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

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Storm Raven

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Your personal experience of having never encountered a traditional dungeon, to the extent that you seem even to doubt that Gygax intended it to be normative, is suggestive.

Here's a question, since you assume it was to be the norm of play that there would be a superdungeon as the centerpiece of a campaign: why did TSR never publish any supplement of this nature in the 1e era?

Because the underworld was not the ONLY element of the campaign! Is this really so difficult to understand?

And the problem with the megadungeon assumption you seem to think is in the books is that the material focusing on that is limited at best, and for the most part confined to appendixes. Whereas the material suggesting otherwise is much more extensive and part of the main body of text.
 

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Raven Crowking

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Your personal experience of having never encountered a traditional dungeon, to the extent that you seem even to doubt that Gygax intended it to be normative, is suggestive.

Yeah, that's extremely weird.

I can easily understand folks not playing that way (I often did not), but to not realize that it was intended to be normative is strange indeed. Of course, it might be related to which early rulesets one had available (with varying DM advice), as well as what contact one had through Dragon and other sources with these ideas.

Certainly, I would imagine that most folks knew Gary's campaign focused on Castle Greyhawk. Ed Greenwood's campaign included both Undermountain and the Ruins of Myth Drannor as mega-complexes (and this was a 1e campaign setting before being purchased by TSR and, eventually, becoming the 2e flagship). World's Largest Dungeon was certainly an attempt to harken back to those days.

(I find a multi-mega-complex campaign to be optimal these days, myself.)


RC
 
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billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
As for the tusks and so on, I suppose you've never heard of Tenser's floating disk or bags of holding?

I'm not about to assume that everybody's got one or the other or even a portable hole - or that they have enough capacity with the ones they have. That seems to me to be a very strong assumption to make about any random campaign using these modules. It also underlines my point - there are two separate ways to earn XPs in 1e compared to one in 3e tracked in this survey and that injects more potential error to the 1e results because you must make more assumptions to reach the XP total.
 

Ariosto

First Post
Why did TSR never publish any supplement of this nature in the 1e era?
It does not lend itself to the medium, and Gygax doubted that there would be much interest among DMs in buying someone else's campaign. (It took Judges Guild's sales to prove him wrong about the potential even of work of such nature as did in fact get published.) The Temple of Elemental Evil is darned close, but even that was handed off to Frank Mentzer for finishing.
 
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Storm Raven

First Post
I'm not about to assume that everybody's got one or the other or even a portable hole - or that they have enough capacity with the ones they have.

The problem with the assumption that Pcs wouldn't be able to move treasure is that characters have so many options for transporting it. Tenser's floating disk is a 1st level spell. Leomund's chest is another option. Teleporting it from the dungeon to a place of safety is another, and so on. And I haven't even begun to go through magic items, or simply hiring henchmen and hirelings to help schlep the loot. Any reasonably prepared 1e party will have ways to move stuff out of the dungeon. To me, the odd position is the one that assumes they will not.
 

Ariosto

First Post
Yeah, that's extremely weird.
I don't know about that. By "suggestive", I meant that it suggests -- if common -- a reason why 1E play might commonly be modeled on (or even primarily via) modules. Quasqueton's sample is not necessarily representative of such play, but his survey seems provisionally to indicate that it might not be very different, in terms of XP accrual, from play of 3E modules.

As I observed (in agreement with those who noted it earlier), that would suggest that the perception of rapid early advancement in 3E might well be in comparison with skimpy awards "house ruled" into 1E, or with "standard, by-the-book" 2E practice.
 
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Storm Raven

First Post
It does not lend itself to the medium, and Gygax doubted that there would be much interest among DMs in buying someone else's campaign. (It took Judges Guild's sales to prove him wrong about the potential even of work of such nature as did in fact get published.) The Temple of Elemental Evil is darned close, but even that was fobbed off onto Frank Mentzer.

That still doesn't answer the question. Once TSR did begin publishing adventures, why not publish one or more of the big mega adventures that you claim they assumed everyone wanted to play in?

I just find the whole idea that megadungeons were the rule and the assumed play style to fly in the face of known facts. Yes, Gygax used one in his campaign. But he apparently didn't think it would be popular enough to publish, while the "small" G series was? I think that says they thought the market was rather different than what you claim it was.
 

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
The problem with the assumption that Pcs wouldn't be able to move treasure is that characters have so many options for transporting it. Tenser's floating disk is a 1st level spell. Leomund's chest is another option. Teleporting it from the dungeon to a place of safety is another, and so on. And I haven't even begun to go through magic items, or simply hiring henchmen and hirelings to help schlep the loot. Any reasonably prepared 1e party will have ways to move stuff out of the dungeon. To me, the odd position is the one that assumes they will not.

