[generic] Black Hack/early D&D compared to 5e (relocated)

#21
IMHO this was always the case from 3rd level up in D&D. 5e starts it a bit earlier. May I also suggest that if the DM keeps offering room after room of underpowered combat then.. guess what?
Read the basic structure of how the game is balanced then you can slowly up the opposition to match your players.
But the "we aren't playing D&D anymore and it's hard syndrome" is hardly new.
I always found this the hardest part of (old)D&D as levels crept up beyond 2 or 3. It made sense, in an ecological way, that the PCs would still encounter goblins/orcs/whatever the basic monster race was, because they would generally still be hanging around the same places. But a bunch of goblins isn't the same threat to 5th level characters that it is to 2nd level characters. So you have to present them with slightly harder challenges without explaining why they didn't run into them earlier.

If you keep your party moving around (Murder Hobos, huh?), then I guess it's easier to explain why the world just got tougher...
 
#22
I always found this the hardest part of (old)D&D as levels crept up beyond 2 or 3. It made sense, in an ecological way, that the PCs would still encounter goblins/orcs/whatever the basic monster race was, because they would generally still be hanging around the same places. But a bunch of goblins isn't the same threat to 5th level characters that it is to 2nd level characters. So you have to present them with slightly harder challenges without explaining why they didn't run into them earlier.

If you keep your party moving around (Murder Hobos, huh?), then I guess it's easier to explain why the world just got tougher...
1) Multi-level dungeons with powerful demon-types in the lowest levels driving weaker monsters upwards and the good folk driving monsters from the surface underworld. The goblins and kobolds of the First Level are just caught between hammer and anvil.

2) The tougher you are the further you can head out into the wilderness on your own without having to be part of a caravan of some kind. The early wilderness adventures were potentially mincing machines where a random table could put you in the middle of a Pride of Were-Tigers. (Yup - been there.)

That’s how it were done in the old, old times.
 
#24
I have been collecting some of the earliest D&D adventures, especially those by Gary Gygax, to experience that old magic people talk about. A few weeks back I got Keep on the Borderlands and more recently, Temple of Elemental Evil, to run through with my Old School Essentials Kit.

https://www.tribality.com/2015/01/29/top-14-old-school-dd-modules/

From my reference point of most play with 3rd Edition D&D and Pathfinder/Starfinder, the rules fail at high level (10th or higher) in many pre-written adventures, especially when using badly built monsters that work on the premise of round-upon-round of hit point attrition. Starfinder's space combat at high levels is absolutely the worst. Gun turrets still do like 2d4 damage when adversaries bring ships of 60 hit points.

One thing that attracted me to the Trudvang Adventures Kickstarter was the rule for body damage. Not sure if it is the most elegant approach, but at least it will hopefully reduce that annoying Player tactic of standing in place and round-after-round just chipping away instead of using better tactics.

Body Points
Body Points represent the amount of damage a character can take. The more Body Points a character has, the more damage they can endure before dying.

When characters are hit by a weapon or anything else that causes damage, they receive a number of damage points that are subtracted from their current Body Points.
 
#25
I have been collecting some of the earliest D&D adventures, especially those by Gary Gygax, to experience that old magic people talk about.
I've run, played or (in one case) read 6 of those adventures, and at the time they send pretty good. B2 and B4 were my first introduction to running games, and I cringe to think how I would now view the 'innocent fun' my teenage self had. I did use B2 at one point to introduce an older (i.e. adult) disabled person to the joy of D&D, and I recall being somewhat disappointed when she turned it into a series of 'barricade the monsters in a cave, fire arrows through the barricade' encounters. It seemed rather like cheating to my 14 year-old mind.

I6 was one of the scariest roleplaying experiences I ever had. A friend was running it for us at a place he was house-sitting in. We sat around this big dining table, lit only by candles, and they even had a grandfather clock we'd carried into the room for extra atmosphere. Very spooky.

S3 was less spooky and more just plain weird, especially after we got our hands on a 'laser sword'.

