Kendal

Best Version of DnD?

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I'd say the best version of D&D is Fantasycraft followed by Dreamscarred Press's Pathfinder books. Then there is  a tie between Pathfinder and 4th edition. Then comes BECMI/rules cyclopedia/OSRIC and all the others are equally meh to me. Here are the basic reasons.

 

Fantasycraft feels like the proper final evolution of 3.0 D&D. All of the rules are well considered and character progression is focused on player choice in a very real and rewarding mechanical sense. It is a bit more complex than 3.5 but succeeds at making this complexity far more about the players being able to do new cool things with their choices than just adding +1 or +2 to some situational roll like a lot of the 3.5 choices boiled down to.  Everything that is on your character sheet is generally going to be a new capability rather than just a new number. So a fighter's level up gives them just as many new options as a wizard's new level of spells.

 

Dreamscarred Press has taken all of the fun inventive new subsystems that were made for 3.5 in the year or so before it ended and expanded upon them enough to all but replace the default rules. I have played numerous games that simply banned all classes in the core Pathfinder book except bard and barbarian and replace them with the classes from Ultimate Psionics, Path of War, and the related Pact Magic books. This sort of game results in a far better flow of play. Everyone in the party has roughly equal turn length and roughly equal ability to respond to any given situation outside of specialties. So yes if you need to go on an espionage mission the psion's mind reading is probably more useful than the stalker's sword strikes but the stalker can still contribute with his stealth and teleportation manuevers.

 

Pathfinder and 4th edition are essentially diametric opposites in how they adapted D&D to a more modern era. Pathfinder is basically just 3.5 with corrected damage numbers for the non-wizard non-barbarian classes. This is feels like comfort food, very good comfort food, but still a clear sign that Paizo is not going to really expand 3.5's rules set in any meaningful way or address the underlying problems with 3.5 core systems such as linear warriors and quadratic wizards and certain play styles being almost incompatible with the core systems (maneuverability melee combatants have been a particular bedbug).

 

4th edition meanwhile basically just gave up on balancing 3.5 entirely. Instead they just made a really good skirmish game for emulating final fantasy tactics. I love final fantasy tactics and thus love 4th edition. However it still feels cowardly to simply surrender to fixing what you broke.

 

BECMI/rules cyclopedia/OSRIC are the big cahoonas. The first editions that came out after things started getting published as real books instead of pamphlets. They are always what has defined classic D&D for me. The rules may not all be good but you can always see why they were made in the first place. Everything is sort of cobbled together but it has a real charm to it because as the dungeon master the book seems to be written by someone who is actually running a game adjacent to you and has written everything with your usability in mind.

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One of Megan and Jenny's co-workers wants to hire me to run Keep on the Borderlands for some younger players....

 

Much, much younger players.... (Eight to ten year olds... her son, her daughter, anywhere from four to eight players, depending on which friends they can dragoon into this.)

 

I told her that I am not willing to be paid for this, but if she feels like bribing me with pizza, I would be amendable.

 

*EDIT* Thank the gods of dice for Bones!

 

The Auld Grump

Are you playing it with the Basic D&D rules or are you converting to a different edition?

 

I've been running KotB with 5th edition since June and it's been a lot of fun!

 

Pathfinder Beginner's Box for the kids - I was running it for my main Pathfinder group (my good lady had never played in The Keep on the Borderlands! I had to do something about that) and Jenny, one of the other players and Megan's coworker, mentioned it to somebody else at work - a woman that had not played in years, but had kids of just the right age for introducing to The Life the game.

 

The two areas that did the most damage to my full grown group of adventurers were the orcs in their first encounter (who killed the Barbarian - resurrecting him meant that they owed a LOT of money to the bank at the Keep).

 

And the kobold ambush on their third trip. (8 kobolds can deal a lot of damage, even when they are light dazzled.) It did not take them long to realize that you don't try to clear the caves in one long go... at least at first level. ::P:

 

Now they are gearing up for The Cave of the Unknown and a second playing group has formed for a Village of Hommlet game.

 

Weird as it sounds, I am really enjoying running old school adventures with a new school system. (A lot more fun for me than old school systems - I like having a skill system, dangit!)

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13th Age.

It combines the best aspects of 3rd and 4th Edition, with a smattering of more indie-centric mechanics to inspire actual roleplay and collaborative storytelling. It still feels like D&D, while also presenting refreshing takes on tired tropes. The bestiary itself is a treasure trove of interesting ideas. I also love how purposefully vague the entire setting is, to the point that the designers themselves provide contradictory sidebars. Nothing gets the creative juices flowing like small nuggets of various concepts--much more so than huge paragraphs of written-in-stone canon.

