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View Full Version : [2E] Energy Drain... I'm thinking not.



quillbreaker
2008-11-11, 09:10 PM
I was playing in a second edition game until recently, specifically, last session. My character got hit with ye olde Level Drain. I sat and thought about it, decided it wasn't fun, and left.

I don't understand how anyone - ever - thought this mechanic was fun. A brief sketch of the numbers involved indicated that I lost 3 to 4 sessions of experience on one roll of the die. I rolled an 8 on the HP loss from losing the fighter level, meaning that I lost substantially more hit points than I am likely to gain back. Do second edition games usually consist of a bunch of players trying to trick each other into being the front liner? I can't see it going any other way. I certainly can't see my character continuing to carry his sword and shield into the fray.

It's a bit rude of me to just leave in the middle of a session, I know, but I'm just not masochistic enough to want to play a game where monsters wielding nerf bats pop up and beat your character until he's a novice again. Why would you want to do that to your players?

Matthew
2008-11-11, 09:20 PM
It just means you have a different orientation to people who play AD&D, putting greater importance on gaining levels as a major sign that you are having fun (and conversely consider losing levels to be detrimental to your fun). If you go into melee against creatures capable of energy drain, expect to lose levels. It is better then your character getting killed, but then I have a feeling you might have walked if that had happened too (since that would constitute losing all the levels you gained through play), in which case you certainly are not cut out to play AD&D. :smallwink:

aaron_the_cow
2008-11-11, 09:33 PM
Energy Drain is a 9th level spell and in all the games I've played, the highest level PC is 15th level (and Bad-Ass). It should be a very rare spell because it drains an entire level, withch at 9+ take more than an adventure. If yous are a high level group, you should have at least a +3 shield or a similar amount of defence in cloakes of displacement and rings of protection. Making it hard for the mage (at least Lvl. 18 so a THACO of 17?) to make the touch atack against you, but nat 20's happen.
If you are low level and up somting that can cast Energy Drain, then your DM wasn't waiting befor leting lose the big guns.

imperialspectre
2008-11-11, 09:36 PM
Or, you know, vampire.

But seriously, man, you should probably play 4E or something like that. It doesn't look like you particularly enjoy a more lethal kind of system, so finding a group that plays a less dangerous kind of game might suit your tastes better. Different strokes, you know. :smallsmile:

Vazzaroth
2008-11-11, 09:52 PM
2nd ed... reverse math THACO?! MAH BRAIN!

But really, there was progress for a reason. I'm sure 2nd is nice in it's own ways, and I'm sure those ways appeal to certain people more than others, but we don't make computers using vacuum tubes anymore much like most people don't play 2nd (and more and more, 3rd). Sure, the novelty of the old stuff is interesting, but I totally agree, I've hated losing progress in every RPG I've ever played. Wether it is Final Fantasy and quitting 1/2 way through FF7 after dying to a boss after not saving for 3 hours (And pretty much every FF I've played has the same outcome eventually), or losing XP from player death in DnD, Losing progress is incredibly demoralizing for me. I'd rather just roll a new character and have new experiences (Or get a new game.) than re-live the same levels.

quillbreaker
2008-11-11, 09:58 PM
If you go into melee against creatures capable of energy drain, expect to lose levels.


Half of the undead in the game have a description of "a gnarled, hideous figure with claws". Ghouls, and ghasts, and wights. The third will ruin your day. There was no way I could have known, and even if I did know it was right on the other side of a door.



It is better then your character getting killed, but then I have a feeling you might have walked if that had happened too (since that would constitute losing all the levels you gained through play), in which case you certainly are not cut out to play AD&D. :smallwink:

I've changed characters for all sorts of reasons, mostly IC, sometimes for death, and usually handled it with a chuckle. But who wants to see the character they were playing turn into a withered husk who is now barely capable of doing the job they used to do? Kinder to kill them. They can be raised out of that if you can scrounge the funds, or they can get a clean start with another character if they're game to that.

But, yes, not my cup of tea.

Has anyone house-ruled permanent level drain back in to 3rd or 4th?

The Glyphstone
2008-11-11, 10:08 PM
It's already there - any negative levels in 3E require a Fort save to avoid becoming permanent if they last for 24 hours or more. Enervation and Energy Drain are too short duration as spells, but the slam attacks of a wight/vampire/other undead can ruin anyone's day if they don't get a Restoration quick enough.

Matthew
2008-11-11, 10:13 PM
Half of the undead in the game have a description of "a gnarled, hideous figure with claws". Ghouls, and ghasts, and wights. The third will ruin your day. There was no way I could have known, and even if I did know it was right on the other side of a door.

Sounds like some bad tactical choices to me, but even if you make a good decision every time, wandering into a tomb full of undead carries the risk of getting level drained.



I've changed characters for all sorts of reasons, mostly IC, sometimes for death, and usually handled it with a chuckle. But who wants to see the character they were playing turn into a withered husk who is now barely capable of doing the job they used to do? Kinder to kill them. They can be raised out of that if you can scrounge the funds, or they can get a clean start with another character if they're game to that.

I think you are over dramaticising things, you only lost one level. What level was your character anyway? The way experience is gained in AD&D it is unlikely you would be behind for long, even if reduced to level one. If experience is awarded for treasure (default rule in first edition, optional rule in second edition) there is even a compensation mechanism explicitly in the hands of the players.



But, yes, not my cup of tea.

Indeed.



Has anyone house-ruled permanent level drain back in to 3rd or 4th?

I have heard of it in D20/3e, not in D20/4e though; too different, I think.

JadedDM
2008-11-11, 10:41 PM
Of course level-draining is not fun. That's the point. Just like dying isn't fun, either. But it's part of the game. There's no fun at all in winning all of the time. If there's no risk at all, there's no joy in winning. Imagine playing a game of Monopoly where you never have to go to jail, pay fines, or lose money. What's the point then?

That's why when I'm watching a movie or tv show and the main character is shown in danger, I don't worry. I don't fear they'll die. I know they'll live, because they always do. If I was watching a show by Joss Whedon, though, and he put one of his characters in danger (particularly one beloved by the fans who had just found true love and happiness), I'd be freaking out!

Besides, like Matthew said, just one level? Is that really such a big deal? What if he had died and you had to start over completely?

Vazzaroth
2008-11-11, 10:59 PM
There is a difference between not fun and challenging... and unfair and depressing.

Getting to low HP and almost dying, or coming back from the brink of death is challenging and, maybe not at the time, fun in the long run. Challenge is the meat of the game just like conflict is the key to entertainment.

But Un-doing time spent is thoroughly unfair, IMO.

Matthew
2008-11-11, 11:25 PM
There is a difference between not fun and challenging... and unfair and depressing.

Getting to low HP and almost dying, or coming back from the brink of death is challenging and, maybe not at the time, fun in the long run. Challenge is the meat of the game just like conflict is the key to entertainment.

But Un-doing time spent is thoroughly unfair, IMO.

I think you would need to radically adjust your thinking to see the threat of level drain and death as a challenging and fun element of the game. Level drain is what makes powerful undead a serious threat, and a difficult challenge to overcome.

Vazzaroth
2008-11-11, 11:29 PM
It's not the threat level I have an issue with its the fact that level drain is like saying "Hey, you know those last 5 hours you spent playing? They mean nothing."

I didn't mine 3.5's level drain, basically a global -1, but I definitely am glad it's more or less gone in 4th.

Matthew
2008-11-11, 11:36 PM
It's not the threat level I have an issue with its the fact that level drain is like saying "Hey, you know those last 5 hours you spent playing? They mean nothing."

I didn't mine 3.5's level drain, basically a global -1, but I definitely am glad it's more or less gone in 4th.

This is why you would need to readjust your thinking. If you are playing AD&D "to level up" and the acquiring of experience points is what gives your participation in the game meaning, rather than the adventure itself, it is little wonder that losing those experience points (however temporarily) is unacceptable to you.

It sounds like you want a risk free challenge, which as far as I can see is no challenge at all.

quillbreaker
2008-11-12, 12:22 AM
This is why you would need to readjust your thinking. If you are playing AD&D "to level up" and the acquiring of experience points is what gives your participation in the game meaning, rather than the adventure itself, it is little wonder that losing those experience points (however temporarily) is unacceptable to you.

It sounds like you want a risk free challenge, which as far as I can see is no challenge at all.

Objecting to a character-destruction mechanic doesn't mean that I want a "risk free challenge". I'm willing to risk death. It means that I don't find being crippled next to the rest of the party to be an acceptable consequence for failure.

Weezer
2008-11-12, 12:24 AM
It's not the threat level I have an issue with its the fact that level drain is like saying "Hey, you know those last 5 hours you spent playing? They mean nothing."
They only mean nothing if you didn't have fun playing for those 5 hours. D&D of all editions is primarily about the experience and enjoyment, not character levels.

Tsotha-lanti
2008-11-12, 12:46 AM
In several years of playing AD&D 2nd ed., I never once used anything that caused level drain (including vampires, wraiths, wights, etc.), or anything that caused aging (such as, you know, ghosts), because both mechanics were ridiculously bad and awkward, and not even remotely fun. (In the Gold Box AD&D games, being hit with level drain - and it's damn common - tends to result in me Quicking the fight and reloading, which takes freaking forever. At least healing at temples is free in Death Knights.)

Admittedly, losing a level in 3.X is even worse, because the changes between levels are much more extensive and complicated. At least in 2nd ed. you just have to reduce your HP, look up your saves on a different column, and maybe change your THAC0. (Nobody at our table ever once played a spellcaster. Go figure. Might've been because half the spells age you, too.)

It's not like it's even lethal. Old RuneQuest is lethal, where a critical hit to your head is more likely to kill you than not. Losing levels is just annoying and frustrating.


Of course level-draining is not fun. That's the point.

Say what?

Someone intentionally decided to put something that's meant to be un-fun in a game?

That's just twisted, and completely misses the point of it being a game.

kjones
2008-11-12, 12:58 AM
This (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0515.html) pretty much sums up my feelings on level drain in 2E.

Sure, it's not a game about leveling up, and sure, you could have avoided it by taking the proper precautions, but still... it sucks to lose a level.

And losing one level is bad enough... if you go up against (say) a spectre, expect to lose more than that. Then your friends are Level Awesome and you're Level Stupid. That sucks too.

Tsotha-lanti
2008-11-12, 01:10 AM
And losing one level is bad enough... if you go up against (say) a spectre, expect to lose more than that. Then your friends are Level Awesome and you're Level Stupid. That sucks too.

This, seriously. In AD&D, fighting a vampire is insane, because by the end you'll be half the level you used to be. Fighting something like wights or wraiths (or spectres - or did they age you instead?), who tend to show up in groups, is even crazier.

Both really pale in comparison to the sheer lunacy of trying to fight a ghost or other undead creature with an aging attack. 1-2 attacks will kill humans.

The Game Of Instant, Unavoidable Death.

Yay.

Behold_the_Void
2008-11-12, 02:41 AM
This, seriously. In AD&D, fighting a vampire is insane, because by the end you'll be half the level you used to be. Fighting something like wights or wraiths (or spectres - or did they age you instead?), who tend to show up in groups, is even crazier.

Both really pale in comparison to the sheer lunacy of trying to fight a ghost or other undead creature with an aging attack. 1-2 attacks will kill humans.

The Game Of Instant, Unavoidable Death.

Yay.

Indeed. I posit that there's a definite difference between making something challenging and making something frustrating. These mechanics I tend to view as the latter, not the former. Especially since it seems pretty prevalent. From what I can tell, the only way to not get screwed over like that is to never fight undead ever, and I know a lot of DMs (myself included) like to make use of undead. So when a popular enemy is going to pretty much unequivocally gank your character permanently, the game loses a lot of appeal.

And I would not say it's an issue of wanting to horde exp and whatnot. I see it as more of an issue of an encounter that strips you (and only you) of some of your more valuable abilities or items, whereas your party remains virtually unharmed. I don't think I've ever found myself thinking a situation was fun where I was exclusively getting ganked and everyone else was not, and it sounds like that's pretty much the case if you're a melee character who wants to fight undead.

Tempest Fennac
2008-11-12, 02:47 AM
How did the ageing attacks work exactly? I have to agree with the idea that perminant level drain isn't fun (it's fine if it only lasts for a short while, but I tend to see losing progress like that to just be demoralizing).

Kurald Galain
2008-11-12, 02:55 AM
Three words: Negative Plane Protection.

Seriously though, me and any 2E DM I know in the area have always changed the rule to some ability score drain that recovers over the next few hours, or aging the characters since that's mostly flavor anyway (without ye olde systeme schocke, that is).

Tempest Fennac
2008-11-12, 03:08 AM
How was aging relegated to only being flavour in your games, Kurald? I know there were ageing penalties in the 2nd Edition which weren't as harsh as the 3rd Edition rules.

JadedDM
2008-11-12, 03:36 AM
Say what?

Someone intentionally decided to put something that's meant to be un-fun in a game?

That's just twisted, and completely misses the point of it being a game.

Oh, man--have you ever played Monopoly? If you get sent to jail, and don't even get me started on how unfun that is, you cannot pass Go AND can't collect $200! What is this madness? I hope someone got fired for that one!

Seriously, this kind of attitude worries me. There are supposed to be bad things in any game that the player(s) try to avoid. Death, level-drain, curses, and so forth when it comes to D&D.

I have no idea what 5E will be like, but I'm willing to bet that 6E will consist of nothing but everyone sitting down at a table, and the DM handing out gold and XP until everyone gets bored and decides to do something else instead.


And losing one level is bad enough... if you go up against (say) a spectre, expect to lose more than that. Then your friends are Level Awesome and you're Level Stupid. That sucks too.

Then you really shouldn't try and tackle a spectre by yourself (unless you are proposing some strange scenario where the spectre touches you and you only and leaves the rest of the party alone?)


In AD&D, fighting a vampire is insane, because by the end you'll be half the level you used to be.

I had a party in one of my games face a vampire and not loose a single level. That's because they changed their tactics and made sure not to just run at it, swords drawn, like they would anything else.

Kantur
2008-11-12, 03:47 AM
My main AD&D DM didn't like the level drain mechanic by the book either, something about being thousands upon thousands of XP less than the rest of the party and never really having a chance to catch up...

So, his housrule is still nasty, still makes us think twice about going toe-to-toe with undead that we think might drain levels, but isn't as bad, especially not at higher levels.
Houserule: Level drain makes you lose 500*Level experience.
So a first level character who's close to second level wouldn't die outright, a 4th level character still loses 2000 XP, a 7th level character loses 3500 XP. And if you do lose a level from it, it's suddenly not as bad; yes you have less hit points and a, possibly, lower THAC0 and your class abilities aren't as good, but you're now losing less XP from each drain.

Behold_the_Void
2008-11-12, 03:58 AM
Oh, man--have you ever played Monopoly? If you get sent to jail, and don't even get me started on how unfun that is, you cannot pass Go AND can't collect $200! What is this madness? I hope someone got fired for that one!

Seriously, this kind of attitude worries me. There are supposed to be bad things in any game that the player(s) try to avoid. Death, level-drain, curses, and so forth when it comes to D&D.

There's bad and there's crippling. Going to jail in Monopoly isn't a huge penalty, it can even be something of a boon in the later game if you've played your cards right. This mechanic completely screws any character unlucky or unaware enough to be hit by it. Irrevocably. In a game that can go on for months if not years. How is this a good idea?

Project_Mayhem
2008-11-12, 04:59 AM
My players survived an undead heavy module by sending the hireling bond-warrior-people-things in first. Not in a rushy, suicidal way - just that they were doing the meatshielding, while the players struck the vulnerable points.

I always found that undead in general require special tactics. IIRC even a ghoul can paralise you and then rip your head off.

Kurald Galain
2008-11-12, 05:14 AM
How was aging relegated to only being flavour in your games, Kurald?
Because unless you fight undead all the time (which we really didn't), aging attacks of one-year-per-hit are not going to advance any character to the next age category.

Well, as a DM I did have one character age to death once, but that was because he was using a cursed item that he refused to get rid of despite numerous hints that it was bad for him.

Heliomance
2008-11-12, 05:25 AM
Of course level-draining is not fun. That's the point. Just like dying isn't fun, either. But it's part of the game. There's no fun at all in winning all of the time. If there's no risk at all, there's no joy in winning. Imagine playing a game of Monopoly where you never have to go to jail, pay fines, or lose money. What's the point then?

Hey, going to jail is good in the end-game. You don't have to pay rent, but you still get to collect it.

Tempest Fennac
2008-11-12, 05:42 AM
I can see why you did that, Kurald. Was there any way to reverse ageing attacks in 2nd Edition? I know Haste was a poor spell choice back then due to it ageing you by 1 year whenever it was used.

Charity
2008-11-12, 05:49 AM
The rules on energy drain were changed in 3e and 4e due to player sentiments much like the one professed by the OP.
If you don't like/ appreciate their place within a game I'd advise steering clear of the early editions, it is not the only example of harsh mechanics.


I can see why you did that, Kurald. Was there any way to reverse ageing attacks in 2nd Edition? I know Haste was a poor spell choice back then due to it ageing you by 1 year whenever it was used.

Haste was an excellent spell choice, it was a very useful spell, and being old was no bad thing for a magicuser or cleric. Heck if you were an elf you'd barely even notice.

Tempest Fennac
2008-11-12, 06:00 AM
I know Elves wouldn't notice it, but other races would (especially Humans and Half-Orcs), and it could have a huge negative effect on other classes due to how modifiers worked. From a fluff perspective, I'd find the idea of someone using a spell which would shorten their life span in exchange for a boost in combat to be ridiculous unless it was a life-or-death situation to be honest (I don't think I'd have even bothered with learning that version of the spell).

Charity
2008-11-12, 06:10 AM
Adventurers bet their lives on the flip of a coin many times in their careers, and combat is always life or death.

Weiser_Cain
2008-11-12, 06:13 AM
Note: My human fighters died of old age from too many haste spells in some old dragonlance game. Rolled some elves and was very happy until I found out they couldn't be raised.

Tempest Fennac
2008-11-12, 06:20 AM
Don't forget that using Haste in every battle probably wasn't necessary, and there is a difference between taking calculated gambles and intentonally helping your enemies to end your life regularly.

Charity
2008-11-12, 06:25 AM
Note: My human fighters died of old age from too many haste spells in some old dragonlance game. Rolled some elves and was very happy until I found out they couldn't be raised.

There was always the reincarnation lottery... but I had very few characters raised before the advent of 3e, it just didn't happen as much.

Tempest Fennac
2008-11-12, 06:32 AM
How much did Reincarnate cost to cast in 2nd Edition, and did it inflict any penalties on the person being raised? (I'll try to find it now.)

Weiser_Cain
2008-11-12, 06:42 AM
There was always the reincarnation lottery... but I had very few characters raised before the advent of 3e, it just didn't happen as much.

That particular game was really, really hard. Haste was the only way I knew to get through combat.

Tempest Fennac
2008-11-12, 06:46 AM
Could that be more to do with the DM putting you up against really hard monsters constantly? Looking at the spell, I'm guessing it was only intended to be used rarely.


EDIT: I just found the spell onhttp://www.rpgrealm.com/features/download/home.html in the Player's Handbook:

Reincarnate
(Necromancy)

Sphere: Necromantic
Range: Touch Components: V, S
Duration: Permanent Casting Time: 1 turn
Area of Effect: 1 person Saving Throw: None

With this spell, the priest can bring back a dead person in another body, if death occurred no more than one week before the casting of the spell. Reincarnation does not require any saving throw, system shock, or resurrection survival roll. The corpse is touched, and a new incarnation of the person appears in the area in 1d6 turns. The person reincarnated recalls the majority of his former life and form, but the character class, if any, of the new incarnation might be very different indeed. The new incarnation is determined on the following table or by DM choice. If a player character race is indicated, the character must be created. At the DM's option, certain special (expensive) incenses can be used that may increase the chance for a character to return as a specific race or species. A wish spell can restore a reincarnated character to its original form and status.

D100
Roll Incarnation
01-03 Badger
04-08 Bear, black
09-12 Bear, brown
13-16 Boar, wild
17-19 Centaur
20-23 Dryad
24-28 Eagle
29-31 Elf
32-34 Faun/satyr
35-36 Fox
37-40 Gnome
41-44 Hawk
45-58 Human
59-61 Lynx
62-64 Owl
65-68 Pixie
69-70 Raccoon
71-75 Stag
76-80 Wolf
81-85 Wolverine
86-00 DM's choice

If an unusual creature form is indicated, the DM can (at his option only) use the guidelines for new player character races to allow the character to earn experience and advance in levels, although this may not be in the same class as before. If the reincarnated character returns as a creature eligible to be the same class as he was previously (i.e., a human fighter returns as an elf), the reincarnated character has half his previous levels and hit points. If the character returns as a new character class, his hit points are half his previous total, but he must begin again at 1st level. If the character returns as a creature unable to have a class, he has half the hit points and saving throws of his previous incarnation.


It doesn't sound that practical (playing an animal character wouldn't bother me in a lot of cases*, but how WotC handled it means that it isn't really a practical option without Wish).

*One reason why my fennec fox HALO character is a Generic Spellcaster is because I thought the idea of an initially illiterate animal needing a spellbook was too impractical.

Kurald Galain
2008-11-12, 06:55 AM
I can see why you did that, Kurald. Was there any way to reverse ageing attacks in 2nd Edition?
Sure. Potions of youth, and reincarnation, and probably a few others that.


I know Haste was a poor spell choice back then due to it ageing you by 1 year whenever it was used.
Not so much poor, as situational. Its effect is very useful, its drawback means you don't spam it every fight. You save it for emergencies. Or, indeed, if the party is mostly elves and dwarves, they won't mind so much.


and being old was no bad thing for a magicuser or cleric.
Unfortunately, most magical aging nets you the drawbacks but not the benefits.

Anyway, the entire shtick that the players should always win was really introduced by WOTC in 3E and more noticeably in 4E; earlier editions were supposed to be hazardous. That's a design philosophy that, admittedly, many people don't like; it is nevertheless a choice and not an oversight.

Charity
2008-11-12, 06:58 AM
How much did Reincarnate cost to cast in 2nd Edition, and did it inflict any penalties on the person being raised? (I'll try to find it now.)

Reincarnation gave you a good chance of returning to life as a badger... so yeah there were some pretty stiff penalties.

Also polymorph I remember was perminant, I lost a much loved (by me at least) to being turned into a snake, but it could be used to turn your badger back into an elf.

I'm pretty sure aging gave you bonuses to wis and Int K, I don't recall those being withheld if you magically age.

Tempest Fennac
2008-11-12, 07:02 AM
I prefer buffs and battlefield control spells, so I'd probably end up using Slow in place of Haste (just looking over the Reincarnation table (see last post), I know it was similar to the 3.0 Edition table without the complex level changes/restrictions. Regarding perminant level loss, do you think houseruling that they Restoration spells don't have a time limit for removing them would be fair?

EDIT: Aging to Venerable resulted in (if I remember correctly) -4 Str, -2 Dex and -3 Con and +2 or 3 to Wis and Int.

EDIT 2: I can't believe Restoration and Ressurection aged people as well.:smalleek:

Matthew
2008-11-12, 07:32 AM
Objecting to a character-destruction mechanic doesn't mean that I want a "risk free challenge". I'm willing to risk death. It means that I don't find being crippled next to the rest of the party to be an acceptable consequence for failure.

That post was actually not aimed at you, but the poster who indicated that "challenge" constituted being almost killed, but not. As it goes, though, "I'm willing to risk death but not level loss" just seems ridiculous to me. Level loss is considerably more temporary than death in AD&D. Again, though, "crippled, nerfed and gimped" are not words I would use to describe losing eight hit points and slight combat ability. They are words I would consider appropriate to describe removing the level drain ability from powerful undead, however.



I'm pretty sure aging gave you bonuses to wis and Int K, I don't recall those being withheld if you magically age.

I think those are generally not supposed to be gained from magical aging. More importantly, though, magical aging requires a system shock roll to prevent death (though not if cast from a scroll).



I prefer buffs and battlefield control spells, so I'd probably end up using Slow in place of Haste (just looking over the Reincarnation table (see last post), I know it was similar to the 3.0 Edition table without the complex level changes/restrictions. Regarding perminant level loss, do you think houseruling that they Restoration spells don't have a time limit for removing them would be fair?

EDIT 2: I can't believe Restoration and Ressurection aged people as well.:smalleek:

Yeah, it is often complained that slow is too powerful. Generally speaking, all the powerful magic in AD&D 2e has a price, which helps to keep spell casters under control and Tippy free. :smallwink:

Tempest Fennac
2008-11-12, 07:42 AM
My stance tends to be that that approach is often counter-prodctive. For instance, other party members may benefit more from healing magic then the Cleric, meaning that punishing the caster for using spells which help allies is potentially discoraging them from using it. Also, the 3.5 Haste spell doesn't really do much for spell-casters,, but it's good for warriors. (Admittedly, I tend to think that magic is fine in the 3.5 version excluding some spells such as the Polymorph and Celerity lines).

Matthew
2008-11-12, 07:46 AM
My stance tends to be that that approach is often counter-prodctive. For instance, other party members may benefit more from healing magic then the Cleric, meaning that punishing the caster for using spells which help allies is potentially discoraging them from using it. Also, the 3.5 Haste spell doesn't really do much for spell-casters,, but it's good for warriors. (Admittedly, I tend to think that magic is fine in the 3.5 version excluding some spells such as the Polymorph and Celerity lines).

I strongly disagree, but I imagine that would be a long and largely fruitless discussion only tangentially related to the subject of this thread. :smallbiggrin:



Indeed. I posit that there's a definite difference between making something challenging and making something frustrating. These mechanics I tend to view as the latter, not the former. Especially since it seems pretty prevalent. From what I can tell, the only way to not get screwed over like that is to never fight undead ever, and I know a lot of DMs (myself included) like to make use of undead. So when a popular enemy is going to pretty much unequivocally gank your character permanently, the game loses a lot of appeal.

It is not particularly prevalent. Of all the hundreds of monsters in the AD&D 2e Monster Manual there are four that have the level drain ability. Vampires (8,000 XP), Wights (2,000 XP), Wraiths (1,400 XP), and Spectres (3,000 XP) [for comparison, defeating an Orc is worth 15 XP]. They are high level challenges that require skillful play to defeat.



And I would not say it's an issue of wanting to horde exp and whatnot. I see it as more of an issue of an encounter that strips you (and only you) of some of your more valuable abilities or items, whereas your party remains virtually unharmed. I don't think I've ever found myself thinking a situation was fun where I was exclusively getting ganked and everyone else was not, and it sounds like that's pretty much the case if you're a melee character who wants to fight undead.

If you have created a character who likes to fight level draining undead in melee, that is effectively the same as creating a character who likes to get hit by fire balls. Seriously, though, Wights and Wraiths only have a THAC0 15 (AB 5).

Saph
2008-11-12, 08:00 AM
I have to admit I'm torn on this one.

On the one hand, I really wouldn't enjoy having my character get multiple-level-drained. Losing something like 4 levels from a Spectre (which could happen very easily) and going from level 8 to level 4 in an eyeblink would be very frustrating. I wouldn't mind so much if there was a way to avoid the undead, but the way most DMs tend to run games, there usually isn't. So I'm not sure I like 2e's way of doing it.

On the other hand, 4e's gone to the opposite extreme, where losing levels is impossible and even death is just a slap on the wrist (you can die six times in as many days and keep shrugging it off as long as you've got a ritualist ready to raise you). The problem with this is that it takes away the achievement factor of having a high-level character, since complete idiots can plod inexorably up through the ranks in defiance of the laws of natural selection. So I'm not sure I like 4e's way of doing it, either.

Guess it's lucky I'm playing 3.5. :)

- Saph

Roderick_BR
2008-11-12, 08:08 AM
Uh, yeah, Level Drain *IS* supposed to be the most dangerous attack in AD&D. Even death attacks can be reversed, but Level Drain can only be regained through training again.
It's not more character destroying than death, though. "You die. Anyone can rise him? No? Well, your char is dead. Here's another characer sheet. Oh, you can get a Rise Dead? No Ressurrection? Ok, you are back, lose 1 level."
And I disagree that "those 5 hours meant nothing". Is like saying that losing a magic item means that "those 5 hours meant nothing". You lose something, you need to recover. No spell or potion to quickly recover everything you lost.
I know I'll get flak for it but..... Don't think of AD&D as a video game, man. Your memory card was not erased, pushing the whole game back.

You don't want something that can weaken your character? Ask your DM to cut out lots of monsters abilities and spells from the game then.

Kesnit
2008-11-12, 08:29 AM
This is why you would need to readjust your thinking. If you are playing AD&D "to level up" and the acquiring of experience points is what gives your participation in the game meaning, rather than the adventure itself, it is little wonder that losing those experience points (however temporarily) is unacceptable to you.

It sounds like you want a risk free challenge, which as far as I can see is no challenge at all.

So you never level your characters, just play at LVL 1 all the time?


They only mean nothing if you didn't have fun playing for those 5 hours. D&D of all editions is primarily about the experience and enjoyment, not character levels.

"Hey, party, uh, you know I was your front-line tank. Well, I'm not very good at that any more, esp compared to all of you who didn't get drained."

It's a party game, and when one of the party just can't contribute through no fault of their own, it ruins it for everyone.


Oh, man--have you ever played Monopoly? If you get sent to jail, and don't even get me started on how unfun that is, you cannot pass Go AND can't collect $200! What is this madness? I hope someone got fired for that one!

Getting out of jail is easy. Rebuilding a character you spent hours building (even for just 1 lost level) is not.


Seriously, this kind of attitude worries me. There are supposed to be bad things in any game that the player(s) try to avoid. Death, level-drain, curses, and so forth when it comes to D&D.

It's a game. It is supposed to be fun. Being told that you just wasted hours because of 1 crappy roll is not fun.


Then you really shouldn't try and tackle a spectre by yourself (unless you are proposing some strange scenario where the spectre touches you and you only and leaves the rest of the party alone?)

Here's one... "I'm the tank. I'm in front because that is my job. It's behind a door [the OP said it was], so I am blocking it from the rest of my team."


I had a party in one of my games face a vampire and not loose a single level. That's because they changed their tactics and made sure not to just run at it, swords drawn, like they would anything else.

The OP said it was behind a door. He DIDN'T just rush at it.

greenknight
2008-11-12, 08:29 AM
But... Level Drain is reversable in 2nd Ed AD&D through the Restoration spell. Granted, it's a 7th level spell, requiring a Priest with 18+ Wisdom to cast it (hard to get using 2nd Ed's ability score generation methods), but it is available. And if the DM is throwing level draining monsters at the party and is not making the Restoration spell available, that's just a bad DM, IMO.

Matthew
2008-11-12, 08:36 AM
So you never level your characters, just play at LVL 1 all the time?

No, and since that is not what I wrote, it should hardly be surprising to you. However, I don't play AD&D to "level up", and I do not consider the earning of experience points to invest the game with meaning. I would, for instance, play in a campaign where there is no real expectation of ever gaining a new level.



But... Level Drain is reversable in 2nd Ed AD&D through the Restoration spell. Granted, it's a 7th level spell, requiring a Priest with 18+ Wisdom to cast it (hard to get using 2nd Ed's ability score generation methods), but it is available. And if the DM is throwing level draining monsters at the party and is not making the Restoration spell available, that's just a bad DM, IMO.

Generally, you want a scroll of restoration, a limited wish or a magical item with either of those powers, in order to avoid the aging effects (if I recall correctly).

rayne_dragon
2008-11-12, 09:14 AM
Energy drain is something that has to be handled carefully by DMs in my opinion, since it can lead to this sort of thing. It's at least something players need to be informed of before they play so they can decide if it's the right kind of game for them.



Has anyone house-ruled permanent level drain back in to 3rd or 4th?

