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Author Topic: Why didn't earlier editions of D&D use some type of unified mechanic?  (Read 1595 times)

Jam The MF

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Why did it take 26 years to make that happen?
I need you to roll a perception check.

VisionStorm

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Re: Why didn't earlier editions of D&D use some type of unified mechanic?
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2021, 08:04:42 PM »
Because 0e was a flawless gem that didn't need modern trappings like so-called "unified" mechanics to be the greatest game evah and be worshiped by the OSR. And how dare you suggest otherwise?  :P

Seriously, though, unified mechanics probably predated 3e by like a decade at least, since most skilled-based systems have been using them since forever. But D&D is still dragging it's Vancian magic system and shit number of HP at level 1 that eventually get multiplied and over inflated by your level, so that should tell you how hard it is to take D&D's sacred cows to pasture and slaughter them brutally like they deserve.

Pat

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Re: Why didn't earlier editions of D&D use some type of unified mechanic?
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2021, 08:18:12 PM »
What's the value of a unified mechanic?

David Johansen

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Re: Why didn't earlier editions of D&D use some type of unified mechanic?
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2021, 08:25:00 PM »
Using one roll for everything like Runequest does.  Some modern games take it to extremes but it's been there since the earliest iteration of BRP.
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GeekyBugle

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Re: Why didn't earlier editions of D&D use some type of unified mechanic?
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2021, 08:28:39 PM »
Why did it take 26 years to make that happen?

Because.

TSR published a game or two with d100 mechanics, and besides those retrogrades of the OSR who plays them anymore?
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Ratman_tf

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Re: Why didn't earlier editions of D&D use some type of unified mechanic?
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2021, 08:29:54 PM »
What's the value of a unified mechanic?

Being able to apply one modifier to most or all rolls. Say you want Dex to affect your ability to hit in ranged combat, and also to affect your ability to Pick Pockets. That's an easy example, since it's fairly trivial to convert a d20 mod to a % mod, but when the whole system is built from the ground up with a unified mechanic, you can apply them to a variety of situations.

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Pat

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Re: Why didn't earlier editions of D&D use some type of unified mechanic?
« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2021, 08:59:11 PM »
What's the value of a unified mechanic?

Being able to apply one modifier to most or all rolls. Say you want Dex to affect your ability to hit in ranged combat, and also to affect your ability to Pick Pockets. That's an easy example, since it's fairly trivial to convert a d20 mod to a % mod, but when the whole system is built from the ground up with a unified mechanic, you can apply them to a variety of situations.
That's not really a virtue, tho. For example, strength. Does a +3 on d20 roll really reflect the difference between a big, strong orc slamming into a door, and the small, frail elf? There are a lot of cases like that.

GeekyBugle

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Re: Why didn't earlier editions of D&D use some type of unified mechanic?
« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2021, 09:01:48 PM »
What's the value of a unified mechanic?

Being able to apply one modifier to most or all rolls. Say you want Dex to affect your ability to hit in ranged combat, and also to affect your ability to Pick Pockets. That's an easy example, since it's fairly trivial to convert a d20 mod to a % mod, but when the whole system is built from the ground up with a unified mechanic, you can apply them to a variety of situations.
That's not really a virtue, tho. For example, strength. Does a +3 on d20 roll really reflect the difference between a big, strong orc slamming into a door, and the small, frail elf? There are a lot of cases like that.

Are you implying not all fantasy races are equally strong, beautiful and peaceful my good fellow?
« Last Edit: April 28, 2021, 09:03:37 PM by GeekyBugle »
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Arkansan

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Re: Why didn't earlier editions of D&D use some type of unified mechanic?
« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2021, 09:03:44 PM »
I imagine they were floating around in house rules for a long time. Hell ascending AC house rules were some of the earliest you hear about but that didn't become an official thing until 3rd edition.

As to why these things didn't become official, I'd imagine it's because what was there worked and had the added advantage of being familiar after a few years. Never underestimate inertia.

moonsweeper

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Re: Why didn't earlier editions of D&D use some type of unified mechanic?
« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2021, 09:13:34 PM »
Why did it take 26 years to make that happen?

Because we were too busy having fun just rolling the dice and killing orcs, stealing dragon hoards, and razing villages to care about that kind of stuff?

It was there if you really wanted that. (RQ, etc.)


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VisionStorm

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Re: Why didn't earlier editions of D&D use some type of unified mechanic?
« Reply #10 on: April 28, 2021, 09:32:54 PM »
What's the value of a unified mechanic?