 

I've not had a chance to actually play 5th Edition, but have been keeping up to some degree since the playtests. The tone almost seems to be aimed at being an OSR, with the best art direction to ever come out of the franchise. The rules, while in no way bad, tend to be uninspiring on a read-through. They threw out almost everything that was done right with 4th Edition purely because grognards apparently dislike change ::P:. Admittedly, the Advantage/Disadvantage system is great--it's simple, quick, and clean. I've adapted it to a few other systems with success. Inspiration, though not revolutionary, is a step in the right direction for storytelling, but I fear is often overlooked or underutilized by poor GMs.

 

If someone were looking for a hack 'n' slash type of system without any previous baggage, I'd recommend 13th Age without hesitation. If you're hung-up on your game absolutely needing the D&D brand though, it doesn't really look like you can go wrong with 5E. The only people I see putting up with the bloat and utter imbalance of Pathfinder are those with years and years rules memorized from 3E. Really though, there's something out there for everything nowadays. You could go with Dungeon World for a more modern take, or grab a true OSR like the Black Hack. I've been itching to get around to Shadow of the Demon Lord, myself. It looks to be appropriately crunchy, albeit straight forward enough for ease of play. Besides, I'm a sucker for despair-laden dark fantasy.

Edited by morari

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I'd say the best version of D&D is Fantasycraft 

 

+1 for FantasyCraft.  This is my favorite D&D interpretation since AD&D.  Too bad it kind of got lost in the noise.

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Pathfinder and 4th edition are essentially diametric opposites in how they adapted D&D to a more modern era. Pathfinder is basically just 3.5 with corrected damage numbers for the non-wizard non-barbarian classes. This is feels like comfort food, very good comfort food, but still a clear sign that Paizo is not going to really expand 3.5's rules set in any meaningful way or address the underlying problems with 3.5 core systems such as linear warriors and quadratic wizards and certain play styles being almost incompatible with the core systems (maneuverability melee combatants have been a particular bedbug).

Though the problem of linear fighter vs quadratic wizard existed loooong before D&D 3.5e, I find that it was never that bad in the 3.x or PF.

 

In the games I've been in, at higher levels the fighters were still massive damage dealers, and though the magic users had devastating spells, they were also very often limited in having the right opportunity to use those spells. i.e. Fireballs still need to have no ally with 20ft radius, Lighting Bolt still needs a straight line, and there's that pesky X times/day that sticks to them.

 

From experience, the classes that suffered the most from high levels in 3.x were rogues. Sure, their sneak attacks could be devastating, but at higher levels, the shear amount of critters immune to sneak attacks shut them down pretty quick. Monks also suffered from having their Flurry of Blows unable to hit anything with high AC due to their average BAB and lack of items that could effectively boost their to-hit bonuses without compromising the FoB.

 

Pathfinder retooled several of the core classes with the PF Unchained book, much to my liking now.

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Pathfinder and 4th edition are essentially diametric opposites in how they adapted D&D to a more modern era. Pathfinder is basically just 3.5 with corrected damage numbers for the non-wizard non-barbarian classes. This is feels like comfort food, very good comfort food, but still a clear sign that Paizo is not going to really expand 3.5's rules set in any meaningful way or address the underlying problems with 3.5 core systems such as linear warriors and quadratic wizards and certain play styles being almost incompatible with the core systems (maneuverability melee combatants have been a particular bedbug).

Though the problem of linear fighter vs quadratic wizard existed loooong before D&D 3.5e, I find that it was never that bad in the 3.x or PF.

 

In the games I've been in, at higher levels the fighters were still massive damage dealers, and though the magic users had devastating spells, they were also very often limited in having the right opportunity to use those spells. i.e. Fireballs still need to have no ally with 20ft radius, Lighting Bolt still needs a straight line, and there's that pesky X times/day that sticks to them.

 

From experience, the classes that suffered the most from high levels in 3.x were rogues. Sure, their sneak attacks could be devastating, but at higher levels, the shear amount of critters immune to sneak attacks shut them down pretty quick. Monks also suffered from having their Flurry of Blows unable to hit anything with high AC due to their average BAB and lack of items that could effectively boost their to-hit bonuses without compromising the FoB.