My last DM did it in 3e and he may have actually done it using obscure, but actual feats. We were also playing at Epic tier and lost something like 17 levels because of it, effectively ending the campaign.

Zen Master
2008-11-12, 09:32 AM
Seriously, this kind of attitude worries me. There are supposed to be bad things in any game that the player(s) try to avoid. Death, level-drain, curses, and so forth when it comes to D&D.


It worries you, eh?

You've never been him, have you? Your avatar alone tells me - you're likely *always* a caster, and you likely *always* let the poor bloody smuck who plays the fighter soak up the lost levels.

Naturally, I cannot possibly know if thats true - but it feels like it might be. Because I'm usually the fighter. And you know what? I've never been level drained. Because I've made it clear to each and every GM ever, that if he wants a fighter in the group, I will not be punished and penalised for providing the tank the other guys need.

And it's quite as simple as that. There is nothing rewarding, fun or otherwise compelling or engaging in negative growth. Furthermore, the guy who can most ill afford to be level drained is just about the only one who runs any risk of it, ever.

It's a stupid, counterproductive and unentertaining mechanic. It needed to go.

Matthew
2008-11-12, 09:35 AM
Naturally, I cannot possibly know if thats true - but it feels like it might be. Because I'm usually the fighter. And you know what? I've never been level drained. Because I've made it clear to each and every GM ever, that if he wants a fighter in the group, I will not be punished and penalised for providing the tank the other guys need.

And it's quite as simple as that. There is nothing rewarding, fun or otherwise compelling or engaging in negative growth. Furthermore, the guy who can most ill afford to be level drained is just about the only one who runs any risk of it, ever.

It's a stupid, counterproductive and unentertaining mechanic. It needed to go.

If you have never been level drained, how can you know that? Since character death is also "negative growth", then presumably it is also a stupid, counterproductive and unentertaining mechanic that needs to go. While we're at it, we better remove all the snakes from snakes and ladders. :smallbiggrin:

hamlet
2008-11-12, 09:49 AM
While I understand the feeling that being level drained stinks (hey, it does, my character just got blasted for two levels by a specter a few sessions ago), I'm NEVER going to understand the "I just wasted 3 hours becasue of this" thought pattern.

You haven't wasted any time. It's not a video game where you lost gameplay. You merely got smacked with the most vicious attack there is in the game which, as somebody pointed out, is held by about 2% of all the monsters in the game in the first place.

It's an actual risk you know, and honestly, I wouldn't want to play in a D&D game where level draining was a non-issue.


EDIT: Just to add, yes, I get upset when the level draining attacks land, but for all of . . . six minutes. But, as the OP stated, getting up and walking out because of it just smacks of a temper tantrum, and most people learned about the futility of those in kindergarten.

Starbuck_II
2008-11-12, 10:06 AM
If you have never been level drained, how can you know that? Since character death is also "negative growth", then presumably it is also a stupid, counterproductive and unentertaining mechanic that needs to go. While we're at it, we better remove all the snakes from snakes and ladders. :smallbiggrin:

True resurrection has no negative growth.
So death doesn't have to mean negative growth...

arguskos
2008-11-12, 10:08 AM
You know, level drain is one of those mechanics that has always been pretty rough, but not THAT bad.

Yes, it sucks to be level drained as a fighter. Yes, it seems unfair, unfun, penalizing, etc.... Yes, it is easy to say "but the DM is just being mean", throw a hissy-fit and stomp out. However, just because you lost 3 levels doesn't mean that you "wasted" your time or that the mechanic is unfair and stupid. All it means is that the game is hard, and if that's your issue, I advise you go play something else.

Oh, and to those saying that being level drained as a fighter is bad, try losing 6 levels as a wizard. Just saying. :smallwink:

Kesnit
2008-11-12, 10:10 AM
No, and since that is not what I wrote, it should hardly be surprising to you.

But you belittled leveling, leading people to think you think it is pointless, so don't bother to do it.


However, I don't play AD&D to "level up", and I do not consider the earning of experience points to invest the game with meaning. I would, for instance, play in a campaign where there is no real expectation of ever gaining a new level.

Which would be fine, if no one else was leveling and encounters are balanced for a lack of level. However, D&D isn't like that. Monsters have CR, which is based on the overall level of the party. Throwing encounters at a party when PCs are underpowered affects not only the level-reduced player (because their character is weakened), but the other players as well (since they have to pick up the slack).

Matthew
2008-11-12, 10:10 AM
True resurrection has no negative growth.
So death doesn't have to mean negative growth...

Limited wish has no negative growth either, so level loss doesn't have to mean negative growth either. :smallwink:



But you belittled leveling, leading people to think you think it is pointless, so don't bother to do it.

No, I wrote that "levelling up" is not the be all and end all of adventure gaming.



Which would be fine, if no one else was leveling and encounters are balanced for a lack of level. However, D&D isn't like that. Monsters have CR, which is based on the overall level of the party. Throwing encounters at a party when PCs are underpowered affects not only the level-reduced player (because their character is weakened), but the other players as well (since they have to pick up the slack).

You are talking about entirely the wrong edition. AD&D is not like you are describing, it works on a totally different paradigm.

HidaTsuzua
2008-11-12, 11:15 AM
The issue with 2E level drain is that it wasn't worth messing with wights. The risk/reward ratio wasn't worth it. Sure the guy might be worth 3,000 XP (XP from killing him and his loot), but you'll likely lose at least a level which more than offsets that. You could play "avoid the wight," but then wights are just a puzzle monster where it's neat to run into once and lame from then on out. Also it rewards metagaming (a wight, time to run away or kite it).

Leveling draining monsters aren't the half of the arbitrary nature. The catobeplas has deadly eyes that has a 1 in 6 chance of killing you outright without save at the start of combat. Every round after that, it had a lesser chance of using insta-death on its turn. Dying due to bad rolls is one thing, it's another to die to a roll you can't do anything about.

Shadow Dragons were another fun creature. They breathed fractional levels. You lost 3/4s of your level if you failed your save and 1/2 if you saved. There also really wasn't anything like evasion either. While it lasted only for a few rounds, you were half level at best! Now imagine a couple of hatchlings together (age only determined the duration of the effect). Sure you'll be level 1 for only 1d4+1 rounds. But you'll be level 1.

Level 1 sucked in 2E. You died at the end of the round at 0hp and you rolled randomly for your hit die. The 1 hp fighter lives a sad short life I can tell you that. Not that it really mattered. Orcs did 1d8 damage usually and that's a larger die than the vast majority of classes had (most were 1d6 HP). So on average, you were dead in one hit. And clerics had 1 spell per day if that. To be fair, the orcs were in the same boat with 1d8 hp, but it means death for a PC in any given fight. Con really didn't help either for if you weren't a fighter you needed a 16 Con to get any bonus hp. Try getting that on 3d6 (sometimes it was recommended to be done in place!).

Then there are the items of death without saves. For example, necklace of fireballs is a cool item right? Well there's a necklace of strangulation that'll kill you without save as well. And they look the same. So PCs had to identify stuff, take their chances, or slap junk onto peasants .

That's why D&D has resurrection spells. It was extremely lethal and writing "Sir Bob the Fourth" after the Third was slain by a magic carpet got boring. You lost a point of CON and had to make a system shock roll. It was a percentile roll that varied based on your CON score. If you passed, everything was fine. If you failed, you were perma-dead. Nothing too bad, but D&D has had to live with the repercussions of easy resurrections ever since.

I have no problem with lethal systems even ones were you can't come back from the dead at all. I've nearly killed or killed many a PC in my games (only one total party knockout though and one total party kill). I think all combats should have a chance of PC death. But there's something wrong when the odds are either so stacked against you that it's near certain you won't last the night or the odds are such that you can't do anything about them.

2E isn't unplayable by any means (you can't really make an unplayable RPG). It just sucks royally without houseruling it. Starting at higher levels, pulling punches, and making it easier to have better hp rolls are among the most common and needed ones.

All in all, this meant in 2E reaching higher levels meant something. There wasn't a near guarantee of survival like 3rd or 4th gives you. Odds were that you'll die in the first room to an evil couch or something. Quick wits and willingness to abuse everything possible were just about needed to survive much less thrive. 2E has a lot of other problems other than these, but I understand why someone would like it. Personally I used FASA Earthdawn for my fantasy fix for a long time.

Tsotha-lanti
2008-11-12, 11:17 AM
Then you really shouldn't try and tackle a spectre by yourself (unless you are proposing some strange scenario where the spectre touches you and you only and leaves the rest of the party alone?)

So does AD&D, in your opinion, generally require enemies to be idiots in order for PCs to have a good chance to survive? What kind of an enemy switches targets before one of them is dead or disabled? (Weirdly enough, 4E is the game that assumes enemies will intelligently attack one target until they go down. Solos are actually built around being able to attack an entire party each round, rather than splitting their attacks all over the place and being ineffectual.)


Yes, it sucks to be level drained as a fighter. Yes, it seems unfair, unfun, penalizing, etc.... Yes, it is easy to say "but the DM is just being mean", throw a hissy-fit and stomp out. However, just because you lost 3 levels doesn't mean that you "wasted" your time or that the mechanic is unfair and stupid. All it means is that the game is hard, and if that's your issue, I advise you go play something else.

I would agree that no time was wasted - you had fun! But why spend more time, because your fun is now crippled by the fact that your character sucks disproportionately and is nearly worthless to the party?


The worst part about level drain is that there's not even a saving throw. "Each blow the wight lands drains one level from the victim." That AC 0 fighter has a 30% chance to lose a level every single time a wight or wraith attacks. And both wights and wraiths appear in packs of 2d6. I don't understand how any party is supposed to survive that, especially if we're talking wraiths, who, you know, aren't exactly easy to contain or escape (unless you have sunlight handy). Spectres drain two levels for every hit (and appear in packs of 1d6; I guess that means they're about as bad, on average).

And restoration (which, indeed, ages the caster, and therefore is almost certainly not available from mortal NPCs)? Better yet, limited wish? I thought AD&D was all about the lack of magic marts and 20th-level clerics and wizards spewing magic all around the place? Wights are a 4 HD monster and wraiths are a 5 HD monster. You're supposed to go get some 7th-level clerical magic after every fight with them?


Level drain, admittedly, is nowhere near the worst monster attack. Aging attacks are still worse, and then there's stuff like the remorhaz - "5% chance every attack that you die instantly and automatically." That's a 27% chance that somebody gets automatically killed, irrespective of damage, in 6 rounds of close combat. 40% if you let it stretch to 10 rounds.

AD&D, the game of probable, sudden, and unavoidable death.

Edit:
HidaTsuzua, to be fair and accurate, HP bonuses for Con in AD&D are +1 for 15, +2 for 16, +3 for 17, and +4 for 18. Only warriors (fighter, ranger, paladin) can get +3 or +4; others get +2 for 17 or 18.

Starbuck_II
2008-11-12, 11:20 AM
Then there are the items of death without saves. For example, necklace of fireballs is a cool item right? Well there's a necklace of strangulation that'll kill you without save as well. And they look the same. So PCs had to identify stuff, take their chances, or slap junk onto peasants .


Why would you wear a Necklace of fireballs?
You don't gave to wear it to use it. Why not just hold it ansd throw a bead.

Maybe you were generalizing, but really that makes little sense as a example.

Couldn't you identify if it is cursed?


And restoration (which, indeed, ages the caster, and therefore is almost certainly not available from mortal NPCs)? Better yet, limited wish? I thought AD&D was all about the lack of magic marts and 20th-level clerics and wizards spewing magic all around the place? Wights are a 4 HD monster and wraiths are a 5 HD monster. You're supposed to go get some 7th-level clerical magic after every fight with them?

Um, AD&D is not lack magic marts.

Some DMs pretend or change it so it is, but that isn't the default rules.
It was actually more than 3rd in some ways.

Tsotha-lanti
2008-11-12, 11:24 AM
Why would you wear a Necklace of fireballs?
You don't gave to wear it to use it. Why not just hold it ansd throw a bead.

Maybe you were generalizing, but really that makes little sense as a example.

Couldn't you identify if it is cursed?

Pretty sure cursed items couldn't be identified as such. (Not that IDing items is even supposed to tell you their precise nature.)

Maybe the cloak of poison is a better example, though. You wear magic cloaks. The cloak of poison kills you on the spot, no save, when you wear it.

arguskos
2008-11-12, 11:24 AM
I would agree that no time was wasted - you had fun! But why spend more time, because your fun is now crippled by the fact that your character sucks disproportionately and is nearly worthless to the party?
Because I don't feel that my fun is crippled by having worse stats. There is more to having fun in D&D than being mechanically powerful. Granted, being powerful mechanically is REALLY nice, but I feel there is more to my character than his numerical worth.

Matthew
2008-11-12, 11:26 AM
The issue with 2E level drain is that it wasn't worth messing with wights. The risk/reward ratio wasn't worth it. Sure the guy might be worth 3,000 XP (XP from killing him and his loot), but you'll likely lose at least a level which more than offsets that. You could play "avoid the wight," but then wights are just a puzzle monster where it's neat to run into once and lame from then on out. Also it rewards metagaming (a wight, time to run away or kite it).

Well, that depends what exactly the treasure is that it is guarding. Randomly invading tombs to fight wights is certainly not worth it (unless you happen to have a high level cleric or a raise dead spell or two handy.



Leveling draining monsters aren't the half of the arbitrary nature. The catobeplas has deadly eyes that has a 1 in 6 chance of killing you outright without save at the start of combat. Every round after that, it had a lesser chance of using insta-death on its turn. Dying due to bad rolls is one thing, it's another to die to a roll you can't do anything about.

There are many weird and obscure monsters in AD&D, some with extremely deadly abilities



Shadow Dragons were another fun creature. They breathed fractional levels. You lost 3/4s of your level if you failed your save and 1/2 if you saved. There also really wasn't anything like evasion either. While it lasted only for a few rounds, you were half level at best! Now imagine a couple of hatchlings together (age only determined the duration of the effect). Sure you'll be level 1 for only 1d4+1 rounds. But you'll be level 1.

The effects of shadow dragon breath are temporary, and measured in turns.



Level 1 sucked in 2E. You died at the end of the round at 0hp and you rolled randomly for your hit die. The 1 hp fighter lives a sad short life I can tell you that. Not that it really mattered. Orcs did 1d8 damage usually and that's a larger die than the vast majority of classes had (most were 1d6 HP). So on average, you were dead in one hit. And clerics had 1 spell per day if that. To be fair, the orcs were in the same boat with 1d8 hp, but it means death for a PC in any given fight. Con really didn't help either for if you weren't a fighter you needed a 16 Con to get any bonus hp. Try getting that on 3d6 (sometimes it was recommended to be done in place!).

Level 1 can certainly be hard.



Then there are the items of death without saves. For example, necklace of fireballs is a cool item right? Well there's a necklace of strangulation that'll kill you without save as well. And they look the same. So PCs had to identify stuff, take their chances, or slap junk onto peasants.

I certainly wouldn't advise messing around with unidentified magical items.



And both wights and wraiths appear in packs of 2d6.

That's the average size for a wilderness encounter, not a dungeon! Orcs appear in groups of 30-300!

Kesnit
2008-11-12, 11:32 AM
You are talking about entirely the wrong edition. AD&D is not like you are describing, it works on a totally different paradigm.

Wrong. Monster in AD&D still have challenge ratings. The term may be different, but the idea is the same. Or do you think it is appropiate to put a party of LVL 1s against a Lich?

Matthew
2008-11-12, 11:35 AM
Um, AD&D is not lack magic marts.

Some DMs pretend or change it so it is, but that isn't the default rules.
It was actually more than 3rd in some ways.

There is no default in AD&D, as far as I am aware. On the other hand, the original modules are often cited as being very magic rich.



Wrong. Monster in AD&D still have challenge ratings. The term may be different, but the idea is the same. Or do you think it is appropiate to put a party of LVL 1s against a Lich?

No, they don't have a challenge rating (though there are tables with approximate values), but that's not what I was meaning when I said the paradigm was entirely different. The game master doesn't choose what monsters to throw at the characters, the players choose which monsters they will face. Some monsters in AD&D you are not intended to defeat, but avoid.



And restoration (which, indeed, ages the caster, and therefore is almost certainly not available from mortal NPCs)? Better yet, limited wish? I thought AD&D was all about the lack of magic marts and 20th-level clerics and wizards spewing magic all around the place? Wights are a 4 HD monster and wraiths are a 5 HD monster. You're supposed to go get some 7th-level clerical magic after every fight with them?

It is up to you how you want to play the game. If every wight tomb is stuffed with level seven magic, that's up to you (they are the shades of powerful humans, after all). I am not saying, go and fight a wight for treasure and experience points.

Do not measure them by hit dice, though, that's not how you decide if the characters are up to the challenge. According to the table in the DMG, an encounter with a wight or wraith is roughly appropriate to a seventh level party.

Tsotha-lanti
2008-11-12, 11:46 AM
Because I don't feel that my fun is crippled by having worse stats. There is more to having fun in D&D than being mechanically powerful. Granted, being powerful mechanically is REALLY nice, but I feel there is more to my character than his numerical worth.

There's a difference between being capable and being powerful. When you're half the level of the rest of the party, you're not even capable anymore.

Kesnit
2008-11-12, 11:47 AM
No, they don't have a challenge rating (though there are tables with approximate values), but that's not what I was meaning when I said the paradigm was entirely different. The game master doesn't choose what monsters to throw at the characters, the players choose which monsters they will face. Some monsters in AD&D you are not intended to defeat, but avoid.

And how many groups have you been in where the players handed two lists to the DM and said "we are willing to face any monster on List A, but none on List B"? Or told the DM (after opening the door and finding a wight behind it) "never mind, I don't open the door. Do over"?


It is up to you how you want to play the game. If every wight tomb is stuffed with level seven magic, that's up to you.

Again, you are assuming the players had any idea what they were up against. Sure, telling the players "there's X, Y, and Z" in this dungeon and letting them decide if they want to do it is one thing. It seems a lot more likely to have the DM say "ok, so you are off to the dungeon" and have unexpected monsters appear.


According to the table in the DMG, an encounter with a wight or wraith is roughly appropriate to a seventh level party.

Which contradicts your earlier statement that monsters don't have a challenge rating. As I said, the term may be different, but the idea is the same. "This monster is appropiate for this level party."

Tsotha-lanti
2008-11-12, 11:48 AM
That's the average size for a wilderness encounter, not a dungeon! Orcs appear in groups of 30-300!

Wights and wraiths are encountered in the wilderness? I could have sworn they live in like, tombs and haunted castles and catacombs - you know, dungeons.

Matthew
2008-11-12, 11:50 AM
And how many groups have you been in where the players handed two lists to the DM and said "we are willing to face any monster on List A, but none on List B"? Or told the DM (after opening the door and finding a wight behind it) "never mind, I don't open the door. Do over"?

Did the players choose to go into an area with undead? If the answer is yes, then they have chosen what sort of monsters they are going to face.



Again, you are assuming the players had any idea what they were up against. Sure, telling the players "there's X, Y, and Z" in this dungeon and letting them decide if they want to do it is one thing. It seems a lot more likely to have the DM say "ok, so you are off to the dungeon" and have unexpected monsters appear.

No, I am asserting that AD&D assumes that you choose. That's why the game is best suited for sandbox play.



Which contradicts your earlier statement that monsters don't have a challenge rating. As I said, the term may be different, but the idea is the same. "This monster is appropiate for this level party."

Hardly. They don't have a challenge rating, they have a suggested dungeon level to appear on. If your second level party moves to the seventh level of the dungeon, you won't meet character level appropriate challenges.



Wights and wraiths are encountered in the wilderness? I could have sworn they live in like, tombs and haunted castles and catacombs - you know, dungeons.

No. Appearing refers to widerness encounters, according to the Monster Manual.



No. Appearing indicates an average encounter size for a wilderness encounter. The DM should alter this to fit the circumstances as the need arises. This should not be used for dungeon encounters.

If you are unfortunate enough to meet them in the wilderness, wights appear in groups of 2-16 and wraiths in groups of 2-12. If there is only one tomb, there's probably only one wight/wraith. :smallwink:



Pretty sure cursed items couldn't be identified as such. (Not that IDing items is even supposed to tell you their precise nature.)

For some items this is the case, but not for others. The necklace of strangulation could not be identified as one of its special properties (which should be a clue in and of itself). Removing it requires a limited wish.



Maybe the cloak of poison is a better example, though. You wear magic cloaks. The cloak of poison kills you on the spot, no save, when you wear it.

Yep, poison is deadly in AD&D. This item could be identified, and removing it from a victim requires a remove curse spell.

Kesnit
2008-11-12, 12:22 PM
Did the players choose to go into an area with undead? If the answer is yes, then they have chosen what sort of monsters they are going to face.

But the answer may not be "yes."


No, I am asserting that AD&D assumes that you choose. That's why the game is best suited for sandbox play.

There is no such assumption, unless you want to say "players choose to face all sorts of unknown monsters just by rolling up a character." I once played in a game where we encountered vampires in the middle of a forest while traveling to a dungeon.


Hardly. They don't have a challenge rating, they have a suggested dungeon level to appear on.

Which means they have a recommended party level.


If your second level party moves to the seventh level of the dungeon, you won't meet character level appropriate challenges.

Or you could run into those monsters in the woods. Or as the monster left the dungeon/returned for the night. All of that is in the DM's hands, not the players.

Matthew
2008-11-12, 12:31 PM
But the answer may not be "yes."

If it is not [i.e. it has been forced on the players from no choice of their own], then it is up to the game master to make the challenge reasonable.



There is no such assumption, unless you want to say "players choose to face all sorts of unknown monsters just by rolling up a character." I once played in a game where we encountered vampires in the middle of a forest while traveling to a dungeon.

You are mistaken; that is the assumption of AD&D. Player choice is what drives the game. If you are just trundling along a predetermined route, then you only have yourself to blame when the game master springs unreasonable monsters on you.



Which means they have a recommended party level.

No, they have a recommended dungeon level to appear on. There is no indication how many such creatures are intended in a given encounter, and for good reason. There is no limit placed on the magical resources of a party, so what may be a challenge for one group of sixth level characters, may not be for another group of the same level.



Or you could run into those monsters in the woods. Or as the monster left the dungeon/returned for the night. All of that is in the DM's hands, not the players.

Yes, you can encounter a whole bunch of wights in the forest, if you happen to be travelling through a forest where you might meet wights. If, on the other hand, the game master is just randomly deciding what monsters harass you, "Now, a Black dragon swoops out of the sky!" it makes not the least bit of difference what their powers are. That sort of unfairness is entirely in the game master's hands, possible in any edition, and completely irrelevant to the discussion.

hamlet
2008-11-12, 12:42 PM
There is no such assumption, unless you want to say "players choose to face all sorts of unknown monsters just by rolling up a character." I once played in a game where we encountered vampires in the middle of a forest while traveling to a dungeon.
.

Oh my! So scary!

Best stay at home then and find a strong man to protect you!

Seriously, that's what being an adventurer is all about in the first place: going out and facing the unknown in hopes of winning fame and fortune. You have to expect that there are very bad things out there, not just "level appropriate" monsters that will fight you on fair terms because it sucks for you to get smacked around.

The game is Dungeons and Dragons and probably the most integral part of it (at least in terms of BECMI and AD&D) is creating a character to face the unknown and the dangers and horrors contained therin. The untold horrors and terrors of the night do not play fair just because you forgot to hit the save point two hours ago.

If you can't handle that, break out "Papers and Paychecks" instead. Or simply any WOTC edition.

Ethdred
2008-11-12, 12:48 PM
Did the players choose to go into an area with undead? If the answer is yes, then they have chosen what sort of monsters they are going to face.

Have you never read the wandering monster tables? While I can't remember off hand if they included level-draining and otherwise nasty monsters (sorry, I'll hand in my Munchkin Club members badge on the way out) if the DM was using those then you never had any idea what you could run up against.


The necklace of strangulation could not be identified as one of its special properties (which should be a clue in and of itself).

Only if you've read the DMG, which as a player you shouldn't have (I didn't get a DMG for a couple of years after I'd started playing).

Face it, AD&D as written makes the players the helpless gimps of the DM. Not just with monsters - look at stuff like the level training rules (you have to pay more money to level up than you've earnt to gain the level), or explicit instructions that NPCs will always seek to screw the player to an unreasonable degree. The cursed items are just one egregious manifestation of this tendency. Yes, they can be avoided by Identify (some of them) but that just means that either they are useless (except for draining 100gp from the party) or they are deadly. Anything that changes AD&D so that the players have more control over their environment is house-ruling or DM attitude. So, as has often been pointed out, AD&D is as good as your DM. I'm not passing a value judgement on this, because different people enjoy different things, and I had a lot of fun playig AD&D, but I was lucky with my DMs. Some people seem to think that unless there's the constant risk of instant death, then the game is not challenging and/or enjoyable. I can't subscribe to that point of view, which is why my games of AD&D always tended to avoid that element of it (which probably explains why I still enjoy the hobby today, rather than having given it up after the first session with the sadistic laughter of the DM ringing in my ears). Unless you make no more emotional investment in your character than you do in your Monopoly playing piece, then comparisons between the games are just stupid. Level draining sucks, but there are always people who will enjoy being in a bad situation - they just shouldn't tell other people they should enjoy it.

HidaTsuzua
2008-11-12, 12:51 PM
Well, that depends what exactly the treasure is that it is guarding. Randomly invading tombs to fight wights is certainly not worth it (unless you happen to have a high level cleric or a raise dead spell or two handy.

That treasure would have to be insane to make up for it. Yeah I'll fight a wight for a Vorpal Sword. But considering the average treasure of a wight (I forget it's treasure class), odds are it isn't worth it. 9 times out of 10 it wasn't worth it. So there's a monster that you ran away even more than the more selective rust monster.



There are many weird and obscure monsters in AD&D, some with extremely deadly abilities

I'll hold any creature that's in the Monstrous Manual is not obscure. And weird for D&D isn't uncommon. I could also point out all of the save vs poison or die creatures as well. They have a similar issue though at least they have saves. Snakes and spiders aren't weird or obscure.



The effects of shadow dragon breath are temporary, and measured in turns.

As I pointed out. However even 1d4+1 turns of being level 1 (the lowest duration) is deadly. Orcs one shot you with high reliability. Anything you should be fighting will eat you. Anything + log base two (your party's level) hatchlings will lead to death. Heck a wizard with those hatchlings could launch a fireball and call it a day at that point. And even if you did win, the XP and loot for a hatchling is nothing.



Level 1 can certainly be hard.


It's not hard. It's nintendo hard of the worst degree. Luck and DM Mercy matters far more than planning or any skill.



I certainly wouldn't advise messing around with unidentified magical items.


You usually just slapped them on a cow or something. Honestly cursed items were fairly trivial after the first time dying to them. That's another issue. A lot of these issues are best "gotchas!" They tend to work once and you spend forever dealing with them. Once someone dies to a bowl of watery death or something, you just check everything. Once a wight drains a level, you avoid wights. It just wastes time after the first encounter. That's bad design. Do I really need to have the PCs say "I have the torchbearer open the door and then press every tile with my 15 foot pole? Note it's a 15 foot pole ever since Bob was killed by the poison trap of a 11 foot radius" for every room? Because they will.



Why would you wear a Necklace of fireballs?
You don't gave to wear it to use it. Why not just hold it ansd throw a bead.

Maybe you were generalizing, but really that makes little sense as a example.

Couldn't you identify if it is cursed?


My DMG is at a friend's so I can't check it out right away, but I think you had to wear the necklace of fireballs to get it to work. Or when you used a bead the necklace of strangulation jumped onto your neck. Or maybe that necklace looked like Peripht of Health and necklace of fireballs got stuck in my head somehow.

I could have used another cursed item. There's a large group of cursed items that were basically "looks like another magical item but actually killed you without save." Cloak of Poison, Bowl of Watery Death (vs Bowl of Water Elemental Summoning) and the rug of smothering (vs the flying carpet) are some off the top of my head.



HidaTsuzua, to be fair and accurate, HP bonuses for Con in AD&D are +1 for 15, +2 for 16, +3 for 17, and +4 for 18. Only warriors (fighter, ranger, paladin) can get +3 or +4; others get +2 for 17 or 18.

Thanks. I thought it was worse than that. But my 2E collection is a hodgepodge of different printings so I'm not sure. Then again 15 Con is still tough to get.

Matthew
2008-11-12, 12:54 PM
Have you never read the wandering monster tables? While I can't remember off hand if they included level-draining and otherwise nasty monsters (sorry, I'll hand in my Munchkin Club members badge on the way out) if the DM was using those then you never had any idea what you could run up against.

Sure, I have. You are probably thinking of first edition here, though, since there are no wandering monster tables in second edition, except the ones that the game master makes up.



Only if you've read the DMG, which as a player you shouldn't have (I didn't get a DMG for a couple of years after I'd started playing).

Seriously, if you can't identify a magic item with an identify spell, it's a pretty good clue that you shouldn't put it on.



Face it, AD&D as written makes the players the helpless gimps of the DM. Not just with monsters - look at stuff like the level training rules (you have to pay more money to level up than you've earnt to gain the level), or explicit instructions that NPCs will always seek to screw the player to an unreasonable degree. The cursed items are just one egregious manifestation of this tendency. Yes, they can be avoided by Identify (some of them) but that just means that either they are useless (except for draining 100gp from the party) or they are deadly. Anything that changes AD&D so that the players have more control over their environment is house-ruling or DM attitude. So, as has often been pointed out, AD&D is as good as your DM. I'm not passing a value judgement on this, because different people enjoy different things, and I had a lot of fun playig AD&D, but I was lucky with my DMs. Some people seem to think that unless there's the constant risk of instant death, then the game is not challenging and/or enjoyable. I can't subscribe to that point of view, which is why my games of AD&D always tended to avoid that element of it (which probably explains why I still enjoy the hobby today, rather than having given it up after the first session with the sadistic laughter of the DM ringing in my ears). Unless you make no more emotional investment in your character than you do in your Monopoly playing piece, then comparisons between the games are just stupid. Level draining sucks, but there are always people who will enjoy being in a bad situation - they just shouldn't tell other people they should enjoy it.

Now you are definitely confusing editions of the game. This "face it the players are the helpless gimps of the game master" seems quite ridiculous to me. In any game where one player has the role of game master you are pretty much at their mercy. Yes, the game is designed so that the game master has to be an impartial referee and not the opponent of the players. That is, generally speaking, the role of the game master.



That treasure would have to be insane to make up for it. Yeah I'll fight a wight for a Vorpal Sword. But considering the average treasure of a wight (I forget it's treasure class), odds are it isn't worth it. 9 times out of 10 it wasn't worth it. So there's a monster that you ran away even more than the more selective rust monster.

Again, depends on the risk versus reward. If the wight has something you need, you'll go after it. If it doesn't, then you don't (wise choice for any deadly peril you don't have to face).



I'll hold any creature that's in the Monstrous Manual is not obscure. And weird for D&D isn't uncommon. I could also point out all of the save vs poison or die creatures as well. They have a similar issue though at least they have saves. Snakes and spiders aren't weird or obscure.

Disagree entirely. Many monsters have a "very rare" rating. Yes, fighting monsters is hazardous to your health.



As I pointed out. However even 1d4+1 turns of being level 1 (the lowest duration) is deadly. Orcs one shot you with high reliability. Anything you should be fighting will eat you. Anything + log base two (your party's level) hatchlings will lead to death. Heck a wizard with those hatchlings could launch a fireball and call it a day at that point. And even if you did win, the XP and loot for a hatchling is nothing.

It can be deadly, but then so is being reduced to three or four hit points via dragon breath.



It's not hard. It's nintendo hard of the worst degree. Luck and DM Mercy matters far more than planning or any skill.

That is hard.



