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2nd vs 3rd edition D&D

RainOPainRainOPain Registered User
edited July 2007 in Critical Failures
I'm going to be DMing a campaign shortly and am trying to figure out which edition to run. I've got two friends, one of which that swears 2nd edition is the best thing ever and that 3rd edition sucked the life out of it, and another who claims the exact opposite.

So which does everyone here think is the best? I've never played a 2nd edition game before (unless the Baldur's Gate games count), just 3.5. What's better/worse about 2nd?

RainOPain on


  • Mr_RoseMr_Rose 83 Blue Ridge Protects the Holy Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    I'm just gonna come right out and say this; if you've never played 2nd, you don't want your first experience to be DMing it. Especially if you're coming in from 3.5. This is nothing to do with how good or bad the systems are and everything to do with the DM not having to look up rules half-way through a task... Going with what you know will make everything better, regardless of what system may be "better".

    Mr_Rose on
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  • DevoutlyApatheticDevoutlyApathetic Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    RainOPain wrote: »
    I'm going to be DMing a campaign shortly and am trying to figure out which edition to run. I've got two friends, one of which that swears 2nd edition is the best thing ever and that 3rd edition sucked the life out of it, and another who claims the exact opposite.

    The life of a game is almost always the responsibility of the players and the GM. Their are exceptions but neither 2nd or 3rd are unplayable.
    So which does everyone here think is the best? I've never played a 2nd edition game before (unless the Baldur's Gate games count), just 3.5. What's better/worse about 2nd?

    Run the fuck away from 2nd edition.

    The biggest reason is you have a player who thinks they understand it. They may but 2nd edition is fairly ambiguous in lots of places and if you're the DM you have to be the one in charge and to make those judgement calls.

    The next reason is that if you want, you can get answers to rules questions about 3rd trivially easy. Ask here or at and you'll get a prompt answer. I played 2nd for years and couldn't answer a question on it that was anything more that stupidly easy.

    DevoutlyApathetic on
  • ReynoldsReynolds Raving Rabbit Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Mixing people that divided on 2e and 3e is going to be devastating. I don't even care that much, and I've gotten into a long arguments about it. Tread carefully.

    Reynolds on
  • Cilla BlackCilla Black Priscilla!!! Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    2nd edition really isn't as complex as many make it out to be. THAC0 scares a lot of people off, but it really is a pretty basic AC system. The worst you could say about it is how it tends to make an otherwise simple action take longer than it needs to.

    That having been said, I still prefer 3/3.5 because they have feats. And I just fucking love feats.

    Cilla Black on
  • DevoutlyApatheticDevoutlyApathetic Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    2nd edition initiative is such a waste of time it'd kill it for me at this point.

    DevoutlyApathetic on
  • HorseshoeHorseshoe Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    3.5 may have its faults... but I'd never go back to 2nd edition.

    I shudder to remember what leveling a wizard was like back in those days.

    Horseshoe on
  • GodOfCheeseGodOfCheese Registered User
    edited July 2007
    Horseshoe wrote: »
    3.5 may have its faults... but I'd never go back to 2nd edition.

    I shudder to remember what leveling a wizard was like back in those days.

    Amen, brother.
    If you've played 3.0 or 3.5 AND never played 2.0 AND have at least one player who plays 2.0, the answer is very simple here:
    Kill that player's character every game, at least once, due to rules problems.

    Take no prisoners. Although there might be good reasons why a DM or gaming group might want to play 2.0 over 3.0, a player asking an experienced 3.0+ gamer to downgrade to 2.0 without ever having played it before can have no good outcome. Either that player knows how to powergame 2.0 better, or is a reactionary spanktard, or fears the unknown, or is too cheap to pickup the 3.0+ books. But in the end, the outcome can only be the same: repeated lightning bolts from the sky until the dude wises up. Sorry dude, your Halberd is a lightning rod. Here's another character sheet.

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  • HorseshoeHorseshoe Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Either that player knows how to powergame 2.0 better

    A likely reason. If he has either:

    "Player’s Option: Combat & Tactics" or "Player’s Option: Skills & Powers"

    then that would be a definite yes.

    There's probably others in 2nd that broke the game as well but I can't recall at the moment.

    And if this is the case, you could make your campaign core rules only.

