Why do people rag on AD&D 2e?

edited June 2007 in Story Games
On the inter-web I've seen a lot of hostile posts toward the Second Edition of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. The comments tend to be pretty negative, but also pretty dismissive: like, of course a frustrating time was had by all: we were playing AD&D 2e, duh!

My gang played a lot of this game in 8th-10th grade, stopping sometime around 1992. As I recall, we generally had a good time. From what I remember, it was terribly un-streamlined, but we had no points of comparison except Red Box, and it seemed to work for us.

Also: Dark Sun, Planescape, Dragonlance (and Taladas), and Spelljammer are all nifty HIgh Concept settings.

Enlighten me: I'm not arguing in favor of this game, but I'm wondering why people seem to have had such a lousy time with it.
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  • Law of big numbers. Tons of people played it so many hated it.
  • I'll go further - 2nd ed had some fantastic setting material, no question at all. I love of Planescape and Birthright to pieces. Hell, it even had some moments of inspiration in the rules themselves - the handling of swashbuckling was positively brilliant.

    But you point to the reason yourself - comparison. Like old man Plato points out, we disdain and resent the cave when we have to go back.

    -Rob D.
  • edited June 2007
    I suspect that perhaps it's chic to hate on 2nd ed. I have some lousy stories about playing 2nd ed, but that's because the group that introduced me to it and I had wildly different ideas of what was fun -- killing my character in the first minute of play because he was warming himself by the fire being one of those "differences of opinion." But that has nothing to do with 2nd ed, so I don't say I hate on it.

    I also suspect that people have fond memories of playing 2nd ed, so after some time of playing other and essentially learning new ways to play, they go back to 2nd ed for nostalgic reasons and find their play unsatisfying. Hindsight isn't always 20/20 -- now after this crap play, you look at your previous fun with a sour, murky lens. *poof* Now 2nd ed always sucked for you.
  • edited June 2007
    I played a lot of 2AD&D in the 80's and had lots of fun. I certainly don't hate it and I love me some tolkienesque high-fantasy. But by the 90's I have to say that whenever we got together to play "D&D" we basically played a home brew with AD&D monsters and settings. We still called it D&D, but it really wasn't.

    That said, D&D is fine. I really don't have much of a problem with D&D but the games tend to be about things that don't interest me:

    GM: "the captain of the guard is standing point blank with an drawn bow pointed at your unarmored chest." (Here the game is supposed to be about being in jeopardy but...)
    Player: "Well, I have 162 hp and that arrow does d6 damage so I walk up and cut his head off, then pull the arrow out of my chest and laugh maniacly." (its about addition and subtraction)

    GM: "You push aside the body of the dead orc and in the chest you find a glowing sword and as you pull it from the chest you see the torchlight reflect off of it in an iridescent sheen which takes the shape of a serpent traveling up the razor sharp blade." (here the game is trying to be about mystery and magic, but...)
    Player: "Oh, just a +2 sword of holy flame. I've got a +3 sword of holy flame already and that one has a triple crit range. Anyone want a magic sword?" (It's about loot).

    GM: "You stand before the doors of the Temple of Badassery, the doors are 50 feet high and the corridor extends beyond them into the inky darkness." (So, here the game is about adventuring into unknown dangers, but)
    Player: "We can't go in there. We don't have a cleric. We head back to town and see if we can find a cleric, or maybe a bard at least. Also, anyone have any rogue abilities. There may be traps in there. (now its about, what would you call this? Complete lameness. In what other narrative form do we see this shit?)

    GM: "You are at the end of a 60' corridor. Its 10x10 and ..." (the game is about going down a corridor)
    Player: "I check for traps every ten feet as we walk"
    Other player: "I'm casting detect traps, detect evil, detect magic. Anything?" (I want to stab myself in the eye with my pencil now)
  • noclue: Everyone who plays D&D, or any game, plays a homebrew....

