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Author Topic: What is the Best WOTC Edition of D&D?  (Read 7246 times)

Chris24601

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Re: What is the Best WOTC Edition of D&D?
« Reply #135 on: September 08, 2022, 09:55:30 AM »
Oh 5e is the worst. I take its support from the OSR crowd as evidence thst they only care about superficial layout.
Agreed. Boring as heck.

Every meaningful mechanical choice for your character is done by level 3 unless you’re a spellcaster and, even then, their system of leveling up the spells by using higher level slots and very few upper tier slots means you’ll have most of the spells you’ll actually want to use on a regular basis by the time you hit level 7.

In combat even the spellcasters are reduced largely to “I hit with my cantrip” that only do damage (not even interesting riders like 4E had). Advantage/Disadvantage is nice for reducing complexity (and easier to apply if you forgot about it until after the action was done) but allowing them to completely cancel each other rather than just counting relative value (i.e. one positive and two negatives still being disadvantage).

And it’s still got the massive hit point bloat without even the restraint of 4E’s healing surges (which unlike the extra healing of 5e’s HD was actually a hard limit on daily healing in 4E).

5e is exactly what you’d expect of an edition designed by a committee of marketing analysts.

Shrieking Banshee

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Re: What is the Best WOTC Edition of D&D?
« Reply #136 on: September 08, 2022, 10:57:01 AM »
I mean I get it in part. If you go at the angle that “combat should be a tax, not a desired outcome”, then 4es combat focus isn’t your thing. If you liked vance things for worldbuilding, then 4es abstracted power system can also be a turn off.

But 5e has all the things grognards theoretically hate: forgiving combat (requiring quad taps to be put down),at-will, encounter and daily powers, innate healing, still has a combat focus, alternate maths, and while it lacks 4es power stuff, has 3es munchkiny multiclassing nonsense. Which theoretically 0D&D fans hate.

Steven Mitchell

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Re: What is the Best WOTC Edition of D&D?
« Reply #137 on: September 08, 2022, 11:28:42 AM »
I mean I get it in part. If you go at the angle that “combat should be a tax, not a desired outcome”, then 4es combat focus isn’t your thing. If you liked vance things for worldbuilding, then 4es abstracted power system can also be a turn off.

But 5e has all the things grognards theoretically hate: forgiving combat (requiring quad taps to be put down),at-will, encounter and daily powers, innate healing, still has a combat focus, alternate maths, and while it lacks 4es power stuff, has 3es munchkiny multiclassing nonsense. Which theoretically 0D&D fans hate.

If you like what 3E and/or 4E is doing, it does it pretty well.  If you dislike what they are doing, they are (relatively) hard to change.  5E's defaults suck, but it is much easier to change into something playable for a given style--even easier than the early editions in some ways. 

Now, I can't say about how the supplements might have botched things, because I got off that train early.  But the initial 5E didn't have a lot of multi-classing nonsense, because in practice it gets used very little.  If anything, multi-classing messes with the munchkins for the most part. Feats are easy to ignore.  Heck, I grudgingly allowed then in one campaign, and had a total of 2 feats taken over about 30+ opportunities.  Toss in some DMG options to make combat deadlier and then use the Kobold Press monster books instead, and you get something deadly enough for some of us.  As deadly as 3E was out of the box, maybe a little more so with exhaustion.  (Bit easier to lose a character in early 3E, a bit easier to have a TPK in early 5E with the options turned on.) 

Now, in practice, what I want on deadliness is somewhere between a dialed in 5E and the early stuff.  Not everyone that enjoyed early D&D thought that characters dropping like flies was always its best feature.  (Great in some games, something to work around in others.)  I've incorporated some BEMCI/RC features and some 5E features (dialed way back) to get a balance I actually like better in my own design.  So I'd say what you are missing is that not all of us that generally prefer old school liked every single detail of old school design and implementation.  Sure, there are people here that like that, too, but not all of us. 

There is a dichotomy there that comes up a lot in design, I think, and not just limited to game design:  If you want to appeal to a diverse group, it's about how well you widget does what it sets out to do, how many people want to do that, but also how easy it is to repurpose the widget for something nearby.  Early D&D being fairly to repurpose in many ways, how it got played varied accordingly.       

