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Renewed Life For 1st Edition AD&D

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  • Renewed Life For 1st Edition AD&D

    It has come to my attention that Wizards of the Coast is releasing a LOT of 1st Edition AD&D material of late. They started up with the re-release of the Player's Handbook and Dungeonmaster's Guide in hardcover with new artwork, followed it up by releasing the boxed set of the original basic D&D, and now have many of the 1e books, supplements and modules online for digital download.

    Now, while I still retain my personal dislike of 3e and beyond for a variety of reasons that I won't get into here, I have to applaud WoTC for taking this step. In addition to catering to dinosaurs such as myself who still play 1e, it allows an entirely new generation- two generations, actually- to learn about and experience our beloved game the way many of us grew up on it. 1e is far more challenging, both in the sense of game mechanics that do not cater to the munchkin or MMO-mentality gamer and because it requires players and DMs to use their imagination more often, and this is something sorely needed these days. It is, as I told Woody, old-school Everquest in the World of Warcraft age.

    1e requires DMs to make a lot more of the decisions, to be a judge and rules arbiter rather than a Player Mk II and slave to the complex bloated rules set of a book. It pushes the DM to be a better storyteller, to adapt the campaign and play style on their own using the core rules as a guide. It doesn't have a rule for every possible event, and thus doesn't hold the hand of the DM. However, it allows for a much greater level of freedom, as the ability to break outside the box is a lot easier when the box is relatively small. Likewise, a lot more of the math, dice rolls, ability score checks, saving throws, etc. are behind the DM's screen than in later editions, making it more challenging for them.

    For players, 1e puts much greater emphasis on character roleplaying than dice-rolling. Attack rolls and the like are still in the hands of the player, but many ability score checks, thieving checks, saving throws, etc. are done by the DM in secret rather than by the player. This simultaneously enhances the immersion of playing the character and keeps alive the element of suspense and surprise for the players. With a good DM, the player will be able to roleplay their character and enjoy the game so much they will hardly notice the dice rolls themselves.

    I do not believe 1st Edition AD&D is superior to all other additions, I believe that for a substantial portion of the gaming community it will be, but not for everyone. I am happy to see it coming back into print/digital sale, and look forward to running games at game shops and the like to share it with new players.