D&D 2E Let's Read the AD&D 2nd Edition PHB+DMG!


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Alzrius

The EN World kitten
I feel like that's a missprint and they the U should be down a line on psionicist.
I'm pretty certain you're right about that. I can't find a "Sage Advice" listing confirming it, but it's worth noting that when Defilers & Preservers: The Wizards of Athas (affiliate link) came out, it didn't list dwarves as one of the races that could be a wizard (page 28):

D&P wizard races.jpg
 

Staffan

Legend
I feel like that's a missprint and they the U should be down a line on psionicist.
I'm pretty sure that's an artifact of the scanning process and not in the actual book, though I don't have the book to check. I think I would have remembered the uproar on the Dark Sun mailing list if that was the case. There was already enough of a hubbub about halfling preservers being retconned out of existence in the Revised Dark Sun box, despite several making an appearance in the Prism Pentad novel series.
 

cbwjm

Seb-wejem
I'm pretty certain you're right about that. I can't find a "Sage Advice" listing confirming it, but it's worth noting that when Defilers & Preservers: The Wizards of Athas (affiliate link) came out, it didn't list dwarves as one of the races that could be a wizard (page 28):

View attachment 322008
Looks like it was corrected, this is the original book as showing in the PDF from DMsguild:
1699219050912.png


I'm pretty sure that's an artifact of the scanning process and not in the actual book, though I don't have the book to check. I think I would have remembered the uproar on the Dark Sun mailing list if that was the case. There was already enough of a hubbub about halfling preservers being retconned out of existence in the Revised Dark Sun box, despite several making an appearance in the Prism Pentad novel series.
I think it looks too clean to be an artifact of the scanning process, more likely a missprint that got caught at some point. It doesn't look like the original setting allowed halflings to be preservers either, though they can be illusionists according to the above chart which since it's 2e means they'd be regular specialist wizards but since it's dark sun that means they'd have to be preservers/defilers, so I guess I don't know what was happening back then.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
There was already enough of a hubbub about halfling preservers being retconned out of existence in the Revised Dark Sun box, despite several making an appearance in the Prism Pentad novel series.
I only recall one instance of a halfling wizard in that series, in the first book when (upon encountering halflings for the first time) the party sees one making the power-gathering gesture that defilers and preservers use (i.e. holding a hand straight out, palm down).

For the record, Nok (the halfling who helped make Ktandeo's Cane and the Heartwood Spear) was a druid, and I don't think there were any other named halflings in the series.
 

Voadam

Legend
My Dark Sun PDF is an older one, from either the discontinued Paizo selling of TSR PDFs or the original now discontinued WotC PDF store so I do not get any updates on it.

It did strike me as odd that Dwarves got preserver but not psionicst as an option.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
My Dark Sun PDF is an older one, from either the discontinued Paizo selling of TSR PDFs or the original now discontinued WotC PDF store so I do not get any updates on it.

It did strike me as odd that Dwarves got preserver but not psionicst as an option.
FWIW I just pulled my copy of the original Dark Sun Campaign Setting off my shelf and checked; it says dwarves have unlimited advancement as psionicists, but only a dash for the preservers row. So it's almost certainly a scanning error, unless there were some boxed sets with that misprinting in the booklet.
 

Staffan

Legend
I think it looks too clean to be an artifact of the scanning process, more likely a missprint that got caught at some point. It doesn't look like the original setting allowed halflings to be preservers either, though they can be illusionists according to the above chart which since it's 2e means they'd be regular specialist wizards but since it's dark sun that means they'd have to be preservers/defilers, so I guess I don't know what was happening back then.
The original version of the setting allowed halflings to be illusionists, but only preservers. This was definitely not a misprint, as the lore also talks about how halfling villages are usually ruled by a powerful preserver, like a miniature (in several regards) sorcerer-king. However, at some point the Powers That Be decided that because of the setting's backstory, it didn't make sense for halflings to be able to be wizards, so in the revised version they could not. The backstory reason was pretty dumb as well:
Originally, Athas was covered mostly in water, and the only proper sapient species around were halflings. These halflings knew nothing of arcane magic or psionics, only some clerical/elemental magic and the art of life shaping: essentially bio-engineering. At some point, some of them made an experiment to increase the ocean's yield which drastically failed and risked killing the whole ocean, until the halflings used the Pristine Tower to draw upon the power of the sun and destroy the experiment. This had numerous other side effects: the oceans (mostly) retreated (leaving a "normal" world), and many halflings mutated into other forms: elves, dwarves, lizardfolk, giants, orcs, humans, etc. Among these new races were one called the pyreen, who had elements of many other races in them. They were quite rare and reclusive, and one will become important later.

