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2E Returning to 2nd Edition

Reynard

Adventurer
One of the reasons I initially liked 5th Edition is how, to me, it felt a lot like 2E. Second Edition was what I call my "formative" edition. It wasn't my introduction to D&D (that was the BECMI line). I came to it after a brief stint with 1E -- we played BECMI for a long time before discovering AD&D and 2E came out within a few months of that discovery -- but 2E WAS D&D from 1989 to 1999. Through it I played my most memorable and affecting campaigns in both high school and after, and through it I fell in love with the world of Dragonlance.

After a few years of running 5E on and off, and bouncing off of it more than once, I have started to wonder if I should give 2E another try. If nothing else, I will find out whether it is merely nostalgia pulling me back toward level limits and non-weapon proficiencies. I feel like I want to return to that world of faux medieval fantasy, unburdened by the d20 era and its excesses.

Has anyone else returned to 2E since adopting 5E, or even since 3.x/Pathfinder? What was your experience? Is there more there than nostalgia?
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I’ve *read* a lot of 2E again in the last few years, but haven’t actually played it since 3E launched. It holds a nostalgic place for me, too, and it certainly “feels” like a different game and world to that of more recent editions.
 

Shiroiken

Explorer
During the playtest, my DM was still running 4E (he didn't want to use the playtest rules). After that campaign, he decided to run a 2E game. It had some nostalgia, but once you get used to some of the better mechanics from 3E and 4E, it's kinda hard to deal with some of the mechanical weirdness of AD&D. That's why I enjoy 5E so much... it (mostly) takes the best mechanics from 3E and 4E, but brings back the style of AD&D. I'd much rather house-rule 5E to fit my AD&D preferences than to go back and play AD&D.
 

Retreater

Explorer
I ran a one-shot of 2nd edition for my fiancee, whose experience has been mostly limited to 5e (and dipping back into 4e - which she loves). It was also my formative edition of D&D. I hate to say it, it just didn't play as well as I remembered. While I'm not the biggest fan of 5e, I have to admit that 5e does everything 1e and 2e did, only better, IMO. (I do not think the same of 3.x and 4e, however.)
 

Zardnaar

Adventurer
I have but had a page of houserules and I used BAB over THACO. Dumped level limits, buffed humans kept racial and alignment restrictions.

It's better balanced than 3E and you can use it as s 2.5 or hard core OSR. And you can play the settings bas intended.

2E is the best toolbox D&D as well.
 
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Reynard

Adventurer
While I'm not the biggest fan of 5e, I have to admit that 5e does everything 1e and 2e did, only better, IMO. (I do not think the same of 3.x and 4e, however.)
Making 5e feel like 2e seems like a lot of work: adding back in race class restrictions, eliminating a number of races and classes, limiting wizards resources, re-asserting the medieval fantasy aesthetic, etc... Certainly easier than doing those things in 3.x/PF, but is it worth the effort relative just playing 2E?
 

Zardnaar

Adventurer
Not really. 2E is good if you want to do your own D&D without writing your own. For example it would be the best edition for Game of Thrones.
 

Fenris-77

Explorer
If I had some fellow travellers on that memory lane where I am I would certainly give 2E a go. Much like Reynard, 2E was my formative edition and I have some very fond memories of it. I don't know that I'd want to play in an extended 2E campaign, but a shorter experience would be awesome. I think there are too many little irritants that I would have to sand down for a longer story. THAC0, stupid useless humans, it ends up being a long list. None of it bothered me at the time, with no frame of reference, but I think it would drive me nuts now.

My most nostalgic D&D sit down would probably to play Basic Keep on the Borderlands. The only module I ever did a solo speed run of. I had that shizz memorized.
 

LordEntrails

Explorer
If nothing else, I will find out whether it is merely nostalgia pulling me back toward level limits and non-weapon proficiencies. I feel like I want to return to that world of faux medieval fantasy, unburdened by the d20 era and its excesses.
I suspect it is just nostalgia. I know it is for me.

You mention a few mechanic things here (level limits and NWPs) but I have to wonder if those actually mean anything to you? Do they some how make the game more fun? I can't imagine it would... I mean 5E sort of already has NWPs and how did level limits ever add to the enjoyment?

As for Faux medieval fantasy, if you can somehow unburden yourself from the d20 era of excesses, you can do that just as well in 5E and you could in 2E.Just go back and try to run one of your 2E campaigns in 5E. Go door bash the Undermountain as it was meant to be run, not like DoMM does. Go run Barrier Peaks or Saltmarsh or whatever. Run it like you would run it in a faux medieval setting without any of the excesses of the d20 era and I think you will find what you are looking for.
 

Reynard

Adventurer
I suspect it is just nostalgia. I know it is for me.

