The "Core" of the Core - Common threads between editions

The word "core" often comes up in discussions, but it is not always clear what that means as it has had different definitions in different editions. 

One common meaning is the rules and options present in the iconic "core" rulebooks, the Player's Handbook, the Dungeon Master's Guide, and the Monster Manual.

So, I thought it would be a fun little experiment to see just what elements each edition has in common.  Listed below are some of the "core" elements of D&D as defined by what appears in every edition's version of the core three rulebooks.

Races

Dwarf
Elf
Half-Elf
Halfling
Human

Classes

Cleric
Fighter
Paladin
Ranger
Rogue (Thief) 
Wizard (Mage/Magic-User)      
   
Monsters

Basilisk
Beholder
Bugbear
Bulette
Carrion Crawler
Chimera
Demon, Balor (Type VI) 
Demon, Marilith (Type V) 
Devil, Pit Fiend
Displacer Beast
Doppleganger
Dragon, Black
Dragon, Blue
Draogn, Green
Dragon, Red
Dragon, White
Dryad
Dwarf
Efreeti
Elemental
Elf
Ettin
Gargoyle
Gelatinous Cube
Ghost
Ghoul
Giant, Fire
Giant, Hill
Giant, Storm
Gnoll
Gnome
Goblin
Golem, Flesh
Golem, Stone
Gorgon
Griffon
Halfling
Harpy
Hell Hound
Hobgoblin
Homonculous
Hydra
Imp
Kobold
Lamia
Lich
Lizard Man (Lizardfolk)
Lycanthrope, Wererat
Lycanthrope, Werewolf
Manticore
Medusa
Mind Flayer
Minotaur
Mummy
Naga, Guardian
Nightmare
Ochre Jelly
Ogre
Ogre Mage (Oni)
Orc
Otyugh
Owlbear
Purple Worm 
Rakshasa
Roc
Roper
Sahuagin
Salamander
Satyr
Skeleton
Spectre
Sphinx
Stirge
Titan
Treant
Troglodyte
Troll
Umber Hulk
Unicorn
Vampire
Wight
Wraith
Wyvern
Zombie

Note on the monster list: I chose to ignore mundane animals and vermin type critters.  I used the 2nd Edition Monstrous Manual hardcover, rather than the original three-hole punched folios.  I also used the 3rd Edition Monster Manual rather than 3.5.

All around helpful simian

So what's books and editions did you compare? Just 2nd and 3rd?  I personally don't have access to any 1e books... well my old monster manual might somewhere around here. Not sure. (and my brother ran off with all my 2e stuff)

You do say every edition... well every edition would be a lot of books, and technically would include elves, dwarves and hobbits halflings as classes.  What I mean is... if you went back far enough the concepts of races and classes as seperate entities wouldn't core, so I'm guessing you mean Ad&d, 2nd edition, 3rd edition and 4th edition.

(also didn't mean to quote the whole post!)

I was editing this fix my post when he responded, just ignore this :P
I used...

AD&D 1st Edition Player's Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide and Monster Manual

AD&D 2nd Edition Player's Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide, and Monstrous Manual

3rd Edition Player's Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide, and Monster Manual

4th Edition Player's Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide, and Monster Manual

If I were to include the Rules Cyclopedia (the hardcover compilation of the BECMI version of D&D), the lists would narrow even further.  In such a case, for the sake of discussion, I would probably count Elf, Dwarf, and Halfling as races though they are, in fact, classes, in BECMI.

All around helpful simian

Ok, I think that's fair.  There is definately a big departure in the transition from D&D to AD&D.

As far as discussing core though... what about the premise in 4e that "everything is core"

It's debatable whether the claim makes it true or not, but it's true that they held some things back in order to introduce them later and increase the credibility of that stance.

Basically I'm thinking - you need to throw in the 4e PH2 & MM2.  I may be wrong, but the metallic dragons and gnomes would otherwise be in this list for instance, correct?
As noted in the first post, the word "core" has had a few different definitions, so, for the purposes of this thread, I went with the first three "core" rulebooks of each edition.

All around helpful simian

Definitely remove Half-Elf from “core”.

I like Half-Elves and think they are important, but treating them as if they are a separate race, rather than some kind of multirace - similar to a multiclass - is something that depends on the personal tastes of the players at the table. It is just as easy to take a Human, make it resemble Elf stats, pick up an Elf feat or two, and call it a “Half-Elf”.



For me, the answer to this question defines what “Core” is or isnt, in D&D Next:

Are optional “backgrounds” core? Yes or no.
What about weapons/armor/equipment?

I imagine longsword and dagger are core.  But has their been a spiked chain in every edition?

guides
List of no-action attacks.
Dynamic vs Static Bonuses
Phalanx tactics and builds
Crivens! A Pictsies Guide Good
Power
s to intentionally miss with
Mr. Cellophane: How to be unnoticed
Way's to fire around corners
Crits: what their really worth
Retroactive bonus vs Static bonus.
Runepriest handbook & discussion thread
Holy Symbols to hang around your neck
Ways to Gain or Downgrade Actions
List of bonuses to saving throws
The Ghost with the Most (revenant handbook)
my builds
F-111 Interdictor Long (200+ squares) distance ally teleporter. With some warlord stuff. Broken in a plot way, not a power way.

