Thursday, January 2, 2014
Somehow, it worked: AD&D Second Edition
I can only speak from my own experiences, having played AD&D 2e from around 1990 until 2002 or so when my long running Greyhawk campaign finally folded. I haven't run 2e since. But lately I've been looking through my old books and thinking about the "good'ole days:" before the OGL, before Ascending AC, before every class had the same experience point chart, before the unified d20 mechanic.
Maybe I just didn't know any better, but somehow AD&D 2e worked.
--We didn't mind Thac0. Sure, new players found it a little confusing. But we all thought it was better than those combat tables in the 1e Dungeon Master's Guide.
--While I had started with AD&D, I learned the rules in AD&D 2e with less difficulty. All the rules for combat and character generation were in the Player's Handbook, explained better, not scattered between the PHB and the DMG.
--The initiative system didn't bother us. I felt it was more straight-forward than the old "segment-system" from 1e (which at the time I really didn't understand).
--The 1 minute combat round seemed to make sense, in a way, even though I wasn't completed enamored with it. I'm not sure why they kept it from AD&D, and didn't use the 10 second combat round from D&D. In the end it didn't matter, we rolled initiative, attack dice, and the DM just described what happened--even if it seemed to take less than a minute in game time.
--A fighter was a great starting class for newcomers to the game. Every group can always use another good fighter. We didn't see the fighter as a weak class at all--especially when you added rules for specialization.
Sure, if I ran AD&D Second Edition now there'd be things I'd change. I would probably use Ascending AC. I like the experience system from Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG, so I might use that instead of the "fiddly" xp system in 2e.
What amazes me, though, is how I played and DMed 2e for over decade and had lots of fun. But somewhere along the way, at least for a time, I was convinced that 3e/3.5e was somehow inherently better. Many still think it is. Many think Pathfinder is a logical progression out of 3.5e. Others stick to 4e. I really hadn't even heard of an "edition war" until 3e came out.
But it doesn't matter. At my tabletop in the "dark ages" between the end of AD&D 1e and the rise of 3e, somehow, AD&D Second Edition worked.