• NOW LIVE! -- One-Page Adventures for D&D 5th Edition on Kickstarter! A booklet of colourful one-page adventures for D&D 5th Edition ranging from levels 1-9 and designed for a single session of play.
log in or register to remove this ad

 

D&D General The Rules Cyclopedia - Unlearning Dnd Preconceptions from a 3e player

teitan

Hero
I mean, maybe assuming that your experiences were universal is a bit of a stretch?
Except in the case of 2e it was nearly universal that minis were not standard and a luxury. If you find offense in my comment in this regard that's on you. SPeaking in terms of the average experience should not be offensive when it's a generally accepted fact. 2e did not encourage the use of miniatures and full rules for them really only emerged late in 2e with Combat & Tactics. Sure we had Battlesystem but that was a game in and of itself. As was the skirmish version. Both were published as their own game.

As someone pointed out above, even BECMI made little references to miniatures other than you might want to have some to show marching order but they weren't necessary. EVen the 1e DMG mentions them but only for about half a page in total to say hey, these exist and this is how the floor scale works but they aren't necessary for play. The default expectation has always been Theater of the Mind until, honestly, 3.5 where movement was changed from feet to squares to reflect the open adaptation of battlemats and the D&D Miniatures line as an integral part of the game. 3.0 was handy with minis but they weren't required or called out for use. So high horses really should be dismounted because being offended by my general comment is... on you.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

cbwjm

Hero
You're not wrong. But it's still a more complicated process than just adding positive numbers (with the occasional bit of subtraction due to a negative modifier or similar).

I played tons of 2e/TSR-era D&D mishmash in high school, and I was attending a nerd farm. That is, a residential program for 'gifted and talented' students. In order to be admitted, a student had to pass fairly rigorous math tests.

And we STILL had players who occasionally had a rough time with adding and subtracting negative numbers. It's wasn't a huge deal, and I daresay that playing D&D helped them wrap their brains around the process better, but the fact remains that adding and subtracting positive numbers is just more straightforward.

So I can do THAC0, you can do THAC0, my 7yo can do THAC0, and so can thousands and thousands of people worldwide. I still think that using all-positives makes for easier and smoother gameplay.
It does make it smoother, but it's (perhaps not too) surprising that some people have trouble working with positive numbers as well. Not necessarily because they are bad at maths but because they've been playing for 3 hours and adding 7 to 15 has become more difficult.
 

It does make it smoother, but it's (perhaps not too) surprising that some people have trouble working with positive numbers as well. Not necessarily because they are bad at maths but because they've been playing for 3 hours and adding 7 to 15 has become more difficult.
Yes. Playing rpgs are inherently cognitively draining.
 

Aldarc

Legend
1) Alignment: As much as we like to talk about the "9 alignments" as a sacred cow, it actually was just Law, Neutral, and Chaos back then. It seems that Law was "Big L, little g" and Chaos was "Big C, little e".
At the risk of becoming a one-note song, but this is something that I liked about the 4e alignment system. IMHO, it captured the importance of Order vs. Chaos found in ancient societies while also helping to morally contextualize them for modern audiences - "little g" and "little e" - where Law was regarded as a social good and Chaos was regarded as a social evil. In the 4e paradigm, evil perverted and corrupted order towards cosmological chaos, while goodness worked towards cosmological order and harmony. It's less cynical than Moorcockian Law vs. Chaos, which IMO fits within the heroic fantasy that D&D has increasingly gravitated towards since at least Dragonlance.

c) Hitpoints were tighter. Fighters only had d8 hp, and you only gained a single HP at 9th and beyond.
IMHO, WotC should have considered something similar for 5e, creating a soft cap for the game at level 10, with "epic" play extending beyond that. That would also have worked better in conjunction with bounded accuracy and making opponents a threat longer.
 

Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
It does make it smoother, but it's (perhaps not too) surprising that some people have trouble working with positive numbers as well. Not necessarily because they are bad at maths but because they've been playing for 3 hours and adding 7 to 15 has become more difficult.
True dat!

But 3 hours? We lived together, my friend, and our bloodstreams were 80% Mountain Dew at all times; 24+ hour game sessions were a badge of honor. By the backside of those, we barely could remember our names, let alone add.

