What were the problems with 2 edition D&D?


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There are actually two different 2e editions, in my opinion. There's the pre-Player's Options game, and the post-Player's Options game (2.5e, essentially). Player's Option books came out late in the 2e game cycle, so there were years before they were out there.

If I were to run a 2e game, I'd run with the entire Complete series, but no Player's Options books....

I could do this...

Dark Archive

Yeah, the Player's Options books were the end of the cycle and precursor to 3rd ed. A jumbled collection of rules to reinvent the game in the last days.

Some good ideas in their for DMs to customize threats on their side of the screen but I never allowed my players to use them. Untested and problematic.


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The Complete books also were particularly hit or miss. The earlier Complete books were well-balanced: Complete Fighter's, Thief's, and Wizard's were good. Complete Cleric's just put a lampshade on the problems of the Spheres system with cleric spells.

The Complete Thief's Handbook was particularly well done--not only were options well-balanced, but they went into detail as to how to develop a thieves' guild, and how to work them into the fabric of the game. I went back later to see who wrote it, because I was so impressed: John Nephew. I should have recognized his work. Love it.

The Complete Bard's Handbook was interesting, because instead of little tweaks to the classes like the other books had, there was a whole replacement of a large number of abilities, based on your kit. It was particularly interesting. It was the first step from kits to archetypes.

The racial Complete books were inconsistent. Dwarves was fine. Gnomes and Halflings were shafted--not only were both shoehorned into one book, but neither were particularly developed. Clearly no one cared about them. Humanoids was a lot of fun, because it really opened up possibilities, but you had to be careful regarding what you allowed in game. But Elves... oh, Pharasma, the Elves book. Basically, they munchkinized the race to no end. Added extra powers, explained how elf whatever was just plain better everyone else's whatever, and then had a whole range of new kits that were even better than what was on offer before. Ah, the Bladesinger! One idea that everyone wanted to get right and beautifully, but no one ever quite managed!

But all in all, I greatly enjoyed the expansion to characters that the Complete books (and the Tome of Magic) provided to the game. I'd be willing to play with all of them. Even the Elves book.


One of the problems with 2e was that it was essentially just an official home brew version of 1e so there wasn't a great reason to "upgrade " for some. And then people who were willing to upgrade probably upgraded to 3e so 2e probably doesn't have the same numbers of enthusiasts that the older versions of D&D have.


Isn't every edition of D&D, including pathfinder, just an official home brew version? They just take what people were house ruling and made it official for the most part.

Actually, 2e has a pretty big following now and a decent number would rather play 4.0 than 3.0. It is different enough from 2e to be a totally different game rather than being close enough to slap what they liked. Plus there were a bunch of things in 3.0 (Not 3.5) that got me head scratching.

Dark Archive

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Wrong John Silver" wrote:
The Complete books also were particularly hit or miss. The earlier Complete books were well-balanced: Complete Fighter's, Thief's, and Wizard's were good. Complete Cleric's just put a lampshade on the problems of the Spheres system with cleric spells.

I agree almost 100%; the first 4 core kit books were decent (I still remember the cries of "T$R!" when they came out). The Thief's Handbook was excellent and a great resouce for tricks and equipment (I still reference it for d20 PF games). I didn't have problems with the Cleric Spheres - they just should have had some spells double dip into a few more spheres so their would be a little more of an even sense of access for the classic spells. Spheres were much better than Domains.

The Complete Elf book had some problems and was the first time thematic changes were replaced with hard mechancial advantages. I would run the Complete books also - I would just give the Complete Book of Elves a harsher look and a rebalancing, the writing and ideas were still all very good.

The Humanoid book was good for me as a DM because it helped me detail my NPCs a little better, I didn't offer or open up that content to players (no one really asked). Also, if someone wanted to play a Lizard Man they would just make them up for my Gamma World game (one in fact did).

Overall the content and ideas were great. The DM aids in this era were also fantastic - Monster Mythology, Complete Book of Villains, Campaign Sourcebook and Catacomb guide (should have been broken up into two books), Creative Campaigning, Arms & Equipment Guide, Castle Guide.

I would say that around 1995 is when TSR jumped the Shark - Primarily in reaction to the CCG craze, which I hated at the time. I played the cards and still ran AD&D, but it was sad to watch the company die (and put out garbage). Two years later it was over.

I really do miss that level of exclusive targeted support for DMs. Nowadays if the book doesn't have a featured section on players/crunch/ego it doesn't get made.

Ah well, I'm glad I got to run it and was around when it all happened.


