Treasure and leveling comparisons: AD&D1, B/ED&D, and D&D3 - updated 11-17-08 (Q1)

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Storm Raven

First Post
If it is your intent to carry on civil discourse, by all means do so.

If you are already starting the hysterics, please understand why I am not accompanying you on this journey again.

You are the one who decided to cite a completely useless and incoherent comparison as something significant. When you compare apples to buicks don't be surprised if people make fun of the comparison.
 

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Ariosto

First Post
The 1E DMG, at page 171, suggests that fully 60% of all randomly distributed treasures (the more common, non-Treasure-Type sort used to fill in less detailed regions of a campaign dungeon) should be hidden. That is a bit high for my taste, especially considering that it applies either concealment or trapping to all such troves. I am less likely to apply either to treasures with monstrous guardians.

The really big hauls, if literally hidden, should at least have some intelligence as to their magnitude and general location available to discerning delvers.
 

Orius

Hero
How likely is this to be found? Depends very much on the DM.

Which could mean either the stuff is found easily if the DM chooses to be generous, or not at all, if the DM wants to be picky and tight-fisted about it. The biggest difference with 3e is that the Search skill gives a hard and fast method of determining whether a hidden treasure is found or not. Whether or not this invovled a great deal of work on the PC/player's part or not was really up to the individual DM as always, though. In my own games, I never revealed things players didn't bother to look for.

(1) Go through the pre-3e Dragons where the first 3e hints are coming up. If memory serves, WotC's market research showed that people like leveling, but often didn't reach high levels because older edition leveling was too slow. It was actually an explicit design goal to speed up rate of leveling, again, if memory serves.

I remember as well that there was a leveling comparison where the number of orcs a fighter had to slay to get from 1st to 2nd level was compared between 2e and 3e, and the 3e fighter was at a real advantage. More than a factor of 10.

EDIT: Please note that, although Q isn't looking at 2e modules or rates of advancement, unless one is arguing that 2e has slower advancement than 1e (and, by Q's argument, 3e) it is relevant.

It may have been. I'm fairly sure 2e's XP tables for the various classes weren't significantly changed from the 1e ones. However, XP for treasure found was relegated to an optional rule that was somewhat discouraged. Because of this, XP for monster kills in 2e were different (higher I think) than they wer ein 1e. But I think level advancement by the book was still slower, even if one took into account optional XP bonuses. Going by the introduction to Night Below, Sargent strongly recommends the DM to put the XP for treasure rule into play so the PCs can get the levels needed to survive the ampaign. This is one of the few main 2e modules, so it would seem that 2e's default advancement (just XP for kills) was fairly slow. In any case, 3e design considerations apply to how 2e was being played in the late 90's and not how 1e was being played in the early '80s.
 

Quasqueton

First Post
It seems to me that most of the arguments against the data in this thread are due to the comparison between AD&D1 and D&D3. Had I just listed the level advancement for the AD&D1 party through the adventures, most everyone would have just nodded their heads and said, "Yeah, that's about right."

I mean, after all, the data/calculations on the party's level advancement pretty much completely follows what the author (Gary Gygax) seemed to expect, predict, and plan and design for. He wrote these modules to follow one after the other (the original "adventure path"), and the party comes out of one adventure at pretty much perfectly the appropriate level for the next adventure in the series.

I find it funny that instead of folks saying, "Well, of course, Papa G planned it that way," folks are saying, "Impossible, your numbers must be wrong." I guess folks didn't have much faith in Gygax that he knew what he was doing when he "placed xp" in the adventures and planned the next adventure.

To be honest, I didn't have faith that Gygax planned it that well. But I learned that he apparently did at least put some thought into the xp to be gained in each adventure. The level advancement rate works perfectly through the series.

If the PCs didn't advance at least close to what is shown in this data, they wouldn't be powerful enough to take on the next level of the dungeon or the next dungeon in the series. Essentially, the series -- written by the game system designer, himself -- wouldn't work the way they were planned to follow.

But then also remember, that through many levels in AD&D, the xp needed for a level is double that needed for the previous level. So, in many cases, even if you cut the xp gained in half (50%), the level difference would only be one level.

I really should not have presented this data as a comparison between AD&D1 and D&D3. I should have merely presented the data on just AD&D1. There wouldn't have been nearly as much argument.

