The OA Theory- When OD&D Became Second Edition

Shadow Demon

Explorer
There’s an entire thread correcting this assumption by none other than Rob Kuntz himself. And great news! It’s on the front page. So we don’t need to rehash the whole thing again here....
You are correct if Rob Kuntz is indeed correct which I would say he is not. Rob contributed to the Greyhawk OD&D supplement and bit to Deities & Demigods. So.his mechanical contribution is slightly more than Arneson.

Arneson had a great idea but his mechanical contribution to the early game is near zero. Anything else is blatant revisionism.
 

Sacrosanct

Slayer of Keraptis
You are correct if Rob Kuntz is indeed correct which I would say he is not. Rob contributed to the Greyhawk OD&D supplement and bit to Deities & Demigods. So.his mechanical contribution is slightly more than Arneson.

Arneson had a great idea but his mechanical contribution to the early game is near zero. Anything else is blatant revisionism.
I’ll trust the word of someone who was there over some random person on the internet guessing. No offense
 

Sword of Spirit

Adventurer
I've been chomping at the bit to correct a grievous error as I've been reading through this, until I finally saw some mention of it in a few posts. But it still bears strong emphasis:

Manual of the Planes was the best product ever made for AD&D. In fact, it was probably the best roleplaying product made up to that point. Better than OD&D, better than the 1e DMG, and certainly the best thing since (or rather, the best thing even including) the d20.

In the midst of well reasoned opinions, I felt it was necessary to clarify this simple fact for newcomers to the hobby that may not have realized the tongue in cheek nature of mentioning MotP alongside some less than stellar products.
 

Yaarel

Adventurer
In 1974 (0e D&D Men & Magic), Gygax describes Arneson.

"ONCE UPON A TIME, long, long ago there was a little group known as the
Castle and Crusade Society. THEIR FANTASY RULES were published, and to this writer's knowledge, brought about much of the current interest in fantasy wargaming. For a time the group grew and prospered. ...

and DAVE ARNESON decided to begin a medieval fantasy campaign game for his active Twin Cities club. ...

From the CHAINMAIL fantasy rules he drew ideas for a far more complex and exciting game, and thus began a campaign which still thrives as of this writing!

In due course the news reached my ears, and the RESULT is what you have in your hands at this moment."



Here, Gygax describes Original D&D 0e as the ‘result’ of the game that Arneson and his players are playing.



In 1975 (0e D&D Blackmoor), Gygax describes Arneson.

"Dave Arneson ... is a man of many talents who has authored many historic rules sets and games (which TSR will be publishing periodically).

Dave is ... the innovator of the "dungeon adventure" concept ...

and inscrutable dungeonmaster par excellence.

He devises complex combat systems, inexplicable dungeon and wilderness areas, and traps of the most subtle fiendishness.

This writer [Gygax] always looks forward with great anticipation to an adventure in the "BLACKMOOR" campaign.

For despite the fact that I co-authored the original work with Dave, and have spent hundreds of hours creating and playing DUNGEONS & DRAGONS, it is always a fresh challenge to enter his "world".

I would rather play in his campaign than any other.

... Other dungeonmasters who emulate Dave Arneson will indeed improve their games."



Here, Gygax credits Arneson with the invention of the concept of D&D.

Gygax also credits Arneson with the ongoing development of rules, including combat systems, as they emerge within the context of his Blackmoor game.

Gygax follows these developments avidly, and publicizes them thru TSR publications.

In addition to a game inventor, Arneson is also a skilled DM.

Both rules systems (mechanics) and narrative genre (flavor) derive mainly from Arneson and his players.



D&D 1e is the culmination of the mechanics and flavors of both Arneson and Gygax. Or perhaps more accurately, it is Gygax’s version of what Arneson is doing. Gygax had to settle with Arneson with regard to D&D 1e, and Arneson still received royalties from D&D 1e.



However, except for the D&D 1e three core books (MM, PH, DMG), the rest of D&D 1e is without new input from Arneson.
 

Shadow Demon

Explorer
I’ll trust the word of someone who was there over some random person on the internet guessing. No offense
None taken. Just a difference in opinion on Kuntz’s credibility. The D&D mechanics were a collaborative effort. If the truth is the Gygax’s were less than believed it doesn’t make Arneson’s more.
 

Sacrosanct

Slayer of Keraptis
I’d say the best product for D&D overall was Mentzers basic set. For a lot of reasons, not just because it was a great product from a writing, layout, and aesthetic perspective.

Second place goes to the AD&D paint line (many of which I still have and use to this day)

Third place goes to the wood burning set. Ok, maybe not
 

Shadow Demon

Explorer
However, except for the D&D 1e three core books (MM, PH, DMG), the rest of D&D 1e is without new input from Arneson.
I would love to know what specific mechanics that Arneson contributed in 1e core. Being generous the monk and assassin from Blackmoor come to mind. Alas, we shall never know.
 

Yaarel

Adventurer
I would love to know what specific mechanics that Arneson contributed in 1e core. Being generous the monk and assassin from Blackmoor come to mind. Alas, we shall never know.
Obviously, Arneson and his players roleplay more than just ‘monks and assassins’.

The D&D 0e core books (Men & Magic, Monsters & Treasure, Underworld & Wilderness) represent the kinds of things that Arneson and his players were doing.



People have described a difference between the styles of Arneson and Gygax.

Arneson was more improvisational. Do whatever you want, and Arneson will try to adjudicate. This might resemble the 5e concept of backgrounds and skill checks. Players imagine some action, the DM decides how viable it seems.