Auxmaulous wrote:
Overall the content and ideas were great. The DM aids in this era were also fantastic - Monster Mythology, Complete Book of Villains, Campaign Sourcebook and Catacomb guide (should have been broken up into two books), Creative Campaigning, Arms & Equipment Guide, Castle Guide.

Oh, yes, those books were incredible! In fact, the Campaign Sourcebook and Catacomb Guide, and Creative Campaigning, I'd still consider worth picking up for any GM, even today. The Castle Guide, though... you could really see TSR's quality slip majorly. I think there's a clear typo or editing mistake on every single page of that book.

Dark Archive Bella Sara Charter Superscriber

I remember being furious with the Players Option Skills and Talents book because it included a point buy for the base classes, but then didn't include a point buy for the rebuilt psionicist (sp?) or for the new split stats, both of which were in the same damn book.

In retrospect, pretty much all of that book was bad, but at the time, I was really bothered by that particular element.


Complete Paladin was my first and favourite splat book and I still use it today. Whenever someone wants to be a paladin, I hand it to them and say to read it for a couple days to get ideas of how a paladin should act and what can constitute a violation.

The Exchange

Auxmaulous wrote:
... The DM aids in this era were also fantastic - Monster Mythology, Complete Book of Villains, Campaign Sourcebook and Catacomb guide (should have been broken up into two books), Creative Campaigning, Arms & Equipment Guide, Castle Guide...

It's been well over a decade since I sold all my 2nd Edition stuff, except 'Monster Mythology' and 'Campaign Sourcebook & Catacomb Guide,' which are system-neutral enough to reside on my shelves permanently. In fact, they're about due for a re-read.

On-topic: the main issue I had with 2nd Edition was every single subsystem having its very own mechanics. Non-weapon proficiencies (or secondary skills if those were your style) didn't work the way attacks did, thief skills worked differently from both, spellcasting worked wonkily. Saving throws were good to roll low, attribute checks were good to roll high... Stats quite often didn't make a bit of difference - somebody with 9 strength did exactly as much damage as somebody with 15, even though the Strength 15 guy could carry twice as much stuff... A lot of little details. Some of them, such as turning and (sigh) grappling rules, didn't really improve when 3.0 came out, though an effort was made.


Jaçinto wrote:
Complete Paladin was my first and favourite splat book and I still use it today. Whenever someone wants to be a paladin, I hand it to them and say to read it for a couple days to get ideas of how a paladin should act and what can constitute a violation.

I thought nobody will mention this. Complete paladin is one of my favorites books ever. The mechanics were cool but the fluff was outstanding.


Okay, so... Complete hypothetical. If I were to run a 2e game here, it would be core rules + Complete series. Rolling... 4d6, drop lowest, arrange... or I can arrange for 4d6-drop-lowest arrays. I can reasonably handle a party of 4 (I've tried to run a campaign with a larger group and I failed miserably. 5, I could probably handle, at the max).

I could offer players help, especially if someone doesn't know the system. My games are RP-heavy, but 2e is fine for high-RP. So, for example, I could assign an appropriate kit to a PC based on background if the player doesn't know what they are.

That leaves... choice of world, campaign ideas, and choice of deities. There are the standard worlds out there, but there's also a personal world I've developed that I can brush off. What would people like to see?

Maybe I should drop an Interest Check thread in the Recruitment forum...


Yup, interest check thread placed here.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

Tequila Sunrise wrote:
Aelryinth wrote:
Dwarves had a max 17 Dex because they had a max 19 con. +1 Con, -1 Dex was their ability mod...the exact opposite of elves, btw.

I don't mean to single you out, Aelryinth, but there's a lot of misinformation going on in this thread. Are people reading from different books, or just not checking the actual book?

(My AD&D 2e PHB says dwarves get +1 Con and -1 Cha.)

I'm probably going off 1E. Memory gets fuzzy on particular after 20 years since I rolled up a dwarf, and my books are 400 miles away.

==Aelryinth


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I haven't read this whole thread, and obviously this is only my opinion, but here are things I disliked about 2e:


  • Lack of unified/rationalized mechanics: For example, descending AC, non-weapon proficiencies in which you wanted a *low* roll on the d20. IIRC dual-classing was stilla thing, "demi-humans" still had level limits, etc.

  • Missing mechanics: No half-orcs, no monks, etc.

  • Removal of certain thematic elements: In what was probably an over-reaction to irrational fears of Satanism, etc., references to demons, devils, etc. were removed.

On there other hand, there were a few things I really liked:


  • Art direction: Chain-mail bikinis aside, the art tended to show more landscapes, context, etc., and overall just seemed more inspiring (and less "dungeon-punk") that what was to come later.

