D&D 1E Edition Experience: Did/Do you Play 1E AD&D? How Was/Is It?

How Did/Do You Feel About 1E D&D?

  • I'm playing it right now; I'll have to let you know later.

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • I'm playing it right now and so far, I don't like it.

    Votes: 0 0.0%


Limit Break Dancing (He/They)
With all of the talk about the Golden Age of Gaming, and all of the retro-clones floating around, it's made me curious about the older editions of the game. I'm curious how many folks on ENWorld have ever played the older editions, and what their level of satisfaction was. Or is, if you are one of the rare birds that are still keeping it Old School.

This week I'd like to examine the 1st Edition of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. Have you played it before? or are you still playing it? What do you think about it?

By "played," I mean that you've been either a player or a DM for at least one gaming session. By "playing," I mean you have an ongoing gaming group that still actively plays this version, however occasionally. And for the purpose of this survey, I'm only referring to the 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons version, which was first published in 1977 and compiled by Gary Gygax. This one right here, the one with the ruby-eyed statue on the cover:


Note that this is different from the "Advanced Dungeons and Dragons" 2nd Edition, which had a knight on the cover (and the words "2nd Edition" in bold, red letters). That version was published a whole decade later.

Feel free to add nuance in your comments, but let's not have an edition war over this. I'm really just interested in hearing peoples' stories of playing the 1E rules, and what they remembered (for better or worse) about it.

Next week we will tackle the B/X, "Moldvay" version. So if that's your flavor of choice, I hope to hear from you next week.

Other Surveys
Basic D&D
BECMI / Rules Cyclopedia
D&D 3E
D&D 4E
Survey Results (24 Apr 2020)
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I played it. Enjoyed it immensely most of the time I was playing it.

Would never play it again. I've test run games using it, but it's so primitive, clunky, and opaque compared to a more modern system. I had a lot of frustrations with it at the time that I was continually trying to house rule around. And I have even more frustrations with it now than I had then because I've used so much more technology since then than I had available at the time.

There are still parts of it I love, and I have a great deal of nostalgia for it, and I like the lack of number inflation compared to recent editions, but before I'd play again I'd have to rewrite the rules.

And the effort involved in that would not be worth it. I'd end up with something that was almost but not quite 3e, that used a lot of 1e terminology and wore 1e clothes but wouldn't play that differently than my 3e house rules.

For areas that I'm frustrated with 3e, I've found it to be useful thought experiments to imagine what I would have wanted the 1e rules to be, and then write those, and then convert those to 3e. But ultimately, 1e is like an old classic car - it looks great sitting in a garage and taken out rarely but you wouldn't want to use it as a commuter vehicle.


Limit Break Dancing (He/They)
You should probably change this to:

Note that this is different from the "Advanced Dungeons and Dragons" 2nd Edition, which had a much worse illustration of guy riding his horsey on the cover (and the words "2nd Edition" in bold, red letters). That version is the version that is terrible. It was called "2nd" because it was twice as bad. Like, you know, TSR did the number two all over the better edition.

:poop: Hi! I'm the Second Edition Mascot! Ask me about Kits!
Now now, don't bite too early. Save some of your venom for the AD&D 2nd Edition survey in a couple of weeks!

(For what it's worth, I predict that lots of folks will agree with you on this. Even-numbered editions of D&D seem to be weirdly divisive.)


So - to answer the question - my first time playing AD&D 1E was in my middle school D&D club, where the GM ran us through Keep at the Borderlands and I made the mistake of rolling a wizard as my first character. That, combined with the GM also giving full XP to the PC who got the last hit meant that my wizard ended up having to run into combat, and getting killed by a rat before the party ever reached the Caves of Chaos.


Mod Squad
Staff member
This was the first form of D&D I played. I played a lot of it at the time. It was awesome, and a lot of fun.

I've gone back and run an occasional one-shot of the game for the heck of it, usually focusing on a tournament-style module, so you have a chance of getting through it in one long sitting, and such.

But would I run a campaign with it now? No.


I voted : I played it, and remember liking it.

PHB: We liked that all the info for levels was in one book. Glad Race-as-Class of B/X is gone. 9 alignments is better. Weapon Speeds were dropped after a few games. More classes is better. Didn't like restrictions to humanoids levels so we never followed them. The bard class was weird and no one ever managed to create one from level 1 up.

DMG: The book that really opened my eyes to the full potential of D&D as a world building engine. The page with all the political systems was a revelation.

MM: A classic despite the ugly multi-monster illustration. Psionics were a thing. Made the demons and devils very dangerous. I never bought or used the MMII. But used the Fiend and Folio with its weird monsters.

The World of Greyhawk Gazeteer : Again, another eye opener despite the fact that it didn't contain that much information. Just the shear scope of the gazetteer and the beauty of Darlene's map breath taking.

We played two campaigns at the same time with two different DMs. The first time we managed to bring characters up to 10th level and above since starting with B/X. Still as deadly but we used the «not dead until -10» house rule. Stopped playing AD&D1e when I left to study in the big city.

Would I play it today? No. 5e gives me what I want out of D&D.
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