Thought Switch Higher level build that grants upto 14 attacks on turn 1. If your allies play along, it's broken.

Elven Critters Crit op with crit generation. 5 of these will end anything. Broken.

King Fisher Optimized net user.  Moderate.

Boominator Fun catch-22 booming blade build with either strong or completely broken damage depending on your reading.

Very Distracting Warlock Lot's of dazing and major penalties to hit. Overpowered.

Pocket Protector Pixie Stealth Knight. Maximizing the defender's aura by being in an ally's/enemy's square.

Yakuza NinjIntimiAdin: Perma-stealth Striker that offers a little protection for ally's, and can intimidate bloodied enemies. Very Strong.

Chargeburgler with cheese Ranged attacks at the end of a charge along with perma-stealth. Solid, could be overpowered if tweaked.

Void Defender Defends giving a penalty to hit anyone but him, then removing himself from play. Can get somewhat broken in epic.

Scry and Die Attacking from around corners, while staying hidden. Moderate to broken, depending on the situation.

Skimisher Fly in, attack, and fly away. Also prevents enemies from coming close. Moderate to Broken depending on the enemy, but shouldn't make the game un-fun, as the rest of your team is at risk, and you have enough weaknesses.

Indestructible Simply won't die, even if you sleep though combat.  One of THE most abusive character in 4e.

Sir Robin (Bravely Charge Away) He automatically slows and pushes an enemy (5 squares), while charging away. Hard to rate it's power level, since it's terrain dependent.

Death's Gatekeeper A fun twist on a healic, making your party "unkillable". Overpowered to Broken, but shouldn't actually make the game un-fun, just TPK proof.

Death's Gatekeeper mk2, (Stealth Edition) Make your party "unkillable", and you hidden, while doing solid damage. Stronger then the above, but also easier for a DM to shut down. Broken, until your DM get's enough of it.

Domination and Death Dominate everything then kill them quickly. Only works @ 30, but is broken multiple ways.

Battlemind Mc Prone-Daze Protecting your allies by keeping enemies away. Quite powerful.

The Retaliator Getting hit deals more damage to the enemy then you receive yourself, and you can take plenty of hits. Heavy item dependency, Broken.

Dead Kobold Transit Teleports 98 squares a turn, and can bring someone along for the ride. Not fully built, so i can't judge the power.

Psilent Guardian Protect your allies, while being invisible. Overpowered, possibly broken.

Rune of Vengance Do lot's of damage while boosting your teams. Strong to slightly overpowered.

Charedent BarrageA charging ardent. Fine in a normal team, overpowered if there are 2 together, and easily broken in teams of 5.

Super Knight A tough, sticky, high damage knight. Strong.

Super Duper Knight Basically the same as super knight with items, making it far more broken.

Mora, the unkillable avenger Solid damage, while being neigh indestuctable. Overpowered, but not broken.

Swordburst Maximus At-Will Close Burst 3 that slide and prones. Protects allies with off actions. Strong, possibly over powered with the right party.

I think your Core would make a great Core.  Monsters of course I'd probably increase on day 1 but classes and races are good for me.
I think of Paladin and Ranger as sub-classes of Fighter, so my core class list would be Fighter, Mage, Rogue, Cleric. And I agree with Haldrik that Half-Elf should be removed from core. While it's been in just about every edition, it really is a "multirace". It doesn't have anything really unique about it.

In memory of wrecan and his Unearthed Wrecana.

I like Half-Elves and think they are important, but treating them as if they are a separate race, rather than some kind of multirace - similar to a multiclass - is something that depends on the personal tastes of the players at the table. It is just as easy to take a Human, make it resemble Elf stats, pick up an Elf feat or two, and call it a “Half-Elf”.


Has there been any edition of the game that actually treats half-elves this way?  Or is it just what you'd like to see?  And if it is just what you'd like to see, how can you claim that it's an alternative to the "core" half-elf race?
The issue I have with this is that to me, core in Next means something entirely different.  Core is the structure, the system, the skeleton upon which all the fleshy bits are draped.  None of the individual classes are core, not even CFRW.  You could ban any of them completely and still have a great D&D experience - Dark Sun does this with Clerics.

How core is core if it's not actually integral to the game?
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
The issue I have with this is that to me, core in Next means something entirely different.  Core is the structure, the system, the skeleton upon which all the fleshy bits are draped.  None of the individual classes are core, not even CFRW.  You could ban any of them completely and still have a great D&D experience - Dark Sun does this with Clerics.


The core is the OS.  Classes, races, spells, feats, backgrounds, specialties, etc., are all programs that run on the OS.
The issue I have with this is that to me, core in Next means something entirely different.  Core is the structure, the system, the skeleton upon which all the fleshy bits are draped.  None of the individual classes are core, not even CFRW.  You could ban any of them completely and still have a great D&D experience - Dark Sun does this with Clerics.


The core is the OS.  Classes, races, spells, feats, backgrounds, specialties, etc., are all programs that run on the OS.

