AD&D’s Lost Second Edition

No… not that one.

I want to write a little (well, no; a LOT) about the aborted Gygaxian revision of AD&D which would have, in a perfect world, been undertaken in the late 1980’s had Gygax not been ousted from TSR in 1985. He had already begun to lay the groundwork for the revision in the pages of Dragon magazine, culminating with the release of Unearthed Arcana in 1985. To help distinguish between this never-realized version and the actual AD&D Second Edition published by TSR, I shall refer to this as AD&D UE (for “Updated Edition”).

Over the years, Gygax had been asked many times what his vision for a revised AD&D would have looked like. For most of that time, he was disinclined to give any sort of substantive answer, since he had moved on to other projects (Dangerous Journeys, Lejendary Adventure, and Castles & Crusades). In many circles this went over as well as Paul McCartney saying “Now here’s some stuff from the new album” at a concert.

Fortunately, as the years wore on, Gygax became more amiable to sharing his thoughts on the what-if scenario of an updated version of AD&D under his stewardship. What I’ve done here is collected some of the published stuff from Dragon (thanks to Allan “Grodog” Grohe for taking the time to transcribe it all over on the Knights & Knaves Alehouse message board) as well as some of the message board posts Gygax had made over the years on the subject, together with some commentary. Some of this material made it into Unearthed Arcana, some of it was new to me until I started to dig a little into the message boards. Maybe it’ll start a conversation on the subject.

First, from Dragon #65:

From the Sorcerer’s Scroll: Character Classes to Consider

The barbarian class (issue #63) was, as mentioned, only one of several new classes being considered for inclusion in the expansion volume for the ADVANCED D&D® game system. You, Loyal Readers, have a chance to input into this projected work, and I would be pleased very greatly if you would do so. The classes under consideration are listed below. Let me know which you like best, which least. I will then work up each class fully and present them, in order of preference, in this column. This will be done prior to publication of the new book. If time presses, perhaps the Understanding Editor will allow sufficient column space to run two classes in one article. What follows is a brief explanation of each proposed new class. Again, your comments will be received with pleasure!

CLERIC — Mystic: This subclass of clerics is concerned more with prediction and detection than are other sorts of clerics. All mystics are of Good alignment, although they can be chaotic, neutral, or lawful within the Good alignment. As with other sorts of clerics, mystics would have seven levels of spells, but most would be of the sort to divine or detect. However, some new spells, and some very powerful upper-level spells, are planned.

FIGHTER — Cavalier: This sub-class of fighter must be of knightly or noble origin, so the class type would be usable only in those campaigns which had social systems of a sort appropriate to this. This class allows any alignment. It differs from other types of fighters mainly in that its members would have more basic weapons, horsemanship, and possible organizational abilities to allow for more henchmen and followers. At its upper levels, the class would also gain additional strength and constitution points due to training and exposure to hardship.

MAGIC-USER — Savant: This sub-class of magic-user specializes in knowledge, understanding, and arcane subjects. Thus, as do mystics, savants possess a fair range of detection spells. Although they know many standard sorts of spells as well, savants have many new magics in the nine levels of spells possible for them to employ. Savants, can use spells common only to clerics and druids, and at higher levels savants can read and employ scrolls of all sorts. Because of the scholarly aspects of this proposed class, elven and half-elven savants are envisioned as being able to progress several levels higher than if they were normal magic-users; i.e., 14th or even 16th for elves, 10th or 12th for half-elves. Savants can be of any alignment.

THIEF — Mountebank: This sub-class of thief specializes in deception, sleight of hand, persuasion, and a bit of illusion. These factors, together with speed, are what the mountebank relies upon. However, disguise and theatrics also provide valuable tools of the trade to this class, so that one might never know one has been had by this class.

