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Author Topic: Talk to me about AD&D 1st Edition  (Read 1228 times)

Zalman

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Re: Talk to me about AD&D 1st Edition
« Reply #30 on: January 14, 2022, 10:39:28 AM »
sit down, read the 1E core books, and understand them.

I think Lunamanacer sums it up nicely: the glory of 1E is its remarkable gestalt, and the best experience may come from working to grok it as a whole, more than, say, memorizing  every detail of every subsystem involved.

It's probably not coincidence that the quoted text -- originally in past tense -- reads very nicely as an imperative  ;)
Old School? Back in my day we just called it "School."

Pat

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Re: Talk to me about AD&D 1st Edition
« Reply #31 on: January 14, 2022, 10:57:08 AM »
The 3 core books of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition make up a very weird text. It's dictatorial and impenetrable in places. It rambles and meanders like a shaggy dog story, without a punchline. There are parts that are constantly referenced, but the majority of the pages are like a virgin old-growth forest, rarely trod and only dimly remembered. There's a tight core of mechanics, but the subsystems are random and disconnected, and the game never does a good job explaining how they all go together. That's why the reactions to it all are all over the place. What readers get out of it is a melange of what they bring to it, what they want to see, and random variation based on minute differences.


jmarso

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Re: Talk to me about AD&D 1st Edition
« Reply #32 on: January 14, 2022, 11:01:20 AM »
Did anyone have any special insight into Clerics for campaigns? I enjoy the concept of the class, and even though I plan to restrict a few spells (I'm doing more Sword & Sorcery, less High Fantasy... Resurrections are rare) the entire concept of Clerics messes with me.

Do you keep them as normal priests, or are spellcasting priests more rare in your settings? I plan to keep mine as more rare. The idea that you just hop on over to the local church for your daily cures messes with me.

Just looking to what others have done.

Pretty much always used them as written. In a world of wizards, monsters, magic swords, etc, the idea of clerics receiving magical powers from their deities seems to slot right in. Plus they are handy against the undead and after a bruising fight. ;)

Vidgrip

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Re: Talk to me about AD&D 1st Edition
« Reply #33 on: January 14, 2022, 11:49:38 AM »
Did anyone have any special insight into Clerics for campaigns? I enjoy the concept of the class, and even though I plan to restrict a few spells (I'm doing more Sword & Sorcery, less High Fantasy... Resurrections are rare) the entire concept of Clerics messes with me.

Do you keep them as normal priests, or are spellcasting priests more rare in your settings? I plan to keep mine as more rare. The idea that you just hop on over to the local church for your daily cures messes with me.

Just looking to what others have done.

D&D clerics don’t fit well in most sensibly-grounded settings. They work fine in all the official settings which are zany, random, ultra high fantasy affairs. We used clerics when we first played AD&D 1e, but it’s been many years since I used an official setting or any setting with active gods that give magical spells to people.

If you want examples of fun, interesting, medieval-authentic clerical classes for 1e or any OSR game, get a copy of Fantastic Heroes and Witchery. It’s worth the price of the whole book/pdf. There are options that work much better in low fantasy settings, including some specifically for sword & sorcery.
Running: Crypts & Things, Adventures in Middle Earth,   Playing: John Carter of Mars

Timothe

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Re: Talk to me about AD&D 1st Edition
« Reply #34 on: January 14, 2022, 12:26:56 PM »
When we played 1E AD&D long ago....

We rolled a d6 for each side, for initiative.  Ties were rolled again.

We used double damage for Nat 20's; and there was also extra damage for back to back hits, but I can't remember what we said it was?  I guess we thought the momentum of back to back hits should equal extra damage?  Back to back Nat 20's was also a big deal.

A fighter with a greatsword and multiple attacks, scoring back to back hits; could throw down with some monsters.

That’s pretty much how I ran it years ago. In the 1e game I run today I got rid of the critical hits, though.

Timothe

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Re: Talk to me about AD&D 1st Edition
« Reply #35 on: January 14, 2022, 12:30:28 PM »
I put this explanation together a few months ago for my new group:

Pre-1985 AD&D

1st Edition Pre-Unearthed Arcana (PHB & DMG only).
No Non-Weapon Proficiencies. No Weapon Specialization.

