The Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (AD&D) Trial Has Happened

This past week my gaming Group and I ran our AD&D second edition game.  It was a great experience for me.  Very nostalgic and it highlighted a few things about the game that I had forgotten.  The highlights were both good and bad!

The good

One thing that I remembered about this game was how swift it all seemed to move.  In all honesty, most games that I play these days seem to take a full hour just to get through a simple combat encounter.  This is way too long for an encounter to take.  It is likely that this is because most game systems these days try to cover for every eventuality.  Not AD&D though.  Its combat is slick and simple.  The rulings are largely left to the Dungeon Master and I took full advantage of that.

Player's Handbook
Back to how it should be

I ran a game that had 18 different encounter locations.  Not all of them were combat of course but we progressed through most of these areas with perhaps only 3 being missed.  The game session took us around three and a half hours.  I was very impressed with this as there was even a decent amount of role-playing done.

There was more to be happy about, though.  Largely the fact that this is the first game that I have played in my AD&D campaign world I have been designing in Realm Works for nearly a year now.  I wanted it to be a foreshadowing adventure and it paid off.  The players were intrigued by what was happening among the inhabitants of the underwater temple.  The fact that they could neither read nor speak the inhabitants’ language added to this intrigue.  It played out just as well as I had hoped it would.

It is such a better system than Pathfinder.  There are not 17,000 rules and millions of options that the Dungeon Master has to hold on to.  Skills are swapped for a much broader proficiency system; that means players can’t just break the game by being overly focused in one or two small areas.   It is also not 5E Dungeons and Dragons where the DM has to be careful of not hurting the players’ feelings.  Damage can be carried over for many days, even with heals in this game.  You do not just recover because you take a breather for a few seconds.

The bad

Two of us that were playing used to game in this system a lot.  But we are talking over 20 years ago.  I have reread all the rules, but even still we needed to check a few on the way.  The other player texted me today;

2nd edition AD&D was just so comfortable and familiar… and even having to look up rules was like opening a chest of good old memories.  Warm fuzzies when I think about it

Text message from friend

I agree with the sentiment he is talking about, but I found the inconsistencies in the rules to be an issue.

There are a plethora of rolls that need to be made with the d20 in this game.  The way that these are handled depends on the system though.  In a battle, you want to roll high to get over your THAC0 (to hit armour class 0); but to roll a proficiency, you want to roll low.  In the middle of the game, I heard a couple of players commenting on how their characters’ save vs. breath weapon was awesome!  I have a 14 says one, mine is better at 16! Says another.  I crush them when I explain that the number in the saves is something that they need to roll above to be successful.

This is my main negative for the game.  It is made up of a heap of little systems that hinge off of attributes pretty much.  The attributes modify these little systems, but the systems are closed and there is little consistency between them.  Experience of the system is what is needed to understand each of the mini-systems within it and how they work.


Long story short is that the benefits here far outweigh the negatives.  The negatives to me are something that goes away once you have played the game a few times.  The familiarity of the game causes those questions to go away and trust in the Dungeon Master to be fair is all that is needed here.  I seriously enjoyed watching this game from an analytical perspective and it is right up there for when I consider which to devote a long time too.  We now only have the one system to run and test.  That is Earthdawn and it should happen next week!


  1. A friend recently ran a bunch of OD&D games, never making it so far as 2nd Ed. They were fun to play. I didn’t think about the rules much, just told him what I wanted my character to do and roll. You make me want to go back and run a game or three myself with an analytical, more mature mind as I too, probably haven’t played this game in 20 years or so–what would what I know now impact how I play and see the game?


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