  • Graphic design: I liked the clean layout with black/blue pages (but full-color pages sprinkled throughout).

Overall I think it erred on the side of "not enough" when it came to updating 1E, especially when it came to internal consistency.

The Exchange

Aelryinth wrote:
Tequila Sunrise wrote:
Aelryinth wrote:
Dwarves had a max 17 Dex because they had a max 19 con. +1 Con, -1 Dex was their ability mod...the exact opposite of elves, btw.
...(My AD&D 2e PHB says dwarves get +1 Con and -1 Cha.)
I'm probably going off 1E. Memory gets fuzzy on particulars...

I do vaguely recall dwarves not being able to have an 18 Dex in 1e, but if I remember right, it wasn't due to stat mods: if you rolled an 18 Dex you were just too limber to have been born a dwarf. Same as if you'd only rolled a 10 Con: you were born too frail to have been born a dwarf.

Hey, don't look at me: I didn't make these limitations up.


And before you complain, back then, that wasn't a bug, that was a feature; if you wanted to get to play one of the demi-human races, then you had to take your chances and roll (or assign) your ability scores properly. The same applied to classes, too.

Being able to play a paladin was a highly coveted feature, not a pre-ability build decision.


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Something nobody else appears to have mentioned:

I thought the internal layout for the black-cover 2nd edition (the "revised second edition") was terrible. Overall the books just had an ugly format. Horrible choice of title font, I think red was a bad color to print headings in, and a layout that looked like someone had just gotten a decent DTP package and was overjoyed to try out all the functionality ASAP (especially the tendency to put things in boxes in the middle of the page and wrap everything else around the sides of it). I found it very hard to read. I never owned a copy of the original 2e books, but seeing them in electronic form years later they were far, far clearer. I think the inability to read those books comfortably may have had a big contributing effect towards my decision to stick to BECMI.

Did anyone else have the same problems reading those books as I did?

The Exchange

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Oh, yeah. I jumped from BECMI D&D into AD&D when the original 2nd Edition books came out and they were a visual feast for the eyes, with lots of Easley and Elmore art and the 'medieval illuminations' blue-and-black line art, with a faint blue background for sidebars and some very understated banding of alternate lines to make the various level and equipment tables legible; years later, I could barely stand to look at the black-cover version.

Funny story: I was in a bookstore last night and could've bought that black-cover 2nd Edition PHB, unused, for 14.99... or the exact same book with the new WotC-wants-your-money cover for $49.99. I'm not making this up. I had to laugh.

Dark Archive

Lincoln Hills wrote:
Aelryinth wrote:
Tequila Sunrise wrote:
Aelryinth wrote:
Dwarves had a max 17 Dex because they had a max 19 con. +1 Con, -1 Dex was their ability mod...the exact opposite of elves, btw.
...(My AD&D 2e PHB says dwarves get +1 Con and -1 Cha.)
I'm probably going off 1E. Memory gets fuzzy on particulars...

I do vaguely recall dwarves not being able to have an 18 Dex in 1e, but if I remember right, it wasn't due to stat mods: if you rolled an 18 Dex you were just too limber to have been born a dwarf. Same as if you'd only rolled a 10 Con: you were born too frail to have been born a dwarf.

Hey, don't look at me: I didn't make these limitations up.

It's a cap in 2nd ed. If someone rolled an 18 and wanted to play a Dwarf I would let them and just have that 18 be a 17 - it would be pretty rare for someone to give up a rolled stat like that but it was an option.

Halflings had the same cap on Wisdom. Not really a big deal.

A Dwarven Thief was doing better than ok with a 17 dex (great really) because of all his Dwarven racial abilities that would supplement his class features would still make him a viable trapfinder and explorer.

Matt Thomason wrote:
Did anyone else have the same problems reading those books as I did?

Honestly, the layout and how info was organized for both books was not very good. I didn't like the layout for the first run 2nd ed, but I did think the art was better. It seemed as if the art in the black border books were spoofing earlier pictures from AD&D (even the earlier 2nd ed book from a few years prior - yes, very strange) and I thought it was terrible.


Kimera757 wrote:
DrDeth wrote:
There were alternate systems for character generation, just like in todays PF.

We didn't have the internet to tell us about that. I never saw alternative ability score systems either. Even point buy would not have worked.

Quote:
Thieves were absolutely not useless, and in fat were a absolute requirement for many dungeon crawls. Traps were deadly Gygaxian nasties, and you absolutely needed a thief to bypass them. Not only that, but since the thief went up faster, he could be two levels higher than some other party members, and was a decent melee combat guy, even without Backstab.

