Monday, March 10, 2014

Monday Memories: 2nd Edition

Today’s post isn’t about a specific RPG memory, but more of a general feeling that I recall.

When 3E first came out, I fully embraced it. When it was re-issued as 3.5, I was ecstatic. All of the customizations, and options, and the streamlined experience and multi-class systems…I was jazzed about it. This was the D&D I had always wanted.

These days, I still love 3.5. It’s my go-to system when I think of starting a new game. But things were not always thus. Back in the day we were all about 2nd Edition. Granted, at the beginning of my Army days, it was still 1E, and later 1E/2E hybrid games (along with a lot of other, non-D&D games). But, 2E was the edition I took with me to Desert Shield. And it’s the edition we played on the prow of an M-1 Abrams one night at Camp Sheridan.

But when 3E came out, I jumped in and never looked back. Until now. Lately I’m starting to wonder about 2E, and whether it was as good as my memories paint it. Honestly, it’s been several years since I even looked at my books, let alone played a game. So, I’m wondering if I may be misremembering things or not. Here’s the things I do remember:

Thief Skills – I recall thief skills being pretty customizable. I always liked the percentage-based skills of pre-3E. In 2E, you got a bunch of points to spend at creation, and then a set amount at each new level. Honestly this sounds pretty good to me.

Proficiencies – I have heard a lot of people talk about what a mess Proficiencies were, and how much the 3E skill system cleaned things up. But, I don’t actually remember Proficiencies being all that bad. You got a set number of weapon and non-weapon proficiencies, based on your class, and you just made your choices. If you tried to do something that you weren’t proficient at, you suffered a penalty. Unless I am mistaken, that seems simple enough.

THAC0 – Oy, the bane of everyone’s existence apparently. I never thought it was that hard. What did you do? You figured the number you needed to hit Armor Class 0, and then you subtracted the AC of your target from it. Granted, the Ascending AC of 3E is much easier, but the THAC0 wasn’t THAT difficult. Am I missing something?

Variable XP Requirements – Meaning that the classes all leveled at different points, based on their relative power levels. Honestly, I have always understood the principle of this, but not the execution. I get that some classes in older editions would have been quickly overpowered by other classes had the XP requirements been equal. But I never understood how these variations were calculated.

Bards – Way back in 1E, the Bard was something really special. You had to attain a certain level in Fighter, then switch classes entirely to Thief, then eventually switch classes to Druid (?), at which time you were considered a Bard. The only thing you carried over from each was your HP. So, if you were a 9th level Fighter, and decided to switch on your way to Bardness, you started over as a 1st level Thief…with the HP of a 9th level Fighter! This all sounded cool on paper, but it made no sense. Then 2E comes along and suddenly you can be a Bard from level 1! I was never much good at being a Bard, but I thought the 2E class made so much more sense.

I’m sure there are a lot of things I am forgetting, and probably some things mentioned above that I am not remembering properly. But, overall, I felt that 2E was pretty good. And based on that, and my recent interest in OSR games, I’d be more than willing to go back and play it again.

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