You usually just slapped them on a cow or something. Honestly cursed items were fairly trivial after the first time dying to them. That's another issue. A lot of these issues are best "gotchas!" They tend to work once and you spend forever dealing with them. Once someone dies to a bowl of watery death or something, you just check everything. Once a wight drains a level, you avoid wights. It just wastes time after the first encounter. That's bad design. Do I really need to have the PCs say "I have the torchbearer open the door and then press every tile with my 15 foot pole? Note it's a 15 foot pole ever since Bob was killed by the poison trap of a 11 foot radius" for every room? Because they will.

Maybe they will, maybe they won't. Maybe it'll work on a cow, maybe it won't. These things are all in how you choose to play the game. Yes, many such items are "one shots", included as tricks to make player's think twice before trying on every magical trinket they acquire.



My DMG is at a friend's so I can't check it out right away, but I think you had to wear the necklace of fireballs to get it to work. Or when you used a bead the necklace of strangulation jumped onto your neck. Or maybe that necklace looked like Peripht of Health and necklace of fireballs got stuck in my head somehow.

Sounds like a confused recall, but it might vary by edition.



I could have used another cursed item. There's a large group of cursed items that were basically "looks like another magical item but actually killed you without save." Cloak of Poison, Bowl of Watery Death (vs Bowl of Water Elemental Summoning) and the rug of smothering (vs the flying carpet) are some off the top of my head.

Yeah, but they can all be identified as cursed. Those that cannot be identified, are likely cursed. There are plenty of spells that can help you out as well, such as augury (second level cleric spell). "Will it turn out for weal or woe if I put this necklace on?" That's pretty much the primary function of spells of that sort.

Kesnit
2008-11-12, 01:10 PM
Oh my! So scary!

Best stay at home then and find a strong man to protect you!

Since it seems you are unable to read for comprehension, I will explain my comment.

You claim that players always know what monsters they will encounter. I gave an example of when that may not be the case.


You have to expect that there are very bad things out there, not just "level appropriate" monsters that will fight you on fair terms because it sucks for you to get smacked around.

Which tells me you have played with jerks for DM's.


The game is Dungeons and Dragons and probably the most integral part of it (at least in terms of BECMI and AD&D) is creating a character to face the unknown and the dangers and horrors contained therin.

But it isn't supposed to be a competetion between the players and the DM. The idea of the game is not to find out how quickly the DM can get a TPK.

Roderick_BR
2008-11-12, 01:15 PM
(...)
You are mistaken; that is the assumption of AD&D. Player choice is what drives the game. If you are just trundling along a predetermined route, then you only have yourself to blame when the game master springs unreasonable monsters on you.
(...)
Uh... no. AD&D doesn't work exactly like that. It's all up to the DM, exactly as in 1st edition, 3rd edition (and 3.5) and 4E.
If you know beforehand what's going to happen, yes, you can decide. If you don't "hmm.. I wonder what's in that dungeon.... oh no, trolls! I didn't bring acid nor fire", then it's up to the DM to choose what to put there. And who said if needs to be unreasonable? You can walk into a catacomb expecting to find undead, yes. You can decided it's a bad idea to enter that place as well.
But when you enter a moldy cave, you can find nearly anything. Undead, trolls, drows, dragons. Exactly as any edition of D&D. You can decide to enter, decide to not enter, whatever. Doesn't matter which edition it is.
I used to play AD&D before 3E came out, and my group played the game the same, only with different game rules (Base Attack Bonus in place of THAC0, etc).

hamlet
2008-11-12, 01:17 PM
Since it seems you are unable to read for comprehension, I will explain my comment.

You claim that players always know what monsters they will encounter. I gave an example of when that may not be the case.


Maybe you were going for the irony of it, but I doubt it, so let me explain slowly.

I am not Matthew, nor is Matthew me. I have not made the claim that PC's always know what monsters they are facing.

Before you accuse me of not reading for comprehension, you might want to brush up on your own.





Which tells me you have played with jerks for DM's.



Of course, but finding non-level-appropriate monsters in the world is not a symptom of jerk DM's.

Even playing unde jerk DM's, I still managed to have a good time.




But it isn't supposed to be a competetion between the players and the DM. The idea of the game is not to find out how quickly the DM can get a TPK.

Please point out where I said it was supposed to be a competition.

Learn to read.

Oracle_Hunter
2008-11-12, 01:18 PM
What we have here is a failure to communicate. Having played both 2E and 3E, I'll see if I can't outline the play philosophies inherent in the game:

2E
The world is dangerous and power has its price. Low level characters survive more with luck and cunning than through force of arms, but so do high level characters. Leveling usually only improves your durability and does not grant you dramatic new powers, at least not until "high levels" (8+).

The "fun" in 2E came from the story as it was told. Characters could die at any point, and there were many hazards that could impair your ability to adventure, so while "reaching high levels" was certainly a goal, it wasn't the be-all and end-all.

3E
You are a hero, and power is yours to have. Character leveling is very important; every level grants some important new ability, feat, or even just more skill points. There are lots of different classes which you can take levels in, and the complexity of your character's build depends on your level. After the first few levels there are fewer and fewer hazards that can kill you outright, and even if you are killed or incapacitated, magic can restore you with only an expenditure of gold and experience.

The "fun" in 3E came from the story to come. Every level your character could gain exciting new powers by multiclassing, or get access to special Prestige Classes which granted even more different powers. There is always something new to get, so the future is where you fix your sight.

Summary
2E: Experience the journey. Advancing in level nets little real power in the short run, and your future is in constant jeopardy. Even if you use magic to restore yourself, every casting risks your death (from system shock) and even if it doesn't kill you again, most magics permanently drain a point of CON per casting. The longer you adventure, the more likely you'll either be permanently dead, or you'll have to retire.

3E: Look to the future. Every level gives you access to new powers, feats, skills, and even entire classes, so leveling is very important. Few things in the world will kill you dead, and what does kill you can usually be fixed by magic with only some gold and experience. You can only get stronger as you adventure, so keep going!

So, you see what's going on here. Levels just weren't as important in 2E as they were in 3E.

So, while losing them is annoying, it's not going to put you on the sidelines. And even if it would, your party should be willing to accommodate your temporary loss by seeking less hazardous adventures - after all, it could be them next. This does not mean that 3E is "sissified" or doesn't expose the PCs to risk - it does - but in 3E every level is a jewel beyond measure thanks to the ease of multiclassing and feats. As such, level drain is a serious, crippling problem when permanent, unless you have sufficient gold to restore it.

The moral? When you play a new system, be sure you understand the gaming aesthetic that goes with it. No edition of D&D has exactly the same aesthetic as any other, and if you enter a game with improper expectations you will likely be disappointed.

Matthew
2008-11-12, 01:18 PM
Uh... no. AD&D doesn't work exactly like that. It's all up to the DM, exactly as in 1st edition, 3rd edition (and 3.5) and 4E.
If you know beforehand what's going to happen, yes, you can decide. If you don't "hmm.. I wonder what's in that dungeon.... oh no, trolls! I didn't bring acid nor fire", then it's up to the DM to choose what to put there. And who said if needs to be unreasonable? You can walk into a catacomb expecting to find undead, yes. You can decided it's a bad idea to enter that place as well.
But when you enter a moldy cave, you can find nearly anything. Undead, trolls, drows, dragons. Exactly as any edition of D&D. You can decide to enter, decide to not enter, whatever. Doesn't matter which edition it is.
I used to play AD&D before 3E came out, and my group played the game the same, only with different game rules (Base Attack Bonus in place of THAC0, etc).

If you wander into a dungeon without making any effort to find out what is there, that is also a choice you have made. Even the completely unknown can be discovered via scouts and divination magic. It's up to you to find out what you are up against before you go up against it.

I am not saying that poor planning gives the game master carte blanche to be unreasonable, mind.



The moral? When you play a new system, be sure you understand the gaming aesthetic that goes with it. No edition of D&D has exactly the same aesthetic as any other, and if you enter a game with improper expectations you will likely be disappointed.

Exactly so.

Kesnit
2008-11-12, 01:30 PM
Maybe you were going for the irony of it, but I doubt it, so let me explain slowly.

I am not Matthew, nor is Matthew me. I have not made the claim that PC's always know what monsters they are facing.

Crap, sorry about that. I'd been having a debate with Matthew and didn't look closely at the poster.


Of course, but finding non-level-appropriate monsters in the world is not a symptom of jerk DM's.

No, but running into grossly level-inappropiate ones is a sign of jerk DM.


Please point out where I said it was supposed to be a competition.

Learn to read.

The comment was aimed at Matthew. Again, I am sorry for not paying closer attention.

Matthew
2008-11-12, 01:34 PM
The comment was aimed at Matthew. Again, I am sorry for not paying closer attention.

In response to what? I didn't say it was a competition either. In fact I wrote quite the opposite.

Lapak
2008-11-12, 01:37 PM
This is an interesting thread. I was just reading a blog post (http://grognardia.blogspot.com/2008/09/retrospective-tomb-of-horrors.html) the other day where the blogger was talking in passing about the differences between old school and new school D&D. He suggested that one of the biggest shifts was that old-school players regarded adventures as something to be 'beaten' a la a video game level, whereas players who came to D&D in the newer editions (after it had moved away from its wargame roots) tend to regard adventures more in terms of collaborative stories.

If I were to elaborate on this idea, I might put another way. 1/2e assumed the characters were sandboxing, and that any given adventure was self-contained. The characters were doing their own thing, and it might happen to intersect with a larger plot or it might not. 3/4e assume that the players are definitely part of a larger plot, and the individual adventures serve that overall story.

In the blog post, he was talking about the Tomb of Horrors. If beating the 1e Tomb of Horrors required throwing parties at it again and again over the course of years, knowing full well that they'd almost certainly die, it meant that the Tomb was a tremendous challenge rather than a story-destroying deathtrap, because there was no story to destroy.

And it makes sense. If the goal is to 'beat the dungeon', than the party had better research it, prepare for it, and decide whether the risk is worth the reward. If the Tomb is part of an overarching plot where the players are seeking out Acererak in order to prevent some global catastrophe, than the decision-making part of that is pretty well non-existent. Just walking away from the story you're all building together isn't an option, so the players are definitely at the mercy of the DM in terms of what they MUST face. Neither style is better, but someone trying to enjoy an ongoing story is going to be a lot more irritated when his character becomes a less-relevant bit part because of level drain than someone who is expecting nothing more than the experience of the adventure at hand.

hamlet
2008-11-12, 01:38 PM
Crap, sorry about that. I'd been having a debate with Matthew and didn't look closely at the poster.


Sure thing, no worries. Matthew and I are often on the same "side" of such discussions and occasionaly get confused for each other. Which I take as a compliment.

Little hint, while I get snarky and downright mean, Matthew will generally sound like he's being posted by Lando Calrisian, the smoothest brother in the galaxy . . .

I'm much closer to sounding like a Jawa.



No, but running into grossly level-inappropiate ones is a sign of jerk DM.



No, running into grossly level-inappropriate creatures now and then is, actually, a great deal of fun. Nothing like travelling through the wilderness and, through ignoring a series of warnings, or just being stupid, running into something that could paste you in a heartbeat and effecting a daring plan of escape! Those stories are the best. Like how you fast talked the great wyrm red dragon into letting your puny backside go unscathed as you bow and scrape your way out of his cave. Or the vampire you killed by engaging it in a long conversation, praying that the sun came up soon, and you surprised him by throwing open a shuttered window!

Being forced into a fight against an overpowered and inappropriate monster with no other recourse is bad DMing.

See the differrence?



The comment was aimed at Matthew. Again, I am sorry for not paying closer attention.

Hey, no worries. Sorry about the snark.

hamlet
2008-11-12, 01:41 PM
This is an interesting thread. I was just reading a blog post (http://grognardia.blogspot.com/2008/09/retrospective-tomb-of-horrors.html) the other day where the blogger was talking in passing about the differences between old school and new school D&D. He suggested that one of the biggest shifts was that old-school players regarded adventures as something to be 'beaten' a la a video game level, whereas players who came to D&D in the newer editions (after it had moved away from its wargame roots) tend to regard adventures more in terms of collaborative stories.

If I were to elaborate on this idea, I might put another way. 1/2e assumed the characters were sandboxing, and that any given adventure was self-contained. The characters were doing their own thing, and it might happen to intersect with a larger plot or it might not. 3/4e assume that the players are definitely part of a larger plot, and the individual adventures serve that overall story.

In the blog post, he was talking about the Tomb of Horrors. If beating the 1e Tomb of Horrors required throwing parties at it again and again over the course of years, knowing full well that they'd almost certainly die, it meant that the Tomb was a tremendous challenge rather than a story-destroying deathtrap, because there was no story to destroy.

And it makes sense. If the goal is to 'beat the dungeon', than the party had better research it, prepare for it, and decide whether the risk is worth the reward. If the Tomb is part of an overarching plot where the players are seeking out Acererak in order to prevent some global catastrophe, than the decision-making part of that is pretty well non-existent. Just walking away from the story you're all building together isn't an option, so the players are definitely at the mercy of the DM in terms of what they MUST face. Neither style is better, but someone trying to enjoy an ongoing story is going to be a lot more irritated when his character becomes a less-relevant bit part because of level drain than someone who is expecting nothing more than the experience of the adventure at hand.

Yes, yes, a hundred times yes!

Somebloke
2008-11-12, 01:59 PM
If you wander into a dungeon without making any effort to find out what is there, that is also a choice you have made. Even the completely unknown can be discovered via scouts and divination magic. It's up to you to find out what you are up against before you go up against it.

I am not saying that poor planning gives the game master carte blanche to be unreasonable, mind.


Exactly so.

Thirded.

I run a 4th edition campaign setting, and am enjoying creating a complex storyline to immerse the heroic, larger than life players in. This doesn't stop me from enjoying games of Call of Cthulu, Warhammer or Roleplayer, where you do get attached to characters, but in a horror-movie kind of way; you know from the beginning that they'll probably bite the dust. Or even A-state, where not fighting at all is practically the only way to survive, since the rules are insane-nasty and the opposition often carries one-hit-kill rail guns.

Mind you, I've upped the combat encounters by a level or two in 4th ed. Otherwise it gets boring.

Matthew
2008-11-12, 02:01 PM
Little hint, while I get snarky and downright mean, Matthew will generally sound like he's being posted by Lando Calrisian, the smoothest brother in the galaxy . . .

"Someone must have told them all about my little maneuver at the battle of Taanab." :smallbiggrin:



Yes, yes, a hundred times yes!

Indeed. Though, it should also be noted that there were "story based" modules, such as the Dragonlance saga, which were intended for a different mode of play.

hamlet
2008-11-12, 02:04 PM
Indeed. Though, it should also be noted that there were "story based" modules, such as the Dragonlance saga, which were intended for a different mode of play than.

Yes, and the plot shackles in the Dragonlance modules are especially restrictive. Downright choking as a matter of fact.

Kesnit
2008-11-12, 02:16 PM
In response to what? I didn't say it was a competition either. In fact I wrote quite the opposite.

You said that DMs are justified in throwing anything against the party that they wish, regardless of party level, no matter what the party does. To me, that sounds like saying the DM can do anything and the best the party can hope for is to live through one battle (forget a complete dungeon).


Being forced into a fight against an overpowered and inappropriate monster with no other recourse is bad DMing.

See the differrence?

Very much so. I was thinking of the "being forced into a fight," rather than "running into something and being able to escape."


This is an interesting thread. I was just reading a blog post (http://grognardia.blogspot.com/2008/09/retrospective-tomb-of-horrors.html) the other day where the blogger was talking in passing about the differences between old school and new school D&D. He suggested that one of the biggest shifts was that old-school players regarded adventures as something to be 'beaten' a la a video game level, whereas players who came to D&D in the newer editions (after it had moved away from its wargame roots) tend to regard adventures more in terms of collaborative stories.

(snip)

(nods) This sums it up very well.

hamlet
2008-11-12, 02:24 PM
Very much so. I was thinking of the "being forced into a fight," rather than "running into something and being able to escape."

You have to say so.

Broad sweeping generalizations, though they are the stuff that "intellectual debate" are made of, really don't help things.

Kesnit
2008-11-12, 02:27 PM
You have to say so.

Broad sweeping generalizations, though they are the stuff that "intellectual debate" are made of, really don't help things.

I knew exactly what I meant. So what if I did a horrible job of explaining it. You're supposed to read my mind, you know. :smallbiggrin:

(Yes, I am being funny. I hope that comes though without explanation, but I am including this to make sure no one takes me seriously.)

Matthew
2008-11-12, 02:34 PM
You said that DMs are justified in throwing anything against the party that they wish, regardless of party level, no matter what the party does. To me, that sounds like saying the DM can do anything and the best the party can hope for is to live through one battle (forget a complete dungeon).

No, I wrote that if you don't scout out your enemy and make proactive choices about them, then you have nobody to blame but yourself. The game master doesn't throw anything at the players, the players choose where they go. That is quite different to the game master forcing unreasonable encounters onto the players . Go to a dangerous place, expect dangerous; go to a very dangerous place, expect very dangerous. I don't know how you inferred that the party's actions do not affect what they face, the complete opposite is the theme of my argument.



This is an interesting thread. I was just reading a blog post (http://grognardia.blogspot.com/2008/09/retrospective-tomb-of-horrors.html) the other day where the blogger was talking in passing about the differences between old school and new school D&D. He suggested that one of the biggest shifts was that old-school players regarded adventures as something to be 'beaten' [I]a la a video game level, whereas players who came to D&D in the newer editions (after it had moved away from its wargame roots) tend to regard adventures more in terms of collaborative stories.

I think you need to distinguish between "video game level" and "video game". A "video game level" implies you need to beat it to move to the next level, that's not quite the case here, nor in is it what Maliszewski is describing in his blog post (though a module series, such as A1-4, might be a bit like that). It is more like you walk into a shop and choose a video game to beat.

hamlet
2008-11-12, 03:12 PM
In the vein of cursed/trapped items, I honestly have little problem with them.

Yes, they are designed to trap, harm, and otherwise molest the PC's foolish enough to use them, but that's just the point. Nine times out of ten, you have to be particularly foolish to fall prey to them.

A well known (to casters at least) property of cursed items is that an identify spell will not identify them at all. That, right there, is the biggest tip off to a wary player. It's up to the player to realize that he/she shouldn't be using magic items that they can't identify and do not know the properties of.

For the more unscrupulous players and characters, there's always hirelings.

Sstoopidtallkid
2008-11-12, 03:16 PM
In the vein of cursed/trapped items, I honestly have little problem with them.

Yes, they are designed to trap, harm, and otherwise molest the PC's foolish enough to use them, but that's just the point. Nine times out of ten, you have to be particularly foolish to fall prey to them.

A well known (to casters at least) property of cursed items is that an identify spell will not identify them at all. That, right there, is the biggest tip off to a wary player. It's up to the player to realize that he/she shouldn't be using magic items that they can't identify and do not know the properties of.

For the more unscrupulous players and characters, there's always hirelings.Actually, they misidentify as something else.

hamlet
2008-11-12, 03:17 PM
Actually, they misidentify as something else.

Only certain items, such as the bowl of watery death.

Most generally cursed items (such as a sword -1 berserking) will not identify at all.

And, for the record, I'm not a fan of bowls of watery death, nor necklaces of strangulation, nor of obvious gotcha items like that. I do, however, enjoy a good cursed item as it plays to my sadistic side.

Aahz
2008-11-12, 03:30 PM
I think the really annoying thing about level drain is that it forces you to 're-advance' instead of letting you 'advance further'. Psychologically those are two different concepts. They both involve playing the game, but they feel dramatically different.

It's one thing to walk 20 miles under difficult circumstances which make the trip take a week. It's much more frustrating to walk 20 miles under easier circumstances, but where you randomly get sent back a mile or two, so that the trip still takes a week. The two are equivalent, but the second is much less predictable--you can't see how close you are to your goal.

I know D&D isn't (only) about advancing in level, but it is a large part of the fun. I want a difficult game with a bit of mildly sadistic randomness which can cause death / failure / etc., but I don't want to lose levels except under the most dire and rare circumstances.

Texas Jedi
2008-11-12, 03:53 PM
I always thought that 2E took a little more thought before combat. I always thought that 3E was just spam buffs and then hack away. I know that some monsters take some thought but those are very rare. 1E & 2E really made you paranoid to do almost anything because you could die so easily. This made the game more realistic in my mind. By upping the consequences you up the reward (treasure, great gameplay). I played 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, 3.5th editions and have had the most fun in the earlier editions. Knowing that your character could die at any moment added to the drama. 3E is great if you just want to rush in. It took much longer to make the characters and it was much more customized so you could really build the character you wanted. I think that is why they did away with most of the insta death moves.

Wights are hard because they do drain levels but if I remember correctly they are killed by wood that is blessed.

Fax Celestis
2008-11-12, 03:57 PM
Only certain items, such as the bowl of watery death.

Most generally cursed items (such as a sword -1 berserking) will not identify at all.

And, for the record, I'm not a fan of bowls of watery death, nor necklaces of strangulation, nor of obvious gotcha items like that. I do, however, enjoy a good cursed item as it plays to my sadistic side.

What, no robes of blending for you? I loved watching my players first discover that the arcane mark was for a wizard named Kwee Zinart, and then notice the toggle on the collar said "Off - Blend - Frappe - Liquefy" in elven... I watched in horror as they turned it inside out and tackled people.

Lapak
2008-11-12, 04:02 PM
I think you need to distinguish between "video game level" and "video game". A "video game level" implies you need to beat it to move to the next level, that's not quite the case here, nor in is it what Maliszewski is describing in his blog post (though a module series, such as A1-4, might be a bit like that). It is more like you walk into a shop and choose a video game to beat.You are quite correct; I phrased that poorly. If you don't read reviews before you go into the shop, don't complain when Battletoads makes you break your controller in frustration.

On a related note (but wandering but slightly off-topic,) this thread and a different one on another forum have together given me the basis of a hypothesis. It seems to me that I could take a pretty good guess about whether a player prefers one style or the other by asking about how they reacted to Morrowind, from the Elder Scrolls series of computer games.

Blackfang108
2008-11-12, 04:05 PM
What, no robes of blending for you? I loved watching my players first discover that the arcane mark was for a wizard named Kwee Zinart, and then notice the toggle on the collar said "Off - Blend - Frappe - Liquefy" in elven... I watched in horror as they turned it inside out and tackled people.

My group would SO do that.

I'd be the one in charge of putting it on kobolds.

hamlet
2008-11-12, 04:06 PM
What, no robes of blending for you? I loved watching my players first discover that the arcane mark was for a wizard named Kwee Zinart, and then notice the toggle on the collar said "Off - Blend - Frappe - Liquefy" in elven... I watched in horror as they turned it inside out and tackled people.

Rather clever, actually.

They should get bonus XP for that one.

Fax Celestis
2008-11-12, 04:13 PM
Rather clever, actually.

They should get bonus XP for that one.

Oh, they did. I stopped giving my players cursed items because they kept finding ways to make them good. Like Mourner's Mail. That paladin NEVER DIED.

hamlet
2008-11-12, 04:14 PM
Oh, they did. I stopped giving my players cursed items because they kept finding ways to make them good. Like Mourner's Mail. That paladin NEVER DIED.

"Mourner's Mail"? Never heard of that one.

Please do tell!

Blackfang108
2008-11-12, 04:17 PM
"Mourner's Mail"? Never heard of that one.

Please do tell!

Seconded!

I think this is why, in 10+ campaigns, I have only once seen a cursed item, and that was a homebrew that cast Otto's Irresistible Dance.

With no save to stop. period.

I danced until I died, as I was cut off from everything.

Mark Hall
2008-11-12, 04:21 PM
Half of the undead in the game have a description of "a gnarled, hideous figure with claws". Ghouls, and ghasts, and wights. The third will ruin your day. There was no way I could have known, and even if I did know it was right on the other side of a door.

What makes ghouls or ghasts a smarter choice to melee, really?

I'm not fond of the permanent level-drain, myself; I tend to use a temporary level drain, which can be rested off (so you're still screwed for the encounter, but you can regain it in short order). But undead, in general, should not be meleed.

Texas Jedi
2008-11-12, 04:24 PM
What makes ghouls or ghasts a smarter choice to melee, really?

I'm not fond of the permanent level-drain, myself; I tend to use a temporary level drain, which can be rested off (so you're still screwed for the encounter, but you can regain it in short order). But undead, in general, should not be meleed.


Seconded. They should be turned and while they can't defend themselves then you melee. If not a few fireballs, and healing spells should kill them easily.

arguskos
2008-11-12, 04:28 PM
Or run and shoot, for heaven's sake! No matter what, never EVER stand there and take it like a man, since said man will quickly be a husk of once-manliness.

And let me tell you, manliness counts for little in the afterlife. :smallbiggrin:

Mark Hall
2008-11-12, 04:31 PM
Or run and shoot, for heaven's sake! No matter what, never EVER stand there and take it like a man, since said man will quickly be a husk of once-manliness.

And let me tell you, manliness counts for little in the afterlife. :smallbiggrin:

You are worshiping the wrong gods, then. ;-)

hamlet
2008-11-12, 04:31 PM
What makes ghouls or ghasts a smarter choice to melee, really?

I'm not fond of the permanent level-drain, myself; I tend to use a temporary level drain, which can be rested off (so you're still screwed for the encounter, but you can regain it in short order). But undead, in general, should not be meleed.

Despite my bluster, the group I'm currently a player in uses a varient of level draining too.

Instead of actually losing a level, which is too book keeping intense and breaks suspensions of disbelief as people realize that they are forgetting things they knew five minutes ago, we apply "XP Deficits" instead.

In short, you still lose the experience, but gain negative XP totals that have to be worked off before gaining any more XP afterward. In the meantime, you don't forget how to perform high level spells, or proficiencies, but you suffer from "fuzziness" (no mechanical issues). The debt is broken out by levels, so if the vampire wails on you for two levels, you have two separate debts that have to be burned in sequence.

It still sucks great big ones to get smacked with it beause you end up with a long period (sometimes very long) where you essentially gain no XP but are working off a debt, but it feels slightly more palatable when you realize you can still get revenge by casting those fireballs to nuke the specter's lair.

Oh, and one little caveat that just kills in this campaign: if you are working off a previous debt and get hit again with a level drain, that partial debt you had worked off gets reset to full too. This little proviso started an actual fight between characters and players when the wizard (who had JUST broken even again after being level drained 6 times after a bad incident with wights) got whacked again by a specter because his companion did not charge recklessly to the rescue.

kjones
2008-11-12, 04:35 PM
Whoever said that 3e/4e gamers view adventures as video game levels to be beaten... you obviously never played with the 1e/2e gamers that I played with, who didn't quite fathom the fact that they weren't playing a wargame anymore.

I mean, who here remembers the original B2: Little Keep On The Borderlands? Remember the old man in the woods? I don't think he even had a name, he was just some enemy for the players to deal with. Today's gamers might try to talk to him, negotiate, maybe even make friends. He have some motivation, some independent existence... maybe you were supposed to make this up as a DM, but 1e/2e are strongly rooted in the old wargames. Don't forget that.

arguskos
2008-11-12, 04:39 PM
You are worshiping the wrong gods, then. ;-)
True, true. But hey, this one gives a better health plan. :smallamused:

Anyways, off-topic post is off-topic, I'll stop this now. *insert blather about level drain/XP loss/doing it wrong*

Lapak
2008-11-12, 05:08 PM
Whoever said that 3e/4e gamers view adventures as video game levels to be beaten... you obviously never played with the 1e/2e gamers that I played with, who didn't quite fathom the fact that they weren't playing a wargame anymore.
You're actually agreeing with the premise, which was that 1/2e gamers were the ones that saw modules as things to be 'beaten.'

Matthew
2008-11-12, 05:22 PM
Whoever said that 3e/4e gamers view adventures as video game levels to be beaten... you obviously never played with the 1e/2e gamers that I played with, who didn't quite fathom the fact that they weren't playing a wargame anymore.

As Lapak says, nobody said that. :smallwink:



I mean, who here remembers the original B2: Little Keep On The Borderlands? Remember the old man in the woods? I don't think he even had a name, he was just some enemy for the players to deal with. Today's gamers might try to talk to him, negotiate, maybe even make friends. He have some motivation, some independent existence... maybe you were supposed to make this up as a DM, but 1e/2e are strongly rooted in the old wargames. Don't forget that.

That module isn't even AD&D... but yeah, you were meant to make up the details. I don't think it has much to do with "past and present" gamers, though. Some people will attack him, some people will not.

Mark Hall
2008-11-12, 05:52 PM
I mean, who here remembers the original B2: Little Keep On The Borderlands? Remember the old man in the woods? I don't think he even had a name, he was just some enemy for the players to deal with. Today's gamers might try to talk to him, negotiate, maybe even make friends. He have some motivation, some independent existence... maybe you were supposed to make this up as a DM, but 1e/2e are strongly rooted in the old wargames. Don't forget that.

It was, but I ran B2 last spring. While my party didn't run into the Hermit, they did run into the bandits... and found out that they were supplying the priests in the Caves of Chaos. It was a little detail, but it comes down to the DM being more than a reader of flavor text and die rolls.

JadedDM
2008-11-12, 05:56 PM
It's a game. It is supposed to be fun. Being told that you just wasted hours because of 1 crappy roll is not fun.

You know what else isn't fun? Rolling a miss. Or getting hit. Or dying. Or being cursed. Or failing a save. But a game without these things isn't worth playing.


Here's one... "I'm the tank. I'm in front because that is my job. It's behind a door [the OP said it was], so I am blocking it from the rest of my team."

I'm sorry...first of all, a 'tank'? This is not WoW, my friend. There is no 'tanking' in 2E. How the heck do you tank a spectre anyway? They're immaterial. They can go through walls!


You've never been him, have you? Your avatar alone tells me - you're likely *always* a caster, and you likely *always* let the poor bloody smuck who plays the fighter soak up the lost levels.


My avatar is of my first character, who was a mage. I've also played warriors, rogues, and priests, as well. Most of the time, however, I'm the DM. Otherwise, there is no game to play!

quillbreaker
2008-11-12, 06:36 PM
Seconded. They should be turned and while they can't defend themselves then you melee. If not a few fireballs, and healing spells should kill them easily.

I'll just toss in there that we played with no miniatures and no map except what we sketch out, which makes any strategy involving movement or positioning nearly impossible.

Pretty much any strategy other than "suck it up and get beat upon" is near impossible when the battle positioning and most of the exact details of the terrain exists only in the DM's head.

Deepblue706
2008-11-12, 06:51 PM
Personally, I have no problem with the existence of level drain; probably because I do not see level-gaining to be most fun aspect of the game. Sure, it might suck - but I care more about the plots, journeys, adventures, etc, so I don't think it's that big a deal. Well, unless the DM screws all that up. Then I care, because then there's nothing else to really care about.

If you hate being hit with a level-drain, I think it may be beneficial to ask oneself, "do I like the game, or just my character?".

Matthew
2008-11-12, 07:10 PM
I'll just toss in there that we played with no miniatures and no map except what we sketch out, which makes any strategy involving movement or positioning nearly impossible.

Pretty much any strategy other than "suck it up and get beat upon" is near impossible when the battle positioning and most of the exact details of the terrain exists only in the DM's head.

I would probably have had to ask the game master for exact details; whilst AD&D combat is very abstract, movement rates, weapon ranges, and area of effect calculations require a fairly clear idea of the environment to be useful. Some combats don't need a map, but the whole point in scouting an area is so you can form a tactical plan.

On the other hand, if he just doesn't give a monkeys or see why it is important, there isn't much you can do but hack away until you run out of hit points (in which case combat is just a random dice rolling excercise, and probably quite boring in my opinion).

Mark Hall
2008-11-12, 08:11 PM
I'll just toss in there that we played with no miniatures and no map except what we sketch out, which makes any strategy involving movement or positioning nearly impossible.