X2 is the one I own but have never played. I've also got the updated AD&D2e version of it, 'Masks of Amber' I think it's called? Came as a box set with a CD of speech tracks to be played when you meet the various NPCs.

From my reference point of most play with 3rd Edition D&D and Pathfinder/Starfinder, the rules fail at high level (10th or higher) in many pre-written adventures, especially when using badly built monsters that work on the premise of round-upon-round of hit point attrition.
I think you might find that the old D&D adventures will suffer from the same sort of problem. Unless you can wheel out the magic cannon that is fireball, swords are still going to do 1d8 a round, and 10-20HD monsters have lots of hp to get through.

Some of the better ones for higher levels focused on doing other stuff, like diplomacy or leading armies, but inevitably the would be a big monster somewhere for you to chew your way through. I never actually played or ran a game higher than about level 6-7, so I don't know how good the higher level modules were.
 
#27
Interesting. Nice to see Peter leveraging his support of The Black Hack to expand his own range of offerings. He's a canny gent with a fine line in interesting papery things and booklets.
 
#28
A trait I've noticed from younger players who have only played 5e is that there's no attempt at dialogue or clever solutions, just charge. So when we're running a different system and they charge something that is intentionally unbalanced and die they get pissy.
Really?

Can you expand on that? I've played with players as young as 7. In fact I GM for a group ages ranging from 7 to 12 and have never noticed this. Perhaps this is because most of them first gamed with adults.

If anything the young players are too eager to engage in dialogue, not considering whether its a great idea. I've seen them try to talk down wild bears and skeletons. This week I watched them divert a stream into a goblin camp before attacking and picking off the goblins as they tried to escape their flooded camp. They also try to subdue everything.

Having said all that, they are incredibly prone to trying to kill each other. Any disagreements within the party tends to lead to combat and frequently I need to call a downtime to sort things out out of character before a character dies.
And they keep trying to subdue enemies with inappropriate attacks ("Can I knock them all out with my fireball ? How about my wall of daggers spell?").

They don't back down from things.. but they do come up with ingenious ways of handling things.
 
#29
THE old-school module to get your hands on is N1: Against the Cult of the Reptile God - IMHO.
I'd recommend:
  • EX1 Dungeonland
  • EX2 The Land Beyond the Magic Mirror
  • I3–5 Desert of Desolation (Get the compilation version - it fixes the continuity gaps between I3 and the other two)
  • L2 The Assassin's Knot
  • U1 The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh
  • U2 Danger at Dunwater
  • U3 The Final Enemy
  • UK1 Beyond the Crystal Cave
  • UK4 When a Star Falls
I also have great memories of:
  • C2 The Ghost Tower of Inverness
  • T1–4 The Temple of Elemental Evil
But having reviewed them more recently I wonder why. They really don't live up to the nostalgia.

Avoid everything Dragonlance, except the first 6 novels which are very good (The Chronicles Trilogy and The Twins Trilogy). Avoid the slaves series, and avoid the GDQ series (Giants, Drow, Lloth). Both have aged really badly.
 
#30
Visited Wikipedia to understand the naming conventions of old modules. This is probably why at University I had to argue to allow Wikipedia as a first reference, with more detailed corroborating ones added on after.

EX—EXtension Series was designed as a "tack-on" adventure set in Greyhawk.
U—Underwater a linked trilogy set in Greyhawk, published in the UK.
X—eXpert series was for use with Dungeons and Dragons Export Set except where noted and set in Mystara.

This one surprised me though:
UK—United Kingdom a series of mostly independent adventures developed by the TSR UK office

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Dungeons_&_Dragons_modules
 
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#31
One problem I found with some of the older modules is the level progression. With D&D 5th Edition, you get this big tome of Adventure that has a levelling up path laid out.

With Pathfinder and Starfinder you get these Adventure Paths that run a coherent series taking heroes from 1st level to 10th and beyond.

But sadly, with the classic OSR D&D, I see modules I find interesting, then read about the recommended levels and it is like 7th or 9th,. though I cannot find earlier linked modules that help level up to that 7th level. It is like the writers just wrote adventures without the level up pipeline in place. :confused:
 
#32
Would somebody kindly explain these annotation letters.
Like what are "U" modules.
I don't know all of them, but I'm sure there was method to their madness.

