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Old December 5 2010, 03:41 PM   #1
CaptainStoner
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The Great D&D 1st/2nd/3rd/4th Debate

I'm 36. A fairly old-school gamer, though too busy shitting myself and being cute when the game first crawled out of the basements of Gygax & Arneson.
I nearly didn't get to play D&D due to the "Mazes and Monsters" hysteria, but after a year of pleading my case I got the "Basic Rules" red box with the stunning Elmore painting of a red dragon that graces the 4E quick-start set today.
A few years later I found a small community of gamers, where 3-5 games would go on every Saturday in the back of a place where old folks held bridge tournaments (serious business, that), and then graduated to the Grandaddy classic of all RPG's: AD&D 1st Edition.

I haven't played in quite a few years, for the same reasons most of us stop playing. But lo and behold I see the old red box art in a Barnes & Noble, and the marketing works - well, almost. I didn't buy the thing, but it piqued my interest.
So, long into the night I'm reading impressions of the new 4E and the giant shitstorm of controversy it has generated. I think I have a basic grasp of what's different.

What do you folks think?
From what I understand, 4E is supposed to be a faster, more efficient combat system. But the 4E has gutted the spell lists, with no non-combat spells, absolutely ruining one of the best parts of the game: creative spell use.
Even more strange, apparently you don't roll for stats in 4E. Characters are based on templates. Effective customization is eviscerated.
The elegant, logical alignment system first appearing in 1E has been dumbed down.
And soforth. Of course any of these things can be remedied by house rules, and indeed we had to do the same with 1E for some of its stupider points, such as level limits for demi-humans.
But the new 4E seems to be a sweeping revision, a different game really, more different from classic AD&D than that game was from the Red Box D&D system that used to run parallel. (Look that up if you're confused. There used to be two TSR D&D games simultaneously published, hence the "Advanced" designation)

Come forth, and release your nerd rage with all its barbaric fury to pound to skull of 4E into the dirt, or defend it with staunch paladin virtue. Discuss any and all points of the different editions, or simply reminisce about a great game you no longer have time for.
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Old December 5 2010, 05:10 PM   #2
Chaos Descending
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Re: The Great D&D 1st/2nd/3rd/4th Debate

I can see where they are coming from on the "not rolling stats" but rather using templates.

Let's face it, your party is supposed to be the HERO GROUP of your game world. What good would a Fighter with a 12 STR and 9 CON be? How good would a Magic User with a 13 INT really be? Besides, most kids today play MMORPGs like World of Warcraft, where all characters of a given class have a set progression.

That said, I haven't played D&D since AD&D 2nd Edition.

Heaven help me, my FAVORITE is good ol' Basic D&D. Simple, easy to pick up, not bogged down with a million rules. Second to that, I'll take the original AD&D, then Second Edition.

I think WOTC has dicked around with the property too much.

No, for me, D&D ended when 3.0 came out.
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Old December 5 2010, 06:54 PM   #3
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Re: The Great D&D 1st/2nd/3rd/4th Debate

[QUOTE=Chaos Descending;4574674]
I can see where they are coming from on the "not rolling stats" but rather using templates.

Let's face it, your party is supposed to be the HERO GROUP of your game world. What good would a Fighter with a 12 STR and 9 CON be? How good would a Magic User with a 13 INT really be?
Those would be challenging role playing opportunities now lost to cookie-cutter characters. Also opportunities for story development, as in: the story of how the halfling Fighter with 12 Strength aquired Gauntlets of Ogre Power, etc. That said, characers with a prime stat that low were almost unheard of even in 1E, with the 4d6-drop-the-lowest-method. One of my most memorable Fighter characters only had 16 Strength. Indeed, there is a whole section in the old DMG about how super-characters are not in the spirit of the game.
But the flipside of the cookie-cutter-character-creation is you also don't get the random exceptional character, either. Bland.
Besides, most kids today play MMORPGs like World of Warcraft, where all characters of a given class have a set progression.
I guess that would be the cart leading the horse, then.
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Old December 6 2010, 03:40 AM   #4
Hanukkah Solo
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Re: The Great D&D 1st/2nd/3rd/4th Debate

I can't really comment on 1E or 2E except that my cousin tried to introduce me to 2E and I couldn't wrap my head around THAC0.