The moreso with some of the wacky games people ran. One friend had a megadungeon derived entirely from the Fibonacci sequence, for example, and successfully navigating it required solving puzzles based on logic theorems. He also drank 2-3 pots of coffee per day and was always a bit . . . twitchy as a result. I was serious about the nerd farm bit.

Ahh, the good old days!
 

Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
Conversely, with a 36 level spread, they did thieves a dirty on the skill percentages. Stretching them out over a wider level spread compared to B/X. This meant your thief was useless at being a thief for longer!
It was a missed opportunity to give them something interesting at higher levels I feel.
You know, I don't think I ever had anyone play a thief using the RC rules. They were popular using 2e, but I never saw on in RC games. I never really thought about it before, but you're right.
 

You know, I don't think I ever had anyone play a thief using the RC rules. They were popular using 2e, but I never saw on in RC games. I never really thought about it before, but you're right.
There are several options to deal with this. One is to just use the B/X progression chart instead. Then what does the thief do after level 14? That's down to you.

Grim Reaper's masterpiece of RC errata (found here: Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia Errata and Companion Document Download Page) also contains a suggestion. Allow the thief to attempt a skill at a level above current per dex bonus mod. (so a +2 dex bonus would mean a 3rd level thief could attempt to open locks as a 5th level thief). He also provides a complete homebrew rework for taste as well.
 

Reynard

Legend
Except in the case of 2e it was nearly universal that minis were not standard and a luxury. If you find offense in my comment in this regard that's on you. SPeaking in terms of the average experience should not be offensive when it's a generally accepted fact. 2e did not encourage the use of miniatures and full rules for them really only emerged late in 2e with Combat & Tactics. Sure we had Battlesystem but that was a game in and of itself. As was the skirmish version. Both were published as their own game.

As someone pointed out above, even BECMI made little references to miniatures other than you might want to have some to show marching order but they weren't necessary. EVen the 1e DMG mentions them but only for about half a page in total to say hey, these exist and this is how the floor scale works but they aren't necessary for play. The default expectation has always been Theater of the Mind until, honestly, 3.5 where movement was changed from feet to squares to reflect the open adaptation of battlemats and the D&D Miniatures line as an integral part of the game. 3.0 was handy with minis but they weren't required or called out for use. So high horses really should be dismounted because being offended by my general comment is... on you.
Only one of us seems to be getting excited over this. I certainly wasn't offended. I was just pointing out that only Sith deal in absolutes.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
At the risk of becoming a one-note song, but this is something that I liked about the 4e alignment system. IMHO, it captured the importance of Order vs. Chaos found in ancient societies while also helping to morally contextualize them for modern audiences - "little g" and "little e" - where Law was regarded as a social good and Chaos was regarded as a social evil.

I always thought that one of the more interesting explorations of this (I mean, for the time and the medium) was in Babylon 5.

I don't want to put in spoilers here, given I am going to post a separate discussion thread about this, but the treatment of law and chaos as little g (not even) and little e is interesting.
 

Aldarc

Legend
I always thought that one of the more interesting explorations of this (I mean, for the time and the medium) was in Babylon 5.

I don't want to put in spoilers here, given I am going to post a separate discussion thread about this, but the treatment of law and chaos as little g (not even) and little e is interesting.
Who are you? What do you want?
 

Voadam

Legend
Exactly! Hunting for all the situational bonus and buffs to add on (and remembering to add them) made 3.x much slower in that regard. I’m glad we are in agreement ;)
So you are saying 2e Dragon Fist where it flipped THAC0 to ascending AC was the least speed bumpy official D&D for calculating attacks?:)
 

So you are saying 2e Dragon Fist where it flipped THAC0 to ascending AC was the least speed bumpy official D&D for calculating attacks?:)
No, I’m saying the impact of THAC0 on calculation or ability to understand is grossly overrated.
Now I get that it’s a preference to use positive numbers, I get that it’s easier to explain the idea of bigger is better. But that’s all it is, a preference. THAC0 is not a bizarre algorithm that requires a quadratic equation level of calculation that slows the game down to a measurable level.

This ascending ac preference was an oft used house rule in the days of AD&D that wotc made official.

As part of their advertising blitz for 3e they hammered home the perceived failings of AD&D, casting THAC0 as complicated (and “gifted” it this reputation that it now has in the public consciousness).