    Interestingly, you illustrate a lot of different approaches in your parentheticals...if the parentheticals matched each other, everything would be groovy, I assume.
  • Posted By: JDCorleynoclue: Everyone who plays D&D, or any game, plays a homebrew....

    Interestingly, you illustrate a lot of different approaches in your parentheticals...if the parentheticals matched each other, everything would be groovy, I assume.
    Well, obviously the GM parentheticals are in my voice and the responses are things I don't groove with. I like games where choices matter, where there's jeopardy, where the setting is mysterious and magical (i.e. charged with emotion, not to be taken literally), and where there is adventure and sacrifice, triumphs and defeats of all types. I want to be wowed by imagination and imagery, and I really don't care if my character lives through it.

    Can D&D accomodate me? Sure. But I have noticed there's a bit of an adverse selection bias.
  • Mechanically, 2nd edition was somewhat of a pain:
    • High numbers were good, except for Armor Class and Thac0.
    • Seriously, Thac0. Single best fix instituted during the change to 3rd edition.
    • Rolling low was good for attribute and Non-Weapon Proficiency checks, but bad for saving throws and attack and damage rolls.
    • The saving throws (Petrification/Polymorph, Poison/Death, Rod/Staff/Wand, Spell, and Dragon Breath) were perhaps flavorful, but not very useful when you had a new sort of thing come into the game.
    • Monsters had different stats than PCs, making things like opposed Strength rolls impossible.
    • Most subsystems felt tacked-on. Thief skills are a good example - they worked nothing like Non-Weapon Proficiencies (i.e. skills), which also felt tacked-on.
    Also, characters were "locked in" in a good number of ways - you always evolved along a fixed path, without significant ability to change as the game went on. The addition of kits and variant classes changed this, but as the game went on there were bigger and bigger balance problems associated with these - characters who could use Fireball at 1st level, or Disintegrate at 3rd.

    Some elements came across as pretty arbitrary, like demihuman level limits. Most people ignored those.

    So no, it's not just chic to hate D&D, nor is it merely a large-numbers thing. Those things may also be true, but there were quite a few things that improved in the change to 3rd edition. I still remember loving 2nd edition; exposure to other games hasn't changed that. But it did make me realize that things could be done better.

    No doubt the settings were very cool in general, and I wish that there were some better-quality adaptations of them to 3.n edition - the ones I've seen come out a little flat. But mechanically, 3rd edition was a great improvement.
  • edited June 2007
    I was such a AD&D hater in my day. Really ridiculous, frothing at the mouth hatred, as in telling AD&D players, no matter how much fun they were obviously having that they're game was *awful* and sardonically laughing off any offer to lower myself to their company, lest I waste my time on such trash. How I regret that behavior, 'cause it made me miss out on a lot of potential fun. I was the guy sitting by myself on club nights, scribbling notes about the cool obscure campaign I'd never get anyone to play while three boisterous AD&D games were going on around me. Oh, mispsent youth.

    Still, I'm certainly not going out of my way to look up AD&D groups now, and I think the game suffered some noteworthy drawbacks. And though all the design quirks Colin_Fredericks point out are true, I think they're secondary to the following issues.

    First and foremost (and what my personal bugaboo was that drove me to such extremes) was that AD&D was the undisputed big dog. Not just popular, but the standard that defined the hobby; to most people, role-playing and AD&D were synonymous. If you had any desire to do something not covered by AD&D, it could grate vicously to be stuck with it. Compounding the dissatisfaction was the fact that if you had any sort of design awareness it was clear that AD&D enjoyed first place for no better reason than sheer inertia. There were several games, even in just the fantasy genre, that were objectively better designed than AD&D, yet its primacy remained untouched.

    Many of those designs were better because, in my opinion, they had a focus that AD&D didn't. The game was an uneven mix of its handlers interests, mixing concepts, systems and goals into a murky stew, leaving you to scoop in blind and hope you got what you were looking for. On one hand this this could be good, because it let folks play around with the mix, moving from element to element as they chose. But more often, those elements would clash horribly, something that became more pronounced as TSR tried to bring the game into directions it really wasn't capable of going. To quote an example I've often used, "this campaign will be about the rivalry between several suitors to romantically win the affections of the Princess. She has Six Hit Dice." By trying to be all things to all users, it ended up doing none of them well.

