Monday, April 26, 2010

In defense of 2e

I saw an anti 2e rant here on the Gentlemen Gamers excellent blog. As 2e was "My D&D" the one I have had the most fun playing over the years I have to defend it.

To each of his points.

#1 Loss of classes.

The only classes that was really dropped was the Assassin, which came back not once but twice (1st in the Complete Thieves Handbook and later as the Assassin of the Scarlet Brotherhood) and the horrbily unblanced Cavalier and Barbarians which also returned in several forms .

Personally vis a vis the Assassin class I could have cared less they dropped as in my opinion the class simply was lackluster and had no specific role in the game As far as the Illusionist, the specialty mage was not quite as flavorful but it did the job just fine.

While Gentlemen Gamer did not mention the Half Orc per se, I suspect that its loss was something that annoyed both us. It just wasn't a real spoiler and again, it returned too.

#2 The idea of the specialty priest and the specialty wizard were and are good ones, the flaw lies in consolidating the spell-lists.

Well I have to disagree. The rules were simpler,easier to understand and just as playable. The specialty priests were actually more interesting than their 1e counterparts. The specialist mage was just fine and yeah sure some of the thunder was stolen by the generalists (no more Alter Reality for instance) the loss was minor compared to the gain in ease of play and rules coherence.

#3 In short, where others see a "simplified", "cleaned up", version of AD&D, I see a waste of squandered possibilities and horrid implementation.

While I would have enjoyed some more of the Gygaxian Weirdness (like the lost Mountebank class) too I frankly don't see what lost. The 2e rules simply were better thought out and maintained basically the same play feel. They were good enough ...

#4 The Code of Ethics

I have to grant him this point with a caveat. Oe was written by and for middle aged men (Gary was 36 when it was published , as old as many of us old schoolers are now ) and 1e was assumed to be college or older game . What TSR discovered though is that it was kids who were often playing it. I started at 11 with Holmes (which had nothing much offensive) and this was quite common .

And unlike the college kids who had their own money, guess who paid the bills. Yep,you gussed it Mom and Dad. TSR probably figured if a code of ethics would placate the wobblers and make more sales this was the right thing for a corporation to do.And yes I agree that some of the flavor was lost (2e was kind of bland) well we players could simply make things up.

As I figure it 2e took AD&D into the bigger world and provided millions of players with a really fun game which is all that any game could hope to do.

And while GG may have hated the system I had some of the best gaming of my life in the late 80's and late 90's and so I say, long live 2e.


  1. I'm a bit older than you, having cut my RPG teeth on B/X (1981) and 1st edition AD&D (circa 1984 or so), but I wasn't buying my own books in my youth. AD&D was certainly more...mmm..."mature" in content than 2nd edition AD&D, but it wasn't our parents that were buying the books for us...we were buying them for each other (with our parents' money) for birthdays and Christmas and whatnot.

    I've beat up AD&D2 more than once or twice in my own blog. But I understand that preferences are personal. Your post (and others I've read in defense of 2nd edition) probably won't change my personal preferences, but I DO see that your joy in that particular edition is a real and passionate one and that makes the game worthy of play.

    And I have played it in the past...and enjoyed it.
    : )

  2. I have no problem with 2e. It was where I cut my teeth (Along with Mentzer) and I cannot see the 2e era as nothing but bliss. Yes, that last comment is colored with nostalgia.

    The code of ethics gripe is what bothers me most. If it wasn't for the CoE that TSR adopted my parents would have never allowed me to play. The 2e books convinced them the game was not 'evil' and they bought me stuff after they read them.