Does that mean we can get D&D to run on a toster?

guides
List of no-action attacks.
Dynamic vs Static Bonuses
Phalanx tactics and builds
Crivens! A Pictsies Guide Good
Power
s to intentionally miss with
Mr. Cellophane: How to be unnoticed
Way's to fire around corners
Crits: what their really worth
Retroactive bonus vs Static bonus.
Runepriest handbook & discussion thread
Holy Symbols to hang around your neck
Ways to Gain or Downgrade Actions
List of bonuses to saving throws
The Ghost with the Most (revenant handbook)
my builds
F-111 Interdictor Long (200+ squares) distance ally teleporter. With some warlord stuff. Broken in a plot way, not a power way.

Thought Switch Higher level build that grants upto 14 attacks on turn 1. If your allies play along, it's broken.

Elven Critters Crit op with crit generation. 5 of these will end anything. Broken.

King Fisher Optimized net user.  Moderate.

Boominator Fun catch-22 booming blade build with either strong or completely broken damage depending on your reading.

Very Distracting Warlock Lot's of dazing and major penalties to hit. Overpowered.

Pocket Protector Pixie Stealth Knight. Maximizing the defender's aura by being in an ally's/enemy's square.

Yakuza NinjIntimiAdin: Perma-stealth Striker that offers a little protection for ally's, and can intimidate bloodied enemies. Very Strong.

Chargeburgler with cheese Ranged attacks at the end of a charge along with perma-stealth. Solid, could be overpowered if tweaked.

Void Defender Defends giving a penalty to hit anyone but him, then removing himself from play. Can get somewhat broken in epic.

Scry and Die Attacking from around corners, while staying hidden. Moderate to broken, depending on the situation.

Skimisher Fly in, attack, and fly away. Also prevents enemies from coming close. Moderate to Broken depending on the enemy, but shouldn't make the game un-fun, as the rest of your team is at risk, and you have enough weaknesses.

Indestructible Simply won't die, even if you sleep though combat.  One of THE most abusive character in 4e.

Sir Robin (Bravely Charge Away) He automatically slows and pushes an enemy (5 squares), while charging away. Hard to rate it's power level, since it's terrain dependent.

Death's Gatekeeper A fun twist on a healic, making your party "unkillable". Overpowered to Broken, but shouldn't actually make the game un-fun, just TPK proof.

Death's Gatekeeper mk2, (Stealth Edition) Make your party "unkillable", and you hidden, while doing solid damage. Stronger then the above, but also easier for a DM to shut down. Broken, until your DM get's enough of it.

Domination and Death Dominate everything then kill them quickly. Only works @ 30, but is broken multiple ways.

Battlemind Mc Prone-Daze Protecting your allies by keeping enemies away. Quite powerful.

The Retaliator Getting hit deals more damage to the enemy then you receive yourself, and you can take plenty of hits. Heavy item dependency, Broken.

Dead Kobold Transit Teleports 98 squares a turn, and can bring someone along for the ride. Not fully built, so i can't judge the power.

Psilent Guardian Protect your allies, while being invisible. Overpowered, possibly broken.

Rune of Vengance Do lot's of damage while boosting your teams. Strong to slightly overpowered.

Charedent BarrageA charging ardent. Fine in a normal team, overpowered if there are 2 together, and easily broken in teams of 5.

Super Knight A tough, sticky, high damage knight. Strong.

Super Duper Knight Basically the same as super knight with items, making it far more broken.

Mora, the unkillable avenger Solid damage, while being neigh indestuctable. Overpowered, but not broken.

Swordburst Maximus At-Will Close Burst 3 that slide and prones. Protects allies with off actions. Strong, possibly over powered with the right party.

The issue I have with this is that to me, core in Next means something entirely different.  Core is the structure, the system, the skeleton upon which all the fleshy bits are draped.  None of the individual classes are core, not even CFRW.  You could ban any of them completely and still have a great D&D experience - Dark Sun does this with Clerics.


The core is the OS.  Classes, races, spells, feats, backgrounds, specialties, etc., are all programs that run on the OS.


Bingo.  Core should be the system, the mechanics, the HOW things are done.  All of the WHAT things are done, should be additions to that.
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.
I used...

AD&D 1st Edition Player's Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide and Monster Manual

AD&D 2nd Edition Player's Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide, and Monstrous Manual

3rd Edition Player's Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide, and Monster Manual

4th Edition Player's Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide, and Monster Manual

If I were to include the Rules Cyclopedia (the hardcover compilation of the BECMI version of D&D), the lists would narrow even further.  In such a case, for the sake of discussion, I would probably count Elf, Dwarf, and Halfling as races though they are, in fact, classes, in BECMI.

While I can understand the point I think it is worthwhile in an analysis of common threads to actually look at the list as parsed through the lens of the original game. In that case you get a much narrower list:

Races

Dwarf
Elf
Halfling
Human

Classes
Fighter (Fighting Man)
Cleric
Magic User (Wizard/Mage)

Monsters

Men
Merman
Goblin
Kobold
Orc
Hobgoblin
Gnoll
Ogre
Troll
Skeleton
Zombie
Ghoul
Wight
Wraith
Mummy
Spectre
Vampire
Cockatrice
Basilisk
Medusa
Gorgon
Maticore
Hydra
Chimera
Wyvern
Gargoyle
Purple Worm
Minotaur
Centaur
Unicorn
Nixie
Pixie
Dryad
Gnome
Dwarf
Elf
Treant/Ent
Pegasus
Hippogriff
Roc
Griffon
Invisible Stalker
Djinn
Efreet
Ochre Jelly
Black Pudding
Green Slime
Gray Ooze
Yellow Mold
Elemental (Air, Earth, Fire, Water) Note: 3 sizes of each, same as AD&D 1e MM.
Giant (Hill, Stone, Frost, Fire, Cloud) Note: No Storm Giant
Dragon (White, Black, Green, Blue, Red, Gold) Note: no other metallic dragons
Lycanthrope (wolf, boar, tiger, bear) Note: no rat.

