Monday, July 16, 2012

Some Things I Learned from My AD&D Campaign

I started the AD&D campaign last September.  I wanted to use my old books and play the game I grew up with.  I played it as close to the original rules as possible.  I wanted to see how the old system held up and if I still liked it as much today. 

First thing I learned is I much prefer ascending armor class.  Eliminates the use of the matrix tables.  It also gets a little confusing when you have some that are trying to use THACO.  I've never played a game where THACO was used, but found out it does not match the matrix table in the 1st edition DMG.  I've never played 2nd edition or ever bought the books.  Having ascending armor class with 'to hit' bonuses for high levels is the way to go for me. 

Second thing I found I didn't like were the five saves included in AD&D.  There were so many situations where a save was called for, but did not fit into any of the categories.  I made some approximations with what a situation may be comparable to, but it still was a stretch most times.  I don't like the single save roll either.  Where as I've never played 3.5 and only Pathfinder recently, the Will, Reflex and Fortitude save make the best sense to me.  Those three options can cover almost any situation.

Third thing was I don't like a high magic campaign where magical items fall out of monsters butts when you kill them.  Sure I could have toned it down, but I was trying to play like we played back in the late 70s, early 80s.  There was a column on the character sheet just for magic items.  While I did switch it up with the type of magic items.  I used more unique items and sometimes the players discovered their powers and sometimes they didn't.  I prefer a low magic campaign where if there is a magic item it has a name and history.  Not number 4, +1 sword. 

Forth thing was the monsters.  I ran this campaign with lots of different critters and monsters, but I prefer the monsters to be like the magical items.  A monster with a name and history.  So when you do encounter a critter you better bring your lunch, its gonna be a fight.  Not just a quick glance at the Monster Manual..."okay, I need to use my +2 axe to hit this one and has anyone got any silver?"

Fifth, I don't really like the experience point system all that much.  I would prefer to streamline it and make all the classes need the same amount to get to the next level. 

Now you would think with all these things I didn't enjoy myself, but I did.  It was very cool to break out the DMG, PHB and MM and not just refer to them, but actually use them.  Dialing up an old style AD&D campaign was a lot of fun.  The players did an excellent job of keeping the story lines moving and solving problems.  Would I do it again, hell yeah.  But next time around I would do what any old school gamer would do, house rule it to fit what I like.


  1. Every year our gaming soc makes a new t-shirt. Logo on the front, and a quip on the back. A couple of years ago it read, "real roleplayers use THAC0"

    I felt a bit bad, as I hadn't used THAC0 in over a dacde, and actually struggled to give it a proper description when my then new to gaming girlfriend asked me what the hell it was. When I'd finally cleared it up, her response was puzzlement and asking why anyone would still use it compared tp the ease with which armour class rolls work in 3.5.

  2. Same reasons I used ascending AC and the three saves in Blood & Treasure - they're simple and they work pretty well.

  3. These are all sensible changes I made to D&D in my own hack as well.

  4. I really dig ascending AC and the unified save in S&W. I don't have major problem with classes having different XP requirements (though the thought of changing that has crossed my mind), but I am thinking about switching to the across-the-board 100xp/HD that some people use for awarding Monster XP. Especially in PbB, I think it can't hurt for advancement to happen a bit faster.

  5. The real joy of THAC0 is how it fades to the background for the player. You don't "see" the bonuses you're getting and so your character appears to just be better at smiting things. Inevitably a player will have the moment when he rolls a four and still hits and his mind is blown.

  6. Delta's Target 20 system works extremely well for AD&D.

  7. A monster that poops magic items is an interesting idea. Creates a conundrum- do you stop its monstrous rampage knowing the day after it eats a bunch of villagers it will poop out a magic sword or something.

  8. I'm so used to decades of 1e, that I can't imagine anything other than those tables get off my lawn, though ascension is probably easier, akin to English being one's mother tongue and having to learn this bizarre claptrap of exceptions and strange spellings.

    Of course, racial level limits were always house ruled away. Game balance, bah, are power gamers *that* common (let alone a bunch of 18th level PCs)? I've never had a party that wanted to be all elf or dwarf multi-classers.

  9. You've given me an idea for a monster than defecates magic-items!