By contrast, Gygax was more reductionist. You can only do things if there are rules to do it on your character sheet.



However, both of them were quite excruciating about the complexity of combat rules, which, thank goodness, D&D has abandoned since.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
So, I have a thought that's been percolating for a while, and it's gone from inchoate to half-baked status ... which means that it's time to share!

Today, I unveil my OA Theory. Um, no, this isn't the theory about how interpretive dance can get us to parallel worlds. Instead, it is my grand unified theory that's been working in the back of my skull for a while as to when OD&D, as a general concept, ended.

Are you ready?

Are you sitting down?

The golden period, the glory years, the REAL D&D officially ended November, 1985. Since that time, we have all been in nothing more than a poor holographic simulation of a D&D game. Or maybe a zombie-filled apocalypse. Still working on that part. ahem

So why that date? We all know about the continuity of time and editions between OD&D, 1e, B/X, BECMI, and 2e (1974-2000), and that they are largely interchangeable. But there is also a difference between, say, late-period 2e and OD&D. Or between B/X and Rules Cyclopedia.

Here's the theory- before a date certain, we were all playing Old D&D. Maybe,... Classic D&D. After that date .... New D&D.* And the dividing line isn't exactly the ouster of Gygax, although it is in the ballpark.**

It's Oriental Adventures. That's right. If you look at the publication history in the 1e line, you see a clear line from:
(1974) OD&D -> Holmes Basic -> 1e (1977)

Within 1e, you see the classics of the genre:
1977 Monster Manual
1978 Player's Handbook
1979 DM's Guide
1980 Deities & Demigods
1981 Fiend Folio
1983 Monster Manual II
1985 Legends & Lore
October 1985 Oriental Adventures

Then, everything that sucked.
December 1985 Unearthed Arcana
1986 Dungeoneer's Survival Guide
1986 Wilderness Survival Guide
1987 Manual of the Planes
1987 Dragonlance Adventures
1988 Greyhawk Adventures

To be clear, I am not trying to yuck anyone's yum, or state that those people who enjoyed Kim Mohan's stewardship of the WSG should be ashamed of themselves***, just that October 1985 was the end of CD&D.

Why?

Well, it could have been space radiation. Or maybe a virus.

Wait, why do I think that this marks the end? It's a stylistic thing. Oriental Adventures, and books prior to it, whether you like them or not, have a distinct P.O.V.; this changes diametrically in the two books following: UA (an explosion of options, cantrips, and poorly-thought out ideas) and DSG (the beginning of the "splat books" we would see in 2e).

So, there's my theory. Classic D&D ended in November, 1985.




*1985 was also New Coke, and Classic Coke. Coincidence, or CONSPIRACY?

**The fateful meeting was October 1985, but it wasn't decided until October 1986.

***I won't discourage it, either.
OA even assumes UA by presenting the Samurai as a Cavalier subclass.
Oof, lowkey 's premise is crushed by a gnome.... won't live that one down.
 

ccs

39th lv DM
But my only question is: Did anyone actually own 1st edition Legends and Lore, and if so, why?
Yes. Still have it too. I use it interchangeably with my D&DG mk.2. Unless I need Elric or Cthulu....

As to the why? It was a Birthday gift from my brother. I knew it was just a reprint of my D&DG mk.2 with a new cover & title. He didn't.
He just knew it was a title he'd never seen in our bookshelf or at the table when we'd play. He never DM'd & never made any use of anything beyond PHB/DMG (everyone did for the attack/save charts).
I never told him it was a dupe.
I just thanked him & began using both the mk.2 & L&L interchangeably.
 

pemerton

Legend
With its introduction of Proficiences et al I'd think OA belongs much more with the post-85 lineup, and indeed initiated that lineup!
I was surprised to read the OP after seeing the thread title, because I agree with you that OA clearly belongs on the other side of the classic/post-classic divide.

For me the biggest difference isn't mechanical (proficiencies etc) though they're not nothing, but the whole way the setting and situation is presented: PCs, by default, have connections (families, daimyos, masters/mentors, etc) and a resulting place in the world, and they confront NPCs and creatures (spirits, the Celestial Bureaucracy, etc) which likewise have connections and loyalties that bear upon the PCs'. No one who begins their reading of D&D with OA would think that Gygax's PHB advice about Succcessful Adventuring was talking about the same game!
 

teitan

Explorer
When it comes to classic D&D, to me, AD&D 2e was the pinnacle when it came to the core rules when you consider how it refined many elements that were clear as mud in 1e. But there is a caveat to that... things like Non-Weapon Proficiencies, Specialty priests and other “optional rules” are discluded in that.

Remove those optional rules and you have the peak of classic D&D design and it’s still compatible with original, 1e and Basic. Improvements to initiative and thief skills becoming customizable rather than cookie cutter, official adoption of THAC0, and similar streamlining through all the classes. Specialty wizards were well done. It’s just damn near perfect. Changes to the ranger notwithstanding.

Why did I disclude the optional rules? Well Non-Weapon Proficiencies are a skill system that is inconsistent with the established system for rangers and thieves. Why were Rangers & Thieves poor in their core skills but super adequate in their Non-Weapon Proficiencies? Specialty priests were great with Legends & Lore but later implementations were inconsistent.

Monsters were also well done aside from the psionics being core to some monsters with no options for nonPsionic versions of those monsters. The Monstrous Compendium was a garbage idea but hey whatcha gonna do?

The flaw that makes 2e a hot mess is that all those optional rules weren’t optional as mentioned with Psionics. All the later supplements assumed the use of optional rules.

So for a classic D&D experience your pinnacle is 2e core.
 

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