3catcircus

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Re: What is the Best WOTC Edition of D&D?
« Reply #138 on: September 08, 2022, 01:49:00 PM »
I think that it's an easy putt to see that 3e was a clean up of 2e with pieces from the players options codified, combined with "doing the math in reverse" so that people who can't add and subtract negative numbers could play.  Prestige classes = kits in disguise. Had they formalized that you can't take more then one prestige class and made it so that multiclassing worked more like dual classing to prevent dipping a toe for a level to get stackables, it'd be darn near perfect.

4e is such a leap away by making everything a power and making everything fit into a mold of at will, per encounter, and x times/day that it could have been a competitor to MtG as a CCG. It became point-and-click roleplaying.

I was initially excited for 5e.  The problem(s) I have with it are that it plays boring and there seems to be a schizophrenia surrounding product releases. There's no risk/reward. Attempts to make it equitable and fair mean every race and class is essentially the same, and there isn't even an academic challenge in the combat math - at least in 3e the numbers behind added and subtracted required you to think a tiny bit. 5e? As long as you fog the glass, it's all good. 

As to product releases? Well, if I'm new, why do I have to hit "Load More" multiple times to scroll back almost 10 years to see the PHB on the WotC website? It's either "newest" or "alphabetical." I shouldn't have to guess to click on "Where to Start" rather than "Tabletop" to get to it quickly.  How do I know if a product is for the players or the DM or both without reading about it? How do I know if it is for a particular campaign setting?  If I tryba search on "Forgotten Realms" on their webpage, I get 2 products come up. I shouldn't have to know to go to DMs Guild to find all of their products (and know to sort by publisher).  As a new DM I shouldn't have to figure out how the DDAL adventures relate to the hardcover adventures.

Despite the problems with 3e, it was well organized. You knew what was product was (core, supplement, adventure, etc.) And you knew where to look to find it.  I don't care how great a product line is - if you're customers can't find it, why bother.

Maybe that's a complaint about WotC, but I think who is running things there goes hand in hand with the content of the product.

Steven Mitchell

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Re: What is the Best WOTC Edition of D&D?
« Reply #139 on: September 08, 2022, 02:41:00 PM »
3catcircus,  I think you are forgetting just how bad the 3E "splats" were as a whole.  Sure, had some good content, but signal to noise was rather low, with lots of drivel and a few completely broken things in there too, to liven things up. 

When it comes to making things useful for the GM and players, WotC has been screwing up since day 1, and nothing has changed on that front other than the particular things they decide to screw up today will be different than yesterday and tomorrow. 

I was thinking earlier in this back and forth that one of WotC's problems is that they find it very difficult to get something exactly right.  When the design is good, the development/implementation is slap dash.  Then they'll do pretty darn good development on something that is designed poorly, making something sort of adequate out of a bad situation.  They can't explain well how their own systems work or are intended to work, and can't even be consistent within the same book on such topics.  Under those conditions, it is amazing that their marketing isn't even worse, because how the heck is the person doing the marketing supposed to understand it?  And how I hate the term, but their "Vision" is even screwed up--often bipolar and suffering from multiple personalities.

It wouldn't surprise me if they try to make the 6E woke edition and fail at that.

Jam The MF

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Re: What is the Best WOTC Edition of D&D?
« Reply #140 on: September 08, 2022, 04:35:05 PM »
:) So, Jam the MF, as you can see from the continuance of this topic the objectively correct answer is still 5e.  ;) It doesn't come with all this whinging and bickering, which alone already puts it leagues ahead of WotC's first few forays.

Happy travels! 8)


I think the answer is either the original release of 3.0, or the original release of 5.0
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Jam The MF

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Re: What is the Best WOTC Edition of D&D?
« Reply #141 on: September 08, 2022, 04:37:00 PM »
Oh 5e is the worst. I take its support from the OSR crowd as evidence thst they only care about superficial layout.
Agreed. Boring as heck.

Every meaningful mechanical choice for your character is done by level 3 unless you’re a spellcaster and, even then, their system of leveling up the spells by using higher level slots and very few upper tier slots means you’ll have most of the spells you’ll actually want to use on a regular basis by the time you hit level 7.

In combat even the spellcasters are reduced largely to “I hit with my cantrip” that only do damage (not even interesting riders like 4E had). Advantage/Disadvantage is nice for reducing complexity (and easier to apply if you forgot about it until after the action was done) but allowing them to completely cancel each other rather than just counting relative value (i.e. one positive and two negatives still being disadvantage).

And it’s still got the massive hit point bloat without even the restraint of 4E’s healing surges (which unlike the extra healing of 5e’s HD was actually a hard limit on daily healing in 4E).

