, if I failed my save against an opponent's fireball (assuming I lived, since with lower HP was in question...), I had a 60% chance my GoMP would be destroyed!



Yes, the DM can make that decision--just as they could in 5E. But this was most definitely a problem in AD&D without the DM removing such items unless your DM ran a Monty Hall type game--in which case magic items were everywhere LOL! :)

IME (anyway) you weren't meant to find ways around these problems, but you were always on the look out for them since they made the game easier for your character. A Bag of Holding was great to have, until you lost it (destroyed or stolen), at which time you lost everything in it.


I agree to a point, but in AD&D you either became more magical via magic items or spells, but only casters through spells, and then often temporary boosts until spells wore off (sure there were exceptions for really high level play).


Yes and no. I've discussed this at length now with current and former players after posting the OP. As I said there I never had issues with spells like Tiny Hut, Goodberry, or Teleport in AD&D. But in reviewing the two systems (and those spells) I've realized a big part of it is the automatic and "easy" nature of magic in 5E, as well as its prevalence in numerous non-caster classes.

Magic has become more powerful in many ways as well. Yes, I believe some of this was for a desire to simplify some elements, but I really don't know why. It wasn't complicated IMO and was a factor towards balancing casters with other classes (along with requiring more XP and lower HP for magic-users).

In 5E, there are too many magical races, classes, and subclass for me. Spells are too easy, too accommodating, etc.


I always used training costs, but it wasn't to keep PCs "poor". XP for gold was usually low (1 XP / 5 gp) unless the battle was hard (then it could be as high as 1 XP / 1 gp).

Really, lower levels were more about surviving to reach higher levels, at which point you might have a magic item which made managing most resources a non-factor.


I don't think it was because such things were tedious (at least I know they weren't to me). Proper resource management and preparation for the adventure was a "mini-game" in some ways. If the game style had a lot of times when you were trekking into unknown reaches where food, water, etc. was hard to come by, spell slots had to be devoted to these things, and if anything happened to that spellcaster, the party could be in serious trouble!


Again, they haven't been doing it since the beginning in the fashion you describe IME. A lot of tables did choose to ignore such things because it wasn't important to them--their concern was more about combat or story points. To others it eventually became an after thought which would only occasionally become an issue ("Ok, you had three weeks of rations and food in your backpack, but it was all destroyed in that fireball so now your PC has no food or water...what will you do?"). And to some it remained a point of challenge on a more regular basis. 🤷‍♂️
I will admit that (edit: a large) part of my experience with regards to the scarcity of magic items (or lack thereof) is personal, so I really can't say how often players get their hands on such- it depends on quite a few factors- even assuming a neutral DM, you're left with random tables in monster lairs, what monsters are chosen for your adventure, and whether or not you use (often treasure rich) published adventures.

I used to run a lot of published adventures for my groups, especially out of Dungeon magazine, and, as a result, my players were never hurting for gear.

I do have a one of my old character record sheet booklets laying around though, and I have a Wizard 7 with Bracers of Defense (AC 9), a Knife +2, a Brooch of Shielding (77 hp remaining), 2 Potions of Water Breathing, a Wand of Lightning, a Wand of Wonder, and a Wand of Fire, a Scroll of Lightning Bolt, a Scroll of Chain Lightning, and a Ring that gives me the benefits of the Shield spell constantly (all that remains of The Sentinel after the mutual destruction of it and The Gauntlet), and I would say this is a typical amount of treasure in my experience.
 
Last edited:

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
Did they disengage from him, or did he get in an OA?

Because if they disengage, he served his purpose since they didn't get to attack, either.

If he got an OA against the first one (especially if he hit), then he did attack, so why did the others leave?

My point is there is an issue with running monsters due to metagame knowledge. For example, five guys were around him, he only gets one OA, so the other four know they can walk away without using the disengage action--that is kind of cheesy IMO.

And how do they know he is "impossible to hit"?