You’ll note they tried the same marketing strategy for 4e, but that one backfired in the wider gaming imagination.
 

Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
There are several options to deal with this. One is to just use the B/X progression chart instead. Then what does the thief do after level 14? That's down to you.

Grim Reaper's masterpiece of RC errata (found here: Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia Errata and Companion Document Download Page) also contains a suggestion. Allow the thief to attempt a skill at a level above current per dex bonus mod. (so a +2 dex bonus would mean a 3rd level thief could attempt to open locks as a 5th level thief). He also provides a complete homebrew rework for taste as well.
I have the document (have had it for ages) but I never really found problem in the RC I needed to look outside it and my own brain to solve.

Which isn't intended as a slight by any means; call it overconfidence in my own abilities. But then, once again, it never really came up because I never and anyone play a thief.
 

Mannahnin

Adventurer
BECMI & RC really screwed Thieves. I'm not a fan of how character progression was stretched over 36 levels in general, but Thieves in particular suffered.

BECMI did fix a rare editorial error on Moldvay's part, though, in once again allowing Magic Users and Elves to add more spells to their spellbooks besides just the ones from gaining levels.

Miniatures for combat in the 1E and 2nd ed days was mostly a matter of local gaming culture. My groups used them extensively, along with a hex map, and house rules for flanking and opportunity attacks which we were pleasantly surprised to see similar rules for appear in 3rd.

One of the virtues of battlemap combat is greater mutual understanding of the tactical situation. One of the older players from my longtime 90s 2nd Ed group talked about how they had a DM at one point who always liked to have monsters run through their battle line straight for the mage. They then reacted by specifically planning a tight formation with the mage shielded on all sides. And then in a subsequent combat the DM STILL had an orc or something run straight through their formation and bash the mage. The group adopted a battlemat immediately.

3E put in a fair amount of effort to try to support Theater of the Mind non-minis combat, but you can tell in reading it that it's definitely designed principally from the perspective of using a battle mat/grid. 3.5 pretty much abandoned support for TotM and assumed you'd use a grid, and 4E embraced that still further. It is interesting that BECMI abandoned all reference to minis and a grid. Even Moldvay's 1981 Basic set included a reference to using minis and a 5' grid in the Dungeon Mastering as a Fine Art appendix at the end of the rulebook as an option for those who wanted it.

Re: THAC0 and Target 20, I do think Dan Collins' thesis that Target 20 is actually the simplest and most intuitive combat algorithm for most people is pretty solid. But of course most people are learning D&D from experienced players, and ascending AC is darn simple.

 
Last edited:

I have the document (have had it for ages) but I never really found problem in the RC I needed to look outside it and my own brain to solve.

Which isn't intended as a slight by any means; call it overconfidence in my own abilities. But then, once again, it never really came up because I never and anyone play a thief.
Oh of course, that’s the beauty of the older editions, tinker with them as you will. Just useful to know that others are always happy to share their “fixes”
 

dave2008

Legend
Except in the case of 2e it was nearly universal that minis were not standard and a luxury. If you find offense in my comment in this regard that's on you. SPeaking in terms of the average experience should not be offensive when it's a generally accepted fact. 2e did not encourage the use of miniatures and full rules for them really only emerged late in 2e with Combat & Tactics. Sure we had Battlesystem but that was a game in and of itself. As was the skirmish version. Both were published as their own game.

As someone pointed out above, even BECMI made little references to miniatures other than you might want to have some to show marching order but they weren't necessary. EVen the 1e DMG mentions them but only for about half a page in total to say hey, these exist and this is how the floor scale works but they aren't necessary for play. The default expectation has always been Theater of the Mind until, honestly, 3.5 where movement was changed from feet to squares to reflect the open adaptation of battlemats and the D&D Miniatures line as an integral part of the game. 3.0 was handy with minis but they weren't required or called out for use. So high horses really should be dismounted because being offended by my general comment is... on you.
I never played 3e, but I played 1e / BECMI, 4e, and now 5e. In none of those editions (even 4e) are miniatures required. I have played with and without them in each of those editions.
 

dave2008

Legend
IMHO, WotC should have considered something similar for 5e, creating a soft cap for the game at level 10, with "epic" play extending beyond that. That would also have worked better in conjunction with bounded accuracy and making opponents a threat longer.
Yep, I think the higher CR monsters work better if the PCs have overall lower HP too.