For instance, check out the answers in this thread:
http://www.enworld.org/forum/general-rpg-discussion/243299-party-comes-out-other-side-t1-4-will.html
When asked what level PCs come out of ToEE, the answers all match what my data in this thread showed. Ironically, those anecdotes were accepted without argument, but my hard data -- showing the exact same answer -- is considered suspect.

Something I take from what the data and calculations here show, is that Gygax planned pretty darn well for the levels his adventures would produce. I find it somewhat humorous that so many people are essentially arguing that, no, Gygax was wrong, the adventures cannot produce the levels he planned for the next adventure in the series.

Quasqueton
 
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Ariosto

First Post
I for one take no issue with the data considered simply for what they are -- and that may falsely characterize the points some others have raised as well.

Statistics, however, readily lend themselves to rhetorical purposes that put partisanship ahead of scholarship. It is easy to come up with rationales for dismissing some considerations, and elevating others, when what is really in play is confirmation bias. The lawyer's mode of argument may or may not be more hard-wired in our brains than the scientist's, but it seems to me more normative in society. Advertising and other propaganda permeate our environment, disinterested reporting not so much.

The other side of the coin is that it requires context to interpret data, and our brains are wired to construct narratives and internally consistent (if not always objectively accurate) conceptual worlds. It is not a process one can do without; one can only do it more or less mindfully of the pitfalls.

Without interpretation, Quasqueton, the products of your hard work would be mere senseless trivia sterile of meaning. Part of the necessary fuller analysis is consideration of the methodology, of just what is being represented and what is not.

By page 5, I have encountered no claim of error in arithmetic or transcription -- which should in any case be subject to independent verification. It is not a matter of your numbers being wrong. It is a matter of pondering what they might or might not mean.
 
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ST

First Post
I think it was more "Oh hey, if I stir up some controversy, maybe people will download the game in my .sig", to be honest.
 

Quasqueton

First Post
what is really in play is confirmation bias
If you are suggesting that the results of this data conform to my pre-research expectations -- that is, they confirm my personal bias -- you are incorrect. I have stated in this thread that I expected different results. The data didn't confirm my bias, it showed me how my bias was incorrect.

I have encountered no claim of error in arithmetic or transcription
Yes, no one has claimed an error in arithmetic or transcription. What has been claimed is the impossibility of the exercise and results.

No one has said that 2 + 2 = 4 is an incorrect formula. They are saying that 2 is impossible, 2 is impossible, and 4 is impossible. Reading some arguments in this thread could lead one to think that level gain in AD&D1 was actually never experienced. The variables and obstacles are too numerous and powerful.

They look at the ending levels for adventuring in ToEE (for instance), and say level ~8.5 is too high. But looking at the actual adventure encounters and monsters, I don't see how PCs could survive the last parts of ToEE at lower level. A party of 5th level PCs (even a dozen) would be overwhelmed by the denizens of the bottom level of the temple.

Quasqueton
 


Pale Master

First Post
The only objective way to have any meaningful comparison between different editions is to count every bit of treasure and every bit of xp. It cannot be assumed that a party running through a third edition module will, across the board, garner a greater proportion of the available treasure and experience than would a party running through a first edition module.

I think Quasqueton's methodology is sound.
 

Ariosto

First Post
How much of the potential XP is likely to be secured is a matter to investigate in another way. It is not irrelevant to a realistic comparison of "leveling". One might wonder, for instance, whether 3E characters were more likely to go through conversions of old Basic and Advanced Modules or through 3E modules -- and vice-versa. Speaking of which, it is a bit curious that when we got to an (or at least the first; I'm not done reading) actual 3E module, there was no write-up of the data for 1E characters.

Are the Caves of Chaos likely to get cleaned out? Eventually. By one small group of low-level adventurers? Not so probable, I think; for one thing, a good few are likely to die along the way. How does that compare with the Sunless Citadel?

Going Against the Giants, the punitive expedition very well could produce pretty comprehensive plunder. The Descent into the Depths of the Earth, by contrast, is one into a subterranean wilderness, leading eventually to a great city -- all potentially deadly for intruders who draw too much attention to themselves. Just seeing everything (and surviving the roundabout tour) might be a stretch, much less taking home every souvenir to be found.
 

Ariosto

First Post
Just to clarify: Literal concealment of treasure is not a big issue in most (not merely the sample) 1E modules. It probably would not be very telling even if frequent, if we are assuming the leisure to get at everything in the first place.

