Monday, April 18, 2011

AD&D 2nd Edition and the OSR

Taking a brake from the wildly popular (/sarcasm) randomly generated inn posts... 

I’ve played through just about every edition of (A)D&D over the years. As I mentioned in some of my previous posts, I’m returning to the earlier editions because I miss that old school style of play that keeps us all coming back for more.

However, I’ve been having a bit of a difficult time with my players. They’re all decidedly new-school in their approach to gaming (even those who, like me, played many of the earlier editions of [A]D&D). Initially, they were open to trying some of the early stuff, most notably B/X D&D or AD&D 1st Edition. However, they don’t really seem happy with either system (the major complaint being that they’re not “detailed” enough for them). I’ve written about that elsewhere but in seeking to bring my group into the OSR it occurs to me that “baby steps” may be the way to go.

So, in our discussions, one player suggested trying AD&D 2nd Edition. I had lots of fun with that edition back in the 90s and think I can still enjoy it because it is largely backwards compatible with everything that came before it (with minor tweaking) unlike more recent editions of the game. I know that old school gaming has more to do with the style of play than with the system used but I also know that some systems tend to support old school style while others undermine it. So, what are your thoughts on AD&D 2E? Can it rightly be considered “Old School?”


  1. Absolutely! The conversions are so minimal, I regularly use critters from the 2e monster books in my Labyrinth Lord games. 2e also has the most extensive equipment lists of any version of the game, and I use a lot of stuff plundered from the 2e-era Al-Qadim. I love how 2e handles "specialty priests" as well.

    The biggest issue you'll run into is hit point inflation, especially among the monsters. If it gets too bad, use a d6 base for hit dice, but honestly, I think it was a good change.

    Avoid the "Tome of Magic." The Wild Mage is meh at the table, and some of the spells, especially cleric spells, will do ugly things to your campaign.

  2. Dr Rotwang! approves of you playing 2e.

    ...but only if you're having fun.

  3. 2E is a fine system. The first couple of "Complete" books were great.

    The OSR is big enough to embrace 2E!

  4. I liked 2nd Edition. To me, a new edition should be to clear up any problems that arose in the previous edition, consolidate popular supplementary items into the core rules, and still be compatible with product released under the previous edition. 2nd edition did a fair job with that in my opinion.

  5. I love 2e. I will be playing in a 2e group soon and all of us in the group are certainly old school.

    I'm even trying my hand at a 2e inspired clone. The reason is that I always found 2e able to handle just about any campaign concept. Space opera? Check. Planar travel? Check. Time travel? Check. All of the above with a bit of 31st century hardware?

    Roll 'em up.

  6. To me, "core" 2e has all the elements to enable old school play. (Or perhaps, lacks the elements that can hinder old school play.) The NWPs are both optional and not too heavy. There's some genericizing systemization and some loss of more flavorful/inspiring elements. (And the latter can easily be imported if desired.)

    With the supplements, things can easily get to the point that it hinders, IMHO, what I consider old school play.

    Is there a middle ground between you and your players in there? Maybe. I'm not sure there would be for me.

  7. Always loved the look of the books. :)

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  8. I've always placed the OSR as everything through the 1980s, so AD&D 2E is in! And since it really is a new version of a solidly OSR game (1E), it also fits in. So game on!

  9. This may sound like a shameless plug but it might help your players if you have them listen to THAC0's Hammer, The Best Damn AD&D 2nd Edition Podcast EVER! Okay, yeah, I host it, but we aim to help and enlighten the OSR gamer community of the joys of 2E. Who knows, you might just end up with some 2E fanatics on your hands (which isn't a bad thing).

    aka DM Glen