D&D 2E On AD&D 2E

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
So one thing I noticed about hit points is that back in the 1e DMG, Gary talks about how they are only partially "meat", and are more about your ability to evade serious injuries (dodge), luck, morale, and divine providence.

Going from this theory, I always felt that meant lightly armored classes that trend towards higher agility should have had better hit points all along- instead of a d6, why not a d10 or d12 for Rogues? Instead, the classes that already can unlock higher hit point bonuses from Con, who can generally wear better armor for protection (and you'd think would have a harder time evading hits*), get the big Hit Die.

*I'm not talking about the reality of mobility in armor here, but D&D has always modeled armor as being cumbersome and heavy, even though up until 3e, a guy with an 18 Dexterity got his full defensive adjustment in full plate, lol).
You can pretty much toss this one into the gameplay vs simulation pile. All of those decisions basically support making the fighter types better at doing what they should be doing from a game play perspective (tanking) rather than following the conclusions drawn from hit points being less meat than everything else and heavy armor impinging on defensive bonuses from Dexterity.
Choosing when to bend one way vs the other is part of the heart of good, effective game design that still fits with how people perceive fantasy stories to work.
 

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billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
And that is fair. But my point is this is a style of play I enjoyed. I didn't mind the random element here, and the excitement of not knowing whether I would roll a more powerful character or a less powerful one. That isn't for everyone. But it is an aspect of 2E (and 1E) lots of people enjoy.
That's true, but one aspect of AD&D is that if you get lucky enough to get a high value, the character's effectiveness spikes hard. One of the changes in 3e and beyond that I particularly liked is that the spike is shaved off and improvements are accessible at much lower values.
 

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
Since time began, I've always had Thieves (and then Rouges :) ) roll d6 for hit points.

But why not make their hit points equal to Fighters (and then Warriors) at d8 (or d10)? Without changing the XP chart, would it really be imbalanced? Trade heavy weapon, armor, and shield proficiency for thiefy skills? Honestly, Thief saves should have been the best of the human classes.
I don't know that I'd agree thieves should have the best saves, but I am pretty sure that the saves they had in AD&D were generally pretty bad, particularly against breath weapons. That's why I had been working on house ruling the saving throw table for 2e.

I also usually swapped the combat tables for thieves and clerics. My take on it was that 3rd best offense/2nd best defense and d8 hit points worked better for clerics while 2nd best offense/3rd best defense and d6 hit points worked for thieves.
 

That's true, but one aspect of AD&D is that if you get lucky enough to get a high value, the character's effectiveness spikes hard. One of the changes in 3e and beyond that I particularly liked is that the spike is shaved off and improvements are accessible at much lower values.

I don't disagree but this is what makes it so exciting for me. Getting 18/00 Str is like winning the jack pot. Also you only have a .46 chance of rolling an 18. For STR you then need to roll a percentile die if you actually get an 18. to get those upper levels of percentile strength (and it has a big 50 percent hump before you get into the upper level bonuses):

1680787831752.png


Definitely you are right there are some hard spikes. Mostly it's just that the mid levels are all mediocre. If you look at Dexterity that is pretty clear:

1680787912529.png


For Dex, you need a 15 to even start seeing a bonus. But I would argue this isn't a matter of one approach being objectively better and one being worse. AD&D is just more comfortable with this idea that most characters are pretty unimpressive (and I would say 2E in particular is more comfortable with this idea as 1E does use 4d6 remove the lowest), which makes a pretty substantial difference). Bonuses in AD&D are a big deal, that is one thing I like about it. I do love 3E but it also has lots of bonuses and ultra high DCs to worry about. Whereas the bonuses feel more under control to me. And attributes still matter in AD&D even if there are 0s across the board because you use them a lot for ability checks (and if you are using NWPs, you make those by rolling under your relevant attribute---though this can be modified by taking ranks).
 

Voadam

Legend
I am perfectly fine with a lot of randomness. I have made a number of 5e D&D characters where I randomly rolled for class and race and it was great fun. I've done that for Vampire the Masquerade in picking a clan too. Randomly determining big factors of your effectiveness for a campaign is pretty terrible though.

I like a lot of AD&D, but as a baseline I prefer 3e-5e's model of everybody being designed to be roughly equal decent contributors to combat at every level without huge power gaps based on class and race choices and specific stats on a reverse bell curve chart.
 

But I would argue this isn't a matter of one approach being objectively better and one being worse. AD&D is just more comfortable with this idea that most characters are pretty unimpressive (and I would say 2E in particular is more comfortable with this idea as 1E does use 4d6 remove the lowest), which makes a pretty substantial difference). Bonuses in AD&D are a big deal, that is one thing I like about it. I do love 3E but it also has lots of bonuses and ultra high DCs to worry about. Whereas the bonuses feel more under control to me. And attributes still matter in AD&D even if there are 0s across the board because you use them a lot for ability checks (and if you are using NWPs, you make those by rolling under your relevant attribute---though this can be modified by taking ranks).
I would say that it also shows that anyone can be a hero, despite not winning the genetic lottery at birth. And this is coming from a player who was a bit of a munchkin in his youth.
 

