D&D General TSR to WoTC shift--OR--the de-prioritization on Exploration spells/classes

Poor thieves and assassins, back in the day. If the poison traps didn't get you, the party paladin was frequently there to take up the slack.

One thing working against them was that their saves vs poison weren't very good*...which makes little sense, in that one would think Thieves and Assassins would have at least a bit of training on how to deal with poison before it took hold. And as it's the Thief or Assassin who is most likely to be exposed to poison, yeah, the deck's stacked against 'em a little bit.

* - because for some reason poison was lumped in with paralyzation and death; it should have been its own category. I split it out and made the Thief group better (pretty much swapped Cleric and Thief); so far, so good.

Same as if the PCs didn't check out what was down that hallway in the dungeon back in the day and didn't get whatever treasure and XP was to be had down there.
Which is fine if the party stay on the rails; but if they decide to go do something else, or somehow manage to bypass the "ding" location, they'll never bump.
 

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3. There was a reward, part 3. Character power and differentiation was defined by magic items you found (through exploration), not so much by class abilities.

I would add to this that the risks and rewards are not balanced. A trap might lead to death, not just a hit point tax. The treasure chest might (randomly) contain a very powerful sentient sword or (also randomly) nothing. If you want to have a powerful character (via magic items (or even through finding spell books)) you have to take some risks. At least in my current OSE game, this dynamic has a blackjack quality, where the players are both wary of interacting with the environment but ultimately tempted by the possible rewards. Gambling is fun!
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Same as if the PCs didn't check out what was down that hallway in the dungeon back in the day and didn't get whatever treasure and XP was to be had down there.
Not necessarily, as back in the day you'd get xp and treasure through what you did instead, and still be able to advance.

With location-based levelling, if you miss the location or never get there because you went elsewhere, you don't advance at all.
 

Clint_L

Hero
Exploration is much, much easier in 5e than it was in 1e until 10th level or so. Like, insanely easier. The main "explorer" class in 1e, the thief, was terrible at their job at low levels and was likely to die at the first serious trap they encountered. It's true that gameplay back then prioritized treasure as the main way to get experience, but it is FAR from true that that caused players to avoid combat encounters. To the contrary, D&D was much more combat heavy back then, and killing monsters was how you got your hands on all the fat, fat loot/exp 90% of the time. Just look at the old modules.

I think this theory has an interesting thesis but it is not supported by the facts. Old school D&D was much closer to its war-gaming roots and combat was constant. Wandering monsters, anyone?
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
To the contrary, D&D was much more combat heavy back then, and killing monsters was how you got your hands on all the fat, fat loot/exp 90% of the time. Just look at the old modules.
There was a thread a while back which looked at the old modules, and found that a great deal of the XP came from treasure rather than combat:

 

Fanaelialae

Legend
Doing so would certainly ease the (perceived or real) problem of there being nothing to spend gold on in 5e.

Depends what that other 1% gives 'em. If they know that if they keep looking there's at least a chance of a big payoff, IME they'll look till their characters die of old age. :)

This, as per my point just above.

Well, you still can, but you have to hide the room better. :)
IME, 1% is way too low to incentivize serious exploration. Sure, they'll still do a cursory inspection, but they're not going to spend significant table time if most of the time exploration results in nothing, traps, or a wandering monster.

To use the analogy of a lab rat, if a rat has to push a lever 100 times to get treats, and sometimes when the lever is pushed the other 99 times nothing happens, while other times the rat receives a shock, I doubt the rat will continue to push the lever. There's too much lack of positive reinforcement coupled with negative reinforcement. It would be challenging to have sufficient positive reinforcement to overcome that, IMO.

YMMV
 

Exploration is much, much easier in 5e than it was in 1e until 10th level or so. Like, insanely easier. The main "explorer" class in 1e, the thief, was terrible at their job at low levels and was likely to die at the first serious trap they encountered. It's true that gameplay back then prioritized treasure as the main way to get experience, but it is FAR from true that that caused players to avoid combat encounters. To the contrary, D&D was much more combat heavy back then, and killing monsters was how you got your hands on all the fat, fat loot/exp 90% of the time. Just look at the old modules.

I think this theory has an interesting thesis but it is not supported by the facts. Old school D&D was much closer to its war-gaming roots and combat was constant. Wandering monsters, anyone?
This gets to the Combat as War/Sport debate. Clearly people played all sorts of ways back in the day, including munchkin brute force combat. But in terms of scenario design, just because a dungeon has an ogre guarding the chest doesn't mean the PCs have to fight the ogre to get to the chest. In fact, it's inefficient to constantly do that, because you'll run out of hit points! And it's not so easy to get those hit points back, and the dungeon has more encounters than would be "balanced" for your party's level.

Wandering monsters are a good example of this: they are meant to be avoided! You don't get (much) xp for wandering monsters, and they have little to no treasure on them. Rather, you have to balance the rewards of exploration (searching for a secret door that may or may not be there) with the risks of exploration (wandering monsters, traps, torch going out).
 

Clint_L

Hero
There was a thread a while back which looked at the old modules, and found that a great deal of the XP came from treasure rather than combat:

Yes, I understand that most of the exp came from treasure. That is not in dispute. What I am saying is that that did NOT cause folks to routinely skip combat encounters. Typically, you sought them out because the fastest way to loot was through the monster's dead body. Again, just look at old AD&D modules - they are extremely combat encounter heavy, and then the rules for wandering monsters were way, way more integrated to the game than now.
 

Clint_L

Hero
This gets to the Combat as War/Sport debate. Clearly people played all sorts of ways back in the day, including munchkin brute force combat. But in terms of scenario design, just because a dungeon has an ogre guarding the chest doesn't mean the PCs have to fight the ogre to get to the chest. In fact, it's inefficient to constantly do that, because you'll run out of hit points! And it's not so easy to get those hit points back, and the dungeon has more encounters than would be "balanced" for your party's level.
To me this seems like a lot of theorizing that doesn't reflect how D&D was actually played back in the day. Modern D&D games are extremely encounter light by comparison. That's been the main progression of the game over time: from a war-game-derived fighting game to a heavy role-play game where often entire sessions won't include a battle. Does anyone really want to argue that modern games are more combat-oriented than old school ones?
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
Yes, I understand that most of the exp came from treasure. That is not in dispute. What I am saying is that that did NOT cause folks to routinely skip combat encounters. Typically, you sought them out because the fastest way to loot was through the monster's dead body. Again, just look at old AD&D modules - they are extremely combat encounter heavy, and then the rules for wandering monsters were way, way more integrated to the game than now.
Assuming that you're right, there's something to be said about combat not always being to the death. The morale rules were also baked into the system back then, outlining multiple instances where monsters would potentially retreat/surrender when the fight turned against them.
 


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