What a Confusing Web He Wove; Also, Terminology (Again) #DnD #RPG #ADnD

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During all my review and discussions of 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (“1e“), there have been two primary sources of headaches. The first is you guys. 🙂 Notice that I defined my abbreviation for 1e in the first sentence, as all good lawyers do (and apparently bad ones too). I do this because my use of my childhood terminology (shared by everyone with whom I played) has resulted in odd criticism. If you called little adventure packets “adventures” or “modules,” I’ll understand from context and will never going to give you grief about it. We called them “mods.” So be it. Similarly, “AD&D” apparently means different things to different people, and often isn’t the catch-all it’s intended to be. To me, there’s the Basic-Expert line of products (I rarely used them, and what I call Basic D&D), the PHBDMGMM hardcover line (my primary source, and what I call 1e), and then there’s Second Edition and its PHBDMG hardcovers and Monstrous Compendium binder inserts (I’ve played only a couple of times relatively recently, and what I call 2e). AD&D covers 1e and 2e, but if you use any of these terms in some other way, that’s fine. It isn’t worth a fight.


The second primary source of headaches is possibly the biggest barrier to entry to the game: The sourcebooks are as poorly organized as any writing I’ve ever seen. Let’s take invisibility as an example. The invisibility spell points out that the high level, high HD, and highly sensory creatures have a good chance of locating invisible creatures (1e PHB, p. 70). I went looking for that information. The PHB was useless, so I went to the combat section of the DMG. Nope, not there. I went to the index searching for “invisibility.” What index? Fortunately, the table of contents has a sub-sub-entry entitled “Invisibility” (DMG, p. 59) Trust me; that was a lucky break. Usually, you just have to thumb through a DMG with 240 pages, and in some cases only after not finding the information in the PHB.

Needless to say, this makes learning the rules far more difficult. What helps is the ADDICT and OSRIC PDFs. For reasons I discussed last Tuesday, I won’t read the spell descriptions in OSRIC, but the rest of it has been fantastic. They change the rules to suit their needs, but it’s still a great starting point. It’s clearly written, well-organized, and covers most of the rules. ADDICT is a comprehensive look at 1e combat, and [squeal!] includes footnotes with citations to each claim in the document. I suggest you give them a look.

How am I going to get through all of this? This isn’t even all of it.

Going back to my first point, which continues a rant from a prior post, the social media hivemind is still the best way to overcome the barriers of disorganized and vague writing. If you’re one of that small minority of smug pricks that insult those asking questions, you’re going discourage new and returning players. Is that in your interest? If you intentionally act as a gatekeeper, you can ignore that question. You’re beyond help.

Oh, to avoid further confusion, I should note: PHB is Players Handbook, DMG is Dungeon Masters Guide, and MM is Monster Manual. Bad lawyer! Bad!

I’d demand the ADDICT and OSRIC guys send me money for the advertisement, but they don’t charge for it. Dammit!

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