Thursday, April 23, 2009

AD&D, 3rd Edition

I'm still trying to wrap my brain around this, so please forgive me if this post is a tad... disjointed. First, click --> here <-- and right-click on both the "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Players Handbook" and "Unearthed Arcana" links, save to your hard drive, and then take the time to at least skim through them.

They are not the original books.

I've only skimmed them myself, but Chris Perkins has apparently taken material from 1E, 2E, Castles & Crusades, and articles from Dragon magazine to create what he imagines a 3rd edition of AD&D might have been like. He has reorganized things significantly according to his own tastes, re-written parts, taken articles from Dragon magazine and inserted them as background text, plus taken artwork from all over the old-school spectrum; I noticed things in there from Dragon, the Rogues Gallery, modules, and beyond. His bard is a sub-class of cleric (!) and is a "normal" class that one can start at first level. He includes rules for 0-level spells. There are skills (and rules for ability checks), and all of the classes seem to have more skills built into them (thieves now seem to fully encompass the thief-acrobat, for instance, and include more abilities beyond that). The weapons and armor seem to flow much better and be less "fiddly" now that they are grouped together by size and type.

His UA introduces "mythoi", which allow for the creation of very deity-specific clerics, for new classes we now see the cloistered cleric, anti-paladin, duelist, necromancer, and psionicist. Rules for magic item creation (and, it seems, full descriptions of all the magic items) are also to be found here. Full rules for NPCs are here too, making his UA more of a DMG (looking at both of the books, I don't see much that he would need to include in his version of a DMG). He also incldues the full-boat non-human pantheons that were expanded in Dragon magazine (along with the, in my humble opinion, much better illustrations than appeared in later products). Plus full psionics rules. Whew!

Talk about balls. What Chris has apparently done is take his own houseruled game and actually taken the time not only to write it all up (as opposed to photocopying pages from Dragon and putting them in a binder, or typing out specific new or changed rules), but to do so mimicing the style of the original and taking the time to re-enter the original text verbatim where needed. Plus he seems to have an extensive collection of (and appreciation of) the old-school art that I personally find so evocative. I've been giving a little bit of thought to something along similar lines myelf, in my "updated edition" conjectures.

I personally would have made some different decisions about what to include and exclude (I like weapons-vs-armor type, for example, and have never liked psionics), but that's just the nature of the beast. It's his house-rules and he's the one who spent a couple thousand hours entering them in a word processor and formatting the whole thing.

But there is one thing which definitely gives me the willies; the fact that he not only retained the original covers (fine, that; it's an aesthetic choice that folks can have disagreements about), but that he kept Gary Gygax's name on it. His UA is worse, in that he keeps Gygax's original introduction, right down to the hand-written signature. For some reason that makes me queasy, especially since so much of both books strays from Gygax's original text and ideas. Also, it should be pointed out that he could never actually publish this, since it leans so heavily on IP owned by WotC (and possibly others). Not that he ever intended to do that; it's just where my own mind would go if I was spending as much time on such a thing as he obviously has.

What do you think?


Ben Overmyer said...

Technically, what he's doing is a violation of international copyright law.

Personally, I think he should rewrite it from scratch and make THAT available. His mashup of the myriad rules and sources makes for an interesting version of the game.

Max said...

@Ben:Blatantly so! But interestingly enough this has been available for at least a year.

Zachary The First said...

I first got linked to Chris’ work over at the Troll Lord forums. I really like some of what he’s done with clerics, but I agree that perhaps he should have chosen a different format the using the original covers, intro, and the like. But I’m not going to complain if no one else does—I’m sure it’s borne out of a love for much of the original material. You can tell an awful lot of work went into it, in any case.

Joseph said...

Oh, he's so far beyond "fair use" you can't even SEE it from where he is. I certainly don't endorse it from a standpoint of legalities, but as you say, Zachary, it's so obviously a labor of love that it's hard to fault his enthusiasm.

I am definitely looking forward to reading through this stuff in depth over the next couple of days. I do recignize quite a few Dragon magazine articles that I recall having used in my own campaigns at one time or another...

Gamer Dude said...

Personally, I love his stuff. Mixing C&C and AD&D (two of my very favorite games)'s like getting chocolate in my peanut butter!

BlUsKrEEm said...

I first heard about it in the Piazza a while ago. I've never been a big 2nd ed fan, but I kind of like some of the decisions made with this version.

I agree however that it was rather crass to keep the Gygax references, and cover. The word Official on the cover of the UA bugs me almost as much.

Pastor Bill said...

Yeah - it's not so much doing it - but posting it - that got me. I mean, I've been working on a similar project - a monster manual for my own homebrew - but I won't post it and I won't use the MM cover...but the idea, oh yeah - I think it's okay (I really like how he's organized things - and incorporated Dragon mag, etc - though I, too, might have made different choices...)

Grendelwulf said...

So-o-o, a labor of love for sure. Although, going to this much effort, a mock-up "UNofficial" stamp over the "Official" cover would have been more appropriate. And a new Revision-Intro would have been more welcome instead of the original GGG with signature.
It gets a "Wag of the Finger", yet certainly a thunderous round of silent applause...

Matthew James Stanham said...

