AD&D, But the “A” is Not What You Think, Part 2

I love D&D 5E. I love all of the editions for different reasons. There are even mechanics in the much maligned 4E that I thought would be interesting to bring back. It begs the question, though- if 5E is so awesome then why is there such a push for OSR? (*Old School Revival.)

Say what you wish about 5E, but its days are coming to an official close in the coming years.

I love D&D 5E. I love all of the editions for different reasons. There are even mechanics in the much maligned 4E that I thought would be interesting to bring back. It begs the question, though- if 5E is so awesome then why is there such a push for OSR? (*Old School Revival.)

I think the easy answer is that the more the game evolves into new editions, the more some of us OGs miss simpler times and familiar record keeping. I know a lot of people in all walks of D&D fandom think it’s all or nothing when it comes to a favorite edition. I’ll talk more about this sometime down the road. My purpose here is not to engage in the infamous Edition Wars, but to see what a mash-up of editions might look like.

When last we left our heroes…

We talked about character creation. Every edition has something to contribute. 4E had a really interesting book that many probably overlooked. The 4E Player’s Strategy Guide was underrated. I forgot to mention it in the previous article, but it really was a good way to bring people into the game.

I thought the 3E/3.5 Dragon Compendium (Paizo) offered up a lot of interesting class options, especially the Savant. This class offered an opportunity to sample all of the main core classes (Cleric, Fighter, Thief, Wizard.)

Equipment:
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The most extensive equipment guide for any edition was probably 3E. I don’t necessarily think every single lantern and wagon wheel needs an entry, but there were some neat pieces of gear and mounts for players to explore.

Armor:
Again, my first choice is 3E/3.5E. There were a lot of variations and piecemeal armor sets. I think with a few minor tweaks, the armor table for amalgam would be complete as a revision of 3.5E.

Weapons:
No surprise here, I’m going with 3.5’s weapons list. No lie, I miss having the exotic weapons in the game, quirky though they were. I also miss all of the Monk and Samurai weapons in the game. Oddly, I would fix the Bastard Sword and Katana back to their 2E glory days. Also, the amalgam weapon list would have to be adjusted to include Weapon Speeds to go with the hybrid initiative system.

Spells:
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Okay, I’m sure the pitchforks and torches are coming out for this. I actually liked the 2nd Ed AD&D spells. Specifically the Priest’s Spell Compendiums and Wizard’s Spell Compendiums. I also enjoyed creating spells in 2nd Ed.

For a bit of added excitement, (and I may have to move to an undisclosed address after this,) I think the 4E casting options work a little better than the old, tired, fire-and-forget spell system. Don’t get me wrong, healing surges can stay dead. I don’t think every spell should be re-castable every round. But wouldn’t it be great to recast spells like, Magic Missile and maybe Fireball more than once per combat without burning slots for Utility Spells? How about Cure Light Wounds?

Certain spells that take more than a turn or two would continue to take some kind of spell slot. Obviously V, S, M components would have to stay in the game unless negated by Feats. I know some of these concepts might be daunting to new players, but I think with time and a little game time experience, it could work. Playtesting might indicate otherwise.

I think some special treatment needs to be given to Clerics’ Turning Undead and Healing. (Again, healing surges are still dead.) While turning should stay a separate ability from spellcasting, what if Clerics or Paladins could burn a spell slot to recover or enhance a turn attempt? Or maybe treat healing like a turning attempt and have some (not ALL) healing be recoverable per round/rest period/day? OR even burn turning to heal more?

Feats are a nice multitool for casters to gain a little advantage with spells. IF/F we altered casting to make some spells re-castable, how to cover things such as casting a low level spell at a higher level? Do we follow the 4E model of every single spell has a table with damage bumps? Burn a higher level slot and scale the damage?

How about changing the die type for damaging spells? So instead of 2d4 Magic Missile damage, we cast it as a 5th level spell and now it does 2d10? But it still recharges… Hmmm.

More dice? Bigger dice? OR both?

More to come. Combat is on my list of things to cover next time. Thank you for being here. I appreciate you.

Let’s Talk About D&D Edition Wars Part One.

I promise I will not intentionally raise anyone’s dander with these articles. Truth is, all editions of the game have their loveable strong points.

This is right up there with Star Wars vs Star Trek in terms of internet forum “debates.”

Let’s face it, debating on the interweb is like running on a treadmill backwards. No matter how far you think you’re getting, you’re still not going anywhere. You’re better off whizzing on an electric fence.

But seriously, debating politics would be more effective. We’re still here talking about D&D editions, but I’m having fun today. Have you seen BECMI? It’s what I grew up running. It’s a good basic edition of D&D, possibly the simplest definition of any RPG anywhere. It’s a solid game.

‘Twas a sad day when they took the “A” out of AD&D.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons was arguably one of the best editions of the game ever created. It built upon the basic game and had all kinds of awesomeness going for it. It also had more professionally written modules than pretty much any other game I’ve ever seen. (*Professionally as in by the folks at T$R.) It also had a really nice combat system, a few class options that never came back, and some of the best RPG sourcebooks ever written. When most people talk about Old School Roleplaying, this is what they mean. Good times.

2nd Ed AD&D might be my other favorite edition of the game. The initiative system in this game is probably my favorite way of doing initiative that has never been duplicated except maybe in Castles & Crusades by Troll Lord Games. This edition removed some of the classes from the previous edition, but introduced Kits. Kits were fun.

Later 2nd Ed gave us some of the greatest RPG sourcebooks ever written. Encyclopedia Magic and the spell compendiums for priests and mages were amazing! I keep mind easily

*Side Note: If you keep your eyes open, sometimes you can score C&C Player’s Handbook for free.

Then 3rd Edition and the OGL happened.

I own more books for 3rd Ed and 3.5 than the rest of my collection combined. I love 3.5. It also had the best computer program. The world of third party source material would see a golden age. Very good times indeed.

I think some of the best campaigns and campaign worlds hatched from 3rd Ed. I just received my copy of Iron Kingdoms RPG recently. IIRC, that started in 3rd Ed, skipped an edition, and picked up steam again in 5th. (See what I did there? Steam? LOL!)

3rd was also where Eberron started. I remember submitting my pitch to WotC. The anticipation on announcement day was so thick and I was on pins and needles the whole time. Alas, I did not make the grade. My campaign world may never see the light of day. Who knows?

3rd is also where D20 Modern and a few dozen other spinoff d20 based games came from. The most notable is probably Pathfinder. Personally, I think PF came about because 3rd Ed fans didn’t want to let the edition go. Although it might be a D&D spinoff, it’s still an outstanding RPG.

Mutants & Masterminds is another d20 based game that arose from those days. It has also evolved considerably from its humble roots into one of the most famous superhero RPGs of all time. It really shows how much mileage was possible from the OGL.

My favorite d20 based games were conversions of other classics. Boot Hill, Deadlands, 7th Seas, Traveler, and even World of Darkness joined the d20 revolution. One could probably look on Spycraft somewhere in that mix, too. I was sort of Top Secret S.I. only modernized. We also got a d20 Star Wars, which was amazing to run. (I miss that game so freakin much.)

Dungeon Crawl Classics started out as third party modules for 3rd Ed. It grew into its own rulebooks and campaign world. Even though it has more of that OSR vibe going for it now, it was an old school riff off of 3rd Ed back then.

We’ll talk more about Third, Fourth and Fifth editions later. Have a happy and safe weekend! See you soon.

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