Note that Monster Manuals I and II included additional Races several years before Unearthed Arcana was published: Mountain Dwarves, Gray Elves, Wood Elves, Grugach Elves, and Valley Elves. [The additional Elves are rare and isolationist enough; I’m also not including the Underdark Races.]

A Natural 20 is an automatic hit or Save. (No Critical Hits)
A Natural 1 is an automatic miss. (No Fumbles)

No random social class table. “All PCs are assumed to be freemen or gentlemen (or able to pass themselves off as such) unless the DM places them otherwise.” [DMG p.88]

Damage: Unconscious if a single attack drops you down to zero to -3 hit points. Otherwise, -1 hit point per round at negative hit points until death. Permanent maiming at -6. Death at -10. Stopping the negative hit point bleed-out consists of binding wounds, starting respiration, administering a draught (spirits, healing potion, etc.), or otherwise doing whatever is necessary to restore life. [DMG p.82]

Then, natural healing is a very slow process and characters may be laid-up for weeks. I’d argue that “spirits” probably won’t help someone unconscious and bleeding to death as alcohol only grants a +1 to +3 hit point modifier at the most severe imbibing.

Elven meditation in lieu of sleep was introduced in an unofficial Dragon magazine article by Roger Moore and was later a 2nd Edition addition. It did not exist in the core AD&D 1e books.

Ability (Attribute) Checks aren’t really that common and aren’t even part of the 1e rules, and the DM shouldn’t call for them every few minutes to see if a PC notices something. If the DM tells you that you found a secret door, then you need to figure out how to open it, not make an Intelligence check or a Find Traps roll. There is some meta-gaming conflict as on one hand we have “Your character doesn’t know what you know” yet on the other hand you’re supposed to figure out problems as a player. That’s perfectly fine. However, a player who knows a lot of trivia shouldn’t be able to turn his or her character into “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.”

Plus, we already have game mechanics that cover “Ability checks”: Strength has Open Doors and Bend Bars/Lift Gates. Intelligence allows Magic Users to comprehend a spell formula well enough that he or she can memorize it from a spellbook. Wisdom grants will-based Saving Throw modifiers and provides a chance of spell failure for “unwise” Clerics and Druids. Dexterity grants dodge-based Saving Throw modifiers (yes…see the fine print in the PHB). Constitution has System Shock Survival (surviving Petrification, Polymorph, and Aging…it’s not a 5e Death Save!) and Resurrection Survival. Charisma has Loyalty (Morale) and Reaction rolls. [The Basic set suggested a DEX check to climb ropes…as opposed to a Thieves’ Climb Walls.]

Fire Building: Only requires Tinderbox w/Flint & Steel. I’ll point out that Tinder can vary greatly from dried grass to cattail fluff to char-cloth to pine tree fat-wood to birch bark to feather-sliced sticks, and so on, but there’s no need to play this out.

You’ll need a readied flame to ignite flaming oil bottles or puddles, etc., not flint and steel. [FYI…you can’t make Molotov cocktails out of olive oil and tallow. Flaming oil and food/lamp oil should be two different things...unless you want your bullseye lantern to explode every time you drop it on the ground.]

Swimming: Everyone can swim. [For drowning, see DMG p55]
Hairfoot Halflings are afraid of water, so I’d rule that they can’t swim. [Monster Manual]

Getting Lost: [See DMG p49]. “Becoming Lost: Any party not guided by a creature knowledgeable of the countryside through which the party is moving, or which is not following a well defined course (river, road, or the like), or which is not using a well-drawn and correct map, might become lost.” [Knowledgeable would include locals woodsmen, caravan personnel, Rangers (skilled in “woodcraft, tracking, scouting, and infiltration and spying”), and Navigators. Also, Gnomes have a chance to sense direction while underground. (But not Dwarves??)]

Riding - DMG mentions that fighters should be regularly practicing riding as one example for the proper playing of a fighter. However, everyone (at least Player Characters…) should be able to ride. (And Aerial Combat: To be able to fight while flying any aerial mount requires considerable practice. To become adept at aerial archery entails at least two months of continual practice.)
Note: In the Monster Manual, Elves do not favor horses and horses are not mentioned in their lair description. They’d tend to be on foot, even though the World of Greyhawk Glossography puts them on warhorses. Gray Elves might know how to ride griffons and hippogriffs, though.

