Zombie Murder Mystery

Top 5 Things to Miss About D&D 2nd Edition

Written by Nicholas - Published on December 3, 2008

PHB 2ENine years ago I received a very special birthday present, the importance of which still persists to this day. I was given a Dungeons & Dragons Second Edition starter set, which I still have most of. I still remember my first character. He was a premade in the set, Niles the halfling thief. He trained with Dagger Daneer in the town of Haven. It was with this starter set that I had my first adventures, found a vent for my overactive imagination and made some close friends that I retain until this day. As you might imagine I am nostalgic for 2nd edition, I remember it fondly to this day. So, without further ado, the top 5 things to miss about 2nd edition:

1. Pointless Spells: I spent most of my 2nd edition days as divine casters, meaning I had a full selection of completely useless spells at the start of every morning. I didn’t often cast Goodberry or Mordenkainen’s Protection from Avians but I felt good having them. The utility spells of 4th edition are just too few and too narrow to allow the sort of unexpected problem solving you get with a good Stone to Mud spell.

2. Winging It: As I remember it 2nd edition had more rules than the editions that followed it, yet managed so much less. There wasn’t much of an overall system for resolving non-combat conflicts, although there was often a rule somewhere in the books to deal with it. More often than not the DM would just make up a solution on the fly rather than interrupt the game to look up how to deal with it properly, which often had some spectacular results. Looking back I’m sure it put a lot of pressure on the DM, but I didn’t care. I wasn’t DMing and I was having fun with it.

Balance of Power in D&D 2E3. Unbalance: At times it felt like 2nd edition had thrown up it’s hands and given up on attempting to manage power. Players weren’t balanced against each other, they weren’t well balanced against the monsters that would have to fight and some abilities just didn’t seem managed at all. This was certainly frustrating at times, particularly for low level wizards or when you think you’re up against something you probably can’t beat. I didn’t like it back then but I remember it fondly now. It was actually realistic that way, sometimes a player would run wild across the weak but sometimes he would have to run away. A person who could turn into any animal really did have an awesome power which was not restricted by some rather strange and arbitrary rules. It certainly had negatives but a part of me likes the way that the universe was not constructed to be just challenging enough for however strong I happen to be.

4. Encyclopedia Magica: It has been years since I have held any of the Encyclopedia Magica books but I still remember them fondly. They were loaded up with magical items and artifacts, many of them from premade adventurers and settings books, now plucked from their original context. There items ranged from world destroying to completely useless but all of them had story and personality attached to them. It was a major blow going to 3rd edition in that regard, the magic items all felt so common and sterile. I feel like 4th is a step in the right direction but I still intend on getting my hands on the Encyclopedia Magica set and plundering it for some of the old magic.

Expy says...
Expy the red dragon says:
I had fun pwning 2nd edition paladins. I’d turn my back on them when they charged. I refused to fight. They were so afraid of attacking me and losing all their paladin powers! They’d end up letting their guard down and I would burn them to a holy crisp. Delicious.

5. Class Flavor: When I think of class flavor the first thing that springs to mind is a 2nd edition paladin and the laundry list of minor infractions that would get him in hot water with his god. While I personally enjoyed the the expansion of paladins to more gods and alignments, I wish more effort had been made to preserve that feel of the oath bound warrior. I recall that my 2nd edition druid got to pick nature appropriate languages when he leveled up. Being able to speak dryad and badger wasn’t a huge power advantage, it was just meant to suggest a flavor to the character. To a large extent I feel like we have lost that from D&D. The system no longer infuses that spirit into the characters, if the player wants it there he or she needs to shoulder that burden personally.

Thanks for joining me on this stroll through the museum of memories, I hope you wore the complimentary rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia. When I dreamed up this article I had no idea what half of the five things would be, five just seemed like a good number. I ended up surprising myself because I had to cut things out to keep at five, I’m not sure what the means for modern roleplaying. Don’t get too cocky though 2nd edition players, I’m sure I have a list just as long of things I hated. In fact, I’m sure some items would appear on both lists.

I want to hear about your lists. Do you love or hate 2nd edition? Also, where did you get your start playing tabletop games? Do you still pine for your first game system?

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Written by Nicholas

Nick DiPetrillo is the original author behind the games Arete and Zombie Murder Mystery available at http://games.dungeonmastering.com

Nick is no longer active with DungeonMastering.com, however he is an accomplished writer and published his first game in 2009.

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Top 5 Things to Miss About D&D 2nd Edition , 4.5 out of 5 based on 31 ratings

102 Responses to “Top 5 Things to Miss About D&D 2nd Edition”

Zombie Murder Mystery
  1. Eric Maziade Says:

    Hey Nicholas! Yes, 2nd edition nostalgia! Remember thac0s?

    #1 Pointless Spells – Yes, I’m missing these in 4.0!! Wizards are now a whole lot more useful in the early game, but they are a bit less flavorful. The pointless spells that just boosted creativity, the interactions such as mud to stone & stone to flesh. Ah :)

    #2 Winging it – Still have that in 4.0. Since we’re much older know and have greater understanding of rules, its not the same feeling as cracking open and deciphering the 2nd ed. rules as a teen, but there’s still loads of “winging it”.

    #3 Unbalance – Played much into flavor for me as well! The meta gamer in me loves the symmetrical balancing of 4.0… but kind of misses the different power curves of the various classes in 2nd ed.

    #4 Encyclopedia Magica – The set of books is lying on my self. I pick one up and choose an item at randome once every while… just to see how it and if it could be ported to 4.0….

    #5 Class Flavor – Except for the feel that came with the various power curves, the base flavors of the classes are mostly still here for us. Paladins still adhere to strict moral codes. Cleric feels more like a holy soldier now than an healing pack – which is the way we always wanted to play the cleric but couldn’t because, well, we needed a medic to heal the wizard.

  2. Samuel Van Der Wall Says:

    I started with Battletech and Shadowrun, cause my parents wouldn’t let me play D&D :) Playing a game where you killed monsters wasn’t okay, but ones where you killed people was. Hehe…

  3. The Evil DM Says:

    I Never needed to miss 2nd edition. It’s never gone away. In fact I have yet to play 3.0,3.5,4.0 or whatever the flavor of the week happens to be. I love 2nd ed. warts and all.
    Get over it.
    Just roll the dice and play.
    I taught my kids using basic and when I moved them up to 2nd ed. Advanced it was like opening a candy store for them. They havent started to whine about THAC0 and Kits and all the other stuff people complain about, they’re having too much fun playing.
    And the worlds- Mystara, Ravenloft, Birthright, Planescape, Al-Qadim (one of the most beautiful lines of RPG products ever created), Spelljammer (yes I know, Hippos and Hamsters. But hell, just cause they’re in the books doesnt mean you have to use them).

    I have plenty of adventure on my shelf, I dont need to download someones re-imagining of a system, I have the originals. And I’m not about to spend 30 bucks a pop for a bunch of books that just regurgitate the same premise with different numerical formulas. Take away all the fancy mechanics and basically D&D (any version of D&D) is just a game of let’s pretend with dice added. I never really understood why folks give 2nd ed AD&D such a bad rap, when for most of them 2nd ed AD&D is where it all began. It seems that for a lot of people 2nd edition is the kid they grew up playing with all through elementary school and then in Jr. high they get new, “cooler” friends and tease the kid they grew up with.

  4. Nicholas Says:

    @The Evil DM: I don’t think the adventures I’m having in 4th edition are any less valuable than the ones I had in 2nd, or vice versa. It is just a different set of tools and options to have fun with and all of them have been fun for me.

    What I don’t understand is the battle lines people draw between editions. I admit that I was in the trenches for 2nd when 3rd edition came out, but since I’ve grown up it seems so stupid now. Fourth Edition players, your new ways aren’t automatically better. Second Edition players, having a game with a needlessly complex “To Hit” mechanic and enjoying it anyway doesn’t make you morally superior.

    There, debate settled forever, right?

  5. Fishercatt Says:

    What I miss most about 2nd edition was the realism that came along it. Not including stalactite monsters who landed on you, or tricky monsters that really weren’t tree stumps or treasure chests.

