Thursday, April 9, 2009

Will We See A 2E Retro-Clone?

Poor AD&D 2nd Edition! Reviled by grognards and RPG fashionistas alike! Yet, I submit from my own personal experiences that 2e still has a decent amount of groups out there who play it or occasionally cycle back around to it. In my own group, I have at least 2 players who consider that their edition of choice, and I'm fairly certain a goodly number of players near my age (near-30ish) started with that edition.

Now, some of the main criticisms of 2E were:

-The "softening" of D&D by removing mentions of such things as demons and devils
-Removal of bards, monks, and half-orcs
-Removal of dungeon generation tables from the 2e DMG
-The way Non-Weapon Proficiencies worked (or didn't)

I think a lot of the strengths of 2e were in the "fluff", settings, boxed sets, and the Complete _______ line of books--all things that wouldn't or couldn't translate to a retro-clone as well as mechanics.

Let's be honest--in a lot of ways, AD&D2e is the "Silent Years" between the Old & New Testaments of D&D for people. I think if we see a completed 2E retro-clone, it may well come from outside the current retro-clone community. The closest thing I've seen thus far was the 1e/2e mix of Hackmaster, and that's also now out of print (the next edition will be a completely new game). I think it is has been stated as a clear point of delineation by many old-schoolers, and I won't argue with that. I think the game may even stand for a different style of play then the retro-clones we've seen up to this point. But it is still a part of D&D's history with it's own charms, and it would be at least interesting to see such an effort.

24 comments:

AnthonyRoberson said...

There actually has been some talk of a 2E retro clone on ENWorld. I can't remember who is pursuing the idea though. I came up with a name for it - SERF (Second Edition Roleplaying Format). We'll see if it happens....

Ryan said...

I played nothing but 2e and frankly never got the criticisms, but I never played any older editions so there.

And Bards? They were in there.

Thaco: Didn't it just formulize the to hit table from AD&D?

Ryan said...

Er, I mean growing up, I played nothing but 2nd edition. I still have a great deal of nostalgia for it.

sycarion said...

2E had a ton of settings, including my favorite, SpellJammer. Who can forget that?

I played 1e and 'basic' D&D, but always bought the settings from 2e. Now, there's only two settings, but I miss the days when there were several.

Zachary The First said...

Yes, bards were in there. That's a boo-boo on my part--I'll scratch it out when I get home. :)

Ryan said...

(Different Ryan, here)

I played 2nd edition all through junior high and high school, and haven't played it since just before my senior year. (So about ten years) I agree that 2nd edition had some great campaign settings. Honestly, I don't see a huge difference in the rules. Initiative works differently and I think surprise is rolled with a d10 instead of a d6, but that's all I can think of off the top of my head.

As for the Complete ____ series, I thought the Complete Priest was one of the best books of the 2e era. I think the 2nd edition supplements were somewhat uneven, however... I remember hating the Complete Wizard, and nobody will argue that some kits were totally off kilter.

Still, if someone put out a 2e retro-clone, I'd read it, if only for posterity.

Joseph said...

I must confess I transitioned to 2E when it came out and loved it. I thought THAC0 made combat go a little easier, didn't mind the non-weapon proficiencies at all, and my dark secret-- I *liked* kits. In fact, at one point I contemplated making kits for every class and every nation in Greyhawk. There would be a Keolander thief, a Tenha fighter, etc. When I came back to D&D, it was 1E, but I still don't understand the hate for 2E.

Jeff Rients said...

I think a 2e clone is inevitable. At its core is a functional ruleset that was marred by presentation by a company more concerned with public image than its own customer base.

taichara said...

I keep contemplating a 2e clone, but haven't the fortitude to manage to start one.

Or at least not yet. Time will tell, I suppose *grins*

Edsan said...

I would like to see, if not a clone, at least "conversion document" to help a 1st Ed retro-clone GM adapt stuff from AD&D2.

Ryan said...

(first Ryan again)
Ah kits. They breathed new life into our games. I really loved me some AD&D2E, but looking at it again recently, I realized I can have all the fun with a system I like much better (nostalgia aside).

Zachary The First said...

@Edsan: Are you thinking of something along the lines of a conversion pdf to complement OSRIC, for example? With how to make the needed changes, ports, etc.?

Edsan said...

Tep, that's pretty much it. Both editions are remarkabely similar AFAIK but there are a couple of differences which can cause snags (the different XP tables for monsters for example).