Thieves frequently started with very low Find/Remove Trap scores. I suppose a 30% chance of not getting screwed is better than 0%, but they were pretty incompetent. Warhammer suffered from this same problem. Thief skills in general were very poor at low-levels. They also didn't scale well. When you have 100% skill, a hard trap with a -20% to the roll really isn't challenging.

Quote:
Sure. At first level. Umm, how many threads are in these forums about the "caster/martial disparity"? Are you so sure weaker wizards isn't a good thing? That being said, the PF "unlimited cantrips" is GREAT!

They were right there in the PHB, as Bob showed.

Add in + for race, for high dex, etc and you could get a decent score. And you had some slush points, so you could be a trap guy or a sneak guy, etc.


R_Chance wrote:


Classes did not level up at the same rate. Given the inequality between classes in 3.x I've never really understood why people consider this such a huge issue. Going up more slowly was part of the class balance for Magic Users / Wizards. They were puny / weak / vulnerable at low levels and cosmically powerful at high levels. Now they have eliminated the puny / weak / vulnerable bit at low level, kept the cosmically powerful at high level and let them level up as fast as everybody else. So much for "balance". Thieves moved up fast, Clerics pretty fast, Fighters in the middle and Wizards slowly. And character generation was comparatively quick and easy. Some rolls, some choices and bingo. PCs stories were written in game, not as a back story. It was a shared history that helped make the characters, and games, more memorable for everyone around the table.

Thieves were useful. IIRC, 1E Thieves had fixed percentages as they leveled up while 2E could spread the percentages around. They were not a combat class. They snuck around, climbed, opened stuff and stayed out of the way of combat unless it was a dire necessity.

The game really slowed down in the middle levels and you spent a lot longer at levels 6-10 than now. Those were, imo, the fun levels. Tough enough to survive (if you were smart) not too tough that it was easy....

Right. Right, but thieves could certainly contribute in a melee, about like clerics could. Rogues have gotten a bit weaker, clerics more powerful now. No match for a Conan type, sure, but a big help.

Absostively- levels 5-7 were considered the best levels when we played.


Matt Thomason wrote:
Did anyone else have the same problems reading those books as I did?

No, but then I've never seen a D&D book that I found difficult to read. In fact I find it very difficult to wrap my head around the various formatting complaints I've read about PF, 4e, 3e, and 2e.

*shrug*


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On Demi Human level Caps:
Gygax liked humans, so did some of the other early designers. They wanted an in game reason for Human dominant worlds.

But.

The game balance broke down early.
In Basic D&D, balance was done at level 9.
AD&D(1st), balance was done at level 12 or so.
AD&D(2nd), may have extended it to level 15.

BECMI may have done a better job than the other systems on the character power band, I can't remember really, I never played an Immortal and only perused that ruleset once. No one I knew used it.

Those caps were fine considering the challenges degraded around that time anyway.

D20 has attempted to lengthen the power curve. It has, but not very well. Game balance between classes and encounters is done around level 15. (Just like 2nd).

It was asumed that characters "retired" to keeps, towers, guilds and churches and that high level games would inevitably become political and maybe mass combat oriented at some point.
And that was OK.

"Optimized" characters at level 20, was kind of a joke back then. I worked at a game and Comics store in the mid to late 80s, and we had a little (too much) fun with people coming in talking about their Black Razor wielding, 25/25 Dual Class Fighter/Whatnots.

......,
So despite all the differences pointed out in this thread; the real difference between those older editions and now isn't really mechanical in my mind.

It's the Buisness model.

The older versions were products for DMs, that was the core consumer. Players got PHBs, various character sheets, maybe a supplement every few years.

The newer versions, are products for players, splat books, supplements, PrCs, archetypes , feats, spells, skill tricks, pets, magic items, mundane gear etc.

Both versions can be played with just the "Core Rules".

The second methodology is much more PROFITABLE.

WotC, went nuts with player stuff. To the point that they pretty much lost the "in house" ability to support DMs with viable gaming aids. The stuff that inexperienced and novice DMs needed to actually run games.

Paizo and PFRPG has been the first Big publisher to hit the happy medium between "Fluff and Crunch" for both the Player side and the DM side.

When people speak with reverence and awe about older editions; I feel that at least some of that is just the wistfull remembrance of simplicity. Not that the rules were necessarily simple but that the game, in play, was simpler. It was a cheaper ticket for admission and it was fun.