But I played some 3rd Edition at college with a group of friends and had a lot of fun with it. Everything I've heard about 4th Edition has sounded pretty awful to me.

Also, in D&D, your party is supposed to be the "hero group," yes, but they're not supposed to be that right off the bat. Part of the point is that the party is supposed to start out as a group of unknowns, and then work their way up to becoming big damn heroes.
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Old December 6 2010, 06:32 PM   #5
Chaos Descending
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Re: The Great D&D 1st/2nd/3rd/4th Debate

Hanukkah Solo wrote: View Post
I can't really comment on 1E or 2E except that my cousin tried to introduce me to 2E and I couldn't wrap my head around THAC0.
It's funny that you say that, as THAC0 was an immense improvement over the system it replaced!

But I played some 3rd Edition at college with a group of friends and had a lot of fun with it. Everything I've heard about 4th Edition has sounded pretty awful to me.
I have no desire either to play 4E.

Also, in D&D, your party is supposed to be the "hero group," yes, but they're not supposed to be that right off the bat. Part of the point is that the party is supposed to start out as a group of unknowns, and then work their way up to becoming big damn heroes.
That's what XP and levels are for. There's a difference between a 12 STR fighter and a 17 STR fighter at Level 1, and then there's a difference between a 17 STR fighter at Level 1 and a 17 STR fighter at Level 15.
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Old December 6 2010, 08:23 PM   #6
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Re: The Great D&D 1st/2nd/3rd/4th Debate

I was a hardline 1st Editioner all the way through 2000. It had plenty of flaws, but we rewrote stuff and came up with house rules to get around them. We tried 2nd Ed for a couple of years, and it had nothing to offer as far as I was concerned. It didn't fix enough of the old problems, but succeeded in introducing all new ones. I was always amused by the thief/rogue, who had to pay through the nose to acquire literacy skills, but got forgery as a class skill whether he was literate or not. Excuse me, how does that work again?

When I was introduced to 3rd Ed in 2003 or 2004, it took a while to figure it out, but once I did, I fell in love with it. Between the coherent bonus/penalty system and the highly flexible rules, this was just what I was looking for. (Not to say that it was perfect. I still miss infravision. But it's close enough.)

I have not tried 4th Ed, but nothing I've heard sounds encouraging and I have no incentive to move over to it. EVER. It sounds like the 2nd Ed debacle all over again.

These days I'm running a highly customized game which is set in the universe of Stargate SG-1. It's primarily 3rd Ed, but it imports a lot of material from D20 Modern and the short-lived Stargate RPG. That probably sounds insane, but I've managed to make it work. All those games are d20-based, so it wasn't hard to mingle them with just a minor amount of tweaking.
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Old December 6 2010, 09:00 PM   #7
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Re: The Great D&D 1st/2nd/3rd/4th Debate

AD&D 2E was really all I played. For 10 years. I have the original books with the cheesy demon on the Player's Handbook and the newer covers too. I loved it back then and as the 3E came out I ignored it. Unearthed Arcana was as advanced as we ever got. I took the basics and played to the spirit of the game-"this is a guide only" - instead of harsh rule sets. I don't think I'd like character templates and such....
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Old December 6 2010, 09:46 PM   #8
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Re: The Great D&D 1st/2nd/3rd/4th Debate

^^^ The cheesy demon was on the AD&D Player's Handbook, not the 2E Player's Handbook. That is, if memory serves. Unearthed Arcana was also an AD&D book, not a 2E book. I do believe that they made a 3E version of Unearthed Arcana, but not a 2E version.
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Old December 8 2010, 03:16 AM   #9
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Re: The Great D&D 1st/2nd/3rd/4th Debate