The assumption isn't that they don't have any of these items or methods, but that they may not, and that whatever they have they probably don't have enough to shlep out all of it without spending a lot of time and energy that they might not want to spend.
I do find it an odd assumption that a reasonably prepared 1e party will have the ways to find and move all treasure of value out of the dungeon.
 

Ariosto

First Post
Why not publish one or more of the big mega adventures that you claim they assumed everyone wanted to play in?
It's not really "an adventure" that can be published (although an account of an expedition could be that).

A campaign dungeon typically consists of a great mass of notes that for the most part would be terribly laconic, if not positively cryptic, to anyone but the DM, and an even greater volume of information located nowhere but in the DM's head! Moreover, it is not a static but an ever-changing situation, so that at best one can provide to others only a "snapshot" of its state at some arbitrary moment.

To make even a portion of that into such a polished product as would meet Gary's standards would require a staggering amount of work.

And, contemplating that, Arneson and Gygax, Kuntz and others among the early Dungeon Masters would wonder ... "Why have us do any more of your imagining for you?"

Making up one's own stuff was a big, big PART OF THE FUN!

Modules were for convenience, as starting points or one-offs, for tournaments and other convention play. They're sort of like one-day cricket, a comic-book "limited series", or a movie spun off from a TV show.
 
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Storm Raven

First Post
The assumption isn't that they don't have any of these items or methods, but that they may not, and that whatever they have they probably don't have enough to shlep out all of it without spending a lot of time and energy that they might not want to spend.
I do find it an odd assumption that a reasonably prepared 1e party will have the ways to find and move all treasure of value out of the dungeon.

No one is saying they will move all of the treasure out of the dungeon, just that the amount that won't be found and moved will usually be a fairly small percentage of the total. Any party that doesn't go into a dungeon without some plan for extracting a huge volume of treasure simply hadn't been paying attention. By the time a party was 10th level (and thus playing the G series), they would have almost certainly planned ahead for removing stuff from the dungeon, and had probably gotten very good at rummaging through anything and everything to find whatever discarded piece of wood happened to be the axe handle of a +3 battleaxe or the trigger for a door into the secret treasure room.
 

Storm Raven

First Post
It's not really "an adventure" that can be published (although an account of an expedition could be that).

That's a reasonable position, except that when push came to shove, it turned out it was very possible to publish such an adventure: Undermountain, Castle Whiterock, Rappan Athuk, and World's Largest Dungeon (heck, throw in Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil too)are all examples. And all post-date 1e, most by many years.

And, contemplating that, Arneson and Gygax, Kuntz and others among the early Dungeon Masters would wonder ... "Why have us do any more of your imagining for you?"

So they just published the other kinds of adventures because they were goofing around? I don't buy it. Your explanation requires all kinds of convoluted logic that TSR was marketing stuff that was not intended to be used the way the game was "supposed" to be played. It is a simpler, and much more convincing explanation that the market simply wasn't receptive to a megadungeon because that's not how most people were playing the game.
 

Hussar

Legend
While straying away from AD&D for a moment, the "mega-dungeon" certainly wasn't the assumed norm in Basic/Expert D&D. You did dungeons for levels 1-3 and then you went out into the wilderness with Expert rules. Then on to ruling kingdoms with Companion rules (but, I never played those).

I think it's very telling that a large number of older gamers started with Basic/Expert rules before going on to AD&D. That might account for the apparent discrepency in approach. For a B/E player, mega-dungeons weren't the norm at all. Dungeons were where you adventured at very low levels before you moved on to outdoor style adventures punctuated by the occassional dungeon.

While I loves me mega-dungeons now, I never played one until 3e.
 

Ariosto

First Post
Storm Raven, the deal with dungeons is just what Gygax, et al., related -- and what I and other DMs know from experience. Another bit is that TSR in those days went in for publishing (sometimes expanded or reworked) tournament scenarios as a way to get more return on investment. Maybe Frank Mentzer or Tim Kask would give more answers to your questions -- or, concerning later decisions, people who were involved in making them.

You seem to come at the artifacts (modules and books) from a perspective isolated from the context (introduction via play, reading The Dragon, going to club meets, attending conventions, etc.) that informed practically every D&Der I met 25-30 years ago. Things that from inside that context amount simply and concretely to the way things were when we were there seem doubtful and merely theoretical to you.

