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D&D 2E Edition Experience - Did/Do you Play AD&D 2E? How Was/Is It?

How Did/Do You Feel About 2nd Edition AD&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%

  • Total voters
    198

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
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 these older editions, and what their level of satisfaction was. Or is, if you are one of the rare birds that are still rocking it O.G. Style.

This week I'd like to examine the AD&D 2nd Edition. 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 Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition set, first published in 1989 and updated through 1995. You remember it; it was the version with a knight on the cover, and had "2nd Edtion" printed on it in bold red letters...this one right here:

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Note that this edition is different from the 1st Edition AD&D game, which was released in 1977 and had a ruby-eyed statue on the cover. That was a completely different survey (see below).

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 "Advanced" rules, and what they remembered (for better or worse) about it.

Next week we will tackle the post-TSR Era of Dungeons & Dragons, beginning with the 3rd Edition rules. So if that's your flavor of choice, stay tuned!

Other Surveys
OD&D
Basic D&D
B/X D&D
AD&D 1E
BECMI / Rules Cyclopedia
D&D 3E
D&D 4E
Survey Results (24 Apr 2020)
 
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QuestWise

Villager
AD&D 2nd edition is the D&D version that launched my love of the hobby. I was introduced to roleplaying via Palladium Books Heroes Unlimited and TMNT and Other Strangeness, but my love of fantasy and the availability due to my geographic location brought me to AD&D. To be honest, I am not sure if it is my favorite edition due to being my introduction, or because its just that good, but over all it is a game that I return to over and over again. Every inch of it gives me nostalgic goosebumps, and it is the main reason I went on to study history and folklore in college.
 


CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
I played this edition in the early 90s, when I met a new friend who also played D&D. He invited me over to his house to play D&D with his buddies, and I was happy to join them. "Bring your own character if you have one," he told me. I told him I had a dwarf named Ivann Ironforge, and he said that would be perfect.

I get there, and he busts this book out. I had brought my blue Expert Rulebook, from a completely different set of rules. Everyone laughed at me. "Oh we don't play basic D&D," he chuckled. "That game's for kids!" (Nevermind that we were 14-year old kids at the time.) "We play advanced rules only. You're gonna have to convert your character."

That set the tone for a fairly miserable experience. I spent most of the night confused over how a dwarf could also be a cleric, and what a ranger was, and why they were all playing "dark elves." Not only was the cleric using a sharp-edged weapon (a sword), he was using two of them at once. Everyone was chest-bumping each other and arguing about who did the most damage, the DM was trying to get everyone to stop talking at once, and I was the quiet guy at the table frantically trying to figure out why there was a fraction after my Strength score.

After the game, my friend let me borrow his Player's Handbook and read it over the weekend, to help me be better prepared for the next time. I read the player's handbook and rolled up a couple of characters, but there wouldn't be a "next time" for me. I went back to my BECM rules, and never played anything else for the remainder of the 20th century.
 

atanakar

Hero
AD&D2e (Blue interior) is the edition I played the longest and with which I had the most success as a DM. Our group was stable and I DMed several home brew campaigns up to level 12. It is the edition I have the most fond memories of. I also had the chance to play in a campaign with a very good female DM who did an excellent Menzoberranzan storyline.

Despite that, I was glad when WoTC announced a 3rd edition. 2e was very convoluted in some parts. Supplying an often complex sub-system for each aspect of the game (tracking, climbing walls). 3e didn't turn out to be what I wanted. It's only with the 5e that I feel once again the «special feeling» I used to get when playing AD&D in my twenties.

Would I play 2e today? I reread the rules in 2019 and decided not to. There are too many things that feel antiquated today (THAC0). I do miss the Thieves percentages for roguish skills. My 5e campaign without Feats, Multi-classing and Slow Natural Healing has all I need. Would I play 2e today IF 5e had never come out? Good question. I would probably play Fantasy AGE (Green Ronin) instead.
 
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TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Supporter
I learned how to play from the combination of the SSI Gold Box games and the 2E books, which were my first ever D&D book purchases. I knew a few kids around school who played 1E and even basic D&D (Dwarf is a class? What?), but it always seemed kind of like a weird atavism to me. Why wouldn't you play the newer version?

Hearing the formative experiences in this forum of those who started playing earlier really brought home to me how different '90s era roleplay was from the preceding years. Modules were out, I never played in a premade adventure until 5E, and to this day have still never run one. (I'm aware that 2E had it's share of published adventures, but they just always seemed like a sidenote, not really part of the main line.) Making detailed characters with elaborate backstories was in, as was making your own adventure.

Playing in very detailed settings (this era was probably the high point of new D&D settings, after all) was very much in. We ran games in Dark Sun, in Planescape, in Birthright, in Ravenloft, and in Al-Qadim. And there was just a constant churn of new books and boxed sets, which made it the whole ecosystem around the game feel very vibrant. (Until it just kind of stopped in 1997, of course.)
 


Enrico Poli1

Adventurer
After BECMI, we switched to AD&D2e. We were in high school and this was our Golden Age. The settings were incredible, and the art that breathed life in our games was stellar. Dragonlance, Ravenloft, Spelljammer, Dark Sun (really the best one), Planescape, Birthright. What a time!

Just now, for me it is impossible to play Dark Sun with another ruleset and don't lose the original feeling. I really hope Dark Sun 5e can do the miracle.

