Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Taking a Deeper Look at AD&D Second Edition

Happy New Year!

I've been looking through the "Let's Read the AD&D 2nd Edition Monstrous Manual" pdf at Monsters and Manuals. It's a complition of various threads of the same name over at, made way back in 2008. Noism, the author, got the idea from (un)reason's famous threads about reading the entire run of Dragon Magazine. 

The old Monstrous Manual has been with me since almost as long as I've been gaming. But the pdf has made me look at the book in a new light: I've missed a lot of cool stuff in that book--perhaps its was hiding amid the sub-par. You can find lots of adventure ideas within the ecology sections of each entry. Noism repeatedly comments throughout about starting some sort of coastal campaign featuring Crabmen, Sahaugin, and other critters of the sea--or maybe a campaign where the PCs hunt down creatures for the value of their body parts for use as spell components, armor, or just their shear value alone. 

It got me thinking: what else have I missed in the other books? 

Maybe its time to take a deeper look into the "lost edition" that I thought I knew so well. 


  1. 2e may lack a lot of the glamour and mystique of other editions, and its feel may be somewhat sterile and clinical, but it was really the first edition since Holmes that was a true attempt to take a mess that Gygax had created, put it in the hands of capable writers with the explicit purpose of making Dungeons and Dragons a more accessible, playable game.

    There were a few minor additions and tweaks that some people have problems with, but on the whole, as a game, it's one of the easiest to pick up and play of the non-basic editions. That the DMG is not an essential component to pick up the game and actually start playing speaks volumes for the shift in approach of the game as one that is more egalitarian (a player with a players guide can get what they need to try their hand at DMing) than putting the Dungeon Master in some sort of elevated role as holder of the esoteric material needed to run the game.

    1. I agree. The 2e DMG was a bit of a disappointment, but it also wasn't as confusing for new DMG.

      I also remember reading an article in Dragon in 1990s (I'll have to look it up), where the author said that, if you're a new DM, and want to run AD&D 2e on the cheap, you only need the Player's Handbook and Dungeon Magazine (or some other pre-published adventure). The DMG really became a tertiary book.


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