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

AllisterH

First Post
DRAGON #205, May 1994. I believe the article title is "Getting Back to Nature". I remember the issue largely for that article, the preview of the Revised Ravenloft Campaign Setting, and the reviews of House of Strahd and Castles Forlorn. :)
Very good design article. It explained why so-and-so was switched, something that was somewhat rare for a 2E product IIRC.
 

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Spatula

Explorer
On the other, it lead to some weird stuff, like moonbeam being a 5th level priest spell that gave weak illumination to a small area for a short time, and continual light being a 3rd level priest spell that provides very strong illumination in a huge area permanently. The reason is, of course, that moonbeam used to be a druid spell and continual light a cleric spell, but as someone who started with 2e it made no sense to me.
Reincarnation was another good one; located in the Necromancy (instead of, say, the Animal) sphere, which already had raise dead and resurrection.

You had similar things happening on the wizard side. In 1e, a magic-user got phantasmal force as a 3rd level spell, while it was a 1st level spell for illusionists. In 2e, it was just a 1st level spell.
Yeah... that seemed like a good idea at the time (specialists for each school!) but really removed a lot of the character of being an illusionist. And gave the generalist access to everything.
 

Remathilis

Legend
Reincarnation was another good one; located in the Necromancy (instead of, say, the Animal) sphere, which already had raise dead and resurrection.

Yeah... that seemed like a good idea at the time (specialists for each school!) but really removed a lot of the character of being an illusionist. And gave the generalist access to everything.

Interestingly, Complete Druid's Handbook suggested moving Reincarnation to Animal and Plant spheres for that reason.
 

RFisher

Explorer
This may be true in the abstract, but in this specific case, you have to consider the radical changes in communications and publishing that have taken place in the past decade or two.

Can you elaborate?

Also, design goals have changed--2E placed an emphasis on backwards compatability to a degree that was foreign to 3E, and even moreso to 4E, for example.

Well, that’s just going to lead us to the “3e and 4e are actually new games rather than new editions” place. ^_^
 


M.L. Martin

Adventurer
Can you elaborate?

You see, if I'd made that statement in the public fora that were available back in the days of 2E, it would have taken at least a month for your response to be made public, and it would have to pass through several intermediary steps (write the letter, send it in, have the editors decide to run it in DRAGON or a fanzine). With the rise of the Internet, gamers can now communicate in a much faster and more unregulated fashion, and with a much broader audience. This means that issues can be discussed in a faster and broader way than back in 2E's day, and thus companies can receive feedback on design much faster than they did, which contributes to an accelerated rate of revision. Desktop publishing and faster printing technologies (not to mention the rise of things like web-based errata and, for smaller companies, PDFs and print-on-demand) also means that a new edition is not necessarily as dramatically time-consuming on the production end, although the design end probably hasn't accelerated so much.
 

RFisher

Explorer
You see, if I'd made that statement in the public fora that were available back in the days of 2E, it would have taken at least a month for your response to be made public, and it would have to pass through several intermediary steps (write the letter, send it in, have the editors decide to run it in DRAGON or a fanzine). With the rise of the Internet, gamers can now communicate in a much faster and more unregulated fashion, and with a much broader audience. This means that issues can be discussed in a faster and broader way than back in 2E's day, and thus companies can receive feedback on design much faster than they did, which contributes to an accelerated rate of revision. Desktop publishing and faster printing technologies (not to mention the rise of things like web-based errata and, for smaller companies, PDFs and print-on-demand) also means that a new edition is not necessarily as dramatically time-consuming on the production end, although the design end probably hasn't accelerated so much.

Ah. Got it.

e.g. I assume it is true that technology was one of the factors in the 3e hardbacks coming out at month intervals while the original AD&D books came out in year intervals.

I’d have to give some thought to whether this would really have a meaningful effect on development time overall.

One thing to consider is that while technology has greased the wheels of communication, it also tends towards information overload. (There are good & bad aspects to circumventing the gatekeepers.)
 

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