Sunday, November 11, 2012

[Re-Posted & Expanded] Second Thoughts About Second Edition

There has been several posts (The TSR Reprints Keep Coming and Second Edition Core Rulebooks to be Re-Released in May) at other blogs about the upcoming reprint of the AD&D Second Edition core rulebooks in May of 2013.  I thought this was a perfect time to re-post and expand one of my earlier blog posts about AD&D Second Edition.  The original post is presented as it orginally appeared while any updated thoughts will be presented in this format.


I admit it - I'm taking the easy way out and doing a lazy post today. I'm taking this opportunity to say "I didn't give second edition a fair chance". Of course, the second edition I'm talking about is the AD&D second edition. I remember the buildup to the release in Dragon magazine. I was pretty excited and was looking forward to the new books.
I guess you  could call this a lazy post also but my life is so busy right now with work, school, kids, and whatever other random crap pops up that it is probably the easiest way for me to stay posting until the end of the semester.  I am excited about the 2E reprints and I will be picking them up.  I have not picked up the AD&D reprints but I seem to be able to find those pretty easy around here.

My buddy Jamie got the 2E PHB and we went through it cover to cover. I liked the clearer language and organization but I did not like what I felt was the "de-Gygaxing" of the rules. That pretty much sums up my impression of the core books. It felt sanitized and politically correct with the removal of Assassins, Barbarians, Half-Orcs, and many of the monsters. I never bought the second edition books and never played in a straight second edition game either.
Yes, I know that was pretty close-minded on my part.  I could have easily used" any AD&D material that I wished.  It would have been a matter of simple conversion to the updated rules.  In reality, it would have been a smoother transition between those two rules and later editions.  I could have used the guidelines in the DMG to attempt to standardize the bard, for example.
I have had the opportunity to look at the core books again and I must say that for the most part the game is better explained, organized, and presented. Plus, it's close enough to AD&D to add back in anything that got "left out". So, on a second look, I would play in a second edition game IF it was limited to the core books, certain first edition material added back in, & house rules. I do know for a fact that I would avoid the Complete series of books and kits altogether.
I still pretty much feel the same way after looking at several of the books full of kits.  I think they were a good idea that just snowballed out of control - much like feats and prestige classes in later rules.  I think that a short list of kits to personalize each class would probably be the best idea with the focus squarely on campaign-specific kits.
There it is - a quick and lazy post. I'm hitting the sack. Maybe I'll write more about second edition sometime if I pick up the books or maybe one of the 2E retroclones...
Like I said, I am planning on picking up the AD&D Second Edition reprints.  I have also looked at some of the 2E inspired games.  While M&M does have several vast differences, I believe it would make for a fine game.  Adventures Dark & Deep - if I am remembering correctly - is supposed to be a "Gygaxian 2E" and I would very much like to see it completed just for the interesting "what if" potential and the debates that would assuredly arise from that game. 


  1. I have to admit to not quite understanding the hoopla on these reprints. Unless, of course, how it symbolizes WotC's general greed.

    Every book known to man has been reprinted at least once. It is nice to see certain game publishers finally leaving their 15th century mentality.

    A primitive mentality, I might add, that was wholeheartedly endorsed by Mr. Gygax during the D&D vs. AD&D wars.

    1. I hear what you are saying, Eric. My personal interest in the second edition reprint is for no other reason than to complete my collection. I have the urge to get the 3 core books from each edition and have been obtaining the ones I do not have.

      I have no disagreement with your comments at all. There is definitely a money grab going on in some ways. I do not believe that WOTC is doing this out of the kindness of their hearts!

    2. That is all it is (in my humblest) - a mugging of the corpse of nostalgia. However... I have to imagine that these reprints must be cheaper than the ebay route. I haven't priced them, but as we speak there is an original AD&D 2e Players Handbook & Monstrous Manual combo for $45.00. A better copy of the MM alone goes for $34.99.

      Are these reprints priced accordingly?

    3. Actually, I believe they are in the $45 range. I am hoping the binding is better on them because I remember people complaining about that. I hear Amazon will have then somewhere around $10 cheaper.

  2. I don't understand the 2E reprint. Charlie is right. It is just an over-moralizing stripped down version of AD&D if you stick with the core books.

    I think the real question is if this is for nostalgia, or marks a strategy change. You will never get all D&D players to play the same edition. So, the solution is to simply support all editions. The easiest way to do so is with the back catalog. They would eventually have out D&D (either box of book), AD&D, 2E, and 5E. 3E-4E would wait. They make a deal with rpgnow to permit physical printing of the support products.

    It just seems weird that if the goal is to support 5E and make it a unifying edition, you put out the older editions. This is either a desperate grasp for money, or the realization that the AD&D players are not going to play 5E in any great numbers so you have to find alternative ways of making money from those players.

    1. Interesting thoughts, Darius. I believe you pretty much nailed it. I will most likely get the core 5E because that has been standard practice for me with every new version of D&D throughout the years. I honestly don't think 5E is going to unify the fans any more than any other edition after AD&D; then there was still the D&D vs. AD&D split so it never really was unified.

  3. What is the point of playing 2E if all you are doing is adding back 1E material? Why not just play 1E?

    The core of the rules is the same. It is just that 2E removes a lot of content, makes some minor tweaks, and needlessly adds non-weapon proficiencies. Given that post Gygax 1E products add in non-weapon proficiencies, you could still use 1E for those.

    In terms of changes to the rules in the core rule books (not omissions), that just leaves Bards, how you determine thief abilities, and specialist mages. Of those, the only change I thought was positive were the thief changes.