What could make a very significant difference is how predictable it is that players shall encounter in the first place a source of XP, and in the second place actually score the points. That is rather more predictable, I think, when

-- scenarios are so linear that characters can scarcely avoid stumbling onto the monsters
-- the encounters are carefully calculated to be "appropriate" challenges
-- simply defeating the monsters secures the XP

Because the apparent bigger issue (at least to some) is the impression in some quarters that characters in 3E tend to advance more rapidly than characters in 1E, this is a question that goes beyond modules.

The (1st ed.) Advanced game, as text and as tradition, is concerned not only, or even primarily, with mere modules but with full-fledged dungeons, as described in the previous works with which familiarity is largely assumed (with dungeons via play, if not with the books via reading). If most play follows that model, then its nature is not conducive to calculations of the sort at hand.

Is there such a disjunction between, say, Sunless Citadel and what is normative 3E play? To what degree are the old concepts current, in the books and in the culture? To what degree does the very necessity for such terms as "sandbox" and "mega-dungeon" reflect a shift in norms?

There might even be different trends when comparing the whole field of modules for each game, although I think the form itself almost of necessity imposes certain constraints.
 
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billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
And it is entirely irrelevant. The volume of treasure that is "hidden" in 1e modules is trivial, and T1 clearly demonstrates this.

T1 clearly demonstrates that the volume of treasure hidden in T1 is relatively trivial. It demonstrates no more than that.
 

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
The only objective way to have any meaningful comparison between different editions is to count every bit of treasure and every bit of xp. It cannot be assumed that a party running through a third edition module will, across the board, garner a greater proportion of the available treasure and experience than would a party running through a first edition module.

I think Quasqueton's methodology is sound.

It's an interesting comparison, but if someone tries to use it to interpret that 1e characters necessarily advanced as fast as 3e characters, then they are using Q's methodology wrong. Characters, under optimal treasure conditions, could advance at a similar rate for a number of modules. This includes one major assumption - that treasure was obtained and removed at a rate comparable to the kill rate of the dungeon denizens. While there was no reason to assume that the kill rate would differ significantly between 1e and 3e, that's only part of the story for 1e characters that must be considered if you really do want to compare rates of advancement between 1e and 3e.

In other words, using Q's data to compare advancement rates assumes maximum kill rates for both editions AND a maximum treasure removal rate for 1e. And that injects more error into the mix on the 1e calculations that should be recognized.
 

Hussar

Legend
The thing that ALWAYS gets lost in this discussion is the fact that Q did NOT include the xp for magical treasure in the calculations. Not at all.

Considering that a single +1 sword, when sold, netted what, 2500 gp and thus 2500 xp, and you could find multiple +1 swords, any loss of cash would be more than made up for by the magic items.

I recall actually bumping a level based solely on our magical treasure after playing through the G series.

You can complain about the methodology all you like, but the fact that Q's estimate is probably low by at least half for the 1e modules, pretty much clinches any nit picking over whether or not they find the 300 gp gem in something's gullet.
 

Storm Raven

First Post
What could make a very significant difference is how predictable it is that players shall encounter in the first place a source of XP, and in the second place actually score the points. That is rather more predictable, I think, when

-- scenarios are so linear that characters can scarcely avoid stumbling onto the monsters
-- the encounters are carefully calculated to be "appropriate" challenges
-- simply defeating the monsters secures the XP.

As to the first, most 1e modules were incredibly linear. Free-for-all sandboxes like B2: Keep on the Borderlands (which was a Basic module to begin with) were much rarer than linear railroads like C1: Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan or A3: Assault on the Aerie of the Slave Lords.

The others seem to be not particularly telling to me. Most encounters in old modules are "appropriate", as much as in newer modules, especially since the newer modules often tried to incorporate challenges that were "too tough" for the recommended levels of the adventure (such as the roper encounter in The Forge of Fury.

In my experience, anything not nailed down was likely to be looted. If the treasure was there, the adventurers would probably take it with them. Saying "they had to take the treasure too" is not a very persuasive argument, since adventurers pretty much did that reflexively.

Because the apparent bigger issue (at least to some) is the impression in some quarters that characters in 3E tend to advance more rapidly than characters in 1E, this is a question that goes beyond modules.

I believe for the most part that impression is derived from three sources: (1) people used house rules in 1e to eliminate the XP gain from treasure (or merely reduced the amount of treasure called for), (2) people remember 1e with rose-colored glasses, and (3) people remember advancements rates in 2e more clearly, where treasure did not equate to XP.

