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%

The early 2E game was okay. We waited a while to transition from 1E, and when we did we kept a lot of our favorite rules from 1E. The middle part of 2E was its golden age, when it pumped out some of the best campaign settings (which started its downfall, competing against itself). The late 2E was aweful, with the "Player's Option" books causing the end of several groups (and too many friendships). By the time 3E was announced, I was totally ready for it.
 

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The early 2E game was okay. We waited a while to transition from 1E, and when we did we kept a lot of our favorite rules from 1E. The middle part of 2E was its golden age, when it pumped out some of the best campaign settings (which started its downfall, competing against itself). The late 2E was aweful, with the "Player's Option" books causing the end of several groups (and too many friendships). By the time 3E was announced, I was totally ready for it.

Lets face it there was as much crap that came out of the 2E era as there was good. Some of the late 2E setting stuff was really good, quite a few overlooked gems, one that comes to mind is Ravenloft: Carnival. I cant say for sure but Id suspect that that edition produced the most products out of any, so it took some weeding through. By the time 3E was announced I was ready too for the simple fact that some of the character/class restrictions annoyed me and didnt make sense. Oddly though now I wish that they would bring some back as I think they went too far in the opposite direction giving the players too much leeway.
 

Reynard

Legend
The early 2E game was okay. We waited a while to transition from 1E, and when we did we kept a lot of our favorite rules from 1E. The middle part of 2E was its golden age, when it pumped out some of the best campaign settings (which started its downfall, competing against itself). The late 2E was aweful, with the "Player's Option" books causing the end of several groups (and too many friendships). By the time 3E was announced, I was totally ready for it.
Maybe one of the reasons I remember 2E so fondly is that I have never been a supplement person. I owned a few and would implement setting specific crunch like the Krynn moons, etc. But we never allowed our games to get inundated with that sort of thing until it became ubiquitous in 3rd Edition. Now in 5e I am thankful for very limited player facing crunch.
 


atanakar

Hero
Maybe one of the reasons I remember 2E so fondly is that I have never been a supplement person. I owned a few and would implement setting specific crunch like the Krynn moons, etc. But we never allowed our games to get inundated with that sort of thing until it became ubiquitous in 3rd Edition. Now in 5e I am thankful for very limited player facing crunch.

That was also my approach to.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Maybe one of the reasons I remember 2E so fondly is that I have never been a supplement person. I owned a few and would implement setting specific crunch like the Krynn moons, etc. But we never allowed our games to get inundated with that sort of thing until it became ubiquitous in 3rd Edition. Now in 5e I am thankful for very limited player facing crunch.
Heh. 2E was probably the reason I AM a supplement person. I've always been mechanically oriented, and I was building custom classes from the 2E DMG system before I actually played a game. And kits, at least the ones that had some real impact, were awesome.
 

Reynard

Legend
Heh. 2E was probably the reason I AM a supplement person. I've always been mechanically oriented, and I was building custom classes from the 2E DMG system before I actually played a game. And kits, at least the ones that had some real impact, were awesome.
Oh, I adored the class construction kit (even if they were mechanically inferior to the core classes). it was a very useful tool for creating just the right elements for a campaign alongside monsters and magic items. It's too bad following editions have not made as great an effort to include such a thing.

I don't dislike kits in theory. They really are essentially 5E's backgrounds, but like 3.x prestige classes, they very quickly got turned into abusable power creep toys. So we just didn't use many of them and it made the game better and more manageable.
 

Azzy

KMF DM
The bindings of these books are crap, although the Monstrous Manual is still holding up.
Weird, my first printing of both the PHB and DMG are still going strong despite the abuse.

The only 2e things that I had issues with were a couple of the Complete Guides—the covers detached (but the rest of it stayed together). Then there's the Monstrous Compendium... but that's a whole other story. :D
 

cbwjm

Legend
Played 2e quite a lot after moving on from basic and I loved it. Probably played it the most and would love to run a 2e game today.

