D&D 2E On AD&D 2E


A friend of mine asked, rather out of the blue, what edition of D&D I would use for my "last D&D campaign ever" and I answered, without hesitation, 2nd Edition AD&D. I kind of want to examine that a little bit, and thought here would eb a good place.

1. For sure there is a lot of nostalgia involved. While I was a "BECMI kid" -- we started with B and kept going knowing with nothing else for years -- it wasn't until I discovered 2nd Edition that the whole D&D thing blossomed for me. We played a tiny bit of 1E but discovered it so late that 2E was out within 6 months. Suddenly all the impenetrable esoterica of 1E was gone and the game made sense. Moreover, we could use the truly awesome bits of BECMI without any trouble at all, particularly the Domain rules and the War Machine.

2. 2E is so broadly written that it covers almost any subgenre of fantasy you can think of. You can still 1E dungeon crawl with it, but you can also Lord of the Rings with it and Game of Throne with it.

3. THAC0 is not hard. It's subtraction. Stop it.

4. This goes back to 1 above a bit, but my longest running campaign (20 years) started with 2E and even though it went through 3E and 3.5 and even Mutants and Masterminds (when the campaign world advanced to the super hero age) it still had its heart in 2E.

5. I feel like I could bolt any system from any D&D edition or any other game onto 2E and never worry about "balance." I could add advantage/disadvantage and it would work fine. I could include item creation from 3.x. I could, as mentioned, implement the BECMI domain management and mass combat rules. People sing the praises of a integrated core mechanic, but I thing a solid game with disparate systems lends itself to infinite hacking, which is a core tenet of D&D.

6. That Monster Manual is a thing of beauty.

7. There was SO MUCH STUFF for it. I know that wasn't good for TSR, but it was freaking great for my table and campaigns.

Anyway, I just felt like articulating the things I love about 2E. Carry on.
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Chaotic Looseleaf
Good post.

Agreed about the THAC0 meme being devoid of intellectual merit.

Do not particularly miss tracking experience gains across a multiclass character with different level costs, class rewards, and prime requisite bonuses, but can't argue that it at least encouraged play beyond the three pillars of combat, combat, and combat.

(I love D&D5, mods, I'm not edition warring, just griping.)


On a scale from 1-10, how much do people like THAC0?
10. If someone cannot do a simple subtraction and has to constantly refer to a table, the fault lies not with the system, but with the player.
Obviously i'm an old AD&D player (2nd edition) and still playing with this system. I have played and enjoyed 3/3.5, tried and hated 4e, played 5e, which I nevertheless find just a bland version of AD&D: all too easy, classes that do a bit of everything without differing too much, characters that are too powerful for my taste.

Point #5 is one that I also strongly agree with. When you have disparate systems for resolution, changing one doesn’t break anything else. You’re making an isolated change.

I still love 2e. After I came back to TTRPGs in late 2021 after almost an 8 year hiatus, and found 5e not to my liking, I ordered a PoD copy of the 2nd edition PHN from DriveThruRPG. I was disappointed that it was the revised, but it was still a joy to read through.

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