D&D General Why is "OSR style" D&D Fun For You?

DammitVictor

Trust the Fungus
Supporter
I think it’s interesting that 2e changed things back to the classic method. I wonder why? Nostalgia? Placating grognards? Did people even use that method or did they prefer the other ones?
Entire time I played 2e across 3-4 different groups, everyone used 4d6k3 arranged. Every time. Did not even start experimenting with other methods in 3.X until after Unearthed Arcana came out.
 

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Starfox

Adventurer
We don't bother much with resource management, and I can't be bothered getting into the "but what even is an OSR?" debate, but a few of the reasons we run AD&D instead of 1D&D5e are:
  • Reaction rolls mean not every encounter is a fight and any encounter can snowball into spontaneous RP
  • No cantrips mean magic users don't go pew-pew-pew all the time
  • Lower hp totals make combat shorter and seem more impactful
  • Things that could logically kill you can actually kill you
  • The assassination table
  • Alignment languages
  • No skill system to worry about
These are pretty much my reasons for not playing AD&D. :) I am not getting into why to not start an edition war. In the end it boils down to preference and taste.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
By default, AD&D 1e used type I (roll 4d6 drop lowest, arrange as desired). The only editions not to use that method are 2e and 4e. 4e used a standard array by default. 2e changed type I back to the classic method (3d6, assign in order), moving 1e’s type I to type V, and added type VI as a form of point buy for ability scores.

So this is mostly correct, but additional context is helpful.

OD&D used the "standard" 3d6 (see also Holmes Basic at 5). When AD&D was released, the PHB didn't actually provide any method of rolling attributes. This was in the summer of 1978. Instead, it simply said that the DMG would have ways of rolling stats. So for an entire year, the "default" method of rolling stats in AD&D continued to be 3d6, in order. Because AD&D was just a continuation/expansion/codification of OD&D.

The DMG then presents ways of rolling characters- it starts by acknowledging that rolling 3d6 is the defaults, but says that this tends to generate "rather marginal characters ...." It then recommends four variant systems (Methods I-IV) as variants. "Four alternatives are offered for player characters:"

Method I is the famous 4d6k1 that became widespread, but these were variant methods.

So in context and at the time, it's more accurate to say that there was a baseline of 3d6 in order, but AD&D was providing numerous recommended alternatives. You often will see a schism between people who played OD&D and transitioned to AD&D (using 3d6 in order) and those who started with AD&D.
 

Hussar

Legend
An additional schism, I think, might be with those like me who started with Moldvay Basic. You rolled 3d6 in order, but, then you could swap points 2 for 1, raising or lowering Str, Int and/or Wis, raising Dex and Con and Cha couldn't be changed. So, fighters almost universally would have 9 or 10 Int and Wis (9 was the lowest you could reduce a score to) in order to gain 2 or 3 points to add to Str and Dex (up to a max of 18). Or wizards would bump points into Int, that sort of thing.

We kept this rolling method all the way through AD&D and I believe we might have kept it up for 2e as well.

So, for me, something like standard array or point buy, isn't all that much of a change from AD&D. I get character stats that look pretty close between editions.
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
So this is mostly correct, but additional context is helpful.

OD&D used the "standard" 3d6 (see also Holmes Basic at 5). When AD&D was released, the PHB didn't actually provide any method of rolling attributes. This was in the summer of 1978. Instead, it simply said that the DMG would have ways of rolling stats. So for an entire year, the "default" method of rolling stats in AD&D continued to be 3d6, in order. Because AD&D was just a continuation/expansion/codification of OD&D.

The DMG then presents ways of rolling characters- it starts by acknowledging that rolling 3d6 is the defaults, but says that this tends to generate "rather marginal characters ...." It then recommends four variant systems (Methods I-IV) as variants. "Four alternatives are offered for player characters:"

Method I is the famous 4d6k1 that became widespread, but these were variant methods.

So in context and at the time, it's more accurate to say that there was a baseline of 3d6 in order, but AD&D was providing numerous recommended alternatives. You often will see a schism between people who played OD&D and transitioned to AD&D (using 3d6 in order) and those who started with AD&D.
Col_Playdoh:

in 1972 we all rolled 3d6, but later when AD&D made the stats more meaningful, players would keep rolling until they got more viable numbers, so then we switched to various systems--roll seven or eight times with 3d6 and keep the six best totals or roll d4d and throw out the lowest die.

After all, the object of the game is to have fun, and weak PCs aren't much fun for most players. Even fine role-players want characters with at least one or two redeming stats...
Snarf, I think this is one we might want to check the fanzines on at some point, because I guarantee that people were experimenting with variant score generation methods prior to seeing them officially presented in 1979.

In this Gary quote he says "players would keep rolling until they got more viable numbers" and he attributes that to "when AD&D made stats more meaningful", but of course we know that Greyhawk made stats more meaningful in 1975, three years before the PH came out. So I strongly suspect he was misremembering the timing on that.

The AD&D charts definitely assume you're rolling in some more generous manner or rolling up a bunch of characters. Gary says right before them that to be viable a character will normally need stats that include at least two of 15 or better, which 3d6 down the line will not reliably provide, of course.

I also read that passage from the DMG more the way Kenada does. That 4d6 drop lowest arrange to taste is the primary method. I read Gary as referring to methods I-IV as "alternatives" to 3d6 down the line simply because he's expecting his readers to already be familiar with OD&D and used to 3d6, but he's explaining that it's not really a suitable method for AD&D due to the increased importance of high stats and the expectation of the ability tables that you'll have at least a couple of high numbers, so here are some methods which DO work for AD&D. If the reader insists on sticking with 3d6 down the line, they CAN do that, but the characters will suck. :LOL:
 
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Reynard

Legend
An additional schism, I think, might be with those like me who started with Moldvay Basic. You rolled 3d6 in order, but, then you could swap points 2 for 1, raising or lowering Str, Int and/or Wis, raising Dex and Con and Cha couldn't be changed. So, fighters almost universally would have 9 or 10 Int and Wis (9 was the lowest you could reduce a score to) in order to gain 2 or 3 points to add to Str and Dex (up to a max of 18). Or wizards would bump points into Int, that sort of thing.

We kept this rolling method all the way through AD&D and I believe we might have kept it up for 2e as well.

So, for me, something like standard array or point buy, isn't all that much of a change from AD&D. I get character stats that look pretty close between editions.
That was me. My brothers and I spent 3 or 4 years playing BECMI before we even knew AD&D existed.
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
An additional schism, I think, might be with those like me who started with Moldvay Basic. You rolled 3d6 in order, but, then you could swap points 2 for 1, raising or lowering Str, Int and/or Wis, raising Dex and Con and Cha couldn't be changed. So, fighters almost universally would have 9 or 10 Int and Wis (9 was the lowest you could reduce a score to) in order to gain 2 or 3 points to add to Str and Dex (up to a max of 18). Or wizards would bump points into Int, that sort of thing.

We kept this rolling method all the way through AD&D and I believe we might have kept it up for 2e as well.

So, for me, something like standard array or point buy, isn't all that much of a change from AD&D. I get character stats that look pretty close between editions.
This is interesting too, because the Moldvay point-swapping rule (or maybe I should attribute it to Holmes in 1977) was a clearer explication of text from 1974 OD&D.

The text in 1974 is much more ambiguous and some folks now interpret it that the actual points don't get swapped, but that you "virtually" count them toward the prime requisite for experience bonus purposes ONLY. But the version of the rule in the Basic sets line definitely involves actual swapping.

