|Revisitation: a series of posts that each feature a quote from a classic source along with a short discussion. Quotes that make me question some previous assumption I had about the game or that seem to lead to otherwise unexpected consequences will be preferred.
From the Rules Cyclopedia, page 148:
New Dungeon Masters often make the common mistake of using random dice rolls to determine everything. An entire evening can be spoiled if (for example) an unplanned wilderness encounter on the way to the dungeon goes badly for the party. The DM must use good judgment in addition to random tables. Encounters should be scaled to the strength of the party and should be in harmony with the theme of the adventure; whenever possible, they should be worked into the story the characters are playing out.
Likewise, the DM may choose numbers instead of rolling for the amount of damage, number appearing, etc. This may be necessary to allow for a more enjoyable game; heavy damage early in the game may spoil the fun.
It’s always interesting to see divergences from current dogma in older books. In this case, the difference really is dramatic. This advice is exactly the opposite of what many people now would consider to be old school play. My RC has a copyright date of 1991. Is it possible that the Second Edition ethos has already begun to infiltrate the basic line by this point? I’m not familiar with the Mentzer boxed sets, so I’m not sure if this language originally showed up there as well.
In any case, I can sort of see the argument for adjusting encounter strength. I am not in favor of that now, but I don’t think it fundamentally changes the game. But choosing numbers instead of rolling for damage? Seriously? Talk about moral hazard.