Anyway, the system was very baroque and inconsistent, but strangely enjoyable. Characters created with this system seemed organic, while later in 3e they felt logical but stiff in comparison.

The adventures producer in this age were rarely exceptional, but I sometimes feel the need to play again Die, Vecna Die; Return to the Tomb of Horrors; Dragon's Crown or other jewels (or the original Dark Sun).

This edition is a staple. Unforgettable.
 

atanakar

Hero
Playing in very detailed settings (this era was probably the high point of new D&D settings, after all) was very much in. We ran games in Dark Sun, in Planescape, in Birthright, in Ravenloft, and in Al-Qadim. And there was just a constant churn of new books and boxed sets, which made it the whole ecosystem around the game feel very vibrant. (Until it just kind of stopped in 1997, of course.)

That is true. Despite the fact that I home brewed my campaigns buying these books was very inspirational for me.
 

TiwazTyrsfist

Adventurer
I started with AD&D 2nd ed when I was like 7.

Played it regularly until 3.0 came out

I thought and still think that one of the things that made it interesting was the class/race restrictions.
One of my favorites was that Gnomes (and only Gnomes) could be a Cleric/Rogue, because Garl Glittergold head of the Gnomish pantheon was god of tricksters and thieves.

While a lot of the rules were very clunky, and a few were definitely worth ditching (Only MALE fighters could have 18(%) strength, Different xp tracks for EVERYONE!) the only rule I ever actually had Trouble with was THAc0.

People tell me that "If you understand it, THAc0 is easier and faster than figuring out to-hit in post 3.0 AC/Attack rolls" but then people also say Dvorak keyboards and Linux are easier to use than Qwerty and Windows "If you know how" soooo...

Anyway, I still remember it fondly and would be perfectly willing to play it again sometime. I might even be able to figure out THAc0 now.
 

The rules were clunky and unpolished, but the message was on point: This is a game about playing a role. While there will certainly be obstacles to overcome, the DM isn't your enemy; they're just doing their job, of portraying the world in a fair and realistic manner. Monster exist primarily within an ecology, and are part of how the world works. This isn't just a game, for you to win by getting the treasure. In fact, thinking of it as a game is entirely the wrong approach. The only thing you need to worry about, as a player, is portraying your own character.
 

David Howery

Adventurer
My whole gaming career was in 1E and 2E... 2E was a perfectly fine set of rules... with some tweaking. I was annoyed at some of the things cut from 1E, so I worked out having monks and barbarians into the game, left demons and devils and all the other fiends as is with no name changes, etc. One of the things I really liked about it was the way it went multicultural in a big way... 1E did have OA, but 2E added the counterparts of Mongols, Aztecs, and Arabia to the mix. 2E started to go off the rails late in it's life, with all those handbooks and supplements, but I was pretty much out of gaming by then...
 

Reynard

Legend
I started with BECMI and played it for a lot of years before discovering AD&D. We found 1E just months before the 2E release and immediately upgraded. 2E is still my favorite edition. If BECMI got me involved, 2E made me not only a lifelong fan but a lifelong DM. It was an utter joy to run, and one could easily bolt on subsystems from not only other editions of D&D but also whole other game systems. I would go back to running 2E in a heartbeat if I thought my modern players would do so. Instead I am constantly trying to find the 2E in the current edition (3.x, PF, 5E).
 

Theo R Cwithin

I cast "Baconstorm!"
This is the one I played in college.
I joined a long-running campaign that had been going roughly nearly 20years when I signed on in ~1995. So in truth, what the DM ran at the table was really more like a massive tangle of houserules, with a healthy sprinkling of 2e mixed in. ;)
 

My 2e books are in poor shape. The Monstrous Compendium binder's pages are torn, with many being taped up (as an aside, when I was a kid, whenever I had to open and then close a three-ring binder, all I could think about was one of the prongs accidentally impaling the webbing of my hand). I'm not sure it's from use or just poor quality.

2e remains the edition I played the longest and the most. From 1989 to 1999. Early on, we had multiple campaigns running at once, multiple sessions during the week. By the end of that decade, time commitments were definitely less available and I was lucky to be able to run a dedicated campaign one summer.

I have a fondness for 2e. The rules are probably still branded into my head, and I keep thinking about running a short campaign of it again, much like I did with 1e some years ago.

The bindings of these books are crap, although the Monstrous Manual is still holding up.
 

Myrhdraak

Explorer
I played it but did a lot of houserules to it. In the end it was a combination of D&D 2e, Runequest and the skillsystem from the James Bond RPG.
 

The short answer is that I've played all the editions at least a little and liked the older ones especially 2e but it was way more complex than the newer ones and that's, IMHO the biggest thing that's changed. You don't need a PHD in the rules to pay. With a math minor for doing Thac0. and it was a lot less forgiving at low levels. A wizard had one spell and a rogue had a 90% chance to fail on disarming a trap that would kill him the first time it happened.
 


Reynard

Legend
The short answer is that I've played all the editions at least a little and liked the older ones especially 2e but it was way more complex than the newer ones and that's, IMHO the biggest thing that's changed. You don't need a PHD in the rules to pay. With a math minor for doing Thac0. and it was a lot less forgiving at low levels. A wizard had one spell and a rogue had a 90% chance to fail on disarming a trap that would kill him the first time it happened.
I don't get it and likely never will. First of all, THAC0 is just subtraction. Second of all, there was a chart on the character sheet if, in fact, subtraction was that daunting.
 


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