Thac0 Bell

One of the things that old school is associated with is the old fashion pointless “kill a monster get a treasure” dungeons of old. You have underground rooms, a band of orcs in room next to a red dragon that can’t get out if it wanted to.

Well, true. The early days of the game were indeed rather on the plot-free side. That said, we still had a blast. If not for those early days, I would not be playing today.

We still do some of that kill a monster get a treasure stuff. The dragon, if present does have a way out. It is likely running the whole show, because once you let plot in, you never really totally scrape it off, even for fun. The dungeon needs to make some sense.

And long ago I hit on the reason you have all these underground delvings. Said dragons, and other flying creatures make the traditional European castles everyone is so fond of, pointless. When said dragon, et all can drop in for dinner (you) uninvited you build sturdy roofs as well. Courtyards not so much. So the idea of an underground defensible structure starts to make sense. And why there are old crumbing ones everywhere for your enjoyment. And that plot thing again. It is no longer enough to toss something together, it has to make at least internal sense for the world you have created.

Do I long for the carefree days when you could run a game out of the random dungeons section of the DMG? Only to the point that I had a job, my foam rubber youth, and no bills. Forty eight years into it and I don’t work so well anymore. Old sucks, except for the alternative.

Upshot? The writing aspect of the game has much improved. However we should not forget our roots and yea, a semi random dungeon crawl can be fun. If you can get an evening’s fun from a board game, why not? Said board game makes less sense.

Just have fun out there.

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Dungeon crawls for fun and profit! (At least until you tell the players about all the hidden loot they missed after the adventure is over.)

It was somewhat useful in 3rd ed when most dragons gain spellcaster levels… then they can teleport or shapeshift. Actually some can shapeshifter as a draconic ability. Make the old adventures usable as is if nothing else.

For the younger members the treasure was necessary in old 0e D&D. Gold equaled experience, one to one.

Dragon Magazine at the time was full of ideas of how to bleed off all that gold. Some of them very BAD ideas.

I remember that.

I always wondered if one lost the XP if the treasure was stolen before you could get it safely back to town and deposited it spent…

Some DMs might have gone that way. I never did. If something would piss me off, I didn’t do it to anyone else.

It was that way in 1e AD&D also.

Gold Pieces: Convert all metal and gems and jewelry to a total value in gold
pieces. If the relative value of the monster(s) or guardian device fought equals
or exceeds that of the party which took the treasure, experience is awarded on
a 1 for 1 basis.
— AD&D 1e Dungeon Masters Guide, p.85

Characters only receive experience for treasure that was returned to the characters’ home base.

Treasure must be physically taken out of the dungeon or lair and turned into a
transportable medium or stored in the player’s stronghold to be counted for
experience points.
— AD&D 1e Dungeon Masters Guide, p.85

Thanks for the reminder, it has been long since i used that editing in play.

The only game I ever encountered that used the whole book strictly as written was a joyless slog.

There are those who complain about spell casters being vastly overpowered, though I wonder if the full spell acquisition (chance to know new spell percentage, finding scrolls, capturing spell books, and research in a full stocked laboratory), memorization (8 hours of sleep and 15 minutes per spell level memorized, a total memorization time limit of 8 hours per day), and casting rules (verbal, somatic & material components, spell casting times, spells interrupted by taking damage or failing a saving throw before one’s initiative turn) were used in those cases.

There are also those who complain about the “5 minute work day”, but I wonder if random encounters, tracking of supplies (food, water, ammunition), and the aforementioned full spell acquisition, memorization, and casting rules were used in those instances.

If you strictly follow 1e spell rules, any spellcaster over 5th level is useless. The time to memorize spells is prohibitive. Spell books are designed to be obvious and targetable. Why does a spell book need to be more than notebook sized?

Also why are all non PC spellcasters defined as greedy and unwilling to share? That is not how people work.

The Gygaxian spell caster rules are designed to be complex, unwieldy and mostly unworkable. Which is why most games ignored them to death.

Unspoken is the fact that the powerful NPC wizard never has to follow these rules. When the PCs find him he is full up on spells, books locked away and behind his minions. There was never an encounter chance that he was in his bathrobe on his third day of spell memorization for all those spells.

How were spell casters portrayed in Western myth, legend and the pulp fiction (Appendix N) that inspired & informed the development of D&D? Were they generous and gregarious functioning as mobile artillery that could be quickly reloaded by briefly referencing a pocket-sized notepad to expend their rounds once again or were they loners with maybe a pupil/lackey located in an isolated laboratory/library pouring over ancient, heavy, thick, musty grimoires and working on concoctions in a retort, alembic, or cauldron not unlike a stereotypical mad scientist?

If a PC party is penetrating the lair of an enemy NPC magic-user I would presume that the invaders would not encounter the spell caster immediately giving some lead time to ready for the meeting. What’s stopping the referee from making some random determination as to the state of readiness of the wizard upon the contact with the party?

Or they wandered like Gandalf with little to his name. Not every wizard was tied to a location or massive goods. Merlin is never pictured this way.

You’re thinking the medieval alchemist with his retorts and massive tomes. Nor was every manuscript massive.

You mean Gandalf who was for lack of a better term was effectively an angel in the guise of a wise old man on Middle-earth? Gandalf, one of the five Istari, who were specifically sent to Middle-earth for the sole purpose of counseling the free peoples in resisting the forces of Sauron, (who was a fallen Maiar himself) the Dark Lord? Gandalf who was formerly known as Olórin the Maiar, who was sent from Valinor, the Undying Lands, on behalf of Manwë leader of the Valar? That Gandalf?

You mean Merlin the half-demon, who’s traditional biography casts him as an often-mad cambion, born of a mortal woman and an incubus, from whom he inherits his supernatural powers and abilities? Merlin who is redeemed from his intended role of the Antichrist? Merlin who is based on Myrddin the Wild, the mad wandering bard of Welsh legend and medieval Welsh poetry? That Merlin?

A standard D&D wizard should be based upon an angel who takes on human form on the prime material plane to counsel the free peoples in resisting the forces of an opposing and fallen other angel or based upon a mad, half-demon, redeemed Antichrist, wandering bard?

Yet Gandalf is an archetype of the classic fantasy wizard. And half demon did not have the D&D meaning, but was where Merlin got his magic.

Merlin and Gandalf after him are classic fantasy wizards.

In my opinion, based upon the rules in the 1e & 2e AD&D books, the standard D&D wizard is closer to Abramelin the Mage and Prospero from The Tempest than either Gandalf or Merlin.