People complain about thac0 but it is really quite easy. Subtract your roll + bonuses from your thac0 and that's the AC you hit.

ADnD is still my preferred method of multiclassing though I'd also be open to simplifying it similar to CnC.

I would probably drop the thief class and all related skills completely and make their skills NWPs instead, or maybe just make the NWP and assign them to the thief class.

Other than my dislike of thief skills I'd probably be happy to play it as is, of course no edition of DnD is without its houserules, I'd probably play with a few of them unless others I was playing with wanted to keep things by the book.
 

Celebrim

Legend
You don't really have an option that captures my experience.

I have both never played and at the same time have played 2e AD&D. That's because the groups I was in persisted in playing 1e AD&D, but treated 2e AD&D as a sort of supplemental rules set of optional rules that we could pick and choose from. So I'm pretty sure we ended up with 2e initiative rules and 2e surprise rules, or at least something very inspired by them. And we took other rules in as different DMs felt they were needed. But no one ever played anything that was exactly 2e AD&D, or at least not consciously.

Then again, no one ever played anything that was exactly 1e AD&D either, although that was a less conscious choice.
 

Lets face it there was as much crap that came out of the 2E era as there was good. Some of the late 2E setting stuff was really good, quite a few overlooked gems, one that comes to mind is Ravenloft: Carnival. I cant say for sure but Id suspect that that edition produced the most products out of any, so it took some weeding through. By the time 3E was announced I was ready too for the simple fact that some of the character/class restrictions annoyed me and didnt make sense. Oddly though now I wish that they would bring some back as I think they went too far in the opposite direction giving the players too much leeway.
I remember Carnival fondly, even though I'm not a Ravenloft fan. As I said, the settings bloat put out a ton of product, a lot of which was really good, but it caused TSR to compete against itself.

I don't know if 2E or 3E had the most products, because while 2E had a lot of supplements, 3E pushed out book after book after book. If 2E had more books, I'd guess it was due to the length of 2E over 3E. I think 3E had a higher rate of production, but 2E overall put out more over time.
 

I remember Carnival fondly, even though I'm not a Ravenloft fan. As I said, the settings bloat put out a ton of product, a lot of which was really good, but it caused TSR to compete against itself.

I don't know if 2E or 3E had the most products, because while 2E had a lot of supplements, 3E pushed out book after book after book. If 2E had more books, I'd guess it was due to the length of 2E over 3E. I think 3E had a higher rate of production, but 2E overall put out more over time.

I would really like to see the return of products such as Carnival to 5E but I know thats wishful thinking. 2E was also good for generic products like Den of Thieves, Bastion of Faith and College of Wizardry. Those were nice because they were relatively short, cheap and could be placed anywhere. 3.x had its share of those type of products as well, I just think 2E did it better.
 


teitan

Legend
I remember Carnival fondly, even though I'm not a Ravenloft fan. As I said, the settings bloat put out a ton of product, a lot of which was really good, but it caused TSR to compete against itself.

I don't know if 2E or 3E had the most products, because while 2E had a lot of supplements, 3E pushed out book after book after book. If 2E had more books, I'd guess it was due to the length of 2E over 3E. I think 3E had a higher rate of production, but 2E overall put out more over time.

Whew, I don't know, 2e had multiple products a month for a LONG time between the different campaign settings (Birthright, Greyhawk, Ravenloft, Plancescape) and heavy, heavy Forgotten Realms support and the PHBR series plus things like the Character screens and kits. There were a lot more adventures than people realized. Then the DMGR series. 3e we had 2 a month I think it was with support for setting limited to Eberron and Forgotten Realms. It might be pretty close though. I know for a short time we were getting two books, either generic or FR/Eberron and an odd adventure or map pack towards the tail end when they brought back the adventures more seriously. The tail end of 2e after the WOTC buy out we had FR, Greyhawk, Dragonlance, plus generic materials like the Monstrous Arcana and Monstrous Manual Supplements.
 