Pretty much any strategy other than "suck it up and get beat upon" is near impossible when the battle positioning and most of the exact details of the terrain exists only in the DM's head.

"I'm trying to keep back from it."
"We're going to be doing a running retreat."

Tsotha-lanti
2008-11-12, 08:17 PM
I'm sorry...first of all, a 'tank'? This is not WoW, my friend. There is no 'tanking' in 2E. How the heck do you tank a spectre anyway? They're immaterial. They can go through walls!

No, it's not WoW. Fortunately, "tank" is MUD terminology, and way older than WoW or 3.0. And it describes a tactic familiar from AD&D: the fighter goes first and draws attacks, because he is ostensibly the toughest one, while the fragile wizard and rogue try to set themselves up to take the enemy out. These MUDs were all built around concepts taken straight from AD&D, after all.

JadedDM
2008-11-12, 11:20 PM
No, it's not WoW. Fortunately, "tank" is MUD terminology, and way older than WoW or 3.0. And it describes a tactic familiar from AD&D: the fighter goes first and draws attacks, because he is ostensibly the toughest one, while the fragile wizard and rogue try to set themselves up to take the enemy out. These MUDs were all built around concepts taken straight from AD&D, after all.

Okay, then how? How do you make an opponent focus on you and ignore everyone else? There are mechanics for this in 4E (marking) and in online games (provoking and such, and there are mechanics for 'hate' and keeping it or losing it) but not in 2E.

hamlet
2008-11-13, 08:46 AM
I'll just toss in there that we played with no miniatures and no map except what we sketch out, which makes any strategy involving movement or positioning nearly impossible.

Pretty much any strategy other than "suck it up and get beat upon" is near impossible when the battle positioning and most of the exact details of the terrain exists only in the DM's head.

That's a load of street apples right there.

Just because there are no maps and mini's doesn't mean that "any strategy involving movement or position" is nearly impossible.

Ask the DM to describe the room. Sketch it out if need be. Then make a decision once you have the layout in your mind. You don't need to know the exact number of squares to do this kind of thing.




Okay, then how? How do you make an opponent focus on you and ignore everyone else? There are mechanics for this in 4E (marking) and in online games (provoking and such, and there are mechanics for 'hate' and keeping it or losing it) but not in 2E.

In all fairness: "I move forward between it and the wizard and attempt to draw its attacks."

Kurald Galain
2008-11-13, 09:33 AM
Okay, then how? How do you make an opponent focus on you and ignore everyone else? There are mechanics for this in 4E (marking) and in online games (provoking and such, and there are mechanics for 'hate' and keeping it or losing it) but not in 2E.
In 2E, or indeed any system that does not use battle girds, you do this by saying "I interpose myself between the orc and the wizard". The only reason why 3.5 and 4E need aggro mechanics is because when taking turns on a game board, it is not feasible to intercept opponents.


I'll just toss in there that we played with no miniatures and no map except what we sketch out, which makes any strategy involving movement or positioning nearly impossible.
It follows that you have a poor DM, or more precisely, a DM unable to cope with strategic movement in his mind.


(edit) With respect to dying, losing levels, or hardship in general being "Not Fun", let me just point out that this is highly subjective - after all, many people still play Nethack, or IWBTG for that matter, both of which are far more harsh and unforgiving than any edition of D&D.

Son_of_Meepo
2008-11-13, 10:05 AM
Haste was an excellent spell choice, it was a very useful spell, and being old was no bad thing for a magicuser or cleric. Heck if you were an elf you'd barely even notice.

If you were an elf, there was a chance your character was permanently gone every time haste was cast on you. Haste caused magical aging. Magical aging forced you to make a system shock roll (a flat % chance based on your Con score) or die instantly. I have a sense most 2E players didn't realize that you had to make that instant death roll when Haste was cast on your character, but it was confirmed in an issue of Dragon way back.

Kurald Galain
2008-11-13, 10:49 AM
Magical aging forced you to make a system shock roll (a flat % chance based on your Con score) or die instantly. I have a sense most 2E players didn't realize that you had to make that instant death roll when Haste was cast on your character,
Actually, that's not what the book says, at all. The entry for system shock gives a few examples of the "massive body altering effect", but really does not say that "anything that ages you kills you 20% of the time". More importantly, every single spell in the PHB that does have a chance of system shocking you to death, explicitly states so, and obviously Haste does not.

Thirdly, the section on "other characteristics" specifically talks about the Haste spell, as does the section on group initiative; neither makes any mention of system shocks. And fourthly, the term "magical aging" refers to the draining attacks of e.g. ghosts, not drawbacks of certain spells; indeed, the haste spell explicitly points out this is due to "sped-up metabolic processes".

Aside from that, it is ridiculous and obviously not the Rules As Intended that a low-level buff spell that already has a drawback, additionally has a 20% chance of killing you. It's both sprurious logic and bad DMing. This is simply a bit of nonsense perpetuated by the Edition Wars of about ten years ago. And no, "I think I read it in a magazine somewhere" really isn't an argument either.

Charity
2008-11-13, 11:01 AM
If you were an elf, there was a chance your character was permanently gone every time haste was cast on you. Haste caused magical aging. Magical aging forced you to make a system shock roll (a flat % chance based on your Con score) or die instantly. I have a sense most 2E players didn't realize that you had to make that instant death roll when Haste was cast on your character, but it was confirmed in an issue of Dragon way back.

Look this is a system where on any given failed save you could and most likely would be dead, a 95% chance of staying alive (I'm talking melee style classes which benifit greatly from haste) is bloody good odds for survival, hell your thief would be just as likely to fall to his doom when scaling a high wall and he'd roll every 10' I'd gladly take the chance on the once or twice a day your magic user could spare the slot for it.

Matthew
2008-11-13, 11:01 AM
Actually, that's not what the book says, at all. The entry for system shock gives a few examples of the "massive body altering effect", but really does not say that "anything that ages you kills you 20% of the time". More importantly, every single spell in the PHB that does have a chance of system shocking you to death, explicitly states so, and obviously Haste does not.

Thirdly, the section on "other characteristics" specifically talks about the Haste spell, as does the section on group initiative; neither makes any mention of system shocks. And fourthly, the term "magical aging" refers to the draining attacks of e.g. ghosts, not drawbacks of certain spells; indeed, the haste spell explicitly points out this is due to "sped-up metabolic processes".

Aside from that, it is ridiculous and obviously not the Rules As Intended that a low-level buff spell that already has a drawback, additionally has a 20% chance of killing you. It's both sprurious logic and bad DMing. This is simply a bit of nonsense perpetuated by the Edition Wars of about ten years ago. And no, "I think I read it in a magazine somewhere" really isn't an argument either.

There is some debate on the topic over at Dragonsfoot, but it is quite likely that haste does indeed require a system shock roll, or at least it almost certainly did under the first edition rules. Quite when you make such a roll is also a matter of some debate. That reading of the spell has also led to "offensive" use of haste and slow against enemies [i.e. so that it works like a "save or die"].



Look this is a system where on any given failed save you could and most likely would be dead, a 95% chance of staying alive (I'm talking melee style classes which benifit greatly from haste) is bloody good odds for survival, hell your thief would be just as likely to fall to his doom when scaling a high wall and he'd roll every 10' I'd gladly take the chance on the once or twice a day your magic user could spare the slot for it.

Yep, even a guy with constitution 12 had good odds (4 in 5) chance of surviving the spell, and if you need to use it, then things are probably pretty dire to begin with.

Kurald Galain
2008-11-13, 11:09 AM
There is some debate on the topic over at Dragonsfoot, but it is quite likely that haste does indeed require a system shock roll, or at least it almost certainly did under the first edition rules.
As shown by the terms "likely" and "almost certainly", nobody in that thread has been able to point to any section in the players handbook that actually says so. In other words, this is based on some interpretation, not on actual rules. The 2E handbook certainly does not have the Haste spell kill things; I'll check 1E some time soon.


That reading of the spell has also led to "offensive" use of haste and slow against enemies [i.e. so that it works like a "save or die"].
Yeah, that's more spurious logic and bad DM'ing. It is very munchkinly to claim that a third-level spell could be a group-targeted SOD spell, when all single target SOD spells are of a much higher level. The claim is spurious, it is bad DM'ing to fall for it; this belongs in a KODT strip.

Matthew
2008-11-13, 11:22 AM
As shown by the terms "likely" and "almost certainly", nobody in that thread has been able to point to any section in the players handbook that actually says so. In other words, this is based on some interpretation, not on actual rules. The 2E handbook certainly does not have the Haste spell kill things; I'll check 1E some time soon.

It basically comes down to two passages, one in the first edition PHB and one in the first edition DMG. This is the passage from the DMG:



Unnatural Aging:

Certain creatures will cause unnatural aging, and in addition various magical factors can do so. The following magic causes loss of life span, aging the practitioner as indicated. See also DISEASE for other unnatural aging causes. (longevity potions and possibly other magical means will offset such aging to some extent.)

Magical Aging Causes

casting alter reality spell - 3 years
casting gate spell - 5 years
casting limited wish spell - 1 year
casting restoration spell - 2 years
casting resurrection spell - 3 years
casting wish spell - 3 years
imbibing a speed potion - 1 year
under a haste spell - 1 year

Note: Reading one of the above spells from a scroll (or using the power from a ring or other device) does not cause unnatural aging, but placing such a spell upon the scroll in the first place will do so!

This is the passage from the PHB:



System Shock Survival states the percentage chance the character has of surviving the following forms of magical attacks (or simple application of the magic): aging, petrification (including flesh to stone spell), polymorph any object polymorph others. Example: The wicked necromancer polymorphs (others) his hireling into a giant roc, with the rather foolish agreement of the changee; the hireling must make a saving throw based on his consitution score using the table above. Assuming he survives, a further saving throw would hove to be made if he was again polymorphed or dispelled back to original form. The saving throw must be equal to or less than the percentage shown.

Here is the thread about it: Haste as an Offensive Spell? (http://www.dragonsfoot.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=32412). The debate turns on whether system shock applies only to "attacks", how "attack" is defined, and what constitutes "application". The general conclusion is that it can be interpreted either way and, like most things, the game master will have to decide for himself.



Yeah, that's more spurious logic and bad DM'ing. It is very munchkinly to claim that a third-level spell could be a group-targeted SOD spell, when all single target SOD spells are of a much higher level. The claim is spurious, it is bad DM'ing to fall for it; this belongs in a KODT strip.

It is not a case of a player arguing for it and a game master being "tricked" into okaying it. It is just something that the individual will have to decide for himself after weighing up the pros and cons.

Kurald Galain
2008-11-13, 11:34 AM
The debate turns on whether system shock applies only to "attacks", how "attack" is defined, and what constitutes "application".
That's my point - pure munchkinry, that belongs either in a KODT strip or in the Clinton/Lewinsky defense.


It is not a case of a player arguing for it and a game master being "tricked" into okaying it. It is just something that the individual will have to decide for himself after weighing up the pros and cons.
Of course every game master will have to decide for himself. Every GM will also have to decide for himself whether his players can heal people by drowning them (technically legal according to 3.5 RAW), or whether he allows dead player characters to move around and attack (because the "dead" condition doesn't specify that they can't). That doesn't make any of the three less specious, nor make allowing any of those any less bad GM'ing.

Matthew
2008-11-13, 11:38 AM
That's my point - pure munchkinry, that belongs either in a KODT strip or in the Clinton/Lewinsky defense.

Thing is, the redefining of those terms is what is required to avoid the interpretation that a system shock roll is required. Everyone understands that letting haste be used as an offensive spell that kills an average of 1 in 5 people outright is a fairly bad idea.



Of course every game master will have to decide for himself. Every GM will also have to decide for himself whether his players can heal people by drowning them (technically legal according to 3.5 RAW), or whether he allows dead player characters to move around and attack (because the "dead" condition doesn't specify that they can't). That doesn't make any of the three less specious, nor make allowing any of those any less bad GM'ing.
It is pretty straight forward. Does magical aging require a system shock roll? The PHB says it does in two cases:

a) magical attacks
b) application of the magic

Haste causes magical aging, ergo it requires a system shock check. The only possible alternative is that there are special cases where unnatural aging does not require one (such as when a side effect of the spell used).

Drowning in D20/3e is also pretty straight forward, and a badly written rule to boot. :smallwink:

Kurald Galain
2008-11-13, 11:42 AM
Thing is, the redefining of those terms is what is required to avoid the interpretation that a system shock roll is required.
No. The munchkinry lies not in deciding which of the possible interpretations requires a redefinition, but in the fact that people are arguing about the definition of terms in the first place. It is, as Haley would put it, a shell game.

Charity
2008-11-13, 11:45 AM
Sorry, I'm late to this table, but why should Haste be treated differently to other magical aging effects?

This reminds me of a two hour argu-discussion with a DM of mine over the spell magic missile, which I had brought up to prove that nearly any spell could be interprited in a number of conflicting ways, and that AD&D was basically a collection of widely agreed upon house rules... sorry Matt.

Matthew
2008-11-13, 11:45 AM
No. The munchkinry lies not in deciding which of the possible interpretations requires a redefinition, but in the fact that people are arguing about the definition of terms in the first place. It is, as Haley would put it, a shell game.

That's not munchkinnery, it's just a discussion about what the rules say and what the possible ramifications are a) in the game b) in terms of internal consistency.



Sorry, I'm late to this table, but why should Haste be treated differently to other magical aging effects?

As far as I can see, there is no reason, unless you redefine "attack" and "application" to mean "only the direct effect of the spell". Some spells helpfully tell you if a system shock roll is needed or not, such as polymorph other (yes) and polymorph self (no), but unfortunately haste is silent.

Kurald Galain
2008-11-13, 12:23 PM
As far as I can see, there is no reason, unless you redefine "attack" and "application" to mean "only the direct effect of the spell". Some spells helpfully tell you if a system shock roll is needed or not,
It would be more accurate to say that all spells that require their target to roll a system shock, explicitly say so.



This reminds me of a two hour argu-discussion with a DM of mine over the spell magic missile,
I'm curious how you would misinterpret magic missile, please enlighten me.

Matthew
2008-11-13, 12:52 PM
It would be more accurate to say that all spells that require their target to roll a system shock, explicitly say so.

No, not really. If that were the case there would be no reason to say polymorph self does not require a system shock roll, nor shape change. Indeed, even the magical aging of a Ghost doesn't actually say you need to make a system shock roll. As far as I am aware, there are no magical aging effects that explicitly say you need to make one in second edition!



This reminds me of a two hour argu-discussion with a DM of mine over the spell magic missile, which I had brought up to prove that nearly any spell could be interprited in a number of conflicting ways, and that AD&D was basically a collection of widely agreed upon house rules... sorry Matt.
No need to be sorry, I am pretty sure the rules of AD&D were written to be open to interpretation. It is essentially a collection of rules around a basic structure.

Mike_G
2008-11-15, 07:38 PM
Bit of thread sway here, but back to the OP, I think one thing about Wights in particular was that apart from the level drain, they were pretty wussy. They didn't have all that many HP or a particularly tough AC. They did a lousy 1d4 damage. oh, yeah, plus a level.

I was never a fan, since if you did wind up in melee, there was a good chance of loosing multiple levels, which did suck quite a bit. I disagree a bit that "Well, you shouldn't melee them" since their only attack was melee, and they weren't mindless, they would naturally make every effort to get to melee, and since you tended to be on their ground, they should be able to choose the time and place of contact well enough to get to close quarters.

I don't think they were all that out of whack with the more arbitrarily balanced AD&D, but they were a weak monster with one scary power. If you had protection against level drain, which was available as at least one item, they were no big deal. Plus, they were turnable, and vulnerable to blasty spells, which were the answer to all you problems in AD&D.

As far as expectation of danger, and whether or not it's fun, I had good and bad character deaths in D&D. Dying or loosing 4 levels due to random bad rolls you had no control over was a bad death. Dying valiantly holding back the enemy until the mage could cast the right spell or destroy the cursed altar or the Thief could get the lock open was a Good Death. Finding an arbitrary screwing "not fun" isn't the same as "not wanting to be challenged."

Matthew
2008-11-15, 08:04 PM
Finding an arbitrary screwing "not fun" isn't the same as "not wanting to be challenged."

True, if I understand you correctly, but if you read the post that was a direct response to, the risk of death or defeat was entirely removed from the equation; only the most temporary setbacks were deemed to represent a fun challenge.

I should also point out that it wasn't "don't come into close combat with them", but "don't come into close combat with them if you don't want to risk losing levels".

Mike_G
2008-11-15, 08:35 PM
True, if I understand you correctly, but if you read the post that was a direct response to, the risk of death or defeat was entirely removed from the equation; only the most temporary setbacks were deemed to represent a fun challenge.

I should also point out that it wasn't "don't come into close combat with them", but "don't come into close combat with them if you don't want to risk losing levels".


I can see that, I just think that you could encounter them as an incidental monster to the main quest, and they would certainly try to melee you, so loosing levels was a risk that you couldn't always anticipate and plan for.

I wouldn't think a wight with the drain stripped would be any threat at all, so if I were to house rule the level drain away, I'd add something else, like disease or stat drain or even temporary drain, as someone else said.

I agree that taking away any of the danger makes a win kinda empty, but there is a difference between the Catolebpas (sp:?) death gaze, sucks to be you attack and choosing to charge the horde of Specters. Or picking the wrong entrance to the Tomb of Horrors. One is "blue lightning from the sky kills you. HA!" and one is "Ooooooooookaaaaaaaaaaaay, but don't cry when they kill you dead."

Matthew
2008-11-15, 08:44 PM
I can see that, I just think that you could encounter them as an incidental monster to the main quest, and they would certainly try to melee you, so loosing levels was a risk that you couldn't always anticipate and plan for.

I wouldn't think a wight with the drain stripped would be any threat at all, so if I were to house rule the level drain away, I'd add something else, like disease or stat drain or even temporary drain, as someone else said.

Depends on a lot of things. If the game master just drops them into the adventure as an unavoidable hazard that must be faced in close combat, then there ought to be an "out" of some sort (restoration scroll or somesuch thing). Otherwise, it's just the same as a random chance of level drain.



I agree that taking away any of the danger makes a win kinda empty, but there is a difference between the Catolebpas (sp:?) death gaze, sucks to be you attack and choosing to charge the horde of Specters. Or picking the wrong entrance to the Tomb of Horrors. One is "blue lightning from the sky kills you. HA!" and one is "Ooooooooookaaaaaaaaaaaay, but don't cry when they kill you dead."

I agree, but that's not the line of argument the poster that I was responding to was using. His stance was "significant setbacks are bad". The line of debate went:



2nd ed... reverse math THACO?! MAH BRAIN!

But really, there was progress for a reason. I'm sure 2nd is nice in it's own ways, and I'm sure those ways appeal to certain people more than others, but we don't make computers using vacuum tubes anymore much like most people don't play 2nd (and more and more, 3rd). Sure, the novelty of the old stuff is interesting, but I totally agree, I've hated losing progress in every RPG I've ever played. Wether it is Final Fantasy and quitting 1/2 way through FF7 after dying to a boss after not saving for 3 hours (And pretty much every FF I've played has the same outcome eventually), or losing XP from player death in DnD, Losing progress is incredibly demoralizing for me. I'd rather just roll a new character and have new experiences (Or get a new game.) than re-live the same levels.



There is a difference between not fun and challenging... and unfair and depressing.

Getting to low HP and almost dying, or coming back from the brink of death is challenging and, maybe not at the time, fun in the long run. Challenge is the meat of the game just like conflict is the key to entertainment.

But Un-doing time spent is thoroughly unfair, IMO.



I think you would need to radically adjust your thinking to see the threat of level drain and death as a challenging and fun element of the game. Level drain is what makes powerful undead a serious threat, and a difficult challenge to overcome.



It's not the threat level I have an issue with its the fact that level drain is like saying "Hey, you know those last 5 hours you spent playing? They mean nothing."

I didn't mine 3.5's level drain, basically a global -1, but I definitely am glad it's more or less gone in 4th.



This is why you would need to readjust your thinking. If you are playing AD&D "to level up" and the acquiring of experience points is what gives your participation in the game meaning, rather than the adventure itself, it is little wonder that losing those experience points (however temporarily) is unacceptable to you.

It sounds like you want a risk free challenge, which as far as I can see is no challenge at all.

As you can see, I was not making a generalised comment, nor was it directed at the original poster.

Reinboom
2008-11-15, 11:44 PM
This topic has become a slight important topic to me. Not because of the original argument of level draining being unfun, or similar (of which, I will comment on soon), but due to various insights in to different minds of gamers - as which, this forum has been a major contribution for for me through all of its near static noise.

First, I must declare my gaming origins for D&D. I began with AD&D 2e, where the rules were applied strongly in means of characters themselves but weakly when the game began except to reflect the rules already set. Thus, yes, you can only cast 3 fireballs right now, that's it, sorry. However, the application of those fireballs can be very far stretching.
How I have grown in scope of imagining for playing the game has evolved as well starting at that point, focusing on the modules and adventures. When I first started, everything was -very- sandboxy. As in, blank. There was "encounter", "interaction", "encounter", "interaction", etc. Very simple, and basic. However, this was changed when one of my older friends decided to play. It was his books that we were playing with and he was the "old wise gamer from ages long gone". The gaming style, through his arbitration, moved in to "fantastic campaign, with creative interesting characters". Simple standings evolving to fantastic ends, even under the less than fantastic growth that is the system of AD&D for matters of character power, no, it was the characters' stories. However, through this system was brought to me the idea of the single center campaign -- very not the idea of a game or module that needs to be overcome idea that I read in the aforementioned blog.

With 3.5, my group changed (I moved from Michigan, to San Francisco, and was playing with a bunch of much younger players). My playing style changed slightly again, influenced heavily by the desire of everyone to not just play 3.5 of D&D, but also to play GURPS, traveler, BESM, Deadlands (savage worlds), Shadowrun, Rifts, All Flesh Must be Eaten, WoD, many a custom system and so forth. The campaign suddenly had gotten larger, more epic, and extensive. The stories and the actions defined more and more, and the characters all got more.. powerful. Also, my insight in to gaming systems had kept radically changing as well as my maturing reasoning through them, causing me to become a lot more rules fluent.

After my return to Michigan for a short stint, I had introduced 3.5 back to my old group. It was, quite frankly, difficult for them. The system seamed bogged down and slow for them when it was so incredibly simple and fast for me, and it was difficult to comprehend why it was taking them so long to make some of the most simple actions. Most definitely, now looking back, it was based quite simply upon how the rules were perceived. It went from "action, action, action, oh my god, get away from that wraith!" to "action... thinking... thinking... oh, another good action... thinking... thinking... alright big long elaborate plan to divert, possibly kill the wraith... action..."

Now, working at a small gaming store in Salt Lake (I've lived in to too many places over this country for my age..) I get to interact with a plethora of different gaming minds every day. From my 50 year old grognard (hehe...) of a coworker who I have hefty debates with (mostly concerning 4e and playing styles) to the hefty number of WoW dedicated players. I get to hear 60 year old men praise 4e, and snap at any WoD players. I get to see black laden women of no more than 22 snap at every D&D. I get to see 30 year olds praise 3.5, purchase our OD&D box sets (yes, we still have them somehow), and would be quick to spit on the 4e rack if they knew we wouldn't kick em out. I am quickly coming to multiple conclusions, many hefted by the mix of these forums with that of the store.
First, the edition you play and started with does not define your playing style at all. I've played both hack and slash and heavy story AD&D games... as well as 4th edition games. I've seen people enjoy both with both. Commonly I've made the anti-anti4ers argument of "You can still role play in it!", even using the hefty combat system as a stepping stone of "it's faster, it gets combat out of the way for more player interaction".
Second, role playing and roll playing are not separate nor are they the same. A role-playing game IS a roll-playing game. It doesn't matter what -you- use it for, it matters only what it accomplishes. I've been in situations where trash is food, a bus is a house, and a very nice modern computer is just a fancy alarm clock. Rules, intent of the designers, and so forth mean jack. How it is used defines what it is for that playground.
Third, people will ignore this post and argue anyways. I love to argue, for example. As do you all, and so will every other person in my store. However, arguments get no where when people do not discern the differences of the above nor do they get anywhere when they do not discern/tell when something is opinion. A significant amount of benefit would be had if there were more of trying to understand why peoples' opinions were the way they were. (I make this bit of statement when someone recently claimed that 4e was quite similar to WoW.. this person never played D&D before 4e nor had they heard the comments elsewhere, and was saying that as a compliment.)



Well, that aside, the topic:

Level drain has never been an entertaining mechanic for me, even when showing as an intent for challenging it has been nothing more than annoying/dishearting. Part of this is due to the heroic tendency of the story nature I have slowly grown to love where it tends be more satisfying with hindsight on looking back on a character who died trying to accomplish something rather than just be crippled in relative those around them. Also, there is the "to play" obligation, in which, I play my characters with the intent of their intent, that is, to stay alive while trying to stay heroic (without actually stating that). When a character is level drained, it can be as damaging, notably to the campaign in which you have a distinct time frame to accomplish something before Myth Drannor collaps..er, something bad occurs, as just simply them dying. However, with a level drained character I tend to get the thought ideas of "..this thing would be better of dead now... they can no longer accomplish the tasks needed of them..." and just cause me to have a depressive outlook on my once interesting character (note: interesting to my eyes). This is quite simply, unfun to me. However, this is also to note that I enjoy playing spellcasters mostly in which case there is a very hefty difference between levels, even in AD&D.
How level drain was presented also seemed just outright 'cheap' to me. That is, too easily accomplished for an effect so permanent. Death tended to take much longer for a character, and was a realized road. Level drain just.. happened. I don't see as "well, 1st level characters have the same issue with just most attacks" as a decent argument versus this either when focused on more of the groups I play, for, if we wanted that, then we would play 1st level characters.. which, most of groups tended to avoid. Level draining things quite simply are just "there" in front of the goals.
Finally, it makes no damned sense to me. What does it even do to the character? Makes them forget how to sneak about with thief bonuses, forces them to completely forget how to cast spells, how to properly strike as well with a weapon as they once could of... memory. It drains their hp, endurance, and shifts their save table.. life. Does it drain the experience out of someone? How is that even accomplished? I could describe what it drains, experience simply, but that is not tangible. So, it steals something nontangible from you, not something that can even be forced tangible in one sense (such as soul, or dendryte in the brain) no, it takes something that is very much intangible.

Matthew
2008-11-16, 02:20 AM
Finally, it makes no damned sense to me. What does it even do to the character? Makes them forget how to sneak about with thief bonuses, forces them to completely forget how to cast spells, how to properly strike as well with a weapon as they once could of... memory. It drains their hp, endurance, and shifts their save table.. life. Does it drain the experience out of someone? How is that even accomplished? I could describe what it drains, experience simply, but that is not tangible. So, it steals something nontangible from you, not something that can even be forced tangible in one sense (such as soul, or dendryte in the brain) no, it takes something that is very much intangible.

Life energy levels. They're a big deal in the way AD&D is set up, but their significance is never completely explained. Losing them is about as logical as gaining them [i.e. not very].

ken-do-nim
2008-11-16, 06:41 AM
The rules on energy drain were changed in 3e and 4e due to player sentiments much like the one professed by the OP.
If you don't like/ appreciate their place within a game I'd advise steering clear of the early editions, it is not the only example of harsh mechanics.


I can't speak for 4E, but 3.5E still has some harsh mechanics. For instance, with level drain, sure now you get a save after 24 hours, but you can still blow that. And death + resurrection in 3.5 means level loss; whereas in AD&D it means lose a point of con.

In the 2E supplement PC&T the block tactic was introduced, and I think it is essential for battling undead. In my AD&D games, front line characters just go on full defense and block while the cleric tries to turn them and the mage tries to fry them.

Thane of Fife
2008-11-16, 08:49 AM
Finally, it makes no damned sense to me. What does it even do to the character? Makes them forget how to sneak about with thief bonuses, forces them to completely forget how to cast spells, how to properly strike as well with a weapon as they once could of... memory. It drains their hp, endurance, and shifts their save table.. life. Does it drain the experience out of someone? How is that even accomplished? I could describe what it drains, experience simply, but that is not tangible. So, it steals something nontangible from you, not something that can even be forced tangible in one sense (such as soul, or dendryte in the brain) no, it takes something that is very much intangible.

The idea of a character being drained of most of their power and having to re-earn it after being forced to live without is not a particularly uncommon one. Now that I've said that, of course, I'm having trouble thinking of examples, but I know that they exist.

In The Deed of Paksenarrion, for example


Paks works her way up to what would, presumably, be a moderate-level fighter, then is essentially level-drained back to weakness, from which she has to work her way back up. In-book, it's described as her having "lost her courage," and essentially amounts to her remembering what she knew, but no longer being able to do any of it - where once she could fight off competent swordmen and even wizards, now she can't even protect herself from a drunkard.


I know there are other examples of such happenings.

PandaCthulhu
2008-11-16, 03:08 PM
As someone who still plays and DMs 2nd Ed when playing AD&D and has never played 3E or 4E, I can't see the problem with level drain, provided the encountered is DM'd fairly.

After all, the point of playing is not to gain levels, it is to have fun playing. i.e. the purpose of the game is the game, not the outcome.

I've even had one of my player's kill the character of another (twice, in fact), but for logical in-game reasons, so no-one got upset over it. (once because they were berserk & confused and starting fighting allies, and once because they were polymophed into an Ogre and started behaving like one)

However, since at least one of my players prefers less lethal systems like Serenity, when we are playing 2E I need to really make sure that any negative outcomes seems fair in the minds of the players.

So I drop hints to allow them to identify potentially lethal or level draining encounters in advance, through hints in the description, allowing knowledge rolls to indentify the creature and its powers, or similar, and give them a chance run away instead. That way if they lose a level, it was their choice to fight instead of run. It seems to work, as they almost always fight, and generally accept a character death with good grace.

So, hiding a level-draining creature behind a door is not something I would ever spring on my players.

And even if one of my players' characters dies, I will role-play some NPC encounter into a new party member for the player to take (find a captive in the dungeon, meet a solo adventurer in the village, etc) as no-one wants to sit around doing nothing.

As a player, I have found it annoying to have a character die, but less annoying that playing a game with no risks. Reward without risk is boring - the only time I left a game as a player is after the DM refused to accept that my character had just died, and 'rewrote' the encounter so it hadn't happened. After that is seemed pointless to play, as no matter what I did, I knew there was no risk to the character.

Weiser_Cain
2008-11-16, 03:18 PM
Gaining levels is a reward for playing.

Matthew
2008-11-16, 03:47 PM
Gaining levels is a reward for playing.

It does seem that a lot of people are under this impression. Personally, I would rather be rewarded with money, say £10.00 per hour spent "playing".

JadedDM
2008-11-16, 05:43 PM
It does seem that a lot of people are under this impression. Personally, I would rather be rewarded with money, say £10.00 per hour spent "playing".

Heck, with rewards like that, I'd even give 4E a chance. :smallbiggrin:

Cybren
2008-11-16, 06:38 PM
No, it's not WoW. Fortunately, "tank" is MUD terminology, and way older than WoW or 3.0. And it describes a tactic familiar from AD&D: the fighter goes first and draws attacks, because he is ostensibly the toughest one, while the fragile wizard and rogue try to set themselves up to take the enemy out. These MUDs were all built around concepts taken straight from AD&D, after all.

To be specific, it's a DekuMUD term

Reluctance
2008-11-16, 07:50 PM
After all, the point of playing is not to gain levels, it is to have fun playing. i.e. the purpose of the game is the game, not the outcome.

We can discuss instant death mechanics elsewhere. Or find one of the countless arguments about them and assume both sides are well hashed out.

