worries about 2nd edition (archiving this for posterity)


I dug this stuff up and posted it while 3E was still in development, maybe 3 message boards ago. While cleaning out my D&D 3E News e-mails today, I came across it again. I'm just posting this for posterity so that if someone is searching for it they can find it.


I've been reading through issues of Dragon Magazine (gotta love that CD-ROM archive!) and have found some quotes about the decision to create a 2nd edition of D&D. I think some of the complaints/worries/predictions are kind of amusing.


Dragon #120 -- Editorial:
With the second edition of the AD&D game presently in the works, more complaints and letter expressing confusion arrive each day. Some gamers worry that their favorite classes will no longer be part of the “official” rules, hence they will no longer be able to use them in play. Still others complain that they are displeased with having to buy the second edition — a purchase which will outmode their first-edition rules. These same people are further annoyed that the second-edition rules won’t mesh with the first edition, thereby “forcing” them to purchase the second edition. In the end, it all leads up to one thing: a lot of needless worry and unnecessary complaints.

Dragon #119 -- Zeb Cook on Character Classes
(which ones to keep, which ones to pitch)

The assassin is a goner — virtually guar-
anteed. It is highly unlikely that any
amount of appeal will save his neck. He is
disruptive to party harmony and, more
importantly, presents the wrong image
about AD&D games. If you really like
assassin characters, I’m sorry, but you can
still use the first-edition character class.

The bard just doesn’t work. Too many
confused rules and special exceptions
were created just to make the bard fly.
Some of his powers were seriously unbal-
ancing and dumb (in my personal opinion).
Finally, the way he is described, the bard
really belongs only in a Western European
setting. Whoever heard of an Amerind
bard with a magical harp or a Polynesian
harpist bard? (I’m sure I’ll hear from some-
one.) Thus, the bard as he currently exists
will die. But is he gone? I don’t know for
sure. It seems like a good idea to heavily
redesign the bard to fit with the rules and
increase his playability. If this happened, it
would probably mean a character class
that specialized in communication and
dealing with people. We’ll see what


Dragon #121 -- Zeb Cook responding to quotes from letters he's received about the prospect of 2nd Edition

“The best way to avoid edition three is to
make allowance for changes.” — Kerry T. Brown

Really, I do want to avoid having to do a
Third Edition —at least having to repeat
what I’m going through on Second Edition!
The only way to do this is to build a set of
core rules that can accommodate the
inevitable changes and additions that will
come. Just as the First Edition was not
perfect, I know that new and better ideas
will surface after Second Edition is done.
Our current plan is that we haven’t got a
plan. We are still looking at a lot of differ-
ent ideas. Currently, all of them revolve
around building a core set of rules that
can be used by all players. One thought is
that there would be two hardbound rule
books— the Players Handbook and the
Dungeon Masters Handbook (note the title

“We have spent a lot of time and money
on the game. . . .After buying the present
books, I do not relish the thought of buy-
ing them all over again!” — Bill Aasvanger

As I have said before, TSR is well aware
of the investment you have made in the
AD&D game. We are trying to make sure
the Second Edition will grow and expand
without out-dating the core rules. No one
is trying to arrange the AD&D game sys-
tem so you must buy every rule book we
print. If we do our job right, you and a lot
of new players will want the core rules of
the Second Edition because they are good.
Anything that follows is optional, and
optional means just that — you make the
choice, not us. Certainly, we hope that you
will buy these expansion rule books, based
on the quality and usefulness of the
product. We are not trying to rip you off.

“The first and most pressing comment I
have to make is that revised game remain
100% compatible with the old.” — John J.

This comment is almost identical to one
of our design standards for Second Edi-
tion, design standards being the guidelines
game designers live by (or try to live by).
One of the big issues of the Second Edition
is compatibility. It’s not my intention to
force you to throw away your old rule
books and rush out to buy the Second
Edition. You want to be able to pick up the
Second Edition rules and use them in your
campaign without having to make exten-
sive changes first. That is a perfectly fair
demand on your part.

Now, 100% compatibility is just not
possible. There are things that must be
fixed. There are inevitable improvements
and new ideas, These things are going to
prevent Second Edition from being 100%
compatible. Just what percent compatibil-
ity we wind up with, I can’t say. Indeed,
the need to keep things compatible results
in us not making some changes that would
only confuse the issue. Take the armor
class numbering system. To many players,
it does not make sense that the worst
armor classes have higher numbers, and it
would seem simple to change it. However,
reversing the order of the armor class
numbers would invalidate every AD&D
game campaign and product in existence.
For compatibility’s sake, it is better to
make no change, since this change is not
worth the trouble it will cause.

“I will refuse to buy any second edition
books if your plan is to change everything
around so that it’s based on proficiencies.”
— Guy Ellison

There will be a proficiency system, and
it will be presented as an optional rule.
The proficiency system (similar to that of
Oriental Adventures and the two survival-
guide books) is there to give your game
more range and scope. The proficiency
system can be as important or unimport-
ant as you want. The basic abilities of
characters will still be defined by classes,
but other talents will be available to the
character. The AD&D game will be as
playable with proficiencies as without
them. It is yet another area where we are
trying to build and increase your range of
choices that you have in creating a


Dragon # 130 -- Jon Pickens talks about magic

A number of you would like to see a
spell-point system. You will be disap-
pointed. Spell-point systems are more
complex than the current system, and
trying to balance them is a pain. For exam-
ple, in a very simple system in which a
spell costs one point per spell level, a
typical high-level cleric will seldom run
out of cures, which creates severe balance
problems in play.

On the other hand, cantrips will disap-
pear from the core rules (we have to get
space from somewhere). The basic prob-
lem that cantrips were introduced to solve
– that of a 1st-level magic-user trapped in
a 3- to 4-hour adventure with only one
spell – will be dealt with in some other
fashion. The idea of giving magic-users
bonus spells for intelligence has problems;
magic-users with intelligence scores of 9-
15 are driven out of business.


Dragon #139 -- Zeb Cook on Playtesting

As mentioned above, Jon ran the play-
testing of the second-edition rules. This
doesn’t mean he was out there running
playtesting games himself (Jon worked
hard), but he estab-
lished and monitored our playtesting
groups. These groups had players just like
you, RPGA™ Network members who vol-
unteered to take part in our work. All
told, Jon worked with about 20-30 groups.
Now, I don’t know exact numbers, but if
each group had an average of six players,
that means about 100-200 players actually
did the playtesting. Furthermore, they did
the playtesting for eight months or more.
On top of that, we have 10 years of com-
ments, suggestions, criticisms, letters,
DRAGON® Magazine articles, and two GEN
CON® game fairs (and several regional
conventions) that solicited your views.
Thus, you have the most thoroughly play-
tested and developed game done yet by
TSR, Inc. (I won’t be so rash as to claim
that it’s the most thoroughly playtested
and designed game in the industry, but I
think there are few games out there that
have received as much attention.)

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First Post
I remember reading those when they were first published - really takes you back :) Thanks for the walk down memory lane.


I like that part about anything after the core rules would be optional and then... the rampant use of all those OPTIONAL rules all over the place and in various sourcebooks etc. NWPs were about as optional as THAC0.




“The first and most pressing comment I
have to make is that revised game remain
100% compatible with the old.” — John J.

Is it logically possible to change something and yet have it 100% compatible?

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