That's a pretty frustrating phenomenon with which to deal; fortunately, the heyday of D&D is not among the more serious affairs of 20th-century history!
 

Hussar

Legend
Ariosto said:
attending conventions

Something I want to point out here. The convention going population of gamers is dwarfed by the non-con going population by a whole bunch. There were supposedly a couple of million gamers in the early 80's. How many people would attend a big convention like Gen-Con? Couple of thousand? Ten thousand? Hell, twenty? Of the total con going population of gamers, where would you peg the percentage? 1%? 5%?

If the total con going population of gamers ever reached 10% after 1980, I'd be utterly stunned.

Same goes for gaming club meets. How many people belonged to an actual gaming club, as opposed to a small group of friends who met once every so often to play?

You are painting your experience onto the general just as much as Storm Raven is. Sure, everyone you met 30 years ago was a con goer- that's because that's what you were doing. Until the 1990's, after I'd been playing for about ten years, I had never met anyone who had been to a con.

Whose experience is more common? I have no idea. But, I do know from my experience, that the giant dungeon a la Greyhawk was certainly not the norm for anyone I'd ever talked to.

Sounds like a forked poll to me. :)
 


Storm Raven

First Post
Storm Raven, the deal with dungeons is just what Gygax, et al., related -- and what I and other DMs know from experience. Another bit is that TSR in those days went in for publishing (sometimes expanded or reworked) tournament scenarios as a way to get more return on investment. Maybe Frank Mentzer or Tim Kask would give more answers to your questions -- or, concerning later decisions, people who were involved in making them.

I am certain that Gygax played using a megadungeon - many of the anecdotes he relates center on one. But to make the leap from that to the idea that TSR expected that this would be the play style runs directly counter to the materials TSR actually marketed.

You seem to come at the artifacts (modules and books) from a perspective isolated from the context (introduction via play, reading The Dragon, going to club meets, attending conventions, etc.) that informed practically every D&Der I met 25-30 years ago. Things that from inside that context amount simply and concretely to the way things were when we were there seem doubtful and merely theoretical to you.

You seem to forget that I was there too. Given that I've been playing D&D since the 70s, there's a chance I've been playing longer than you. I read The Dragon, I was introduced to the game via play, and so on. And yet no one assumed that megadungeons were the order of the day. In fact, those that considered them at all regarded them as a silly archaic artifact best left in the dustbin. You don't have some sort of superior insight here. You have a limited anecdotal experience that demonstrates virtually nothing (as Hussar points out, how many people attended conventions and went to gaming clubs compared with how many people purchased products).
 

Ariosto

First Post
Whose experience is more common? I have no idea.
Neither have I!

It certainly could make a difference in figuring out whence the idea that low-level 3E characters level faster came.

As to conventions, though, I have never been to a Gen Con -- only local affairs, including SF cons with a gaming contingent.

I still must wonder how someone could be completely oblivious to the dungeon and campaign concepts, unless perhaps he leaped right into AD&D via the books without any prior grounding in the traditions of D&D. I can hardly imagine what one might in such a case have made of the advice in the PHB! I am not sure whether the 2E books did a better job of explaining those matters to the novice; I seem to recall that they devoted a lot of text to other modes of play.
 

Hussar

Legend
Neither have I!

It certainly could make a difference in figuring out whence the idea that low-level 3E characters level faster came.

As to conventions, though, I have never been to a Gen Con -- only local affairs, including SF cons with a gaming contingent.

I still must wonder how someone could be completely oblivious to the dungeon and campaign concepts, unless perhaps he leaped right into AD&D via the books without any prior grounding in the traditions of D&D. I can hardly imagine what one might in such a case have made of the advice in the PHB! I am not sure whether the 2E books did a better job of explaining those matters to the novice; I seem to recall that they devoted a lot of text to other modes of play.

Thus my earlier point Ariosto. I think a very large percentage of AD&D players came into AD&D from Basic/Expert. The much vaunted Boxed Sets of the late 70's and early 80's. I know that's how I got into it. Considering those still remain the best selling RPG products of all time, I think it's safe to say that I wasn't alone.

And, if you came to AD&D from Basic/Expert, then the mega-dungeon concept ran pretty counter to your expectations. While Basic D&D centered on the dungeon, Expert made it pretty clear that a good campaign featured both dungeons and wilderness.

Again, look at The Isle of Dread, which is probably one of the most loved and well known modules. Small dungeon crawls sprinkled over a large wilderness map. I think this colored people's approach to the game easily as much as EGG's DMG.
 


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