In the Green Age, the different races settled the land, and in addition to the clerical/elemental magic of the halflings many developed psionic powers, and built mighty wonders with those. But one of the pyreen, a disfigured sad figure named Rajaat, looked on the world and decided it was abominable. The world had to be returned to its pristine state, and all non-halfling sapients exterminated. But that's not something he could do himself. So he went into seclusion and developed arcane magic, both in its preserving and defiling forms. He then taught preserving magic to many different races, and the lore of magic flourished – at this point, Athas was similar to a "normal" fantasy world but with more psionics. But as the various races studied magic, Rajaat studied them right back, and determined that the only ones able to use magic to its fullest potential was humans.

So he started teaching some humans the secrets of defiling magic, and out of those eventually selected fifteen to be his Champions to carry out his master plan. Each Champion was already a master both of defiling magic and psionics, and Rajaat used the magic of the Pristine Tower to turn them into proto-dragons, and gave each of them a quest of genocide, to kill one of the races. This set off a period known as the Cleansing Wars, which is a large reason why Athas looks the way it does – the Champions and their servants used defiling magic indiscriminately, and many of the other races took to using the same method in defense. Some of the Champions succeeded in their efforts, which is why Athas doesn't have orcs or gnomes. Others came close, but before they could finish the job the Champions learned that the next stage of Rajaat's plans would be to make one of them the Slayer of Humans, and they'd have none of that. So they turned on Rajaat, and even if they didn't manage to kill him they did manage to bind him to another plane, and after that they each took over one of the remaining city-states.

So the reason Rajaat used humans instead of halflings to carry out his plan was that he needed powerful defilers, and halflings couldn't use arcane magic. But that reason would have worked just as well if, say, halflings just couldn't use defiling magic, or (like elves) couldn't be strong enough for his purposes (aka had level limits). So the whole thing was an unnecessary retcon.
 

Staffan

Legend
I only recall one instance of a halfling wizard in that series, in the first book when (upon encountering halflings for the first time) the party sees one making the power-gathering gesture that defilers and preservers use (i.e. holding a hand straight out, palm down).

For the record, Nok (the halfling who helped make Ktandeo's Cane and the Heartwood Spear) was a druid, and I don't think there were any other named halflings in the series.
When reading the books I definitely got the impression that Nok was also a preserver, but used the Cane (and later a replacement) for most of his magic because he'd rather Cast from Hit Points than use even preserving magic. But it's somewhat ambiguous, unlike his minions who definitely used preserving magic.
 

Iosue

Legend
Chapter 3: Player Character Classes

Now we enter one of the areas of major revision by 2nd Edition. Since things are so different here, I probably won’t spend as much time comparing this to 1st Edition as I did with PC Races.

The chapter opens up with a quick intro to what a class is: like a profession or career that the character is assumed to have gone into before becoming an adventurer. Then we get into 2nd Ed.’s first major innovation: character class groups. Warrior, Wizard, Priest, and Rogue. Class groups share Hit Dice, THAC0, and saving throws. Each class group has a base class (Fighter, Mage, Cleric, and Thief, respectively), and then subclasses (Ranger and Paladin; Illusionist and Specialist Wizard; Druid and Cleric of Specific Mythos; and the Bard).

A blue box notes that while Fighter, Mage, Cleric and Thief are appropriate to any AD&D campaign, the subclasses are explicitly optional at the DM’s discretion, and players should check with the DM before choosing one of them.