U = UK
B = Basic (Holmes, B/X, and later BECMI)
X = eXpert (B/X and BECMI)
G = against the Giants
D = something to do with Drow

And so on. There's probably a comprehensive list out there somewhere.
 
#33
I don't know all of them, but I'm sure there was method to their madness.

U = UK
B = Basic (Holmes, B/X, and later BECMI)
X = eXpert (B/X and BECMI)
G = against the Giants
D = something to do with Drow

And so on. There's probably a comprehensive list out there somewhere.
Thanks for the quick response, I ventured to Wikipedia to get a list. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Dungeons_&_Dragons_modules

And in my searches I also stumbled upon a fun old school adventure naming generator.

http://hillcantons.blogspot.com/2011/09/old-school-module-name-generator.html
 
#34
And in response to my earlier criticism of old school D&D, how does one level up when the first module in a series already requires level 8.

The Giants module seems to be a victim of this low level vacuum.

1592909269011.png
 
#35
Would somebody kindly explain these annotation letters.
Like what are "U" modules.

I got several "A" modules (Against the Slavelords series) and "B" modules (Keep on the Borderlands and its series).

I am guessing "T" modules seem specifically for The Temple of Elemental Evil (T1-T4), my latest purchase for old school roleplay.

EX could mean expert, so higher level play.

The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh is important since it got treatment in my D&D 3.5e Dungeons Master's Book 2 and most recently its own D&D 5e rework.

The Castle Amber one is in a set, I cannot remember which, but will track it down.
Okay - first of all we have the modules intended for BAsix/Expert rules B/X or BECMI (BAsic, Expert, Companion. Master and Immortal). These modules are pretty much interchangeable and the letter just designates level range:

  • B—Basic were designed for use with the Dungeons & Dragons Basic set. Levels 1-3 (or 4)
  • X—eXpert series was for use with Dungeons & Dragons Expert Set. Level 4-14
  • CM—CoMpanion is for use with Dungeons & Dragons Companion Set. Levels 14-20
  • M—Master for use with the Master Dungeons & Dragons rules. Levels 20-30
  • IM—Immortal, for use with D&D Immortals Set.
  • MSOL: solo modules designed for use with any of the BECMI rules.

Then we have the modules designed for use with AD&D
  • C - Competition modules designed for competition play at conventions like GenCon (come with a scoring systems)
  • S - Specials, were modules initially only for Con play, but later released to the public
  • UK - United Kingdom, developed by the TSR UK office
  • WG, WGA, WGM, WGQ, WGR - Generic codes for World of Greyhawk
  • OA - Oriental Adventures
  • I - Intermediate - The aim was to create a set of stand alone modules aimed at experienced players and GMs which required a little more rules mastery.
  • HHQ or O - Head to Head, One to One - designed for 1 DM, 1 player
  • DL, DLA, DLC, DLE, DLX - Dragonlance
  • Anything else - Most other leters designated a series of linked adventures, an adventue path if you like, so A = Aerie of the Slave Lords - a set of 4 linked adventures, T = Temple of Elemental Evil - a set of 4 linked adventures (that were never actually published seperately), U = Temple of Elemental Evil, a set of 3 linked adventures set in Saltmarch etc.
  • G1-3, D1-3, Q1 - Require special mention as a set of 7 linked modules using 3 seperate letters.



 
#36
I don't know all of them, but I'm sure there was method to their madness.

U = UK
B = Basic (Holmes, B/X, and later BECMI)
X = eXpert (B/X and BECMI)
G = against the Giants
D = something to do with Drow

And so on. There's probably a comprehensive list out there somewhere.
U is Underwater - ie the Saltmarsh trilogy
UK is UK
 
#37
I'd recommend:
  • EX1 Dungeonland
  • EX2 The Land Beyond the Magic Mirror
  • I3–5 Desert of Desolation (Get the compilation version - it fixes the continuity gaps between I3 and the other two)
  • L2 The Assassin's Knot
  • U1 The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh
  • U2 Danger at Dunwater
  • U3 The Final Enemy
  • UK1 Beyond the Crystal Cave
  • UK4 When a Star Falls
I also have great memories of:
  • C2 The Ghost Tower of Inverness
  • T1–4 The Temple of Elemental Evil
But having reviewed them more recently I wonder why. They really don't live up to the nostalgia.