You mention a few mechanic things here (level limits and NWPs) but I have to wonder if those actually mean anything to you? Do they some how make the game more fun? I can't imagine it would... I mean 5E sort of already has NWPs and how did level limits ever add to the enjoyment?

As for Faux medieval fantasy, if you can somehow unburden yourself from the d20 era of excesses, you can do that just as well in 5E and you could in 2E.Just go back and try to run one of your 2E campaigns in 5E. Go door bash the Undermountain as it was meant to be run, not like DoMM does. Go run Barrier Peaks or Saltmarsh or whatever. Run it like you would run it in a faux medieval setting without any of the excesses of the d20 era and I think you will find what you are looking for.
So there are a couple things:

Racial class restrictions and level limits enforce setting, as does the elimination of the more "fantastical" races and classes. More than that, I LIKE the weird power discrepancy between casters and not, and how the probability of hitting ability score requirements inform PC class and race choice. But then I also like roll 4d6-L in order.
 

cbwjm

I can add a custom title.
I still love 2e, though I can only really get to play it via the old PC games. There are a few things that I wouldn't want to go back to, I don't want my wizards to have to start throwing darts after casting their one spell so I'd have to have something like 5e cantrips. Even back when 2e was the current edition, I had house rules that pretty much ignored level limits, I always though it was weird that an elf, that is meant to be this magical race, was limited to 15th level as a wizard. Things like Thac0 I'd probably keep, it isn't really that difficult learn but it is definitely less intuitive than the system from 3e onwards. With all of the various OSR games that I've read, and the various improvements from later editions, I think I'd probably end up modding 2e quite a bit rather than running it as is. Things I'd change are:
  • The cleave ability for warriors from ACKS (make 1 bonus attack when reducing an enemy to 0 hit points with a maximum of your warrior level)
  • The spell repertoire from ACKS which is similar to the spell preparation in 5e.
  • At-will cantrips.
  • An increase in hit dice by one step for wizards and rogues.
  • Remove thieves/thieving skills and make their skills available for all classes using the standard proficiency system (I might instead keep thieves but change their skills to proficiencies and give them all of them from 1st level. They can be improved with proficiencies on level up.)
  • Multiclassing and dual-classing would be opened up to every race.

I'd be tempted to rejig the XP tables as well, I think bards should require more XP than a thief. The demihuman deities book had a much better XP chart for specialist priests for instance. Even druids would be changed over to this chart because their XP chart is seriously out of whack.
 

Saelorn

Explorer
I ran a one-shot of 2nd edition for my fiancee, whose experience has been mostly limited to 5e (and dipping back into 4e - which she loves). It was also my formative edition of D&D. I hate to say it, it just didn't play as well as I remembered. While I'm not the biggest fan of 5e, I have to admit that 5e does everything 1e and 2e did, only better, IMO. (I do not think the same of 3.x and 4e, however.)
The one aspect of 2E which 5E just can't seem to capture is the way in which getting hit could ruin your whole week. Back when you only healed 1 or 2hp per day, and the cleric might have a couple of d8 to share with the party, the name of the game was avoiding damage if at all possible. You had to be careful, because taking unnecessary damage vastly increased your chance of succumbing in combat later on. With 5E, damage is almost an afterthought, as anything short of death can be recovered with a short rest.

Even if you use all of the levers available, reduce the free healing and adjust the rest periods, you still have to deal with the base combat math being formulated around the assumption of high accuracy and low damage (relative to HP totals). At the level of house ruling you'd have to do, it would be easier to write a new game from scratch.
 

Tony Vargas

Adventurer
Full disclosure: 2e was not my favorite edition, in fact, every other edition except BECMI vies for that distinction by comparison. 2e finally lost me c1995, after my AD&D campaign finished after 10 years I lost interest in keeping up with it, mainly because of what we'd call bloat today, and, I guess due to 'excesses,' ironically, though I'm not sure what you mean by that...

Making 5e feel like 2e seems like a lot of work: adding back in race class restrictions, eliminating a number of races and classes, limiting wizards resources, re-asserting the medieval fantasy aesthetic, etc... Certainly easier than doing those things in 3.x/PF, but is it worth the effort relative just playing 2E?
I've often heard 2e fans praise 5e. But, I'm wondering, what about it was particularly a "medieval fantasy aesthetic?"

Cutting races and classes is very easy. Snip. Gone. /Class/ Restrictions aren't too bad: you could even go on an honor system "play a character you would've in 2e" so not a Halfling Paladin riding a dog named Abrosius, no matter how much you liked Labyrinth and wished you could've c1986, no fighter/magic-user unless you're at least half elf, etc... With 3.x style modular multi-classing, adding back level limits isn't an exact science, though, it just means if you do MC, you're going to need to advance more or less evenly, a simple rule of thumb, like never more than 2 (or whatever /n/ feels right) level difference between classes could get you approximately there.