    I mention TSR's handling of the game, and that deserves further attention. The later years of AD&D had the dubious honor of witnessing the corporate inanity of TSR, and some odd actions were inflicted on the line, mainly in the form of crappy supplements and adventures.

    The last thing that comes to my mind was that, even in the early 90's, AD&D was a noticeably old design. It had clear and strong roots in the wargaming hobby. Which in and of itself is not a bad thing, but those years also represented the appearance of the first story-games. Anyone to whom the newer style games appealed, for whom games like "Over the Edge" or "Everway" did things they'd never been able to do before, looking back to AD&D's hoary old sand-table thinking must have been like contemplating a return to Detroit after vacationing in Hawaii.
  • I played AD&D 2E from just about when it came out, for the next 5 years of my life pretty much every week, or every other week. It was like my Favorite Thing to Look Forward to in my high school days (until I got a girlfriend, then it was "Gaming and Girlfriend").

    I think JD has the root of the issue (aside from the obvious great fixes of 3E which basically pointed out the depth of the flaws of 2e).

    Frex, I loved kits. LOVED them. I dug most of the "Complete CLASS Handbook", especially the Thieves' one, which inspired a year's thief-only campaign. Kits were slick, because they gave you cool little bonuses as a character concept, without having to worry about how they affected your abilities at 4th, 8th, and 12th levels (like in 3E).

    I LOVED Al Qadim, Dark Sun, and Planescape. In fact, I'm thinking about rebuying Al Qadim and running it with TSOY (but making it far more "real middle eastern").

    Thaco was weird, the skills were silly, and the saving throws were clunky, but that game provided me some of the best times of my high school years that didn't involve kissing.

    -Andy
  • Al Qadim is just raw greatness served raw. Curvy swords and poofy pants and everyone, men and women, wearing vests with no shirts. What's not to love?
  • Colin,

    I met with AD&D 2 earlier in my life, but haven't played much. Lately I tried to GM D&D3, but it's just as much pain as AD&D 2 was. For example you don't use your attributes at all. Then why are they there? Why don't you use the bonuses only as attributes? And I still don't get the combat rules. I get always stuck at the squeezing rule. (How ironic.)

    The other thing is: I like the idea that monsters/NPCs have different stats than PCs. It signals that the combat values of PCs aren't there to kill each other. thac0 means: this good you are in killing monsters, and it doesn't incorporate any killing other PCs. Because in reality a PC is something completely different then an NPC or a monster. The latter is just a tool of the GM, the former is part of The Party.

    But it's really true that AD&D had many illogical things. I still don't know whether I should roll high or low. And it made no sense at all, because (and this is the most irritating) mechanically it's not different. It's just messing with the math of the player.

    Gabor
  • What's the squeezing rule?
  • Posted By: algiFor example you don't use your attributes at all. Then why are they there? Why don't you use the bonuses only as attributes?
    Oh, that's easy, it's because ability scores in the 3-18 range are one of the traditional D&D conventions (the designers referred to them as "sacred cows") that WotC felt had to be left in the game in order for 3rd edition to still "feel like D&D."
    The other thing is: I like the idea that monsters/NPCs have different stats than PCs. It signals that the combat values of PCs aren't there to kill each other. thac0 means: this good you are in killing monsters, and it doesn't incorporate any killing other PCs. Because in reality a PC is something completely different then an NPC or a monster. The latter is just a tool of the GM, the former is part of The Party.
    Yeah, when 3rd edition first came out, one of the things I liked about it the most was that everything used the same stats. Now, that's one of the many things I don't like about it. I miss the days when PCs had stats that monsters didn't, because, well, they're the main characters, while monsters are pretty much just there to be killed. Different rules to emphasize different roles.
  • I think, pretty straightforwardly...the people likely to be talking about D&D are D&D players, and I presume most of them are happy ones, and 3e satisfies extremely different needs than AD&D2 or any of the other prior rulesets did. So, if they are happy now, and they are the kind of gamer who play only the one game, then probably they were not happy then, or are happier enough now to look at the past with dissatisfaction.

