A new project – Revising AD&D

I really don’t need to start a new project… I’m part-way through writing three different one-off adventures, would like to get a few more miniatures painted before the end of the year, and have a back-log of TV series and movies to watch.

Why AD&D? Why now, after two decades of playing 3rd, 3.5 and PF?

Over the last year or two I’ve read a lot of blog & forum posts about playing AD&D and how people still play or used to play the game. What rules they followed, what they ignored, how they interpreted some stuff that wasn’t straight forward, and what they changed… The original AD&D Players Handbook and DMG were really badly written, and/or edited. You needed both books to understand how spells and combat worked. You had to look all over the books to check how different parts of races, classes, combat, encounters, etc all worked. You really had to read a lot to get a thorough knowledge of the game, which still left you with questions. Looking for detail on how something worked meant you found a rule for something else you hadn’t seen before. You got used to doing certain things without realising the rule was something slightly different than what you thought it was, played using weapon speeds, or encumbrance, and then gave up when it all got complex, and so on.  Stuff on player races in the Monster Manual was different from the Race info in the PH. Gygax himself was answering questions, giving explanations and errata for the rest of his life!

Just recently I’ve been reading “How to read the AD&D Rulesbooks” series by ‘Cave of the Dice Chucker. His look at how to play the game comes down to some simply ideas:

1 – If it’s not clear in a table, or concise paragraph of text – ignore it.

2 – If it defies common sense – use common sense.

3 – If its too complex, impractical, or irrelevant – ignore it.

There’s lots of stuff in AD&D that everyone complained about – demi-human level limits, unbalanced classes, weak humans, different rules for the same types of abilities… It WAS a mess – but we all enjoyed it anyway. I played and ran AD&D all through High School and University, and beyond. (About two decades… yes, I’m that old!) We took a break from AD&D (1st and 2nd) and played some other games. I finished putting together a whole bunch of tables of ability scores, races, experience, saving throws, non-weapon proficiencies, weapons, armour and general equipment… and then 3rd edition came out, and I started up a new campaign using that. We really haven’t gone back.

Over the last 1-2 years of Covid, I’ve worked on a heap of one-off adventures using many different game systems, I’ve done an adventure using AD&D (based on the AD&D cartoon), and written part of another based on 2nd edition. I really liked going back through the books. It got me to finally revise the saving throw table that I’d been planning to do forever.

My most recent reading has found me remembering all the little tweaks that I’ve considered over the years… adjustments to the ability score tables, simplifying class Stat requirements, converting all the different race and class abilities to a standard form, etc.

Consider surprise… it’s a basic, very simple rule, isn’t it: PC’s are surprised, and surprise opponents 2 in 6.

Then you recall that Elves & Halflings can potentially surprise opponents 4 in 6. A Ranger surprises 3 in 6, and is only surprised on a 1. A Monk is only surprised 32% of the time at 2nd level, and 2% less each level afterwards. Gray Dwarfs surprise others 3 in 6, and are only surprised 1 in 10. Deep gnome PCs surprise others 9 in 10, and are only surprised 1 in 12 chance. We won’t look at the monsters!

I want to start expanding my AD&D booklet, revising Ability Scores, Races, and Classes and abilities. Then likely look at surprise, initiative, and weapon & non-weapon proficiency. I want to include some of the things that 2nd edition introduced, use 2nd edition spell descriptions, etc. I want to rewrite Dual-class for Humans, and give Humans something to raise them up compared to demi-humans and all their racial abilities. This will be fun, as well as exploring a game that I’ve forgotten a lot of.

Will my RPG group play it with my rules… who knows! I’m doing it for me, because it’s caught my interest again.

More Undead

Three more undead completed yesterday. These are all Citadel metal figures – Wraith, Ghost and Zombie.

Wraith, 1985 C18 (66) from ‘Night Horrors’; “Spirit 3” of the 1999/2000 Spirit Host (Vampire Counts) and  Zombie, 1988/89 130608 “Kand-Meet”.

The wraith is a typical “death” figure but would (I feel) have benefited from either holding a sword or scythe rather than the over-size sickle. I do like the absence of hands, feet and head. Painting was very straight forward being a mid-grey with black shading and then lighter gray highlight. This goes in a slotta-base very nicely, so that only a bit of robes actually seems to be in contact with the ground. I should have glued it to its final base much earlier – painting while it was held in its old base with ‘tack wasn’t balanced or steady.

The “Spirit”, which I’ve always termed a ghost was a gift from a friend who’d bought the full 3 figure spirit host. My web-search to identify the figure brought up Azazel’s painting of these and I used his painting as inspiration – just a bit more green! Also fairly simple to paint. I went for some lighting on the base (as if the spirit glows) which didn’t come out quite like I wanted but it’ll do!

The zombie took the most work since he’s fairly detailed. The plastic shield may or may not be the one I originally bought him with, but it had a depression for the nub on his arm and fitted perfectly. The armor is marked and has holes and rents, so I did the same for the shield. I thought some battered heraldry would also suit.

I dug up three metal and four plastic Daemonettes of Slaanesh for my painting tray earlier in the month. The metal ones probably got a bit of use for Warhammer Quest a decade ago. I had 8-10 plastic given to me back then that I assembled, and then sold most of on eBay. I rather doubt I’ll ever use them… ended up selling the three metal ones on Gumtree, and I’m down to the last four plastics. I may try eBay for these, or end up painting them. It’s time to dig through my figure boxes and see what isn’t painted… I know there’s still a few adventurers, and a bunch of Citadel Beastmen.