    Dealing with "book-itis" is usually not so fun, unless your games are one-shots centered around people coming in with the most fucked up characters possible (which my group does occasionally, and some of the characters that we come up with are indeed hilariously broken... the other week a buddy of mine brought something like a centaur monk with horseshoes of speed whose main tactic centered around being able to move over 100ft per round).

    Horseshoe on
  • LeztaLezta Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    2nd Ed is just, depthless, compared to 3rd ed. This isn't true if you have the Player's Option books but you need a group of non-powergamers for those books to work, really.

    (At this point, it's worth noting I really, REALLY prefer player's option 2nd ed to 3.5. That's as someone who likes to make interesting characters, not as someone who power-games. I can't be having with powergaming. I'm a ROLEPLAYER)

    Just go 3rd. It's current.

    Lezta on
  • Alexan DriteAlexan Drite Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    First off, Second Edition is dead. No new material is being made for it. Take that what you will, but it's been dead long enough that that which was printed might be difficult to track down in hard copy form.

    But the second edition third edition decision is not as clear cut as it seems. The reason many people enjoy second edition more is the fact that the second edition material is much fluffier, more well developed in general, and avoids crunchyness. In Faerün especially you can see the difference. The 3.0 book Faiths and Pantheons is really a shrinking down of 3 books released in second edition, with much less content, some updating to account for the changes in the world, and some new 'content' added in the form of classes (most are unusable outside of NPCs) and some spells and items (again mostly worthless).

    Earlier material in third edition, and second edition, tends towards fluff. Later 3.5 materials, achieving a height with either the Compendiums or the complete series, and since then we've been seeing a return of the fluff, or rather a balance between the two, with a tendency towards weaker fluff and more mechanics. There is also the further reinforcement of the miniatures system towards the mechanics.

    Look at planescape. In 2.0 it was an extremely well developed system, with about a dozen sourcebooks, lots of good material, and it could be merged easily into larger campaigns. In 3.0 the entire planescape format was no longer supported. A lot of the basic info and ideas though were translated into a book called Manual of the Planes. MotP was actually a pretty decent fluff book with not a lot of prestige classes, and covered a lot of very important parts of planar D&D. In 3.5 MotP was updated with the Planar Handbook.
    Right here we see how 3.5 is a much more codified, crunchy, system. Take the awesome faction system. How does 3.5 represent it?
    With prestige classes. Xaosects have a prestige class, and Anarchists have a prestige class, and the Athar have one too.
    It has planar domains, which introduces a new mechanic, variant rules for base classes, all sorts of magical items and spells.
    But very little fluff.

    If you're not running Eberron, you're kind of missing out on a bunch of the 'fluff' that makes RPing so good.

    Fluff doesn't matter though. It is a-mechanical, and can be used in any system with easy conversions. Role playing can happen in systems without mechanics at all. You see free styling larp, or free styling forum posting, or people who write stories that are interactive. You'll see very weak mechanical systems that people still enjoy and roleplay quite well in. On the other end of the spectrum you have people role playing in heavily codified systems, even computer games. People roleplay in MMOs.
    Mechanics does not stop a person from roleplaying. So if you're going to have a mechanical system, you should strive to have one that is best and most fun.

    3.5's mechanical system is the best D&D has ever had, and it is incredibly well supported. Hundreds of classes and prestige classes, thousands of spells and monsters with stats, such that it becomes almost like a computer game. In fact, a few people have complained that a lot of the latest changes have been to reinforce a pattern of play more like a MMOG or other times like a tabletop miniatures game. Rules are more intricate, codified, and explainable, and especially explainable to people who have played video games. While there were some amazing 2.0 video games, they often times had to make weird limitations to the D&D system to translate it to a video game.
    People who have played more popular and recent games like neverwinter should have no trouble understanding third edition.

    If the lack of fluff bothers you, then as a DM just borrow the appropriate second edition books, and ignore all the mechanics listed (though do get a general idea of how 2.0 worked). Otherwise I guess play Eberron.

    See the Eberron excuse I think here actually works extremely well. You can go to your 2nd edition guy and go, "I'm kind of wanting to run eberron, and it's only a third edition world. It was, in fact, a contest winner." Even if you don't do Eberron it might convince him to realize that there is third edition exclusive content that is pretty excellent and second edition is dead. So dead it might be difficult to play.