5e is exactly what you’d expect of an edition designed by a committee of marketing analysts.


You mention level 3 and level 7.  That level range is probably at the heart of most gaming sessions.  Perhaps, that design is intentional?
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3catcircus

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Re: What is the Best WOTC Edition of D&D?
« Reply #142 on: September 08, 2022, 04:48:00 PM »
3catcircus,  I think you are forgetting just how bad the 3E "splats" were as a whole.  Sure, had some good content, but signal to noise was rather low, with lots of drivel and a few completely broken things in there too, to liven things up. 

When it comes to making things useful for the GM and players, WotC has been screwing up since day 1, and nothing has changed on that front other than the particular things they decide to screw up today will be different than yesterday and tomorrow. 

I was thinking earlier in this back and forth that one of WotC's problems is that they find it very difficult to get something exactly right.  When the design is good, the development/implementation is slap dash.  Then they'll do pretty darn good development on something that is designed poorly, making something sort of adequate out of a bad situation.  They can't explain well how their own systems work or are intended to work, and can't even be consistent within the same book on such topics.  Under those conditions, it is amazing that their marketing isn't even worse, because how the heck is the person doing the marketing supposed to understand it?  And how I hate the term, but their "Vision" is even screwed up--often bipolar and suffering from multiple personalities.

It wouldn't surprise me if they try to make the 6E woke edition and fail at that.

I'm not forgetting it. I think that 3.0 with the base splat books works fine. Or 3.0 with campaign specific supplements. Or 3.0 with BoVD and BoED in a very specific campaign style. Or 3.0 without letting players access what should be DM supplements. (e.g. Savage Species).  It's when you combine all of them that it's a problem because there is insufficient playtesting to really see how badly things break - with too many DMs not being willing to say no to ridiculous combinations of feats and prestige classes and races.  We had (and continue to have) players selecting a race, a class level, feats - not because it is cool - but for a mechanical bonus "take this race for the +x bonus to that so when you take this feat, it..."
« Last Edit: September 08, 2022, 05:59:59 PM by 3catcircus »

Jaeger

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Re: What is the Best WOTC Edition of D&D?
« Reply #143 on: September 08, 2022, 08:50:05 PM »

You mention level 3 and level 7.  That level range is probably at the heart of most gaming sessions.  Perhaps, that design is intentional?

Not intentional so much as that is the way the "sweet spot" works out for the system math + Spell progression

And it has more or less been that way since the beginning...

From another thread: Does the Armor Class system produce HP Bloat?

Regarding Hit Points
In miniature wargaming with dozen if not hundreds of figures you don't want to be messing around the details of individual figures. So combat was abstracted to 1 hit = 1 kill. When Gygax introduced fantasy elements to Chainmail along with heroes and superheroes, once way he beefed them up was to require 4 hits in order to kill a Hero and 8 hits to kill a Super-Hero.

Dave Arneson started running Braunsteins and later Blackmoor. This was found hit to kill too harsh for when the campaign was starting out. So one 1 hit to kill became 1d6 hit points. And one hit became 1d6 damage.

...

Hit Point Bloat
With OD&D everybody rolled 1d6 for hit points. Fighters got +1 to the die roll at first level and in general, got to roll an additional 1d6 hit points every level. Other classes rolled 1d6 hit points infrequently. Fighers had an average of 8 hit points at 2nd, 15 HP at 4th, 23 HP at 6th, and a whopping average of 39 HP at 10th level.

Later editions had varying reasons for inflating the hit points of the characters (and monsters). But in 5e we know that the reason was to allow more combat options despite both 5e and OD&D having the same rough power curve as characters level.  By inflating hit points rather than muck around with bonuses, higher-level characters are distinguished by being able to do more damage in more ways than lower-level characters.

BY now there are options and combos that break 5e, but if you stick to the core rules I found that the outcome of various 5e encounters track the same as the outcome various OD&D encounters. It's just in 5e, you have more explicit mechanics for how that is played out.
...

From 4 to 8 hits being the scale for hero to superhero. The E6 mod for 3.x D&D. To virtually every edition running into mechanical scaling issues around level 10 or so...

The reality is that with the escalating HP Bloat model that D&D embraces, the mathematical sweet spot has virtually been a constant despite various designers wishful thinking that they had cracked the math to make high level HP bloat work.