 

Pathfinder retooled several of the core classes with the PF Unchained book, much to my liking now.

 

Part of it was a sherical cow argument - if you allow the wizard to recharge after each encounter he does become too powerful - but most groups, in my experience, don't play that way - so the wizard does not go nova on each and every encounter, and is not carrying enough Knock spells that you don't need the rogue, and so on and so forth.

 

It was pretty much an excuse for Wizards to kill 3.X and the accompanying OGL.

 

Without realizing that because of that same OGL 3.X no longer needed WotC in order to survive.

 

Which they really, really, really should have known, since it was one of the danged stated purposes of the OGL - in order to prevent exactly that kind of corporate idiocy. (Sorry guys - some of the founders of WotC went and said what would happen, long before 4e was even the barest twinkle, you morons!)

 

The result was that 4e had killed its own chance of success.

 

The Auld Grump - only two hours into the game, and already waiting on pizza...

 

*EDIT* I swear to Gogamagog, we ate healthier while I was running Curse of the Crimson Throne - It's like old school adventures somehow cause a craving for pizza, corn chips, and fatty, fatty dips!

Edited by TheAuldGrump
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One of Megan and Jenny's co-workers wants to hire me to run Keep on the Borderlands for some younger players....

 

Much, much younger players.... (Eight to ten year olds... her son, her daughter, anywhere from four to eight players, depending on which friends they can dragoon into this.)

 

I told her that I am not willing to be paid for this, but if she feels like bribing me with pizza, I would be amendable.

 

*EDIT* Thank the gods of dice for Bones!

 

The Auld Grump

I've been contemplating introducing my 8 and 12 year old nephew and niece to fantasy role playing, either AD&D as that's what I know or possibly Pathfinder if I can learn the basics as I figure they'd have more access to that material if they wanted to continue on.

I'd very much like to hear how your sessions went and how you dealt with the violence inherent in many of the encounters with such young players taking part.

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One of Megan and Jenny's co-workers wants to hire me to run Keep on the Borderlands for some younger players....

 

Much, much younger players.... (Eight to ten year olds... her son, her daughter, anywhere from four to eight players, depending on which friends they can dragoon into this.)

 

I told her that I am not willing to be paid for this, but if she feels like bribing me with pizza, I would be amendable.

 

*EDIT* Thank the gods of dice for Bones!

 

The Auld Grump

I've been contemplating introducing my 8 and 12 year old nephew and niece to fantasy role playing, either AD&D as that's what I know or possibly Pathfinder if I can learn the basics as I figure they'd have more access to that material if they wanted to continue on.

I'd very much like to hear how your sessions went and how you dealt with the violence inherent in many of the encounters with such young players taking part.

As for the'violence' in the encounters, is it really that much different from many of the cartoons out there?

Especially if they were blessed by having seen old loony toons...

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One of Megan and Jenny's co-workers wants to hire me to run Keep on the Borderlands for some younger players....

 

Much, much younger players.... (Eight to ten year olds... her son, her daughter, anywhere from four to eight players, depending on which friends they can dragoon into this.)

 

I told her that I am not willing to be paid for this, but if she feels like bribing me with pizza, I would be amendable.

 

*EDIT* Thank the gods of dice for Bones!

 

The Auld Grump

Are you playing it with the Basic D&D rules or are you converting to a different edition?

 

I've been running KotB with 5th edition since June and it's been a lot of fun!

 

Pathfinder Beginner's Box for the kids - I was running it for my main Pathfinder group (my good lady had never played in The Keep on the Borderlands! I had to do something about that) and Jenny, one of the other players and Megan's coworker, mentioned it to somebody else at work - a woman that had not played in years, but had kids of just the right age for introducing to The Life the game.

 

The two areas that did the most damage to my full grown group of adventurers were the orcs in their first encounter (who killed the Barbarian - resurrecting him meant that they owed a LOT of money to the bank at the Keep).

 

And the kobold ambush on their third trip. (8 kobolds can deal a lot of damage, even when they are light dazzled.) It did not take them long to realize that you don't try to clear the caves in one long go... at least at first level. ::P:

 

Now they are gearing up for The Cave of the Unknown and a second playing group has formed for a Village of Hommlet game.

 

Weird as it sounds, I am really enjoying running old school adventures with a new school system. (A lot more fun for me than old school systems - I like having a skill system, dangit!)

 

My players have been at it over weekly sessions since June and have not done much, at least in regards to the caves proper. Most of their time has been spent in the caves of the unknown due to convoluted reasons...