  • noclue,

    I thought about linking it, but it's such a loller, I better quote it.
    Squeezing In some cases, you may have to squeeze into or through an area that isn’t as wide as the space you take up. You can squeeze through or into a space that is at least half as wide as your normal space. Each move into or through a narrow space counts as if it were 2 squares, and while squeezed in a narrow space you take a -4 penalty on attack rolls and a -4 penalty to AC.

    When a Large creature (which normally takes up four squares) squeezes into a space that’s one square wide, the creature’s miniature figure occupies two squares, centered on the line between the two squares. For a bigger creature, center the creature likewise in the area it squeezes into.

    A creature can squeeze past an opponent while moving but it can’t end its movement in an occupied square.

    To squeeze through or into a space less than half your space’s width, you must use the Escape Artist skill. You can’t attack while using Escape Artist to squeeze through or into a narrow space, you take a -4 penalty to AC, and you lose any Dexterity bonus to AC.
    How should I possibly memorize that???

    Ron,

    But if you (and me, that is we) think about it, if you are playing on a board with miniatures, it's suited to use the same statistics. It's a wargame, you know, not some amateurish drama class. And I didn't know that having a "sacred cow" is a feature. I always thought that this term has negative meaning. (Not meant to be reprimanding nor arrogantly, rather sarcastically.)
  • The items that were kept from 2e simply for "D&D flavor" (the sacred cows) were important at the time, because, due to the sweeping changes to how pretty much everything worked, the game really was less of a "new edition" and more of an "entirely new game". To maintain itself as "still D&D", some iconic elements were left in place. These reletively minor concessions were "features" to the target audience which seemed to consist of THACO-loving grognards. After all, the Alternity rules were essentially a "new" D&D rules set, and we see how well they did without the "sacred cows".
  • Gabor, I feel like squeezing my head through a space that is narrower than the space it takes up. Yikes!
  • During the first D&D 2ed campaign I ever ran, a good friend of mine made a THAC0 slide rule out of cardboard, paper, tape and magic markers for my then girlfriend because she complained about it so much. Good times.
  • But what was so stupid about THAC0 is that the 3e fix was staring everybody in the face. Subtract a negative number? Duh, just move your zero and multiply by negative one.

    THAC0 was so counter-intuitive, painful, and laborious, that I'm astonished no one got rid of it, sacred cow or not.
  • edited June 2007
    Posted By: James_NostackBut what was so stupid about THAC0 is that the 3e fix was staring everybody in the face. Subtract a negative number? Duh, just move your zero and multiply by negative one.
    THAC0 was so counter-intuitive, painful, and laborious, that I'm astonished no one got rid of it, sacred cow or not.
    Actually they did get rid of it, in 1992's Gamma World 4th edition, which used a "THAC" score just like D&D3's BtH. GW4 is actually quite a progressive streamlining of AD&D, filled with concepts that would resurface in D&D3.

    Still, keep in mind that THAC0 itself was intended as a streamlining mechanic, to replace the complex armor vs weapon charts of AD&D 1st.
  • Posted By: James_NostackOn the inter-web I've seen a lot of hostile posts toward the Second Edition of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. Enlighten me: I'm not arguing in favor of this game, but I'm wondering why people seem to have had such a lousy time with it.
    Huh. I probably read more D&D message boards than the average person-on-the-street, and I'm not sure I've really run into this.

    Did you have some particular site or newsgroup in mind?
  • I've had some pretty bad experiences with AD&D 2e. But some of them were due to false expectations while others were due to incompatible play styles in the particular group.