Avoid everything Dragonlance, except the first 6 novels which are very good (The Chronicles Trilogy and The Twins Trilogy). Avoid the slaves series, and avoid the GDQ series (Giants, Drow, Lloth). Both have aged really badly.
Thanks for this list. Great knowledge share here. I hope I am permitted to updated the Wikipedia with the extra clarificatons you mention on which modules are linked like the Giants and Drow ones.

Also, I got the Chronicles Trilogy as part of my Dragonlance Boxset for AD&D 2nd Edition, not first.

T1-4 The Temple of Elemental Evil is great can stand on its own from level 1 (no wonder it is so popular)

And "Against the Slavelords" or "Aerie of the Slave Lords" was attractive to me in that is starts from low level in the recent compilation made of earlier modules. Got the print-of-demand already because that one had A0 for the level up pipeline I desperately seek in linked modules.

1592910377391.png
 
#38
Guess what arrived today? Dungeon Full of Monsters.

Hope it helps me get OSR right with random generated dungeons and monsters. Full colour too. And sized right for the Old School Essentials Core Tome and Player's books from Necrotic Gnome.

dungeon_full_of_monsters_book.jpg


dungeon_full_of_monsters_pages.jpg
 

Guvnor

The Guvnor
Staff member
#39
I have been collecting some of the earliest D&D adventures, especially those by Gary Gygax, to experience that old magic people talk about. A few weeks back I got Keep on the Borderlands and more recently, Temple of Elemental Evil, to run through with my Old School Essentials Kit.
You may be disappointed. One person's magic is..
But I have to say when I revisit the original stuff it's so minimal and unexplained it's like a blank canvas to build what you want on.
But then I wonder why I don't just have a blank canvas.
This is not dissing that kind of old skool play, I love to mix it in with very modern styles..

I always found this the hardest part of (old)D&D as levels crept up beyond 2 or 3. It made sense, in an ecological way, that the PCs would still encounter goblins/orcs/whatever the basic monster race was, because they would generally still be hanging around the same places. But a bunch of goblins isn't the same threat to 5th level characters that it is to 2nd level characters. So you have to present them with slightly harder challenges without explaining why they didn't run into them earlier.
IMHO it's an artefact of equating a species with a single power level as if they are just a token on a board. Once you accept that any culture will have a full range of individuals from 1st to Nth level, then it's much easier and you need fair fewer monsters. Even monsters that may seem fixed should surely have some range, although as instinctive creatures I can imagine them being more restricted.

But sadly, with the classic OSR D&D, I see modules I find interesting, then read about the recommended levels and it is like 7th or 9th,. though I cannot find earlier linked modules that help level up to that 7th level. It is like the writers just wrote adventures without the level up pipeline in place.
There was no 'level up pipeline' process. There was barely any order at all. But you could roughly move up the levels and your DM would buy the adventures with appropriate levels. There was also a tradition of simply buying a module, rolling up some characters at the starting level and playing it. Many many people did what many many people do now, buy a module, read it, break it up, and use it as sources for their own games.
I tended to do the latter. It was harder to do when I was running it with RuneQuest or T&T* or GURPS, but even then it was a question of dropping in appropriate NPC/monster stats to suit the party characters.
It's much easier with 5e, it wasn't as easy when I ran 3e.

Hope it helps me get OSR right
As a gentle and supportive bit of wisdom from an old git: there is no One True Way, only you and your table's way..** I like MGF: Maximum Game Fun.


* for solo play.. but usually I was playing T&T solos with RQ.
** EGG didn't think that, that's why he annoyed myself and so many others, and yet he mangled history, mythology and everything for his One True Way.
 
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