Friday, December 17, 2010

Is 2nd Ed the next wave of OSR?

I posted a couple days back on the growing 2nd Ed AD&D love I have been seeing on the net and in the blogs. Not a lot of it mind you, more like a few vocal people in a crowd still going on about how the LBBs are the "best thang evar!"  (Ok for the record NO one has ever actually said that, that way.)

But the OSR movement has slowed down to stead pace now and we are not getting Yet Another OD&D Clone this month and I think people are giving 2nd Ed another look.

I have mentioned in that past that 2nd Ed is the game I ran the most but hardly ever played.  I was very much a DM only with that game.  In fact I was one of the early adopters of the game, buying it on the day it came out and not even taking any of my 1st Ed books with me back to college.  But sometime in the late 90's that (and I) changed.  When 2nd Ed came out I was a single college kid, living in the dorms and surviving on the the money I made tutoring others in math and physics. When 3rd Ed came out I was married, living in a house with a brand new baby and just laid off my teaching job because the grant funding at the university dried up.   I was two completely different people.    In the middle I nearly gave up on D&D all together and even sold off 80% of my collection in favor of games like "WitchCraft RPG" and "Vampire" and other horror games.  All that I have left now for 2nd ed is the three cores, the Celts guide and some Ravenloft stuff.  Though the PHB and DMG are my originals and I got them the day they were rel

Why is any of that important?  It's important because it has permanently colored how I view AD&D 2nd Ed. for years.  I did remember the joy of the getting the latest Monstrous Compendium supplement, I only recalled the dreck of the Skills and Powers books.

But as time goes on and I wax on about earlier systems it is only natural that eventually my rose colored glasses gaze on 2nd Ed. Others seem to be doing the same.

2nd Ed as a retro-clone though has some issues it must deal with first.
- First, 2nd Ed is mechanically not all that different from 1st Ed.  One could in theory play a "2nd Ed Game" with nothing more than OSRIC.  One of the big selling points behind 2nd Ed was it re-organized the material from earlier editions.  It is in a sense the first Retro-clone.
- What made 2nd Ed special to many were the campaign worlds, and those don't fall under the OGL at all.  Plus most of the OSR folks seem to prefer sandbox worlds so anything created by them would naturally fit into any other world.
- The Proficiency system of 2nd Ed is needlessly complicated.  Note I am not saying it is complicated itself, it's not, but it is more complicated than it needs to be for a game.  3rd Ed's Skill system is superior in nearly every respect, and 4th Ed's is better still.  Reverse engineering it would not be difficult (premise, not every skill is worth the same amount) but I'd have to ask why?

The monster's in 2nd Ed were a nice improvement over 1st ed. I like the one monster per page format, something that 3rd ed dropped but 4th ed picked back up.

Personally I think it is only a matter of time before someone does a full on 2nd Ed clone.  I know there are some in development now.   I know of and have looked at the beta of Adventures Dark and Deep, a sort of "what-if game", as in what if Gygax had developed AD&D 2nd ED the way he had planned.


christian said...

A key factor of 2e that often gets overlooked is that that characters could gain xps for role-playing, achieving goals and "story awards." This opened up all kinds of opportunities for adventure instead of slay and loot.

Michael S/Chgowiz said...

"First, 2nd Ed is mechanically not all that different from 1st Ed. One could in theory play a "2nd Ed Game" with nothing more than OSRIC."

This is why I've considered a 2e retroclone to have big issues as well. When I played 2e, it was 1e with stuff bolted on.

But this... "What made 2nd Ed special to many were the campaign worlds, and those don't fall under the OGL at all."

Very true BUT - put out a supplement to OSRIC that puts in place many of those things that people did like about 2e AND come up with compelling settings and you can emulate what was good about 2e.

I think at the end of the day, a retroclone of 2e isn't going to rekindle 2e - it'll be the settings.

Greyhawk Grognard said...

Oh, and just as an FYI, the Adventures Dark and Deep open playtest has begun. If you go to the ADD forums (to which Tim linked near the bottom of his post) you'll find the playtest version of the Players Manual. Thanks again for the mention, Tim!

It's also funny you should mention the proficiency rules. ADD's skill system works a lot like what you're talking about, if I'm reading you correctly.

5stonegames said...

I started with Holmes but 2e was "my" D&D as it was the game I played more than any other and until Buffy/Angel had the best sessions with.

As a fan I am looking forward to the Retro-Clones.

One is out in playtest now in fact, the quite cool looking Myth and Magic which its maker New Haven Games calls a "retro-remix"

I've seen the preliminary playtest and its looks solid.

It also has some great ways to fix the stuff I disliked and does away with kits which were always a mixed blessing.

Chris Stevens said...

I've tried to get my new group to play either AD&D or 2nd edition, and they (sadly) wouldn't have it in the least.

Cyric said...

I do have 2 groups playing AD&D 2nd with right now. It is the edition with which my fondest memories of roleplaying are connected to and even today I think that an awesome amount of supporting books had been printed for it. Many gamers only remember the books that went way too far but TSR and 2nd edition tried alot, published alot and it's only natural that some things went bad.

Konsumterra said...

I loved 2nd ed but a rapid decline in quality made me quit - necromancers guide was pretty aweful compared to fighters guide. Not many people liked the proficiency system which actually since old dungeoneer guide and oriental adventures kept us playing DnD. We all went to RuneQuest, gurps and Rolemaster en mass. I dislike all the skill systems that followed. My current game is proficiency based with theieves getting the most non weapons, wizards getting lots of lore skills and warriors the most exotic martial arts. The worst element in DnD is too many systems repeating - thief skills, non weapon proffs and feats were all a bit silly as are endless products with too many character classes. I will probably publish my PDF sometime - A mash up of basic DnD with second edition elements.