Game Balance Isn’t Everything
Sometimes I miss Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. Technically I mean the second edition, but when it was released I don’t remember anyone differentiating between first and second editions. It was the new edition and everyone I knew made the change. There was so much to like: specialist wizards beyond the illusionist, specialty priests whose choice of gods really mattered, and even more.
Oh, there were real and concerning problems of rules creep – specialty priests grew powerful well out of proportion with the other classes (especially in the Forgotten Realms) and the introduction of “kits” and Player’s Option rules allowed for a wide variety of abuse. Oh, and the THACO system was never ideal.
Third edition (including 3.5) brought in a good working skills system and the flexibility of feats. Fourth edition went further, bringing balance to the classes on a level that the game had never before seen. Encounters became easier for a GM to put together and players had more races and classes to choose from than ever before.*
But AD&D has a charm and nostalgia that still speaks to me. I don’t know if it’s the percentage dice thieves rolled for their skills or the obsessive need wizards had to expand their spell lists. Maybe it was the disconnection between magic item powers and character abilities or the fact that the anti-paladin was a viable villain.
That last one is definitely part of it; the anti-paladin was once a great antagonist. Oh, it’s true that in 3E or 4E you can make an evil paladin (including a Blackguard prestige class), but it lacks the sinister vileness of the classic anti-paladin. This was an era when the only paladins were required to be paragons of Lawful Good, and the anti-paladin was the opposite of everything they represented.
It could just be my cold talking, but I would love a chance to play in one more AD&D campaign: six-months to a year of old school classic gaming. I’d have to have the right group, though – serious roleplayers who won’t minimax but play their well-conceived characters to the hilt.
Am I alone in this?
*Of course, the more adventurous of us used the AD&D create-your-own-class rules and stretched the boundaries anyway.