    I long for the feeling that I wasn’t making a character for a video game, but that I was transcribing an actual personality that exists in this wonderverse of Forgotten Realms. Third wasn’t different enough from 2nd to care about, and so far 4th still feels like I need a monthly subsciption and a guild membership in order to keep up with everyone else.

    I certainly pine for 2nd, but I’m confident that 4th (minus the baby dragon men) will fill that void in my heart.

    So long as I can still play a Gnome illusionist..

  6. Nicholas Says:


    you’ll need: http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/drfe/20080616 and a Monster Manual but it can still be done.

  7. Jakk9000 Says:

    I was born into the 3rd ed dnd but I was close to old school. I played Hackmaster it was wicked. My fave class was a swashbuckler. He was always in trouble with the ladys. -_-

  8. Tiorn Says:

    Aww… good times indeed!

    Pointless spells are only pointless in the wrong minds! I remember a friend playing a wild mage and casting Cantrip at a werewolf in order to swarm it with fleas. Poor wolfy is probably still scratching uncontrollably. It just goes to prove what a creative mind can come up with, even with limited resources.

  9. Yax Says:

    I miss playing multiple times every week!

  10. ScottM Says:

    I had a number of fun adventures with 2e– Kevin’s adventures in the Skellwoods, with me playing Alanora the hopelessly useless bard, are among my favorites memories today.

  11. ZedZed77 Says:

    I got started on D&D through the Baldur’s Gate computer game. So, I guess you could say I started on 2nd edition.

    Even though I never played 2nd edition on the tabletop, some of the rules are still bouncing around in my head.

    For example, I just discovered last week that Clerics in 3rd edition can use edged weapons- go figure. And that’s after a year of playing 3.5 almost every week. (I think Cleric weapons restrictions might be a piece of that class flavor of which Nicholas wrote.) :)

  12. Tiorn Says:


    Some clerics could use edged weapons in 2nd edition. Or at least I’m pretty sure that the Complete Priest Handbook opened that option up. Seems like one deity in the CPHB had a whip as the favored weapon… that’s definitely breaking the mold of bludgeoning weapons.

  13. The Evil DM Says:

    You could often go the “Specialty Priest” route for 2nd edition. That opened up the class to a wider variety of weapons based on their deity.

  14. Eric Maziade Says:

    @The Evil DM: Yes!! I still have the priest handbook :) I remember building an “amazon warrior princess” (pre-xena) that worshiped a god of war. Her holy symbol was the longsword and her whole purpose was to “participate and promote bloody battles”. As an amazon, she had a bonus against male fighters fighting an amazon for the first time.

    In the higher levels, she purposely created conflicts between different parties… for war’s sake.

    Good times :)

  15. Pé0 Says:

    I miss the Burger King!!!

  16. Steve-o Says:

    All the expanded books to help you flesh out your character and game. You know, all those brown, green, and blue softcover books.

    But overall, the thing I miss most about 2nd edition is all the people I played with back then. I’d be willing to break out my 2nd edition stuff for a game or two. heck, I’d break out Rules Cyclopedia for a decent campaign. (Rules Cyclopedia still the awesome!!!!)

  17. LEONIDOS Says:

    1st edition is best

  18. Beastfu Says:

    My first and only experience is with 2nd Edition. I ran an all thief urban robin hood style campaign with several of my friends for a couple of years. That lead me to a 20 year subscription to Dragon Magazine(R.I.P). I just started a small campaign with my sister and her husband, my two nephews, and my daughter. I never ran into many of the negative things I have read about 2nd edition but I have had to do on the fly judgment calls on rules. I have seen some very creative things done with cantrips as well.

    I love the system, but I am not above from stealing ideas from some discount 3rd edition books I recently bought.

  19. Francis B Says:

    Second edition was nice, and for awhile I refused to let the carnival ride die and switch to 3rd. But the edition I started on, and the one I still have the most fond memories of was the red basic edition. Demihumans were classes, clerics couldn’t use pointy weapons and my gold-obsessed halfling ended up getting everyone into trouble anytime there was a shiny. The rules were loose and adjudications were done on the fly. Dragons were very fearsome and the whole world was so mysterious. I remember the feeling of exploration every session. Things just seem different now. But I think 4th edition is getting the feel back for that light against the darkness experience I remember as a child. Here’s to the future and to the past that never fades.

  20. Kevin Says:

    2nd edition is the first set of books I baught, The first set of rules I learned, and the first campaign I ran used 2nd edition. As some of you may recall I have been very vocal in the past about my dislike for 4th edition (see the top 10 reasons why 4th ed. will be the worst game ever). I have just recently gotten 3.5 and yet I find my self just using some of the ideas and not really running a 3.5 campaign, but instead modding 2nd edition. I love 2nd and always will. R.I.P. Gary Gygax!

  21. Av Says:

    2nd was the best hands down…. 4th kinda follows in its footsteps, except for that the flavor of the chars really was a lot better in 2nd….

  22. halfelfman Says:

    Hmm makes me feel old to read this blog. last time i played 2nd edition was around or a wee bit. now there is this talk of fourth hmmm. eh any one still use the 1st edition stuff?

  23. Roger Smith Says:

    I agree with steve-0 about the Rules cyclop-edia, everything you needed to run a game in one book, magnificent. I still have all the Gazeteers that added a lot of flvour to the world of Mystara. I have not yet had the pleasure of playing 4e i am currently DMing a 3.5 game. One of the players is asking if he can run a 4e when i run out of steam or the group want a change, so we shall see. Much as I loved rules Cyclopdia 3.5 is the best of the versions I have played so far. That is not to say that t5he other versions are not without merit, without the earlier versions would we be where we are today?

  24. Yax Says:

    @Halfelfman: Sure, I know some people who still play 1st edition – it was and still is a great game.

  25. LoneWolf Says:

    I still miss 2nd edition…heck I miss basic. I started out with basic when I was 11 years old. The game sparked my imagination. I don’t know if I can play 4th. With Advanced DND you could do almost anything. The DM I had would let you do what you wanted. If you wanted to drop your pants in the middle of the road and use the bathroom…you could. But of course then he would start rolling dice and you might get an arrow in your backside (lol). I’m trying my kids out on 2nd edition. Hopefully this will spark the imagination in my kids that it did me.

  26. Visionseer Says:

    I started back in the day of the White Box set… Yeah, I’m a fossil.

    I have to wonder though, is it the edition’s mechanics everyone loves, or the adventures had when playing under those rules?

    I’ve DMed and played under all of the AD&D rule sets, as well as those old tan pamphlets and suppliments. I don’t know if any one set of mechanics is really better than others, I just remember the adventures, the stories we wove at those tables.

  27. Roger Smith Says:

    Yes, I think it is more the stories that are talked about, and become group legends, or even just moments of tense drama or side-splitting laughter, a slaughterfest or total confusion. Those moments rise above the mechanics and are talked about whenever at least some of that group gather.

  28. Rob Budman Says:

    1st or second still the king baby! My main probl;em with 3.0/3.5/4.0 how many times can you sell the same stuff? Mkae something new!

  29. Janna Says:

    Wow, this article took me back! I still have my Encyclopedia Magica collection. I remember that there was one item that dispensed fizzy potions in tins – a medieval fantasy Coke machine. I also miss the Apparatus of Kwalish; I always wanted to see a disgruntled gnome hole himself up inside it and wreak havoc in the streets.

    So yeah. I miss the random craziness of the magic items in 2nd Ed. :)

  30. Tzalaran Says:

    i played basic (red, blue, green, and black boxes), 1st edition for ever (still use rules from Oriental adventures, Unearthed Arcana, Legends and Lore), but fell in love with the 3nd edition Skills & Powers rule set. The world i created uses that system and mixes in planescape. thought that the S&P rules focused on min maxing for roleplaying benefit, and it is easy for the DM to squash most anything if they put their mind to it.

    Hadn’t played in years, but my wife, sons, and a few old friends talked me into starting a new campaign up at the first of the year. going to run them through the elven war (drow split) scenario that i’ve always thought about running. been doing research and brainstorming and found this.

    too many good times playing this game…

  31. Tzalaran Says:

    2nd edition is what i meant. doh!

