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?