Don't get me wrong, targeting the "wizard-looking-PC-in-robes-waving-his-hands-around-and-chanting-mumbo-jumbo" is a great idea (few enemies like fireballs after all...), but depending on how this scene played out I could see he might (maybe, mind you) have a valid point. 🤷‍♂️
What happened was, he cast Shield of Faith and ran up to a Bugbear. The Bugbear attacked, missed him, and then the next turn he took the Dodge action "tanking", in his words, while the rest of the party downed other enemies.

Realizing this was basically all he planned to do for that encounter, I had the Bugbear provoke an attack so he could go after the Wizard after watching some of his allies get scorched.

YMMV on whether or not the Bugbear should have done this; I feel it was pretty reasonable- as I said, normally I don't think people would ignore someone waving a weapon in their face, but all this guy was doing was taking a defensive stance, blocking and parrying, and not really posing any kind of threat other than "if you walk away from me, I'll hit you with my hammer".
 

Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
What happened was, he cast Shield of Faith and ran up to a Bugbear. The Bugbear attacked, missed him, and then the next turn he took the Dodge action "tanking", in his words, while the rest of the party downed other enemies.

Realizing this was basically all he planned to do for that encounter, I had the Bugbear provoke an attack so he could go after the Wizard after watching some of his allies get scorched.

YMMV on whether or not the Bugbear should have done this; I feel it was pretty reasonable- as I said, normally I don't think people would ignore someone waving a weapon in their face, but all this guy was doing was taking a defensive stance, blocking and parrying, and not really posing any kind of threat other than "if you walk away from me, I'll hit you with my hammer".

Totally valid. Tell your buddy to take the Sentinel feat next time.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
I will admit that part of my experience with regards to the scarcity of magic items (or lack thereof) is personal, so I really can't say how often players get their hands on such- it depends on quite a few factors- even assuming a neutral DM, you're left with random tables in monster lairs, what monsters are chosen for your adventure, and whether or not you use (often treasure rich) published adventures.

I used to run a lot of published adventures for my groups, especially out of Dungeon magazine, and, as a result, my players were never hurting for gear.
Sure, everyone is different. In most published adventures, you would get a fair number of magical items, but most were lower powered until you got to the 10+ level adventures, and even then the bulk of items were medium powered instead of high powered.

I do have a one of my old character record sheet booklets laying around though, and I have a Wizard 7 with Bracers of Defense (AC 9), a Knife +2, a Brooch of Shielding (77 hp remaining), 2 Potions of Water Breathing, a Wand of Lightning, a Wand of Wonder, and a Wand of Fire, a Scroll of Lightning Bolt, a Scroll of Chain Lightning, and a Ring that gives me the benefits of the Shield spell constantly (all that remains of The Sentinel after the mutual destruction of it and The Gauntlet), and I would say this is a typical amount of treasure in my experience.
LOL Wow! For my groups, that is an incredible amount of magic items at level 7! Was this AD&D or 3E?

IME, the Bracers AC 9, Knife +2 (nice...), Brooch, potions, and then ONE wand and ONE scroll would be more likely, if that. The custom Ring of a constant Shield spell makes the Bracers redundant and is a very powerful item IMO. (AC 4/2 vs. missiles IIRC?).

What happened was, he cast Shield of Faith and ran up to a Bugbear. The Bugbear attacked, missed him, and then the next turn he took the Dodge action "tanking", in his words, while the rest of the party downed other enemies.

Realizing this was basically all he planned to do for that encounter, I had the Bugbear provoke an attack so he could go after the Wizard after watching some of his allies get scorched.

YMMV on whether or not the Bugbear should have done this; I feel it was pretty reasonable- as I said, normally I don't think people would ignore someone waving a weapon in their face, but all this guy was doing was taking a defensive stance, blocking and parrying, and not really posing any kind of threat other than "if you walk away from me, I'll hit you with my hammer".
No, that scenario sounds reasonable. I had something different in mind from your other post so thanks for the clarifcation!

Totally valid. Tell your buddy to take the Sentinel feat next time.
Totally. :D
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
So one perfectly valid opinion is that 5e requires a bunch of annoying rules to be challenging.