 

But I guess I'm doing a good job at the game because I've had friends of other players either join up after a player drop... or ask to join up (but six players is more than enough, especially for a Skype-and-Roll20 game).

My big problem has been with XP, since it's a Sandbox there aren't really milestones and the XP advancement from Monsters in 5E is way too fast.

 

I, too, really enjoy running this old school module. It has just enough in there for me to really flex my narrative muscles by adding some purpose to the cult and reason for the monsters to be there.

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As for the'violence' in the encounters, is it really that much different from many of the cartoons out there?

Especially if they were blessed by having seen old loony toons...

Yes, it is very different.

Players can identify very closely with their characters and npc's at any age. An RPG is a much more interactive experience than watching a cartoon. A good game session can be very exciting for a young person but also a challenge emotionally and I do have to keep the parents own concerns in mind.

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One of Megan and Jenny's co-workers wants to hire me to run Keep on the Borderlands for some younger players....

 

Much, much younger players.... (Eight to ten year olds... her son, her daughter, anywhere from four to eight players, depending on which friends they can dragoon into this.)

 

I told her that I am not willing to be paid for this, but if she feels like bribing me with pizza, I would be amendable.

 

*EDIT* Thank the gods of dice for Bones!

 

The Auld Grump

I've been contemplating introducing my 8 and 12 year old nephew and niece to fantasy role playing, either AD&D as that's what I know or possibly Pathfinder if I can learn the basics as I figure they'd have more access to that material if they wanted to continue on.

I'd very much like to hear how your sessions went and how you dealt with the violence inherent in many of the encounters with such young players taking part.

As for the'violence' in the encounters, is it really that much different from many of the cartoons out there?

Especially if they were blessed by having seen old loony toons...

 

Put another way, it's not so much the violence but how it is portrayed.  If your group normally describes every hit as some form of physical damage with blood and limbs flying everywhere... don't do that.  HP as a pool of the will to fight as much as physical stamina and damage allows for combats to include hits that send a character stumbling backwards without drawing blood just like in the cartoons.  Think of some of the old Errol Flynn films where a duel consisted mostly of parrying, running around, being forced back, knocking things over, and then one final blow that actually hits.  For that matter, who says combat has to be lethal?  It can be just like the old Saturday morning cartoons where the villain's henchmen are dropping right and left, only to be seen later in handcuffs/chains/etc.  The kids "defeat" everyone, not necessarily chop their enemy's heads off.

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Pathfinder and 4th edition are essentially diametric opposites in how they adapted D&D to a more modern era. Pathfinder is basically just 3.5 with corrected damage numbers for the non-wizard non-barbarian classes. This is feels like comfort food, very good comfort food, but still a clear sign that Paizo is not going to really expand 3.5's rules set in any meaningful way or address the underlying problems with 3.5 core systems such as linear warriors and quadratic wizards and certain play styles being almost incompatible with the core systems (maneuverability melee combatants have been a particular bedbug).

Though the problem of linear fighter vs quadratic wizard existed loooong before D&D 3.5e, I find that it was never that bad in the 3.x or PF.

 

In the games I've been in, at higher levels the fighters were still massive damage dealers, and though the magic users had devastating spells, they were also very often limited in having the right opportunity to use those spells. i.e. Fireballs still need to have no ally with 20ft radius, Lighting Bolt still needs a straight line, and there's that pesky X times/day that sticks to them.

 

From experience, the classes that suffered the most from high levels in 3.x were rogues. Sure, their sneak attacks could be devastating, but at higher levels, the shear amount of critters immune to sneak attacks shut them down pretty quick. Monks also suffered from having their Flurry of Blows unable to hit anything with high AC due to their average BAB and lack of items that could effectively boost their to-hit bonuses without compromising the FoB.

 

Pathfinder retooled several of the core classes with the PF Unchained book, much to my liking now.

 

Part of it was a sherical cow argument - if you allow the wizard to recharge after each encounter he does become too powerful - but most groups, in my experience, don't play that way - so the wizard does not go nova on each and every encounter, and is not carrying enough Knock spells that you don't need the rogue, and so on and so forth.

 

It was pretty much an excuse for Wizards to kill 3.X and the accompanying OGL.

 

Without realizing that because of that same OGL 3.X no longer needed WotC in order to survive.

