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Check out the rules for exiting combat in 1e AD&D.
I don’t have those rules handy nor time to look them up. But even if they banned it (which I doubt) I think 1e AD&D was incomplete and uneven enough that everyone house-ruled at least a little. My groups usually had at least a few wargamers, many ex- and current military, and plenty of people who have been in real fist fights and brawls in their actual life, not to mention fencers and martial artists; so we all had a concept of what disengagement meant and what the hazards and challenges inherent to it were. Sometimes retreating was as interesting as fighting (such as using bounding cover etc.). But everyone knew, and every person with any knowledge of history or experience of the real world knows, that sometimes you have to run away from a fight.
In other words, the details may be fraught, but I don’t think the basic concept was ever controversial. The fact that it seems to have become so is bizarre.
I think one of the problems of 3.5e and 4e were that they tried to turn tabletop gaming into a copy of a MMORPG, rather than taking advantage of the things that are possible face to face but hard or impossible to code. Its easier to code an endless stream of random fights to the death than political intrigue over who will become the next mayor or negotiations with the gnolls to beat up the bugbears together.
Agreed, and I can’t really blame them, World of Warcraft, Everquest etc. were hugely popular for a while, and making far more money than any RPG. But they almost ruined it, I think what kept it all viable was the OGL / D20 contract which allowed a lot of third party variants to thrive. This led to Pathfinder and the “Old School Revival” I mentioned up above, which proved the viability of alternatives to the existing path Wizards was going down.
The thing is today, 5E is very successful in it’s own right, and I think maybe while keeping some video game elements, they have figured out that it’s also worth emphasizing some things that table top RPG’s do well and video games do not.
Also by the way, mentioning that any particular version of DnD is similar to a video game is forbidden talk on gaming forums right now. I’m about to get banned from one for even hinting about it.
Opponents with mind-control magic are rare in most games! The way many players object to lack of agency is something observed, not a theory. I
Well here I have to disagree – if you look at the 3.5 or 5E Monster Manual there are plenty of monsters, including some of the most popular (Vampires, for example) with all kinds of Charm and Suggestion magic. The only difference is that along with the rising ubiquity and routine nature of magic in these games, they have also nerfed the effects somewhat, so for example the durations are shorter (again I think video game influence here).
In our games the party got captured and enslaved pretty often to avoid a TPK (or just locked up for sundry felonies) but that requires trust. And there were a lot of player-character deaths (so many deaths!) I think I ran one campaign where players reached about 5th level in D&D.
Sounds like your games were a lot more like my games, and therefore there are at least two of us still out there who understand that RPG’s can be played a different way than this carnival ride version they are emphasizing.