THIEF — Specialization, Acrobat: A normal thief, after attaining a medial level, can opt to continue as normal or become an acrobat. Although no further skills of the type which considers manual dexterity would be gained, the thief-acrobat would gain skills in leaping, vaulting, tumbling, tightrope walking, etc. Such a thief-type would be the cat-burglar sort. The earlier specialization takes place, the greater the acrobatic skills, as this specialization would have an upper limit of skill.

JESTER — Rob Kuntz, in his currently unpublished module, The Tower of Zaeen, has included a jester. A recent DRAGON™ Magazine (issue #60) also included the jester as an NPC class. Because I have also considered the jester as an actual class for the game, I have not as yet read either description. Jesters, as I envision them, can be of human, gnome, or halfling race. (Elves could never permit themselves to be so debased; dwarves are far too serious and just plain humorless.) Alignment is as desired by the player. A jester would have a combination of verbal, magical, and acrobatic skills which allow the class to be viable even though there is no great power. Verbal skills would enable the character to influence many creatures toward kindliness, humor, forgetfulness, thoughtful consideration, irritation, anger, or even rage. Magical skills would have to do with jokes and tricks — sort of a directed wand of wonder with some magic-user spells and illusionist magic tossed in. Acrobatic skills would be mainly tumbling and juggling, with some magic tossed in there as well. Level titles are: Wag, Punster, Masquer, Harlequin, Clown, Juggler, Buffoon, Fool, Joker, Jester. Powerful at its upper levels. the class will be less than popular with fellow adventurers, I suspect, so that jesters will frequently have enemies and travel alone. . . .


A study of the information pertaining to druids will reveal that there must be something above the Great Druid, for each area or land can have its own druid of this sort. Somewhere there is a Grand Druid. This druid has 3,000,001 or more experience points, is 15th level, and is attended by 9 druids of special sort having nothing to do with the hierarchy of any specific area or land. Thus, any character of Druid level may, in fact, journey to seek the Grand Druid and ask to serve him.

The Grand Druid knows 6 spells of each level and is also able to cast up to six spell levels as one or more additional spells. Those who serve him are given three such additional spell levels. Three Archdruids roam the world as messengers and agents of the Grand Druid. These individuals are drawn from his personal attendants who reach the level of Archdruid. Each has four additional spell levels.


In the course of putting the Barbarian sub-class of fighter together, one highly important piece of information was omitted — rules concerning barbarians and creatures struck only by magic weapons. I humbly apologize. Here it is: Although barbarians do not employ magic weapons if they can help it, their natural attack abilities make up for it. Just as can monsters, barbarians are able to hit creatures otherwise harmed only by magic weapons. Thus, at 4th level a barbarian can affect creatures which require a +1 or better weapon to hit them; at 6th level barbarians can affect creatures which require +2 or better weapons to hit them; at 8th level they attack as if they had a +3 weapon with respect to their ability to affect creatures otherwise hit only by +3 or better weapons; and at 10th level, creatures affected only by +4 or better weapons can be attacked successfully. At 12th level a barbarian can affect a creature harmed normally only by +5 or better weapons. Despite having the ability to strike such creatures, barbarians in no way gain such a bonus “to hit” or inflict additional damage because of the power. (Cf. “Creatures Struck Only By Magic Weapons” in the Monster Manual.) Only barbarian fighter characters have this ability, and it is not possible for any other class or sub-class of characters to possess this power.

Obviously, the Barbarian, the Thief-Acrobat, and the Cavalier eventually make it into the Unearthed Arcana book, as did the notes on the Grand Druid. Unfortunately, two of the classes I would personally love to have seen, the Mountebank and the Jester, never made it into print. However, a D20 version of the Mountebank was apparently included in the book “The Canting Crew”. Alas, I don’t own a copy, so I cannot comment on its applicability.

That was followed up in Dragon magazine only two issues later with the following:

Lest I be forced to an existence of doing nothing save answering your flood of missives, please be forgiving if I am unable to answer each of you personally — though I shall, indeed, attempt to do so. At times all writers feel as if they are addressing a void, for seldom does an article bring any response. An occasional letter of praise or of critical (even insulting) nature is often a treasure, for such tokens indicate that someone is actually reading what is written at great effort. Allow me now to add a new identity to readers of this column: Hyperactive Enthusiasts! I am inundated with responses, and I am pleased, for I do indeed need the benefits of your thinking!