The flip side, however, is that if the game were “balanced” (whatever that means) around the absence of those rules, then people who like that stuff would have an equally valid complaint.

So it’s less “bad design” and more “design that doesn’t please everybody.”

Well, you can at least make an argument about which one has more knock-on effects in other areas than the other, too.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I need to preface this post, I realized. I'm not against people who like to play games a certain way. If you and your group have fun, that's great. However, when it comes to the complaints I hear, well....

What surprises me is how some people who prefer older versions of D&D act like people wanting less restrictions on casters is a new thing. I mean, looking in my 1e DMG, I see Rings of Wizardry that double spell slots of a given level, Boccob's Blessed Books that can contain a whole spell library that fits in your backpack, and powerful Wands and Staves that can only be used by Wizards.

By 2e, the Tome of Magic (1991), we have spells that conjure spell components and lower magic resistance of enemies.

And as far as resource management goes, well, Murlynd's Spoons, Quivers of Ehlonna, Daern's Instant Fortress, Rods of Splendor, Bags of Holding, Portable Holes, Heward's Handy Haversack, etc., etc., have been in the game for a very long time as well.
Indeed, but there's a few other considerations here:

--- those items you refer to are items rather than inherent abilities, meaning the DM can easily choose not to include them
--- because they are items, not everyone will have one - sure one archer might have a Quiver of Ehlonna* but not every archer will. Removal of arrow tracking has the same effect as giving a Q of E to everyone.
--- in 1e and 2e items were far easier to destroy, often making them a less-than-permanent solution

* - I'm assuming this is the quiver that never runs out of ammo, I don't think I've ever seen one in play as either DM or player.
Now I know, someone might say "well the DM decides if these things enter the game", but that's never really changed.
For items, this is true. For abilities, not so much; nor for spells now that players get to choose them rather than have to rely on random luck and-or finding them in the field.
It seems obvious to me that this "problem" (if you think it is one) has never really been one for D&D. You were always meant to be able to find ways to progress beyond worrying about starving in the wilderness, being picked apart by wolves, and finding a place to take a nap.
To be (potentially) able to, yes. To automatically have it happen, no. There's a big difference.
Characters were meant to have a means to become more magical, and grow beyond the limits of their class and race. This is part of what makes D&D, well, D&D!

What people are waxing nostalgic for isn't some lost ancient D&D, but the "low level experience".
OK, I'll plead guilty to that. High level play tends to get a bit too supers-y for me; with the threshold being both fuzzy and variable by class and-or campaign.
When I think of gaming along these lines, I'm reminded of old PC games like Ultima, Wizardry, Bard's Tale, or Might & Magic, which often had you worry about carrying around torches and food. But interestingly, most of those games also eventually let spellcasters create light, conjure food, or teleport out of dungeons, as even the creators of those games knew that as the game progressed, these things would become tedious to the player.
The issue isn't teleporting out of dungeons, but being able to safely teleport in to them. That's where it can get broken, as 3e's scry-buff-teleport nonsense pointed out to the n'th degree.

An in-progress example of how a single high-level character can go right over the top:

In the 1e-variant game I play in, my current character is an 11th-level MU with a hella good spell repertoire. Region's lighting is never better than deep twilight, visibility maybe half a mile at best even with night-sight. We're up against a fleet of about 15 ships*, 9 at sea and the rest either in or just leaving port. We have our own ship, but just the one. The rest of the party sank two ships and disabled one while fleeing on our ship. I cast poly-self and took off as a seagull, and singlehandedly sank one ship and disabled another four...all without casting a single AoE damage spell. I'm now ashore near their base port (about 10 miles from the action at sea), acting as a James-Bond-like agent behind enemy lines, and next session - unless I either get very unlucky or (far more likely!) do something stupid - given a few days that entire navy could be at my mercy.

Fun? Hell yeah! Broken? Very much so - one character acting alone is making a mockery of naval warfare.