The complete inability to acknowledge or even recognize that you are just inviting systematic scaling issues into the game if you keep adding HP after more than 6-8 or so levels for PC's shows that after almost 50 years becoming a so-called "professional" game designers is more about persistence and desire, rather than having any real affinity for good game design.
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3catcircus

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Re: What is the Best WOTC Edition of D&D?
« Reply #144 on: September 08, 2022, 09:33:13 PM »

You mention level 3 and level 7.  That level range is probably at the heart of most gaming sessions.  Perhaps, that design is intentional?

Not intentional so much as that is the way the "sweet spot" works out for the system math + Spell progression

And it has more or less been that way since the beginning...

From another thread: Does the Armor Class system produce HP Bloat?

Regarding Hit Points
In miniature wargaming with dozen if not hundreds of figures you don't want to be messing around the details of individual figures. So combat was abstracted to 1 hit = 1 kill. When Gygax introduced fantasy elements to Chainmail along with heroes and superheroes, once way he beefed them up was to require 4 hits in order to kill a Hero and 8 hits to kill a Super-Hero.

Dave Arneson started running Braunsteins and later Blackmoor. This was found hit to kill too harsh for when the campaign was starting out. So one 1 hit to kill became 1d6 hit points. And one hit became 1d6 damage.

...

Hit Point Bloat
With OD&D everybody rolled 1d6 for hit points. Fighters got +1 to the die roll at first level and in general, got to roll an additional 1d6 hit points every level. Other classes rolled 1d6 hit points infrequently. Fighers had an average of 8 hit points at 2nd, 15 HP at 4th, 23 HP at 6th, and a whopping average of 39 HP at 10th level.

Later editions had varying reasons for inflating the hit points of the characters (and monsters). But in 5e we know that the reason was to allow more combat options despite both 5e and OD&D having the same rough power curve as characters level.  By inflating hit points rather than muck around with bonuses, higher-level characters are distinguished by being able to do more damage in more ways than lower-level characters.

BY now there are options and combos that break 5e, but if you stick to the core rules I found that the outcome of various 5e encounters track the same as the outcome various OD&D encounters. It's just in 5e, you have more explicit mechanics for how that is played out.
...

From 4 to 8 hits being the scale for hero to superhero. The E6 mod for 3.x D&D. To virtually every edition running into mechanical scaling issues around level 10 or so...

The reality is that with the escalating HP Bloat model that D&D embraces, the mathematical sweet spot has virtually been a constant despite various designers wishful thinking that they had cracked the math to make high level HP bloat work.

The complete inability to acknowledge or even recognize that you are just inviting systematic scaling issues into the game if you keep adding HP after more than 6-8 or so levels for PC's shows that after almost 50 years becoming a so-called "professional" game designers is more about persistence and desire, rather than having any real affinity for good game design.

It's not even affinity for "good game design." It's a lack of creativity in how to address a particular mechanical issue.  In previous editions prior to 3e there was essentially a natural washout of AC because there were only so many creatures with really good AC below -2. Three typical range was between 2 and 9 for the monsters.  The hit points were also similarly scaled.  With 3e, because of stackable bonuses allowing ACs and BABs to continuously improve, the arms race means that hit points need to be inflated.

Looking at a hill giant, in 2e it has AC 5 (3 with armor) and 12 HD +1-2 hp. So - that's a +5 natural armor bonus and in 3e+ terms, it's be AC 15.  It's THAC0 was 9, so (if I recall correctly), that works out to a +11 to hit.  So - already it's hp was inflated from 1e where it had 8 HD. But it only has 1 attack.

In 3e, they kept the same HD but adding in the bonuses for CON gives 12HD+48 hp. But it gets almost 2x the natural armor bonus it had in 2e with an AC of 20. It has 2 attacks each round.

In 5e, they only reduce HD a bit, but it's actually a higher average hp than 3e because they use d12 instead of d8. AC is back on par with 2e at AC 13. Attack bonus is lower than 3e but damage is about the same - and abourv the same damage as in 2e.

It's really not that much of a difference between 3e, 5e, and PF for most of the "normal" monsters, but 3e felt "fresh" while 4e, PF, and 5e don't really add anything.

One more reason I'll continue believing 3e is the best WotC edition.

cavalier973

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Re: What is the Best WOTC Edition of D&D?
« Reply #145 on: September 09, 2022, 06:39:20 AM »
The question concerned “WOTC era D&D”, and so, even if it’s the Tom Hagen of D&D, 4e should be included in the list. It is also my favorite of the (so far) 3 & 1/2 editions, since it’s the only one I’ve played on the table. Also, the Nentir Vale is awesome.