DrDeth wrote:


Right. Right, but thieves could certainly contribute in a melee, about like clerics could. Rogues have gotten a bit weaker, clerics more powerful now. No match for a Conan type, sure, but a big help.

Absostively- levels 5-7 were considered the best levels when we played.

I think for most casual players that's still true.

Those are the most popular levels for stand alone modules, and where the splatbooks focus the bulk of options.

The Exchange

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Could be some truth to that. I remember my AD&D days with nostalgia and I know it wasn't love of a well-designed system that brings on that kindly glow.

On the other hand, when I first opened the 3.0 books, I said, "Huh! Wow, they sure cleaned things up! Look at all the stuff the players can do now! Look at all the stuff the DM can do now!"

And when I opened the PF core rulebook: "Huh! Well, they sure fixed those problems - and those! Look at all the extra stuff players can do now! Look at all the stuff the GM can do more easily now!"

So I won't say that I'm not glad of the last fifteen years of change.

Shadow Lodge

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All the pre-d20 editions were better balanced than 3.0, 3.5, and Pathfinder.


Tequila Sunrise wrote:
Matt Thomason wrote:
Did anyone else have the same problems reading those books as I did?

No, but then I've never seen a D&D book that I found difficult to read. In fact I find it very difficult to wrap my head around the various formatting complaints I've read about PF, 4e, 3e, and 2e.

*shrug*

Yeah, I'm pretty certain it's down to personal taste, I'm just curious how many people's personal taste corresponded with mine over 2e revised, due to the way it put me off wanting to play it :)

BECMI, nice layout. RC felt perfect. 2e original, looks fine. 2e revised, that thing hurts my eyes to look at. 3e, I loved. 4e not too bad but possibly a small step backwards, while PF felt like it was moving forwards again.


Kthulhu wrote:
All the pre-d20 editions were better balanced than 3.0, 3.5, and Pathfinder.

While I agree with that, I'd have to add that the complexity and sheer range of options introduced in 3.0 is the main cause of that imbalance. When you're dealing with a fairly static set of rules for a handful of classes, it's bound to be easier to balance than something that creates near-limitless combinations of possibilities.

However, I'm not sure whether that's a case for accepting the limitation of balance in 3.0 and later, or whether it's a case against complexity ;) (I know there's people who prefer the third option of it being a case for spending more time and resources in developing the system and modelling it on computers to ensure better balance, but that just feels to me like tearing the spirit out of the game.)


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Kthulhu wrote:
All the pre-d20 editions were better balanced than 3.0, 3.5, and Pathfinder.

Yes and no.

The downside to player options is balance degradation.

Every time a spell gives a big plus to a skill check, the rogue gets shafted.

Every feat or spell for "Gishiness" shafts the Martials.

Every handicap that gets taken out for "Ease of Play", "versatility" or "verisimilitude" or to just remove another level of "accounting" from a class screws up balance.

I'm not sure that Game Balance was even a consideration by the middle point of 3.5, they just didn't care anymore.

Paizo tries, but there are some pretty glaring gaps there. It's not for lack of trying either. JB really does attempt to balance his stuff but any "combo" pulled from fringe elements of 3 different books can slip past and blow some weird thing up to crazy proportions.

Options>balance in the economics of game publishing. At least for d20.

4th Ed. Solved alot of that disparity but it was so neutral on power as to be meh. It was very accountant heavy too I felt, though my playtime was limited with it.


JoeJ wrote:
LoneKnave wrote:
DrDeth wrote:

Thieves were absolutely not useless, and in fat were a absolute requirement for many dungeon crawls. Traps were deadly Gygaxian nasties, and you absolutely needed a thief to bypass them. Not only that, but since the thief went up faster, he could be two levels higher than some other party members, and was a decent melee combat guy, even without Backstab.

There was absolutely no reason to run a straight thief, ever, unless you wanted to go challenge mode.

I don't know what you mean by challenge mode, but I played 2e, and 1e for years before that. Pretty much every group I was ever in had at least one thief. Nobody I ever played with thought they were useless.

As for the chance to successfully find and remove traps, I just dug out my old 2e PHB. A 1st level thief with DEX 15 has a score of between 5% and 35% depending on how they spend their discretionary points. A 1st level dwarf with DEX 18 will have between 25% and 55% chance to find/remove traps.

The maximum STR difference between male and female characters was a 1e rule that is not present in 2e.

In a system where max normal damage for a fighter was about 18 with an 18/00 str and a great sword, thieves with backstabbing were like nuclear weapons. I loved the thief and the assassin was great too.