Some other monsters are simply noted as 'possible' but appear in later editions. In OD&D they are just suggested to be variants of existing monsters:

Titan
Cyclops
Salamander
Gelatinous Cube
Golems (various permutations, but no specific stats are suggested).

I'd note that another category which would be interesting is magic items, as these have been remarkably consistent across all editions, even OD&D.
That is not dead which may eternal lie
I like Half-Elves and think they are important, but treating them as if they are a separate race, rather than some kind of multirace - similar to a multiclass - is something that depends on the personal tastes of the players at the table. It is just as easy to take a Human, make it resemble Elf stats, pick up an Elf feat or two, and call it a “Half-Elf”.


Has there been any edition of the game that actually treats half-elves this way?  Or is it just what you'd like to see?  And if it is just what you'd like to see, how can you claim that it's an alternative to the "core" half-elf race?

The thing is, every edition of D&D makes “multi-racing” core, defacto.

Half-Elf = Human-Elf multirace
Half-Orc = Human-Orc multirace
Mul = Half-Dwarf = Human-Dwarf multirace
Half-Drow (!) = Human-Drow multirace (whether = or ≠ Half-Elf, is confusing)
Half-Giant = Human-Giant multirace
Cambion = Human-Devil multirace 
Half-Dragon = Human-Dragon multirace
Orgillon = Orc-Ogre multirace

And so on, and so on.

Mixing races is a normal part of the D&D tradition. Virtually any permutation of race mixing is possible - with magical experiments obviating physical incompatability - and too many examples of hybrids finding their way into official stats.

Not to mention all of the “blood lines”, “heritages”, “other-borns” and “plane-touched-ing” that seem best understood as dabbling in multi-racing.

At a certain point, what D&D needs is simply a robust mechanic to know how to hybrid races - and not a profusion and confusion of endless conflictive specifics.
I like Half-Elves and think they are important, but treating them as if they are a separate race, rather than some kind of multirace - similar to a multiclass - is something that depends on the personal tastes of the players at the table. It is just as easy to take a Human, make it resemble Elf stats, pick up an Elf feat or two, and call it a “Half-Elf”.


Has there been any edition of the game that actually treats half-elves this way?  Or is it just what you'd like to see?  And if it is just what you'd like to see, how can you claim that it's an alternative to the "core" half-elf race?

The thing is, every edition of D&D makes “multi-racing” core, defacto.

Half-Elf = Human-Elf multirace
Half-Orc = Human-Orc multirace
Mul = Half-Dwarf = Human-Dwarf multirace
Half-Drow (!) = Human-Drow multirace (whether = or ≠ Half-Elf, is confusing)
Half-Giant = Human-Giant multirace
Cambion = Human-Devil multirace 
Half-Dragon = Human-Dragon multirace
Orgillon = Orc-Ogre multirace

And so on, and so on.

Mixing races is a normal part of the D&D tradition. Virtually any permutation of race mixing is possible - with magical experiments obviating physical incompatability - and too many examples of hybrids finding their way into official stats.

Not to mention all of the “blood lines”, “heritages”, “other-borns” and “plane-touched-ing” that seem best understood as dabbling in multi-racing.

At a certain point, what D&D needs is simply a robust mechanic to know how to hybrid races - and not a profusion and confusion of endless conflictive specifics.



Perhaps it shouldn't quite be a core element, but half-races should exist...  Plus, this idea is pretty awesome!  This way mix-and-match wacky combinations are yours to tinker with!  The possibilities could range from epic, to surreal... to squick...  Anyway, I agree with moving half-elf to template/multi-race.  It feels just a bit out of place from a logic standpoint.  It doesn't feel like a full race and why not include every insano hybrid while you're at it.  IMO, your proposition would fix that.

Crazed undead horror posing as a noble and heroic forum poster!

 

 

Some good pointers for the fellow hobbyist!:

  • KEEP D&D ALIVE, END EDITION WARS!
  • RESPECT PEOPLES' PREFERENCES
  • JUST ENJOY THE GAME!
Definitely remove Half-Elf from “core”.




Not for me, Half-Elf is in the 1st Ed PHB, wouldn't be the same without 'em.
The issue I have with this is that to me, core in Next means something entirely different.  Core is the structure, the system, the skeleton upon which all the fleshy bits are draped.  None of the individual classes are core, not even CFRW.  You could ban any of them completely and still have a great D&D experience - Dark Sun does this with Clerics.


The core is the OS.  Classes, races, spells, feats, backgrounds, specialties, etc., are all programs that run on the OS.