* - mostly Mary-Rose/Spanish-Armada era galleons with some same-era corvettes sprinkled in, all packing between 2 and 6 cannons each. Our ship is a small 2-gunner, a galleon I think.
So it's not a surprise to me why D&D has continued this trend of phasing out these sorts of things, since they've been doing it since the early days of the game.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Sure, everyone is different. In most published adventures, you would get a fair number of magical items, but most were lower powered until you got to the 10+ level adventures, and even then the bulk of items were medium powered instead of high powered.


LOL Wow! For my groups, that is an incredible amount of magic items at level 7!
Until the character eats a fireball - or worse, a lightning bolt - and half that stuff goes up in smoke. Particularly the wands, if they spontaneously release any charges as they go up... :)

For a long-running character that's managed to avoid melting down, the listed magic seems about par for the course here. My only question is to do with Bracers AC 9 - I thought their range was AC 8 to AC 2, I've never heard of Bracers-9 before.
IME, the Bracers AC 9, Knife +2 (nice...), Brooch, potions, and then ONE wand and ONE scroll would be more likely, if that. The custom Ring of a constant Shield spell makes the Bracers redundant and is a very powerful item IMO. (AC 4/2 vs. missiles IIRC?).
My lot sold that Sentinel ring. I'm not sure they ever realized just how good it was.
 


It is a new thing. Rings of Wizardry were incredibly rare
These two statements seem contradictory. It cannot be new if it was already baked in. Rarity doesn't matter for the same reason that "balancing" classes (races etc.) by making them really fragile early on but incredible powerhouses later doesn't matter: anyone who sticks with the game long enough will (a) get better at playing and thus mitigate those weaknesses, and (b) try enough times such that eventually they get lucky. Law of large numbers and all that.

Sure, but then you are using a spell to conjure components for other spells--a higher "magic tax" if you will.
That seems to be beside the point. Magic can solve magic's own problems. What can a Fighter do to fix having all her equipment taken away? Nothing--other than just enduring not having equipment until it comes back.

As is typically true, spellcasters are given both a weakness and a way of getting around that weakness. Which was the point: ways of getting around caster weaknesses have been baked into the game from essentially the beginning.

Sure, they have, but again are rare in most cases! The Girdle of Many Pouches was my favorite magic item for this very reason!
See above. Rarity is irrelevant if the argument is "the game includes things to mitigate these problems." Are they present, or not?

But, in AD&D, if you failed your save, your then made saves for all your equipment. Do you know what the save is for leather against a fireball? 13 or higher. So, if I failed my save against an opponent's fireball (assuming I lived, since with lower HP was in question...), I had a 60% chance my GoMP would be destroyed!
Why are you standing in fireball formation? This is, again, what I mean about being able to mitigate the weaknesses. Tactics alone can significantly protect you from this issue. (Also: talk about an incredible chore, rolling such saves! No wonder they didn't survive to WotC D&D.)

IME (anyway) you weren't meant to find ways around these problems, but you were always on the look out for them since they made the game easier for your character. A Bag of Holding was great to have, until you lost it (destroyed or stolen), at which time you lost everything in it.
I don't get how these two prongs are different. Doesn't a game "meaning" for you to do something only and exactly mean that that's what its rules incentivize you to do...?

I agree to a point, but in AD&D you either became more magical via magic items or spells, but only casters through spells, and then often temporary boosts until spells wore off (sure there were exceptions for really high level play).
What, then, does that tell us about the explicit and open antipathy for magic items from the MEGA vocal people back in the D&D Next playtest? Does this not explicitly mean that non-spellcasting characters were being told they weren't welcome in the cool kids' club anymore?

But in reviewing the two systems (and those spells) I've realized a big part of it is the automatic and "easy" nature of magic in 5E, as well as its prevalence in numerous non-caster classes.
The argument presented is that magic has always had some degree of making things "easy," that degree has simply grown over time. It isn't a difference of quality, just of quantity. As for "numerous non-caster classes," there are only four non-caster classes in 5e, much to my chagrin. Barbarian, Fighter, Monk, Rogue. Personally, I would have preferred if that list included Paladin and Ranger as well, because I like whatever supernatural power they access to work like that accessed by Barbarians and Monks: features, not spells. But that ship sailed a long time ago.