    I do agree that the different parts of the whole (proficiencies, saving rolls, skills) feel patched together. Playing a low-level character is difficult, especially when you invest a lot into creating the character only to have him die from an unlucky roll. Only having two weapons my character knows how to handle is silly and contrary to my fun. Same with only being able to memorize a single spell per day; spells were the only place where I could use my creativity to address challenges (specifically Phantasmal Force). Encumbrance is a pain in the ass to keep track of. Short people movement rates are awful. Etc.
  • Posted By: Roger
    Huh. I probably read more D&D message boards than the average person-on-the-street, and I'm not sure I've really run into this.

    Did you have some particular site or newsgroup in mind?
    When I was still spending a lot of time on the Wizards of the Coast boards I saw plenty of 2e hate, along with a similar amount of glowing 2e nostalgia. Of course this was complicated by the fact that a lot of the complaints about 2e ("There's too many books! And the classes aren't balanced!") were the same charges others were leveling against 3e. Also, much of the misty-eyed 2e nostalgia ("Man, it was all about the role playing in those days! We used to go whole sessions without rolling so much as a single die!") said more about the group playing it than it did about anything actually supported by the system itself.
  • But these things remained. A 1st level fighter can't fight any better than a 1st level wizard. (Okay, +1 instead of +0, but this is the same chance that the natural 1 or natural 20 have.) And what about 5% of every meaningful task is total failure?

    I'm wondering how would it be to play using 3d6 instead of d20? Natural 1 means three 1s, natural 20 means three 6s. (Or only two of them would be enough?) Hm, that sounds like an idea for another awesomify thread.
  • Posted By: algi
    I'm wondering how would it be to play using 3d6 instead of d20? Natural 1 means three 1s, natural 20 means three 6s. (Or only two of them would be enough?) Hm, that sounds like an idea for another awesomify thread.
    http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/adventuring/bellCurveRolls.htm
  • I don't think I could go back to playing 2nd edition DnD. Even when I was a kid the rules seemed so arbitrary, rigid and shoved together to fill the various holes. I remember reading about the demihuman level caps and just getting irritated. An elf could live for a thousand plus years and still never be able to be a higher level fighter than a human? Wha? If you, with a random roll of the dice, get a high attribute you get an experience bonus for that one roll, while your buddy who rolled poorly gets dick all. Shit like that just drove me nuts. Sure, you could mess about with house rules, but the spirit of the rules seemed to be for restrictions and against fun. It was designed to be a lot more about the DM saying 'no' than 'yes'.

    I think 3rd edition is a huge, huge improvement over 2nd edition. This isn't to say it's not flawed, because it is, and it wears me out, but hey, you can actually play a level 23 Dwarven fighter/bard/necromancer who can use a bastard sword, without having to alter any official rules. If that's not progress, I don't know what is!
  • <blockquote><cite>Posted By: Roger</cite>Did you have some particular site or newsgroup in mind?</blockquote>

    Actually, Story-Games & the diaspora. I got the impression that dudes were real down on it, mainly because when it gets mentioned it's never in a positive light--apparently because they feel it's a trainwreck of Creative Agendas.
  • edited June 2007
    I have no problem with AD&D 2nd ed - like any other game it can be adapted by those with good understanding to become all sorts of experiences. Except THAC0. It was upside down from the rest of the system and made my head hurt. Algebraically and statistically identical to the 3rd Ed system, what hacks me off is people who run around saying "Huh, you obviously didn't play it enough to get THAC0". Well, bite me.

    Saying that, 3rd Ed fixed THAC0 but lost its soul a little. Especially when it gave Bard to the gnomes.
  • Funny, I thought THACO was an improvement at the time...
  • What did AD&D 1E have to fulfill the same role?
  • Hmm. Well, I didn't start gaming until 1997; I really suspect the timeframe makes a real difference to people's outlook. Like people who think Abba have talent vs people who think S Club 7 are da' bomb. Both of which are wrong from my point of view, of course.