DammitVictor

Druid of the Invisible Hand
I would not be lying if I claimed that AD&D 2nd Edition was my favorite version of D&D and my favorite roleplaying game of all time-- but it wouldn't quite be the truth, either, because Player's Option is my favorite version of D&D, and 2nd Edition without Player's Option isn't even in my top ten.

Bit of background: I started playing D&D with AD&D 1st Edition in 1992 or 1993, when BECMI and AD&D 2nd Edition were both on the market, and I didn't realize that these were all separate games until I switched to 2nd Edition in 1996-1997 or so. One of my favorite characters from that era was Staring Dark, my multiclass Troll/Shaman.

I'm actually running my very first ever pay-to-play campaign in AD&D Player's Option-- a Spelljammer game without the Radiant Triangle-- and Session Zero is next Monday. I'm trying to keep my houserules shenanigans to a bare minimum, but I'm still tailoring race/class selection to be more thematic and working on a solution for percentile Strength.

I'm designing my own retrowhatever, where I'm trying to recreate the feeling of the Player's Option in a much simpler and more consistent ruleset-- something somewhere between a BECMI clone and a Microlite-- and as much as I'm trying to remove a lot of the AD&D from it, it wouldn't even be possible without what AD&D 2nd Edition built on top of its predecessor.
 

Raduin711

Adventurer
2nd edition did a lot to spur my imagination, but I rarely got a chance to play. I still have my 2nd edition books... and yes the binding of my PHB is falling apart, I always assumed it was from many hours pouring over it.

Thac0 was a headache, though.
 

jasper

Rotten DM
What really Ticked me off about 2E, is they made lots of tiny changes. I was still looking up some rules just before 3E. And while I did by some handbooks, I generally hated them.
 

teitan

Legend
I’ve said it in your previous surveys, I started with the LBB and a PHB. We used a smattering of 2e Monstrous Compendiums to supplement our LBB monster selection but I didn’t upgrade to 2e Until 91. Our first 2e product was the FR Monstrous Compendium with the loose leaf pages. What a rotten idea that was. Didn’t last very long thankfully. We got a DMG that summer and used a 1e PHB for a couple more months.

so what did 2e get right? Well for me anyway? Right off the top the customizable thieves skills were a step in the right direction of making thieves more useful at low levels. Weapon specialization helped fighters a lot. The layout was superior and the font was a lot easier to read. Changes to initiative and the adoption of THAC0 as core were also a big boost to the game in my opinion. It really was a clean up of 1e in those areas. Specialist wizards replacing Illusionist was a near genius move that was a little uneven as some specialist wizards were obviously inferior.

I am/was a big art guy and I love Erol Otus but man the art in 2e was just blam!

I know I had a DMG first. I remember the Orc painting like it is in front of me with the gnarly pig noses and green skin. Horned helmet looking right out of the page at you. The guy who usually DMed was very inspired by the painting of the swordwoman in the short shorts and leather jerkin and white bandana and I ran a campaign on our off days from the main game with him and another guy where he made a character based on her. My Orcs were very much the pig faced orcs of that painting and my goblins were very much along those lines.

what did 2e get wrong? Optional rules that weren’t so optional for one. Having two different skill systems in Thieves being percentile based and NWP being ability checks with a modifier. And then making some of those combat oriented. Specialty Priests were a good idea in theory but the minimal guidance made it difficult to get a good idea on how to implement it. Legends & Lore went a long way to helping as did the Forgotten Realms Adventures book. Kitsalso started out as a cool way to customize your character but suffered from not going far enough or going too far and required the use of NWP. NWP were the biggest flaw to be 100% honest because they allowed players to circumvent other classes based on which NWP they picked they could outclass a thief in some of their niche abilities. Not cool.

also one of the big flaws was the attempt to turn D&D into a generic fantasy tool kit. As cool as the settings were some of them the AD&D system was a poor fit and other games did the same style setting better.

would I play 2e again? Honestly? Maybe. I miss the freewheeling play style but 5e can do that really well. So can 1e and Swords & Wizardry. I definitely wouldn’t buy the revised books though. The art made 2e so great.
 