I would say that it also shows that anyone can be a hero, despite not winning the genetic lottery at birth. And this is coming from a player who was a bit of a munchkin in his youth.

I do think the running joke on Knights of the Dinner Table about the GMs mediocre character with bad stats that he made shine, has a grain of truth to it. It was fun and great if you rolled well, but if you were genuinely using 3d6 down the line (even 3d6 and allocate where you want) you just weren't often getting characters like that, so you learned to appreciate characters who weren't all the greatest at what they do. That experience does get lost when the system is designed to make characters roughly equally competent. I don't think one approach is better. I just agree with you that anyone can be a hero is part of it. It forces you to find other pathways to success in the game other than mechanical ones (and those pathways are there if the GM is responsive to what players are trying to do).
 

I am perfectly fine with a lot of randomness. I have made a number of 5e D&D characters where I randomly rolled for class and race and it was great fun. I've done that for Vampire the Masquerade in picking a clan too. Randomly determining big factors of your effectiveness for a campaign is pretty terrible though.

I think a lot of the AD&D level randomness (and hard power differences at the outer edges) appeals to what I call the gambler gamer. I don't actually gamble in real life, but I I've always enjoyed board games and games that have that kind of high level random excitement to them. So not just with character creation but also something like opening a door potentially being a lethal event, is something that I find pretty thrilling in the game.

I like a lot of AD&D, but as a baseline I prefer 3e-5e's model of everybody being designed to be roughly equal decent contributors to combat at every level without huge power gaps based on class and race choices and specific stats on a reverse bell curve chart.

And I think this is very reasonable. I get having that as your preference
 

GreyLord

Legend
Thieves were not that bad at combat in 2e. Not sure why some had so many problems with them.

They could use two weapons for starters, and that was one of the things that some considered broken in 2e. In Combat and Tactics it was something that was made even better. It wasn't uncommon to see a Thief with two weapons in melee, and of course using missile weapons with a dexterity focused class was also something Thieves could excel at (and bows were seen as overpowered by some in 2e).

In addition, at low levels, Thieves leveled up more quickly than other classes, so for a little while they could keep pace with Fighters and clerics with their THAC0 (they get around 3rd level a little after Fighters and Magic-Users get to 2nd level..etc).

I have heard more complaints about Low-Level Magic-users in general than I have about Low Level Thieves in 2e.

With a High Dexterity and a Short Bow a Thief may even be a BEAST in combat getting more kills than others at lower levels without the risk of getting as hurt themselves (because the Fighters and Clerics are at the front...obviously...and hopefully not accidentally getting shot by said Thief).
 

Cruentus

Adventurer
The thing I found most interesting about saving throws in 2e, which we never knew at the time, is that those Saving Throws were based on a Priority:

2e PHB, Pg 134. For this reason, the saving throw categories in Table 60 are listed in order of importance, beginning with paralyzation, poison, and death magic, and ending with spells.

For example:
Save vs. Breath Weapon: A character uses this save when facing monsters with breath weapons, particularly the powerful blast of a dragon. This save can also be used in situations where a combination of physical stamina and Dexterity are critical factors in survival.

Save vs. Spell: This is used whenever a character attempts to resist the effects of a magical attack, either by a spellcaster or from a magical item, provided no other type of saving throw is specified. This save can also be used to resist an attack that defies any other classification.

So, a Fireball cast by a wizard or whomever, would actually be saved against Breath Weapon, since it is “a situation where a combination of stamina and dexterity are critical factors in survival”, and is a higher priority than Spells. And you likely would get your Dex bonus added to your save roll.

Likewise, if you are hit by a Wand of Polymorph, you save versus Rod, Staves, and Wands, as it is higher Priority, than Polymorph on Table 60.

Further, Wisdom and Dex could provide their ability bonuses to your saves, depending on type of save.

With re: to thieves, I played a fair few and others did at our table, and we never had any complaints about their performance. Everyone really had a role in the game, at least how we played, and the thief did the sneaking, finding traps, picking pockets, and backstabbing when possible. And sure, the Wizard could do some of that, and if he had enough spells, sure. But as resources were tighter, we preferred the Wizard to focus on more blasty or controlling stuff, or maybe Invisibility, but his “artillery” we saved for more dangerous foes.

And I don’t think you can overstate the need for and additive factor that magic items were to characters. After awhile you amassed quite a few magic items, rings, weapons, wands, etc. that really made up for bad ability scores, and also helped to define your character as it developed in play, and increased your power levels, compared to the cleric and wizard who really had a lot of their power baked into spell advancement.

Man, I miss 2e. We’ve been playing OSE Advanced, and it scratches that simpler, grittier itch for sure, but 2e was really sort of out there and open as far as what you could do with kits, new spells, etc. If you could think of it, it was probably out there somewhere, either in expansion books or Dragon mag.
 

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