    But THAC0 is hugely inconsistent with the rest of the game, inverse to it, in fact, and there was never a reason for it. That's my beef.
  • edited June 2007
    Posted By: Albert AWhat did AD&D 1E have to fulfill the same role?
    THACO was basically the formula, where 1st ed had charts that did the same thing.

    For example, maybe your fighter is 3rd level. In 1st ed, you had a chart that cross-referenced your level with target's armor class to figure out your To-hit roll.

    Then, some smart monkey figured out that you could just subtract the AC from your To-Hit AC Zero and do the same thing, minus the chart. So your fighter Has THACO 20, subtract an AC ( say AC 9 for a peasant). Congrats, you need an 11 or better on d20 to hit. No chart reference needed.

    Edit: After I posted this, I realized why I thought well of THACO: It was an aid primarily to GMs, rather than players. Having the THACO in a critter's statline (especially in modules) meant not having to reference the chart in the DMG during play. My players commonly had a single line somewhere on their character sheets with their To-Hit by AC already written in, so they'd be referencing that during play, rather than doing math or using the DMG's charts.
  • edited June 2007
    Posted By: Albert AWhat did AD&D 1E have to fulfill the same role?
    A set of tables, one for each class basically, with target's AC along one side, and the level of the attacker along the top. You would cross index these to find the number you needed to equal or exceed in order to hit.

    This was basically the same as in original (white/brown box) D&D and the later Basic etc. boxed sets. However, in AD&D (not sure about the others), the "20" was repeated on a number of lines of each column, so that it didn't become impossible to hit a target with a low AC quite as fast as it would if you just used a THAC0 system. (Or so I'd imagine, having never used THAC0 myself.)

    Although it was kind of messy, it didn't seem all that bad if you were used to CRTs (combat results tables) from wargames.

    Edit: cross-posted--but kept because of that funky detail about the repeated 20s.
  • edited June 2007
    Posted By: komradebobFunny, I thought THACO was an improvement at the time...
    It was. That's not necessarily a good thing. I actually played mainly 1st edition and only got a brief taste of THACO. The nice thing about THACO was you didn't have to have the books with you to figure out the to hit. But it was an annoyingly counter-intuitive number.

    Mostly, I think of THACO as a metaphor for all the confusing rulesets in D&D in general.

    (Also: why is page 75 of the DMG stuck in my head?)
  • Posted By: RogerDid you have some particular site or newsgroup in mind?

    Anywhere except D&D message boards probably.
    Posted By: ShevaunHmm. Well, I didn't start gaming until 1997; I really suspect the timeframe makes a real difference to people's outlook. Like people who think Abba have talent vs people who think S Club 7 are da' bomb. Both of which are wrong from my point of view, of course.
    No. They are objectively wrong ;)
  • edited June 2007
    Posted By: noclue
    (Also: why is page 75 of the DMG stuck in my head?)
    I believe that is the page with all of the key charts ( to-hit progressions and maybe saving throw progressions also) in 1st ed AD&D. If you were DMing regularly, you'd almost certainly have had that page open almost all of the time. I suspect that if you find an old copy of anyone's DMG, it probably will naturally fall open to that page.

    I had a funny thought: THACO is almost the opposite in dsign direction from the Opposed Stat Test Chart in Call of Cthulhu. In CoC, they took a formula and turned it into a cross reference chart for ease of use. In Ad&D, they took a cross-reference chart and turned it into a formula for ease of use.
  • Posted By: James_Nostack
    Actually, Story-Games & the diaspora. I got the impression that dudes were real down on it, mainly because when it gets mentioned it's never in a positive light--apparently because they feel it's a trainwreck of Creative Agendas.
    Well, that kinda sounds like you've answered your own question.


