Xanathar's Guide to Cleavin' a Goblin Clean in Twain (feat. D&D)


it’s true, 1st edition AD&D is the best edition


I didn’t see this post until just now. You seem to be making my point while attempting to refute it. The archetype for the cleric comes partially from Hammer horror. The Turn Undead mechanic was created to support that archetype.

My issue with the Barbarian Rage mechanic is that I don’t think that rage is what defines a barbarian. When reading the description of the 5e barbarian it felt that the designers were creating an archetype because they wanted the Barbarian Rage mechanic from 3e. It doesn’t really feel like a well considered archetype to me. But that is certainly a subjective opinion of mine. I don’t have any insight into the designers’ thought processes.

In general I see a lot more thematic consistency behind the archetypes in early editions. Sorcerers in 3e always seemed like a way to simply create a class that doesn’t require spell memorization because some people want that. There is nothing wrong with that, but I’d rather the game handled it in another way. Maybe give DMs a choice by providing an alternate spell system or something like that. But I think as written the archetype was made up to justify a different game mechanic. I also felt like the game stretches the meaning of the Charisma stat for this purpose without much justification.

I don’t understand why Rangers can eventually cast magic user and druid spells in 1e though. Neither makes a lot of sense to me for that archetype. So I’m not claiming 1e is perfect. I’m also mostly looking at this from the perspective of AD&D. I’m surely oversimplifying to say that the game evolved exactly in the way that I described.


the Barbarian Rage has parallels in Cu Chulainn’s Warpspasm, in the berserker rages of the vikings, in the violent outlaws of the icelandic outlaw sagas, and yes, even conan the barbarian has gone blind with rage in a number of stories. Its a pretty reasonable archetype to build a class around, and certainly much closer to real fantasy fiction, myth and legend than the Cleric ever was.


I agree with all of that but I still hate the way that the 5e barbarian is described by the rules, and I wouldn’t be complaining if I didn’t like the 1e barbarian better(not so much how the class is implemented but the idea behind it). As I said above, the viking berserker is a fine archetype but does every primitive warrior have to be blind with rage.

And I still think it’s only in there because it was in 3e. But of course I can’t prove that :slight_smile:


Modern western conception of “barbarian” is arguably inherited from the Romans from whom we get a lot of shit-talking (writing?) about war-mad undisciplined hoards (many, many disparate germanic/celtic/whateveric groups) breaking on their legions. This is also where we get our first stories of men in nothing but loin cloths bolstered by [roman speculation here] even madder than their brethren biting on shields, etc.

We see its legacy in Scandanavian “berserkers.” Someone who lives in the woods, more in touch with nature than modern society, sometimes flying into rages and killing many men, is straight–as Tulpa notes–out of an Icelandic outlaw saga. Medieval Scandinavians are direct inheritors of (some of) the cultures Romans labeled with the broad brush “Barbarian,” painting images that survive to the modern day.


Absolutely. Which makes it especially interesting that 1e didn’t go that route. But of course, if someone had had the idea for the rage mechanic back then, maybe they would have.


Yeah, I think this all traces back to Roman conceptions/fear/envy of barbarians in battle.


Interestingly, there is an entry for berserker in the 1e Monster Manual. They can strike twice a round or once at +2.

There is also a Berserker class in Dragon #3, which has a rage-like ability.


why do clerics use maces


because crush damage has to be a corner case nuisance


Likely as a game balance thing so that clerics weren’t just Fighting Men but better in every way. Its a dissociated mechanic like all the weapon restrictions in D&D. There’s no logical reason why wizards can’t use swords, either.

But the usual justification given is that Gygax misunderstood a picture of the bayeux tapestry and declared that priests won’t draw blood.


Because smashing a dude in the head with a baseball bat doesn’t draw blood.

I literally have some discovery photos on my work computer that belie that one


You can make your primitive warriors fighters too. The little one-page description in front of the barbarian class in the 5e PHB emphasizes wildness and savagery and whatnot, but leaves room for other interpretations. I think a much better encapsulation of these archetypes as they fill up the gamespace of class selection is “brainy warrior” versus “brawny warrior”.


I decided RAAAAGE didn’t fit my simple-country-farmgirl-turned-tavern-bouncer-turned-adventurer, so I decided instead of RAGING, she just really loves a good smash’n’scrap when drunk. My DM liked the idea, so that’s where the tankard came in. “Magically refills itself with the last liquid to be poured into it”. There’s some fine print involved (can’t flood a room by turning it upside down, etc), but otherwise I’m free to do as I please with it.

We got into a sticky situation (stranded far, far away from anything resembling hospitible civilization) and the DM threw me a curveball. We were all real hurt, in a place where a long rest was not happening. Our medical supplies had dwindled to almost nothing, and our only healer was out of spells. DM said “You DO still have that oooonnneeeee health potion left, though, eh? Too bad you don’t have a whooole lot more of those”

He was offering me a choice. I could dump out my fine dwarven paint stripper (1,000g a bottle!) and fill the tankard with healing potion, giving us, at the very least, a renewable source of healing, though food and magic points would still continue to be a pressing issue. But if I did so, I’d lose my regular source of booze, which meant, according to my character fluff, I couldn’t rage again until I found more alcohol.

Possibly one of the coolest moments I’ve had in a D&D game, honestly, just because of how a major shift in the flow of the campaign rested on my character fluff that I made up on a whim to pave over a disconnect between my character’s personality and the mechanics as they were written.


Sorry, but that is not a dissociated mechanic. It doesn’t require you to separate player decision making from character decision making. The restriction is in character.

And I’ve read Playing at the World, so I assume that is your source for the tapestry thing. I do not think it is fair to say Gygax misunderstood the tapestry. There were additional historical antecedents for this as well, but of course liberties were taken. This is a fantasy game after all. I do find the fact that a religious restriction against drawing blood leads to an obviously silly ‘workaround’ quite accurate historically though!

Honestly, I don’t get the ad hominem Gygax stuff. I happen to love Gygaxian D&D. But I hope no one takes my criticism of modern D&D personally. There are things I like about newer versions but honestly some of the things I like best about the older versions are a direct result of Gygax’s influence.


yeah I’m feeling very sympathetic to @jjsimpso itt when I think most of the argument is coming down to whether or not you have particular affection for the specific artifice of early D&D stereotypes or archetypes despite Gygax’s many sins or whatever. I take the token Tulpa position in a lot of analogous arguments so I can see where it’s coming from but this seems like it’s trending slightly too enervating to meaningfully establish whether or not something is Bad Actually


D&D combat is super abstract and cartoonish. Back in the day, the most fabled magic weapon in the game has the completely unique special power of sometimes cutting someone’s head off. From that mindset bonking someone with a mace (not even getting into the long standing mace/morningstar/flail mix up) seems pretty bloodless.


Advanced Dungeons and Dragons cut out naval combat, mass combat, weapon maneuvers, a skill system, etc, from the core rules while still claiming it is the “advanced” version of the rules. Gygax pretty much stole D&D from Arneson through the marketing of AD&D as the ‘true’ vision of D&D while killing off BECMI.

Instead of a rich tactical game full of cleverness and originality, we got angry old man Gygax yelling at clouds and saying that one way to deal with disagreements at the table is to kill the player characters with magic lightning bolts.


naval combat like ship battles?


yep, it’s present in one of the BECMI sets, its present in OD&D, and its reduced to 2 pages of difficult to parse tables and a couple paragraphs of advice in the Gygax edition.