When I attended the World Science Fiction Convention in early September, I began to get an inkling of the interest players have respecting the expansion of the AD&D™ game system. After interview questions, the audience was (as is usual) given a chance to ask what they would of me. Many questions pertaining to new character classes were posed then, and afterward in casual chats. When I returned to the office after Labor Day, a stack of letters on the subject awaited my attention. The correspondence continues to come in, and I am doing my best to keep up. For the benefit of all, I will sum up several important things I have gained from perusing the mail:

Learned Players, I assure you that I am not overly sensitive to critical opinions. Not only do I speak freely when I think it is necessary, I consider intelligent comments of all sorts, whether they agree with my own opinions or not. Several letter writers apologized for not liking one class or another, and were hesitant to express their thoughts for fear I might be offended. Far from it, I find such comments very useful in development of material. After all, while it is impossible to please everyone, critical opinion is of great benefit in improving approaches, or in the decision-making process which could lead to discarding an idea. If anyone has hesitated to write because of not wanting to “offend” me with a contrary opinion, I trust the foregoing will reassure that the forum is an open one where blame as well as praise can be aired.

The range of comments was astounding. There is absolutely no consensus of opinion as to which class is most desirable. For every letter which listed Savant on the top and Jester on the bottom, I seemed to find another which reversed the ratings. I have gone ahead with the Thief-Acrobat split (Editor’s note: The description will appear in issue #69), and I sincerely hope all of you will favor me with your immediate impressions and considered opinions garnered from actual play. Input from you is helping me in finalizing the Barbarian sub-class of Fighters, just as actual play-testing here is. Cavaliers were usually rated in the upper middle range, and that average was carried through for Mountebanks as well. Mystic rated the lowest, since no individual’s rating had it as number one. However, from the general comments, I fear that much of that is due to my own inadequate description of the class.

Several Good Readers suggested that I seek ideas from character classes published elsewhere. I regret that I cannot do so, of course, copyright laws being what they are. In fact, I make it a point to not read other systems and articles, since I do not wish to plagiarize. However, details of the classes which have developed since I wrote about them, or were not gone into in the brief treatments, will please many who viewed one or another proposed class as too limited.

What will not be covered in the expansion are the anti-paladin (perish the thought!) and the samurai. An assassin is about as close to an anti-paladin as is needed. Evil is strong and well represented. I by no means champion it. As I have said before, an anti-paladin is a third leg, and I have never yet seen any reasoned proposal which justifies the inclusion of such a sub-class. I believe that attempts to include the character type come from players who wish to have an “unbeatable” character for themselves. Furthermore, there is little mention of such a type in mythology or fantasy literature, so we do not have a solid role-model.

Samurai are a different story entirely. Granted the Monk is not part of Medieval tradition or the usual European-based fantasy. It belongs in an Oriental-based game. Why then not include samurai? Why compound error! I intend to move the Monk to the appendices where Bards now reside. It is hoped that sometime soon we can begin on another version of the AD&D game system which is based on Sino-Japanese culture. While such a work will be aimed principally for sale in the Far East, you may rest assured that an English-language version will be available to all interested players, so that a complete and meaningful campaign based on Oriental tradition and myth can be run. That means Ninja, Samurai, Ronin, Yakusa, Monks, and possibly Taoist clerics. Naturally, they will be in a setting which is relative to their powers and interrelationships, with appropriate monsters and deities, arms and armor. The possible meeting between these two separate cultures will be difficult to handle, and so some special rules will probably be required. That remains to be seen, so let’s leave it at that for now.