Bingo.  Core should be the system, the mechanics, the HOW things are done.  All of the WHAT things are done, should be additions to that.

I basically agree. HOW is “core”. WHAT is “optional”. That is the best definition of “core” that I have seen so far.



For example, it occurs to me, this is more-or-less the definition of core that I am using for “multiracing”. It is clear that multiraces are core in all of the D&D editions. What I want is the HOW to multirace. The HOW is the core. But WHAT multirace “builds” are in a specific setting, are optional.



It is ok if “core” includes specific default examples that efficiently convey all of the core mechanics. The CRFW (Cleric-Rogue-Fighter-Wizard) are the archetypes that minimalistly convey all of the core mechanics. Albeit, you can probably minimize these even further to just the Fighter and Wizard. The Rogue is just a Fighter variant, and the Cleric is just a Wizard variant. In any case, the DM can eschew any of these default classes and still be using the core system. The HOW.
While I can understand the point I think it is worthwhile in an analysis of common threads to actually look at the list as parsed through the lens of the original game.


I'm not sure it makes sense to include OD&D.  OD&D was basically Gygax' and Arneson's home game, written down.  If Rob Kuntz woke up one morning and wanted to play a half-dwarf, Gygax would have written up some rules and would have appeared in the next supplement.  OD&D really doesn't represent a coherent attempt to put together a comprehensive game, as much fun as it was to play.
so Gnomes are monsters, but not a player race?   That' doesn't seem core to me.  

Is that just a 4e cartoon or did gnomes not exist in 1e?    



so Gnomes are monsters, but not a player race?   That' doesn't seem core to me.  

Is that just a 4e cartoon or did gnomes not exist in 1e?


Gnomes were player races in the initial release of 1e and 3e, but not in the initial release of BECMI, 2e, or 4e.  (Or OD&D.)
At a certain point, what D&D needs is simply a robust mechanic to know how to hybrid races - and not a profusion and confusion of endless conflictive specifics.


Maybe it does and maybe it doesn't.  But prior editions haven't, and it's the common threads between prior editions that we're talking about in this thread.
so Gnomes are monsters, but not a player race?   That' doesn't seem core to me.  

Is that just a 4e cartoon or did gnomes not exist in 1e?


Gnomes were player races in the initial release of 1e and 3e, but not in the initial release of BECMI, 2e, or 4e.  (Or OD&D.)




Really, I'm looking at my 2e players handbook (original printing) and the gnome is there.  What version of 2e are you talking about?


At a certain point, what D&D needs is simply a robust mechanic to know how to hybrid races - and not a profusion and confusion of endless conflictive specifics.


Maybe it does and maybe it doesn't.  But prior editions haven't, and it's the common threads between prior editions that we're talking about in this thread.

Sure, but the designers dont plan to simply copy-and-past texts from previous systems to frankenstein them into a monstrously self-conflicting 5e system. The plan is to make the authentic “feel” of previous editions possible, within a well-functioning 5e system.

At a certain point, what D&D needs is simply a robust mechanic to know how to hybrid races - and not a profusion and confusion of endless conflictive specifics.


This is worth making a thread about.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
I disagree with thespaceinvader about all mechanics being core. A game designer could come up with a mechanic for determining how slippery a surface is, but I really don't think that mechanic should be considered "core"

I like crazy_monkey's conception of "core". I consider the original 3 rulebooks for each edition to be the "core" of the game.

I like the idea of a hybrid-race mechanic. In 4e there are half human, half-elves and half-human, half-orcs. Why not a human-eladrin or an elf-eladrin or a human-dwarf mix? However, I agree with the TheCosmicKid that this diverts from crazy_monkeys key question.

I (like several other posters) would be very interested to know what weapons, equipment, magic items...etc are common between the "core" of the various editions.

What we really need is someone with access to all the original rulebooks who can do a thorough analysis of common elements. (I'm not that person.)
so Gnomes are monsters, but not a player race?   That' doesn't seem core to me.  

Is that just a 4e cartoon or did gnomes not exist in 1e?


Gnomes were player races in the initial release of 1e and 3e, but not in the initial release of BECMI, 2e, or 4e.  (Or OD&D.)




Really, I'm looking at my 2e players handbook (original printing) and the gnome is there.  What version of 2e are you talking about?


Ooop!  My bad.  Gnomes are in the initial release of 1e, 2e, and 3e, but not BECMI or 4e (or OD&D).
I disagree with thespaceinvader about all mechanics being core. A game designer could come up with a mechanic for determining how slippery a surface is, but I really don't think that mechanic should be considered "core"

I like crazy_monkey's conception of "core". I consider the original 3 rulebooks for each edition to be the "core" of the game.

I like the idea of a hybrid-race mechanic. In 4e there are half human, half-elves and half-human, half-orcs. Why not a human-eladrin or an elf-eladrin or a human-dwarf mix? However, I agree with the TheCosmicKid that this diverts from crazy_monkeys key question.

I (like several other posters) would be very interested to know what weapons, equipment, magic items...etc are common between the "core" of the various editions.

What we really need is someone with access to all the original rulebooks who can do a thorough analysis of common elements. (I'm not that person.)



