2e or not 2e, That is the Question

TODAY I’D LIKE TO REFLECT on 2nd Editions place in the mythos which is Dungeons and Dragons, and why this version is so important to myself and many others. I am a big fan of the blogs about older editions, as I am sure is everyone who reads this one. Great Blogs like Monsters & Manuals, and Grognardia have had me absolutely captivated for months now! Many of them are focused on the original Dungeons & Dragons box set which came out some time in the 1970’s, which was WAY before my time.

Let’s go back to sometime in the early 80’s. I am of the Star Wars Generation. At this time I was in a small river city in Iowa, a tight little neighborhood where if you did something four blocks away, word would already be back home by the time that you showed up for your spanking . . . If you didn’t get it right then and there from the neighbor that you wronged.

My cousin, who was one year older then me, but we were inseparable. He lived across the street and I was just as likely to be found over at his house as my own. Our lives revolved around watching movies like Clash of the Titans, V, and any thing to do with the stuff that boys love! One day we were Cowboys, the next we were going to be Knights of the Round Table when we grew up. We spent most of our days playing out in the woods, beating each other with sticks as we fancied ourselves highly skilled warriors!

One fine day My cousin tells me to sit down, and shows me this booklet. I’m not sure exactly what it was called, I know now that it was a Module, but at the time he kept trying to convince me that it was a game of some kind called Dungeons and Dragons, which was cool, but I couldn’t find all of the lovely pieces of plastic which boys have always collected since its inception, which was also way before my time.

The module had the picture of a white glove, and a black glove. I’m not sure if the cartoon was out yet (I watched that badboy religiously every Saturday morning) or if I was just influenced by watching the Hobbit. I wanted to be invisible, and that was the only thing that I HAD to have in order for me to play this game with him. I wanted a Cloak of Invisibility, which he granted me. I had a sword too, but he informed me that if I attacked, then the badguys could see me. Well, looking back, I probably did the right thing. I was a party of one, and I’d be damned if I’d take off that Cloak of Invisibility, THERE WAS MONSTERS ABOUT!!! Eventually my cousin got mad at me, and discovered that taunting me with getting to roll funny looking dice if I took the cloak off wasn’t getting him anywhere, but it was my Uncle who hollered at me to just take off the damned cloak so that the whining would stop, for the love of Christ! So . . . I finally took the cloak off--for the love of Christ, of course, and my cousin dutifully killed my character. And that was that. The next day we were back outside, beating each other bloody with the sticks again. He’d ask me to play Dungeons and Dragons with him again, but I had no interest in that again! Besides, I saw something on 20/20 where they said you go crazy from playing that game, and go to hell, and besides! Hitting my cousin with sticks was much more entertaining.

Eventually my family moved out of our fun little neighborhood, and we moved into the country. THAT was pretty much the end of my social life. The closest neighbor to me lived 3 miles away, and he was a jerk who was actually more into fixing cars and talking about some motorcycle that he was going to buy one day, then he was about fights between Darth Vader and Yoda, Dr. Who, or He-Man . . . I mean, WHO DOES THAT?!?! I never found geeky friends until well after I graduated high school, and that damned painful Puberty thing was over.

1993 marked my first introduction to THE GAME! It was 2nd Edition, and I had been looking for this for what felt like my own life! I didn’t have a computer yet, those things were still things that only rich people had, but who wasn’t interested in creating their own games? Their own worlds!!! I had discovered writing at a very young age, and spent hours typing up little stories for my trashcan, mostly fantasy stories, but I always dreamed of creating my own game.

My friend and I got on the subject of witchcraft one night, and he pulled out this Dungeons and Dragons manual which he let me borrow. I read the whole thing and was dying to play, so he organized a game, and we had an awesome time!!! I played and played and played. We lived on a diet of Roman Noodles and huge cups of Mountain Dew. Eventually I began to understand enough to feel comfident to Dungeon Master my first game. We played mostly Forgotten Realms, Lee was a HUGE Forgotten Realms geek, and I knew that he had forgotten more about the realm then I would ever know, so I got a box set which none of the party had ever played before, RAVENLOFT.

My poor wife. She wasn’t my wife yet, but I forced her to go through the same dungeon over and over and over again so that I could practice DMing the damned thing. God bless her, she never complained! Well, she did, but it wasn’t ever to vehemently. That dungeon was “Night of the Walking Dead” which is still one of my favorite modules of all time.

That group was fairly large, and we’d play every day, sometimes ALL day. None of us went to Collage, we were all lucky to some how graduate High School! We did this for a couple of years, but then we got girlfriends, real jobs, or moved away. A core of us have always stayed in contact, and that experience will always be a bond. It was a good time! Finding ourselves, and our independence together. Sharing our first apartment, half of us worked at the same place, I think that I learned more from that experience then I did in school.

We still played off and on. My sister got bit by the bug a couple of years later, and DMed a couple of games but was to scatterbrained to have a full time campaign. I think that WHO you allow into a game is just as important to the game as having a nice cold soda! I remember an awesome game which was DMed by my future wife which was HUGE!!! A little too huge. Half of the people that showed up for that game would never show up again, thus it never got finished which always sucks, and one of the main reasons why I quit DMing. The DM spends a ton of free time inventing this stuff and writing down notes, making maps, tailoring it to specific people, and then when the players just take it all for granted, don’t show up, or refuse to take it seriously it really hurts your feelings. AND IT SHOULD!!! But I guess that now that I’m older, I have developed ways of defending myself from that happening.