Magic has become more powerful in many ways as well. Yes, I believe some of this was for a desire to simplify some elements, but I really don't know why. It wasn't complicated IMO and was a factor towards balancing casters with other classes (along with requiring more XP and lower HP for magic-users).
"More powerful," or "less inhibited"? There's a difference. Greater power means accomplishing more with the same resources. On that scale, magic (by far) reached its zenith in either 2e or 3e, depending on which specific spells you consider. "Less inhibited" means having fewer restrictions, difficulties, or complicating factors to deal with, and on this scale 3e is unequivocally the least-inhibited.

Also, see above. Rolling a save vs spell (or whatever) for every single item on your person is an incredibly tedious thing. Likewise, rolling to see whether you're allowed to get better at the core of your class fantasy is frustrating. It's not that these things are necessarily "complicated," as you put it, but that they are tedious, frustrating, distracting, or simply just not very fun. It would be like, I dunno, saying that every time you try to fire a sniper rifle in Halo, you have to do a quick Simon Says minigame. People who don't use snipers don't have to do that, but snipers are one-hit-kill hitscan weapons with generous aim assist. It doesn't matter that Simon Says is a very simple game which demands very little of the person playing it: it's an annoyance. The annoyance is there in part to keep sniper rifles balanced, but it's an annoyance nonetheless. As with a great many things, people are very bad at going for what they know to be rationally better for the health of the community in general instead of actions which selfishly benefit them right away but damage the community. The "tragedy of the commons."

In 5E, there are too many magical races, classes, and subclass for me. Spells are too easy, too accommodating, etc.
They've gone back to being more or less what they were in 3e. Heck, if anything, races are much less fantastical than they were in 3e. Spells are if anything weaker and (slightly) more inhibited than they were in 3e. The only difference is availability--not ease or accommodation. So I'm genuinely stumped why you'd say this when they aren't more than they were in 3e and are arguably less (due to things like Concentration.)

Really, lower levels were more about surviving to reach higher levels, at which point you might have a magic item which made managing most resources a non-factor.
Again, rarity is irrelevant, because people will keep trying until they can get such a thing. Which, incidentally, is another reason people wanted to skip past a bunch of the inhibiting or mitigating factors from early editions: everyone understood that you'd keep rerolling Bob (Bob XXII replaced Bob XXI after he died of ear seeker, who replaced Bob XX after she died of a severe overdose of fire, who replaced Bob XIX after he died from falling damage, who...) until you succeed. If you're going to repeatedly make new characters and try again, much of the alleged excitement of high-lethality games drains away because it becomes a spin of the roulette wheel. Will the ball land on the right spot this time? Who knows, but you know it is essentially guaranteed to do so if you keep spinning long enough, and there's no cost to spinning again.

That's why, paradoxically, lowering the stakes can actually raise the excitement and investment. Because then you can shift to a world where no, you aren't guaranteed to eventually get what you want. There's an actual cost for spinning the wheel again and you may have to go home and admit defeat rather than playing until jackpot.

I don't think it was because such things were tedious (at least I know they weren't to me).
While it's fair that you didn't find them such, a lot of people did--and do. Inventory management, for example, is something that a number of computer RPGs do, and most players don't like it very much. Instead of being an area where if you do well, good things happen, it is an area where unless you do well, bad things happen. When there's no reward for success, only punishment for failure, it becomes hard to see why the mechanic adds value to the game.

Again, they haven't been doing it since the beginning in the fashion you describe IME. A lot of tables did choose to ignore such things because it wasn't important to them--their concern was more about combat or story points. To others it eventually became an after thought which would only occasionally become an issue ("Ok, you had three weeks of rations and food in your backpack, but it was all destroyed in that fireball so now your PC has no food or water...what will you do?"). And to some it remained a point of challenge on a more regular basis. 🤷‍♂️
It doesn't really matter what the reason for doing it was. The trend is what matters. And the trend has been present in every edition (except 4e, as is typical for conversations involving poly-edition comparisons.)
 



An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top