Then each group and each class within those groups are given a short summary: Warriors are trained in the use of weapons and skilled in martial arts. Fighters are champions, swordsmen, soldiers, and brawlers, living or dying by their knowledge of weapons and tactics, and found on the front line of any battle. Paladins are the uptrue exemplars of everything good and true, living for the ideals of righteousness, justice, honesty, piety, and chivalry. Rangers are warrior woodsmen, skilled with weapons and knowledgeable in tracking and woodcraft.

Wizards strive to be masters of magical energies, casting them as spells. There are various schools of magic that a Wizard may specialize in, while a mage studies all types of magic and learns a wide variety of spells.

Priests see to the spiritual needs of a community or location. The cleric is a generic priest of any mythos who is both a protector and healer, and can seek out evil and destroy it. The druid is an example of how the Priest can be tailored to a specific setting, serving the cause of nature and neutrality.

Rogues can be found wherever people gather and money changes hands. Some are motivated only by the desire to amass a fortune, while others use their skills to correct injustice, spread good will, or aid an adventuring group. Thieves are skilled pilferers with cunning, nimbleness and stealth as his hallmarks. Bards are talented musicians, walking storehouses of gossip, tall tales and lore; jacks-of-all-trades, but masters of none.

Next comes an explanation and table of the Class Ability Score requirements. I’ll skip the specifics of the table for now, but interesting here is the recommendation of asking the DM to let you reroll one or more stats if you can’t meet the requirements of a desired class, or to create an entirely new character. It says the DM may allow you to adjust some scores, in order to qualify for a class. Ah ha! I thought. Surely there is guidance about this in the DMG! But when I checked, I found the half-column spent on the subject surprisingly unhelpful.

Despite the then current D&D having a system of reduce a non-prime requisite stat by due to boost a prime requisite by 1, 2nd Ed. has no such guidance. Essentially, the DMG tells the DM to just raise the score, but not beyond the minimum necessary, and not above 15. I find the following two guidelines particularly frustrating.
  • Only two classes have ability minimums higher than 15: paladin and illusionist. Only very special characters can become paladins and illusionists. If you give these classes away, they lose their charm.
  • Think twice before raising an ability score to let a character into an optional character class if he already qualifies for the standard class in that group. For example, if Kirizov has all the scores he needs to be a half-elf fighter, does he really need to be a half-elf ranger? Encourage the player to develop a character who always wanted to be a ranger, but just never got the chance, or who fancies himself a ranger but is allergic to trees. Encourage role-playing!
So this leads me to a something rant about gating character classes behind randomly rolled ability scores. I understand and can allow for the historical context: people wanted to create distinct new classes with new abilities, and the basic paradigm was balancing extra abilities with ability score floors, so that the new classes didn’t render the old ones obsolete. And that’s fine for a supplement, or a magazine article, or something like that. I question the wisdom of giving exceptionally lucky rollers even more benefits as a general principle, but let’s set that aside for now.

Once your introduce those classes to your core game, it makes no sense to gate them behind unusually high requirements. Gygax at least recognized this, and so introduced more generous stat generation methods, as well as introducing more bennies for the fighter (exceptional strength is only for fighters in 1st Ed., but this is expanded to the whole Warrior group in 2nd Ed., natch). He would go as far as to introduce a method in Unearthed Arcana that guaranteed qualification of any class. 2nd Ed. backtracked on all of this. But what is the point of spending all the time detailing a class that has a 1% chance of being qualified for by the default method? Heck, even the most generous method in 2nd Ed. only gives a 24% chance of qualifying for a paladin. And this is for a game which, generally, stresses being in it for the long haul, a campaign covering multiple character levels.

What's "charming" about having a class you never get to play? Why put these classes in the PHB, enticing players with their goodies, and then actually say, “Yeah, but does he need to be that class? Why can’t he just role-play it?” I’ve gone into this Let's Read predisposed to be charitable to the game, but that passage in the DMG just pissed me off. If you don’t think a class is needed to fulfill a character concept, don’t put it in the damn book. If you want people to role-play, let them role-play. Don’t put these powerful classes in the book, and then wag your finger, saying, “Nuh-uh-uh, those classes are for people lucky enough to roll high. You shouldn’t want to play them, you should just role-play!”

Next up: Warriors and Fighters
 

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