  32. Simon Says:

    I would say I am the same way with First Edition. Yes that makes me old. The rules were black & white, and rather lame at times but mostly ok. The Adventures made it shine. Keep on the Borderlands hold true to this day. You played it close to the wire, every one had your back as you did theirs.

    I recall a battle with the Dark wizard some Ghouls & a nasty little assassin. The fight was brutal, many fell, but it was a last ditch attempt by Billy Clubbed, Half-ling thief, with 1 hp left, managed to throw his posion dagger half way accross the room and hit the wizards with “20” (double dmg) plus the poison, the wizard failed the save & the party were raised from the dear to fight on.

  33. DM Fil Says:

    Still DMing a 10 year 2nd Edition vampire slayer campaign, 2 of the PCs with their original characters. Looked at 3rd a bit when it came out but just incorporated some of the races/classes. About to begin another 2nd edition campaign (where i actually get to PC) in a couple weeks.

    The whole ‘Only nerds play AD&D” stereotype has died down a bit from the start of this campaign some 10 years ago…I would attribute it to Peter Jackson’s LoTR and all of the other successful fantasy-themed films shown to the populace (do not include D&D films! haha). So that’s something I definitely don’t miss from the 90s.

    I also don’t miss the sour stomach from too many cinnamon Hot Tamales while we played during those younger days. :D

  34. Josh Says:

    Regarding Visioneer’s question about whether we fondly remember the stories or the rules:

    I’m another one who grew up on 2nd ed (played it since age 9, refused to give it up until college). I had a hell of a lot of fun with that system, using barely anything outside of the core books (though Tome of Magic was a nice addition for my brother’s half-mad transmuter). I never had a problem with THAC0, and even felt offended when I heard that 3e had gotten rid of it.

    Fast forward a few years. My current tabletop group has been playing 3e since we got together, and I’m in a couple of 4e play-by-post games which have proven to be quite fun. I still have my old 2e rulebooks around, but these days they’re mostly there for nostalgia. I love the memories of crazy adventures that come back to me when I glance through those books, but Pelor knows I don’t miss using those rules now that I’ve tried something else.

    As an aside, I’m currently working on a 4e conversion of the 2e campaign Night Below. So far it’s looking awesome. I can’t wait to actually run this using the new rules.

  35. DunjenMasturr Says:

    I bought the exact same starter set that Nicholas mentioned in this article when I was in 7th grade. My step dad (who used to play Dungeons and Dragons himself) agreed to DM for us for the first few adventures so we could figure out what to do. I still use the 2E system and use books that are older than I am :). From my previous experiences with 3 and 3.5 it seemed like the game always ended up being more about the ridiculous things everyone could do, and not as much about the story or the atmosphere of the world. I haven’t even tried 4E because it sounds too much like a video game.

    But yeah, much love for 2E. I can’t ever see myself switching to any other system, and I can’t wait until I have kids of my own to DM for.

  36. Doyle Smith Says:

    I dislike 4.0 a whole lot. It feels more like a table top MMO. I love 3.5 and thats where I’m going to stay. But I do love the CRPGs with the ADnD rules.

  37. Nickalin Says:

    I still play 2nd edition, & I think its great. I have a line up of people who currently play 3.5 & 4th edition ,waiting to get a seat at my table of 2nd edition dnd. I think what makes the game ( any game great ) is the way you tackel it. Read the ruels, learn the people playing & then go out there & have fun.
    Quit picking the other games apart, decide what feels right to you & yours & then put all that effort into making it great for the whole table.

  38. Legatus Says:

    Never found the need to move from 2nd, don,t have anything against other editions or systems, I am sure they are worthy pieces of work. While second has a far greater body of reference material available than any other that I know of, this eases the creative burden on the DM considerably.
    Also our library consists of so much the cost of replacing it would be staggering, so 2nd I will stay.

    We will be starting a new bi-weekly 2nd campaign by feb 09, those in the dfw area and seriously interested can contact us via the website.

  39. Mike The Merciless Says:

    One thing I love about 2E was the distinct flavor of the classes. You were a Thief, or a Bard, or a Paladin (before his castration in 3E and eventually in 4E). Mages were to be feared and respected, not like they are in 4E. I don’t know what that thing is in 4E, but it is no wizard I would come to fear or respect.

    There were real penalties for alignment violation. You change alignment, and you could lose XP.

    Undead could pose a serious threat; there was something called Level Loss, instead of this “negative level” crap. I love Level Loss – it put genuine terror in the hearts of my players, and I’ve had to bring it back for 3E in order to make Undead scary again. And no, it wasn’t hard to figure out.

    The best thing about 1E and 2E was that you really didn’t need a battlemat to play. I suppose you could play 3E without one, but it’s tough, and the game is designed with it in mind. 4E you cannot possibly play without a mat.

    True, clerics were short-handed in the beginning, when the only spells they would pray for were Cure Light Wounds and Bless. I think the Spell Channeling ability from 3E would be a suitable way to allow a cleric to pray for other spells without having to worry about whether he needed to heal someone.

  40. amuletts Says:

    I’ve got the solution – just keep playing 2nd Ed! I do. Actually I’ve started making a webcomic based on my 2nd Ed campaign that you might enjoy. It’s Epic Fail at http://comicofepicfail.com
    Hehe, I have to agree, people complain about the unballance but in my opinion that is one of the advantages. You can totally outclass something, but also risk being completely outclassed.

  41. quick Says:

    After highschool my friends and I had stopped playing 2nd which in grade school we played basic, gone to different colleges, graduated and gotten married. During this time I picked up 3.5 read it, wasnt at all impressed, and never played it. I recently saw last summer that a whole new system 4.0 was coming and my friends had heard about it also and were really excited. Well for Christmas my wife picked up 4.0 and am still very unimpressed. Why do charachters level up at the same xp? Does that mean a 30th level mage will be as powerful as a 30th level fighter or a first level mage will be as powerful as a 1st level fighter? That mages can stand at the front of the party at first level and go toe to toe with the enemy next to the fighter? ANY 20th level fighter or enemy minus an ancient red would think twice about messing with a 20th level mage in 2nd ed. WHO cares about feats and all that garbage, its too much power, too xboxish, for pcs. If you have made it though 20 levels of 2nd ed (which you should be alot higher cause you lost levels from a failed save versus undead) you have certainly earned it and that is why I believe everyone misses the realism of 2nd ed. How many of us have had a total party kill in 2nd ed? I know Ive had at least 5 because we thought we could survive something that was much more powerful and lost rather than retreat. Our party all in the range of 12 to 16th levels thought we could take on an epic adventure and defeat a very old blue. Well it didnt end well made it to the end and had to retreat with our tail between our legs minus one comrade, came back at 18th level and got revenge. Does that happen in 4.0 or can 4 fighters at 15th level go up there and use all their feats and powers and defeat them because they cant die? Seems too easy. And I dont like easy.
    We blew 100 dollars on 4.0 and I think Im going to shelve it next to 3.5 for that very reason. Like Nickalin said, its what YOU enjoy and what works for YOU. If anyone has played 2nd ed and is currently playing 4.0 and prefers the latter, please let me know what is the advantage cause wizards of the coast will not answer any of my e-mails.
    P.S. For DMs that want to try 2nd ed for combat figure out all of your players THAC0s including all their weapons, figure out all the monsters THAC0s for that adventure and put them on seperate cue cards it will speed up gameplay 3 fold.

  42. Nicholas Says:

    @quick: http://www.dungeonmastering.com/tools-resources/where-has-all-the-mean-stuff-gone

    This article seems right up your alley. I enjoyed the realism of 2nd edition but I also like the epic fantasy of 4th. They really are two different genres of story and neither one appeals to everyone.