Secondary Skills: [DMG] “As a general rule, having a skill will give the character the ability to determine the general worth and soundness of an item, the ability to find food, make small repairs, or actually construct (crude) items. For example, an individual with armorer skill could tell the quality of normal armor, repair chain links, or perhaps fashion certain weapons.” (As DM I would also refer players to the Hirelings chapter for relevant additional information and potential downtime pay.)

Equipment Lists by Location: “Gygax favored a small sack slung over the shoulder, holding holy water, potions of healing, presumably at-hand for quick use during melee…also iron rations, wolvesbane and, small silver mirror, tinderbox…” [Online comments about Gary Gygax’ Player Character Record Sheets]

Pat

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Re: Talk to me about AD&D 1st Edition
« Reply #36 on: January 14, 2022, 03:30:20 PM »

Getting Lost: [See DMG p49]. “Becoming Lost: Any party not guided by a creature knowledgeable of the countryside through which the party is moving, or which is not following a well defined course (river, road, or the like), or which is not using a well-drawn and correct map, might become lost.” [Knowledgeable would include locals woodsmen, caravan personnel, Rangers (skilled in “woodcraft, tracking, scouting, and infiltration and spying”), and Navigators. Also, Gnomes have a chance to sense direction while underground. (But not Dwarves??)]

Riding - DMG mentions that fighters should be regularly practicing riding as one example for the proper playing of a fighter. However, everyone (at least Player Characters…) should be able to ride. (And Aerial Combat: To be able to fight while flying any aerial mount requires considerable practice. To become adept at aerial archery entails at least two months of continual practice.)
Note: In the Monster Manual, Elves do not favor horses and horses are not mentioned in their lair description. They’d tend to be on foot, even though the World of Greyhawk Glossography puts them on warhorses. Gray Elves might know how to ride griffons and hippogriffs, though.
Those are examples of some of the things that I like about AD&D1e, but which I also think could be better presented.

There are all kinds of details of that nature in the books, and they tend to be pragmatic and grounded. Skills aren't checks or numbers on a character sheet, they're things you can do, and people without those skills either can't do them, or suffer penalties of some kind (and not just a minus on a roll). I really like that. Though I would like more general guidance, and for the details to be rearranged so they're easier to look up. A skill section that provides an overview of how to handle this, in general, and then lists all the specific examples in some kind of organized manner, would be great.

Though I disagree with one example you gave, and I'm going to use the disagreement as a springboard to an example of generalizing the concept. The relevant exception to getting lost is being "guided by a creature knowledgeable of the countryside". That's specific knowledge, not a general skill. A ranger isn't necessarily familiar with all countrysides, but is familiar with the outdoors in general and has interest, aptitude, and general proficiency in a number of pertinent skills.

So I'd say a ranger isn't automatically familiar with any random stretch of countryside, but can pick up familiarity much faster than other characters. That's an area where some additional quantification would be useful. For instance, say the ranger is automatically familiar with their home territory, out to a certain distance (perhaps a day's walk, or a large hex), and also automatically becomes familiar with any new area where they reside and have some free time. We can borrow the 2 months period to learn a skill from aerial archery, and say that's sufficient for a ranger to become familiar with a new hex, in their free time. The ranger might also become immediately familiar with any path they've taken in the past (i.e. they can always return home safely), and might be able to explicitly study an area and learn it more quickly. This could be applied to many other fields of knowledge and skills, including perhaps hairfeet halflings learning to swim. That's just one way to do it, but I think it's a reasonable example of making the rules a bit less buried in nooks and crannies, without losing the fundamental approach to how the game works.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2022, 03:31:57 PM by Pat »

Timothe

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Re: Talk to me about AD&D 1st Edition
« Reply #37 on: January 14, 2022, 03:35:45 PM »
That was my attempt to hunt down and explain how we did things before non-weapon proficiencies were invented in the Survival Guides. I don’t know if I can explain it any better because the original books didn’t explain it any better. Your position on familiarity is too much like Unearthed Arcana’s Rangers and Barbarians for my tastes. I was listing items that were actually from the original 1977-1979 core books. I have no desire to make more or more-detailed skill-related rules.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2022, 03:42:22 PM by Timothe »

Mishihari

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Re: Talk to me about AD&D 1st Edition
« Reply #38 on: January 15, 2022, 02:27:06 PM »
So, I've been wanting to try out the first edition of AD&D. I have just a tiny bit of experience with basic D&D, and own a good bit of OSR products (just haven't had a chance to run anything yet).

