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2nd Edition AD&D | Critical Hits

It's the 20th anniversary of 2nd Edition AD&D and Critical Hits have posted their list of  5 Things I Loved and 5 Things I Hated About 2nd Edition AD&D .

kb98  and I had no money when 2nd Edition came out and actually saved up for the DMG by putting all of our 1p, 2p & 5p coins in a jar!

Here's my list:

Five Things I Loved

1. Boxed Sets - there were loads of these in the 2e era and they were (nearly all) cool: poster maps, booklets, loose leaf Monstrous Compendium sheets, cards with pictures and/or maps. There was always a sense of excitement opening one to see what stuff was inside.

2. Planescape - a fantastic setting with amazing, atmospheric art and some great concepts including the Blood War and Sigil. And modrons too!

3. Spelljammer - another great setting which was unlike anything that had gone before. kb98  and I had a lot of fun with it.

4. Al-Qadim - the third great 2nd edition setting. There were some great adventure "sourceboxes" and 2e concepts like kits were actually built into the setting.

5. Greyhawk 98 - the return of the original D&D setting. Bored of Forgotten Realms I shifted our campaign to Greyhawk and we played through Return of the Eight, The Star Cairns, The Crypt of Lyzandred and The Doomgrinder. The Adventure Begins book on the City of Greyhawk was crammed with cool locations and adventure hooks.

Five Things I Didn't

1. THAC0 - rubbish, rubbish, rubbish! No one could do the maths in their head so you still needed to write a little "to hit" table on your character sheet.

2. White space & large print - there were so many 2e products coming out each month that TSR only seemed to be able to keep churning them out by making the typeface larger and widening the margins. A lot of Forgotten Realms products fall into this category such as Ruins of Myth Drannor and FR 16 The Shining South (compare the font size with the tiny one used in FR 1 Waterdeep and the North!)

3. Player's Option - as 2nd Edition grew older, more and more rules were added via the Complete series and other books. Skills and Powers and the other Player's Option books were fun at first but we soon realised they slowed the game down and were completely unbalanced. 3rd Edition couldn't come quick enough!

4. Monstrous Compendiums
- it must have seemed like a good idea at the time. A big binder with loose leaf sheets with monsters on. Except the monsters had other monsters on the back, making it impossible to keep them in alphabetical order. Oh, and there were no demons and devils in 2nd Edition until MC 8 brought them back.

5. The Avatar Trilogy - the adventures themselves were actually quite fun to play through but this Forgotten Realms trilogy was a clunky way to update the Realms to 2nd Edition, getting rid of assassins and other relics of 1st Edition as well as starting the ridiculous trend of "Realms-shaking events" that continues to this day. Now that the Realms has been rebooted for 4e, I'm hoping that's it for a while!


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 20th, 2009 12:54 am (UTC)
Seems to go along with the commonly held opinion that 2e had the best settings and the worst rules.

Totally agree with you on the Player's Option books... totally game changing, and difficult to put the genie back in the bottle and tell people they couldn't use it. (MTHAC0 and the "Tactics of Magic" weapon proficiency come to mind right away).

I never had the binder version of the Monstrous Manual, but the page layout in it is my all time favorite of monster books, ever.
Feb. 20th, 2009 08:19 am (UTC)
After battling through half of Night Below as DM with the players using all sorts of stuff from Players Option, I went back to core rules only for the last 2e campaign I ran to keep things simple.

Agree with you on the page layout and level of detail provided on each monster in the Monstrous Manual and Monstrous Compendiums. This did mean, IIRC, a whole page on the crow in the Greyhawk MC. I liked the Monstrous Manual but the many different art styles used were jarring!
Feb. 23rd, 2009 07:59 pm (UTC)
I still think there's more maths now than there used to be. But the level limits for non-human races were the most frustrating thing.
Feb. 25th, 2009 11:24 pm (UTC)
More maths in 3.x, certainly. I think there's less in 4th Edition. Or at least there is at the moment.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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