This last weekend I finally had a chance to look through the 2nd Edition books again. It has been, well, about 20 years. That seems impossible, but it’s true. Damn, I am getting old.
A few things I really like about the 2nd Edition rules.
- I like the weapon specialization rules for fighters. I suppose they are similar to the old Unearthed Arcana rules, which I never had but have heard a lot about.
- The 2nd Edition DMG has some rules/guidelines for awarding XP to character for doing the things their character class would, in fact, do.
- On a similar note, I like the separate Group XP awards and Individual XP awards. That makes sense.
- Specialization for magic users is also cool. I like that.
- The higher level limitations for demi-human races is nice. Some of the originals were way too low.
- I think the advice in the DMG about creating encounters is really good.
- I like addition of the Bard as a subclass of Rogue, that can be played from 1st level.
- The use of THAC0 (To Hit Armor Class Zero) system for determining the “to hit” number is nice, actually.
Overall, the 2nd Edition is streamlined where it needs to be, but adds stuff where it needs to. I do remember liking it a lot when I was using it.
A few things I don’t like about it:
- They removed the Half-Orc PC race. That sucks. I would add it back.
- This is kind of silly, but the 1st Edition books were written at a higher level of literacy. A college level. They seemed scholarly. They made you feel smart. The 2nd Edition books are not written for morons, but they are certainly written for a lower reading level. I miss the sage-like writing.
- I liked the Monk character class from 1st Edition. I would add it back in.
- I would keep the Demons and Devils and other evil stuff from the 1st Edition Monster Manual. Because, you know, that stuff is fantasy.
I’m sure I will come up with some other observations over the next few months. I think I would probably go ahead and use 2nd Edition rules these days. They retain enough of what was good about 1st edition improve a few things.
I still haven’t really taken a hard look at the 5th Edition basic rules, and I don’t have the new Starter Set. I will most likely pick that up this week and spend some quality time with it. A quick look revealed a few things. They have changed the magic-user to a 6-sided hit die, so they aren’t quite as physically weak. They’ve also added the ability to use Cantrip spells at will, and they don’t take up a spell slot. I think I like that. I am anxious to see the new Players Handbook and DMG and see what they did with it.
Trying to decide whether to send my nephew the old 2nd Edition stuff or the new 5th. It seems like maybe 5th would be better. Might as well start him with the version most of his friends will be playing.