Browsing throughout the amazing array of the internet, I have come across several persons who have expressed their love for second edition AD&D. And, without fail, at least one of their reasons for loving it is one of the reasons I don't.
I am not, contrary to what many might expect, posting this to belittle or deride these folk and their opinions. Many of them hold opinions that match mine in other areas and many gamers were introduced to the hobby through second edition AD&D and it would be a grave mistake to shun them. However, I do feel the desire to enumerate and expound on my reasons for disliking this edition.
I am not going to state that a second edition was unnecessary or unwanted. No less a person than E. Gary Gygax opined on the need for a second edition in his Sorcerer's Scroll column in Dragon magazine.
And there is one of my reasons for disliking the second edition that appeared. It is not, by any stretch of the imagination, the second edition that Gary outlined in his column. In fact, it was, in many ways, the exact opposite of what was foretold. Instead of new classes, for example, classes were dropped...
In the matter of the dropped classes, especially the assassin, I continually see the, to me, flawed reasoning of, "well, that's just a role, a way you use your skills, it doesn't need to be a class..." Might I humbly point out that being a man of the cloth is also just a role and certainly doesn't need a class? That stealing things is just criminal behaviour and certainly doesn't need a class? That anyone can learn to fight, and as such, a fighting class is certainly unneeded? You see, I trust, my point... 'Murderer' was not a class, as anyone can murder. 'Assassin' was a class, because it was built on the skulking, malevolent, stereotype of the black-clad killer. There is, to me, a considerable difference. The cavalier and barbarian can be considered elite examples of their type (due to the high attributes needed to enter those classes). In other words, a normal knight or tribesman is, in fact, a fighter. An exceptional one (differentiated by having multiple scores of 15 or better) will be a 'cavalier' or 'barbarian'.
Moving on, my second reason was the distortion of other classes. I present the 'mage' and 'cleric', formerly the 'magic-user', 'illusionist', 'cleric' and 'druid'. In this case, I don't so much condemn the idea behind the changes so much as the terrible execution. The idea of the specialty priest and the specialty wizard were and are good ones, the flaw lies in consolidating the spell-lists. In the cleric's case, the various domains were neat, but really, each deity should have had a separate spell list and granted powers. In the mage's case, combining the lists destroyed the illusionist. Why on earth would a player pick a class limited in spells and magic items and possessing a high ability requirement, when that player could just play a mage and have access to all the spells of the former illusionist? Yes, there is a slight increase in the number of spells castable, and there is a minor boost in regards to saving throws, but if you didn't roll more than one 16, it's all rather moot, as you can really do exactly the same with a mage who chooses to learn a lot of illusion spells and you'll have more options to boot.
In short, where others see a "simplified", "cleaned up", version of AD&D, I see a waste of squandered possibilities and horrid implementation.
Of course, what really killed second edition for me was the T$R Code of Ethics.
Next time: The Illusionist, His Kith and Kin.
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