The major downfall of level drain is that it's a character destruction mechanic, and character destruction mechanics are as a rule unfun. If my character has an unlucky roll to save vs. a Disintegrate spell, that's over with and I can get around to making a new character who can start doing new and cool stuff. (Plot threads related to the old character are also over with, but again that's a well-worn side topic.) Level drain my character, and after a certain point he stops being able to do cool stuff and is no longer able to appropriately contribute to the team. That means that either I junk the character with all appropriate ramifications, or else I stick with a character who can't do fun stuff until I earn back a sizable chunk of XP.

I guess that's the gist of it, really. Should two or three connecting hits from a vampire cause effectively character death? I'm strongly in the no camp, but then I'm against SoD and the like in general.

Matthew
2008-11-16, 08:11 PM
The major downfall of level drain is that it's a character destruction mechanic, and character destruction mechanics are as a rule unfun.

The problem with this statement is not its subjective truth for you, but the absolute way in which you present it; one might equally say "instant character death, as a rule, is unfun and destructive of the character" (a view which you later seem also to subscribe to). To see either level loss or character death as a positive or fun (or even necessary) outcome of the game you have to understand that preferences are not universal. To put it another way, level loss and instant character death can be fun, but it depends on the dynamics of the group involved and the context.

If you look at the initial exchanges in this thread they are basically:

1) I don't like losing levels
2) AD&D probably isn't the game for you then

1) AD&D is unfair
2) No, but some game masters can be

Kurald Galain
2008-11-16, 08:16 PM
As someone who still plays and DMs 2nd Ed when playing AD&D and has never played 3E or 4E, I can't see the problem with level drain, provided the encountered is DM'd fairly.

I think that's a very important point. Earlier editions gave the DM a lot of leeway and essentially the power to do whatever he likes, with the implicit assumption that the DM plays fair. Later editions simply give the DM a lot of rules, with the explicit note that he should always follow them.

That's an exaggeration, of course, but the sentiment that a DM who makes up a rule is "Doing It Wrong" seems to have increased with each edition. Some people think that's great, some others think it's not, and yet others don't really care.

Matthew
2008-11-16, 08:36 PM
It is a good point, and an exploration of "fairness" is really the crux of the "rights and wrongs" of this discussion. One of the ways that D20/3e sought to maintain fairness was to create expectations for character and monster power level and what is "okay" and what is "not okay" for the game master to use as an encounter. That "scaled to level" idea has the potential to undermine the choices of the players, perhaps even robbing them of the right to choose their own level of risk versus reward.

greenknight
2008-11-16, 08:36 PM
I think that's a very important point. Earlier editions gave the DM a lot of leeway and essentially the power to do whatever he likes, with the implicit assumption that the DM plays fair. Later editions simply give the DM a lot of rules, with the explicit note that he should always follow them.

That's an exaggeration, of course

If you're including 3e in that statement, it's an outright lie. Just looking at the 3.5e PHB, you can see in the character creation section that the first instruction is to check with the DM for house rules. This is followed up by a section called "Changing the Rules" in the 3.5e DMG. What the book does do is emphasise consistent rules, provide reasons why the rules are the way they are, and encourage the DM to give careful consideration to any proposed rules changes, and maybe even discuss them with other players.

It should also be pointed out that while there were a lot of things the earlier edition rules don't cover, a lot of the things they do cover often seem unfair and arbitrary to the players. So much so that when a PC gets really screwed over by the rules, IME many players feel it's better to kill the PC off and start over than to try to undo the damage.

Kurald Galain
2008-11-16, 08:38 PM
If you're including 3e in that statement, it's an outright lie.

Ah yes, let's all go and flame people, that'll make for a good discussion.

Matthew
2008-11-16, 08:47 PM
If you're including 3e in that statement, it's an outright lie. Just looking at the 3.5e PHB, you can see in the character creation section that the first instruction is to check with the DM for house rules. This is followed up by a section called "Changing the Rules" in the 3.5e DMG. What the book does do is emphasise consistent rules, provide reasons why the rules are the way they are, and encourage the DM to give careful consideration to any proposed rules changes, and maybe even discuss them with other players.

I think you missed the point, which was that D20/3e shifted the onus for maintaining fairness further from the game master to the system.



It should also be pointed out that while there were a lot of things the earlier edition rules don't cover, a lot of the things they do cover often seem unfair and arbitrary to the players. So much so that when a PC gets really screwed over by the rules, IME many players feel it's better to kill the PC off and start over than to try to undo the damage.

What do you have in mind?

Yukitsu
2008-11-16, 08:56 PM
It is a good point, and an exploration of "fairness" is really the crux of the "rights and wrongs" of this discussion. One of the ways that D20/3e sought to maintain fairness was to create expectations for character and monster power level and what is "okay" and what is "not okay" for the game master to use as an encounter. That "scaled to level" idea has the potential to undermine the choices of the players, perhaps even robbing them of the right to choose their own level of risk versus reward.

I don't really get why this robs the choice of the player. Can't they still choose to go out and fight ridiculous things, and isn't that ultimately up to the DM anyway? I know my DM ignores CR guidelines completely when making his dungeons, usually by about +6.

Matthew
2008-11-16, 09:06 PM
I don't really get why this robs the choice of the player. Can't they still choose to go out and fight ridiculous things, and isn't that ultimately up to the DM anyway? I know my DM ignores CR guidelines completely when making his dungeons, usually by about +6.

That is why I wrote "the idea has the potential to", rather than D20/3e does. That some people stay very close to the "scaled encounter" paradigm is reflected in the occasional thread about its lack of verisimilitude. Very little about D20/3e actively prevents it being played in a more "sandboxy" way.

greenknight
2008-11-16, 09:14 PM
I think you missed the point, which was that D20/3e shifted the onus for maintaining fairness further from the game master to the system.

No, the onus is still on the DM, it's just that 3e gives more guidance as to what represents a fair encounter and fair rewards.


What do you have in mind?

Start with character creation. In 2nd Ed AD&D, the standard method (in the PHB) is to roll 3d6 for each ability score, in order. There's no allowance for re-rolls, although this method does have the potential to create characters who don't qualify for any class. Offhand, I don't know of any DM who actually uses this "standard" method, because it's just not what they want. Instead, most DMs I know use the 4d6 method (assigning scores as the player wants), and for higher level games some auto-assign one 18.

Then there's the races. At lower levels, it's a mechanical disadvantage to be a Human, unless you want to play a class which requires one. At higher levels, it's a disadvantage to play anything other than a Human, because of racial level limits. The DM can remove those limits, but once again we're talking rules which go against the "standard" method.

Classes also get gimped. Unless you have high ability scores, you don't get bonus XP. And for spellcasting classes, you need an 18 or you can't cast the highest level spells of your class. There are ways to increase your ability scores in 2nd Ed, but for the most part it's not practical to do so past 16.

And heaven help you if you want to change your character's alignment, because that will usually cost you XP. The "fair" rules of 2nd Ed even encourage the DM to come up with situations which will force the player to make choices which could change the character's alignment.

Then we have spells and monster effects like the one discussed on this thread. Just casting a spell might kill the caster, and there's lots of them which can do it. But at least that's a choice, so I suppose in that sense it's fair. Monster effects can be worse, because they don't involve as much player choice, and trying to undo those effects can be catastrophic for the PC, and possibly the character(s) trying to help the PC.

Matthew
2008-11-16, 09:30 PM
No, the onus is still on the DM, it's just that 3e gives more guidance as to what represents a fair encounter and fair rewards.

It is not the amount of guidance, it is the degree of systemisation in the game not only creating fairness, but defining it. The extent to which the system does this, affects how much onus is placed on the game master to do so. There aren't really any two ways about it, it is the difference between light and heavy, even if not the difference between good and bad.



Start with character creation. In 2nd Ed AD&D, the standard method (in the PHB) is to roll 3d6 for each ability score, in order. There's no allowance for re-rolls, although this method does have the potential to create characters who don't qualify for any class. Offhand, I don't know of any DM who actually uses this "standard" method, because it's just not what they want. Instead, most DMs I know use the 4d6 method (assigning scores as the player wants), and for higher level games some auto-assign one 18.

The default method is the default method. It is not arbitrary or unfair, nor particularly different from the D20/3e default method. It is "random" (same as the other five methods presented immediately afterwards), but that's not quite the same thing. The DMG goes into considerable detail concerning choosing a suitable method and what to do about characters with extreme attribute scores.



Then there's the races. At lower levels, it's a mechanical disadvantage to be a Human, unless you want to play a class which requires one. At higher levels, it's a disadvantage to play anything other than a Human, because of racial level limits. The DM can remove those limits, but once again we're talking rules which go against the "standard" method.

And in D20/3e there are rules for reintroducing them. These aren't arbitrary rules, they are there because the races are not balanced to be equal. If you want to play an Elf, then you are effectively playing a "better" character than a human, that's part of the attraction.



Classes also get gimped. Unless you have high ability scores, you don't get bonus XP. And for spellcasting classes, you need an 18 or you can't cast the highest level spells of your class. There are ways to increase your ability scores in 2nd Ed, but for the most part it's not practical to do so past 16.

I don't think I have ever seen bonus experience points make a significant difference to the game, and I actually track them! Regardless, there's no real difference between that and D20/3e either. You still need high attribute scores to "get the best" out of your class (indeed, I would argue you are often more reliant on them in D20/3e).



And heaven help you if you want to change your character's alignment, because that will usually cost you XP. The "fair" rules of 2nd Ed even encourage the DM to come up with situations which will force the player to make choices which could change the character's alignment.

Changing alignment when mutually agreed between the game master and player carries no consequences at all if it is for the good of the game. I don't see any general advice in the DMG encouraging the DM to do as you suggest.



Then we have spells and monster effects like the one discussed on this thread. Just casting a spell might kill the caster, and there's lots of them which can do it. But at least that's a choice, so I suppose in that sense it's fair. Monster effects can be worse, because they don't involve as much player choice, and trying to undo those effects can be catastrophic for the PC, and possibly the character(s) trying to help the PC.

There actually are not very many spells that carry a risk of death from being cast, maybe less than a dozen all told. Monsters have the potential to kill or significantly damage player characters, that's the way the game is set up. There is nothing arbitrary or unfair about it unless the game is run in an arbitrary and unfair manner.

So basically, if I am following you:

1) Attribute Generation
2) Level Limits
3) Class Restrictions By Race
4) Attributes Influencing Class Effectiveness
5) Alignment Change
6) Drawbacks for Magic/Powerful Monsters (?)

Charity
2008-11-17, 05:05 AM
I'm curious how you would misinterpret magic missile; please enlighten me.

OK... Let me try to recall

I think it was to do with the targeting mostly

I think the spell boils down to- you can hit anything in range you can see if there is a gap for the missile to pass through. Thatís my no book, dim recollection.

1. So can you use wizard eye to spy through a wall to shoot through an air duct or equivalent?
2. What happens if the target is visible and within range yet the path taken is longer than the range?
3. What happens if the target is visible and within range yet the path taken takes the missile out of range.
4. What happens if the target can be seen yet the path cannot (though it exists)?

greenknight
2008-11-17, 05:39 AM
It is not the amount of guidance, it is the degree of systemisation in the game not only creating fairness, but defining it.

Ok. To use that concept, 3e (and 4e for that matter) defines what are fair challenges and rewards much better than AD&D does. The DM is still in overall control, it's just that an inexperienced 3e DM will probably do a better job of being fair than an inexperienced AD&D DM, because the system gives the DM more help.


The default method is the default method. It is not arbitrary or unfair, nor particularly different from the D20/3e default method.

Untrue. The default 3e method generally produces higher scores, has a reroll option, the player can assign the scores where they want to, there are no minimum required scores for race/class selection and it's much easier to increase ability scores as characters increase levels. None of that exists in 2nd Ed, although common sense says that the DM would have to allow a re-roll if the player is unlucky enough to rolls stats which don't qualify for any class.


And in D20/3e there are rules for reintroducing them. These aren't arbitrary rules, they are there because the races are not balanced to be equal. If you want to play an Elf, then you are effectively playing a "better" character than a human, that's part of the attraction.

3e doesn't discuss introducing racial level limits at all. Racial class restrictions are discussed, but it has nothing to do with balance. In fact, the DMG warns about creating imbalance if you decide to do this. The real reason the DMG discusses this idea at all is because that's how AD&D does it, and they wanted to leave the option open for players who were converting but wanted to keep the racial restrictions.


I don't think I have ever seen bonus experience points make a significant difference to the game, and I actually track them! Regardless, there's no real difference between that and D20/3e either. You still need high attribute scores to "get the best" out of your class (indeed, I would argue you are often more reliant on them in D20/3e).

How could you tell? The XP tables in AD&D are all over the place, so unless you have two characters of the same class where one earns bonus XP and the other doesn't, how would you notice the difference? But just because you can't see it doesn't mean there is no difference.

And no, you don't "need" high ability scores in 3e to be able to get the full use out of a class. For example, I could have a 3e Wizard start with 14 Intelligence and by 20th level that character would be able to cast 9th level spells just from the level bonuses. A 14 Intelligence Wizard in AD&D would be restricted to 7th level spells without the use of magic, and would probably never be able to cast 9th level spells. Yes, higher ability scores do give some really nice benefits in 3e, but 3e characters aren't anywhere near as dependant on their starting stats as AD&D characters are.



Changing alignment when mutually agreed between the game master and player carries no consequences at all if it is for the good of the game. I don't see any general advice in the DMG encouraging the DM to do as you suggest.

How about you read Chapter 4 of the 2nd Ed PHB, particularly the section titled "Changing Alignment"? There is no mention there of allowing alignment changes "for the good of the game". The DMG does sneak that in, but it's a special case. On the other hand, it does state that "Changing the way a character behaves and thinks will cost him experience points and slow his advancement". Near the end it concludes, "There will be times when the DM, especially if he is clever, creates situations to test the character's resolve and ethics".

I don't mind if DMs do that, in fact I've done it myself more than once. But if the DM sets up the situation and then it results in a PC alignment change, it should stay at the roleplaying level (unless it's a class tied to a particular alignment or code, like a Paladin). Instead, we have a game mechanic which states that the PC has to earn a lot more XP to gain a level. And if the character tries to change back to the previous alignment, even more penalties apply! This is in no way fair or reasonable, yet that's what's in the rules as written.


There actually are not very many spells that carry a risk of death from being cast, maybe less than a dozen all told.

But many of those are very important or significant spells.


Monsters have the potential to kill or significantly damage player characters, that's the way the game is set up. There is nothing arbitrary or unfair about it unless the game is run in an arbitrary and unfair manner.

Yes, monsters should present a challenge to the PCs. But even if they survive that challenge, some monsters can damage the PCs in such a way that's it's probably better for the player to have the PC die than try to recover from it. That's where it becomes unfair.


So basically, if I am following you:

1) Attribute Generation
2) Level Limits
3) Class Restrictions By Race
4) Attributes Influencing Class Effectiveness
5) Alignment Change
6) Drawbacks for Magic/Powerful Monsters (?)

The default ability score generation method is particularly unfair. I'd also divide the class effectiveness issue into two categories, bonus XP and some classes not being able use their full class abilities unless they start with incredibly high ability scores. There's probably more to it than that if I want to really dig around, but that's enough for now.

Kantolin
2008-11-17, 05:42 AM
A mild psuedo-aside, although it does note another personal problem:


I think one thing about Wights in particular was that apart from the level drain, they were pretty wussy. They didn't have all that many HP or a particularly tough AC. They did a lousy 1d4 damage. oh, yeah, plus a level.

I actually personally hate monsters with that idea in mind: 'Gimmick' monsters who have their one usually fatal schtick and otherwise aren't interesting. Beholders tend to be this way, as do 3.5 Frost Worms.

Basically, using the Frost Worm as an example, your average Frost Worm will unburrow and smack everyone with enough damage to kill a wizard. He will then be hammered by the party, maybe getting one action off in the middle, then dies, blowing up with enough damage to kill the cleric.

I. If you're given great advance warning that he exists, then he is lame as you walk in with frost resistance: When prepared, you auto-win.

II. If you become aware that he blows up when he dies before he does so, then he is again usually lame as you kind of auto-win again.

III. If neither of these two things occurs, then blam: Half the party is likely dead through no fault of their own, really.

It's extremely difficult to have a particularly meaningful encounter with one - they tend to be either 'Okay, you pretty much auto-beat it' or essentially 'Okay, roll a d20. Anyone who rolls below an 18 dies. The rest of you auto-beat it / the party wipes'.

(A mild extention to II is that you need relatively clear instructions. One group discovered 'ah, they blow up when they die', essentially snared it in place and walked 50ft away... still mostly dying miserably when it blew up)

From a DM's point of view, that makes Frost Worms really irritating to use: If I put them in as a surprise, it's almost the same as rolling a d6 and that many party members die... but if I put them in as a relevant encounter (A frost worm is terrorizing towns!), then the party can walk over and steamroll it.

And from the player's point of view, it's "Oh sigh. A Frost Worm.", followed by knowledge checks and usually questions to the DM about metagaming. If we discover about it, then we win real quick and can progress. If not, usually I just watch how many units within the party die at pseudo-random. :P

Ah, well. Stupid frost worms... half the time they randoend the games they're in, and the other half nobody remembers that they fought an irrelevant frost worm at level 9 until the bard wants to make an illusion of it. :P

Matthew
2008-11-17, 07:28 AM
Ok. To use that concept, 3e (and 4e for that matter) defines what are fair challenges and rewards much better than AD&D does. The DM is still in overall control, it's just that an inexperienced 3e DM will probably do a better job of being fair than an inexperienced AD&D DM, because the system gives the DM more help.

Nobody is arguing here the relative merits, only that the onus has shifted.



Untrue. The default 3e method generally produces higher scores, has a reroll option, the player can assign the scores where they want to, there are no minimum required scores for race/class selection and it's much easier to increase ability scores as characters increase levels. None of that exists in 2nd Ed, although common sense says that the DM would have to allow a re-roll if the player is unlucky enough to rolls stats which don't qualify for any class.

You are treating the game as though the rules from the PHB are to be followed in isolation. Besides which, higher scores does not equal "more fair" or "less arbitrary". Whilst "common sense" would say that, the DMG addresses the specific point.



3e doesn't discuss introducing racial level limits at all. Racial class restrictions are discussed, but it has nothing to do with balance. In fact, the DMG warns about creating imbalance if you decide to do this. The real reason the DMG discusses this idea at all is because that's how AD&D does it, and they wanted to leave the option open for players who were converting but wanted to keep the racial restrictions.

Doesn't really matter one way or the other. The point is that level limits and class restrictions are neither unfair nor arbitrary.



How could you tell? The XP tables in AD&D are all over the place, so unless you have two characters of the same class where one earns bonus XP and the other doesn't, how would you notice the difference? But just because you can't see it doesn't mean there is no difference.

I can tell because I have played "a lot" of AD&D, and because I have run the numbers on comparative tables. Besides which, I didn't say there was "no difference", I said there was "no significant difference".



And no, you don't "need" high ability scores in 3e to be able to get the full use out of a class. For example, I could have a 3e Wizard start with 14 Intelligence and by 20th level that character would be able to cast 9th level spells just from the level bonuses. A 14 Intelligence Wizard in AD&D would be restricted to 7th level spells without the use of magic, and would probably never be able to cast 9th level spells. Yes, higher ability scores do give some really nice benefits in 3e, but 3e characters aren't anywhere near as dependant on their starting stats as AD&D characters are.

Yeah, you do. I cannot play a decent D20/3e Wizard with intelligence 3, nor likely a decent fighter with strength 7. D20/3e characters are hugely dependent on starting stats, the way that penalties work in AD&D characters are less likely to be hamstrung by a low score.



How about you read Chapter 4 of the 2nd Ed PHB, particularly the section titled "Changing Alignment"? There is no mention there of allowing alignment changes "for the good of the game". The DMG does sneak that in, but it's a special case. On the other hand, it does state that "Changing the way a character behaves and thinks will cost him experience points and slow his advancement". Near the end it concludes, "There will be times when the DM, especially if he is clever, creates situations to test the character's resolve and ethics".

I don't mind if DMs do that, in fact I've done it myself more than once. But if the DM sets up the situation and then it results in a PC alignment change, it should stay at the roleplaying level (unless it's a class tied to a particular alignment or code, like a Paladin). Instead, we have a game mechanic which states that the PC has to earn a lot more XP to gain a level. And if the character tries to change back to the previous alignment, even more penalties apply! This is in no way fair or reasonable, yet that's what's in the rules as written.

Again you are looking at the PHB in isolation as though the game is played without a game master. It's not "sneaked in", it's just the rules. One throw away sentence in the PHB about the game master likley creating ethical challenges does not equate to what you are suggesting.



But many of those are very important or significant spells.

No, not really. Powerful, yes.



Yes, monsters should present a challenge to the PCs. But even if they survive that challenge, some monsters can damage the PCs in such a way that's it's probably better for the player to have the PC die than try to recover from it. That's where it becomes unfair.

That's not unfair. Nobody is forcing you to play a character you don't want to. If one character in a party of level nine characters is drained to level one, there is no recourse for restoring him and the player doesn't want to continue playing him, then why not just retire him?



The default ability score generation method is particularly unfair. I'd also divide the class effectiveness issue into two categories, bonus XP and some classes not being able use their full class abilities unless they start with incredibly high ability scores. There's probably more to it than that if I want to really dig around, but that's enough for now.

A generation method that applies equally to all players cannot be unfair. It can be random and result in unequal characters, but that's not the same thing. Again, though, character generation is explicitly moderated by the game master.

Zen Master
2008-11-17, 07:42 AM
If you have never been level drained, how can you know that? Since character death is also "negative growth", then presumably it is also a stupid, counterproductive and unentertaining mechanic that needs to go. While we're at it, we better remove all the snakes from snakes and ladders. :smallbiggrin:

Oh - I've been level drained plenty. And while I've not often played high enough level for limited wish to be an option, it's never been permanent. Because, like I said - it's very simple. The DM will either make the game fun to play for the guy who mans the front lines - or he'll have a party of ranged damage dealers.

Death is another matter. I never come back. When my characters die - I make new ones. Heroes don't have respawns - heroes either succeed, or die. And when dead, mine at least stay dead.

Matthew
2008-11-17, 07:46 AM
Oh - I've been level drained plenty. And while I've not often played high enough level for limited wish to be an option, it's never been permanent. Because, like I said - it's very simple. The DM will either make the game fun to play for the guy who mans the front lines - or he'll have a party of ranged damage dealers.

Death is another matter. I never come back. When my characters die - I make new ones. Heroes don't have respawns - heroes either succeed, or die. And when dead, mine at least stay dead.

Strange, in your previous post you said you had "never been level drained"; I assume you meant "permanently level drained"? The question would still apply, in that case, I think. However, I do agree with you that if the game is going to be fun for everyone involved, then the players generally need to understand what they are agreeing to play.

greenknight
2008-11-17, 08:21 AM
You are treating the game as though the rules from the PHB are to be followed in isolation. Besides which, higher scores does not equal "more fair" or less arbitrary.

Put it another way: If a player gets lucky in ability score generation, he or she is rewarded with bonus XP and a character who can get the full benefit of the class even in high level games. A player who gets unlucky might well get a virtually unplayable character. Just using the default AD&D rules.


Doesn't really matter one way or the other. The point is that level limits and class restrictions are neither unfair nor arbitrary.

Yeah, they're pretty much both. Both Elves and Humans are known as good Arcane spellcasters in 2nd Ed (Humans more than Elves because of the level limit). But Half-Elves are worse than either, for the same reason. Elves can be Clerics, but they're limited to 12th level. Half-Elves can get to 14th level as Clerics. Totally arbitrary.

Now look at what each of the races bring to the table. Humans get... practically nothing mechanically useful at low levels, except the ability to take any class their ability scores qualify them for. The demihumans generally get ability score modifiers (which are usually min-maxed), often have infravision and get a whole lot of other special benefits. At low levels, they are mechanically vastly superior to Humans. That's unfair, although at higher levels the unfairness switches thanks to level limits.


Besides which, I didn't say there was "no difference", I said there was "no significant difference".

My 18 Int Wizard gets a 10% XP bonus, an 85% chance to learn spells, up to 18 spells/level in the spellbook and can cast spells of up to 9th level. My 14 Int Wizard doesn't get the XP bonus, has only a 60% chance to learn spells, can only have 9 spells/level in the spellbook and is restricted to 7th level spells. That's a significant difference IMO.


I cannot play a decent D20/3e Wizard with intelligence 3, nor likely a decent fighter with strength 7.

You're right, you probably can't play a decent 3e Wizard with 3 Int. But you can't play an AD&D Wizard with 3 Int at all. So 3e is still less dependant on ability scores in your example. And you can play a decent 3e Fighter with 7 Str, although you'll probably have to be an archer. On the other hand, you can't play an AD&D Fighter with 7 Str at all. Now, a 9 Int Wizard will have a hard time initially in 3e, but they can at least function in AD&D. But if the 3e character somehow survives to gain levels, it wouldn't be unreasonable to see that character eventually being able to cast 9th level spells, which is fairly unlikely to happen with the AD&D Wizard.


D20/3e characters are hugely dependent on starting stats, the way that penalties work in AD&D characters are less likely to be hamstrung by a low score.

Let me put it this way: If you happen to have 8 or lower Strength, you can't play an AD&D Fighter. You can in 3e, and the character can be very effective. With 8 or less Dexterity, the AD&D Thief is out of the question, but you can still have a workable 3e Rogue. 8 Int or Wis prevents you from playing an AD&D Mage or Cleric, but you can do it in 3e (but you'll need some levels and magical items under your belt before you can cast any spells). And if you want one of the other AD&D classes, you need to meet even higher ability score requirements, while in 3e those ability score requirements don't exist. So no, I don't agree with you on this point.


Again you are looking at the PHB in isolation as though the game is played without a game master. It's not "sneaked in", it's just the rules. One throw away sentence in the PHB about the game master likley creating ethical challenges does not equate to what you are suggesting.

It's in the rules, and it's clearly mentioned as a special case. And just because something is in the PHB rather than the DMG, it doesn't mean the DM can or should ignore it.


No, not really. Powerful, yes.

Wish is powerful, but it's also significant. It's one of the very few ways PCs can raise their ability scores in AD&D. And on top of it's other hazards, it requires a System Shock roll for magical aging.


That's not unfair. Nobody is forcing you to play a character you don't want to. Just retire him if you feel he might as well be dead, same result as death.

Yeah, I should abandon a character I've potentially spent years playing because even though he survived the encounter, the system screwed him over so badly he may as well be dead. Absolutely nothing unfair about that....


A generation method that applies equally to all players cannot be unfair. It can be random and result in unequal characters, but that's not the same thing. Again, though, character generation is explicitly moderated by the game master.

In the same sense that there's nothing unfair about Russian Roulette. The real question is, why are you doing it in the first place?

Matthew
2008-11-17, 08:47 AM
Put it another way: If a player gets lucky in ability score generation, he or she is rewarded with bonus XP and a character who can get the full benefit of the class even in high level games. A player who gets unlucky might well get a virtually unplayable character. Just using the default AD&D rules.

Unplayable characters are addressed in the DMG. Yes, you will get characters of variable strengths using any random generation method. I have seen some horrible characters generated for D20/3e.



Yeah, they're pretty much both. Both Elves and Humans are known as good Arcane spellcasters in 2nd Ed (Humans more than Elves because of the level limit). But Half-Elves are worse than either, for the same reason. Elves can be Clerics, but they're limited to 12th level. Half-Elves can get to 14th level as Clerics. Totally arbitrary.

Now look at what each of the races bring to the table. Humans get... practically nothing mechanically useful at low levels, except the ability to take any class their ability scores qualify them for. The demihumans generally get ability score modifiers (which are usually min-maxed), often have infravision and get a whole lot of other special benefits. At low levels, they are mechanically vastly superior to Humans. That's unfair, although at higher levels the unfairness switches thanks to level limits.

For it to be arbitrary there would have to be no logical reason. The reason is right there in the text, it's to put a limitation on those races. For it to be unfair it would have to be forced on the players, which it is not. They are free to choose.



My 18 Int Wizard gets a 10% XP bonus, an 85% chance to learn spells, up to 18 spells/level in the spellbook and can cast spells of up to 9th level. My 14 Int Wizard doesn't get the XP bonus, has only a 60% chance to learn spells, can only have 9 spells/level in the spellbook and is restricted to 7th level spells. That's a significant difference IMO.

I didn't say there wouldn't be a significant difference from attributes, I said that there is no significant difference gained from 10% bonus experience points.



You're right, you probably can't play a decent 3e Wizard with 3 Int But you can't play an AD&D Wizard with 3 Int at all. So 3e is still less dependant on ability scores in your example. And you can play a decent 3e Fighter with 7 Str, although you'll probably have to be an archer. On the other hand, you can't play an AD&D Fighter with 7 Str at all. Now, a 9 Int Wizard will have a hard time initially in 3e, but they can at least function in AD&D. But if the 3e character somehow survives to gain levels, it wouldn't be unreasonable to see that character eventually being able to cast 9th level spells, which is fairly unlikely to happen with the AD&D Wizard.

A fighter with strength 7 in D20/3e might well rely on missile weapons, but he still wouldn't be a decent fighter. Yeah, a magician in AD&D with intelligence 9 would never get access to better than 5th level spells (because of age categories) without the use of magical attribute increases. Whether he gets them or not depends on the game master and how magic rich the game is. A D20/3e Wizard with intelligence 9 cannot cast spells until fourth level, and increases the score to 10; by eighth level he may have access to first level spells, and by twentieth level access to fourth level spells. Magical aids can offset that, exactly as they do in AD&D.



Let me put it this way: If you happen to have 8 or lower Strength, you can't play an AD&D Fighter. You can in 3e, and the character can be very effective. With 8 or less Dexterity, the AD&D Thief is out of the question, but you can still have a workable 3e Rogue. 8 Int or Wis prevents you from playing an AD&D Mage or Cleric, but you can do it in 3e (but you'll need some levels and magical items under your belt before you can cast any spells). And if you want one of the other AD&D classes, you need to meet even higher ability score requirements, while in 3e those ability score requirements don't exist. So no, I don't agree with you on this point.

The restrictions are only shifted. In AD&D you need minimum scores to enter a class, in D20/3e you need minimum scores to take certain feats and be a certain sort of character within a class. Neither is arbitrary or unfair, as far as I can see.



It's in the rules, and it's clearly mentioned as a special case. And just because something is in the PHB rather than the DMG, it doesn't mean the DM can or should ignore it.

It is not mentioned as a special case, indeed it is mentioned as the primary case. I'm not saying the DM should ignore anything in the PHB, I am saying that you are misrepresenting the text. Nowhere does it say "the DM should create situations where a character will be forced/tricked into accidently changing alignment", which is what you were implying.



Wish is powerful, but it's also significant. It's one of the very few ways PCs can raise their ability scores in AD&D. And on top of it's other hazards, it requires a System Shock roll for magical aging.

Yeah, and if you could cast it without repurcussions your every score would be 18 as soon as it was acquired (Level 18). It's a powerful spell, but it's not "very imporant", though its effects have the potential to have a significant impact. Being able to cast wish without repurcussions would be bad for the game (even at such high levels).



Yeah, I should abandon a character I've potentially spent years playing because even though he survived the encounter, the system screwed him over so badly he may as well be dead. Absolutely nothing unfair about that....

What's the effective difference between that and dead? Sounds like one rule for the goose and another for the gander.



In the same sense that there's nothing unfair about Russian Roulette. The real question is, why are you doing it in the first place?

For fun. If it's not fun, don't do it. You do seem to be conflating "I dislike" with "this is arbitrary and unfair". I dislike many things about AD&D, but that doesn't make them arbitrary or unfair.

greenknight
2008-11-17, 09:52 AM
Unplayable characters are addressed in the DMG. Yes, you will get characters of variable strengths using any random generation method. I have seen some horrible characters generated for D20/3e.

