Getting into Advanced Dungeons & Dragons can be daunting
to many people, especially now that the books are out of print. While Wizards
of the Coast has republished them, I find the cost for these books to be unacceptable.
With all of the supplemental material out there for 2nd Edition,
many think that you need all of that stuff to run a game, but honestly, you
only need a few books.
WHAT IS AD&D 2E?
When 2e came out, it wasn’t meant to replace the original
AD&D, simply to clarify rules, and make finding information easier. Many
things were altered, but it was always assumed that you owned the 1e version of
the game. As the years passed, more supplements
were added which typically over did the work accomplished by 1st
Edition, the 2e Book of Artifacts for instance is unnecessary, all of the info
that you need to create your own artifacts can be found in the 1e DMG, most of
that 2e book is nothing but filler; choosing to publish an entire book to clarify
a small blip in 1e was way too common, and you are best served by ignoring most
WHAT BOOKS DO I NEED
TO RUN AD&D?
There are only 3 books that you need from 2e.
The Player’s Handbook (PHB): This is the only book
that a player needs to play the game, but the DM needs one too.
The Dungeon Master’s Guide (DMG): This book contains
rules specific for DMs which also agrees with the 2e PHB.
The Monstrous Manual (MM): This book is a huge
collection of monsters and is a true work horse. It does cost the most, but it
is a very valuable book to any DM.
The Complete Psionics Handbook: The book isn't core but it does allow you to run some monsters that use these rules, and you won't find them anywhere else that I know of.
The 2e Dungeon Master’s Shield is also worth the money if
you can find one. It has most of the tables that you use regularly right there
in front of you.
There are also 1e books that you should have:
The AD&D Dungeon Master’s Guide: This book was
written by Gary Gygax and contains a wealth of knowledge that is unique to it,
if it has a flaw, then it has to do with how the book was bound, care must be exercised
when you are handling it. Of all of the books reprinted, this one may actually
be worth the cover-price just for the proper binding alone.
The Wilderness Survival Guide: Contains rules and
suggestions for managing a party in the wild. It is very in-depth.
The Dungeoneer’s Survival Guide: Much like the
Wilderness guide, but geared towards underground exploration. Both of these
books were the first ones to introduce Non-Weapon Proficiencies.
The Manual of the Planes: This book completely
replaces the Planescape setting and requires much less time to read. If you
have no interest in traveling the planes full time, this is the book for you!
Oriental Adventures: While not necessarily core, this
is a worthy book to keep.
Deities & Demigods: If you want to create your
own settings, this book can help greatly with creating a pantheon. The 2e
version of this book, called Legends and Lore is comparable if you can’t
find a copy.
WHAT BOOKS DO I USE
Seriously, I only really ever use the 2e core rule books.
The 1e books are good for adventure designing, and I do use them, but only
rarely; so if you can’t find them right away, I wouldn’t worry about it.
WHY WOULD I WANT TO
The Settings! The settings put out for AD&D were the
most functional, if you have never cracked open a boxed set that is pre-3e, boy
are you in for a treat! Below is a list of the most popular.
·The World of Greyhawk: Designed by Gary Gygax;
it is a bare bones campaign setting for those who like to do their own world
building, but lack the time to create everything.
·Dragonlance: A fully formed setting based on the
·Forgotten Realms: You hear people bitch about
this one, but it is the most popular. If you let it, it can ruin your campaign,
but, if you just stick to the box set, and a handful of supplements, then this
place is a gem!
·Spelljammer: Fantasy in outer space.
·Ravenloft: A horror setting that is also a
wonderful world if you stick to the box set.
·Planescape: One of the most popular boxes for
people who DO want to run an entire campaign jumping dimensions.
·Dark Sun: AD&D with the difficulty setting
all the way up.
Mystara: A fully formed world with ties that date back to the early days of D&D
AD&D also allows you to easily play all of the old
modules which made this game what it is. Of special interest are the 1e varieties,
which are easily adapted to 2e rules with very little fuss. Many of the 2e
modules were not that good, as during the era they produced stuff heavy on
Railroading, but if you are the creative type, you can easily pick up an out of
print boxed setting and get nothing but inspiration from them. This was back when
D&D still sold ideas, which it should had stayed true to.