Chaos Descending wrote: View Post
^^^ The cheesy demon was on the AD&D Player's Handbook, not the 2E Player's Handbook. That is, if memory serves. Unearthed Arcana was also an AD&D book, not a 2E book. I do believe that they made a 3E version of Unearthed Arcana, but not a 2E version.
Yeah that's right. The Demon cover was the first run of the 1E PHB, followed by the Wizard cover in the early 80's.
I've delved into this a bit more, signed into an RPG forum, read blogs and reviews, etc.
4E appears to be a big improvement in the miniatures and tactical element of the game. If you like that side of D&D it has a lot to offer.
But I've also become highly interested in OD&D, or the original game from '74. There has been a resurgence of interest in it, and I wondered why. What fun could it possibly be to play in a game where there are no stat bonuses, all weapons do a d6 damage, and there is no thief class?
It seems that OD&D is the antithesis of power gaming. Having no thief class means everyone shares in those aspects of exploration a lot more, which has its merit. The low hit points is really just a change of scale. Is the weapon damage less realistic, in an almost totally abstract damage system? I'm not sure.
When I think back on what made D&D such a compelling and fun experience, it was the exploration. Finding treasure and items. Working together, imagining an organically evolving story. In many ways, as the game has become more and more complicated, the rules have gotten in the way. This is why there were always so many cautions against letting this happen in various editions. Not many people have played in a group where there wasn't some power gamer mucking things up. A more basic version of the rules weeds them out from the getgo.
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Old December 8 2010, 09:41 PM   #10
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Re: The Great D&D 1st/2nd/3rd/4th Debate

i've played 3, 3.5 and 4... in the end, none are perfect and house rules always get adopted. from a tactical/combat side, i prefer 4th. if you get a good GM and a good group, it can be fun playing tactically, chaining attacks together, moving around.

but it's pretty much a miniatures game at that point. it looses a lot of the flair that a more free flowing combat system can bring (though individual player personalities can certainly live it up). 4ed didnt seem to have a lot going for it in terms of "out of combat RP".

in the end, i dont care what version i'm playing. house rules will get enacted to make things more fun. and the group that you are playing with trumps whatever ruleset you are playing with.
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Old December 8 2010, 09:50 PM   #11
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Re: The Great D&D 1st/2nd/3rd/4th Debate

I only played blue box basic D&D and 1st edition AD&D. I remember people being excited about the release of the Dungeon Masters Guide.

However I turned away from D&D when I discovered Chaosium Games' Runequest. No more levels, no more experience points, hit locations, hit points per location, and armor that makes you harder to hurt not harder to hit.

Chaos Descending wrote: View Post
^^^ The cheesy demon was on the AD&D Player's Handbook, not the 2E Player's Handbook.
That is an idol in a temple. Not a Demon. Somebody is prying out the gem eyes.
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Old December 8 2010, 10:57 PM   #12
Chaos Descending
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Re: The Great D&D 1st/2nd/3rd/4th Debate

Davros wrote: View Post
Chaos Descending wrote: View Post
^^^ The cheesy demon was on the AD&D Player's Handbook, not the 2E Player's Handbook.
That is an idol in a temple. Not a Demon. Somebody is prying out the gem eyes.
And the idol looks like a demon. It's not rocket science.

In any case, the 2E PH never had a demon on it at all, that I can recall.
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Old December 8 2010, 11:08 PM   #13
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Re: The Great D&D 1st/2nd/3rd/4th Debate

Chaos Descending wrote: View Post
Davros wrote: View Post
Chaos Descending wrote: View Post
^^^ The cheesy demon was on the AD&D Player's Handbook, not the 2E Player's Handbook.
That is an idol in a temple. Not a Demon. Somebody is prying out the gem eyes.
And the idol looks like a demon. It's not rocket science.

In any case, the 2E PH never had a demon on it at all, that I can recall.
I think it had a Pegasus but I'm not sure as I was a Runequest player by that time.
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Old December 8 2010, 11:19 PM   #14
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Re: The Great D&D 1st/2nd/3rd/4th Debate

Chaos Descending wrote: View Post
^^^ The cheesy demon was on the AD&D Player's Handbook, not the 2E Player's Handbook. That is, if memory serves. Unearthed Arcana was also an AD&D book, not a 2E book. I do believe that they made a 3E version of Unearthed Arcana, but not a 2E version.
Sorry-its been many years. I guess it was AD&D 1E I played. And you're right-it was an idol. Had to dig it out and look.

I just remember the "new" books (2E?) annoyed me and I never incorporated them into my games. Too many extra details...
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Old December 8 2010, 11:32 PM   #15
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Re: The Great D&D 1st/2nd/3rd/4th Debate

IMHO "faster, more efficient combat system" = D&D for idiots.

And I thought DDO was as dumbed down as it got.
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