I remember when 3rd Edition came out. I wasn’t all that impressed, people claimed that it could do all of this stuff, with less books. Well, I already invested in all of the books! 2e was HUGE!!! It was the era of what is now referred to as FLUFF, and I’m not ashamed to say that I LOVE FLUFF!!!! To me, it is more important then your crunch. I can come up with crunch on the fly. The crunch is easy, it is figuring out the fluff which leads to a good game, well, to me it does. The details, it’s all in the details. If I’m suppose to be sailing a ship, then I want to feel like I’m actually on a ship. If I’m hiking through mountains and discover some haunted ruins, I want to be there! That is what the game is all about. The awesome graphics!!!!

I have been bitten by the bug once again. I crawled back up on the horse, armed with more experience and a greater understanding of what it is that I want out of each game, but was greatly disheartened by the lack of folks talking about the greatest edition, 2e. People will play it at the drop of a hat!!!!

“Wanna play a game of D&D?”
“Oh man, I ain’t played that in years! But no thanks. What is it up to now? 4th edition?”
“Are you sure? We are playing 2nd Edition.”
“Really! Well, let me talk to my boss and I’ll try and get the day off.”

People hate change. This isn’t a new thing, just ask the big wigs over there at the Coca Cola company, they’ll tell you! I had tons of books, more D&D books is NOT something that I need. Especially when you have so many options nowadays. How many videogames can one buy for the price of 4e core books? We know that D&D totally kicks videogames buttocks, but new blood doesn’t.

Right before I got back into the game, I pondered selling my books and was shocked at just how worthless that they really are. Even my 1st edition stuff which I bought on a lark! It saddens me, especially knowing how much joy that I, and many others just like myself got out of them. I felt like had had to find some way to give back to the hobby, and, I guess that you are reading it!


Anonymous said...

I love 2nd Ed.
I would play a second Ed. game in a heartbeat.
That's what made D&D what it is for me in High School...
Non-Weapon Proficiencies, THACO, Random Tables for everything, Demi-Human restrictions... The good ol' days!

Tom said...

Good to hear your playing. You're lucky that you can find a group, especially for an old edition.

I myself played original red box, 1st adnd, and 2nd before I grew out of the hobby.

Now in my 30s I've grown back in :) I gotta say I really like 4e; streamlined, no tables, tactical combat. If you've been reading a lot of the "hate", I suggest you at least give it a look, you might be surprised.

Shadow_x99 said...

2nd Edition was the greatest of them all...

3rd Edition... Well it sucked... it made me try many other games that weren't D&D... For that I thank the 3rd Edition

4th Edition feels very well into my hands... I like it... It will never be the same though...

Gamer Dude said...

I cut my teeth on an amalgamation of Holmes / AD&D, and most of my Jr. High / High School playing was 1e AD&D. But I'll have to admit, all of the hours we put in while we were in university were 2E. And that was a LOT of hours.

I've played every version since. Even some of the retro-clone stuff like Castles and Crusades, Swords and Wizardry and Labyrinth Lord. I will say that I was NOT enamored of 3.X in any way, shape or form. I thought it was pure bloat. I hated having to either create a character or even level a character. You were always afraid that you were taking the wrong feat or skill. It sucked.

4E is alright. That's about as far as I'll go. I'm playing it now with a group of guys and it's ALL about tactics. Initially I had thought that his would wear off as we became accustomed to the rules. And that we'd eventually go back to a more "adventure" centric kind of game...you know, less war game / card game and more like Indiana Jones.

Well so far, I'm disappointed. Seems that WotC has a plan to release 8 types of "powers"...4 have been released so far and with every new release it changes the face of the game. It is so much about party tactics and how each class's powers interact with the others, that when you constantly change that mix, you're changing the landscape and how the game plays.

It sounds to me as if it's going to continue in this vein for quite some time too.

Man, I'm sorry, I'm rambling here. But nonetheless, 3.X and 4E don't hold a candle to 2E. Never have and never will. No arguments there.

thekelvingreen said...

I'm playing 4e right now, and it's not bad. It does feel a bit distant though.

For me, D&D is the Red Box (or Labyrinth Lord), but if I had to pick one of the proper "grown up" versions, it's 2e all the way.

Tala said...

I will never forget or ever forgive you for making me go through the "Walking Dead" module a billion times. LOL Although I think the worst module was "Web of Illusions" didn't care for that one at all.

I will have to say though that you did turn into one helluva DM, even though I had to sit through all the crap for years. I suppose it was worth it ;P

Anonymous said...

I started playing 2nd ed. in 1989 and I STILL PLAY EVERY WEDNESDAY NIGHT -- with the same guys. That's 20 years. That's a system. Long live 2nd edition!

RipperX said...

Thanks to everyone for your comments! I'm not use to this many, but it does swell my heart to know that so many people are on the same bandwagon.

When 4e first came out, I entertained the idea of upgrading, but after doing my homework I decided that it just wasn't for me. My playing style is total hodgepodge, and I enjoy mixing it up. One day we'll play, Find the Door, the next it could be a Whodunit.

The Cool thing about 2e is that it is like a Harley Davidson. Not everybody can ride one, but when you know what your doing with it, all it takes is a little fine tuning here and there and then the sky is the limit. 2e is such a stable system that it is capable of doing anything that you throw at it. It might take a bit of fine tuning to get it perfect, but perfection is exactly what you can expect.

I honestly don't need a new system to play with! I don't hate 4e. It just isn't anything that I really care to do. It took years to learn all of the rules for 2e, and I strive to master them, why start over again?

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