Jaeger

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Re: What is the Best WOTC Edition of D&D?
« Reply #146 on: September 09, 2022, 04:15:32 PM »
It's not even affinity for "good game design." It's a lack of creativity in how to address a particular mechanical issue.  In previous editions prior to 3e there was essentially a natural washout of AC because there were only so many creatures with really good AC below -2. Three typical range was between 2 and 9 for the monsters.  The hit points were also similarly scaled.  With 3e, because of stackable bonuses allowing ACs and BABs to continuously improve, the arms race means that hit points need to be inflated.

I'll quibble and say that no creativity is needed to address the issue of HP Bloat: Just stop HP progression past level 6 to 8.

You do not need to get mechanically creative because the fix is perfectly straightforward.

Post AD&D1e game designers inability to recognize the root cause of HP scaling issues, and then implement the straightforward solution speaks to a complete lack of understanding why D&D has always had scaling issues.



In 3e, they kept the same HD but adding in the bonuses for CON gives 12HD+48 hp. But it gets almost 2x the natural armor bonus it had in 2e with an AC of 20. It has 2 attacks each round.

In 5e, they only reduce HD a bit, but it's actually a higher average hp than 3e because they use d12 instead of d8. AC is back on par with 2e at AC 13. Attack bonus is lower than 3e but damage is about the same - and abourv the same damage as in 2e.
...

Another example of so-called professional game designers changing things without understanding their wider effects on the system. Both B/X and AD&D1e had a standard die type for monster and npc HD for a reason. Using different types of dice to represent different HD for different monsters shows that they never understood why it was done that way, and then they wonder why their precious CR rating never really work...

The more I study the rules for past editions of D&D: (I have Holmes, Moldvay and Mentzer B/X, AD&D, 3.0, 4e and 5e.) The more I realize that all the WotC D&D design teams simply did not understand why certain rules were in the older editions of D&D before they began to change them.
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3catcircus

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Re: What is the Best WOTC Edition of D&D?
« Reply #147 on: September 09, 2022, 04:29:44 PM »
It's not even affinity for "good game design." It's a lack of creativity in how to address a particular mechanical issue.  In previous editions prior to 3e there was essentially a natural washout of AC because there were only so many creatures with really good AC below -2. Three typical range was between 2 and 9 for the monsters.  The hit points were also similarly scaled.  With 3e, because of stackable bonuses allowing ACs and BABs to continuously improve, the arms race means that hit points need to be inflated.

I'll quibble and say that no creativity is needed to address the issue of HP Bloat: Just stop HP progression past level 6 to 8.

You do not need to get mechanically creative because the fix is perfectly straightforward.

Post AD&D1e game designers inability to recognize the root cause of HP scaling issues, and then implement the straightforward solution speaks to a complete lack of understanding why D&D has always had scaling issues.



In 3e, they kept the same HD but adding in the bonuses for CON gives 12HD+48 hp. But it gets almost 2x the natural armor bonus it had in 2e with an AC of 20. It has 2 attacks each round.

In 5e, they only reduce HD a bit, but it's actually a higher average hp than 3e because they use d12 instead of d8. AC is back on par with 2e at AC 13. Attack bonus is lower than 3e but damage is about the same - and abourv the same damage as in 2e.
...

Another example of so-called professional game designers changing things without understanding their wider effects on the system. Both B/X and AD&D1e had a standard die type for monster and npc HD for a reason. Using different types of dice to represent different HD for different monsters shows that they never understood why it was done that way, and then they wonder why their precious CR rating never really work...

The more I study the rules for past editions of D&D: (I have Holmes, Moldvay and Mentzer B/X, AD&D, 3.0, 4e and 5e.) The more I realize that all the WotC D&D design teams simply did not understand why certain rules were in the older editions of D&D before they began to change them.

But that's just it - it's "monkey see, monkey do." To be fair, there probably weren't a library of notes from the earlt data detailing why Gygax, et. al did what they did. You have to glean that from interviews and conversations they'd had over the years.

Reminds me of a joke in my industry: a team of young engineers was struggling with a problem on a missile system and they finally throw up their hands and ask management to haul the designer out of retirement. He agrees to do so for a $1M consulting fee, walks in, looks at the missile, takes a piece of chalk, and puts an 'x' on a certain spot and says check in there, a component is failed. Management says, "we aren't paying you your fee - anyone could mark an x with chalk.". He responds, "oh, you will give me my fee because you're not paying me to make an x with chalk; you're paying me because I know *where* to put the x mark with chalk."