In our next campaign we are restricting HP after lvl 10 to a limited fixed number (based on HD) and no Con bonus.
 

Voadam

Legend
Now I get that it’s a preference to use positive numbers, I get that it’s easier to explain the idea of bigger is better. But that’s all it is, a preference.
No. It is also actually a little easier to do so. :)

THAC0 is not a bizarre algorithm that requires a quadratic equation level of calculation
No it is not.
that slows the game down to a measurable level.
Yes it does. I used it actively in B/X, 1e, and 2e games for 20 years with multiple groups. I used it as a kid, through higher education, and as a working professional. I experienced it slow the game down. Every time any person in the group had to pause to go through the math conceptually to make sure we were getting it right it was a small but noticeable speed bump and interruption. Even after years of using it, I would sometimes have to think through it. It was a common complaint.

I was really happy with how Dragon Fist addressed the issue, and that WotC adopted it as well as a core mechanic from 3e and on.
 

No. It is also actually a little easier to do so. :)


No it is not.

Yes it does. I used it actively in B/X, 1e, and 2e games for 20 years with multiple groups. I used it as a kid, through higher education, and as a working professional. I experienced it slow the game down. Every time any person in the group had to pause to go through the math conceptually to make sure we were getting it right it was a small but noticeable speed bump and interruption. Even after years of using it, I would sometimes have to think through it. It was a common complaint.

I was really happy with how Dragon Fist addressed the issue, and that WotC adopted it as well as a core mechanic from 3e and on.
Huh funny, I’ve not experienced any appreciative slow down. Guess anecdotes are funny that way.

Now, were the games redone to use ascending ac from the beginning, of course I’d probably use that as default. As is, my group are (or at least were) happily using THAC0 in our speedy combats. My after school group. My after school group of 11 year olds.
 

Mannahnin

Adventurer
I still recommend the Collins piece.


Excerpt:

"...Now, obviously, those last few were for humorous illustrations only, and I assume not many people would want to use those systems. But what criteria can we use to choose the "best" possible system? Let's consider the following as guiding principles (and we'll back each of them up with results from experiments in cognitive psychology as we proceed):

(1) Additions are easier than subtractions.
Although mathematically equivalent (and using fundamentally the same operation in digital computing systems), most people find subtraction significantly harder than addition. For example, see the paper by MacIntyre, University of Edinburgh, 2004, p. 2: "Addition tasks are clearly completed in a much more confident manner than the subtraction items, with over 80% of the study group with at most one error on the items. Subtraction items appear to have presented a much bigger challenge to the pupils, with over 50% having 3 or more of those questions wrong."

(2) Round numbers are easier to compare than odd numbers. In other words, when comparing which of two numbers is larger (the final, required step in any "to hit" algorithm) it will be easier if the second number is "20" than, say "27". This follows from the psychological finding that it's faster to compare single digits that are farther apart; see Sousa, How the Brain Learns Mathematics, p. 21: "When two digits were far apart in values, such as 2 and 9, the adults responded quickly, and almost without error. But when the digits were closer in value, such as 5 and 6, the response time increased significantly, and the error rate rose dramatically..." In our case, setting the second digit to zero would maximize the opportunity for a large (and thus easy-to-discern) difference between the numbers.

(3) Small numbers are easier to compare than large numbers. This has also been borne out by a host of psychological experiments over the last several decades. Again from Sousa, p. 22: "The speed with which we compare two numbers depends not just on the distance between them but on their size as well. It takes far longer to decide that 9 is larger than 8 than to decide that 2 is larger than 1. For numbers of equal distance apart, larger numbers are more difficult to compare than smaller ones." Again, this is true for human computers only, not digital ones (ironically, the digital processor "compare" operation is really just an application of the same "subtract" circuitry).

Okay, so let's think about applying these principles to find the cognitively-justified best tabletop resolution algorithm. Applying principle #3 means that we'd generally prefer dealing with smaller numbers rather than larger. Before considering anything else, it's clear that it will be hardest for people to mentally operate in a d% percentile system, easier in a d20-scaled system, and easier still on a d6-scaled system. We should pick the easiest of these that gives the fidelity necessary to our simulation, and the d20-scale does seem like a nice medium..."
 

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top