[Where I read] AD&D First Edition

The Grey Elf

is the Master!
Validated User
#1
I own all the hardcovers for AD&D first edition, and in preparation for my upcoming campaign I was thinking about doing a thread going through all the books, posting my reading and interpretation, and content review. I'll begin with the DMG, as I'm currently plowing through it, cover-to-cover. I'm up to page 105.

Anyone interested in such a thread? If so, what sorts of commentary do you want to see?
 
Last edited:

Ceti

of the Polepack (retired)
Validated User
#2
I officially hate you now, since I planned to do this as well. But I was putting this off until a week or so, thus I'll be behind you.

Well, it doesn't matter. There aren't real spoilers and such :)
 

The Grey Elf

is the Master!
Validated User
#3
Well, I've never done a "Where I read" thread yet; I figured what the hell? I'm actually reading the books anyway, may as well work out my thoughts through commentary here.

[EDIT]and DAMMIT, I missed another kilopost. You know I've never been "piked' yet on here?
 

Piestrio

*May Contain Multitudes*
Validated User
#5
I'd love to hear your thoughts on 1e.

Just go through, perferably page by page and talk about whatever catches your fancy. With the DMG this should be cake, a little harder for the PHB and really fun for the MM.

Piestrio
 

vivsavage

Independent Procrastinor
Validated User
#6
Anyone interested in such a thread? If so, what sorts of commentary do you want to see?
Yes, I'll be very interested in seeing what you find. I'm most interested in hearing about rules that most people don't think about when considering 1e (or simply don't remember), such as the fact that Gygax actually put a basic secondary skill system into the DMG. Relate any 'hidden treasures' you find, so to speak.
 

Piestrio

*May Contain Multitudes*
Validated User
#7
Yes, I'll be very interested in seeing what you find. I'm most interested in hearing about rules that most people don't think about when considering 1e (or simply don't remember), such as the fact that Gygax actually put a basic secondary skill system into the DMG. Relate any 'hidden treasures' you find, so to speak.
Oh yeah, and rules that are grossly misunderstood/misremembered.

Piestrio
 

Sleeper

Red-eyed dust bunny
Validated User
#8
Yes, I'll be very interested in seeing what you find. I'm most interested in hearing about rules that most people don't think about when considering 1e (or simply don't remember), such as the fact that Gygax actually put a basic secondary skill system into the DMG. Relate any 'hidden treasures' you find, so to speak.
Mileage varies. For me, the secondary skill system is one of the most memorable parts of the 1E DMG. The more forgettable elements include the rules for ultravision, forced marches, expanded spell guidelines for referees, and so forth.

Then there are the parts we never understood and tried to forget, like the speed factor system....
 

Akrasia

Lord of Procrastination
Validated User
#9
Learning the thoughts and impressions of someone working through the 1e AD&D books is always an enjoyable (and sometimes informative) experience.
:)
 

The Grey Elf

is the Master!
Validated User
#10
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master's Guide

Foreword: you know, I don't think any of us give Mike Carr the credit he's due. This guy's name appears inside almost every single book in the first edition, and he is credited as the "Games & Rules editor." It could be he's responsible for a lot more of first edition AD&D than we realize. Anyway, a brief but well-written essay on whether Dungeon Mastering is an art or a science, concluding that it's both, as well as a labor of love. I agree with that sentiment wholeheartedly.

Preface: Ah, here's the Gygaxian prose we all love and hate. Honestly, though, I am not finding the writing nearly as much of a plow as we all seem to remember. It's dry, yes, but these books are, first and foremost, rulebooks not tied to an individual setting. I do love Gygax's continual use of "milieu" and "milieux" to refer to campaign settings. For some reason it makes me crack a little smile every time I see it.

There's a common misconception that AD&D was designed to be cohesive, all-encompassing, and used "by the book." Here, right from the beginning Gygax explicitly states that it's impossible to even try to be all-encompassing, and that what this book aims at is presenting a framework, with a "mutable system" (DMG 7). It states that certain commonalities are desirable (the attributes have the same meaning, the races and classes are similar, if not the same) between different campaigns, for the sake of communication and transition between two different games, but stresses that not all of the rules or laws of any two game worlds will, or should, be the same.

Credits & Acknowledgments: This reads as good, but grim to those of us who knew what would come later. Dave Arneson is acknowledged and thanked, as are the Blumes. A name that we still associate with D&D all the way into fourth edition are to be found here as well: Skip Williams, who in my opinion should know better given the direction 4e is taking, but that's my bit of snark for this section ;).

Introduction: First thought: good Lord, how many introductory sections do we need?? Second, he states that the format of the book is "simple and straightforward;" I disagree wholeheartedly, but we'll get to that in detail later. For now, suffice it to say that I happen to think a lot of the misconceptions about how complicated AD&D was stem from the poor organization and presentation of systems in the DMG.

He discusses a bit more the position of DM as the "final arbiter" of the game, and stresses that the DM should know well the systems herein, not for the purpose of following them to the letter, but for knowing when to apply them by rote, knowing when to cut them entirely, and knowing when to modify them to fit his vision for his game. A bit more evidence against the "My way or the highway" mentality Gygax is unfairly credited for championing.

The Game: Here Gygax does state that AD&D is intended to fall more into the "Game" school of thought than the "Realism-Simulationism" school. However, his definitions of these schools of thought seem a bit different than our modern usages. He stresses that AD&D does not endeavor to simulate any kind of hard reality, but that it is a game for enjoyment. Nowhere does immersion enter into his estimation of simulationism vs. gamism, and indeed quite a few times throughout the text he's very explicit that players should become immersed in their characters.

Dice: Standard fare breakdown of polyhedral dice, what role they play in the game, and strangely, an explanation of bell-curve results vs. "linear curve" (sic) results. I suppose that in 1978 this wasn't as odd an inclusion as it is now, given that back then odd-shaped dice weren't the commonality that they are today. It's the first thing we see that's a bit anachronistic.

Use of Miniature Figures With the Game: Ah, now we get to the root of one of the biggest bones of contention between "grognards" and fans of post-3e D&D. Is AD&D a miniatures game at heart? Has it always been designed for the use of miniatures as an important (if not integral) element of the rules? Does it assume the use of such, and is combat complicated if they are not present? This section reiterates what appears in most AD&D books: miniatures are helpful and add color to the game but are not necessary for play. The rest of the book bears this out: whenever an instance requiring movement, mapping, tactics, etc., arises, the book includes what to do if you are using miniatures, but this always comes as an addition to the basic rules, which do not assume or require miniatures. This is in sharp contrast to the current edition of D&D, which specifically states in the text that miniatures are assumed and that if you don't use them, you're not going to get the "full D&D experience." The rationale for the use of the " sign is explained in the Player's Handbook, and we will address that when we get there, but it suffices to say that hit has little to do with actual scale on the tabletop, though such is taken into account.

Aids to Playing Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Mostly a continuation of the "miniature figures" section above, this talks about official AD&D hex paper, Dungeon Geomorphs, the official TSR catalog, etc. The most amusing impression I got from this section is that it's mostly there as an advertisement for the superiority of official AD&D stuff as opposed to that compatible but produced by competitors. Looks like not much has changed there.

More to come later.
 
Last edited:
Top Bottom