  43. Paranormal Says:

    I loved 2ed, bought 3ed when it came out looked at it and thought “what the hell, have WOTC done to my game”. Subsequently lost all my 2ed +FR stuff when my ex’s new boyfriend threw ALL my books out, I was sofa-surfing at the time so had nowhere to store anything. I’ve spent the last 5 years trying to find second hand 2ed stuff which is really hard here in the Uk

  44. Nickalin Says:

    I still play the 2nd edition, so not much pining to do. I live in a remote northern town 7500 pop. We have quite a active dnd ( 3.5 & 4th edition) with the younger crouds ( school age etc)
    I have a steady group of people ranging from 65 to 14 who play every sat night. & with our 2nd edition game I also have a list of 5-6 people who currently play 3.5 . that want a seat in our …. old out dated 2nd edition game.
    DnD is what you make of it … and I fell the biggest thing to make a game a great game is the people you play with. you can have the “best” .. “most perfect” character but if the people suck ………. it is never rembered as a great character only a bad ???? dm, story, game , etc

    I say if you are in a game . any edition consider yourself one of the lucky one & enjoy it while you can

  45. EdCase Says:

    I’ll raise a toast to The Evil DM when we sit down at the table for our 2nd Edition game Friday night.

  46. PrinceofNessus Says:

    I started out playing 1st edition with the 1979 books, then integrated that with 2nd edition. I’ve never used a battle mat and never intend on doing so. Some of the best adventures I’ve ever shepherded players through were told around campfires with the rulebooks in my head, and a handful of dice. The idea of “feats” is ridiculous to me, and the MMO nature of 4th edition is something I think people should get from video games. My system is entirely human, and the only rules are mine. These things I haven’t been able to find in wotc’s take on D&D, and I tried.

    Besides I’m a Planescape DM. From what I understand they have destroyed my whole cosmology, and it’s requisite alignment system. The new editions are fun for a lot of people, but I think they have taken too much flavor from video games in order to appeal to a fresh audience.

  47. shinpi69 Says:

    I am what they call a grey hair now, lol. I started with 1st edition while in school and 2nd while in the Army. I still have all my books. I take them by the local shop and let the younger crowd see books that many of them have only seen pictures of. The store owner talked me into running a 2nd edition night so now i get to take a new group of people to the places that I loved so well. I think that is the most important thing for us old school gamers, to let the next group know were they came from . Back when D&D was evil and very uncool if you played it, a group of brave souls did it anyway. When i think of all the all-nighters we pulled i wounder how i made it through school.

  48. spector_2005 Says:

    I started off playing D&D out of the boxed sets..lol. I’ve loved it ever since. I’ve played every edition they’ve come out with. I was really glad to see 4th edition come out ease of of play is immediately apparent. But I will say I miss the old days though especially the level titles. Prestidigitator is still of of my favorites..lol.

  49. Cavan Says:

    I am a 2nd ed fan from way back, I continue to play 2nd ed because me and the group that I play with have decided over the years that despite trying the newer editions for extended trials, that we love the feel of the older 2nd ed game. With no hard feelings about the newer games we hold the now lost torch of days gone by.

    For me the numbers in the newer games are just to large, HP is now higher to allow for more damage to be dealt, and damage is increased to make the players of characters feel more powerful. I like that I do not need to rolls hordes of dice or have huge bonuses to be powerful, or to make a difference.

    The other thing that endears the older game to me is the lack of emphasis that the game puts on Min/Maxing a character, the emphasis for most additional material in 2nd ed is mostly flavor related. More Modern editions of the game seem to wrap Min/Maxing in a thin layer of flavor text just so they can say “see not JUST power gaming”.

    But you are right also in that there is just as much that I don’t like, but the older editions rules were disconnected from any central system, and that made replacing a rule you did not like very easy without forcing the DM to follow a system wide mechanic or risk having incompatiable rules.

    Thanks for the chance to weigh in on this

  50. Anthraxus Says:

    Personally, I have stuck with 2nd Edition since it came out. My kids, and my Girlfriend’s kids had started out on 3rd… but after seeing how sterile it was, they made the switch to 2nd.

    I am proud to be unleashing anther generation of “2nd edition Mafia” upon the rpg scene. ;-)

  51. War Duke!!! Says:

    The powers that compel me ,tells me that this thing they call 4E will fail with the elders as did 3E and 3.5.Why old warduke has memorabilia from those who actually worked at TSR and has corresponded with those who helped to create 2E,and even they agree that that the newer system blows! I shall only say it but once!Hasbro is the true enemy and hasbro is a creator of toys made in the far off oriental setting of china( or perhaps it was kara-tur?) for but pennies on nigh dollar! Not a system they bought from thy beloved childhood company,oh no sirree!But thy profit shares from Lorraine Williams,who was once quoted as saying”gamers are beneath me.”whilst keeping yon buck rogers gaming rights close to her age spotted buxom.A fledgeling corporation by the name wizards of the coast known for making a series of piss-poor cards had the wealth to buy out TSR from thier own sucsess,which they soon did as to rid themselves of any profitable competition and soon found themselves in a most dire situation.Thier 2E games we’re quite the fashion for the moment,pitting players against adventures that most had ever dreamed of,such as battleing vecna himself or saving waukeen from the bowels of the most evil abbyss.However,this was not to last very long,as products we’re slow to reach shelves and video games at the time we’re becoming more standard than tabletop gaming,they soon lost a profit margin that forced them to lose thier own stock to thier greater shareholders at mighty hasbro.Hasbro had foresaw profit from fat nerds and “emo kids” as they we’re called,and soon the rules we’re changed to dumb down gameplay so that most anyone could play,thus leaving behind the most loyal of TSR’s past followers.Gone was the tinkering gnomes who worked in thier shops and from the school of magic the illusionists of old had all but dissapeared.Powers we’re now freely given out like report cards on sunday school morning,and most characters could’nt tell the difference from one another.Thus warduke by this time had amassed many more 2E modules and boxed sets than he would ever be able to play,but treat him like they we’re his sired children he did,thus the story had been written and 2E had remained in the hearts and minds of mortal men till the very collapse of the great civilizations of the great world.

  52. logan Says:

    tried 3.0 not the same. but now with the d20 system your character can be in any game sphere(ancient, modern, future, ect….). been there, done that, use the shirt as a greese rag.

  53. Noob Says:

    Ive been DMing a 2nd edition game for a few sesions and i realy enjoy it as for the new 4e the more i read about it the more unatractive it gets. any way theres no telling how long my group will last so i dont want to waste that much cash on books that wont be used. great site and great article by the way.

  54. Old Fart Says:

    1st Edition was best. Really, why do we need anything more than Fighters, Clerics, Thieves, and Wizards? I can understand rules changes that make things easier, like THAC0, but almost everything else has just complicated and unbalanced the game. Back in the day, we could take someone who’d never played an RPG before and have them playing in half an hour. I could never see that happening with the newer rules.

    Unearthed Arcana and the Barbarian class was where things started to go downhill. In the campaign I was playing in, no-one wanted to run regular fighters anymore after Unearthed Arcana. People who played fighters now always wanted to be a Barbarian or Cavalier, the non-fighters began to push for more power for their own characters in order to keep up, the DM had to make the monsters harder to give them a shot against these unbalanced characters, and it made life harder for everyone. I’ve not played in a long time, but from what I’ve read of the newer rules editions, this type of practice has run amok. Every character seems to start out as awesome and move up from there.

    I looked over the 4th edition Players Handbook and DM guide in a bookstore today, and I agree with the earlier comment that the characters there seem like you’re making something up for a video game – that was exactly my thought. If that’s what the experience is like, why not just play CRPG’s?

    And wtf is the ‘Players Handbook 2’ all about? Players Handbook 2? Are they completely shameless when it comes to finding ways to sell new rules?

    Bleh… I’m ranting. I’m just pissed because I really used to enjoy the game at one time, and I know I never will again. :-(

  55. pirate34 Says:

    halfling thieves are overkill in 2nd edition and they never have the same pwnage again, 2 daggers to the throat with initiative and another 2 to follow up then a pickpocket of a party member while he loots for you, fucking madness!

  56. Luke Says:

    well, there is nothing I miss about AD&D 1st or 2nd EDs.
    I am actually still DMing a world that is a combination of both.
    I don’t see why anyone has to miss anything, they just have to get some people together that are willing to forget the “new and improved” versions and work with that which was/is actually good.

  57. Loew Says:

    Thanks. 2nd Edition is still my favorite. For all the reasons you mentioned and many more… I wanted to add one more: D12s. Who uses those things for anything else?

  58. Jimmy D Says:

    The only experience I have playing third edition is in computer games. It seems like a good fantasy RPG, but as someone old enough to have played Basic D&D, then First edition AD&D, I feel I’m qualified to say that 3rd&4th editions are NOT D&D. My group and I don’t even play them, and never will.