 

Which they really, really, really should have known, since it was one of the danged stated purposes of the OGL - in order to prevent exactly that kind of corporate idiocy. (Sorry guys - some of the founders of WotC went and said what would happen, long before 4e was even the barest twinkle, you morons!)

 

The result was that 4e had killed its own chance of success.

 

The Auld Grump - only two hours into the game, and already waiting on pizza...

 

*EDIT* I swear to Gogamagog, we ate healthier while I was running Curse of the Crimson Throne - It's like old school adventures somehow cause a craving for pizza, corn chips, and fatty, fatty dips!

 

I know plenty of players who play by the "Well, we're out of spells after two combats, time to go back/sleep" mentality. I tried to discourage it, by having them get ambushed on their way back, or by preventing rest by having things happen while they're asleep that wake them up(one time I had a bar fight spill into their room at the inn, busted door and all) but that just made them get annoyed with me. Other times I've tried by having their leaving in the middle of the day result in reinforcements/changes, and the same thing happens. So I explained that they need to ration resources and extend their day beyond 15 minutes of adventuring, and they just don't want to play that way. That's how my old high school group was, and that's how a couple players I had in a group a few years ago were.

 

I haven't had opportunity to play much 5E, but I'm hoping that the short rest/long rest rules will discourage that stuff. A short lunch break in a cave that gives back a spell or two and a few HP, but then requires a long rest later before you can do it again, should help satisfy their want to do a bit more blasting while also helping me not rage over their 15-minute adventuring days.

Edited by Unruly

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The thing about short rests is that while you regain HP, only specific classes regain spells as well.

I believe that is only "Circle of the Land" druids, wizards... and there's sorcerers who can use their sorcery points to gain more spell slots.

 

I do wonder how they did it back in the day when wizards only had one spell per day at 1st level, though. It's like nowadays they get cantrips whose damage even increases as they level up so even if their spells are spent they can still spam some pretty effective damage.

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Honestly, in 3.5, you were only limited in spells until around level 7 or so. By that point, you had enough spells to let your party win four to six encounters, with a few extra in reserve. You didn't need to cast every round. You just need to cast enough to either give your party members an overwhelming advantage or to negate an enemy's advantages. By the time you ran out of spells at that point, the fighter was also running out of hit points (or the cleric was running out of healing spells).

 

Wizards also had a lot more options to prepare for the next few fights with divination spells, and if they did decide to rest, they had things like rope trick or teleport to make sure they could get out of the fight fairly safely until they could come back in. But again, going nova was really only a small part of the issue. Wizards could often effectively "win" a fight with one or two spells with an excellent success rate, because of the way saves progressed.

 

Of course, this assumes you were casting mostly battlefield control, buff, and debuff spells. If you were mostly throwing around direct damage spells, you were much less effective. 

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The thing about short rests is that while you regain HP, only specific classes regain spells as well.

I believe that is only "Circle of the Land" druids, wizards... and there's sorcerers who can use their sorcery points to gain more spell slots.

 

I do wonder how they did it back in the day when wizards only had one spell per day at 1st level, though. It's like nowadays they get cantrips whose damage even increases as they level up so even if their spells are spent they can still spam some pretty effective damage.

 

 

We gave wizards minor non-damaging cantrip at will per round.  The theory being that minor cantrip was what they learned in "wizard school" (how to manipulate magic) and spells were what they got when they "graduated".  So after shooting off their main spell, they could still do things like make a tiny sparkly ball of light, or maybe brief noises like a *ting* of metal, or perhaps make an object jump an inch off the ground. 

 

This sounds like very useless and very minor stuff, but we found that an imaginative wizard paired up with a clever rogue can get quite a lot done at level one.  When the party has killed half the goblin clan, made them super paranoid, and a well-hidden wizard is making the goblin chieftan's helmet bounce every time he tries to grab it, or his sword is moaning, it's gonna freak him out.  Half the clan is dead, you don't know why because no survivors came back to report.  Every group you send out doesn't come back.  Now your helmet is avoiding you, and your sword is groaning.  Suddenly a small sparkly light wanders in and an echoing voice (provided by the hidden rogue and cave acoustics) warns you that this is The Cave Of Spirits, now awakened, and unless the goblins flee immediately and never come back more evil spirit stuff will happen.  Depending on how effective the pysops up to that point may have been, that goblin chieftan might just believe it (morale check) and book it on out of there... leaving behind his loot. 

 

And if players manage to clear a cave out like that, I'd give 'em full xp for defeating all the monsters. 

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