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1E What makes a D&D game have a 1E feel?

Enrico Poli1

Adventurer
I actually began playing with BECMI and then AD&D2e, so I never directly experienced 1e "feel". So I have to guess from hints, such as playing the Gygax modules.

1e: characters feel almost as tokens in a Wargame or boardgame (when your character in Hero Quest dies, you are disappointed but you just make another)
(The Hickman Revolution changed everything)
2e: characters now feel as the protagonists of a fantasy novel.
3e: characters are minmaxed to be efficient. In the long run, they feel as a bunch of maxed stats.
4e: characters feel as World of Warcraft heroes; the game has a strong "chessy" feel and team tactics are mandatory.
5e: roleplay over rollplay, rulings over rules: there is a return to the 2e feeling, but keeping a (streamlined) coherent rules framework from 3e. The characters feel as the protagonists of a fantasy movie.

I personally prefer 5e.
 

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Lot's of people saying what a 1e feel means to them, but what does is mean to the Frog Gods?

From reading their adventures, they don't seem all that concerned with a lot of what people are talking about here. It seems to me, not surprisingly, a philosophy of adventure design. Now I haven't read all that many of them, but from those I have these seem to be a common theme:

  • A sandboxy, go and explore hexes or explore the dungeon approach.
  • The need for careful scouting and no guarantee of balanced encounters (The Lost City of Barakus has a black dragon on the 1st level of the dungeon)
  • Reward for skilled play and creative thinking.
  • A very trad generic background world.
 

TarionzCousin

Second Most Angelic Devil Ever
Nope - 1e as written has xp-for-gp baked in. It's easy enough to strip out, but doing so is technically a houserule.

2e was where xp pretty much only came from what you killed
Thanks. I played nonstop 1E in junior high school, but used 2E in a multi-year campaign. So 2E is somehow more familiar to me.

One thing that feels like 1E to me is character death. On a typical weekend, ten kids came to my house to play a 7th level module. Six kids had level 7 characters. Three kids had characters of level 4 to 6. One kid had a brand new 1st level character. That was typical.

All were fighters or thieves, mostly human. We played abilities strict 3d6 in order, so most characters didn't qualify to be anything else.
 

David Howery

Adventurer
Nope - 1e as written has xp-for-gp baked in. It's easy enough to strip out, but doing so is technically a houserule.
one thing about 1E/2E... it was hella easy to houserule. You could cut out huge chunks of the game if you didn't like them. Don't like racial level limits? Toss them. Racial/gender limits on stats? Toss them. Change the XP advancement levels? Easy. Don't like the alignment system? Toss it. Make up your own character classes? Easy. Ban other classes? Also easy. Want to change spells gained per level? Easy. About the only things you couldn't change easily were things like the annoying 'it runs backwards' AC system....
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
one thing about 1E/2E... it was hella easy to houserule.
You're preaching to the choir! :)
You could cut out huge chunks of the game if you didn't like them.
Not just cut out, but also replace, augment, or design and add new.

In my case, hitting only the major bits:

Replaced and-or redesigned from scratch: roll-up mechanics, initiative system, Monks, Bards, Druids, Paladins, Half-Elves, Half-Orcs, magic item pricing, level-advance table, combat matrix, spellcasting mechanics, some spells, etc.
Removed: xp-for-gp, weapon vs armour type, weapon speed, demihuman level limits, Human two-classing, PC psionics, some spells, gender-based stats for Humans,
Augmented: Clerics v undead, multiclassing*, languages, secondary skills, level-driven stat advancement, a few spells
Toned down or restricted: shapeshift and polymorph, multiclassing*, a few spells
Added new: classes (War Cleric, Necromancer), genetic taints, 'attributes and quirks', fumbles, criticals, wild magic, some spells, death's-door mechanics, high-level feats, etc.

After 40 years of our banging on it there's very little - if anything - left untouched of the original game. :)

* - multiclassing is augmented in that anyone can do it and it's more flexible, but toned down in that most classes don't get quite the same benefits if multi-ed as opposed to single.

Next on my radar: an examination and (probably) complete re-do of the saving throw matrix; at the very least I want to split out paralyzation, poison and death into their own categories rather than having them combined as now.
Don't like racial level limits? Toss them. Racial/gender limits on stats? Toss them. Change the XP advancement levels? Easy. Don't like the alignment system? Toss it. Make up your own character classes? Easy. Ban other classes? Also easy. Want to change spells gained per level? Easy. About the only things you couldn't change easily were things like the annoying 'it runs backwards' AC system....
 

Thanks. I played nonstop 1E in junior high school, but used 2E in a multi-year campaign. So 2E is somehow more familiar to me.

One thing that feels like 1E to me is character death. On a typical weekend, ten kids came to my house to play a 7th level module. Six kids had level 7 characters. Three kids had characters of level 4 to 6. One kid had a brand new 1st level character. That was typical.

All were fighters or thieves, mostly human. We played abilities strict 3d6 in order, so most characters didn't qualify to be anything else.
Amusingly 3d6 in order is definitely NOT 1E!
 