But what is a "playable" character in AD&D? In the 2nd Ed DMG, I see one with scores of: Str 8, Dex 7, Con 8, Int 8, Wis 10, Cha 12. They suggest this character become a Cleric. If you use the default method for character generation in 3e, this will never become a legal character. So if you're using the default method of character generation for both editions, the 3e character will never be as horrible as the AD&D character can be, as is clearly demonstrated in the 2nd Ed DMG.


For it to be arbitrary there would have to be no logical reason. The reason is right there in the text, it's to put a limitation on those races.

But that doesn't address my example at all. What "logical" reason is given for Half-Elves to be restricted to 12th level Mages, but 14th level Clerics? Especially when compared to how their Elven side is restricted?


For it to be unfair it would have to be forced on the players, which it is not. They are free to choose.

No, that's pretty much the DM's province. Sure, the players can choose whether they play or not, but after that the DM makes the final rules decisions (hopefully after listening to the other players). And this thread gives a good example of a player who has chosen to walk...


I didn't say there wouldn't be a significant difference from attributes, I said that there is no significant difference gained from 10% bonus experience points.

Good. So we agree that there can be a significant difference from attributes? Differences which are far less important in 3e, given that characters have more opportunity to raise their ability scores?


A fighter with strength 7 in D20/3e might well rely on missile weapons, but he still wouldn't be a decent fighter.

Ok, you're going to have to explain this. I've seen a few excellent Archer Fighter builds, why aren't they even decent?


Yeah, a magician in AD&D with intelligence 9 would never get access to better than 5th level spells (because of age categories) without the use of magical attribute increases. Whether he gets them or not depends on the game master and how magic rich the game is. A D20/3e Wizard with intelligence 9 cannot cast spells until fourth level, and increases the score to 10. Without magical aids he will be able to cast fifth level spells by the time he reaches twentieth level. With magical aids he's in the same position as the AD&D magician.

Not even close. Please explain all the different by the rules ways that AD&D Wizard can raise Intelligence. And while you're at it, how about you give us some idea of the availability, risks and costs of those methods. In 3e, that Wizard can get a Headband of Intellect for 4,000gp, which a 4th level character can afford if they really save up for it (and this character should!). That brings the character to 12 Int, just enough to cast 2nd level spells. By 20th level, the character should easily be able to afford a +6 version, and with level bonuses that brings the character's Int to 20 - able to cast 9th level spells! But there's more. Since you're factoring in aging, I will too, which gives us another +3 to Int. And I haven't even factored in Wishes and such yet, which can add another +5.

So this character can get to 23 Intelligence just from level bonuses, aging, and a 36,000gp magical item. And that item isn't even especially rare - the character could potentially make it at 8th level, if necessary. What's your comparison with an AD&D Wizard?


The restrictions are only shifted. In AD&D you need minimum scores to enter a class, in D20/3e you need minimum scores to take certain feats and be a certain sort of character within a class. Neither is arbitrary or unfair, as far as I can see.

So if you have Str 7 but Dex 18, you can't be a Fighter at all in AD&D. But you can be a very effective Fighter indeed in 3e (at least, as effective as Fighters can be in 3e). And all those important archery related feats have no Str requirement in 3e... Seems like that's pretty arbitrary and unfair of AD&D to me...


It's not mentioned as a special case, indeed it is mentioned as the primary case.

Really? This isn't a special case? Even though it says "This effect should only be used when the player and the DM agree that the character's alignment should be changed to improve the play of the game." What would be a special case then?


I'm not saying the DM should ignore anything in the PHB, I am saying that you are misrepresenting the text. Nowhere does it say "the DM should create situations where a character will be forced/tricked into accidently changing alignment", which is what you were implying.

No, it doesn't. Instead it says "There will be times when the DM, especially if he is clever, creates situations to test the character's resolve and ethics". Which can effectively amount to the same thing.


Yeah, and if you could cast it without repurcussions your every score would be 18 as soon as it was acquired. It's a powerful spell, but it's not "very imporant", though its effects have the potential to have a significant impact. Being unable to cast wish without repurcussions is not significant for the game.

Don't forget - those are repercussions which can kill you - particularly since Wizards have other spells which can reduce their Constitution score...


What's the effective difference between that and dead? Sounds like one rule for the goose and another for the gander.

Only the difference between surviving an encounter and still being royally screwed, and surviving an encounter and then recovering to survive more.


For fun. If it's not fun, don't do it.

Yes, that's the point. A lot of the rules in AD&D aren't fun.

Zen Master
2008-11-17, 10:08 AM
Strange, in your previous post you said you had "never been level drained"; I assume you meant "permanently level drained"? The question would still apply, in that case, I think. However, I do agree with you that if the game is going to be fun for everyone involved, then the players generally need to understand what they are agreeing to play.

Yes. It's pretty safe to assume that when I clarify what I meant, then that's what I meant. I could have gone to exhausting detail in my first post, describing every encounter with vampires and their ilk, and how various potions, fountains or helpful deities or npc's helped negate a permanent setback for my character - but I figured there was information enough in what I said.

If you include the DM in who needs to agree what they are playing, then we agree. It's popular to claim that 'the DM is the God of his campaign' - but it's wrong. The DM is more like a democratically elected prime minister, with lots of duties to the voters, and the ever-present risk of a peasant revolt.

Matthew
2008-11-17, 10:32 AM
But what is a "playable" character in AD&D? In the 2nd Ed DMG, I see one with scores of: Str 8, Dex 7, Con 8, Int 8, Wis 10, Cha 12. They suggest this character become a Cleric. If you use the default method for character generation in 3e, this will never become a legal character. So if you're using the default method of character generation for both editions, the 3e character will never be as horrible as the AD&D character can be, as is clearly demonstrated in the 2nd Ed DMG.

A playable character is whatever the game master determines (the game master determines what is fair). The above listed character is actually not that bad because low stats have less of a debilating effect in AD&D (such a character would have no penalties to hit, armour class or hit points in AD&D). A D20/3e character with those stats would be pretty crap.



But that doesn't address my example at all. What "logical" reason is given for Half-Elves to be restricted to 12th level Mages, but 14th level Clerics? Especially when compared to how their Elven side is restricted?

No, that's pretty much the DM's province. Sure, the players can choose whether they play or not, but after that the DM makes the final rules decisions (hopefully after listening to the other players). And this thread gives a good example of a player who has chosen to walk...

The logic is that Elves have a bunch of abilities that make them better than humans. The trade off is that they don't advance as high. Presumably, Half Elves make better clerics than they do magicians, unlike Elves. As to choice, you misunderstand. The players are free to choose within the limits set up.



Good. So we agree that there can be a significant difference from attributes? Differences which are far less important in 3e, given that characters have more opportunity to raise their ability scores?

No, why would you conclude that? Attributes can make a significant difference in any version of the game. In D20/3e the range and degree of effect is greater, and the potential to increase them hardcoded into the game. I would certainly still argue that D20/3e characters are more reliant on high attributes than AD&D characters, but perhaps that needs its own thread.



Ok, you're going to have to explain this. I've seen a few excellent Archer Fighter builds, why aren't they even decent?

Because they aren't fighters, they are archers.



Not even close. Please explain all the different by the rules ways that AD&D Wizard can raise Intelligence. And while you're at it, how about you give us some idea of the availability, risks and costs of those methods. In 3e, that Wizard can get a Headband of Intellect for 4,000gp, which a 4th level character can afford if they really save up for it (and this character should!). That brings the character to 12 Int, just enough to cast 2nd level spells. By 20th level, the character should easily be able to afford a +6 version, and with level bonuses that brings the character's Int to 20 - able to cast 9th level spells! But there's more. Since you're factoring in aging, I will too, which gives us another +3 to Int. And I haven't even factored in Wishes and such yet, which can add another +5.

So this character can get to 23 Intelligence just from level bonuses, aging, and a 36,000gp magical item. And that item isn't even especially rare - the character could potentially make it at 8th level, if necessary. What's your comparison with an AD&D Wizard?

Magic items are at the discretion of the game master. Whether you get them in D20/3e is subject to the same limitations as AD&D. If you give the player seven scrolls of wish or a ring of wishes that's up to you. Yes, I forgot to add on age benefits for D20/3e (forgot they existed actually).

The only magical items beyond scrolls for raising attributes in the DMG are the Tome of Clear Thought (one time only) and the Gem of Insight (one time only). You could risk a draw of the Deck of Many Things if you wanted. The only other way in the book is for them to research new spells or magic items (again an area where the game master is responsible for maintaining fairness).

To go back to the original point, though, the ease with which you increase your character's attributes is tangential to the fact that you do need high attribute scores to get the best out of a character in D20/3e.



So if you have Str 7 but Dex 18, you can't be a Fighter at all in AD&D. But you can be a very effective Fighter indeed in 3e (at least, as effective as Fighters can be in 3e). And all those important archery related feats have no Str requirement in 3e... Seems like that's pretty arbitrary and unfair of AD&D to me...

Not at all. It's saying that in AD&D a fighter needs a strength of 9 to fulfil the functions of a fighter. That's not arbitrary or unfair, it's the score you need to avoid to hit penalties as a middle aged fighter.



Really? This isn't a special case? Even though it says "This effect should only be used when the player and the DM agree that the character's alignment should be changed to improve the play of the game." What would be a special case then?

There are no special cases in that text. There are two cases. The game master and player agree that its for the good of the game. The other case is where they do not agree. Both would have to be special cases, or neither.



No, it doesn't. Instead it says "There will be times when the DM, especially if he is clever, creates situations to test the character's resolve and ethics". Which can effectively amount to the same thing.

That's not the same thing, nor is it effectively the same thing. The game master will create situations to test the the characters resolve and ethics is nowhere near "The game master should trick/force the character to change alignment."



Don't forget - those are repercussions which can kill you - particularly since Wizards have other spells which can reduce their Constitution score...

I didn't forget; you risk death to cast the spell.



Only the difference between surviving an encounter and still being royally screwed, and surviving an encounter and then recovering to survive more.

If a character lost levels sufficient for the player to want to discard him, then the player lost the encounter. His character effectively did not survive.



Yes, that's the point. A lot of the rules in AD&D aren't fun.

For you, yes. Dislike is not equivalent to "arbitrary", "unfair" or universally "unfun." I don't doubt that you dislike these things, but I do disagree with your absolute statements about them.



Yes. It's pretty safe to assume that when I clarify what I meant, then that's what I meant. I could have gone to exhausting detail in my first post, describing every encounter with vampires and their ilk, and how various potions, fountains or helpful deities or npc's helped negate a permanent setback for my character - but I figured there was information enough in what I said.

Or you could have said "I have never been permanently level drained". No need to be snarky, I was seeking clarification because I had to guess what you meant after reading your second post.



If you include the DM in who needs to agree what they are playing, then we agree. It's popular to claim that 'the DM is the God of his campaign' - but it's wrong. The DM is more like a democratically elected prime minister, with lots of duties to the voters, and the ever-present risk of a peasant revolt

I think "it's pretty safe to assume that" :smallwink:

hamlet
2008-11-17, 11:20 AM
But what is a "playable" character in AD&D? In the 2nd Ed DMG, I see one with scores of: Str 8, Dex 7, Con 8, Int 8, Wis 10, Cha 12. They suggest this character become a Cleric. If you use the default method for character generation in 3e, this will never become a legal character. So if you're using the default method of character generation for both editions, the 3e character will never be as horrible as the AD&D character can be, as is clearly demonstrated in the 2nd Ed DMG.

There's nothing wrong with a character with stats like that. They would be a perfectly acceptable and, dare I say it, even interesting to play cleric.

Hell, I've played characters with lower stats than that and made it through six levels without too much trouble.

The character is not entirely dependent upon the mechanics of his attribute scores. The attribute scores in AD&D actually do much more to suggest the nature of the character than what he is capable of.

With a strength and constitution of 8 each, it's likely that this character never saw much physical activity as a child. Likely spent a great deal of time indoors or suffered a debilitating childhood illness.

A DEX of 7 indicates he's just plain old clumsy. Two left feet and all that, which means that he never had the chance to hone his physical skills as a child while he was either ill or indoors.

A CHA of 12 indicates that he's actually rather a pretty fellow.

I posit that this character was sent to a monastary as a child because he was of little use on his family farm. There, it was hoped that he would be educated and employed as a monk or priest, the best his parents could hope for. However, he proved to be a rather abysmal scholar though he grasped the basic tenets of the religion well enough. That and his general healthy and good looks get him through much of daily life.

As an adventurer, he tends to rely on intuition more than planning and tends to eschew heavy physical combat in favor of spells and support roles. In time, he may rise to be a hero, or even a saint of his religion, and his rise will be all the more satisfying because of the effort he had to put into it rather than succeeding on raw luck alone.

Actually seems like it could be a very fun character to play.

As Matthew points out, in later editions, this character would be totally useless. It follows, then, that D20 characters are far more dependent on high stats than AD&D characters ever were.

Charity
2008-11-17, 11:26 AM
I'm not so sure you know Matt/Hamlet. Stats made a pretty big difference in AD&D in fairness, just only at the very extreme ends, an 18 in a stat was a huge benifit, especially for fighter classes in Str...



If you include the DM in who needs to agree what they are playing, then we agree. It's popular to claim that 'the DM is the God of his campaign' - but it's wrong. The DM is more like a democratically elected prime minister, with lots of duties to the voters, and the ever-present risk of a peasant revolt.

I didn't know we 'ad a king! I thought we were autonomous collective.
You're fooling yourself! We're living in a dictatorship! A self-perpetuating autocracy in which the working classes...

Bloody peasents!

hamlet
2008-11-17, 11:31 AM
I didn't know we 'ad a king! I thought we were autonomous collective.
You're fooling yourself! We're living in a dictatorship! A self-perpetuating autocracy in which the working classes...

Bloody peasents!

Come witness the violence inherent in the system!

Help help I'm being repressed!

Mark Hall
2008-11-17, 11:33 AM
Actually, I liked a suggestion I saw on Dragonsfoot for how to deal with new players, that could easily be adapted to Undead and level draining.

When a new character comes into the game, they come in at the average party level, but have 0 XP. They gain XP normally from that point forward. That means they're stout enough to handle encounters that the party will face (unlike a 1st level character, who will die horribly and often), but they're a bit behind the rest of the party.

To adapt this to level-draining, have undead instead drain XP, either equal to X number of levels, or Y XP per hit, varying by the undead (I would suggest a number XP equal to the creature's XP value, per hit). The character falls behind, and if he reaches less than 0 XP he's (un)dead, but he can easily catch up, since he's not a weakling in a party of demigods.

And it doesn't involve unbuilding, just subtracting. That will be difficult for people who find ThAC0 confusing, but it shouldn't be too hard for people ready for ADVANCED Dungeons and Dragons. :smallbiggrin:

Matthew
2008-11-17, 11:42 AM
I'm not so sure you know Matt/Hamlet. Stats made a pretty big difference in AD&D in fairness, just only at the very extreme ends, an 18 in a stat was a huge benifit, especially for fighter classes in Str...

I agree. However, the question is not whether they made a big difference, but whether the difference is greater in AD&D or D20/3e. I would argue that the difference is much greater in D20/3e for many things.

Charity
2008-11-17, 11:43 AM
Oh the A stands for advanced, I'd always thought it was Algeba...

Still I think a lot of 3e players would have an extreme reaction when faced with some of AD&D's more brutal quirks... but as Matt is patiently pointing out, it really is a matter of each to their own, AD&D has no safety net.


@^ well like I say the mid ranges have less impact in AD&D but the extremes are a big deal, a girdle of giant strength makes a massive impact to a fighter class, and massive wisdom is truely awesome for a cleric (extra spells, easy saves etc)
In 3e there is a growth of stats that seldom occured in AD&D and it is easy to view it with this in the forefront of our minds but I think a case can be made that significantly higher stats were more of a big deal in AD&D.

hamlet
2008-11-17, 11:52 AM
I'm not so sure you know Matt/Hamlet. Stats made a pretty big difference in AD&D in fairness, just only at the very extreme ends, an 18 in a stat was a huge benifit, especially for fighter classes in Str...


Nobody's arguing that very high or very low stats don't make a difference in AD&D. They very much do since, as you point out, a fighter with an 18/xx strength will have a significant advantage over the fighter with a 14 strength.

What I (at least) am saying is that the difference it makes is less than in later editions. Not least because the bonuses and penalties were smaller and futher apart than in 3.x or in 4.x. It took a significantly higher strength score in AD&D to get a bonus to hit and damage than it does in 3.x.

In essence, the line between exceptional and "truly exceptional" was drawn.

Matthew
2008-11-17, 11:54 AM
@^ well like I say the mid ranges have less impact in AD&D but the extremes are a big deal, a girdle of giant strength makes a massive impact to a fighter class, and massive wisdom is truely awesome for a cleric (extra spells, easy saves etc)
In 3e there is a growth of stats that seldom occured in AD&D and it is easy to view it with this in the forefront of our minds but I think a case can be made that significantly higher stats were more of a big deal in AD&D.

As I say, I agree. However, strength is one of the few cases in AD&D where things really do "keep going" and at quite a significant rate. Saving throw adjustments, armour class, hit points, skill points, etcetera aren't in the same league.

Charity
2008-11-17, 12:07 PM
True Str is the most extreme example but even Dex is a big deal... don't get me wrong I'm not suggesting 3e isn't very stat dependant. ie prereqs for feats etc, but these tend to be fairly reasonable, I'm just saying that stats had a pretty significant impact in the earlier editions as well.
AD&D did have some pretty brutal requirements for classes, paladin being the true exemplar of this, a 17 just to get into the class is a pretty heavy requirement.
I found in AD&D you tended to roll stats and then see what you could reasonably be, wheras in 3e I tended to chose a class/classes before haveing rolled... but thats just me.

Matthew
2008-11-17, 12:14 PM
True Str is the most extreme example but even Dex is a big deal... don't get me wrong I'm not suggesting 3e isn't very stat dependant. ie prereqs for feats etc, but these tend to be fairly reasonable, I'm just saying that stats had a pretty significant impact in the earlier editions as well.

It is, but it lacks anything equivalent to a Giant Belt or what have you. Sure, I'm not saying attributes don't matter in AD&D.



AD&D did have some pretty brutal requirements for classes, paladin being the true exemplar of this, a 17 just to get into the class is a pretty heavy requirement.

Yep.



I found in AD&D you tended to roll stats and then see what you could reasonably be, wheras in 3e I tended to choose a class/classes before having rolled... but thats just me.

Yeah, that's how it is set up to some degree. Depends on the method used and what the game master thinks.

greenknight
2008-11-17, 12:31 PM
A playable character is whatever the game master determines (the game master determines what is fair). The above listed character is actually not that bad because low stats have less of a debilating effect in AD&D (such a character would have no penalties to hit, armour class or hit points in AD&D). A D20/3e character with those stats would be pretty crap.

But that character is a Cleric. Don't you consider the 15% chance of spell failure with every spell cast to be a significant disadvantage? In 3e, this character could work reasonably well as a Sorcerer, or if the stats were changed around (which the default rules allow), a decent enough Druid.


The logic is that Elves have a bunch of abilities that make them better than humans. The trade off is that they don't advance as high. Presumably, Half Elves make better clerics than they do magicians, unlike Elves.

Since you obviously can't provide a logical explanation, it would appear that my example does show how the level limits in AD&D are arbitrary. Moving on...


The players are free to choose within the limits set up.

That's true in every edition, although the limits are much tighter in AD&D.


No, why would you conclude that?

Because your own example showed how important starting ability scores are in AD&D? Because further examples show how important they are even for high level characters? Take your pick.


Because they aren't fighters, they are archers.

But isn't it still the Fighter class? Or does becoming an archer suddenly multiclass the character somehow?


Magic items are at the discretion of the game master.

That's true in the sense that the game master (DM) can specify which items exist and don't exist in his/her gameworld. It's also true in the AD&D sense where the DM can make it practically impossible to create a particular item, and never give it out as treasure. It's not true in the 3e sense where PCs can more readily create magical items.


The only magical items beyond scrolls for raising attributes in the DMG are the Tome of Clear Thought (one time only) and the Gem of Insight (one time only). You could risk a draw of the Deck of Many Things if you wanted. The only other way in the book is for them to research new spells or magic items (again an area where the game master is responsible for maintaining fairness).

So it's much harder to raise ability scores in AD&D, and heavily dependant on what the DM decides to allow you. Pretty much proves my point about the importance of starting ability scores in AD&D right there.


To go back to the original point, though, the ease with which you increase your character's attributes is tangential to the fact that you do need high attribute scores to get the best out of a character in D20/3e.

You mean there are situations in 3e where a character absolutely needs a score higher than 19 (pre-Epic)? Care to list them all? Or even one, really. Yes, higher scores give better results, but characters with a 19 will qualify for everything their class allows. And they can get to that score of 19 by 20th level with a starting score of 14, without using any magic or aging rules. Which of course means it can go much higher if magic is factored in. If an AD&D Cleric or Mage started with a score of 14 in their Wisdom or Intelligence, is it really likely that they would wind up being up to cast 7th or 9th level spells, respectively?


Not at all. It's saying that in AD&D a fighter needs a strength of 9 to fulfil the functions of a fighter. That's not arbitrary or unfair, it's the score you need to avoid to hit penalties as a middle aged fighter.

But a 3 Str Fighter would also avoid all those to hit penalties, if he started with 18 Dex and used ranged attacks. In fact, that character could avoid attack penalties right up to and including Venerable age, unlike the Str 9 Fighter. If anything, your example makes it seem even more arbitrary to me...



There are no special cases in that text. There are two cases. The game master and player agree that its for the good of the game. The other case is where they do not agree. Both would have to be special cases, or neither.

What's so special about not agreeing? It happens all the time - including in this discussion. What is pretty special is getting agreement on something.


That's not the same thing, nor is it effectively the same thing.

It can amount to the same thing. Or do you seriously believe that every time the DM tests the the characters resolve and ethics the player is going to make the right alignment based choice for the character?


If a character lost levels sufficient for the player to want to discard him, then the player lost the encounter. His character effectively did not survive.

That's right. A character who should have survived is hosed by the recovery rules. Very unfair, but that's the rules as written.


For you, yes. Dislike is not equivalent to "arbitrary", "unfair" or universally "unfun." I don't doubt that you dislike these things, but I do disagree with your absolute statements about them.

Agreed. Dislike isn't the same as arbitrary, unfair or unfun. But several of the AD&D rules as written are.

Matthew
2008-11-17, 12:51 PM
But that character is a Cleric. Don't you consider the 15% chance of spell failure with every spell cast to be a significant disadvantage? In 3e, this character could work reasonably well as a Sorcerer, or if the stats were changed around (which the default rules allow), a decent enough Druid.

Not particularly. He's not very good at spell casting, for sure.



Since you obviously can't provide a logical explanation, it would appear that my example does show how the level limits in AD&D are arbitrary. Moving on...

I think we'll have to agree to disagree (what a surprise). The level limits tell us what Half elves are good at. It's no more arbitrary or unfair than any other racial ability.



That's true in every edition, although the limits are much tighter in AD&D.

Nobody is saying they aren't.



Because your own example showed how important starting ability scores are in AD&D? Because further examples show how important they are even for high level characters? Take your pick.

I don't think I did any such thing.



But isn't it still the Fighter class? Or does becoming an archer suddenly multiclass the character somehow?

Because as a character focused on archery he does not fulfil the generalised role of fighter. He's a one trick pony.



That's true in the sense that the game master (DM) can specify which items exist and don't exist in his/her gameworld. It's also true in the AD&D sense where the DM can make it practically impossible to create a particular item, and never give it out as treasure. It's not true in the 3e sense where PCs can more readily create magical items.

Player characters in D20/3e can only create the items the game master allows (or to put it another way, he can disallow or modify the creation of any item).



So it's much harder to raise ability scores in AD&D, and heavily dependant on what the DM decides to allow you. Pretty much proves my point about the importance of starting ability scores in AD&D right there.

The game master determines what is fair in the game. It's only as hard as the game master makes it (see Kurald's original point).



You mean there are situations in 3e where a character absolutely needs a score higher than 19 (pre-Epic)? Care to list them all? Or even one, really. Yes, higher scores give better results, but characters with a 19 will qualify for everything their class allows. And they can get to that score of 19 by 20th level with a starting score of 14, without using any magic or aging rules. Which of course means it can go much higher if magic is factored in. If an AD&D Cleric or Mage started with a score of 14 in their Wisdom or Intelligence, is it really likely that they would wind up being up to cast 7th or 9th level spells, respectively?

Do you need high scores in D20/3e to get the best out of a character? I think the term MAD was coined for D20/3e. Saying "but characters don't need stats of 20+ for any pre epic feats" is cherry picking your argument. I didn't say you need 20+ in your attributes to qualify for X, I said you need high attributes to qualify for many things.



But a 3 Str Fighter would also avoid all those to hit penalties, if he started with 18 Dex and used ranged attacks. In fact, that character could avoid attack penalties right up to and including Venerable age, unlike the Str 9 Fighter. If anything, your example makes it seem even more arbitrary to me...

He would still be incapable of fulfiling the general role of fighter. And actually, no he wouldn't avoid those penalties at all. Strength penalties to damage and hit always apply. With a strength of 3 (−3/−1) and a dexterity of 18 (+2/+0) he would have both a penalty to hit and damage, regardless of whether dexterity helped to offset them (which is not a negation of penalties in any case).



What's so special about not agreeing? It happens all the time - including in this discussion. What is pretty special is getting agreement on something.

This is so wrapped up in semantic and subjective silliness that you undermine the credability of the conclusion yourself. So you and your players (or your game master) don't often agree, okay. Then I suppose games where the importance of mutual agreement is minimised and the rules highly systemised are most suitable for you. Don't extend that as a universal truth to everyone. To be clear, it is not a "special case" it is the primary case of voluntary alignment change outlined in the rules of the game, which assume a fair and impartial game master.



It can amount to the same thing. Or do you seriously believe that every time the DM tests the the characters resolve and ethics the player is going to make the right alignment based choice for the character?

One slip does not an alignment change make, and there is plenty of advice on the subject with regard to "warnings" and such. You appear to be confusing the fall of a paladin (one chaotic or evil act) with alignment change.



That's right. A character who should have survived is hosed by the recovery rules. Very unfair, but that's the rules as written.

No, he shouldn't have "survived" and he didn't. Looking at it as though you won the encounter is backwards. If the enemy drains levels and your character loses levels to the point where you regard him as "better off dead" you lost the encounter. There are many ways to lose or be permanently defeated, death is just one of them.



Agreed. Dislike isn't the same as arbitrary, unfair or unfun. But several of the AD&D rules as written are.

It may appear that way to you, but that is the nature of subjectivity.

greenknight
2008-11-17, 02:30 PM
Not particularly. He's not very good at spell casting, for sure.

Not good for anything much, is he?



I think we'll have to agree to disagree (what a surprise). The level limits tell us what Half elves are good at. It's no more arbitrary or unfair than any other racial ability.

I agree with you here. Although IMO all the racial abilities are arbitrary and unfair in AD&D.


I don't think I did any such thing.

I thought you made it quite clear - a Fighter can have Str 7 in 3e, but not in AD&D, as one example. Showing just how important starting scores are in AD&D.


Because as a character focused on archery he does not fulfil the generalised role of fighter. He's a one trick pony.

And Str based Fighters aren't? Just how many tricks do they know?


Player characters in D20/3e can only create the items the game master allows (or to put it another way, he can disallow or modify the creation of any item).

Sure. Strangely enough, that was my first sentence on the subject too. The DM can also get rid of level limits and minimum ability scores in AD&D. Or allow every character to start with 18 in every stat. Or do any of a whole host of other things. Doesn't change the rules as written though.


The game master determines what is fair in the game. It's only as hard as the game master makes it (see Kurald's original point).

Yeah. The DM determines what is fair in the game. But you know what you were saying before about the system? It applies to AD&D too.


Do you need high scores in D20/3e to get the best out of a character?

Get the best? Sure - that's true of every edition, at least in the ones that count for the character type. But to allow the character to use class given abilities? No. As I've demonstrated, a 14 in the primary stat can translate to a 19 by level 20, and with magical items you can get away with even lower starting stats.

But let's turn this around. Do you need high scores in AD&D to use all of your class given abilities? If you're a spellcaster, only an 18 (or better) will do it for you, and it's very tough in AD&D to raise ability scores.


Saying "but characters don't need stats of 20+ for any pre epic feats" is cherry picking your argument. I didn't say you need 20+ in your attributes to qualify for X, I said you need high attributes to qualify for many things.

I was far from cherry picking. I gave you an open invitation and I'll repeat it: Name ONE!


He would still be incapable of fulfiling the general role of fighter. And actually, no he wouldn't avoid those penalties at all. Strength penalties to damage and hit always apply.

Matthew, that's just not right. Try reading the combat section of the 2nd Ed AD&D PHB before you write things like this. Particularly the "Modifiers to Attack Roll" section. Notice that it specifically says that Strength modifiers never apply to crossbows?


No, he shouldn't have "survived" and he didn't. Looking at it as though you won the encounter is backwards. If the enemy drains levels and your character loses levels to the point where you regard him as "better off dead" you lost the encounter. There are many ways to lose or be permanently defeated, death is just one of them.

And being mauled by the rules is another.

Matthew
2008-11-17, 02:46 PM
Not good for anything much, is he?

Uh yeah, he's fine for hitting stuff in combat.



I agree with you here. Although IMO all the racial abilities are arbitrary and unfair in AD&D.

No idea how you would reach that conclusion and not for D20/3e.



I thought you made it quite clear - a Fighter can have Str 7 in 3e, but not in AD&D, as one example. Showing just how important starting scores are in AD&D.

Not a high attribute by any stretch of the imagination.



And Str based Fighters aren't? Just how many tricks do they know?

Well, they can fight in melee and at range without to hit penalties.



Sure. Strangely enough, that was my first sentence on the subject too. The DM can also get rid of level limits and minimum ability scores in AD&D. Or allow every character to start with 18 in every stat. Or do any of a whole host of other things. Doesn't change the rules as written though.

No it doesn't change the rules as written, which allow the game master and players to decide how they want to address attribute advancement via magical intervention.



Yeah. The DM determines what is fair in the game. But you know what you were saying before about the system? It applies to AD&D too.

I know. However, the base assumption of second edition is that the rules will be changed and the game master will ensure fairness is maintained. The base assumption of D20/3e is that very few rules will be changed and you should be very careful about doing so, as the game is already balanced.



Get the best? Sure - that's true of every edition, at least in the ones that count for the character type. But to allow the character to use class given abilities? No. As I've demonstrated, a 14 in the primary stat can translate to a 19 by level 20, and with magical items you can get away with even lower starting stats.

I take it you are talking about spells here. Yeah, you need high attributes to cast spells at high levels, same in both editions.



But let's turn this around. Do you need high scores in AD&D to use all of your class given abilities? If you're a spellcaster, only an 18 (or better) will do it for you, and it's very tough in AD&D to raise ability scores.

As I already said, yes you need higher than a intelligence of 9 to cast 5th level magician spells. No, it's not "tough" to raise attributes in AD&D, it's as tough as the game master makes it.



I was far from cherry picking. I gave you an open invitation and I'll repeat it: Name ONE!

Your very question is cherry picking, and I assume you know the answer. I wonder, are there any AD&D abilities that requires a 20 in an attribute? Also, no need to shout. :smallwink:



Matthew, that's just not right. Try reading the combat section of the 2nd Ed AD&D PHB before you write things like this. Particularly the "Modifiers to Attack Roll" section. Notice that it specifically says that Strength modifiers never apply to crossbows?

Crossbows certainly are the exception to the general rule (as are guns). The ability to shoot one without strength penalty wouldn't make him a viable fighter though. If you really wanted to play one, I'd probably let you, I wouldn't advise it though.



And being mauled by the rules is another.