    Cheers,
    Roger
  • Posted By: komradebob
    I believe that is the page with all of the key charts ( to-hit progressions and maybe saving throw progressions also) in 1st ed AD&D. If you were DMing regularly, you'd almost certainly have had that page open almost all of the time. I suspect that if you find an old copy of anyone's DMG, it probably will naturally fall open to that page.
    Odd, the copy I have keeps opening at the Random Harlot Table...
  • Posted By: E.T.SmithPosted By: komradebob
    I believe that is the page with all of the key charts ( to-hit progressions and maybe saving throw progressions also) in 1st ed AD&D. If you were DMing regularly, you'd almost certainly have had that page open almost all of the time. I suspect that if you find an old copy of anyone's DMG, it probably will naturally fall open to that page.
    Odd, the copy I have keeps opening at the Random Harlot Table...

    It's not always easy to find a Saucy Wench when you need one...
  • I stopped roleplaying just before 2nd edition was released and started again just after 3rd edition was released, so my impressions of 2nd edition lack actual play confirmation:

    so, as folks have said, there's a sense that 2nd edition (and 1st edition) are inelegant compared to 3rd edition.

    But there is also a bias among some older d&d players that 2nd edition's content, art and direction were blander, more censored (changing names of demons/devils) and more driven by marketing concerns & tie-ins to novels etc. than basic or 1st edition.

    check out the forums at dragonsfoot.org for discussion on pre-3rd edition d&d
  • edited June 2007
    I suspect the reason AD&D2 is so vocally despised is because it's the antithesis of actual game design. The design decisions that went into AD&D2 were based not so much on building a game that was fun to play, but on revising, re-presenting, and collating all the accumulated rules for AD&D from all the sourcebooks and Dragon magazine articles, as well as influenced by questionable marketing decisions under Lorraine "I hate roleplaying games" Williams such as avoiding the 1980s "Satanic panic" and cross-selling settings to try to get you to use everything as one giant campaign setting. AD&D rules have this law-like quality, where every published bit is enshrined for precedent and must be carried forward for sake of precedent, or explicitly amended. It became a positively baroque collection of little systems added on here and there, without regard for the larger affect these systems might have on gameplay. The usual answer for "Why is this rule here?" was usually "Because it appeared in a previous publication."

    While the settings were certainly cool and lavishly illustrated (as could be expected from a company with such a pool of house writers and artists to draw on), they didn't always live up to their potential when actually played without applying a generous amount of GM-ooph. Most of the published adventures for this system are railroad central. Mainly, the game was written by people who were talented at creative writing, with talent for actual game design being unimportant. (This was, of course, part of a larger trend endemic to the "industry" of selling substandard fiction by dressing it up in a "game" presentation.) The mechanics in the various setting supplements always seem (and by marketing necessity, are) just "tacked on" as an afterthought.

    I know a number of gamers who still think AD&D2 is just fine, and without exception they wholeheartedly subscribe to the notion that system does not matter, that GM-ability is the defining conceit for RPGs. Those of us who actually appreciate good game design and see system as a thing that can and should be textually communicated just bristle at such at attitude.

    Also, TSR was a notoriously bad "citizen" of the RPG publishing community, actively suing any third party who published material "for use with Dungeons & Dragons." I believe this litigiousness is largely responsible for the rash of fantasy heartbreakers, all "filing the serial numbers off" of AD&D in various ways, every company developing a more-or-less derivative "house system" like so many competing legal fiefs.

    Combine this with frustration at the bandwagon heuristic ("If so many people are buying it, it must be the best game system.") and you get a lot of resentment for a game that continued to dominate the hobby during its time. A whole lot of smaller publishers put in a lot of work developing rulebooks to compete with that clunker, only to find that system innovation was basically unrewarded by the market.
  • For me it is a mechanical consistancy issue. Skills roll low, Saves roll high, to hit rolls high - its too all over the place.

    d20 is more intuituve for me. It has nothing to do with chic. It has to do with math. Sure there a few bumps in the new system - heck I believe the weakest points of d20 are ideas pulled from 1st and 2nd ed for nostalgias sake (ie polymorphing - leveling ;)
  • Larry, you're assessment sounds exactly like my own thoughts from Post #9, but better worded. I persoanlly cannot overstate how much it bugged me that AD&D was the biggest game, but without any particular merit to deserve it.
  • I'm totally down with Larry's assessment.

