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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%


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 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:


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
Basic D&D
BECMI / Rules Cyclopedia
D&D 3E
D&D 4E
Survey Results (24 Apr 2020)
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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.


Limit Break Dancing (He/They)
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.


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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Dirty, realism-hating munchkin powergamer
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

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.


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.


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.

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