  59. bml Says:

    Played them all and enjoyed them all, but now days I much prefer 4E over any of the previous editions. 3/3.5 collapses under the weight of all it’s rules and complexity. 1E & 2E are just cumbersome and combat is boring. 4E has simple and clean well designed rules focused on fun. Of all the editions, the 4E rules get in the way the least. I’m not saying 4E’s perfect, but as a complete system I like it the most.

    A few weeks I joined a new 2E campaign that was just starting. Most hadn’t played 2E and those that had hadn’t played in a long time. The first session was a mess with people struggling to figure out simple things like THAC0, when to roll high, when to roll low and weapons speeds. Lot’s of confusion and a lot of wasted time.

    On the other hand I just started a 4E campaign last week with only one player having played before (2 sessions). I had seven players. One was a player’s girlfriend that just watches the 2E games and never wants to play. I handed her the quick start rules and five minutes later she grabbed a pregen and was playing. There were a few rules questions, but the first session ran much smoother than the first 2E session and we got a lot more accomplished in the game. Overall the rules alone made it a better experience for everyone.

  60. up yours Says:

    4e is for mongoloids and ppl who are too stupid to figure out simple things like thac0,play your watered down crapfest sandbox game,and leave whats left of a game that doesent require you to kiss boys and have a hitler haircut to the real RPG’ers,go play World of warcrap and oh and eat a dick!

  61. Death Metal Nightmare Says:

    The Evil DM’s comment way up at the top wins.
    thats what gaming is all about and the lame “overlooking” of 2e by gamers is just some corny stigma. the game runs great. has tons of 1st edition feel and still leaves ANYTHING “new” as optional. how can a game be bad when everything is OPEN to use/non-use? not to mention they created a lot of supplements for options. you can use 3 core books (PHB, DMG, MM) or 20 (handbooks, worlds, etc).

    i still collect it and 1st edition and wont buy anything further. why bother? to create an over-contrived industry going? im the consumer, i decide where i stop.

    how can someone half a problem with THAC0? its one of the easiest things to understand ever. ahah

  62. Death Metal Nightmare Says:

    yeah i see the typo, shut up ;)

  63. CondorDM Says:

    I stopped playing games as a player in 1994, been DMing sense 1991 when i was 11 but started playing in 1989 when i was 9 and 2ed just came out.
    As a DM wotc games have not interested me in anyway, simply put 3rd/3.5/4th try to have answers for everything(That is the DMs Job), the games try to run themselves. Wotc games use the DM as a platform for the game, 2ed had loose rules and was the DMs game(DM used 2ed as a platform for the DMs game), DM borrowed from the 2ed rules but when you sat down it was the DMs game you were playing and not 2ed(2ed was just a rule set the DM worked off of not the other way around).
    If you sucked as a DM the system would not let you cover up your flaws like wotc games do(this goes the same for players, don’t get it wrong sucky gamers would keep trying to play but they end up gaming with each other and pushed away from the majority). In the end 2ed let you put yourself out there and if you sucked then you be biting the bullet.

    2ed limited mages for example on spells early, why?, to test a player, “ok you used your one spell now can you do anything beyond your magic?, can you think outside the box?”, this was to test you for the later hell a DM would throw at you. DM puts you in situations to make you think, pushed combat so you have to think fast, us DMs needed you players to be ready, hence the struggle in the early levels(idea was for you to depend not just on your abilities/ powers but your mind as well and what you could do beyond the powers offered).

    Wotc games brought with it a habit it turned into the norm now and push it to and extreme. When i grew up playing if a player asked a question that was fine and accepted the DMs answer, the ones who disputed further got scolded by other players and would not last in a group if they continued(not in a good group which was the majority). You read the DMGs(Which seem to be anti 2ed DM, it feels like it is talking to me saying “Screw you challenging 2ed DM this game is made to screw you and aims to please the players only”, to a dedicated DM like myself, i read wotcs books and felt truly insulted by them) for wotc and in one line or so they tell you that you can adjust rules but then go on to suggest you do not do that. Then you jump to the phb where it hints to the players to hold the DMs feet to the fire(as there is almost a rule for everything). What came of this was common placed rule disputing after a few years of wotc being on the rpg market with there game. I have watched one to many wotc games where they spend 80% of the time fighting over rules.

    The game also took the struggle away(oh some situations may seem challenging but your powers more times then not get you threw), wotc players do not seem to be able to think outside the box when they run out of powers(i know cause over many years i have had plenty of wotc players join my game and it is sad to watch what happens to a wotc player running a mage and runs out of spells,they either complain or go quiet as if stunned, note this is the majority).

    I admit i hoped with 4th ed that it would once again aim at truly aiding the dm(not doing the thinking for us, crappy DMs or player/DMs need that kinda aid 4th offers). Aiding as in giving us loose rules and leaving us DMs to fill the blanks in as it should be. It is the DMs! game the players are playing, not spouse to be the 3rd/3.5/4th ed game, it is spouse to be the DMs game.
    Maybe they will notice the lack of DMs for wotc compared to the over whelming number of players. You can almost tell wotc knows it lacks DMs and gives aid for crappy and player DMs who most likely need it, a dedicated DM like myself sees wotc games and becomes tired and bored with what they offer.

  64. Rave Says:

    I love the 2nd edition. It’s what I use now to DM with my friends. I’ve played on 4th edition and it’s like other people have said, not as good. Everything is either too general or too specific, leaving little for the dm to actually have to do, which is boring. 2nd edition I’m constantly having to come up with different things, such as when my dwarf fighter-playing friend decides to just rush through a hallway with reckless abandon.

  65. 30yearsDming Says:

    @evildm I agree dnd is and always will be a game of pretend and dice vs books and mechanics….Sure they make their money with the items,books,etc but it really comes down to player interaction… I prefer to improvise rules and mechanics to fit my table. And have been told several times by my players that the reason they play my table is because I am not a bookworm or rule god. Simply put if you have an imagination you can play any system. I will say of all the editions dnd as thrown at us, I would have to vote 2nd edition has been the most fun.I been playing and dming for nearly 30 years. And overall it seems to be the one system people can’t seem to get enough of. I usually have to turn away longtime friends,gamers or form multiple groups when i form a 2nd edition campaign vs any other edition. I usually end up handing off 3.5 or 4.0 to another friend simply because people where I live prefer 2nd edition to the others.Everyone has their own interests though.
    @nicholas There is no debate, only personal preference….

    Hope my comment was helpful to topic.


  66. Red Tide Says:

    I am die hard 2nd edition. I got into AD&D right when 2nd edition was shiny and new and I fell in love. I spent thousands of dollars over the 90’s filling out my collection and I see no need to buy material that has be regurgitated from the books I have already bought and paid for. I tried 3e for a few months when it came out but I found it to be to rules intensive (what you say?). I hated all the feats and skills and rolls for everything, it slowed the game to a crawl. I also hated how they took restrictions out on alot of the things that made 2nd edition so challenging. I liked that there were serious drawbacks to certain classes, made for better roleplaying. 3/3.5/4 do not promote roleplaying, they promote rule mongering.

    I played alot of magic the gathering in the early 90s as well so I was quite familiar with WOTC. When I heard they bought the troubled TSR I was ecstatic, I thought D&D was saved. Once I got into 3e and 3.5 I realized they were trying to make D&D into MTG with char sheets. It only got worse. I am now convinced that WOTC has ruined D&D and the game I so treasured.

    Since coming to this conclusion I have scoured the interwebs for books to complete the few holes in my 2e collection (I have 90% of all material released for 2e). I treasure this stuff and still use it all. I look forward to passing it on to my children and showing them the great game that captured my imagination and gave me an outlet.

  67. Chaotic Evil Fighter Says:

    Similar comments. Started as Lawful Neutral in 1983, but played Chaotic Evil for the next 20 years.

    Recently I have collected the 2e materials I used to wish I could afford.

    Handing on the the next generation is fun. Kids today don’t have ANY games that start with “You can do anything, so what do you want to do now?” I had a 15yo recently completely dumbfounded by this concept.

