D&D General So those of us who know later editions yet still play AD&D 2 - what are its draws?

ezo

Where is that Singe?
2E is AD&D but cleaner.

What is there to love about it? Quite a bit IME. The lore, all the support books, the incredible variety of options, the concrete rules, the enormous variety of monsters, the list goes on and on.

Frankly, I've never had an issue with THAC0, some rolls over, some under, etc. However, if TSR had incorporated a more "unified" system (ascending AC, always roll over), I think in many ways it would have done even better and been "cleaner" still.
 

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Clint_L

Legend
I'll always prefer AD&D 1e, because you never forget your first, but objectively speaking 2e keeps most of the good things about 1e while tidying up a lot of the messes and making class balance...not great, but a whole lot better. And there is basically an endless supply of adventure settings and reference books.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
2E is AD&D but cleaner.

What is there to love about it? Quite a bit IME. The lore, all the support books, the incredible variety of options, the concrete rules, the enormous variety of monsters, the list goes on and on.

Frankly, I've never had an issue with THAC0, some rolls over, some under, etc. However, if TSR had incorporated a more "unified" system (ascending AC, always roll over), I think in many ways it would have done even better and been "cleaner" still.

2E using B/X mechanics and ascending AC;).
 

pawsplay

Hero
I don't play currently, but I did voluntarily play a game back in 1994. I wasn't into D&D at that point in time, but then, as now, it was the most popular game, and the most available. Character creation is usually pretty simple. It's fun to comb through books to find cool options in a game that doesn't necessarily offer a lot of customization. Probably the best thing about it is the spells, which are quirky, powerful, and not bounded by artificial constraints of balance.

The last time I played, I rolled up a wizard, making me one of two wizards in an eight-person party. There came to a juncture in the session where we were being pursued by an extraordinary number of goblins. At one point, we were fighting a withdrawal down a narrow hallway. And all at once, I and the other wizard player looked at each other, and we nodded, as we silently agreed what was to be done. He cast grease, causing a whole mess of goblins to start slipping and falling in front of us, and increasing the problem of the bottleneck for our foes. The I cast flaming sphere, at the limit of its range, and rolled the sphere toward us, violently burning a half dozen goblins. There were a few survivors, so the next round, I declared my intention to roll the sphere back the other way. At that point, the DM simply declared we could hear the pitiful, dying screams of goblins as the rest of the mob beat a hasty retreat. The DM apologized to me for previously disparaging the combat utility of flaming sphere, which has a duration of 1 round/level. And that's what it's good about AD&D 2e. Ridiculous, almost cartoon-ishly dangerous scenarios; classic, goony bad guys; brutally efficient use of strange spells; high-fives.

Combat in later editions isn't as deadly, or swingy. In AD&D, failing a saving throw against a fireball often meant something was dead. Flaming sphere in 3e is depressingly survivable, even for goblins, and grease offers a fairly generous saving throw. AD&D is very 1980s, in that a lot of things don't have safety rails that probably should. Any time in later editions the writers went, "Well, that could be abused, let's write in some obvious limitations," AD&D didn't.
 

cbwjm

Seb-wejem
Combat in later editions isn't as deadly, or swingy. In AD&D, failing a saving throw against a fireball often meant something was dead.
This was very noticeable once 3e came out. Invokers used to be great because they'd deal half damage even if their spells were saved against and the generally lower hit points meant that even a saved against fireball was still impactful. A fifth level wizard had a good chance at killing an ogre with a fireball if it failed its save, but with 3e/5e the hit point bloat of monsters meant that was no longer really the case, even with the base 8d6 damage dice.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
This was very noticeable once 3e came out. Invokers used to be great because they'd deal half damage even if their spells were saved against and the generally lower hit points meant that even a saved against fireball was still impactful. A fifth level wizard had a good chance at killing an ogre with a fireball if it failed its save, but with 3e/5e the hit point bloat of monsters meant that was no longer really the case, even with the base 8d6 damage dice.

5E fireball is the equivalent of 4d6 in AD&D. You don't tend to get large amounts of fodder making fireball good in 5E.

One thing 3.5 got right was how effective a fireball should be (by itself not vs better sells).
 


DrJawaPhD

Adventurer
I haven't played AD&D 2e since the 1990s, I feel like 5e is vastly superior game mechanics, but I do love many of the 2e adventures and have had great success with converting them to 5e game mechanics.

I feel like modern 5e adventure modules are entirely focused on telling an interesting story with diverse NPCs and inclusive narratives with little attention paid to a challenging gaming experience, and that old school 2e adventures were much better for providing players with a thought provoking challenge. My ideal sweet spot is using a mix of newer 5e story lines with old school 2e challenging modules, run with 5e game mechanics. But I can definitely see the appeal of running 2e if you want the challenging adventures without the prep work of converting
 

Zardnaar

Legend
I haven't played AD&D 2e since the 1990s, I feel like 5e is vastly superior game mechanics, but I do love many of the 2e adventures and have had great success with converting them to 5e game mechanics.

I feel like modern 5e adventure modules are entirely focused on telling an interesting story with diverse NPCs and inclusive narratives with little attention paid to a challenging gaming experience, and that old school 2e adventures were much better for providing players with a thought provoking challenge. My ideal sweet spot is using a mix of newer 5e story lines with old school 2e challenging modules, run with 5e game mechanics. But I can definitely see the appeal of running 2e if you want the challenging adventures without the prep work of converting

Outside of Dungeon and post 95 not that many good 2E adventures either imho. And some really bad ones

Easy to run with B/X and 1E adventures though.
 

TiQuinn

Registered User
So steering away from pure nostalgia (or that we just still have the books lying around), what are things AD&D 2 offers that later editions lost or that got diluted?
I’m having the same feelings lately towards 2e but putting nostalgia aside, the one thing that I’ve realized over time is the characters abilities are pushed into the classes in 3e and onwards whereas 2e relies on magic items to make characters distinct. The knock-on effect of that, however, is that players have an incentive to look at a map, see a cool location, and say I wonder what’s there? I’ll bet it has cool loot. It creates a different atmosphere that I’ve kinda been craving lately.
 

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