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What was so bad about the Core 2e rules? Why is it the red-headed stepchild of D&D?

joethelawyer

Banned
Banned
By core rules, I mean the PHB, MM, and DMG.

I don't mean the crappy splat books, the ridiculous amount of campaign setting books, the lousy quality of the binding of the core hardcover books, the dumb decision to use a looseleaf MM, the removal of demons and devils and going all politically correct, T$R's business strategies or legal tactics at the time, or any of the other stuff that came out or happened in the era of 2e. I mean just the basic 2e rules. What was so bad about them?

I have to say I think I liked them the best, for a couple of main reasons:

1. Thief skills now went up as the user wanted, not by some fixed percentage chart.

2. Non-weapon proficiencies were formally introduced and gave just the right amount of flavor to a character, without giving it a burdensome mechanic at the same time.

3. I was one of the ones that actualy loved THACO. We first used THACO in 1e while playing the 3pp module Lich Lords, and adopted it for the rest of our 1e games, so when 2e came out we appreciated that all NPC's now had that mechanic built into their stats.

I always looked at 2e as a good upgrade to 1e.

Why the gripes about the core rules of 2e?

I read somewhere that Gygax said he didn't like 2e. Anyone know why not?
 

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Tewligan

First Post
Well, I imagine one of the big reasons Gary didn't like 2e was that it came out shortly after he had been shown the door by TSR - that's gotta leave a sour taste in anybody's mouth!

Also (and this is just IMO, of course, in case that needs to be specified), 2e is when D&D started to have a markedly different feel. Something about the tone and flavor of the books seemed to be pushing the game toward a more fluffy "storytelling" style and less of a down and dirty funhouse "crawling around in holes underground where some random crazy-ass thing can kill you at any moment" feel. Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course - my own 1e game has a good amount of story and plot in it. However, it was definitely a different flavor of game, and a lot of people held onto a preference for the flavor they started out with. I know I did.
 

Glyfair

Explorer
In my social group at the time the complaint, which I shared, was that the 2E changes didn't go far enough. At the time we had all mostly drifted from D&D to other RPGs. D&D was only for the occasional session or short campaign.

There were a lot of changes in 2E that I liked. However, they didn't fix enough of the things we had grown tired of in D&D, so that was the system that moved me away from D&D until 3E came out.
 

Ahglock

First Post
I loved 2e and still do. I guess I'd say my complaint with 2e would be it I really liked the presumed advancement to a leader or lord of an area from the BECM and 1e eras. You could do it in 2e, but it was really built in to BECM and 1e.

Other than that it rocked. Right now I love hackmaster for the 2e feel it gives me.
 

jdrakeh

Front Range Warlock
I dunno, I really liked AD&D 2e save for the dialing down of 'evil' to placate certain high profile detractors (e..g, renaming of demons, dropping the assassin class, etc). Other than that, out of the core books, I thought that it was (mechanically) a much stronger game than AD&D 1e. Most of the early AD&D games I played in were AD&D1e/2e hybrids (usually 2e core with clases and monsters from 1e). I hated the later additions of the Complete books and Options books, though.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
Honestly, I don't think anything was wrong with 2E's Core Rules.

2E has a lot of complaints leveled at it, most of which seem to be about the sheer number of supplements that were produced for it (though honestly, I think that more books is a good thing for the game itself, overall; nothing outside of the Core was ever really necessary, which makes me not understand people who complain about "rules bloat"), or in how it compared to 1E (I never played 1E myself, but looking back on it now, I think 2E was an improvement on it).

I'm still waiting for a 2E retro-clone OGL game. ;)
 

Ulrick

First Post
I think one reason 2e gets so much flak is because, at the time, there were better systems out there. Still, one kept encountering 2e. At least those are the reason I kept getting whenever I'd try to run a 2e campaign and get no takers.

Another criticism, however, that I've heard is that TSR bent over to the religious groups by getting rid of Demons and Devils. Which I admit annoyed me, too.


I liked the core rules. I thought they were better than 1e--except for the DMG. Whenever I ran 2e, I always had the 1e DMG close at hand. 1e was good. But 2e revised and condensed all those rules.

After running my next campaign, which is 4e, I'll probably go back to 2e with some 3e houserules.
 

M.L. Martin

Adventurer
I dunno, I really liked AD&D 2e save for the dialing down of 'evil' to placate certain high profile detractors (e..g, renaming of demons, dropping the assassin class, etc).

The first is right, the second is wrong. The assassin class was planned to be dropped, or at least relegated to optional/NPC status, when Gygax was in charge of 2E. Even when Zeb Cook took over, he said that "the question of 'image' that came up had nothing to do with any kind of religious pressure, as some of you mistakenly thought. Sorry, it's much more mundane -- a lot of potential players have been turned off by bad experiences with uncontrolled assassins destroying parties, campaigns, and fun for everyone else. No fun at all." ("The Game Wizards", DRAGON #121, 13)

Alzrius said:
2E has a lot of complaints leveled at it, most of which seem to be about the sheer number of supplements that were produced for it (though honestly, I think that more books is a good thing for the game itself, overall; nothing outside of the Core was ever really necessary, which makes me not understand people who complain about "rules bloat"), or in how it compared to 1E (I never played 1E myself, but looking back on it now, I think 2E was an improvement on it).

There were cases where books would make references to non-core material, most notably the Tome of Magic, but it's not nearly as bad as some of the anti-2E propaganda would indicate, IIRC.

I'm still waiting for a 2E retro-clone OGL game.

I've long wanted something with " (Streamlined) Third Edition Rules, Second Edition Feel" to paraphrase Necromancer's slogan. :) So far, it's looking like True20 or a SWSE hack is the closest I'm likely to get for my desires.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
There were cases where books would make references to non-core material, most notably the Tome of Magic, but it's not nearly as bad as some of the anti-2E propaganda would indicate, IIRC.

Hmm, you make a good point, albeit a different one from what I meant.

I wasn't talking about splatbooks/modules referring to other splatbooks. Rather, I've heard a lot of people talk about things like rules bloat and unbalanced material in 2E; my statement was in regards to the fact that everything outside of the Core Rules was optional (just like for every other edition) so they could just disallow the parts they didn't like; 2E was not unique in that regard.
 


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