  68. Enviermental Creator Says:

    Ha! Usless spells hide every spell as SOME use. So maybe goodberry was kinda meh but one day your gona be outa rations in the hills without a bow and relize moutian goats are just to fast. Then you spot a berry bush and your like IM SAVED! Just then you think wait a moment that goats lips were red and there it is only 3 berrys left on the whole bush.

  69. CondorDM Says:


  70. IronwolfOfAegol Says:

    Our group is strictly 1st/2nd Ed, mainly because that’s what we all have as far as books. It would cost a fortune for us all to switch over to a newer edition and frankly, we don’t see the need.

    We have been playing in the same world for close to 30 years and many of our original characters are now NPCs running their own countries. When your evil Necromancer gets so powerful that she’s no fun to play anymore, retire her and create a good Paladin to play. Eventually he’ll become strong enough to go after and maybe even destroy the Great Evil Queen of the Damned! If not, her reign of terror continues! And so the story continues forever!

    Next weekend our group will be gaining two new members. One, the 14 year old stepson of our DM, has never played any form of roleplaying games ever. The other, a young lad who just started working at the factory the rest of us work at (I say young, he’s 22…. the rest of our group is late 30s to mid 40s), played 3E in college but wants to play with our group because of all the incredible stories he’s heard us tell at work about our adventures. When you’ve been playing in the same world for 30 years there’s no shortage of stories.

    And that’s why I say, who cares what Ed you play! If it’s all about the game mechanics, you’re going about it all wrong anyway. IT’S ABOUT THE ADVENTURES!!! I try to ignore the mechanics as much as I can when I’m playing, lest they get in the way of the story in my head.

    All I want to remember is that my merchant/thief (an Al Qadim class my DM allowed me to bring into his world), Zagar bin Hashman Zar, scammed Sevryn, the Lord of Tilan and now we have a way to sneak in Denia’s crack unit into the heavily fortified city of Landerham where she can try to kill Sevryn’s guards and Sevryn himself (not easily done. He is, afterall, a 13th level Cavalier). I don’t need to remember that Zagar used his non-weapon proficiency Fast-talking (3 slots) and that Sevryn, er… i mean Kurt my DM, had one of the worst die rolling nights I’ve seen from him in a decade or more.

    Heck, I even know one DM who has a “storyteller style” campaign who doesn’t even own ANY of the rulebooks and wings EVERYTHING! He says their group plays 0Ed. His players love it.

  71. Dave DM, Player, Man about town Says:

    I’ve never played 2nd edition but my uncle has good memories regarding his Gnome Fighter/Illusiionist and saving the “King” from a town guard….nuff said. Needless to say I’m buying the core set and trying it out.

  72. Draedark Says:

    I started out with a hand-me-down basic (red) boxed set in the mid 80s. We always played a mix of basic/1st and 2nd.

    I am on the anti-thac0 train and remember us laughing at it back then. It all boils down to a chance to “hit.” We came up with a simple attack bonus system that very closely resembles 3rd edition.

    For the group I am currently DM-ing I have found that bits and pieces of all the exitions (with a healthy dose of house rules) makes for the most fun for us.

    Min/maxing is nothing new, that can be done (and is aknowledged) in earlier editions. It is part of the DM’s job to balance the game and do their best to provide opportunities for all players to have their time in the spotlight regardless of class/stats/skills/etc.

    Regardless of the ruleset, if the focus is kept on telling a great story and having fun with family and friends, the times and memories will be truly epic!

  73. Dave DM, Player, Man about town Says:

    Affordability is another factor that i forgot to mention. I bought four second hand AD&D 2e books for the price of one 4e book. Also the monsters in 4e were relatively easy to beat which turned the promising group i was in into a bunch of power levelers. My first time DMing a five minute mini encounter was the most fun I had in D&D 4e…….I almost took out three good, level one, adventurers with 1 dire rat. good times.

  74. Synnova Says:

    I’d like to say I have been playing AD&D 2nd edition since I was born in ’88, (my Uncle picked it up right away, he’s like that) but it was really just my dad letting me roll the dice for him until I was old enough to have my own character. Of course at that time he was the DM along with my uncle (I didn’t know I was rolling for the monster). I remember having 2 DM’s and about 12-14 people every Saturday night. I have to admit I started as a dwarf fighter because I didn’t understand the mechanics of the game and I was the least engaged in the actual plot of it. I just wanted to roll the die and hit something. When I started to get older, I branched out a little more (mage at the moment). I’m not a hardcore RPGamer. I just like the idea of D&D and how it lets us actually use our imaginations and incorporate the intelligence we have with luck, because isn’t that what life is truly like? Even though I only play 2nd edition, I understand why the next editions were published. With “nerdy” becoming progressively more acceptable since 2000ish, new versions needed to be published for the new generation. People my age and younger do not understand the 2nd edition. We have been taught to live in a box and not do any critical thinking. I opened up to one friend and told her I played. She decided she wanted to try it and when the group asked her her opinion on where to go next, she thought the DM would “suggest” a good direction. The new editions are not for people who play older versions, they’re to entice younger people to play who want to try it but do not have anyone in the family to help them. And as for being “acceptable”, 2nd edition and older will never actually be “acceptable” because they are the true nerd versions. The newer editions are the acceptable ways to play AD&D. Just like all these teen fantasy (craptasy) books are an acceptable way of being “nerdy”, while if caught with a Robert Jordan book, you’re still that weird kid at school. It’s also the same reaction I get when I say I play Neverwinter Nights and not World of Warcraft. There is this acceptable medium of nerdy at the moment and this is why the newer editions were released; to cater to that clientele. I still can’t tell people I play AD&D because I play 2nd edition and I get the; “Oh, you’re one of those,” frowns.

    I’m not really sure where I was going here. I think I was just trying to explain why the newer editions seem to be more geared toward video-gamers and the new “fantasy” movement. I put quotations around the word fantasy because at this time it’s being used so loosely I’m not even sure what it means anymore. However, I whole-heartedly agree with the list above and could not have made a better one myself. Is it bad to say that I kind of wish the term for nerdy and weird would go back to the way it was before all this new-age stuff. I like THACO, I think it gives a component to the game that was much like real life. As a goal-keeper, sometimes I just get lucky and sometimes I’m just having a horrible day. And a first level fighter and first level cleric should not be on par with each other. That’s like saying every first-grader has an equal chance of winning a fight against another or earn the same score on a test. 2nd edition is the fantasy in real-life. 3rd and newer editions are for people who find it cool at the moment.

    Anyway, new to the site, but love love love the list. And I hope my post isn’t to crappy for everyone.

  75. Synnova Says:

    I’m sorry for the extremely long post. And in this one I shall correct my previous one; instead of every time I wrote nerd, I meant geek. I have been watching too much Chuck today and for the life of me, I cannot seem to distinguish between geek and nerd. He just meshes them together in this one cohesive definition.

  76. Lancescott70 Says:

    I started with Gamma World and 1st ED AD&D. We moved to 2nd and I was in heaven. I have played 3rd, 3.5, Pathfinder (3.75?) and have been subjected to enough 4th ED for me to know it is not for me. I miss playing 2nd for all the reasons you mention and for me it all boils down to flavor. I find that 3rd and later are sterile and have a “power game” feel. In second there was less to choose from to make a character but somehow the characters seemed more real and different to me because without all that fluff you could focus on making your character a person not just a selection of abilities and stats.

  77. Aaron Carine Says:

    I only play 2nd edition. When 3rd edition came out, I found it maddeningly complicated. It also seemed to strip the DM of power to decide anything, requiring that nearly every situation be resolved by rolling and tables. My only beef with 2nd edition was that the barbarian class was unsuitable for my campaign, which was set in archaic Europe (I’ve been obliged to use the 1st edition barbarian.

  78. The Cryborg Says:

    My take on 2nd edition was that EVERYTHING was more deadly. I also did not need a feat to tell me I could sidestep if I felt like doing so …2nd Edition is Role Playing. 3rd edition and up is Roll Playing.

  79. Sam Crow Says:

    What role do you guys think the new edition artwork plays in our perceptions of the game as well? The newer editions artwork, with cartoony swords and impossibly large shoulder armor, lends an anime quality to the games. 2nd edition artwork was grittier and 1st edition was low budget gritty! I feel like artwork plays a huge role in the perception of the game.