But, yeah, the medieval aesthetic has me scratching my head (must be the medieval vermin).


So there are a couple things:
Racial class restrictions and level limits enforce setting, as does the elimination of the more "fantastical" races and classes.
Nod. But you can enforce setting without hard mechanical limits, too. And, while you mostly be cutting, you might, for instance, add the Bladesinger (2e Kit, IIRC),
More than that, I LIKE the weird power discrepancy between casters and not, and how the probability of hitting ability score requirements inform PC class and race choice. But then I also like roll 4d6-L in order.
4d6-L in order is certainly still an option.
You could re-introduce ability requirements if you really want to.
The caster/not disparity is still there, there's just not so much not, as the classes that had casting kick in at high level now start much earlier, and even Fighters and Rogues can cast. OK, it's not the same 'weird discrepancy' it used to be: casters don't start as far behind at the beginning, and they have a much easier row to hoe in 5e (than any prior ed, really).



Actually, I'm surprised you haven't missing something from 2e conspicuously absent from 5e: The Psionicist.
 
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dave2008

Adventurer
So there are a couple things:

Racial class restrictions and level limits enforce setting, as does the elimination of the more "fantastical" races and classes. More than that, I LIKE the weird power discrepancy between casters and not, and how the probability of hitting ability score requirements inform PC class and race choice. But then I also like roll 4d6-L in order.
Is there a reason you can't use the same class, level, and racial restrictions from 2e in 5e?
 

dave2008

Adventurer
Even if you use all of the levers available, reduce the free healing and adjust the rest periods, you still have to deal with the base combat math being formulated around the assumption of high accuracy and low damage (relative to HP totals). At the level of house ruling you'd have to do, it would be easier to write a new game from scratch.
This seems a bit hyperbolic. I haven't done the math, but there a several levers just with rest, healing, and death mechanics that get you 90% of the way there. If that is not good enough, then you simply need to lessen the number of HP and things get serious fast.
 
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Zardnaar

Adventurer
Class and race restrictions hammer home the setting. What's a Paladin? Holy champion of law and good. Rangers are good aligned defenders of the frontier/ nature. Druids serve the balance etc.

5E does some things extremely poor. There's big hit point inflation, a lot of magic, healing, and RAW it's a cakewalk starting at level 5 or so.
 
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Saelorn

Explorer
This seems a bit hyperbolic. I haven't done the math, but there a several levers just with rest, healing, and death mechanics that get you 90% of the way there. If that is not good enough, then you simply need to lessen the number of HP you things get serious fast.
You can get healing into a reasonable approximation of AD&D rates, but the biggest obstacle is bounded accuracy and HP inflation. You can't really get your AC to a point where it's reliable, and you can't take down enemies very quickly since they have so many HP, so you're going to take damage in almost every fight.

And honestly, it's not that much work to write a new system. If you were going to adjust all of the AC and HP numbers anyway, then that's most of the work right there. You might as well add some flourishes and make it a new game. It also saves a lot of confusion at the table, since you can just consult the new rulebook, instead of using the old rulebook and manually applying your house rules to everything.
 

dave2008

Adventurer
You can get healing into a reasonable approximation of AD&D rates, \...
But that, IMO gets you 80-90% there.

...but the biggest obstacle is bounded accuracy and HP inflation. You can't really get your AC to a point where it's reliable, and you can't take down enemies very quickly since they have so many HP, so you're going to take damage in almost every fight.
I'm not sure what you are getting at. Do you want to be hit less, but have less hit points?



And honestly, it's not that much work to write a new system. If you were going to adjust all of the AC and HP numbers anyway, then that's most of the work right there. You might as well add some flourishes and make it a new game. It also saves a lot of confusion at the table, since you can just consult the new rulebook, instead of using the old rulebook and manually applying your house rules to everything.
I got a disagree with you there. I've tried it a few times and can never get over the finish line. My 1e house rules were about 20 pages. But as soon as I tried to make it my own game we stopped playing ;)
 

SkidAce

Adventurer
During the playtest, my DM was still running 4E (he didn't want to use the playtest rules). After that campaign, he decided to run a 2E game. It had some nostalgia, but once you get used to some of the better mechanics from 3E and 4E, it's kinda hard to deal with some of the mechanical weirdness of AD&D. That's why I enjoy 5E so much... it (mostly) takes the best mechanics from 3E and 4E, but brings back the style of AD&D. I'd much rather house-rule 5E to fit my AD&D preferences than to go back and play AD&D.
Quoted for Truth!
 

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