Chgowiz said...

@Zach - I wonder if the 'need' of a retroclone for 2E would be similar to the preservationist project of OSRIC - not because there's a lack of materials (there are far more 2E books for sale than 1E by my anecdotal experience) but to keep the rule system in "play" via the OGL? It could be the prevalence of 2E materials still out there (it's only been 10 years since it went OOP) that has kept anyone from moving on with it.

@Edsan - it was my understanding that going back/forth between 1E and 2E was pretty easy.

The Recursion King said...

I don't actually think its necessary.

I run a Labyrinth Lord campaign and bolster the spell list with the second edition spell cards; monster lists with the 2nd edition TSR trading cards and house rule lots of things as well as some extra classes; its very, very easy to mix and match. I even have 2nd edition NPC's in my Labyrinth Lord campaign in the party!

I'd recommend this approach to anyone.

Kiashu said...

I doubt it. I think someone might be doing a retro-clone of Advanced Fighting Fantasy, though.

kelvingreen said...

An AFF clone? Really? Any ideas on who's behind that?

rpgcharacters said...

While the settings for 2e were sweet, the mechanics just seemed to be a patch-kit to 1e and overall I stuck to 1e games with 2e campaign settings for most of the 2e era.

satyre said...

Played 2E extensively, found I kept the 1E DMG on standby for the tables and setting stuff which 2E books stripped out and put into the softbacks. Really took to kits but a lack of balance between them became more obvious with time.

2E was a setting utopia - Realms, Ravenloft, Dark Sun, Spelljammer, Birthright, Mystara, Red Steel and it's IMHO where the future lies, not drip-feeding core books one after another (which was the big kill for 3E and which 4E seems doomed to continue

(Draconomicon volume 1 for 4E? At what point do we get to have a balanced game with options for all the power groups - 2012?)

A retroclone 2E wouldn't be as big a draw for me. Sure it would be nostalgia but I'm looking more at D&D Cyclopedia and thinking... hmm.

Lurkinggherkin said...

Settings were definitely 2e's strong point, and what it did best. And 2e expanded on the 'story-driven roleplay' theme of Dragonlance, which I think in many ways was the prototype for the 2e playing style.

Unfortunately this contained the seeds of its own destruction - the dreaded railroad. I have read so many 2e modules that go into wonderful detail about background setting and NPC personalities and motivations, but the plot is just so damn linear (and often poorly thought out). Worst example ever was Vecna Lives!.

Not too long ago I ran the 2nd-edition WGA1-3 series converted for 3.5e as an exercise. One of the biggest challenges was de-linearising the plot and making some sense out of the more contrived incidents that are supposed to happen.

Then again, having said this I've found that some players are actually happy with linear plot, and they tend to flounder when there are no clear signposts to their next destination.

DM4Hire said...

Just played 2e Friday and we were talking about different clones for the other editions. Just thought I'd do a look see and found your blog. 2e is very much still being played so a clone would work.

pauljessup said...

2nd ed was always my favorite- mostly for the campaign settings and the idea that you could push it towards more interesting places.

You didn't see all the crazy settings in 1st ed, OD&D, or even some of 3/3.5 and 4ed. I mean, Planescape, Forgotten Realms, Dragon Lance, Dark Sun...some where completely unique, others were just fun.

Sure, the grogs bash on 2ed, but to me, 2ed opened up a world of opportunity for creating your own world. It was world building rather than dungeon crawling.

2ed is still what I pull out in a pinch for fantasy gaming (even though I really did like 3/3.5). ANd I'm even working on my own FRPG that I hope will inspire that kind of campaign world building insanity-

htpp://magpie.pauljessup.com

d7 said...

A 2e clone would be useful for some things. In particular, I just went looking for an OSRIC-like version of 2e (and this is one of the links that turned up) because I just started in a 2e game on Google Wave. I have the books, but some of the players are returning to this edition for the first time in years and don't have the books.

A copy of "SERF" or something like that would be excellent as a table reference for virtual-table games like those on Wave. (I do have a 2e PHB in PDF, but I'm not sanguine about file sharing it, especially in a medium were everything is on permanent record.)

Anonymous said...

Although their trying hard to say nothing, this just leaked: www.newhavengames.com

A retro-clone or remake for 2E and it seems both professional and commercial. Someone said they felt a 2E clone would come from outside the retro-clone circle and, apparently, they were right.

I watching this one. The cover is sick, although I'd love some more info.