Problems with a new campaign

I have discussed recently here that I am returning to 2nd Edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons.  This is because every version of D&D that came after it is deeply flawed in one way or another.  I want to bring it back to basics.  So far I have read the Player’s Handbook and the Dungeon Master Guide.  But already I am running into problems for the game and that is beginning to make me wonder if I should bother.

Player's Handbook
Back to how it should be


I have a pool of potential players.  They are keen to run in the game and this is great.  For most of them the movement to second edition is one they have never experienced before, and this is causing problems.  I remember that second edition was a game where the Player’s had free access to the Player’s Handbook but access to the Dungeon Master Guide was pretty much forbidden.  Reading both manuals, this is an enforced concept and the reasoning behind it is pretty clear when you read the Dungeon Master Guide.  I have already had one of the players tell me that he was concerned about a rule in the Player’s Handbook that stated the details were in the Dungeon Master Guide.  He downloaded a copy and freely looked into it.

Is this a player problem or a technology problem?  I don’t know but I do know that I felt violated already.  The rules looked into are something that I am meant to have full control over but it is already looking like I have a group that are trying to min/max the whole system.  I went for second edition because the number of options are greatly reduced.  I am using the base three books and that is it.  Min/maxing is not an easy thing to do.  But after that revelation I had to endure a conversation between two of them that basically showed me they had looked at the weapons that gave maximum benefit.  Another sign that min/maxing is just around the corner.

On the opposite side I have an old school player that was for a time looking at all the expanded material for the books.  Kits for gnomes and halflings came up in a conversation and I had to make it very clear that the base books were the limit.  He was reading these books for flavour but these are not books that I am ever entertaining to include.  Complexity is what I am moving away from.


I am getting pressure to speed the process up.  The players are keen, and that is great, but I want to get this right.  I have only now (within minutes of writing this post) finished the Dungeon Master Guide and I do have to return to the Player’s Handbook to closely read spells.  I have ideas beginning to form of a very magical, different style of setting but I need the basis to get it right.

Players are already wanting to make characters though and I am not prepared for that.  I want to put all the pieces in place so I can answer the questions that they will have.  Since my store closed down I have been super busy (unemployment is busier than I expected).  I am not getting the time to plan as I thought I would and the time I am getting is all about reading rules and the like.  Running excellent games is something I always want to do and I am not sure I have done that well in the store.  I want to make sure I do now.


I am feeling overwhelmed at the moment.  These problems are weighing on me.  In each instance they are smaller problems but they are causing me to desire this game less.  I understand these players like my games but I need time, space and respect to get the work done.  True role playing is not about the numbers, it is about the interactions. The rules magnification going on around me will lead the game to ruin.  I won’t accept players opening books to certain pages in the middle of a game to show me rules.  Second Edition games were always run with what the Dungeon Master says and rules discussions happen outside of the game.

This game is very important to me in a lot of ways.  I never thought that I would be facing these problems at this point and it is making me doubt myself.  Am I wrong to make this move?  Is this a sign of burnout? Should I push through and just lay it on the line?  I will have to see what I feel like when I actually get to put pen to paper. When I start the building of this campaign world despite its problems.


  1. Your worrying too much
    I have not heard dms guide described as forbidden by anyone since the 80s. Nothing in it is that secret.
    Minmaxing always existed.
    Maybe try purple basic set whwre all weapons do d6 or a older version


    1. Hey Mark as you know I recently started playing second ed with Matho (an old friend of ours) and our group stumbled through the rules a bit and but it was fun any muck up’s were rubbed out with the reality eraser and the game moved forward. So start when you are comfortable… but dms will always feel underprepared sometimes a rough plot a few cool npcs and gritty or fantastic locale or two are enough.It’s a team effort to make a game fun so let’s “all” us players work with the dm to craft a fun story using a simple and cool game.


  2. Sounds like you are putting to much pressure on yourself!.
    2nd Edition was designed as a big tool box- almost everything in the game was optional. Just because its there doesnt mean it has to be part of your game.
    Best of all ADnD is modular enough that the game wont get broken if you drop or modify specific things, unlike other more unified rulesets.
    The myriad od systems is a feature, not a bug!
    Also,ditch the 2nd ed DMG and run with 1ed DMG. !!


  3. As someone who played second edition for two decades I can say that in terms of complexity 5th edition simplified many mechanics.

    As for players having the resources available is due to the easy accessibility through the Internet. When second edition first came out if a player wanted to read DM Guide they would need to buy or get a physical copy.

    Min/Maxing has always happened and that is more about the player than the edition of D&D.

    Finally in 5th edition the creators have always said it is a guide book and DM can still do what they want. You probably find 2nd Edition easier because you are more familiar with the rules. When I first transitioned to 5th sometimes I was not fully familiar with the rules and would have to look them up for clarification but now that I’ve been playing for over a year it is become similar to how we played in second edition.

    I would say you should try to give 5th edition a serious try. There is also convenient online tools like Dnd Beyond which can help you search quickly for clarifications.


  4. Yeah, after long experience with AD&D I don’t really miss it that much. Its a decent system, but it relies very heavily on good DMing, and then there’s the problem with the mismatch between expectations and reality. 2e in particular makes it sound like a game of big damned epic heroes, but it isn’t, the rules are still BASICALLY the same old procedural dungeon crawling system introduced in 1974. The mismatch can be pretty glaring at times. I recall many players who were all psyched to play an FRPG and live out their fantasies, and then they ran into an orc, and found out that D&D doesn’t really support crazy action sequence sort of stuff. In fact it basically rewards being very tediously systematic about everything you do and NOT taking any chances or doing anything really cool (though wizards are inherently cool, there is that).

    Not saying this all to be too negative, just you have to match the player expectations to the reality of the system they’re going to play. If you want crazy action-sequence stuff, then 2e is not really your first choice of system.


  5. I wasn’t trying to min max anything. I simply wanted to know what the actual drawbacks to playing a non-human character was, rather than be told a limit existed but having no idea what that limit was.


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