    Mearls also made a great observation about the roleplaing philosophy pushed by 2e. He pointed to a DM-focused splat from that era that gave the typical "powergaming is bad, players should be happy to play with lousy stats, because that's REAL roleplaying" spiel. So very '90s.
  • I know a number of gamers who still think AD&D2 is just fine, and without exception they wholeheartedly subscribe to the notion that system does not matter

    To add a data point to yours: the group I left, that I played the game with for two years, feels that way as well. In fact, the main player flat out refuses to even look at other rule sets because he's already invested so much time into learning AD&D 2e.
  • Posted By: xenopulseI know a number of gamers who still think AD&D2 is just fine, and without exception they wholeheartedly subscribe to the notion that system does not matter

    To add a data point to yours: the group I left, that I played the game with for two years, feels that way as well. In fact, the main player flat out refuses to even look at other rule sets because he's already invested so much time into learning AD&D 2e.
    He's probably also paid for a grip of AD&D supplement books and modules.
  • edited June 2007
    Posted By: xenopulseTo add a data point to yours: the group I left, that I played the game with for two years, feels that way as well. In fact, the main player flat out refuses to even look at other rule sets because he's already invested so much time into learning AD&D 2e.
    I think it wouldn't be hard to prove that there is a significant number of folks for whom AD&D is a hobby unto itself, with little awareness and no interest in rpg's as a broader field. I imagine that to those folks, arguing that AD&D is a poor system for role-playing is like telling a chess enthusiast that their game is an inaccurate simulation of medieval warfare.

    EDIT: I think much the same idea was a source of prominent discussion on the Forge a few years ago.
  • E.T., I totally buy that.

    James, it's true, there's money invested. But even my offer to provide him with other games was met with a flat-out rejection.

    He and the GM did read my game, though (kind of as a favor), and called it "Improv Theater with Conflict Resolution," to which I said, "I take that!" But they still don't want to play it. :)
  • Also, TSR was a notoriously bad "citizen" of the RPG publishing community, actively suing any third party who published material "for use with Dungeons & Dragons." I believe this litigiousness is largely responsible for the rash of fantasy heartbreakers, all "filing the serial numbers off" of AD&D in various ways, every company developing a more-or-less derivative "house system" like so many competing legal fiefs.

    Larry, as a side point: you may have just pointed out a flaw in Ron's "Fantasy Heartbreaker" article. He assumes all those people wrote games almost exactly like D&D because they couldn't shake themselves free of old ways of doing things, so they wound up with one or two innovations surrounded by the same old crap as before. But maybe that's the point: those people didn't want to write a new game, they wanted to write an add-on to AD&D, but they legally weren't allowed to. Of course, Ron would probably argue that the motivation is irrelevant, the results were the same: low individual sales and a glut of AD&D clones.

    I haven't had much to say for this thread, because I played OD&D, then AD&D1e, then stopped playing D&D for a while. I had bought the 2e player's handbook and I couldn't tell what the difference was supposed to be, other than censoring some stuff and dumbing down the text. When I played again, someone else GMed, and I think he used 2e, but I couldn't tell the difference. Sure, they added "proficiencies" and "THAC0", but that stuff was originally added in a supplement to 1e.

    The main differences between 1e and 2e, to me, seemed mainly to be marketing.

  • Posted By: talysmanThe main differences between 1e and 2e, to me, seemed mainly to be marketing.
    I can see this.

    Anecdotally, I know I'm not alone in having skipped from 1e to 3e. 2e came out right as I was heading off to college and giving up on gaming (which lasted maybe a year). The cheesy art, lack of much different from 1e, and the censoring just turned me off completely. And, at the time, Rolemaster and HERO 4th did everything so much better for me and my friends. Seeing Planescape and Brithright products years later was the only thing that event tempted me to look into 2e.

    But, then 3e came out, and I suddenly had ample reason to start playing D&D again.
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