You can't get "mauled by the rules". The game master is the guy in charge of making the game fair.

Starbuck_II
2008-11-17, 02:48 PM
Not good for anything much, is he?



Couldn't he be a rogue?

Matthew
2008-11-17, 02:49 PM
Couldn't he be a rogue?

Nah, not high enough dexterity; all he qualifies for is cleric. The game master could raise his prime attribute to qualify if the player really wanted, though. Also, if he was seriously out of line with the other characters generated and the player is unhappy the game master is advised to do something about it (probably a reroll).

Starbuck_II
2008-11-17, 03:15 PM
Nah, not high enough dexterity; all he qualifies for is cleric. The game master could raise his prime attribute to qualify if the player really wanted, though. Also, if he was seriously out of line with the other characters generated and the player is unhappy the game master is advised to do something about it (probably a reroll).
Stats: Str 8, Dex 7, Con 8, Int 8, Wis 10, Cha 12.
Bard?

Mark Hall
2008-11-17, 03:23 PM
Stats: Str 8, Dex 7, Con 8, Int 8, Wis 10, Cha 12.
Bard?


Dex, Intelligence, and Charisma are all too low.

Personally, I'd have said "You didn't roll that" and let them move on. In the 1st edition PH, Gary suggests a minimum of 2 15s, IIRC. IMC, I tend to shoot for an average around 13.

Matthew
2008-11-17, 03:25 PM
Stats: Str 8, Dex 7, Con 8, Int 8, Wis 10, Cha 12.
Bard?


Default Classes

Fighter: Strength 9
Cleric: Wisdom 9
Magician: Intelligence 9
Thief: Dexterity 9

Optional Classes

Paladin: Strength 12, Constitution 9, Wisdom 13, Charisma 17,
Ranger: Strength 13, Dexterity 13, Constitution 14, Wisdom 14,
Druid: Wisdom 12, Charisma 15,
Illusionist: Dexterity 16, Intelligence 9,
Bard: Dexterity 12, Intelligence 13, Charisma 15,



Personally, I'd have said "You didn't roll that" and let them move on. In the 1st edition PH, Gary suggests a minimum of 2 15s, IIRC. IMC, I tend to shoot for an average around 13.

Exactly as the book intends. :smallbiggrin:

Mark Hall
2008-11-17, 03:47 PM
Exactly as the book intends. :smallbiggrin:

In my case, I've simply found my most fun characters have about that average. My favorite? Zerek, the half-elven Mage/Thief. 10/16/7/16/10/6. An acerbic jerk who mocked gods for not reprimanding their priests and nut-punched a guy while using a Ring of Shocking Grasp.

Matthew
2008-11-17, 04:00 PM
In my case, I've simply found my most fun characters have about that average. My favorite? Zerek, the half-elven Mage/Thief. 10/16/7/16/10/6. An acerbic jerk who mocked gods for not reprimanding their priests and nut-punched a guy while using a Ring of Shocking Grasp.

Yeah, I think I have heard you mention that guy before. I prefer to use the BD&D/C&C attribute tables myself; Zerek probably wouldn't be out of line in one of my campaigns. Typical examples would be a half-orc fighter with 17/13/16/8/12/7, a dwarf cleric with 16/13/16/9/16/7, or a human fighter with 16/13/13/9/10/14.

only1doug
2008-11-17, 04:56 PM
And actually, no he wouldn't avoid those penalties at all. Strength penalties to damage and hit always apply. With a strength of 3 (−3/−1) and a dexterity of 18 (+2/+0) he would have both a penalty to hit and damage, regardless of whether dexterity helped to offset them (which is not a negation of penalties in any case).



If you are referring to 3x then you are incorrect. there is no penalty to hit with ranged attacks from a low strength score. There is a penalty to damage but that doesn't correspond to a penalty to hit.



PHB pg 134

Attack bonus

with a ranged weapon your attack bonus is:
base attack bonus + Dex modifier + size modifier + range penalty




PHB pg 134

Damage

A strength penalty, but not a bonus applies on attacks made with a bow that is not a composite bow.


the second quote is from a section referring to damage done, it is not referenced at all in the earlier section dealing with hitting the target.
Conclusion; the penalty only applies to damage not to attack rolls

Matthew
2008-11-17, 05:03 PM
If you are referring to 3x then you are incorrect.

Nope, AD&D. :smallwink:

The premise was that a middle aged character with a strength less than 8, but a dexterity of 18 would be a viable AD&D fighter, and that therefore a prerequisite of "strength 9" to qualify for the class is arbitrary (not based in reasonable logic) and unfair (discriminates against players who want to run a fighter with such a low strength score).

Jayabalard
2008-11-17, 06:06 PM
But that doesn't address my example at all. What "logical" reason is given for Half-Elves to be restricted to 12th level Mages, but 14th level Clerics? Especially when compared to how their Elven side is restricted?You're looking at it backwards from the way the designers decided it.

humans are better than the demihumans; they're the race that's going to win out. It's not because they're smarter, or stronger, or healthier... it's because they have less limitations and can become more powerful. The demi-human level restrictions is a result of making the mechanics enforce that fluff. It's not arbitrary at all.

JadedDM
2008-11-17, 09:28 PM
You know, funny thing about level limits. I removed them from my own game. Not because they are unfair or arbitrary, like Greenknight asserts, but because they never came up. In the 10 years or so I've DMed, I've never had a game get past level 9. By that point, the game either ends or falls apart and we wind up starting over at level 1 again.

So a half-elf can only get up to 14th level as a cleric? Who cares? It had no bearing at all on the game.

However, I would every now and again have a player who thought like Greenknight does, and refuse to play demi-humans because of level limits. I'd point out to them that they would probably never come up, but this didn't matter to them. So I just went ahead and removed them entirely.

It has yet to have any kind of impact on my game. (We just started a new game at level 1 a couple of weeks ago.)

ken-do-nim
2008-11-18, 12:25 AM
You know, funny thing about level limits. I removed them from my own game.

Ah, there's gotta be some law of the universe which says that any 1E or 2E thread must eventually devolve into a discussion of level limits :smallsmile: Well I'll see if I can't bridge the gap here between level limits & energy drain.

I ran a high level 1E Tolkien game recently, and I wanted Elrond to be high level but not have access to restoration, since otherwise he would have healed Frodo's wound 100%. (And OD&D stats out nazgul as spectres, implying that energy drain was mechanically created to handle wounds like Frodo's). My personal solution to the level limits quandary is to say the limit is for trained levels. The demihuman can continue to advance in levels beyond the limit, gaining only increased hit points, saving throws, and one additional goody dependent upon class (in the case of casters, it is casting level). So I had Elrond casting as a 16th or 17th level cleric (I forget which) but with only the spells of a 12th level cleric. (He kicked butt btw, and stood up to Gothmog quite well. Alas, but poor Gandalf was eaten by the Beast of Barad-Dur...)

greenknight
2008-11-18, 06:33 AM
Uh yeah, he's fine for hitting stuff in combat.

Thanks to the THAC0 table and weapon specialization (if the character decides to specialize in a melee weapon), the Str 7 Fighter is going to be much better. And may well have significantly more hitpoints if the character has a high Constitution score.


No idea how you would reach that conclusion and not for D20/3e.

You've read my reasoning why AD&D races are arbitrary and unfair, and I expect you know that level limits aren't in 3e, and that Humans have mechanically significant advantages over the other standard races in that edition. So I have no idea why you'd make that comment.


Not a high attribute by any stretch of the imagination.

No, it's a low one. And it's important because it disqualifies a character from a class in AD&D which the character might otherwise do well in. And you should know that too....


Well, they can fight in melee and at range without to hit penalties.

How do you know that? Are you assigning Str and Dex the same value? Because all I specified was a high Str Fighter. AD&D couldn't care less if Fighters have a Dexterity of 3. It also depends on the weapon the character uses. We already know about crossbows, and unless the character has a bow specially made for him, bows don't allow positive Str modifiers either.


No it doesn't change the rules as written, which allow the game master and players to decide how they want to address attribute advancement via magical intervention.

And the rules as written state that characters can benefit from the effect of most magical items which raise ability scores only once. Wishes can benefit the character multiple times, but once the character's score is 16 or more, it becomes much harder to increase it. So the DM and players decide how they want to address attribute advancement via magical intervention, within the limited scope the rules allow them, unless the DM wants to override the written rules.


I know. However, the base assumption of second edition is that the rules will be changed and the game master will ensure fairness is maintained. The base assumption of D20/3e is that very few rules will be changed and you should be very careful about doing so, as the game is already balanced.

I don't see a whole lot of difference between the terminology used in 3e and that used in 2nd Ed AD&D. When I turn to my 2nd Ed AD&D DMG, right in the introduction I find the following two paragraphs:

"The rules to the AD&D 2nd Edition game are balanced and easy to use. No role-playing game we know of has ever been playtested more heavily than this one. But that doesn't mean it's perfect. What we consider to be right may be unbalanced or anachronistic in your campaign. The only thing that can make the AD&D game 'right' for all players is the intelligent application of DM discretion.

A perfect example of this is the limit placed on experience levels for demihumans. A lot of people complained that these limits were too low. We agreed, adn we raised the limits. The new limits were tested, examined, and adjusted until we decided they were right. But you may be one of the few people who prefer the older, lower limits. Or you may think there should be no limits at all. In the chapter on character classes, you'll find a discussion of this topic that considers the pros and cons of level limits. We don't ask you to blindly accept every limit we've established. But we do ask that, before you make any changes, you read this chapter and carefully consider what you are about to do. If, after weighing the evidence, you decide that a change is justified in your game, by all means make the change."

Remember this post (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=5308312&postcount=154)? Notice how very similar these two messages are? The passage above even goes on about how well balanced and playtested 2nd Ed AD&D is...


I take it you are talking about spells here. Yeah, you need high attributes to cast spells at high levels, same in both editions.

But you don't need really high starting ability scores. Unless you count a (4d6 take best 3) 14 to be as hard to get as a (3d6, rolled in order) 18?


No, it's not "tough" to raise attributes in AD&D, it's as tough as the game master makes it.

As I said before, the DM can let everyone start with 18 in every stat. But that's not how the rules are written. And if you follow the written rules in AD&D, it's incredibly tough to raise ability scores.


Your very question is cherry picking, and I assume you know the answer.

Rubbish. My question is about as open ended as you can get. I asked you to name one class related thing which requires an ability score higher than 19. You obviously can't do it, so 19 is the highest score you absolutely need pre-Epic to use your class given abilities in 3e. On the other hand, you need a score of 18+ to use all the class given abilities of some AD&D classes.

In both 3e and AD&D, it's very unlikely that the character will start with that score (or better), unless the DM just hands it out. In 3e, it's very easy to raise ability scores, and I've shown how a character can go from 14 as a starting stat to 19 by level 20 without using any magic or aging tables. On the other hand, it's very difficult for an AD&D character to increase ability scores - I can't think of any way to do it other than using aging and/or magic.


Crossbows certainly are the exception to the general rule (as are guns). The ability to shoot one without strength penalty wouldn't make him a viable fighter though. If you really wanted to play one, I'd probably let you, I wouldn't advise it though.

Yes, a kind DM will ignore the unfair and arbitrary rules of AD&D. I'm in full agreement with that point.


You can't get "mauled by the rules". The game master is the guy in charge of making the game fair.

Sure. The DM does need to do a lot of work to make AD&D fair. That's another thing we're in full agreement about.


I think the term MAD was coined for D20/3e.


Paladin: Strength 12, Constitution 9, Wisdom 13, Charisma 17,
Ranger: Strength 13, Dexterity 13, Constitution 14, Wisdom 14,
Druid: Wisdom 12, Charisma 15,
Illusionist: Dexterity 16, Intelligence 9,
Bard: Dexterity 12, Intelligence 13, Charisma 15

Thanks for reminding me, Matthew. Yeah, I think 3e did come up with the term MAD. But it's not the first edition of D&D to require multiple higher than average ability scores for particular classes, is it?


Exactly as the book intends.

Which book are you reading, exactly? Because the 2nd Ed AD&D DMG specifically states DMs should encourage players to play "bad" characters (under "Hopeless Characters" in the Ability Scores chapter). It states that few, if any, characters are truly hopeless. How do you go from that to "the book intends for characters to have an average stat of 13"?

Even when it gets to the point where a player is totally dissatisfied with the rolls, the DM is encouraged to do only the bare minimum to satisfy the player (see "Dealing with Dissatisfied Players"). Sure, a kind and fair DM might go with a re-roll without needing the player to kick up a fuss, but that's not the advice of the DMG.


However, I would every now and again have a player who thought like Greenknight does, and refuse to play demi-humans because of level limits. I'd point out to them that they would probably never come up, but this didn't matter to them. So I just went ahead and removed them entirely.

That's not quite my take on things. Prior to the level limits kicking in, I say demihumans have it all over Humans mechanically, and the only real reason to choose Humans at all is because they're allowed to take any class. So in low level games, there's very little mechanical incentive to have anything other than a demihuman. After the level limits kick in, there's little mechanical incentive to have anything other than a Human. The 2nd Ed DMG states much the same thing (read "Racial Level Restrictions" in the Player Character Races chapter).

Charity
2008-11-18, 07:22 AM
How do you know that? Are you assigning Str and Dex the same value? Because all I specified was a high Str Fighter. AD&D couldn't care less if Fighters have a Dexterity of 3.

Er thats not true, dex was always vaunted as the most important stat in AD&D as it happens, mostly as you could apply your dex modifier whatever armour you wore and that AC had a greater effect than in 3e... a very common complaint amongst my friends was that you couldn't adequetly defend yourself in 3e as they were used to the AD&D hit rates.
The most overpowered fighters for example (this is using the specialisation rules, which I'm pretty sure Matt and others have altered/disallowed) were bow specialists and dart specialists, and most fighters would put a 17 into dex over str if they were looking strictly mechanically.

ken-do-nim
2008-11-18, 07:49 AM
Originally Posted by greenknight
How do you know that? Are you assigning Str and Dex the same value? Because all I specified was a high Str Fighter. AD&D couldn't care less if Fighters have a Dexterity of 3.


In 1E, you could only have one stat under 6, and if you did it dictated your class. A 3 in dex, for instance, meant you could only be a cleric. 2E did away that. Just an fyi.

hamlet
2008-11-18, 08:44 AM
Honestly, I don't see the problem at all with minimum ability requirements for classes. They are in no way "arbitrary" or "unfair."

They indicate a minimum baseline required to function in a class. A fighter with a strength less than 9 simply cannot function as a member of his class. He cannot effectively wield melee weapons. With a strength less than 9, he should not even be able to string a bow (mechanical or otherwise) let alone pull and fire it. Hell, he shouldn't even be able to bear the weight of even light armors.

The same goes for pretty much every other class out there. With too low of an INT score, a character simply is not bright enough mentally to comprehend the vast and paradoxical magics that are the trade and stock of the magic-user class. Too low a WIS score, and the player is unable to grasp the fundamentals of his own religion.

I don't see the problem here.

Level limits are not arbitrary just because you don't understand them. In fact, they make a great deal of sense when you take a moment to understand the underlying design principles and the intended net result of the game: in this case, a specifically humanocentric campaign. Level limits and class restrictions provide a very good answer to the question of why elves, dwarves, and other demi-humans have not simply wiped uppity humanity off the map without having to resort to inappropriate questions about genetics and breeding, which should be beyond the scope of a standard RPG.

I'm beginning to suspect that your arguments (such as they are) boil down to the fact that you do not like AD&D at all and so you adjudge it to be objectively inferior.

Matthew
2008-11-18, 08:48 AM
Thanks to the THAC0 table and weapon specialization (if the character decides to specialize in a melee weapon), the Str 7 Fighter is going to be much better. And may well have significantly more hitpoints if the character has a high Constitution score.

Who said he wouldn't be? This cleric can still cast spells, just 3 in 20 of them fail.



You've read my reasoning why AD&D races are arbitrary and unfair, and I expect you know that level limits aren't in 3e, and that Humans have mechanically significant advantages over the other standard races in that edition. So I have no idea why you'd make that comment.

You wrote that you feel all the racial abilities of AD&D races are arbitrary and unfair. Since the D20/3e ones are pretty much the same, it must follow that they are also arbitrary and unfair.



No, it's a low one. And it's important because it disqualifies a character from a class in AD&D which the character might otherwise do well in. And you should know that too....

A character with 8 strength or less will not do well as a fighter. All his other attributes could be 18 and he would still suck as a fighter.



How do you know that? Are you assigning Str and Dex the same value? Because all I specified was a high Str Fighter. AD&D couldn't care less if Fighters have a Dexterity of 3. It also depends on the weapon the character uses. We already know about crossbows, and unless the character has a bow specially made for him, bows don't allow positive Str modifiers either.

"Without" to hit penalties is not the same thing as "equally". Yeah, if he has a dexterity of 5 or whatever, he'll have penalties to hit at range.



And the rules as written state that characters can benefit from the effect of most magical items which raise ability scores only once. Wishes can benefit the character multiple times, but once the character's score is 16 or more, it becomes much harder to increase it. So the DM and players decide how they want to address attribute advancement via magical intervention, within the limited scope the rules allow them, unless the DM wants to override the written rules.

That only applies to wishes and wish like powers. Magic items explicitly ignore that process, as could anything the game master decided to devise in conjunction with the players.



I don't see a whole lot of difference between the terminology used in 3e and that used in 2nd Ed AD&D. When I turn to my 2nd Ed AD&D DMG, right in the introduction I find the following two paragraphs:

"The rules to the AD&D 2nd Edition game are balanced and easy to use. No role-playing game we know of has ever been playtested more heavily than this one. But that doesn't mean it's perfect. What we consider to be right may be unbalanced or anachronistic in your campaign. The only thing that can make the AD&D game 'right' for all players is the intelligent application of DM discretion.

A perfect example of this is the limit placed on experience levels for demihumans. A lot of people complained that these limits were too low. We agreed, adn we raised the limits. The new limits were tested, examined, and adjusted until we decided they were right. But you may be one of the few people who prefer the older, lower limits. Or you may think there should be no limits at all. In the chapter on character classes, you'll find a discussion of this topic that considers the pros and cons of level limits. We don't ask you to blindly accept every limit we've established. But we do ask that, before you make any changes, you read this chapter and carefully consider what you are about to do. If, after weighing the evidence, you decide that a change is justified in your game, by all means make the change."

Yes, I have read that before, and this is the most important part of that paragraph "What we consider to be right may be unbalanced or anachronistic in your campaign. The only thing that can make the AD&D game 'right' for all players is the intelligent application of DM discretion."

In terms of context, right before that paragraph you also have:

"Besides rules, you'll find a large portion of this book devoted to discussions of the principles behind the rules. Along with this are examinations of the pros and cons of changing the rules to fit your campaign. The purpose of this book, after all, is to better prepare you for your role as game moderator and referee. The better you understand the game, the better equipped you'll be to handle unforeseen developments and unusual circumstances.
One of the principles guiding this project from the very beginning, and which is expressed throughout this book, is this: The DM has the primary responsibility for the success of his campaign, and he must take an active hand in guiding it. That is an important concept. If you are skimming through this introduction, slow down and read it again. It is crucial you understand what you are getting into.
The DM's "active hand" extends even to the rules. Many decisions about your campaign can be made by only one person: you. Tailor your campaign to fit your own style and the style of your players. You will find a lot of information in this book, but you won't find pat answers to all your questions and easy solutions for all your game problems. What you will find instead is a discussion of various problems and numerous triggers intended to guide you through a thoughtful analysis of situations that pertain to your campaign."

followed by:

"In short, follow the rules as they are written if doing so improves your game. But by the same token, break the rules only if doing so improves your game."

If you don't feel that constitutes a difference in tone, well I don't really see how I can convince you otherwise without lengthy comparisons of the relevant texts.



Remember this post (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=5308312&postcount=154)? Notice how very similar these two messages are? The passage above even goes on about how well balanced and playtested 2nd Ed AD&D is...

Yes it is well balanced and playtested, but it requires an active game master to be so. D20/3e doesn't require as much of an active hand, which was what Kurald was saying.



But you don't need really high starting ability scores. Unless you count a (4d6 take best 3) 14 to be as hard to get as a (3d6, rolled in order) 18?

Who said you did? I said you still need high attributes to get the best out of D20/3e characters. The way D20/3e is set up CRs and such things will probably only work if the character has an initial "elite" spread or whatever it is that results in 15/14/13/12/10/8 (or something close to it). However, such a spread works better for some classes than others on account of MAD.



As I said before, the DM can let everyone start with 18 in every stat. But that's not how the rules are written. And if you follow the written rules in AD&D, it's incredibly tough to raise ability scores.

And as I said, no it's not, and the "rules as written" allow the game master to decide a) how character attributes will be generated b) how tough it will be to raise them.



Rubbish. My question is about as open ended as you can get. I asked you to name one class related thing which requires an ability score higher than 19. You obviously can't do it, so 19 is the highest score you absolutely need pre-Epic to use your class given abilities in 3e. On the other hand, you need a score of 18+ to use all the class given abilities of some AD&D classes.

Which AD&D class needs a score of 18+? If you ask me a question that you know I cannot answer because there is no answer, how is that open ended? You chose a question to make a point contrary to a specific statement I didn't make. I didn't say "Hey you need a score of 20+ to get access to feats Y and Z."

I said you need high attributes to qualify for some feats. You need a strength of 13+ to qualify for power attack and anything that builds off it. You need a dexterity of 15+ to get access to the two weapon fighting tree, and you need a dexterity of 13+ to access a heap of ranged feats and the dodge tree. You need intelligence 13+ to access combat expertise and all the feats that build off it.

If I want to play a level one fighter in D20/3e capable of delivering a power attack I require a strength of 13. How is this so radically different form you need strength 9 to be a fighter? How is it not arbitrary and unfair by your own criteria?



In both 3e and AD&D, it's very unlikely that the character will start with that score (or better), unless the DM just hands it out. In 3e, it's very easy to raise ability scores, and I've shown how a character can go from 14 as a starting stat to 19 by level 20 without using any magic or aging tables. On the other hand, it's very difficult for an AD&D character to increase ability scores - I can't think of any way to do it other than using aging and/or magic.

Which is a long way of you saying "You get one attribute advancement every four levels in D20/3e". Yes, I know, you didn't need to "show" me, I am aware of that feature of the game. The lack of this feature in AD&D does not make it arbitrary and unfair.



Yes, a kind DM will ignore the unfair and arbitrary rules of AD&D. I'm in full agreement with that point.

If I thought the rules were arbitrary or unfair, I wouldn't advise you not to try and play AD&D with a fighter who has strength 7 and relies on a crossbow. The rules are logical and fair, if I choose to override them to suit your foolishness, that doesn't suddenly make them arbitrary and unfair.



Sure. The DM does need to do a lot of work to make AD&D fair. That's another thing we're in full agreement about.

Since that was Kurald's initial point, which you seemed to be in disagreement with, I find that surprising.



Thanks for reminding me, Matthew. Yeah, I think 3e did come up with the term MAD. But it's not the first edition of D&D to require multiple higher than average ability scores for particular classes, is it?

No, but why do you seek to colour me as having said so? All through this discussion you have sought to polarise my position. Presumably, you are here conflating two arguments:

1) Attribute scores generally have less of an impact in AD&D than D20/3e
2) Optional classes generally require high attribute scores to enter



Which book are you reading, exactly? Because the 2nd Ed AD&D DMG specifically states DMs should encourage players to play "bad" characters (under "Hopeless Characters" in the Ability Scores chapter). It states that few, if any, characters are truly hopeless. How do you go from that to "the book intends for characters to have an average stat of 13"?

Even when it gets to the point where a player is totally dissatisfied with the rolls, the DM is encouraged to do only the bare minimum to satisfy the player (see "Dealing with Dissatisfied Players"). Sure, a kind and fair DM might go with a re-roll without needing the player to kick up a fuss, but that's not the advice of the DMG.

I didn't say the book intends for an average stat of "13", the book intends for you to settle on your own decision as to what attribute range is appropriate, which is why more than one method of attribute generation is presented and room is left for you to introduce your own methods. Dissatisfaction does not equal "kicking up a fuss". If the player does not want to play the character he has rolled up, then it is up to the game master to decide what to do about it.

Yahzi
2008-11-18, 09:03 PM
It's a game. It is supposed to be fun. Being told that you just wasted hours because of 1 crappy roll is not fun.
You keep saying this. It's a role-playing game. If, in those five hours, you saved a princess and rescued a puppy dog, then you didn't waste them.

If the only reason you're playing AD&D is to gain levels and powers, then why in Tippy Batman's name are you playing a fighter? :smallconfused:

Starbuck_II
2008-11-18, 09:30 PM
You keep saying this. It's a role-playing game. If, in those five hours, you saved a princess and rescued a puppy dog, then you didn't waste them.

If the only reason you're playing AD&D is to gain levels and powers, then why in Tippy Batman's name are you playing a fighter? :smallconfused:

He likes a challenge.
In the words of Kamina: "Who the Hell do you think I am!"

Granted, Kamina wasn't a Fighter.

Yahzi
2008-11-18, 10:18 PM
He likes a challenge.
Hehe... well, the truth is, level-drain is tons of fun - as long as you're the one doing the draining. :smallbiggrin:

AD&D really is about the crazy "save-r-die!." I mean, just look at the Deck of Many Things (the original one, not the lame one). So many ways to die, and yet every player always drew every card they could.

Oracle_Hunter
2008-11-18, 10:25 PM
AD&D really is about the crazy "save-r-die!." I mean, just look at the Deck of Many Things (the original one, not the lame one). So many ways to die, and yet every player always drew every card they could.

Man, my favorite time was when the dungeon ran out of "saves" so all the traps were just "or die." :smalltongue:

greenknight
2008-11-19, 05:32 AM
Er thats not true, dex was always vaunted as the most important stat in AD&D

You probably misread my meaning. In that to be a Fighter in 2nd AD&D, you need a minimum Str score of 9, but you can have any Dexterity score. Although I agree Dexterity is still important, and in fact I went further and stated for an archer type Fighter, it can be much more important than Strength.


In 1E, you could only have one stat under 6, and if you did it dictated your class. A 3 in dex, for instance, meant you could only be a cleric. 2E did away that. Just an fyi.

You're right. It's been a long time since I've played AD&D in any form, and much longer for 1st Ed AD&D. For the 1st Ed version, the Fighter's Dexterity score would have to be 7+.


Honestly, I don't see the problem at all with minimum ability requirements for classes. They are in no way "arbitrary" or "unfair."

So you can come up with a non-arbitrary reason why 2nd Ed Half-Elves can only reach level 12 as a Mage (given Elves can reach level 15, and Humans have no limit), while they can reach 14th level in Cleric (given Elves can only get to level 12)? And you don't consider Halfing Clerics stuck at level 8 to be unfair, for example?


They indicate a minimum baseline required to function in a class. A fighter with a strength less than 9 simply cannot function as a member of his class.

That argument fails miserably, particularly since I've already demonstrated a Fighter who can.


He cannot effectively wield melee weapons. With a strength less than 9, he should not even be able to string a bow (mechanical or otherwise) let alone pull and fire it. Hell, he shouldn't even be able to bear the weight of even light armors.

You didn't even look at the 2nd Ed AD&D encumbrance tables when you wrote that, did you? Because if you did, you'd have immediately seen that a character with Str 8 has exactly the same encumbrance row as someone with Str 9. So if you were right and a Str score less than 9 isn't good enough, then 9 isn't good enough either.

This argument also fails badly, at least for 2nd Ed AD&D, for a few more reasons. Firstly, the encumbrance rules are optional, so it would be fair to say some DMs won't use them at all. Second, even when the encumbrance rules are used, magical armors don't count for the purpose of movement or combat penalties. So even a character with Str 6 could have magical hide armor (base AC 6, modified by the armor's enhancement), and use a buckler (because the character will be an archer). That counts as no encumberance for movement and combat. And as I'm sure you're well aware, the 2nd Ed AD&D rules don't specify any minimum Str to use a crossbow.

In fact, the character can carry a light crossbow, plenty of quarrels for it, wear the magical hide armor+buckler, and it still count as having no encumbrance. I can even throw in a longsword for melee work, although the character will obviously want to stay out of melee as much as possible. As for other gear, yes it will need to be carried on a pack animal or another PC will need to carry it. But that's not hampering the character's abilities in combat at all.

The character would have to find magical armor, and that can be difficult in AD&D depending on the DM and the particular campaign. But it's certainly possible to do it using the rules as written.


Level limits and class restrictions provide a very good answer to the question of why elves, dwarves, and other demi-humans have not simply wiped uppity humanity off the map without having to resort to inappropriate questions about genetics and breeding, which should be beyond the scope of a standard RPG.

And why isn't that so for 3e? Maybe because Humans have their own significant advantages other than genetics and breeding?


I'm beginning to suspect that your arguments (such as they are) boil down to the fact that you do not like AD&D at all and so you adjudge it to be objectively inferior.

My arguments are backed by references to the relevant books. Your own arguments are invalidated by those same books. You didn't even bother to check the encumbrance rules, which is very easy to do if you have the book. So I'll keep my arguments, "such as they are", thank you very much.


Who said he wouldn't be? This cleric can still cast spells, just 3 in 20 of them fail.


Not particularly. He's not very good at spell casting, for sure.

How about you at least try to be consistent? He's not very good at hitting things, and he's not very good at spell casting either. On the other hand, the Fighter can be pretty good at hitting things (although that would be in ranged combat rather than melee).


You wrote that you feel all the racial abilities of AD&D races are arbitrary and unfair. Since the D20/3e ones are pretty much the same, it must follow that they are also arbitrary and unfair.

No they aren't the same, for the reasons I already explained in a previous post and hinted at in my reply. Try again.


A character with 8 strength or less will not do well as a fighter. All his other attributes could be 18 and he would still suck as a fighter.

Absolute nonsense, as I've already demonstrated.


"Without" to hit penalties is not the same thing as "equally". Yeah, if he has a dexterity of 5 or whatever, he'll have penalties to hit at range.

Exactly what are you replying to here? Just to remind you, the bit you quoted that goes with it was where I pointed out that just because an AD&D character has a high Str score, it doesn't necessarily follow that the character will also be good at ranged combat - which you claimed would be the case.


That only applies to wishes and wish like powers. Magic items explicitly ignore that process, as could anything the game master decided to devise in conjunction with the players.

Now you're just being silly. I mentioned magical items increasing ability scores in the first sentence of the section you quoted! And if you remember, my issue is with the written rules, not some houserules you or some other DM come up with, so that last bit is totally irrelevant to the discussion.


If you don't feel that constitutes a difference in tone, well I don't really see how I can convince you otherwise without lengthy comparisons of the relevant texts.

You're going to have to do just that. Because what you just quoted is echoed in the 3.5e DMG. In particular, try looking up:

Introduction (specifically, the "Final Note" section). Add in the "Behind the Curtain" section on the same page.
Running the Game (the "Adjudicating" section, along with the whole "Changing the Rules" section).


Who said you did? I said you still need high attributes to get the best out of D20/3e characters. The way D20/3e is set up CRs and such things will probably only work if the character has an initial "elite" spread or whatever it is that results in 15/14/13/12/10/8 (or something close to it). However, such a spread works better for some classes than others on account of MAD.

Some classes just don't work well at all in 3e. MAD is a factor in that, but overall that's just a symptom of poor class design. But you obviously haven't been paying close enough attention to the 3e debates because starting ability scores are only a very small part of what makes a class powerful. I could have a Druid with 14 Wisdom, 10 Constitution and 8 in every other ability score (or even less, really), and still wind up with a character who can solo most CR20 encounters at 20th level.


And as I said, no it's not

And as I said, I don't agree with you, and you've completely failed to demonstrate any by the book arguments to support your claim. On the other hand, you have provided a lot of by the book information which supports my argument.


Which AD&D class needs a score of 18+?