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fearsomepirate

Adventurer
I think the main thing is that the adventure has the tone of, "Here is some shit, now deal with it." You might accidentally find yourself in the land of Cloud Giants at 5th level, and that is just some shit, isn't it? Now deal with it.
 

pming

Adventurer
About the only things you couldn't change easily were things like the annoying 'it runs backwards' AC system....
Hiya!

Sure you could. "Roll your attack, add opponents AC; if it's 20+, you hit". Easy. "Dark Dungeons RPG" (a BECMI/RC clone) does this.

Of course, the only bugaboo to this is the "6 20's then 21" on the Attack Matrix (e.g., the progression went "...17, 18, 19, 20, 20, 20, 20, 20, 20, 21, 22...". Then again, not too hard for the DM to keep track of if you needed that natural 20 or not by simply having Players say "My attack is...17" and then the DM just adds the AC of the creature in his head and says "You strike the ogre solidly. Roll damage", or "You miss the demon by a long shot".

Personally, I would tell the Players the AC of most monsters that are 'common' (goblins, orcs, ogres, giant rats, zombies, etc), and I'd tell them of others if someone hit the AC 'exactly' (e.g. the Player rolls 17, the monsters AC is 3; 17 + 3 = 20, exactly; "You hit. They are AC 3"). Then I don't have to deal with it for the rest of the fight.

^_^

Paul L. Ming
 

The way to get 1E "feel" is to use 1E rules. Simple as that. No edition has an expiration date, so I'd advise critics they shouldn't be pretending that because it's not on the shelf at Barnes & Noble it's by definition NO GOOD or never was. That's the first thing needing to be said.

Second thing is that if you're going to CRITIQUE 1E then do it by the standards of the time in which it was written, and by the rules as they handle themselves, not according to "standards" being used by games 40 years later and the rules THEY have produced for THEIR intended ends. At the time it was written there WEREN'T other RPG's to speak of. There was Basic D&D and Holmes Basic. The select few other KNOWN RPG's at the time 1E actually got published would be Boot Hill, Petal Throne, Chivalry & Sorcery, Traveller, Metamorphasis Alpha... Hell, 1E AD&D was still INVENTING RPG's out of what was mostly thin air and that makes it outrageously unfair to discredit it for NOT being hip to 40 years of both successful and failed RPG design. 5E stands on achievements made by 1E (and Basic D&D, 2E, etc...), it doesn't disrespect and discount those achievements, it actually wants hardcore 1E fans to be lured by its attempts to BE more like 1E.

Personally, I believe that the biggest thing that makes 1E different from more recent D&D editions, is that at the time the people playing it knew the game was theirs to make of it whatever they wanted. Hell, the author repeatedly advised DM's to tell rules-lawyering players to shut up. The game was NOT about pre-planned optimization, or character "builds", or LIMITLESS player options, and especially not about fanatical adherence to written rules - it was about the creativity of both DM's and players using whatever they had. It was also still primarily written as a dungeon exploration game with some roleplaying elements rather than first being a roleplaying game featuring dungeon environments. Most mechanical customization of character abilities was done by acquiring magic items - which were overwhelmingly randomly distributed from charts. Now because it was such a hodge-podge of rules and mechanics (and in practical terms was nothing more than a massive assemblage of a lot of house rules from previous Basic D&D campaigns) it was quite amenable to being savagely sliced up, modified and rebuilt even to great extent.

AD&D was built from the bottom up - the new ruleset latching onto a wide variety of ideas that DM's from anywhere had thrown against the wall and happened to mostly stick. That was then collated into one set of rules with a lot of the author's own advice regarding how HE PERSONALLY runs the game. If there was a stated desire that players stick to the rules-as-written it was because the new edition was heavily envisioned as the basis that would be used by everyone going forward in tournament play - which obviously needs a single set of rules and not rules highly individualized by each DM. Nowadays a new D&D version is built from the top down - a select committee of designers and marketers using their own creativity to be sure, but also building upon decades of developed RPG and general game design theory, and ideas already tested in the crucible of the real world for decades. And it simultaneously seems to be trying to provide not a tournament-like shared experience, but a shared experience for all players in the form of book-sized combination adventure/campaigns. Nothing wrong with that because that's a good way to make money in selling D&D materials, but sure tends to put individual creativity of campaigns and DM's solidly into secondary consideration territory.

1E "feel", properly embraced, just isn't going to sell as well anymore. 1E "feel" would be putting more creative tools and ideas into the hands of individual DM's and still leaving to them most of the individualized campaign rules and adventure creation. But it was learned way back after the death of TSR that selling to PLAYERS was where profit was really going to be found and there's no doubt in my mind that they design editions of D&D with that SOLIDLY in mind. So they can throw a bone or two at 1E "feel" but they'll likely never really achieve it again.

At least that's what I mostly see.
 


Eltab

Hero
My 1e "feel"?

Enemies are there to be killed, not provide 'moral quandry' monologue opportunities. Always-CE races exist and are legitimate targets to attack.

The team is expected to act like a team (more or less), not a number of self-absorbed solo stars.

Some things you encounter are over the top - such as a Grimtooth Trap™ - or unnatural, such as a dungeon wall made of poison gas.

10-foot poles to tap on everything you see in the dungeon, just in case.
 

Halloween Horror For 5E

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