I am that person in that I have all of the core rulebooks (well, except OD&D and Homes/Moldvay Basic).  I am not that person in that such an endeavor would take a lot of time (which I don't have).  ;)

In going through the monsters, I was actually quite surprised at just how many are present in all editions.  2nd Edition had, by far, the most eclectic collection of creatures, but the Monstrous Manual was released four years in to the edition, with monster products prior to that being in the form of 3-ring binder pages.     

All around helpful simian

I wasn't thinking of you crazy_monkey.

I have the opposite problem; time but very few books.

Your second comment points to another wrinkle. The initial rulebooks aren't as well defined for the other edtions as they are for 1e, 3e, 3.5e and 4e (I'm not considering 4e essentials as a separate edition).
I wasn't thinking of you crazy_monkey.

I have the opposite problem; time but very few books.

Your second comment points to another wrinkle. The initial rulebooks aren't as well defined for the other edtions as they are for 1e, 3e, 3.5e and 4e (I'm not considering 4e essentials as a separate edition).



In hindsight, it is probably best to treat Essentials as 4.5.



I tend to group the D&D editions as follows:

“0e”
• OD&D (“Original” D&D, such as Men & Magic, and Eldritch Wizardry)
• BECMI (Basic D&D, plus Expert, Champion, Master, and Immortal)
 
“Ae” (the “Advanced” D&D editions)
• 1e
• 2e

“3e”
• 3.0
• 3.5

“4e”
• 4.0
• 4.5 (Essentials)
They are reasonably defined, they are just not organized the same (three hardcover volumes).

OD&D was a boxed set with three booklets.
Holmes/Moldvay Basic was a boxed set.
BECMI was a series of five boxed sets.
The Rules Cyclopedia was a single hardcover volume that compiled the BECM rules.
AD&D 2nd Edition's initial "core" monster collections are MC1: Monstrous Compendium Volume 1 and MC2: Monstrous Compendium Volume 2.  (The Monstrous Compendiums after the first two were supplemental and often tailored to a specific setting.  MC3, for example, was a compilation of Forgotten Realms monsters.)     

All around helpful simian

Ok, I think that's fair.  There is definately a big departure in the transition from D&D to AD&D.

As far as discussing core though... what about the premise in 4e that "everything is core"

It's debatable whether the claim makes it true or not, but it's true that they held some things back in order to introduce them later and increase the credibility of that stance.

Basically I'm thinking - you need to throw in the 4e PH2 & MM2.  I may be wrong, but the metallic dragons and gnomes would otherwise be in this list for instance, correct?



I am with you on that one.. the Druid being in th PH2 is very indicative. In effect he is excluding significant overlaps because of organizational differences between the editions.
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

I have all of the books in question, but there's no way I'm typing out all of the monsters from MC1 & MC2.
Those are good points, haldrik and crazy_monkey. I know very little about Oe and 2e. I like your classification system, haldrik. I think it lays out the "shifts" in the game caused by different leadership taking over.

I hear you, Hocus-Smokus. Could we just use the TOC's (Table of Contents) of the books? I remember the TOCs of the 1e books being pretty detailed. I also remember the appendices of 1e having a list of all the monsters grouped by level (like the appendices of the 4e and Essentials monster manuals). the 1e books even have a compiled spell list chart for each class. Anybody got a scanner?
I'll see what I can do.
I've got all of the D&D material through the end of 2E scanned and in PDF format. The MCs had indexes at the beginnings of them. Maybe I can just copy/paste a screen-cap of it.
One common meaning is the rules and options present in the iconic "core" rulebooks, the Player's Handbook, the Dungeon Master's Guide, and the Monster Manual.

And 0D&D's corresponding Men & Magic, Underworld & Wilderness Adventures, and Monsters & Treasure.

Then you'd have:

Races

Dwarf
Elf
Halfling (Hobbit)
Human

Classes

Cleric
Fighter (Fighting Man)
Wizard (Mage/Magic-User)      
   

 

 

Oops, looks like this request tried to create an infinite loop. We do not allow such things here. We are a professional website!

so Gnomes are monsters, but not a player race?   That' doesn't seem core to me.  

Is that just a 4e cartoon or did gnomes not exist in 1e?


Gnomes were player races in the initial release of 1e and 3e, but not in the initial release of BECMI, 2e, or 4e.  (Or OD&D.)




Really, I'm looking at my 2e players handbook (original printing) and the gnome is there.  What version of 2e are you talking about?


Ooop!  My bad.  Gnomes are in the initial release of 1e, 2e, and 3e, but not BECMI or 4e (or OD&D).



Well that increases the motivation to include the phb2 and mm2 from 4e.

  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

If you've got till the end of 2e, I can get the 3.5e from my library. I currently have the 4e books from the library and I bought the 4e Essentials, except for the Dungeon Master Kit. (in any case, we can always use the DDi Compendium for the 4e and Essentials stuff.) That leaves the 3e rulebooks. Maybe I can get those from my library too?

I have plenty of time, so I could do the analysis if other people can provide the raw material. I just didn't know how well that would work. I don't have a scanner, but typing out the analysis won't be a problem. I can make a Notepad document and paste it into a post(s).