Did I say that? Or did I say "you need a score of 18+ to use all the class given abilities of some AD&D classes"? In answer to the question you asked, the answer is none (Paladins come close). But if you're referring to my statement, then that would be all members of the Wizard and Priest groups.


If you ask me a question that you know I cannot answer because there is no answer, how is that open ended?

I asked you a question based on one of your own claims. Specifically, that "you do need high attribute scores to get the best out of a character in D20/3e." I gave you multiple opportunities to retract that or back it up. You've failed to do so every single time. If you choose to make a claim, how about you back it up with some proof? Except I know that you can't do it.


I said you need high attributes to qualify for some feats. You need a strength of 13+ to qualify for power attack and anything that builds off it. You need a dexterity of 15+ to get access to the two weapon fighting tree, and you need a dexterity of 13+ to access a heap of ranged feats and the dodge tree. You need intelligence 13+ to access combat expertise and all the feats that build off it.

Except those aren't high ability scores in 3e. I've demonstrated it many times, a character can easily reach any of those scores in 3e with much lower starting scores - even without the use of magic! So even this completely fails to prove your point.


If I want to play a level one fighter in D20/3e capable of delivering a power attack I require a strength of 13. How is this so radically different form you need strength 9 to be a fighter? How is it not arbitrary and unfair by your own criteria?

Power Attack requires Strength (and usually only works in melee, btw). Archery tends to require Dexterity, which is what the Archery feats are based on. Because of that, it's quite possible (and feasible!) to be an archery based Fighter with low Str in 3e. That's not arbitrary at all. On the other hand, you can't do that in AD&D because you can't even qualify to be a Fighter if your character's Str is less than 9. Totally arbitrary. Weren't you paying attention when I explained that previously?


Yes, I know, you didn't need to "show" me, I am aware of that feature of the game. The lack of this feature in AD&D does not make it arbitrary and unfair.

This I agree with. It's other things which make AD&D arbitrary and unfair.


The rules are logical and fair, if I choose to override them to suit your foolishness, that doesn't suddenly make them arbitrary and unfair.

Especially since my "foolishness" has shown how such a fighter would be perfectly viable. Even though AD&D arbitrarily disallows it.


Since that was Kurald's initial point, which you seemed to be in disagreement with, I find that surprising.

That was Kurald's point (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=5308205&postcount=152), huh? In particular, the statement, "Later editions simply give the DM a lot of rules, with the explicit note that he should always follow them." That's followed up by: "the sentiment that a DM who makes up a rule is "Doing It Wrong" seems to have increased with each edition". These are the parts of Kurald's post I disagreed with. Given my arguments in this thread, exactly why do you find that surprising?


No, but why do you seek to colour me as having said so?

Let's quote that whole paragraph then:


Do you need high scores in D20/3e to get the best out of a character? I think the term MAD was coined for D20/3e. Saying "but characters don't need stats of 20+ for any pre epic feats" is cherry picking your argument. I didn't say you need 20+ in your attributes to qualify for X, I said you need high attributes to qualify for many things.

What really is your point here, if not what's summed up in the first sentence you wrote? And how is that any different to those AD&D classes? Except for the fact that 3e classes can increase their scores as they gain levels to qualify for those things relatively easily, of course.


I didn't say the book intends for an average stat of "13", the book intends for you to settle on your own decision as to what attribute range is appropriate, which is why more than one method of attribute generation is presented and room is left for you to introduce your own methods.

And the 2nd Ed AD&D DMG presents a character with scores of 8, 7, 8, 8, 10, 12 (taken in order) and later strongly suggests that such a character should be played (the "Hopeless Characters" section). That is clearly the book's intention.

hamlet
2008-11-19, 09:10 AM
So you can come up with a non-arbitrary reason why 2nd Ed Half-Elves can only reach level 12 as a Mage (given Elves can reach level 15, and Humans have no limit), while they can reach 14th level in Cleric (given Elves can only get to level 12)? And you don't consider Halfing Clerics stuck at level 8 to be unfair, for example?

Yes, I can. It balances very nicely against the fact that half elves get most of the elvish benefits with few of the draw backs. They get a significant resistance to certain magics (true, not as strong as a full elf, but significant). They get infravision. Long life. And no penalty to CON which can be very significant, especially to a character with d4 hit dice. The cleric class, on the other hand, is less suited to the array of gifts a half elf has, and so is balanced with a slightly higher level limit.

Of course, that's just my understanding of the designers' intent. They might have had other ideas. I've never asked them.

As for other reasons, I can come up with loads. Perhaps the mixing of the blood of elf and human is simply not conducive to the flow of arcane energies. No matter how hard they try, half elves are unable to match either parents' ease of skill and proficiency in the field of wizardly magic. On the other hand, for a race that often finds itself outcast and anathema from both societies of its parentage, faith would be a common resort, something a half-elf seeking meaning might cling to very strongly as the rest of society pushes him away.

See? Not so tough.


That argument fails miserably, particularly since I've already demonstrated a Fighter who can.

No, you have not demonstrated anything but your own ignorance. A character with a strength score of 7 has a maximum carrying capacity of 20 pounds. That is the most amount of weight he is easily able to handle (i.e., lift and wield in combat). A light crossbow alone weighs 7 pounds. That's 35% of his allowable weight right there. The draw weight of an average medieval crossbow is, in fact, significantly higher (by many orders of magnitude) than the 7 strength character could manage at all. So he could not even load the weapon! One could carry a windlass, but that's extra weight and extra time.

One could argue that draw weight is not factored into AD&D weapons such as crossbows which specifically ignore damage penalties for strength while other bows do not. However, such a character would have to carry about 10 pounds of food and clothing (unless he plans to walk about nude), not to mention amunition and coinage. When all is said and done, he would be nigh unable to walk carrying even the simplest of gear, and would not even have armor. If he should ever be faced with melee combat, and he most certainly would in an adventuring career, he would be near helpless to even flee.

No, you demonstrated nothing.


You didn't even look at the 2nd Ed AD&D encumbrance tables when you wrote that, did you? Because if you did, you'd have immediately seen that a character with Str 8 has exactly the same encumbrance row as someone with Str 9. So if you were right and a Str score less than 9 isn't good enough, then 9 isn't good enough either.

Oh, my fault. I thought from the multiple mentions of STR 7 above that you made that you were actually going to let the goal posts stay.

If we're talking about a STR8 character and comparing to an STR 9 character then . . .

Yes, the encumbrance and allowable weight of STR 8 and 9 are the same. One might argue that the difference between the two is negligable so a STR 8 fighter would be no different than a STR 9 fighter, or the difference so little as to be non-existant. However, since 9 is exactly the midpoint of the 18 point ability spread standard to beginning character generation, it makes sense to set the minimum ability at 9, which is 50% proficiency so to speak. So a minimum ability score of 9 is not arbitrary, even when compared to an 8 and the difference is either none at all, or so minimal as to make no appreciable difference (which is not, actually, always the case).


This argument also fails badly, at least for 2nd Ed AD&D, for a few more reasons. Firstly, the encumbrance rules are optional, so it would be fair to say some DMs won't use them at all.

Oh yes, the "encumbrance" rules are optional. However, the allowable weight rules are not. Or do you honestly purport that there's nothing wrong with allowing a charcter to carry around hundreds of pounds of equipment regardless of his strength?


Second, even when the encumbrance rules are used, magical armors don't count for the purpose of movement or combat penalties.

You're right, they don't. But show me a beginning character with magic armor and I'll show you a crappy DM. We are talking about beginning characters here, unless you care to set the goal posts further down field. In which case I'll just point out that while the encumbrance of magic armor does, indeed, not count towards movement, its weight still counts towards maximum allowable load. So, no, the argument doesn't fall flat.


And as I'm sure you're well aware, the 2nd Ed AD&D rules don't specify any minimum Str to use a crossbow.


I am aware.


In fact, the character can carry a light crossbow, plenty of quarrels for it, wear the magical hide armor+buckler, and it still count as having no encumbrance. I can even throw in a longsword for melee work, although the character will obviously want to stay out of melee as much as possible. As for other gear, yes it will need to be carried on a pack animal or another PC will need to carry it. But that's not hampering the character's abilities in combat at all.


Ah, I see you are moving the goal posts again. But what I said still stands. Magical armor, while not factored into encumbrance, still counts against max load. So let's do some weight tallies. Light crossbow is 7 pounds. Ten light quarells is another 1 pound. A buckler weighs in at another 3 pounds.

So far, that's a full 11 pounds out of 35. Not bad really. Now, let's add, say, 2 pounds for clothing, unless he's to become the scandal of the county. That's 13 pounds. We'll assume he's carrying about 50 coins of varying denomination, so that's 14 pounds total. Long sword adds 4 pounds. That's 18. That leaves 17 pounds for armor, the only other thing that he could not put off onto a pack mule (which he cannot afford at 1st level anyway). That means he can ONLY wear leather armor (15 pounds) or padded armor (10 pounds), which actually still leaves allowance for a few extra quarrells.

But here's the rub. NONE of that matters because the minimum of STR 9 for fighters is not arbitrary or unfair, it's just a hair above the median. Expecting a fighting man who engages in physical combat to be, if only slightly, stronger than the scholar who's spent his entire life among books is not at all arbitrary. In fact, I think it's only fair since, if we extend this discussion to include mages and INT, a 9 INT is the minimum score neccessary for a character to learn a 2nd language which would be neccesary for the wizard to even read his own spells. So a blanket minimum at just above the median for the 1-18 spread* is, all things considered, simple and entirely fair.

*For PC's, the spread is 3-18, true. However, that is for PC's and not NPC's. So the true demographic is 1-18 with PC's being the superior exceptions. They are right shifted on the bell curve.


And why isn't that so for 3e? Maybe because Humans have their own significant advantages other than genetics and breeding?


Third edition is not the same as second edition. They are built on different assumptions. Sometimes drastically different assumptions. It's a bit like comparing a lemon to an apple. They're only the same in a very broad sense. In fact, one of the design intents of 3ed was, if I recall, the institution of what was felt to be more "egalitarian statistics" in the game, i.e., the doing away with restrictions. So it's not any wonder at all that things are different in that edition than in 2ed.


My arguments are backed by references to the relevant books. Your own arguments are invalidated by those same books. You didn't even bother to check the encumbrance rules, which is very easy to do if you have the book. So I'll keep my arguments, "such as they are", thank you very much.

Your arguments, and I've read them all, always boil down to "it's not fair, I don't like it, therefor it stinks." And yes, I did reference the encumbrance rules, but I addressed that above and won't belabor the point here.

Matthew
2008-11-19, 11:53 AM
How about you at least try to be consistent? He's not very good at hitting things, and he's not very good at spell casting either. On the other hand, the Fighter can be pretty good at hitting things (although that would be in ranged combat rather than melee).

Especially since my "foolishness" has shown how such a fighter would be perfectly viable. Even though AD&D arbitrarily disallows it.

He's not great at spell casting is not the same thing as "this character sucks, he's better off as a fighter". There is nothing inconsistent about it.

1) He has a 15% chance of failing to cast cleric spells, no adjustments to hit, damage, armour class or hit points.
2) At middle age he will accrue penalties to hit, and his chance of spell failure will become 10%.
3) He is the result of Method I rolling and of comparable power to the other characters presented alongside.

That he does not qualify to be a fighter is not an arbitrary or unfair restriction, it is just the minimum advised score. The PHB also advises:

"Each of the character classes has minimum scores in various abilities. A character must satisfy these minimums to be of that class. If your character's scores are too low for him to belong to any character class, ask your DM for permission to reroll one or more of your ability scores or to create an entirely new character. If you desperately want your character to belong to a particular class but have scores that are too low, your DM might allow you to increase these scores to the minimum needed. However, you must ask him first. Don't count on the DM allowing you to raise a score above 16 in any case."

There is nothing arbitrary about requiring a fighter to have a reasonable strength score. The PHB explains the logic more than adequettely, stating that a character's prime requisite is "the ability score or scores that are most important to a particular class. A fighter must be strong and a wizard must be intelligent; their prime requisites, therefore, are Strength and Intelligence, respectively."



No they aren't the same, for the reasons I already explained in a previous post and hinted at in my reply. Try again.

Hinted at? I am afraid you will have to be plainer than that.



Absolute nonsense, as I've already demonstrated.

If I thought it was and you had, I would have said so.



Exactly what are you replying to here? Just to remind you, the bit you quoted that goes with it was where I pointed out that just because an AD&D character has a high Str score, it doesn't necessarily follow that the character will also be good at ranged combat - which you claimed would be the case.

I said he would be bad at both ranged and melee combat if he had a low strength. Your claim is that because he could use a crossbow and thus get +2 to hit with a dexterity of 18 and avoid any strength penalties that he is therefore a viable fighter. "Absolute nonsense, as I've already demonstrated." :smallwink:



Now you're just being silly. I mentioned magical items increasing ability scores in the first sentence of the section you quoted! And if you remember, my issue is with the written rules, not some houserules you or some other DM come up with, so that last bit is totally irrelevant to the discussion.

The rules as written allow for the game master to control the rate of attribute advancement. There is nothing silly about saying so. One set of limits apply to two specific magical items, another to wishes. The rules as written allow for considerable leeway in characters conducting magical research and the for creating additional magic to suit the campaign. Those are the rules as written, not house rules.



You're going to have to do just that. Because what you just quoted is echoed in the 3.5e DMG. In particular, try looking up:

Introduction (specifically, the "Final Note" section). Add in the "Behind the Curtain" section on the same page.
Running the Game (the "Adjudicating" section, along with the whole "Changing the Rules" section).

No thanks, I have neither the time nor inclination to do that here, and yes I have read those sections. The tone is quite different, in my opinion.



Some classes just don't work well at all in 3e. MAD is a factor in that, but overall that's just a symptom of poor class design. But you obviously haven't been paying close enough attention to the 3e debates because starting ability scores are only a very small part of what makes a class powerful. I could have a Druid with 14 Wisdom, 10 Constitution and 8 in every other ability score (or even less, really), and still wind up with a character who can solo most CR20 encounters at 20th level.

I didn't say that you couldn't. I am aware of the class imbalance in D20/3e. The way things were designed, a group of level 20 characters who started with an elite array and receive the recommended amount and sort of magical treasure should use up X amount of resources in facing a CR 20 encounter. That it has been demonstrated that mildly optimised level 20 casters can usually take care of CR 20 encounters by themselves is indeed a problem with the game.



And as I said, I don't agree with you, and you've completely failed to demonstrate any by the book arguments to support your claim. On the other hand, you have provided a lot of by the book information which supports my argument.

I am sorry that you feel that way, I must say I have concluded quite the opposite.



Did I say that? Or did I say "you need a score of 18+ to use all the class given abilities of some AD&D classes"? In answer to the question you asked, the answer is none (Paladins come close). But if you're referring to my statement, then that would be all members of the Wizard and Priest groups.

[edit] My mistake, see below posts for clarification.

So, AD&D priests and wizards need scores of 18+ to use top tier spells, and D20/3e wizards and clerics need scores of 19+ to use top tier spells. I am not seeing the difference.



I asked you a question based on one of your own claims. Specifically, that "you do need high attribute scores to get the best out of a character in D20/3e." I gave you multiple opportunities to retract that or back it up. You've failed to do so every single time. If you choose to make a claim, how about you back it up with some proof? Except I know that you can't do it.

You have already admitted that "you do need high attribute scores to get the best out of characters in D20/3e." Why (and quite what?) would I retract, when you have already admitted the fairly evident truth that this is the case?



Except those aren't high ability scores in 3e. I've demonstrated it many times, a character can easily reach any of those scores in 3e with much lower starting scores - even without the use of magic! So even this completely fails to prove your point.

Power Attack requires Strength (and usually only works in melee, btw). Archery tends to require Dexterity, which is what the Archery feats are based on. Because of that, it's quite possible (and feasible!) to be an archery based Fighter with low Str in 3e. That's not arbitrary at all. On the other hand, you can't do that in AD&D because you can't even qualify to be a Fighter if your character's Str is less than 9. Totally arbitrary. Weren't you paying attention when I explained that previously?

You are dodging or misunderstanding the point. Are these scores arbitrary and unfair or are they not? A strength of 9 is also not a "high score" in AD&D. It is explcitly an average score.

These are double standards (and why point out in only works in melee, what difference does that make to the requirement?). The primary function of a fighter in AD&D is to fight. He requires an average strength to do it. That is neither arbitrary nor unfair, unless you consider that a fighter with strength 12 in D20/3e being barred from power attack is unfair. He is equally as good at melee combat with strength 12 as he is with strength 13.



This I agree with. It's other things which make AD&D arbitrary and unfair.

Okay.



That was Kurald's point (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=5308205&postcount=152), huh? In particular, the statement, "Later editions simply give the DM a lot of rules, with the explicit note that he should always follow them." That's followed up by: "the sentiment that a DM who makes up a rule is "Doing It Wrong" seems to have increased with each edition". These are the parts of Kurald's post I disagreed with. Given my arguments in this thread, exactly why do you find that surprising?

I think you need to go back to that post and note which parts of Kurald's post you quoted in your response. The bit you mention above ("the sentiment that a DM who makes up a rule is "Doing It Wrong" seems to have increased with each edition") is entirely absent. It does not look at all as though your are disagreeing with that. Here's the post in full:





I think that's a very important point. Earlier editions gave the DM a lot of leeway and essentially the power to do whatever he likes, with the implicit assumption that the DM plays fair. Later editions simply give the DM a lot of rules, with the explicit note that he should always follow them.

That's an exaggeration, of course

If you're including 3e in that statement, it's an outright lie. Just looking at the 3.5e PHB, you can see in the character creation section that the first instruction is to check with the DM for house rules. This is followed up by a section called "Changing the Rules" in the 3.5e DMG. What the book does do is emphasise consistent rules, provide reasons why the rules are the way they are, and encourage the DM to give careful consideration to any proposed rules changes, and maybe even discuss them with other players.

It should also be pointed out that while there were a lot of things the earlier edition rules don't cover, a lot of the things they do cover often seem unfair and arbitrary to the players. So much so that when a PC gets really screwed over by the rules, IME many players feel it's better to kill the PC off and start over than to try to undo the damage.

Presumably, you do agree with Kurald that previous editions had less rules and relied more on game master fiat to maintain fairness, but you do not agree that the tone has shifted towards closer adherence to the rules as written, nor that tolerance for game master interpretation and alteration of the rules has decreased. Given your arguments here for arbitrariness and unfairness in the AD&D "rules as written", I continue to be somewhat surprised at such a dual stance.



Let's quote that whole paragraph then:

What really is your point here, if not what's summed up in the first sentence you wrote? And how is that any different to those AD&D classes? Except for the fact that 3e classes can increase their scores as they gain levels to qualify for those things relatively easily, of course.

My point here was that you are cherry picking arguments. You earlier admitted that you need high attributes to get the best out of a character in D20/3e:



Get the best? Sure - that's true of every edition, at least in the ones that count for the character type. But to allow the character to use class given abilities? No. As I've demonstrated, a 14 in the primary stat can translate to a 19 by level 20, and with magical items you can get away with even lower starting stats.

The second part of your argument here is the false part, because you do need high attributes to access some of these "class given powers". That you can easily increase the attributes during play is tangential to the point because the ease is at the behest of the game master (apart from the five stat increase you get at every fourth level and aging benefits). In D20/3e the routes are spelled out for you (here are a bunch of magic items that increase character attributes, use them), in AD&D these methods are left up to the game master. This goes back to the point made by Kurald, which you now apparently agree with, that "the game master must take a more active hand to ensure fairness in AD&D", whilst more of the fairness of D20/3e is mandated in advance.

You are again conflating two arguments:

1) Attribute scores generally have less of an impact in AD&D than D20/3e
2) Wizards and Priests need a score of 18 in their primary attributes to cast top tier spells.



And the 2nd Ed AD&D DMG presents a character with scores of 8, 7, 8, 8, 10, 12 (taken in order) and later strongly suggests that such a character should be played (the "Hopeless Characters" section). That is clearly the book's intention.

The book's intention is that you not regard such a character as "hopeless", not that you should play him if you are dissatisfied with him. Cook's point is that attributes don't really matter for playing and enjoying the game. The obvious caveats to that are that if you want to play a "stronger" character then higher attributes will matter in various ways, which is why the book doesn't just leave it at that.

__________________________________________________

So, let's see if I can sum this up again:

1) You have a problem with the rules as written for AD&D, deeming them arbitrary (not based in logic) and unfair with regards to the following items:

a) Attribute Generation and Improvement
b) Level Limits and Class Restrictions By Race
c) Attributes Influencing Class Effectiveness
d) Alignment Change
e) Drawbacks for Magic/Powerful Monsters

2) The arbitrariness of these items I cannot see us agreeing on, since it seems that you reject the logic of racial abilities being defined and of classes requiring minimum scores in their primary attributes to fulfil their intended function.

3) The unfairness of these things seems to be a misunderstanding on your part, since the rules are written on the assumption that the decisions of the game master will be the principal way in which fairness is maintained. The game rules cannot be successfully divorced from the need for interpretation. You will just end up with the same sort of insanity as reading the D20/3e mounted combat rules literally. Given that you intend to continue arguing from this position [i.e. that the game rules are unfair because leaving things up to the game master is not a rule], I cannot really see us agreeing on this either [except perhaps to say that you will not have a viable game without a game master].

hamlet
2008-11-19, 12:08 PM
No they don't. I cannot guess why you think Priests need a wisdom of 19, but I suppose you think it is necessary for magicians to be capable of learning every spell in the game for them to use all their "class given abilities?" Those two things do not equate.

I think he may be referring to the lack of access to the highest levels of spells by casters. While I might disagree that having a 16 or less wisdom means that you do not have access to all the powers of your class, there is something there worth looking at I think.

A character without an 18 WIS or INT cannot gain access to 7th level priestly spells or 9th level wizardly spells (barring stat boosts from age) no matter what unless the DM rules otherwise. That means that the character is effectively capped at that level of ability because of the ability score in a way that few other classes are.

Is it arbitrary or "unfair"? I don't think so, but it is an interesting aberation at least.

Matthew
2008-11-19, 12:16 PM
I think he may be referring to the lack of access to the highest levels of spells by casters. While I might disagree that having a 16 or less wisdom means that you do not have access to all the powers of your class, there is something there worth looking at I think.

A character without an 18 WIS or INT cannot gain access to 7th level priestly spells or 9th level wizardly spells (barring stat boosts from age) no matter what unless the DM rules otherwise. That means that the character is effectively capped at that level of ability because of the ability score in a way that few other classes are.

Is it arbitrary or "unfair"? I don't think so, but it is an interesting aberation at least.

Ah right, I was reading 18+ as 19 for some reason; I should really learn to hit the preview button. :smallbiggrin:

Yeah, a fourteenth level priest needs a wisdom of 18 to cast seventh level spells, and a wizard of eighteenth level requires an intelligence of 18 to cast ninth level spells. Not much difference between that and D20/3e, as far as I can see (seventeenth level wizards and clerics need 19 intelligence and wisdom respectively, to access ninth level spells). Which takes us back to the "attribute generation" and the "ease of attribute increase" discussion.

hamlet
2008-11-19, 12:30 PM
Ah right, I was reading 18+ as 19 for some reason; I should really learn to hit the preview button. :smallbiggrin:

Yeah, a fourteenth level priest needs a wisdom of 18 to cast seventh level spells, and a wizard of eighteenth level requires an intelligence of 18 to cast ninth level spells. Not much difference between that and D20/3e, as far as I can see (seventeenth level wizards and clerics need 19 intelligence and wisdom respectively, to access ninth level spells). Which takes us back to the "attribute generation" and the "ease of attribute increase" discussion.

I don't think there's too much of a difference, but that's likely because AD&D started that thought pattern and D20 seemed to perpetuate it and take it to the next logical step (i.e., incremental requirements).

What's very interesting is that it's not at all difficult to get a stat increase to either INT or WIS in AD&D. All you need do is wait for your character to age. True, it's not the same as getting a bump every four levels, but saying it's "very difficult" according to AD&D rules is just flat out false.

Matthew
2008-11-19, 01:08 PM
I don't think there's too much of a difference, but that's likely because AD&D started that thought pattern and D20 seemed to perpetuate it and take it to the next logical step (i.e., incremental requirements).

What's very interesting is that it's not at all difficult to get a stat increase to either INT or WIS in AD&D. All you need do is wait for your character to age. True, it's not the same as getting a bump every four levels, but saying it's "very difficult" according to AD&D rules is just flat out false.

I think his point is that D20/3e has a stat increase every four levels and age benefits, so it's easier to increase attribute scores without the aid of magic. The classes all compare differently, so it is hard to say much definitively. You could take two "low averages" in AD&D and D20/3e and compare them by progression. An AD&D low average is 9 and a D20/3e low average is probably 10 (arguably higher, depending on how you derive the average). Before age or magical effects are counted, such a comparison would look like this (the first two columns refer to D20/3e and the second two to AD&D):

{table=head]Level | Attribute | Spell Level | Attribute | Spell Level |

1|
10|
0th|
9|
1st|

2|
10|
0th|
9|
1st|

3|
10|
0th|
9|
2nd|

4|
11|
1st|
9|
2nd|

5|
11|
1st|
9|
3rd|

6|
11|
1st|
9|
3rd|

7|
11|
1st|
9|
4th|

8|
12|
2nd|
9|
4th|

9|
12|
2nd|
9|
4th|

10|
12|
2nd|
9|
4th|

11|
12|
2nd|
9|
4th|

12|
13|
3rd|
9|
4th|

13|
13|
3rd|
9|
4th|

14|
13|
3rd|
9|
4th|

15|
13|
3rd|
9|
4th|

16|
14|
4th|
9|
4th|

17|
14|
4th|
9|
4th|

18|
14|
4th|
9|
4th|

19|
14|
4th|
9|
4th|

20|
15|
5th|
9|
4th|
[/table]

If you take age into account, the D20/3e wizard may eventually achieve 8th level spell casting (9th level if a high average (11) is used) from an eventual +3 to intelligence. An AD&D magician will eventually gain +2 to intelligence from age and gain access to fifth level spells (or seventh level if a high average (12) is used).

Of course, all of this turns on two things:

1) Attribute Generation Method
2) Attribute Advancement Method

GreenKnight is of the opinion (as near as I can tell) that the rules for these things in AD&D are arbitrary and unfair, whilst those for D20/3e are logical and fair. The key to this misunderstanding is what Kurald has referred to, which is that AD&D relied on a game master using a more active hand than D20/3e to create fairness. The rules of D20/3e are written to be understood, the rules of AD&D are written to be interpreted.

Divorcing the role of the game master from the rules of the game and looking at only the explicitly written down rules (ignoring anything that says "you decide") is the method behind this argument.

hamlet
2008-11-19, 01:17 PM
True enough, but I tend to think the "stat bump" mechanic of D20 is largely a result of the "inflationary" tendancies of that game. Numbers are bigger all around, so PC attributes, of course, have to go up too.

It's also a result of changing expectations. It's obvious that the current expectation is that if your class has a feature, you should be able to utilize it at some point and not be restricted from it in some way, so they are forced to make the increase of limiting stats (INT and WIS for the sake of our discussion) much easier to increase than previously. Magic items and the 1 per 4 boost, etc. It's expected that you go first through twentieth level and that the point of the game is that progression to some extent.

This was simply not true in AD&D or BECMI.

Matthew
2008-11-19, 01:52 PM
True enough, but I tend to think the "stat bump" mechanic of D20 is largely a result of the "inflationary" tendancies of that game. Numbers are bigger all around, so PC attributes, of course, have to go up too.

There is some of that, to be sure. Top tier monsters (say, a Balor) in D20/3e tend to be proportionally more powerful than those in AD&D compared to bottom tier monsters (say, an orc). This is a result of changing expectations, which you refer to below.



It's also a result of changing expectations. It's obvious that the current expectation is that if your class has a feature, you should be able to utilize it at some point and not be restricted from it in some way, so they are forced to make the increase of limiting stats (INT and WIS for the sake of our discussion) much easier to increase than previously. Magic items and the 1 per 4 boost, etc. It's expected that you go first through twentieth level and that the point of the game is that progression to some extent.

This was simply not true in AD&D or BECMI.

Certainly. The key difference is that there were no explicit "typical twentieth level wizards" in B/AD&D, so expectations were open to interpretation. The expectation in D20/3e is that a twentieth level wizard will have access to ninth level spells and X amount of treasure/magical equipment, and that access to these things will make a CR 20 encounter fair (assuming his companions also have access to their abilities). Once you chuck out those preconceptions D20/3e pretty much reverts the methods of its predecessors.

As Oracle Hunter wisely noted on page 3 of this thread:



The moral? When you play a new system, be sure you understand the gaming aesthetic that goes with it. No edition of D&D has exactly the same aesthetic as any other, and if you enter a game with improper expectations you will likely be disappointed.

its_all_ogre
2008-11-19, 03:13 PM
either way surely the thing to look as is this:

neither edition was balanced very well or even at all.

ad&d fans will say that balance was not the aim or even important within the game itself as it operated on an entirely different premise.

3/3.5 fans will say the game gives better balance but anyone reading threads on this forum at least(i look at no others personally) knows that this is entirely untrue. any fighter will be overshadowed by a cleric/druid/wizard in their own party assuming both are equally proficient at building powerful characters. and if they want to.

i do not buy into the balance argument for either edition. personally i prefer 3.5 to ad&d precisely because there is a much larger rules framework prepared for me and i'm lazy enough to not want to houserule too much.

however my campaign has tons of houseruling to make classes like wizard/druid etc not dominate entirely, i do not use the CR system as the system benefits those classes able to 'nova' encounters and hinders those with more consistent abilities (like fighters who generally do the same/very similar damage round to round).

after reading all of this thread over the last 4 days i've forgotten half of what i was going to say and i really don't want to cross swords with matthew about ad&d again as i'm rarely on this site enough to really contribute to the thread concisely.

needless to say i'll be moving onto 4th ed due to less houseruling needs.
however i believe you can have fun and plenty of roleplaying in any edition of dnd, but be aware that they do each have different emphasis.
adnd: struggle to survive and be a hero. instant death awaits the unwary

3/3.5 you're already a hero to an extent, with better stats and opportunities compared to the normal commoner

4e heroes are born and then do heroic things.

different emphasis in each and i do agree that 3.5 + 4e promote faster advancement, in which case people like matthew may not like this and i have to say that i personally don't like this aspect of the game.
but again...dm is arbiter, i don't give out xp per the book i prefer a 2e+3.5/2 kind of advancement rate. faster than 2e and slower than 3.5.

Matthew
2008-11-19, 04:00 PM
ad&d fans will say that balance was not the aim or even important within the game itself as it operated on an entirely different premise.

I think the argument is more along the lines of "the game assumes that maintaining fairness will be largely a function of the game master", but you will get different opinions from different folks. To be clear, I do prefer AD&D to D20/3e, but I don't consider the latter to be an inferior game, nor do I consider D20/4e to be inferior or superior to either (indeed, I just recently signed up to a play by post game of D20/4e). They are just different, and the reasons you provide for preferring the D20 iterations I consider completely valid.

ken-do-nim
2008-11-19, 09:13 PM
(indeed, I just recently signed up to a play by post game of D20/4e).

Really? You may be the only person in the universe playing a Labyrinth Lord, First Edition AD&D, and Fourth Edition D&D play-by-post all at the same time.

Matthew
2008-11-19, 09:44 PM
Really? You may be the only person in the universe playing a Labyrinth Lord, First Edition AD&D, and Fourth Edition D&D play-by-post all at the same time.

Yeah, BlackPrinceofMuncie is running it. I rolled up a human rogue (former tax collector turned treasure hunter) called Garid. So, that makes fighter, magician, and thief, so far. Just have to sign on to a D20/3e game and roll up a cleric, now. :smallbiggrin: