Running multi-edition D&D games

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Havard
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Running multi-edition D&D games

Post by Havard » Sat Oct 12, 2019 2:26 pm

Has anyone here considered running multi-edition D&D games?

The basic idea is that each player can bring in a character from whatever edition he prefers.

I think this might be extra difficult if playing face to face, but for Play by Post games, doing the maths for quick conversions should not be that hard.

Of course, the more editions you allow in the game, the more complicated things become.

I don't think we need to worry about every variable. In some cases players from a specific edition might be at an advantage, but if we get the biggest issues out of the way, then the rest should be things you can brush over.

I think the most important thing is that the DM decides on a baseline system and then converts effects on the fly.

Things to work out:
  • Ascending vs. Descending AC: This is pretty easy to work out.
  • Saving Throws: These work very differently and the categories have changed many times over the years.
  • XP: I'm thinking about using Milestones or half milestones here, but this doesn't work so well for the TSR era editions. I might come up with a system to convert milestones to XPs for those editions. You don't want your AD&D Thief to gain levels at the same rate as an AD&D Wizard.
  • Ability Checks, Skill checks, Proficiencies: This is also something you need think through.
  • Difference in numbers: 5E has the lowest number ranges, while 3E or BECMI can get crazy high. This is something to take into account and maybe have some conversions for.
What do you think? Is this workable?

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Re: Running multi-edition D&D games

Post by Dread Delgath » Sat Oct 12, 2019 7:26 pm

At first, I was under the assumption that this was a kit-bashed system of two or more rules sets like BX and AD&D, which I used to do bitd.

I don't even want to think about the game you suggest! I barely have time to manage one 5e game rules system, let alone..... many!

But if the DM is familiar with any rules system that each player brings a character for, sure, why not?
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Re: Running multi-edition D&D games

Post by Khedrac » Sat Oct 12, 2019 8:19 pm

I can see a real problem just in comparing ability scores..

OD&D : 3-18 I think?
BECMI : 3-18 (hard camp at 18 until Immortal)
AD&D 1 : 3-25 (though very hard to get over 18), percentile strength
AD&D 2 : 3-25, a little easier to get over 18, percentile values possible in all stats
3.X : 3-..., usually stops in the 30s, but uncapped, characters can start at 20 very easily
4 : I don't know well enought comment
5 : I don't know well enought comment
Even before you compare the ability bonuses you need to think about how you compare the scores.

If you run using different mechanics for different characters you need to work out how you will hand interaction between characters. Take saving throws; a high level basic/advanced character will expect to make saving throws pretty much all the time, but a high level save-DC focussed 3.X caster will expect their spells to be nearly unresistable - so what happens if they have to cast a spell at a basic/advanced character?
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Re: Running multi-edition D&D games

Post by apotheot » Sun Oct 13, 2019 10:27 am

Yes, sort of. I had a single session that was an "Edition War" group of players from 2nd ed vs a group of players from 3e. Sort of a 'Crisis on Infinite Earths' type thing. Since 2nd ed characters were hitting the negative AC's and 3e characters were hitting ACs super high numbers they couldn't actually hit eachother except with certain spells. Anyway, the heroes eventually banded together and were able to defeat the main villian who had stats from both editions and required both versions to be defeated in order to be killed.
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Re: Running multi-edition D&D games

Post by Big Mac » Sun Oct 13, 2019 11:02 am

I think you would need a computer to automatically convert between different D&D mechanics on the fly.

The Min/Max Brigades would have geekgasms working out all the ways they could use obscure combinations of rules in one edition of D&D to make characters that were unbeatable in other editions of D&D. :lol:
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Re: Running multi-edition D&D games

Post by Mike » Sun Oct 13, 2019 5:11 pm

Stats are easy to convert and are not the challenge. The biggest difficulty is the "tactical profile" of various games. An edition with conditions, tactical movement, or feat combinations will be hard to mix with BX for example. Either the BX characters lack the special moves to deal with monster abilities, or the PF characters are not engaged by a straight up fight.

Another complication is hit points. It's easier to adjust monster damage to characters, but difficult when different characters are attacking the same monster. If BX character his for 3 hp, and a 3E character hits for 300 hp, how do you reconcile the actual effect on a DCC monster with 30 hp?

(There used to be a thread on EN world called Sultans of smack, where people tried to design attack combos that would do 300+ hit points in a single round. They succeeded for every character class, and sometimes greatly exceeded the 300 point threshold. I don't know if this is still possible in 5E or Pathfinder, but the balance remains significantly different than OSR D&D.)

Staying within the same game family will be easiest. AD&D, BX, DCC, and other OSR games will be very easy to combine because the balance and tactical profile is very similar. 3rd Edition, Pathfinder, maybe 4E and 5E will combine fairly easily. 5E probably fits with either family, if the players are flexible enough to either scale it up or scale it down to match the other players.

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Re: Running multi-edition D&D games

Post by Dread Delgath » Sun Oct 13, 2019 6:47 pm

Mike wrote:
Sun Oct 13, 2019 5:11 pm
Another complication is hit points. It's easier to adjust monster damage to characters, but difficult when different characters are attacking the same monster. If BX character his for 3 hp, and a 3E character hits for 300 hp, how do you reconcile the actual effect on a DCC monster with 30 hp?

(There used to be a thread on EN world called Sultans of smack, where people tried to design attack combos that would do 300+ hit points in a single round. They succeeded for every character class, and sometimes greatly exceeded the 300 point threshold. I don't know if this is still possible in 5E or Pathfinder, but the balance remains significantly different than OSR D&D.)
Yes, Hit points would be one of the biggest disparities between editions. AD&D monsters have the lowest hits, while subsequent editions kept inflating the numbers to compensate for additional character abilities.

I don't know abotu 3x or PF, but my 5e players have 4th-5th level characters that can (moderately) easily do 30+ hp of damage per round. Thankfully, the amount of damage never really went up exponentially as they gained levels.
Mike wrote:
Sun Oct 13, 2019 5:11 pm
Staying within the same game family will be easiest. AD&D, BX, DCC, and other OSR games will be very easy to combine because the balance and tactical profile is very similar. 3rd Edition, Pathfinder, maybe 4E and 5E will combine fairly easily. 5E probably fits with either family, if the players are flexible enough to either scale it up or scale it down to match the other players.
Adjudicating ascending/descending AC is easy for me, as is calculating thac0, so that would never be a problem, but the sheer number of abilities that 3x, PF, 4e & 5e characters and monsters have will outweigh any character or monster of equal HD or level from BX or AD&D.

One solution is to give every character or monster from BX or AD&D a HP "kicker" of at least 10 to 20 hps every level or HD. That makes monsters & characters a little more equal as far as staying alive for a few more rounds.

I'd also suggest that every time a 3x or newer edition monster or character that uses a skill or ability on a monster or character from BX or AD&D, and BX/AD&D doesn't have any equivalent to that ability), the BX/AD&D character or monster gets a flat 35% MR roll against that ability. Roll under, the ability doesn't work.

Spells should not come under that rule, since AD&D monsters already have MR ratings, and would use that anyway.
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Re: Running multi-edition D&D games

Post by Tim Baker » Sun Oct 13, 2019 8:51 pm

The editions are so different, I struggle to imagine being able to reasonably do these conversions. You might be able to get away with a baseline edition that you convert everything to, doing your best to capture the flavor of the source. But when a 30th level 4e character uses an Epic Destiny with their action point to do something truly over-the-top, how do you capture that if they're fighting a monster with AD&D stats? When 4e characters shouldn't be able to receive any more healing from the party cleric, because they're out of healing surges, but the cleric is from BECMI, where healing surges aren't a thing, how do you reconcile the two.

I love the idea of being able to do this. I remember early D&D Next playtest interviews mentioning how a basic character could play at the same table as a 4e character, once they were converted to D&D Next. It's one of the promises of 5e that I didn't see pan out at the table.

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