Being able to apply one modifier to most or all rolls. Say you want Dex to affect your ability to hit in ranged combat, and also to affect your ability to Pick Pockets. That's an easy example, since it's fairly trivial to convert a d20 mod to a % mod, but when the whole system is built from the ground up with a unified mechanic, you can apply them to a variety of situations.
That's not really a virtue, tho. For example, strength. Does a +3 on d20 roll really reflect the difference between a big, strong orc slamming into a door, and the small, frail elf? There are a lot of cases like that.

Interestingly pre-3e D&D didn't exactly reflect those differences very well either. WTF was the opposed mechanic even like back then? Roll-under 1d20, whoever roll's highest without failing wins? And the break doors number was this arbitrary value that didn't account for how strong the door was.

But we can find minor inconsistencies when dealing with some edge cases in unified mechanics, therefore ununified mechanics are better I guess.

Pat

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Re: Why didn't earlier editions of D&D use some type of unified mechanic?
« Reply #11 on: April 28, 2021, 09:38:52 PM »
What's the value of a unified mechanic?

Being able to apply one modifier to most or all rolls. Say you want Dex to affect your ability to hit in ranged combat, and also to affect your ability to Pick Pockets. That's an easy example, since it's fairly trivial to convert a d20 mod to a % mod, but when the whole system is built from the ground up with a unified mechanic, you can apply them to a variety of situations.
That's not really a virtue, tho. For example, strength. Does a +3 on d20 roll really reflect the difference between a big, strong orc slamming into a door, and the small, frail elf? There are a lot of cases like that.

Interestingly pre-3e D&D didn't exactly reflect those differences very well either. WTF was the opposed mechanic even like back then? Roll-under 1d20, whoever roll's highest without failing wins? And the break doors number was this arbitrary value that didn't account for how strong the door was.

But we can find minor inconsistencies when dealing with some edge cases in unified mechanics, therefore ununified mechanics are better I guess.
They're not minor fringe cases, but nice passive aggressiveness.

I'm really looking for an argument why unified mechanics are better. Because a lot of people seem to think it's obvious they're better, but I almost never see anyone express why.

Brad

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Re: Why didn't earlier editions of D&D use some type of unified mechanic?
« Reply #12 on: April 28, 2021, 09:44:19 PM »
"Unified mechanics" make sense when you're incapable of playing an actual game.

Chris24601

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Re: Why didn't earlier editions of D&D use some type of unified mechanic?
« Reply #13 on: April 28, 2021, 09:55:55 PM »
That's not really a virtue, tho. For example, strength. Does a +3 on d20 roll really reflect the difference between a big, strong orc slamming into a door, and the small, frail elf? There are a lot of cases like that.
That’s more an argument that the bonus or die type used for the unified system isn’t a good fit than one that unified mechanics are bad.

For example, swap out the presumption of a d20 (flat-distribution) for 3d6 (bell distribution) and suddenly that +3 can make a significant difference on edge cases.

Similarly, if the small frail elf didn’t have a +0, but a -1 modifier and the big strong orc didn’t have a +3 but a +5 there will also be a significant difference in performance, particularly over the course of many rolls (sure, the big orc might whiff a door check now and then and the frail elf get lucky, but the next round the orc checks again and passes and the elf bounces off the next three stuck doors they come across).

So again; your argument is only relevant to one particular instance of unified mechanics, it does not function as a blanket dismissal of unified mechanics as inherently flawed by nature of being unified.

Case in point... WEG Star Wars vs. d20 Star Wars. Both use unified mechanics, but WEG’s are actually properly tailored to the setting and function gloriously in that purpose, while d20’s are not because trying to fit Star Wars style action into a 3e D&D framework just isn’t going to get any remotely close.


Pat

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Re: Why didn't earlier editions of D&D use some type of unified mechanic?
« Reply #14 on: April 28, 2021, 10:05:16 PM »
That's not really a virtue, tho. For example, strength. Does a +3 on d20 roll really reflect the difference between a big, strong orc slamming into a door, and the small, frail elf? There are a lot of cases like that.
That’s more an argument that the bonus or die type used for the unified system isn’t a good fit than one that unified mechanics are bad.

For example, swap out the presumption of a d20 (flat-distribution) for 3d6 (bell distribution) and suddenly that +3 can make a significant difference on edge cases.
Then are you going to swap out the dice roll every time you run across a situation with a different natural distribution? That's no longer much of a unified mechanic.