That leaves the question of what to look for. We currently have

Classes, Races, Monsters and Equipment (mundane and magical). Anything else? Spells would probably be good.
So, I thought it would be a fun little experiment to see just what elements each edition has in common.  Listed below are some of the "core" elements of D&D as defined by what appears in every edition's version of the core three rulebooks.

Races

Dwarf
Elf
Half-Elf
Halfling
Human

Classes

Cleric
Fighter
Paladin
Ranger
Rogue (Thief) 
Wizard (Mage/Magic-User)      
   

That's pretty much exactly my definition of core D&D...although, I'm a big fan of the classic D&D game (Basic and Expert sets)...so I would shorten the list to:

Races

Dwarf
Elf
Halfling
Human

Classes

Cleric
Fighter
Rogue 
Wizard     

Those are the iconic races/classes in my opinion, and truly represent the heart of D&D. 
D&D Next - Basic and Expert Editions

I firmly believe that there should be two editions of the game; the core rules released as a "Basic" set and a more complicated expanded rules edition released as an "Expert" set. These two editions would provide separate entry points to the game; one for new players or players that want a more classic D&D game and another entry point for experienced gamers that want more options and all the other things they have come to expect from previous editions.

Also, they must release several rules modules covering the main elements of the game (i.e., classes, races, combat, magic, monsters, etc.) upon launch to further expand the game for those that still need more complexity in a particular element of the game.


Here's a mockup of the Basic Set I created.



(CLICK HERE TO VIEW LARGER IMAGE)
  

Basic Set

This boxed set contains a simple, "bare bones" edition of the game; the core rules. It's for those that want a rules-light edition of the game that is extremely modifiable or for new players that get intimidated easily by too many rules and/or options. The Basic Set contains everything needed to play with all the "classic" D&D races (i.e., Human, Dwarf, Elf, and Halfling) and classes (i.e., Cleric, Fighter, Rogue, Wizard) all the way up to maximum level (i.e., 20th Level).

The Basic boxed set contains:

Quick Start Rules
A "choose your own way" adventure intended as an intro to RPGs and basic D&D terms.

Player's Handbook
(Softcover, 125 pages)
Features rules for playing the classic D&D races and classes all the way up to 20th level.

Dungeon Master's Guide

(Softcover, 125 pages)
Includes the basic rules for dungeon masters.

Monster Manual
(Softcover, 100 pages)
Includes all the classic iconic monsters from D&D. 

Introductory Adventure
(Keep on the Borderlands)
An introductory adventure for beginning players and DMs.

Also includes: 

Character Sheets
Reference Sheets
Set of Dice


Expert Set

A set of hardbound rules that contains the core rules plus expanded races and classes, more spells and a large selection of optional rules modules — that is, pretty much everything that experienced players have come to expect. Each expert edition manual may be purchased separately, or in a boxed set. The Expert set includes:

Expert PHB (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes core rules plus 10 playable races, 10 character classes, expanded selection of spells and rules modules for players.)
Expert DMG (Hardcover, 250 pages. $35 Includes core rules plus expanded rules modules for DMs.)
Expert MM (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes an expanded list of monsters and creatures to challenge characters)


Expansions

These expansion rules modules can be used with both the Basic and Expert sets. Each expansion covers one specific aspect of the game, such as character creation, combat, spells, monsters, etc.) 

Hall of Heroes (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes a vast selection of playable character races and classes, new and old all in one book)
Combat and Tactics (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes dozens of new and old optional rules for combat all in one book)
Creature Compendium (Hardcover, 350 pages.$35 Includes hundreds of monsters, new and old all in one book)
The Grimoire (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes hundreds of new and old spells all in one book)





A Million Hit Points of Light: Shedding Light on Damage

A Million Hit Points of Light: Shedding Light on Damage and Hit Points

In my personal campaigns, I use the following system for damage and dying. It's a slight modification of the long-standing principles etsablished by the D&D game, only with a new definition of what 0 or less hit points means. I've been using it for years because it works really well. However, I've made some adjustments to take advantage of the D&D Next rules. I've decided to present the first part in a Q&A format for better clarity. So let's begin...

What are hit points?
The premise is very simple, but often misunderstood; hit points are an abstraction that represent the character's ability to avoid serious damage, not necessarily their ability to take serious damage. This is a very important distinction. They represent a combination of skillful maneuvering, toughness, stamina and luck. Some targets have more hit points because they are physically tougher and are harder to injure...others have more because they are experienced combatants and have learned how to turn near fatal blows into mere scratches by skillful maneuvering...and then others are just plain lucky. Once a character runs out of hit points they become vulnerable to serious life-threatening injuries.

So what exactly does it mean to "hit" with a successful attack roll, then?
It means that through your own skill and ability you may have wounded your target if the target lacks the hit points to avoid the full brunt of the attack. That's an important thing to keep in mind; a successful "hit" does not necessarily mean you physically damaged your target. It just means that your attack was well placed and forced the target to exert themselves in such a way as to leave them vulnerable to further attacks. For example, instead of severing the target's arm, the attack merely grazes them leaving a minor cut.

