What's Wrong With AD&D?

A lot, according to this page. And you know what? I happen to largely agree with most of the criticisms on that page. I even sent one of my own criticisms to Mark Hughes, but he never replied.

I still remember the first time I ever role played with a friend. He recently got involved with a girl who played AD&D, and he shared the experience with me. We didn't have any dice or rule books, but it was a lot of fun anyway. A few days later I was at his girlfriend's house writing up a character sheet.

So what is the point of creating this page, if I happen to agree with that bloodsucking bastard Mark Hughes about AD&D? Well, I believe AD&D 2nd Edition can be fixed ( improved) with a few minor changes, and a few major ones. I have over a thousand dollars invested into AD&D 2nd Edition, and I don't wanna have to spend anymore money on another system.

Excuses, Excuses

One of the reasons Mark Hughes may have not responded to me was because I gave him one of the Top 10 Excuses; The Player's Option books help a lot. While I probably understand Mark's annoyance with this excuse, it really does help with some of the complaints, namely the one about non-weapon proficiencies. Player's Option: Skills & Powers increases the rate you gain non-weapon proficiencies and skills are no longer based on your stats but how much you've invested into the skill. Also, it isn't a non-weapon proficiency slot anymore, but points you get at every level, which you can spend in a variety of ways.

In a similar way, Player's Option: Combat & Tactics makes combat much, much more realistic. The initiative system is completely revamped, a fairly decent hand-to-hand combat system is expounded, and it gives specific rules for determining how far you can actually move in combat (though this requires a graph representing the combat field). It also gives rules for many new things to do in combat, like trying to disarm an opponent, bashing them with your shield, etc. A definite must buy for those who want to add some realism to the bland standard version.

Also, Skills & Powers fixes many of the problems (but not all) associated with level gaining and skill acquiring. For instance, Björn Paulsen's criticism about weapon schools. In the standard version, this is mostly accurate. With Skills & Powers, the DM can assign skill points that the player must spend on whatever training the character was receiving, without having to give out experience points.

The Real Problem With Abstract Hit Points

The real problem with hit points in AD&D is the AC-THACO system. Why can hit points both represent damage taken and luck? Because AC represents both armor coating and dodging ability. Imagine one person with an extremely high dexterity, skills that improve his dodging ability, magical items, etc, etc and has an AC of -10. Now imagine someone with a normal dexterity but +5 full plate armor and a +5 large shield, giving him an AC of -10. Within the mechanics of the system, there is absolutely no difference between these two people. The guy with the super magic armor on will take exactly the same amount of damage on a successful attack as the guy with the super doding ability, and nothing happens to either on an unsuccessful attack role (and this AC-THACO abstraction obviously doesn't mesh well with the armor damage rules found in The Complete Fighters Handbook and Player's Option: Combat & Tactics).

One way to solve this problem is what a friend of mine did when creating his own system based on AD&D: split AC into two separate functions. THACO can represent your ability to actually land a blow on your opponent, while armor actually does what it is supposed to do and that is protecting your hide when the blow is landed. Now you have DA (Dodging Ability) versus THDA0 (To Hit Dodging Ability Zero) and AR (Armor Rating) versus damage done. For instance, full plate armor will protect you from say, 10 points of damage. This would be adjusted based on what type of weapon one is carrying, for instance, fencing weapons receive a bonus against full plate, so it would be easier to damage someone in full plate. Also, armor lowers dexterity, thus making it a trade off between DA and AR in most situations.

Rules To Get Rid Of

Some rules in AD&D are unrealistic and cause problems. Why should people get experience points for treasure? The Custom Class rules in the DMG are full of loopholes. Rules that don't make any real sense should just be thrown out.

Abstract Saving Throws

If I remember correctly, one of the Option books attempts to solve this problem as well. It can be solved in a similar way that abstract hit points were done away with; just make a definite distinction between dodging spell effects and resisting their effects. This of course would require completely revamping the saving throw system, because it is even more abstract than hit points, but it shouldn't be too hard, and I think it may have already been done in one of the Option books. Even if you have to create your own system, it shouldn't be too hard to mesh with any of the existing rules.

Unsolvable Problems

Sadly, there is no way to solve some problems. I too never really liked the alignment system, but there is no way to get rid of it. Basically all that can be done is to make some rules regarding alignment more lax or ignore them (for instance, the changing alignment rules can be ignored). Also, being able to cast spells is so tide up with level gaining that it is impossible to get around problems like the Wizard College. Yes, Player's Option: Spells & Magic does help somewhat, but in my opinion, the alternative magic system in that book is quite a bit more complicated than it should be.
This page created 5/17/02
This page last significantly modified 6/6/02
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