  80. d4 Gaming Resolutions You Should Make | Dungeon Mastering Says:

    […] every class: Thieves were Rogues, then Footpads, Cutpurses, Robbers, etc.  The positives of 2nd Ed were talked about in an old DMing column.  3rd Ed has a vampire’s lifetime supply of materials thanks to the greatness that is the Open […]

  81. Ida Says:

    I have played 2nd AD&D since I was in highschool. I grew to want to learn after watching my dad and stepdad (not at the same time)playing. My stepdad made me learn the rules and write an exam before allowing me to use his books. Then I spent time finding someone willing to DM and talking my friends into trying it to make a group. I Really wanted to play it. It was 1st Ed AD&D with Unearthed Arcana. I first character ever was a grey elf Mage/thief raid by dwarfs cause my friend wanted to be family with someone else so she felt like she had a place. LOL. Then I started to collect the 2nd edition books. the brown, blue and green softcovers whenever I had the money and found them.
    Then WOTC bought out TSR. I ended up decided I wasn’t going to buy the new books alone on their price. I talked to one of the owners of the local shop and he told me some new players were so surprised that there were dark elves who lived underground in the Underdark and worshipped the Demon Queen who was a spider. To tell the truth that really decided me. I stuck to 2nd Ad&D with house rules. Still can’t see any use for feats and my DM allowed anything in the game, cause there are always consequences. Story always comes first to the game mechanics.
    Now we have a game for the children that are my kids friends who want to play. They haven’t had any issues with ThAC0 are any of the other rules.

    I figure if WOTC want to sell more books instead of just making new versions they should try a new game. D&D will always be 2nd ED for me with all its failings and its triumphs. When I want a change I’ll play my Modern RIFTs (Palladium Books). Where I like the N&SS combat style for the cinematic feel.

  82. Matt Says:

    1st and 2nd ed, feels like Dungeons& Dragons when playing them, 3rd, 3.5 and 4th looks like WOW, lol it looks like wizard of the coast aimed the new Stuff at kids and younger. I look at the new books from time to time and don’t plan too ever buy them. We still play 2nd its great we love and will never change.

  83. Sandy Says:

    There’s an android app for whoever is interested… It’s the complete spellbook for AD&D 2nd Edition. I downloaded it and it’s pretty badass, straight to the point reference with all 2nd Ed PHB spells for MUs and Clerics cause I still rock the 2nd edition… Lemme find link… https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.spellstwoed.main or just go to the market and look for AD&D 2nd edition

  84. DM Daddy Says:

    After years consuming 2e as a player I now am returning the experience for my kids era. Their imagination is awesome. The cleric is to powerful a class, healer yep, front like slugger yep, but most of all he likes to fling wedding ring boxed at the enemy (they have “glyph of warding” on them). Now my monsters need to specialize in bomb dodging. The wizards are HP gorging with “vampiric touch” scrolls pre-battle and can go toe-to-toe with fighters. I’m spending half my time combating their imagination.

    I love 2e

  85. Cainam Says:

    I still love 1st/2nd edition. I DM a group using 1st as a base, and add anything that 2nd expands (like non-weapon proficiencies.) I’ve got all my books from way back – I picked up a copy of Deities & Demigods the day it was released. . .

    The group I was with at the time tried Player’s Options v.2 when it was released, and it turned into a joke to see who could make the most rediculous character using the point system. One guy came up with a priest who could cast the mage spell WISH once a round, every round, forever. . . AT FIRST LEVEL. Couldn’t do anything else. . .

    1st edition Druids with a high wisdom completely ROCK. No argument allowed.

    Barbarians pretty well suck if you are actually USING experience points. A basic fighter with the same experience is going to be higher level, and can get experience faster because of the rule that gives a 10% bonus for higher strength. They can’t use weapon specialization, they can’t use good armor, and they smell bad.

  86. Grim Says:

    i played 2nd ed as a kid and have loved it ever since but then had to switch 3.5 ( which i now hate ) and noticed that they just seem to treat this whole game like champions of norrath. and now ive got 2nd ed and started the night below camp. now i have to heaqr them bitch about no story line lol

  87. Edward Says:

    reading through most of the comments, one in particular drew my attention-who drew the line in the sand/why do we have to chose? david zeb cook did with his comment at the beginning of third edition ph…i would have totally overhauled the system, but i would have lost too many gamers (read the preface?) I started with basic and instantly started making dungeons by the dozen-a dm almost instantly, although i love playing more. i love the 2nd ed and played it for 20 years including judging at gen con in ’87. i would love to get into it again and away from the computer. 3rd ed and on made it like playing gurps..which i kinda liked, but that wasnt dnd. i liked the optional books for fighters and such…but they didnt HAVE to be used, and i didnt. 2nd ed had more than enough to keep my players busy. and yes, there was some overpowering (drow female assassin was a favorite of mine) but when my players started carrying blessed crossbow bolts for that rakshasa that might appear, and making sure they werent damaged, but easy to get to-lol they started worrying more about carrying capacity and places to avoid. Point is, have fun with any of the games you play, your mind is the ultimate game tool…use it. find a group that likes the same edition you do and have loads of fun.

  88. David Says:

    I grew up with 1st edition and a smattering of Basic rules. I gained 2nd Edition later but was already doing a lot of the things in 2nd Ed. Now with kids and grandkids of my own, I still love 2nd ed. My son-in-law begged me to “never go to the dark side,” when he saw me perusing 3.0 and 3.5 books I had been given by some of my daughter’s old HS friends.
    A good DM must do the work of a DM and balance player issues as well as player-monster and player-NPC and player-environment issues. A good DM is a constant student and a good listener, a balancer and a diplomat, if not a thief-acrobat with a side of archmage.
    The key to playing the game and especially teaching the game, is to NOT CARE about the rules much of the time. My own digital Player’s Handbook is double the length of the TSR PH, but includes no kits and only a third more spells. You give every tool to the players but listen to what they want and ask for their preferences, this or that, that or this until you get the race-class mix they naturally feel a desire to play at that moment in their life.
    Often, little girls gravitate to elves and half-elves while boys go for dwarves or wizards or knights and Tolkein lovers first aim for a halfling rogue or a Ranger. Kids not feeling very special might want very special characters with multiple classes and special kit abilities. Adding a magic item early in the game that seems targeted for a certain character and not usable by others or many others is a key balancer. A word of advice on a small location adjustment to add a bonus skill or other benefit might help flavor a character with less flavor vis a vis more interesting characters.
    I love playing clerics and other healer types when I play instead of DM. Many people think my priest is something other than a priest, or my paladin other than a paladin. (Paladin of Horus from L&L, specialty priests especially a Bragi-bard or human Priest-Mage from Mulhorrand (3 dieties possible). Puzzling other veteran players can be quite fun as they try to figure out if you are “breaking the rules” or what sort of trick you might be playing.

  89. jude Says:

    Date: 01/22/13
    Message: My Name is jude ..I never believed in Love Spells or Magics until I met this special spell caster when i went to Africa to Execute some business..He is really powerful..My wife divorce me with no reason for almost 4 years and i tried all i could to have her back cos i really love her so much but all my effort did not work out.. we met at our early age at the college and we both have feelings for each other and we got married happily for 5 years with no kid and she woke up one morning and she told me she’s going on a divorce..i thought it was a joke and when she came back from work she tender to me a divorce letter and she packed all her loads from my house..i ran mad and i tried all i could to have her back but all did not work out..i was lonely for almost 4 years.So when i told the spell caster what happened he said he will help me and he asked for her full name and her picture..i gave him that..At first i was skeptical but i gave it a try cos h ave tried so many spell casters and there is no solution.so when he finished with the readings,he got back to me that she’s with a man and that man is the reason why she left me.The spell caster said he will help me with a spell that will surely bring her back.but i never believe all this.he told me i will see a positive result within 3 days..3 days later,she called me herself and came to me apologizing and she told me she will come back to me..I cant believe this,it was like a dream cos i never believe this will work out after trying many spell casters and there is no solution..The spell caster is so powerful and after that he helped me with a pregnancy spell and my wife got pregnant a month later..we are now happy been together again and with lovely kid..This spell caster has really changed my life and i will forever thankful to him..he has helped many friends too with similar problem too and they are happy and thankful to him..This man is indeed the most powerful spell caster have ever experienced in life..Am Posting this to the Forum in case there is anyone who has similar problem and still looking for a way out..you can reach him here: ayokospellcaster@gmail.com…… CONTACT THIS POWERFUL SPELL CASTER TODAY VIA EMAILayokospellcaster@gmail: .com

  90. Nerd Watching: It Took a Whole Year to Get Undead Assassins! | Dungeon Mastering Says:

    […] well… Chris Perkins has some unkind things to say about second edition. Although I have fond memories of the game, I have to admit he is right. But you should go and listen for […]

  91. THACO DRAGON Says:

    Like many here I played the BASIC Rules game with the boxed sets as a player before moving onto 2nd Edition AD&D where I was one of 3-4 rotating DMs. We used 1st edition modules, Dungeon Magazine, plus a lot of our own made up adventures in our gaming sessions and never had any problem with the game mechanics.