Liberty's Edge

I think people are confusing the 3E stat chart with 2E. Low stats in 2E while not crippling had much worse effects. Low con good luck on making your system shock or ressurection checks. Low str. Good luck trying bending bars or lifting gates with a decent chance of success. Low Dex gave penalties to thief skills as well. Which were low enough as is at first level. I never met a DM who handwaved the effects of low stats away in 2E. I never did as a DM either.

With 3E the characters that cast spells are the ones that suffer more with low stats. As the lower it is the less spells one can cast. The other classes get a negative to skills or a less chance to hit something. I think 2E is a decent system it's not without it's flaws. I do think some if its fans wear rose colored glasses that they already spray painted black.


Lincoln Hills wrote:

Could be some truth to that. I remember my AD&D days with nostalgia and I know it wasn't love of a well-designed system that brings on that kindly glow.

On the other hand, when I first opened the 3.0 books, I said, "Huh! Wow, they sure cleaned things up! Look at all the stuff the players can do now! Look at all the stuff the DM can do now!"

And when I opened the PF core rulebook: "Huh! Well, they sure fixed those problems - and those! Look at all the extra stuff players can do now! Look at all the stuff the GM can do more easily now!"

So I won't say that I'm not glad of the last fifteen years of change.

2E was fun in its time. It was a pretty good game, although especially by the time they revised the 2E books to the ones with the Black Covers the game was starting to seem dated. It felt like an 80s style game in a world that was becomming dominated by White Wolf type games.

d20 is simply more PLAYABLE. The game is just easier to manage.

Also, anybody who says that 2E was fun because the combat was FASTER than 3E was probably not playing it RAW. Unless you are possibly comparing playing without mini's in 2E to playing with minis in d20 and counting the set up time.

2E has a double action iniative system EVERY ROUND. First everybody says what they are going to do, then you roll, then you resolve in init order with people acting faster able to change their action slightly based on hearing what the other characters are going to do. Also, there are lots and lots of "optional" rules that are not optional because they are actually freaking vital for game balance, like varying armor class against different types of weapons. On the other hand their are optional rules that even the designers didn't like (see weapon speed factors). Unless you were using absolutely none of them and were dumping half the basic rules besides combat was not really faster round to round than d20


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Weapon speed was a cool idea, that was poorly implemented in the initiative system.

It was a 1st Ed thing too I thought.

If it existed today, in the dumbed down initiative system it would severly alter how 3e combats work.

Nobody would be suggesting greatsword rogues as an "only way to make that class work".
Spellcasters wouldn't be spamming Monster Summoning spells (this should come back I think).
Dagger fighters would be good.
Swashbuckler style combat might actually be viable both mechanically as well as thematically.
Huge monsters wouldn't be the default opponents at certain levels.
Some "Exotic Class" weapons would actually be worth the feat.

TBH, with all of the silly modifiers in d20 games, weapon speed and casting time modifiers are one of the things that would have ported over perfectly. We actually track more junk now than back then.

I understand the WS hate, but using it as a detraction between Ad&d and 3.x is kinda silly. 3.x scrapped weapon speed in favor of way more modifiers. It's actually just more.

The spellcaster players probably love that Magic Missle and Meteor Storm are identical casting time wise. This was one of the major issues leading to 3.X being the "Caster Edition".


The infinity engine shows that you can actually make all those goofy modifiers for weapon speed and casting time and petty much every other combat optional rule work.

Not only that they made them work in REAL TIME. A 1 time bonus weapon speed initiative modifier might be good, except I think it might be abused by players starting the combat with daggers then wanting to switch to something else immediately.

I do agree that one way to help balance spells would be to make some of the more abusable ones take full round or multi-round actions.

Silver Crusade

Weapon speed and spell initiative modifiers worked out fine, it never really became an issue. They made the idea of surprise rounds more interesting ;)


Okay, I've started a recruitment for a 2e game here if you're interested!


zagnabbit wrote:
Kthulhu wrote:
All the pre-d20 editions were better balanced than 3.0, 3.5, and Pathfinder.

Yes and no.

The downside to player options is balance degradation.

Every time a spell gives a big plus to a skill check, the rogue gets shafted.

Every feat or spell for "Gishiness" shafts the Martials.

Every handicap that gets taken out for "Ease of Play", "versatility" or "verisimilitude" or to just remove another level of "accounting" from a class screws up balance.

I'm not sure that Game Balance was even a consideration by the middle point of 3.5, they just didn't care anymore.

Paizo tries, but there are some pretty glaring gaps there. It's not for lack of trying either. JB really does attempt to balance his stuff but any "combo" pulled from fringe elements of 3 different books can slip past and blow some weird thing up to crazy proportions.

