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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.

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We used Unearthed Arcana quite a bit - Grugach, Cavaliers, Barbarians, Thief-Acrobats, Illusionists, and so on were staples of our games. I don't recall any one character feeling that OP, but we were young and not exactly the most sophisticated of gamers.

Going back and re-reading it recently, the worst offenders feel like traps for the unwary. The Barbarian has a massive XP requirement to level up, and the whole not being able to use magic items until you level up really begins to tell quite quickly when people are hitting 3rd level and the barbarian is still crawling along at 1st level. As for the Cavalier, their code generally makes for a short life in the deadly dungeon crawls of 1e.


Barovian Wannabe
I always heard tales of UA being an unbalanced mess. I bought it for the extra spells and magic items, plus just out of curiosity. I used the spells and items here and there, but never introduced the new classes into my campaign. I also never figured out just why the heck cantrips existed, at least in the way they're written in that book.

Everyone cheats, HarbingerX.

The good people cheat so that they can have fun with everyone else, and the bad people cheat because they like playing paladins.
No cheat at my table. All rolls were (and still are) made on the open where everyone can see them. No fudge, no correction, no pity. If you could make a paladin, you had rolled one. It was as simple as that. Before the UA method, I've had about 3 or 4 paladins. Not that much considering the life span of a 1ed character. And after the UA, it was very common for a player to roll on the UA method and still not be able to make a paladin. It was maybe once in about three attempts that could produce a paladin. Otherwise you had to play a cavalier and even then, it did happened once or twice that even then, the player was forced to play a simple fighter. Such is the way that luck goes. Sometimes you win, sometimes you don't.

Those are good odds; looks like you win 2/3 of the time.

Still .... that's like saying, "It was maybe about one in three attempts you died." That's a pretty severe downside, mi amigo.
You got the odds reversed, 1 per 3 attempts were Paladins With the UA method. The UA method was 9d6, 8d6, 7d6 and so on up to 3d6 for the least "important" stat. Even with this method, doing a paladin was not sure. Heck the cavalier was not even a sure thing either. Before that (UA), seeing a paladin was extremely rare. Perhaps one in 50 or 60 characters (maybe even less chances than that) could hope to roll a paladin legitimately.

The UA was and is a piece of Art. You might not have appreciated it. I did wholeheartedly. We loved it and we've had some of the best fun we've ever had with it. And strangely, my UA is in quite good condition (and would've stayed pristine if it hadn't been of a water pipe that broke) I did save the book but the cover is mared a wee bit from water wear.

The UA was as good as you wanted it to be. It was a really good book.

Most people, if not all, saw the UA as bag of additional rules. You took what you wanted from it and discarded what you did not. Not unlike modern editions, you take what you like in a book. We took most of it but I'll give you that. It was put hastily together for a quick buck. That much is true. Instead of the Thief-Acrobat they should've printed the witch we saw in the Best of dragon vol IV.


Official List of Best "NPC" Classes in AD&D, In Order (Published in Dragon Magazine):

1. Incantrix (under powered, but a really good class)
2. Death Master (legendary)
3. Witch (quite nice, quite nice indeed)
4, Duelist (best non-OP, non UP martial option)
5. Bandit (eh, it worked)
6. Cloistered Cleric (suprisingly good!)
7. "Original" Samurai (that's a mighty fine ginsu knife... I mean, katana of sharpenss)
8. Anti-paladin (because if you throw one at a paladin, they both explode ..... science!)
9. Shaman (for people that don't like druids)
10. Beastmaster (given the total lack of balance, this should have been a slam dunk for UA!)

Good list, but I would replace #8 with Christopher Woods "Plethora of Paladins" - while not perfect by any means, they all have great flavor and were quite fun in play.

They could've put so much more in the UA. But they had the intention of doing more books like it but they did not for the reasons we all know.


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Victoria Rules
We used Unearthed Arcana quite a bit - Grugach, Cavaliers, Barbarians, Thief-Acrobats, Illusionists, and so on were staples of our games. I don't recall any one character feeling that OP, but we were young and not exactly the most sophisticated of gamers.
Illusionists were original PH.

Cavaliers, toned down a bit, were very much worth keeping; and their percentile-stat-increment system was a revelation which we immediately applied to all classes. Some (but by no means all!) spells and magic items were also worth keeping. Most of the rest was more or less garbage.

Edit to add: cantrips were also a decent idea, once all the similar ones were combined (i.e. turn a list of 80-ish into a list of 25-ish).


Never played it. Closest I've come is 2e, which isn't too terribly different. I have looked at a good bit of the rules though, and there are some impressions I've gotten of it over the years.

People can say what they want about the humanocentric approach, but I think the reality behind it is much simpler. Gary did not like LotR, but he certainly liked the idea of Tolkien fans playing his game. I think it's telling that halflings, the most Tolkien demihumans of all, get the hardest restrictions.

Gary generally balanced things to his taste, but I don't think he really explained his rationale BitD. The conversations with him here and over at Dragonsfoot might have some of his reasonings, but of course those came long after the fact. So some of the restrictions seem arbitrary and strange. However, some of the restrictions make some sense if one really examines things. It didn't help that Gary tended to responded poorly to criticism or look down upon ideas he didn't like.

Balance by rarity, such as one gets with powerful classes is fake balance. If a player legitimately gets something powerful from good rolls, the power issues still exist, and at times this leads to nonsense like asinine catch-22 ethical dilemmas for paladins. There's a number of fake balance issue like this in the older versions of the game.

The rules are kind of messy and occasionally contradictory, and Gary's rather unique prose doesn't help matters either.

But there's still a lot of good ideas in the rules, and the best survive even today. Earlier 1e material is pretty evocative and vivid, while late 1e and early 2e gets dry bland and dull, mired in irrelevancies.

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