I started playing D&D with AD&D 2e, circa 1998.

Mechanically, I didn't even like it at the time. Almost every gaming group I played with had to heavily house-rule it to make it playable for any serious or long-term game, because the game had so many arbitrary, straitjacketing rules. Many of the house rules groups came up with were precursors of changes that were implemented in 3e, which makes me think that those groups weren't the only ones seeing those problems with the game. I think I played in one campaign that tried to use rules-as-written AD&D 2e, and even then the limitations were clear.

I NEVER got THAC0, ever. For every character I played I had to write out a full to-hit chart for it to make sense, and updated the chart on my character sheet every time I got a THAC0 improvement on my character. Ditching that to-hit system was on the long list of reasons I went over to 3e with gusto when it came out.

Also, I found the obvious sanitization of the game to placate "moral guardians" concerned about D&D rather annoying, like the assumption in the core rules that Clerics worship just generic "good" or "evil" and that even having specific Gods in the game was essentially an optional rule. In every 2e gaming group I knew, the "Generic Cleric" of a nonspecific Generic Good God was something of a running joke for an unimaginatively designed stock character.

There were definitely things I liked about AD&D 2e though, things I miss. . .

It was an era of expansive, lush, rich campaign settings, a vast multiverse of D&D. TSR made so many settings, and most of them pretty well done, and interlinking them via crossover settings like Spelljammer and Planescape, into one vast D&D multiverse. It was a broad spectrum of flavors, game styles, and sub-genres of D&D. There were so many manuals and supplements produced, making a vast amount of setting lore, sub-settings, and raw information that you could spend years just learning more.

To this day, I still often go to my AD&D 2e sourcebooks for information and lore. The Forgotten Realms and Planescape books for 2e are still stuff I love to go to. The illustrations of various clergy in the Faiths And Avatars series is still really good reference for describing or showing what the faiths of the Realms look like.

Aurora's Whole Realms Catalogue. Officially made as a Realms product, but overall an awesome D&D book in general. It's the absolute best "book of stuff" for D&D. It's not about weapons and armor, but the zillion other everyday things that you might want to shop for in a D&D world, in a very period-looking book that intentionally evoked the look of a 19th century Sears Catalogue, with prices and descriptions for everything you could imagine. Even 30 years later they still have never even come close to topping it as an equipment guide for D&D.

(To be fair, the various supplements were of wildly varying quality. . .the Complete Handbooks, for example, ranged from the nigh-useless Complete Priest's Handbook, to the notorious broken cheese of the Complete Book of Elves, which had interesting lore for playing elves, but the rules elements were basically "elves are better than you and always win at everything", but when they shined in 2e, they shined bright)

Also, there was a lot of support for quasi-historic gaming. The PHB itself used historic and mythological figures as examples of the character classes, many sourcebooks presumed the game was being played in a setting that was very much like medieval western Europe with only some superficial changes. . .and there was even a whole sourcebook series devoted to adapting D&D to outright play in specific historic eras. I ran a few games in those eras and a whole campaign set during the Crusades with the Green Books, and have always regretted that D&D has focused less on quasi-historic gaming over the last 20 years as it embraced a more high-magic spellpunk/dungeonpunk aesthetic.
 

teitan

Legend
You know the much maligned sanitization of the game was very short lived. When did the Outer Planes Appendix come out? I think 90 or 91? It was before the compendium was changed to Monstrous Manual. I always thought Ta’anari and Ba’atezu, Yugoloth, were much more evocative names myself than Type 1 demon etc.
 

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