Options>balance in the economics of game publishing. At least for d20.

4th Ed. Solved alot of that disparity but it was so neutral on power as to be meh. It was very accountant heavy too I felt, though my playtime was limited with it.

It's funny, though, that even though 3+ mechanically has more options for players, it often feels to me like it has fewer. Instead of thumbing through books to see if there is some combination of traits, feats, and skills that comes kind of close to your character concept, you just ran it past the DM and wrote on your character sheet that your halfling fighter had been raised by the lion tamer in a traveling circus (or whatever). On the down side, claiming a bonus based on your concept (maybe you want to diagnose a sick lion) usually required a judgment call by the DM, and if they weren't very good at that there frequently wasn't any rule to fall back on.


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For a lot of us who played 1st and 2nd from the beginning, the rules were much more of a guideline than set in stone. I think looking at this backward from a 3.X perspective... it probably isn't discussed much in this way because it's like the proverbial comparing of apples to oranges.

3.X is pretty rules-obsessed. It's more of an attempt to codify as much as possible so as to remove any doubt about how every little thing ought to work, precisely as a response to the lack of such codification in previous editions. I think this was meant to alleviate arguments at the table, but in my experience it has done the opposite. Particularly online, where having a rule for everything just inspires a myriad of interpretations for each rule, provoking more arguing. In previous editions, vague or missing areas in the rules were solved in a sort of weird, game-drifting cultural experiment. When a burgeoning DM played under another DM, he learned various house rules for working out the vague areas, and generally adopted them, and over time legions of players ended up resolving similar issues the same way. It was very organic.

That is not to say that I didn't know a very few people who read every word of every book as if it were gospel and who kept to that gospel jealously. There have always been rules lawyers. But the thing to remember is that for the vast majority of us, there might be whole areas of the books that we simply ignored. It was a much more casual game for a lot of people. 3.X changed the entire mindset for how to approach these things.

So this thread is really sort of a loaded question. There were issues... there are always issues... but it's not the same sort of thing it has become with Pathfinder. Pathfinder/3.X encourages mechanics analysis and... well, it encourages players to be more critical, to be honest. We were critical of 2nd Edition, to an extent. But we didn't obsess over it like we do now with Pathfinder.

That said, I always had issues with the 2nd Ed proficiencies and skills... I forgot what we called them then. It seems like it should have been easy in hindsight, but it always seemed half-thought-out and confusing in practice. I think we ignored them most of the time and just did a lot of ability checks.


Alexandros Satorum wrote:
KestrelZ wrote:
6. No gish in second edition. Seriously, mages could never hold a sword by RAW. Entire gaming groups made a game about how a party of mages could guide swords that were repelled from mages. Seriously, mages could never hold a sword because some law of nature in 2nd edition said the sword was repelled away from the hand of mages.
Multiclass fighter/mage.

Dual class one level of fighter or theif


On this subject, one thing that's bugged me when I read excerpts of AD&D material, I see things like 'travels in groups of 1-6' and 'deals 2-12 damage' and find myself wondering... what's the deal with expressing variables that way?

Was it fairly common for people to replace dice with drawing numbered papers out of a hat or something?


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One of the things I really didn't like in both 1E and 2E was the one minute round. That never sat well with me. I'm glad that we're at 6 second rounds. I also didn't like the variable distance for spells based on whether you were outdoors or indoors. The weapon vs armor table, while neat to look at, just was too much of a hassle to always look up.

I also didn't like the variables. 3-12. Is that 1d10+2 or 3d4 or d6+d4+2? What about the weird variables like 2-13? The White Dragon's bite did 3-16 (2d8) damage. Was that a typo or should I reroll if I get a 2? I see plenty of 5-20 but only a few are 3d6+2. Most aren't identified that way so is 5d4 the norm? What about Number Appearing of 201-300?

I was not a fan of drow equipment being destroyed by sunlight.

I did like that you didn't need to have exceptional scores to be useful. While they did help, they weren't as much of as issue as they are now. You didn't have to worry about qualifying for feats or spells as much. You still did enough damage to be useful and if you were getting pounded on, healing magic was more useful in combat than it is now.

I liked the ease of character creation even though I really like the complexity now. Leveling up before took all of about 5 minutes. Now it can take quite some time if someone isn't as familiar with the books or has changed how they want their build to go due to campaign circumstances.

I liked how fighters could get off all their attacks regardless of how far they moved.