This is another reason it seems clear to me that AD&D was designed with the expectation that a more generous rolling system was being used, not only because of Gary's "two fifteens or better" recommendation in the PH, or the tables requiring quite high scores to actually get bonuses, but because they didn't include the point-swapping rule in AD&D.
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
OD&D used the "standard" 3d6 (see also Holmes Basic at 5). When AD&D was released, the PHB didn't actually provide any method of rolling attributes. This was in the summer of 1978. Instead, it simply said that the DMG would have ways of rolling stats. So for an entire year, the "default" method of rolling stats in AD&D continued to be 3d6, in order. Because AD&D was just a continuation/expansion/codification of OD&D.
I also find it fascinating digging into the transition and the extent to which AD&D was a new game (as Gary insisted at the time) or was "just" an expansion and codification or new edition of OD&D.

Gary decades later said it was all one game, and the editing of AD&D, and all the stuff they left out which they had told us in OD&D makes that seem much more true.

And it's a shame that he gave such a contrary pitch in the 70s and 80s. Because there's a ton of useful stuff in OD&D which legions of us never saw until many years later, believing the hype that AD&D was a new and complete and superior game.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
I also find it fascinating digging into the transition and the extent to which AD&D was a new game (as Gary insisted at the time) or was "just" an expansion and codification or new edition of OD&D.

Gary decades later said it was all one game, and the editing of AD&D, and all the stuff they left out which they had told us in OD&D makes that seem much more true.

And it's a shame that he gave such a contrary pitch in the 70s and 80s. Because there's a ton of useful stuff in OD&D which legions of us never saw until many years later, believing the hype that AD&D was a new and complete and superior game.

Well, I think that this is one example of where the text ... matters. ;)

If you were only aware of the LLBs from OD&D, sure, AD&D might seem like a completely new system. But the vast majority of the rules in AD&D are just the following:
LBBs + Supplements (aka, OD&D) + The Strategic Review + Dragon Magazine.

There's very little that is "new" to AD&D. Sure, some of the rules are tweaked, but even the core classes are simply codifications of classes that already existed! The only real major change was turning the ... ugh, I hate talking about this ... Bard from a regular class to some kind of bizarre proto-prestige class in the appendix. Sure, the DMG greatly expounded on all sorts of issues, but, again, very little was new- that's why I've written before about the interoperability of the TSR systems. If you were playing OD&D plus supplements plus keeping up with the official TSR magazine, nothing was very surprising in AD&D.

As for the dice and rolling abilities, I think that the section speaks for itself; the Methods were presented as alternatives to the baseline of rolling 3d6 in order. Again, you have to remember that there was a default assumption that was behind how people were playing back then. That's not to say that other people hadn't explored alternate methods before that; it's sort of like the discussion around critical hits! Despite Gygax being famously against critical hits (and therefore, no critical hits in TSR-era 'official' D&D until the optional rule in 2e), there were people experimenting with critical hits prior to that- even in OD&D.

I do think that the presentation of alternative methods (which culminated in Unearthed Arcana ... ugh) did show the shift in thinking on the part of Gygax. From viewing PCs as normal people who went on adventures to being, themselves, exceptional to start with. Which is probably a separate conversation. Or, as I often say, if you want to find a quote that disagrees with Gygax, just read some more Gygax. :)
 

TwoSix

Uncomfortably diegetic
I also find it fascinating digging into the transition and the extent to which AD&D was a new game (as Gary insisted at the time) or was "just" an expansion and codification or new edition of OD&D.

Gary decades later said it was all one game, and the editing of AD&D, and all the stuff they left out which they had told us in OD&D makes that seem much more true.

And it's a shame that he gave such a contrary pitch in the 70s and 80s. Because there's a ton of useful stuff in OD&D which legions of us never saw until many years later, believing the hype that AD&D was a new and complete and superior game.
Agreed. I think the amount of players who were introduced to the game via AD&D, and assumed (from the text) that OD&D was earlier, purely vestigial material, was not a small contingent.

Purely anecdotally, I remember a few players over the years suggesting the "trade 2 stats for 1" rule, and I simply assumed it was a house rule that their previous groups had been using. And now I found out 30+ years later that it was actually sourced from B/X directly!
 

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