*That's* the key when you ask people to take someone else's work and create from it - they know how to create, but not why.  At least 3e was *closer* because some of the people who worked on it worked on 2.5e first. 4e and 5e? Not so much.

Chris24601

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Re: What is the Best WOTC Edition of D&D?
« Reply #148 on: September 09, 2022, 08:42:00 PM »
Maybe, but most of 3e’s biggest problems can boiled to a failure to understand how they were changing the rules would change the way the game was played.

If you ran the core classes using the same assumptions and spellcasting choices as you’d make in 2e the classes in general would be much more balanced with each other.

In AD&D the way the saves scaled made save or dies a very risky proposition… far better given the generally 2 digit hit point totals was a fireball or similar save for half damage spell… because 17 damage (half of 10d6) removed a significant chunk of hit points for certain while the save or die might fail with no effect 75% of the time. Similarly, that damage would come off the same pool the fighter was diminishing so they each contributing to the same solution.

But by setting save difficulty off both spell level and the caster’s ability score in 3e while enabling the targeting of different defenses where there were often numbers much lower than the others while simultaneously ballooning hit points into the triple digits made save or dies which completely bypassed hit points and could often succeed by targeting weak saves the optimal solution that largely rendered any class without such abilities suboptimal… particularly when a failed save vs. a save or die rendered any work the fighter had been doing irrelevant to ending the fight.

3e completely lost the plot when it came to emulating the prior experience of D&D and the AOL and similar message boards of the day were awash with the same vitriol from 2e fans against 3e (only 3e was Diablo instead of 4E being World of Warcraft) and refused to convert and fractured the base.

The main difference was the 2e players didn’t have mass social media be whining little bitches on and so just continued playing the edition they preferred without needing some 3rd party to affirm their choice with a currently supported clone to keep selling them products.

4E was just a natural evolution from the tail end of the edition that had already fundamentally broken from the previous editions of D&D.

Frankly, all of D&D is pretty mediocre… benefiting mostly from the benefit of being first and then from Hasbro marketing money. Palladium Fantasy 1e is better than any edition (TSR or WotC) of D&D.

3catcircus

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Re: What is the Best WOTC Edition of D&D?
« Reply #149 on: September 09, 2022, 09:34:42 PM »
Maybe, but most of 3e’s biggest problems can boiled to a failure to understand how they were changing the rules would change the way the game was played.

If you ran the core classes using the same assumptions and spellcasting choices as you’d make in 2e the classes in general would be much more balanced with each other.

In AD&D the way the saves scaled made save or dies a very risky proposition… far better given the generally 2 digit hit point totals was a fireball or similar save for half damage spell… because 17 damage (half of 10d6) removed a significant chunk of hit points for certain while the save or die might fail with no effect 75% of the time. Similarly, that damage would come off the same pool the fighter was diminishing so they each contributing to the same solution.

But by setting save difficulty off both spell level and the caster’s ability score in 3e while enabling the targeting of different defenses where there were often numbers much lower than the others while simultaneously ballooning hit points into the triple digits made save or dies which completely bypassed hit points and could often succeed by targeting weak saves the optimal solution that largely rendered any class without such abilities suboptimal… particularly when a failed save vs. a save or die rendered any work the fighter had been doing irrelevant to ending the fight.

3e completely lost the plot when it came to emulating the prior experience of D&D and the AOL and similar message boards of the day were awash with the same vitriol from 2e fans against 3e (only 3e was Diablo instead of 4E being World of Warcraft) and refused to convert and fractured the base.

The main difference was the 2e players didn’t have mass social media be whining little bitches on and so just continued playing the edition they preferred without needing some 3rd party to affirm their choice with a currently supported clone to keep selling them products.

4E was just a natural evolution from the tail end of the edition that had already fundamentally broken from the previous editions of D&D.

Frankly, all of D&D is pretty mediocre… benefiting mostly from the benefit of being first and then from Hasbro marketing money. Palladium Fantasy 1e is better than any edition (TSR or WotC) of D&D.

This is true. My preferred fantasy RPGs are RC/BECMI (one D&D rulebook for everything), 1e (for nostalgia) and HARP (Rolemaster without as much Roll-master) with 3e following a distant 4th.