I first encountered this a year or more ago. It is a fun idea, but I also admit to having felt a bit conflicted about the presentation. Some discussion can be found here:

...and some comments at Knights & Knaves here:

I also have a Holmes version hereabouts that Steven J. Ege put together.

Josh said...

I'm torn. On one side this is a huge labor of love. On the other...well, I worry this could impact the OS movement to make us look like pirates with blatant disregard for IP.

The core group of those that brought us C&C, S&W, LL, OSRIC, BFRPG and others has always worked with respect to IP and copyright.

I fear the only reason that this has not recieved a C&D from WOTC is that they haven't noticed it yet.

BlUsKrEEm said...

"I also have a Holmes version hereabouts that Steven J. Ege put together." - Matthew James Stanham

I'd like to see that, where is it located?

Matthew James Stanham said...

I think I downloaded it last year; the guy responsible goes by "Traveller" at the Troll Lord Games board, and the link is in his signature as a tribute to Gary Gygax.

Lance said...

I met Chris at GenCon in 2000. After voicing some of my concerns with the just-released 3E, I staggered backward as Chris pumped his fist and shouted with sophomoric glee, "Third Edition rocks!"

I knew then that the game I adored was truly lost to me.

Restless said...

Here's a link to the "Holmes" book in question.

Chris said...

Hey all,

First off, if my work has given anyone offense, I am truly sorry. I created the PHB and UA pdfs as homages to EGG's excellent work and hoped that I had made that clear on the website.

The PHB was started in 2006 as a labor of love and as a way to overhaul Castles & Crusades, so that it better emulated AD&D (so that I could run the old TSR modules with less fiddling around).

As I've noted on my website, the Unearthed Arcana document is not complete and, based on the attention it's now getting, probably will be taken down eventually (along with the PHB).

I hope that some people find bits to cherry pick for their own games, as I'd take that as high praise and that those I've offended accept my sincere apology.

PS: I'm not the Chris Perkins who works for WotC and, unfortunately, have never gotten around to GenCon.

Joseph said...

Hi Chris! I'm glad you found my post on your PHB and UA. I'm not sure if you're a regular reader or not, but either way, welcome.

I hope you didn't take my original post as indicating that I was *offended* in any way by your work. (Other than the tackiness of leaving Gary's name on the cover, and/or not making some sort of indication that it was a re-editing of the original.)

I think the issue here is one of intellectual property. Now, I myself tread a fine line with my own CotMA module, but I take great pains to limit myself to using a few names (and hopefully under the doctrine of "fair use"), and also to include disclaimers aplenty both on the cover and within the text itself as to what, exactly, the work is.

The only conceptual fault I find with your efforts is that you have blithely gone and copied other peoples' text and art wholesale and without attribution. Looking at your books, unless I happened to recall that your anti-paladin class was the same as the one that appeared in the pages of Dragon magazine (and the others), there would be no way of knowing. It could easily have been taken as your own work. And (speaking as someone who has been published, and whose work *has* been appropriated wholesale without attribution) that is not fun for any author to see, even decades later. Ditto for the artwork; I think you made excellent use of some often-overlooked pieces (especially from the Rogues Gallery!) but when all's said and done it is the property of other people.

Rather than take your works down completely, I think it would be absolutely awesome if you were to redo the whole (as an OSRIC compatible work, perhaps?) and include in both an introduction and in the text itself, a firm and unmistakable indicator of what stems from the original, what comes from other authors (and who they are!), and what is your own. Ideas are not subject to copyright. Text is. Ditto the art; for next to nothing, I'm sure you could find all sorts of usable artwork. It's a very wide web, after all.

Hell, I'd buy a hardcover of that if you put it up on!

Chris said...

Thanks for the praise (and the words of caution)!

I do understand where you are coming from and will probably pull the documents until I've had a chance to "make them legitimate" for sharing via the OGL.

For now, however, my time is taken up with converting the first 3 monster manuals (and a set of old-school AD&D modules) for my group's use.

Once that's done I'll get to work on stripping out the original art and text, so that I can share my work without violating copyright law.

If anyone out there would like to help me in this undertaking (I have too much free time but not THAT MUCH free time) I'd be happy to send the original Word .doc your way. All I'd ask is that I'd get a mention in the finished product.

Thanks for your awesome work Joseph! The dungeon will definitely find a use in my game (eventually).

Lance said...


Sorry to confuse you with the WotC staffer and 3E advocate! I haven't seen your work, and my comment was actually veering somewhat from the subject at hand. So, please, accept my apology.



Thomas Denmark said...

wow, this is an incredible work of love. My inner teenage geek is, um, geeking out. In a way it's the 2nd edition I dreamed of - unlike what 2nd edition actually was...

John-Calvin said...

I found out about the books about a year ago as well. They are great! As a fandom product, I think you should cut it some slack.

Queasy? Upset? That seems a bit strong for something that is such a labor of love and clearly non- commerical. Why'd it take you so long to find the book anyhow?

Love what your doing with the dungeon btw.

Ed said...

Personally, I don't have a problem with it at all. I think it's a great homage and some really well-done house rules.

I came across this a while ago and used it to play a few adventures with two people that had never played an rpg before and it went really well. I even emailed Chris a brief note to say how much I liked it.