    Our main campaign setting was in a hybrid Mystara world that incorporated elements from Greyhawk and Dragonlance. We also played a lot of Forgotten Realms modules – Pools of Radiance, Curse of the Azure Bonds etc.

    Recently I put together updated house rules that combine 1e and 2e AD&D with slight modifications and additions. We let Fighters have weapon mastery and Priests and Wizards have slightly more flexible spell options. There’s also 2nd Edition versions of the Assassin class and Oriental Adventures characters. The page is called THACO DRAGON:


    Naturally the game can be as complicated as you want it. Even using THACO DRAGON mods I would prefer to play a straight thief, requiring low xp per level, using my own wit and (missile fire, backstab, disguise proficiency) skills to contribute to the party.

    The game is certainly what you make of it.

    For the record I have tended to play straight Fighters (many), a Ranger, a multiclassed Elven Fighter/Priest, a dual classed Fighter-Wizard-Thief, and a Necromancer (from the Necromancers HB). Those were the main character types I recall.

    I agree with all the positive comments made about 2nd edition AD&D above. I expected 3rd edition to be an update on the existing system like 2e was from 1e. It wasn’t. I didn’t go for the WotC interpretation. And 4e looked like an attempt to create a table top computer simulation.

    Great comments by everyone on this thread and long live AD&D !!!

  92. Ebins Says:

    Wow! Biased much? 2nd was great, and still the greatest out there. Go suck it dude. You don’t know quality when you see it. “11 years ago?” That was only 2004. The game came out in 1989! I think someone (lime myself) who actually grew up with the game should write an article on this, not some kid whose used to instant gratification computer games!

  93. John Says:

    What do you mean? I still play 2nd Ed. once a week with a group. My original group might as well have lived in this old shack that we played in. Walden books and then booksamillion were our stomping grounds, as well as a couple of mom n pop stores that sold dice and comics.
    My kids are part of the next gen of tabletop players.

  94. DBD Says:

    I still play Adnd 2.0. In fact, I’m running a game tonight at my house. I LOVE the useless/crazy spells too. Unfortunately no one in this game picked a magic user. Too bad.

  95. Cannonsrus Says:

    This blog is going to last for some time. I DMd a few 2nd edition games recently for my some newbies and 42yo drop in.
    I never bothered with post 2nd edition. It works just fine so need to fix it. The boys are all getting into it and each week add another 18yo. I expect as they head of to Uni they may find other interests. But I do like the idea of a subversive 2nd edition crew sneaking into all the 5+ games and saying its not D and D.

    One of the dads made a nice observation. DandD used to drag kids away from healthy activities. Now it drags them away from online games and computer screens. 2nd edition finally takes the high ground.

  96. BarrenPaladin Says:

    My group plays 2e with a flavor of 1e and extra stuff thrown into it. We tried to go 3e years ago but none of the players would have it. So we have stuck it out with the old proven system. Even when 5e was brought to the table we all looked at it and said “Yeah Pretty Sure 6e will be a revision of 1e and 2e ala Hackmaster. and no need to play this either.”

    We enjoy 2e and have no need to change and we have our gambit of home-brew rules thrown in as well. We do not need DC’s, our ACs go down not up, our weapons have two types of effectiveness against small and large creatures along with speed factor, The spells are satisfactory and their are many ways to get more per day, low level PCs can’t make magic items because well they are low level, We allow our Mages to go infinitive in damage with spells at higher levels no 10d6 max, we balance rules with roleplay, and we have 5 saves not 3. We make Dragons kill as well as their 3,4,and 5e counterparts. We do not need challenge levels as the simple process of totaling PC levels and averaging them gave you the challenge level for NPCs, We saved the munchkinism for higher levels when you actually play your PCs into events that create legends and challenge deities.

    Even with 1e and 2e flaws they are rough, not as polished and organized verbatim into statistics and stats that we will never need or use and we enjoy that. So 1e and 2e will still be played well after us are dead.


  97. Clive mills Says:

    2nd Ed rocks.. I transitioned and played 3, 3.5 and 4th edition.. I got fed up of the upgrading and play tested 5th which was a clearly linked to old school 2nd. my group and I decided to go back to 2nd and here we will stay.. it’s imperfections are it’s joy and we house rule stuff we don’t like. the useless spells are great for npc such as diviners to help get the group to quest or seek advice from..

  98. Jamie simmons Says:

    I started with basic d&d and “graduated to AD&D (1st edition). I still have my books, and I lived 2nd edition. It made some things easier, like using pounds instead of coins for weight. We usually ignored that anyway lol! I can’t stand d20 system or 3rd+ editions. Matter of fact, I’m working on a module right now now in between calls at work ?. D&d is in my blood and always wil be

  99. Jamie Says:

    I started with basic d&d and “graduated to AD&D (1st edition). I still have my books, and I lived 2nd edition. It made some things easier, like using pounds instead of coins for weight. We usually ignored that anyway lol! I can’t stand d20 system or 3rd+ editions. Matter of fact, I’m working on a module right now now in between calls at work ?. D&d is in my blood and always wil be

  100. R L Says:

    I started playing before there was a first edition like so many others that have commented and after purchasing the original AD&D hardcovers moved into the role of DM… The introduction of 2e we changed dragons to the new rules, expanded the limits of ability scores, included new magic items and spells and tweaked rules to include non weapon proficiencies and kits… we then incorporated the weapon mastery skills from the D&D rules cyclopedia because it seemed a great fit… Every edition has been available for us to debate as a group, but since no one was concerned with completely overhauling the rules most of our work has been readjusting an occasionally good adventure into our house rules…
    Thankfully there are plenty of things still to play and new roles to try. RPG is just that role playing and its just a game that has house rules that Gary(RIP) or WotC lackeys would have to agree to follow to be in our game.
    The DM not some book is the ultimate source of ruling and his/her decisions are what keep the group together or break it apart. The rules are meant to be bent or broken for the sake of the game and the good of the group playing it.

  101. Sheena Says:

    Wow.. second edition. Glad to read the above article.

  102. Frank T Says:

    I got my intro to D&D with first Edition, but once I moved to AD&D 2nd I never left it. I didn’t like 3rd, didn’t try 4th but don’t like what I’ve read or gameplay that Ive seen, and 5th looks decent, but not enough for us to try it anytime soon. In the last two years I have taken a new group mixed with one former player and 7 newbies ranging from 10-18 years old and all cannot get enough it. I have a PC info sheet I hand to every player to remind them what they can do in one round, combat, and such. Everything else is learned in game, from THAC0 to Spells or Saving Throws, there is no confusion, I do not understand why 2nd edition is labeled as complicated. The group uses encumbrance, weapon speed, nutrition, and individual initiative and have a blast, I have no complaints, in fact, they like the attention to small details. The last session consisted of 7 players, including 3 first timers and 2 kids (10,11), and the session ran smooth, with little or no paper shuffling,this new generation used to MMO and high stats embraced this new experience to them and now cannot wait to see what happens next. I don’t plan to retire my 2nd edition stuff, I have borrowed stuff from 5th edition Monster Manual, homebrew like any true RPG player but most about 2nd edition that was mentioned in the article is what has appealed to the group and myself. Happy gaming.

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