    Edit: BTW The crunchiness/fluff argument is something HUGELY important in D&D and something the writers of the game have recognized.
    Here is an amazing article on it.
    This email was sent to the REALMS-L mailing list on 14th July 2002 by Sean K Reynolds, once an employee of Wizards of the Coast and working on numerous Forgotten Realms products. Sean was heavily involved in the Forgotten Realms production and development. This posting to the mailing list is a non-linked response to a members review of The Silver Marches. Make of it what you will.....

    This is a story about the elves who work in Gameland. The elves write recipe books ... two kinds of books in particular: books about Donut Cores, and books about Forgotten Rums. The Donut Core books had a lot of recipes (the elves called many-recipe books "crunchy books" for a reason that is too long to relate here), and gave a lot of suggestions about things you could make with Donut Cores, but didn't have a lot of history and interesting descriptions of where the Donut Cores came from, their history, or famous people who used Donut Cores. The Forgotten Rums books were less crunchy, but had the stories behind the Rum recipes, history of where the Rums come from, and information on the people who make those Rums. Still, the elves knew that a lot of people like the Donut Core books and a lot of people like the Forgotten Rums books, so they continued to make both kinds.

    Unfortunately, the elves are ruled by a foolish but powerful race called the Bean-Counters. The Bean-Counters are are only concerned with beans. Not fun, not adherence to the old ways, just beans. The more beans, the better. They didn't even soak the beans before they ate them ... they liked things crunchy.

    One day, after three of the Rums books were printed, the Bean-Counters took a look at the number of books the elves sold in their shop, and they had questions. They went to the elves' workshop, ensnared a few in nets, and dragged them back to Castle Meeting-Room for interrogation.

    "We have been looking at your books," the Bean-Counters say, "and of these Forgotten Rums books, two are very crunchy--the Forgotten Rums Camping Session and Magic of Fae Rum--and one is not so crunchy--Lords of Rumness. Now, the average Donut Core book sells 75 copies, and the two crunchy books sold 75-100 copies. But the less crunchy book only sold 40 copies. We are concerned because your next Forgotten Rums book, The Sliver Munches, is just as less-crunchy as the Lords of Rumness book. We don't think people will buy it. We want all of your books to be more crunchy, even the Forgotten Rums books. Take out some of that history, stories, and crap, and put in more crunchy. MORE CRUNCHY!"

    The elves were frightened and confused. "But part of the appeal of the Forgotten Rums books is their non-crunchy parts! People like learning about where the Rums come from, famous Rums-makers, and stories behind the Rums-recipes."

    "MORE CRUNCHY!!" came the reply.

    "But," the elves protested, "forty books still a respectable number! Why, only a few years ago, we were lucky to sell 10 copies of one of our books. Forty books is wonderful!"

    "MORE CRUNCHY!!!" the Bean-Counters bellowed. "But," still trying to get through the soggy much that fills a Bean-Counter's head, "a Forgotten Rums book costs more to buy than a Donut Core book! We make more money with each Forgotten Rums book of the same size than a Donut Core book! More money means more beans!"

    That seemed to get through to one of the less mushy parts of the Bean-Counter's brain. "Still, we like it when you sell 75-100 copies better. Selling 75-100 looks better than selling only 40, especially to _our_ evil overlords, the Haze Brothers, who do not understand beans, only things sold."

    The Bean-Counters scratched each others' heads (for their heads were so swollen with power that their feeble, never-have-done work arms could not reach every part of their own heads and so they had to help each other with the scratching) and thought. After a week of thinking (during which time the elves became very bored and hungry, as they were still trapped in the nets used to drag them to Castle Meeting-Room), the Bean-Counters made a decision.

    "We will give you a sort of test to see if what you say is true--that people like the books that are not crunchy. We will look at how well this next book, The Sliver Munches, does. If it does better than Lords of Rumness, then we will look favorably upon these other Forgotten Rums books you want to do--Raisins of Fae Rum and ... I cannot read the title of this next 'regional book,' but it does not matter--and let you make them. If The Sliver Munches _doesn't_ do better than Lords of Rumness, we will make you change what the Forgotten Rums books are all about. You will take out the stories, and histories, and people, and make it crunchy. Oh so crunchy...."

