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%

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Barovian Wannabe
I've played in five ongoing AD&D 1E campaigns: three that I ran, and two that I played in, and all were from the years of 2011 and onward. I'm barely old enough to remember the 80s, let alone the earliest days of the hobby. But something about the archaic, byzantine nature of the old hardcovers always appealed to me, and that's why I designed my first campaign using the system. I had to figure out for myself what rules to use or ignore (I've never used weapons vs. armor class, weapon speed, psionics...), discern how magic users are supposed to gain new spells, and piece together rules that definitely do not make sense. Reading the Dragonsfoot forums helped a lot.

As others have said, I love the free-form nature of adding and removing rules, and I love the old-school feel of sword and sorcery, and the lack of long lists of skills and feats in favor of players just using their heads. Lots of things appeal to me about the system. I don't even mind THAC0! Many of my most cherished gaming memories come from the five campaigns I've run using the system. I've played a mixture of homebrew settings as well as famous published adventures like Ravenloft, Against the Giants, Barrier Peaks, and Demonweb Pits. I used to stan for 1E, and stan HARD.

But I feel a little differently now.

I recently started up a new campaign with players who are either new to D&D or are used to newer editions, and I've had a hard time rationalizing my old love for the system. I want them to have the freedom to make the characters they want to play, so it's hard to justify 1E's restrictions on races and classes. They're confused by all the different dice they have to roll for skill checks and initiative and thief skills, and they tend to forget if they have to roll high or low. And I can't really blame them! 1E in many ways just. doesn't. make. sense.

And what I've realized is that 5E can do almost all the things I like about 1E, but with the benefit of 40+ years of streamlining and playtesting. It's so refreshing to read these books that are well-organized and elegant, and pay tribute to the old-school games in ways that feel respectful but modernized. In the years I played 1E the most, before 5E's release, there wasn't a system that filled this niche for me. So now that it exists, I started questioning why I was so loyal to this old system, and what it offered that newer ones didn't.

Ultimately I came to the conclusion that I'd rather play the modern version. So I'm converting my megadungeon to 5E. But the 1E books stay on the shelf - lots of great information I can still glean from them, the DMG and the monster books in particular.

The requirements to make certain classes isn’t gatekeeping, it reflects the difficulty of training those classes experience. A ranger or Paladin is like an Army Ranger or Navy Seal and it’s not gatekeeping to give them harder requirements. You have to be a resilient bad ass to make the grade and I wholly endorse that.

From what I have gleaned, and I could be completely wrong, EGG's original concept of D&D was that the DM would run a continuous world, with a fairly fluid, rotating cast of players dropping in and out, almost like an MMO. So the idea was that a Paladin should be rare in the world, as should the Ranger.

From a DM perspective, running the sort of game where Lord Robilar can fly in on his carpet one day and completely ruin the ToEE for a different party, it makes sense. But for the game most people actually ended up playing, where a group of four or five friends would play together for a long time, having classes gated behind randomized ability scores is nonsensical. If you don't have 20 different players rotating in and out of your table, you might never see a Paladin.

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
Ultimately I came to the conclusion that I'd rather play the modern version. So I'm converting my megadungeon to 5E. But the 1E books stay on the shelf - lots of great information I can still glean from them, the DMG and the monster books in particular.
I'm with you.

My first 5E purchases were Tales from the Yawning Portal and Curse of Strahd, and I own all of Goodman Games' OAR books.

I do wish that WotC had included the Fiend Folio and maybe Monster Manual II when they released their collector's edition 1E books. Having nice, less beat up versions of the inspirational texts would be nice.
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But then you'd have no way of spotting the players that cheat. They're the ones who showed up with a Paladin.

Hey, I legitimately rolled a Paladin once. A really good Paladin. With witnesses, including the DM. Of course, it was for an evil campaign so I didn't end up playing that character until like 5 years later. I had that character sheet sitting in my PHB for years, though.

Str 18/76
Int 10
Wis 14
Dex 15
Con 15
Cha 17

I didn't actually roll 76, but that's the category I had. I eventually ran the character 2 years at the end of 2e and 3-4 years into 3e. Ended up level 15. He's currently stuck in The Abyss, IIRC.

Our method was only slightly different than normal. Roll 4d6 drop 1 until you get a 16 or better. Keep that stat and the next 5 you roll, then arrange to taste. It's the same method we've used for 20 years now, though we did stop using it for 4e after making the characters a little too good.


Played it on and off for about 20 yrs and had a blast. However, it was when we switched to 4e and I joined the WotC forum and EnWorld that I realized with our 20 pages of house rules we were practically playing a different game completely!
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