And I think the thing is that 2e is the outlier in D&D editions for the rate of expected advancement. XP for treasure was abolished in the rule set, but nothing was done to alter the XP from defeating opponents, resulting in a vastly slower advancement rate than 1e or even OD&D had. And people got used to that. On the other hand, from many accounts, 2e was the least commercially successful edition of the game.

The (1st ed.) Advanced game, as text and as tradition, is concerned not only, or even primarily, with mere modules but with full-fledged dungeons, as described in the previous works with which familiarity is largely assumed (with dungeons via play, if not with the books via reading). If most play follows that model, then its nature is not conducive to calculations of the sort at hand.

Huh? What do you think most 1e modules were other than "full-fledged dungeons"?
 

Storm Raven

First Post
T1 clearly demonstrates that the volume of treasure hidden in T1 is relatively trivial. It demonstrates no more than that.

I've said this before, and I'll repeat myself here: show us the 1e module with substantial amounts of its treasure hidden. Until you do, there's nothing backing up the assertion that 1e modules had lots of hidden treasure.

All we have on the "1e treausre was hard to find!" side of the argument now is a buch of grognards mad that 3e comes off relatively well in a comparison to "old school" gaming howling on without providing any support for their position. Provide the data to support your position and it will be more persuasive than it is now.

Because right now, the grognard argument has a persuasive value of zero, and falling.
 


Ariosto

First Post
Most 1e modules were incredibly linear.
What do you think most 1e modules were other than "full-fledged dungeons"?
I think they were dungeon modules. "A good dungeon," per The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures, "will have no less than a dozen levels down, with offshoot levels in addition, and new levels under construction so that players will never grow tired of it."

The original Basic Set's sample cross-section showed 7 levels (the seventh an underground lake or sea with a domed city in its midst); the text noted that the introductory module (In Search of the Unknown) "will be usable for initial adventuring as well as provide ideas for dungeon construction", to which end the Dungeon Geomorphs were also recommended. The sample floor plan in the rule book was indicated as being but "Part of First Level" of the dungeons of Zenopus.

The 1E Dungeon Masters Guide, addressed as it was to "advanced" players, largely took for granted familiarity with the essentials of D&D. Those lacking such acquaintance might note, though, that the Dungeon Random Monster Level Determination Matrix (p. 174) extends to dungeon levels "16th and down."
 

Ariosto

First Post
Strictly speaking, most 1E "modules" were tournament or other scenarios that might provide (in pieces) grist for the mill of creating what the DMG called "your main dungeon", but were as written really another species altogether.

... challenges that were "too tough" for the recommended levels of the adventure (such as the roper encounter in The Forge of Fury.
The scenario was for levels 3-6. A "very difficult" (NOT "too tough") encounter is EL 1-4 higher than party level. A roper is a CR 10 monster, a single such being indicated as appropriate for EL 9, 10 or 11.
 

Storm Raven

First Post
The 1E Dungeon Masters Guide, addressed as it was to "advanced" players, largely took for granted familiarity with the essentials of D&D. Those lacking such acquaintance might note, though, that the Dungeon Random Monster Level Determination Matrix (p. 174) extends to dungeon levels "16th and down."

I think it interesting to note that the only published adventures that seem to comport with this definition were produced well after the 1e era (i.e Undermountain, which was for 2e, and produced in several installments; Castle Whiterock and World's Largest Dungeon produced for 3e).

And practice doesn't seem to match with your assertions, even in the text of the 1e DMG. Yes, the random monster tables go to "Level 16", but this is not necessarily a literal "16 levels of dungeon are needed" thing. As pointed out in the first pages of the DMG (if I recall correctly), the word "level" means many things, and when applied to a monster it does not mean "level of the dungeon". But the DMG gives all kinds of rules for overland travel, moving between encounter areas, and other things. Gygax's examples of early play often feature the Castle Greyhawk dungeon, but more often they do not.

The idea that modules aren't proper dungeons is simply so bizarre it is almost impossible to conceive of how silly a position that it. Especially when you consider that many modules formed a linked series of adventures that would fit the kind of scenario you assert as being necessary for a "proper dungeon", albeit often in multiple locations. If you think that is a big distinguishing characteristic, then I can only say your argument seems to be based entirely on semantics and is one I would consider to be entirely irrelevant.

Because the question is why would this matter? Characters in the modules advance as the designers of the game presumably thought people should advance, no matter where they adventure. Why would it be substantially different if they were making repeated forays into Castle Greyhawk or driving their way though All That Glitters?
 
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