    "But that will ruin the nature of the Forgotten Rums! Why call it a Forgotten Rums book at all if it's going to be exactly like a Donut Core book?"

    "People will buy it just because it says 'Forgotten Rums' on it."

    "Do we have any choice in accepting this test?"


    And so the elves were released, and they went back to their tree-houses and hill-houses. They wept and prayed, for they knew the Forgotten Rums were at stake, and they knew that the people who bought Forgotten Rums books would never understand why the books were changed if they failed the test of the Bean-Counters.

    They sent out a silent wish that people would like and buy The Sliver Munches. They hoped that people would talk about the things they liked about The Sliver Munches, which would encourage other people to take a look at it. And they hoped that people interested in The Sliver Munches would pick it up in the first three months after the book was released, for the Bean-Counters carefully watch those first 90 days and virtually ignore the rest. The doom of the Forgotten Rums was nigh, and only quick interest in a quality book could save it.

    . . . . .

    End of story.

    - Sean

    Alexan Drite on
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    I still can't get my head around forums... that method of communication is impossible for me. Like, I can't keep track of it. I'll think "Ok, well, now it's time for me to contribute something", and then the next post is like "KITTIES!" And there's these cats, and they're in a basket, and I'm thinking "Well, they have an excellent point..." .
  • VoraciousAardvarkVoraciousAardvark Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    There's another question to ask yourself here. How many players new to BOTH systems are you bringing into the game, if any? The mass market appeal of 3rd or even 3.5 over 2nd is that its just easier to pick up for someone completely new to the genre.

    i played 2nd edition for years, but even with players option materials, I still feel theres just more depth and options for your characters in 3rd edition. Feats, prestige classes, a CLEARLY WRITTEN set of rules for creating magic items. You know, stuff like that...

    VoraciousAardvark on
  • drewbydrewby Registered User new member
    even though this was written years ago, I gotta chime in. 2nd ed. gets criticized for being somewhat clunky: sowhat? it had heart. it had flavor. it had an oddness and a strangeness that made it so enjoyable and fascinating to play! all the weird shaped dice, the settings, the characters! it just ruled! the new editions completely ruined the game for me. they just neutered it and make it generic and boring. it seems more like playing a video game without electricity than a badass RPG. the emphasis on having it streamlined just killed it. call me oldfashioned but the 2nd ed. campaigns I played back in the 90s was the apex of AD&D. I gotta say to you young ones, TRY IT! its richness and emphasis on storytelling and actually playing a CHARACTER not some spreadsheet, is so worth it. its really not that awkward anyway. do it!

  • oxybeoxybe Entei is appaled and disappointed in you Registered User regular
    @drewby I can play a character without any rules. I did so as a child. It was called Ninja Turtles VS Transformers VS He-Man VS Power Rangers VS Ghostbusters VS [flavour of the month].

    As far as Young Oxybe is concerned, you're the one over-complicating their make-believe... why are you rolling dice or looking up numbers? Optimus Prime just rolls out like a motherfucking boss and the Ghostbusters go "Breeeap! PSHOO!". It's not complicated at all. You should try it, it's a much richer and evocative play then some stupid dice-rolling, book-looking-up game.

    Plus it's 100% storytelling and you get to wave sticks around and hit that jerk Chris who totally stole your Fruit-by-the-Foot during lunchtime when you went to tell Trevor that Charizard is way better then Blastoise without any consequences because we're stupid-monkey-children. You just don't get that kind of play by sitting around a table and talking like adults.

    Your game of dice and pencils and paper have neutered make-believe into what's basically filling out boxes and doing taxes and taken the richness out of running around outside and punching robots with katanas.

    Because katanas rock.

    you can read my collected ravings at
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  • VanguardVanguard Some people say in Hell, They're having a fair.Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    @RainOPain‌ This is my golden rule, "Play anything, but only GM the games you want."It's been pretty well covered in this thread, but if you're GMing you decide the game, especially one that requires as much heavy lifting for the GM as 2nd or 3rd edition. If any players balk at this, ask if they would rather GM.

    The Hanged Man
  • oxybeoxybe Entei is appaled and disappointed in you Registered User regular
    @Vanguard This I can get behind. Don't let people badger you into running a game you're not comfortable running.

    you can read my collected ravings at
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