The system was a lot of fun even though it could get confusing sometimes. It was more GM-centric than d20. By that I mean that the GM was expected to make more calls during the game than they have to do now. The players knew that the NPCs didn't follow the same rules for creation as they did so anything could happen.


kyrt-ryder wrote:


On this subject, one thing that's bugged me when I read excerpts of AD&D material, I see things like 'travels in groups of 1-6' and 'deals 2-12 damage' and find myself wondering... what's the deal with expressing variables that way?

Was it fairly common for people to replace dice with drawing numbered papers out of a hat or something?

Well, it's not like the dice involved weren't obvious and the abbreviations you take for granted now (courtesy of years of 3.x were everything had to be carefully defined) weren't well established then. It was assumed that the range given (i.e. 30-300) would give you the dice used (a d10 x 30 in this case). Of course you could get more complex (i.e. 30d10) but this tended to produce an average amount as opposed to a range. Pre 3.x was simply... less defined and more open to DM interpretation.

*edit* Thinking about it I suspect you could cut the word count by about a third (or more) in a 3.x rules set and have a comprehensible set of rules. I doubt you would have more, or less, disagreements about rules interpretation either. The extra wordage we are so used to now was an attempt to make everything perfectly clear and prevent arguments or misinterpretation. Hence the drive to define every little thing (like dice abbreviations / definitions). I think we all know how that has gone :D


kyrt-ryder wrote:

On this subject, one thing that's bugged me when I read excerpts of AD&D material, I see things like 'travels in groups of 1-6' and 'deals 2-12 damage' and find myself wondering... what's the deal with expressing variables that way?

Was it fairly common for people to replace dice with drawing numbered papers out of a hat or something?

I think it happened more than you would think.

We now live in a world where polyhedral dice are not uncommon. That wasn't always the case.

As an example I lost the d12 from my first set of dice (the booger green ones from the pink box?). For a while we went without one.

One of my first games was played in a friend's family game room with his older brother's books. The sibling was playing somewhere else that night and took the dice bag. So we made due with a billiards pill bottle (a leather bottle with numbered "pills" for drawing lots). It was his dad's idea, but it worked fine, if slow.

Back in the early 80s, D&D was sold at the toystore or at Waldenbooks but bags of just dice were not as common as today. If you lived in the sticks, were 8 years old, or dirt poor; you made due.


@ JoeJ,
I think that's the second part of our wistful remembrance of 2nd Ed.;
Player: "Hey can I do this?",
DM: "yeah sure, why not?"

Now: it's more like.
Player: "I want to do this"...
DM: "Do you have a feat in mind?"
Player: "Can't find one, do you know one?"
DM: "Write one up, or maybe I'll try too...."

The concept of System Mastery didn't exist back then. The 3.X game is one designed for Rules Lawyers. It's also designed for people who have to play with Rules Lawyers.


If the new edition can manage to combine the better parts of 2nd with 3.5, my gaming group might be sold.

Liberty's Edge

Zagnabbit I think your being a little unfair to 3.5.

2E

Player: "Hey can I do this?",

(checks books)

DM: "Let me get back to you next game as it's not in the rules. Or poorly explained or defined. Or in another book".

Player: (disappointed) Let me try something else.

3.5
Player: "I want to do this"...
DM: "Let me check the rules. Yes you can"
Player: "Cool what feat or DC do I need?...."

System Mastery to a certain extent existed in every edition of D&D now an then. It will always exist. Certain gamers like to memorize and learn every rule about a rpg. If you think rules lawyers did not exist in 2E. Guess again. Try playing D&D with one as DM. Which I did. I ended up leaving after a few sessions. Only so much "well it's not in the rules so you can't do it" one can take. At least as a player one can try to work with or ask to leave a group.

Not saying that I did not enjoy 2E. Far from it. It's not without it's flaws either.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Bruunwald wrote:

So this thread is really sort of a loaded question. There were issues... there are always issues... but it's not the same sort of thing it has become with Pathfinder. Pathfinder/3.X encourages mechanics analysis and... well, it encourages players to be more critical, to be honest. We were critical of 2nd Edition, to an extent. But we didn't obsess over it like we do now with Pathfinder.

If the Internet had been built up to this level during the 1970' or 80's, we bloody well would have. The ease and rapid-fire exchange of opinions, and flame, and the growing cult of immediate self-gratification has much to do with how present gaming culture has shaped itself.

When the main medium of exchange was the hit or miss of getting a letter published in Dragon Magazine or White Dwarf, that changes things.


...and I'm remembering the Alarums & Excursions "zine" from the 80s. You could pay for it and get yourself published in your own little weekly section--any many of the sections quickly turned into the authors responding to the authors in other sections, not always in a constructive manner...

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