One of my goals this year is to finally start running a campaign in my homebrew world.

What can everyone tell me about it? The good, the bad?

Any personal stories?

This is my favorite D&D.  Gary's writing is immensely entertaining and set the tone for my rpg career.  While the presentation isn't as organized or the mechanics as coherent as 2E, a lot of the depth, detail, and atmosphere were lost in the 1E -> 2E update.

My big advice if you're trying it is to absorb as many rules as you can and just go with those to start.  If you spend all the time you need to grok all of the rules, you'll never get around to starting playing.  Once you're playing, add the remainder in digestible bites.  The only things I would suggest leaving out is weapon vs armor tables, which slow down combat too much, and psionics, which is an unbalanced mess.

Lunamancer

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Re: Talk to me about AD&D 1st Edition
« Reply #39 on: January 15, 2022, 03:14:55 PM »
Fire Building: Only requires Tinderbox w/Flint & Steel. I’ll point out that Tinder can vary greatly from dried grass to cattail fluff to char-cloth to pine tree fat-wood to birch bark to feather-sliced sticks, and so on, but there’s no need to play this out.

You’ll need a readied flame to ignite flaming oil bottles or puddles, etc., not flint and steel. [FYI…you can’t make Molotov cocktails out of olive oil and tallow. Flaming oil and food/lamp oil should be two different things...unless you want your bullseye lantern to explode every time you drop it on the ground.]

Swimming: Everyone can swim. [For drowning, see DMG p55]
Hairfoot Halflings are afraid of water, so I’d rule that they can’t swim. [Monster Manual]

Getting Lost: [See DMG p49]. “Becoming Lost: Any party not guided by a creature knowledgeable of the countryside through which the party is moving, or which is not following a well defined course (river, road, or the like), or which is not using a well-drawn and correct map, might become lost.” [Knowledgeable would include locals woodsmen, caravan personnel, Rangers (skilled in “woodcraft, tracking, scouting, and infiltration and spying”), and Navigators. Also, Gnomes have a chance to sense direction while underground. (But not Dwarves??)]

Riding - DMG mentions that fighters should be regularly practicing riding as one example for the proper playing of a fighter. However, everyone (at least Player Characters…) should be able to ride. (And Aerial Combat: To be able to fight while flying any aerial mount requires considerable practice. To become adept at aerial archery entails at least two months of continual practice.)
Note: In the Monster Manual, Elves do not favor horses and horses are not mentioned in their lair description. They’d tend to be on foot, even though the World of Greyhawk Glossography puts them on warhorses. Gray Elves might know how to ride griffons and hippogriffs, though.

Some more good stuff along these lines, DMG 68 notes that characters in metal armor can be heard for 90', hard boots can be heard at 60', relatively quiet movement can be heard at 30'. This is all assuming hard flooring.

The upshot is, you don't need thief skills our special proficiencies to run and participate in stealth missions. PCs just need to stick to either leather armor or no armor and were soft-soled footwear. And try to be quiet. If the party does all that and stays more than 30' away from enemies and/or sentries, you can move unheard. Stay out of line of sight, and you can remain unseen. No dice needed, and the whole party can participate.

Of course it helps to have a competent thief in the party for stealth missions. A thief can Hide in Shadows to have line of sight on an enemy without being seen, allowing detection of the enemy by sight, whereas Hear Noise allows for the detection of the enemy by sound. Knowing the enemy's position is of course key for the party as a whole to avoid being seen or heard. It turns the stealth game on its head. Rather than being thwarted by your least stealthy member, the party is enhanced by its most stealthy member.

Bradford C. Walker

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Re: Talk to me about AD&D 1st Edition
« Reply #40 on: January 15, 2022, 06:36:15 PM »
If you want an audio perspective, Attention Span Labs released an interview with author Rick Stump talking about his 42 year AD&D campaign. https://youtu.be/LoWFFRmj0OM

Wrath of God

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Re: Talk to me about AD&D 1st Edition
« Reply #41 on: January 16, 2022, 03:55:40 AM »
Quote
D&D clerics don’t fit well in most sensibly-grounded settings. They work fine in all the official settings which are zany, random, ultra high fantasy affairs. We used clerics when we first played AD&D 1e, but it’s been many years since I used an official setting or any setting with active gods that give magical spells to people.

And high level Magic Users does?

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