Friday, April 14, 2017

AD&D 1e and 2e Different Games?

Okay, you're gonna wanna read this article first. And no, I'm not at it again. But the last line of that article inflammatorily states:

"There was far less difference between Original Edition D&D as expanded and AD&D 1e than between 1e and 2e."

Well, we are not talking about the quote of a gaming icon here, and this isn't even technically an "article", but a well written response to a query on the RPG Stack Exchange board. But nevertheless ... And he's really no more or less qualified than I am to opine on the same issues so I'm certainly not throwing stones. And by the way, I like his run down of various differences between 1e and 2e and generally agree with most of them. I don't know if I would have done any more thorough of a job than Aramis did. But I'm gonna re my but anyway ...

I agree with him.

There I said it. If you simply look at the mechanics of 0e complete rules (all the supplements and additions in Strategic Review and Dragon) AD&D essentially takes all of that and formalizes it. Now, here comes the but, yes, my big but. It is still different from 0e. 0e was a freer and looser game, and much of the supplements and suggestion in Dragon could or could not be used depending on the DM and his players. A DM could even make up his own, and was highly encouraged to do so. AD&D was designed to be more strict than that.  Yes, I know, we all know, most of us never played AD&D that strictly, but it was at least advertised and written that way. If you failed to include officially released rules, or did not use RAW, or added in crap that changed the RAW or added in things not in the alleged spirit of AD&D then Gary Gygax at least would have questioned whether you were playing AD&D at all (c.f. the article referred to previously in Dragon #26). I've covered this ground previously, but it bears repeating here--1e was different from 0e in this regard.

So then, did AD&D 2e preserve this difference? I would say that in the original rule-books it was more or less preserved. There were optional rules in the original 2e rulebooks (non-weapon proficiencies) but there were also optional rules in AD&D (Psionics and Monks). The difference is that 2e quickly left the strictiness concept behind and released many more "official" optional rules (Class Handbooks, Options, etc). The same dichotomy that existed in 1e--rules versus improvisation--still existed in 2e; but, from personal experience, the 2e games I knew about were always a tad "crazier" and more over the top than most 1e games with which I was familiar. But that was just my experience, and I shouldn't generalize it to everyone.

That being said, I would say that 2e kept some of the tone and spirit of 1e and was in many important ways the same game. But I'll admit something. And this again is personal experience, but it is relevant I think. I never converted to 2e. Why? Because of the rules differences. I disliked tHAC0, didn't like the new Bard--still don't--preferred using Psionics in my campaign, liked Monks, loved the diabolic and demonic forces represented in 1e, was frustrated in the countless little differences in spell descriptions, etc (I have the same problem with OSRIC, and those changes are even slighter). I will admit I did like the d10 for initiative. That's because we used a modified initiative system of 10 segment rounds six seconds each. And a combat turn for us was 1 minute as opposed to the traditional 1 minute combat round. I also liked specialists mages, but was torn on some things like the thief percentile point pool for skills and non-weapon proficiencies.

The point here is that the rules in 2e could be ported into 1e easily, but I was not comfortable with the other changes in 2e--it was too different. So, 1e and 2e were different games? Yeah, I'd agree with that. My weakness in being able to say that with 0e is I never played it and had to shift to 1e. We played a "weak" 1e style gradually adding in more and more official rules as we went. Before we ever made up a rule we always tried to find an answer in the RAW first.

And the Winner Is!!!

There are no winners and losers in this discussion, despite the fact that it may appear I am saying there is only one way to play the game I am not. I am pointing out that Gary said there was, at least in regards to 1e; but even he sent mixed signals about that. For me, I love AD&D 1e, It is the clear winner--for me. But I also really like a certain style of play and some rules additions and variants that Gary would not consider "proper" 1e either. The fun is in the discussion. Recently coming across this statement on Stack exchange, claiming that 0e and 1e were actually closer to each other than either were to 2e, was something I just couldn't pass up given the recent discussions here on my blog.

Game on!
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