But the attack did 25 points of damage! Why did it only "graze" the target?
Because the target has more than 25 hit points. Your attack forced them to exert a lot of energy to avoid the attack, but because of their combat skill, toughness, stamina and luck, they managed to avoid being seriously injured. However, because of this attack, they may not have the reserves to avoid your next attack. Perhaps you knocked them off balance or the attack left them so fatigued they lack the stamina to evade another attack. It's the DM's call on how they want to narrate the exact reason the blow didn't kill or wound the target.

Yeah, but what about "touch" attacks that rely on physical contact?
Making physical contact with a target is a lot different than striking them, so these types of attacks are the exception. If a touch attack succeeds, the attacker manages to make contact with their target.

If hit points and weapon damage don't always represent actual damage to the target, then what does it represent?
Think of the damage from an attack as more like a "threat level" rather than actual physical damage that transfers directly to the target's body. That is, the more damage an attack does, the harder it is to avoid serious injury. For example, an attack that causes 14 points of damage is more likely to wound the target than 3 points of damage (depending on how many hit points the target has left). The higher the damage, the greater the chance is that the target will become seriously injured. So, an attack that does 34 points of damage could be thought of as a "threat level of 34." If the target doesn't have the hit points to negate that threat, they become seriously injured.

Ok, but shouldn't armor reduce the amount of damage delivered from an attack?
It does reduce damage; by making it harder for an attack to cause serious injury. A successful hit against an armored target suggests that the attack may have circumvented the target's armor by striking in a vulnerable area.

What about poison and other types of non-combat damage?
Hit point loss from non-physical forms of damage represents the character spitting the poison out just in time before it takes full strength or perhaps the poison just wasn't strong enough to affect them drastically, but still weakens them. Again, it's the DMs call on how to narrate the reasons why the character avoids serious harm from the damage.

If hit points don't don't represent actual damage then how does that make sense with spells like Cure Serious Wounds and other forms of healing like healer kits with bandages?
Hit points do represent some physical damage, just not serious physical damage. Healing magic and other forms of healing still affect these minor wounds just as well as more serious wounds. For example, bandaging up minor cuts and abrasions helps the character rejuvenate and relieve the pain and/or fatigue of hit point loss. The key thing to remember is that it's an abstraction that allows the DM freedom to interpret and narrate it as they see fit.

What if my attack reduces the target to 0 or less hit points?
If a player is reduced to 0 or less hit points they are wounded. If a monster or NPC is reduce to 0 or less hit points they are killed.

Why are monsters killed immediately and not players?
Because unless the monsters are crucial to the story, it makes combat resolution much faster. It is assumed that players immediately execute a coup de grace on wounded monsters as a finishing move.

What if a character is wounded by poison or other types of non-physical damage?
If a character becomes wounded from non-combat damage they still receive the effects of being wounded, regardless if they show any physical signs of injury (i.e., internal injuries are still considered injuries).

Ok. I get it...but what happens once a character is wounded?
See below.
 

Damage and Dying

Once a character is reduced to 0 or less hit points, they start taking real damage. In other words, their reserves have run out and they can no longer avoid taking serious damage.

  1. Characters are fully operational as long as they have 1 hit point or more. They may have minor cuts, bruises, and superficial wounds, but they are are not impaired significantly. 
  2. Once they reach 0 or less hit points, they become Wounded (see below).That is, they have sustained a wound that impairs their ability to perform actions.
  3. If they reach a negative amount of hit points equal or greater than their Constitution score, they are Incapacitated. This means they are in critical condition and could possibly die.
  4. Characters will die if their hit points reach a negative amount greater than their Constitution score, plus their current level.

Unharmed: 1 hp or more
Wounded: 0 hp or less
Incapacitated: -(Constitution) to -(Constitution+Level)
Dead: Less than -(Constitution +Level)

Wounded
When the character reaches 0 or less hit points they become wounded. Wounded characters receive disadvantage on all attacks and saving throws until they heal back up to 1 hit point or more. This allows for a transitory stage between healthy and dying, without having to mess around with impairment rules while the character still has hit points left.

Incapacitated
Characters begin dying when they reach a negative amount of hit points equal to their Constitution score. At which point, they must make a DC 10 Constitution saving throw on each of their following turns (the disadvantage from being wounded does not apply for these saving throws).

If successful, the character remains dying, but their condition does not worsen.

If the saving throw fails, another DC 10 Constitution saving throw must be made. If that one fails, the character succumbs to their wounds and dies. If successful, the character stabilizes and is no longer dying.

Finally, if a dying character receives first aid or healing at any point, they immediately stabilize.

Dead
Characters will die if they reach a negative amount of hit points equal to their Constitution, plus their current level. Thus, if an 8th level character with a Constitution score of 12 is down to 4 hit points then takes 24 points of damage (reducing their hit points to -20) the attack kills them outright.

One common meaning is the rules and options present in the iconic "core" rulebooks, the Player's Handbook, the Dungeon Master's Guide, and the Monster Manual.

And 0D&D's corresponding Men & Magic, Underworld & Wilderness Adventures, and Monsters & Treasure.

Then you'd have:

Races

Dwarf
Elf
Halfling (Hobbit)
Human

Classes

Cleric
Fighter (Fighting Man)
Wizard (Mage/Magic-User)      
   



Ah that looks kind of familiar (I didnt play them but did have Men and Magic and Blackmoor and one or two others at one point in history.
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."