Three interesting bits out of this article. First, his statement about the various classes being equally embraced by feedback from fans is flatly contradicted by his later statement in the same paragraph that the savant and mystic were among the least favored sub-classes amongst the fans. (Why the cavalier got published and not the mountebank, I still don’t quite understand.) Second, we see the monk moved out to an appendix, and the development of a whole Oriental version of the game, into which I believe monks (as presented) would eventually have been relegated entirely, completely removed from the European-flavored core rules.

Then a few years later in Dragon #103, we got the following, which added a little depth to our expectations of what a second “updated” edition might entail:

The Future of the Game:
What the Second Edition Books Will Be Like
by Gary Gygax

With the recent publication of Unearthed Arcana and now Oriental Adventures, many of the Astute Readership, as well as those others so benighted as not to subscribe to these Worthy Pages, have many questions to ask about what is coming in the future for the ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS game. Here are the plans I have projected as of this writing. While certain things might change over the course of time, the overall projection should be reasonably accurate.

A Second Edition is a major undertaking. There are corrections to be made, parts to be meshed, material to be deleted or shifted, and new rules and information to be included in such a work. The first question, then, is when does this undertaking begin? We anticipate starting the preliminary work in mid-1986. The scope of the project is such that it will certainly require two to three years to complete. When it is finished, we will have fewer, but thicker, tomes for your amusement and edification. It is important to add that this task does not preclude later supplements, changes, and yet new editions (a Third, perhaps a Fourth someday). The AD&D game system is vital. It grows, changes, and develops with continuing play and fresh ideas. One day it might attain the point where the rules can be graven in stone, but I don’t see that likelihood for some time.

First subject for the Learned Editors will certainly be the Monster Manuals (I and II) and the FIEND FOLIO Tome. The three books will be edited for errors and omissions, re-illustrated in part, color plates added (also useful as painting guides), and certain entries deleted. Thereafter, all worthwhile new monsters found in modules, DRAGON Magazine, etc., will be inserted. An index will be compiled. Frank Mentzer is desirous of restructuring the order in which information is given. I am desirous of presenting creatures by region (or plane, subterranean, and similar categorical means) so as to make the work serve as a reasonable random encounter reference as well. It is hoped that we will have all of this accomplished in 1986, but do not hold me to that as a sworn statement or promise.

Next? The Players Handbook and portions of Unearthed Arcana and Oriental Adventures, in all probability. The information needed to be a player of the game should be contained between the covers of one book. We will do so! Monks as a PC type will certainly be moved to an oriental themed campaign section. Assassins will be reduced to optional status, or used only as NPCs, as your DM decides is best for his or her campaign. Bards will be rewritten to allow a player to start a bard character as a bard, and the current system will be removed in toto.

Any brand-new classes? Sure. I hope to get the mystic completed as a second subclass of cleric, and likewise the savant to make a second sub-magic-user. Finally, the new bard class will have a sub-class, the jester.

There are bound to be a few other additions to the players book. For instance, I have discovered that I neglected to include a fairly common medieval weapon in both the Players Handbook and Unearthed Arcana – Zounds! What slipshod research on my part!

Rest assured that anything major will be previewed in these pages first, unless it is so late a development that we will be unable to do so. I hate to say it, Understanding Readers, but the new sub-classes do fall under that heading. I just don’t have enough time to be able to do them as quickly as is desirable. It is most likely that they’ll premier in the Second Edition.

Now we have a hefty pair of tomes taken care of, a Second Edition Players Handbook and a Second Edition Monster Manual. What’s next in line? Pulling apart Unearthed Arcana and Oriental Adventures to make up the new book for players will automatically put the Harried but Diligent Editors onto the track of the Second Edition Dungeon Masters Guide. Knowing what the new book for players will be likely to contain gives a good insight into what the new DM’s book will cover. Of course the new-treatment of the Elemental Planes, printed right here in DRAGON Magazine some time ago, will be there. More planar details will certainly be included as well. Gone will be random encounter materials and monster XP lists.

Psionics . . . a subject I sidestepped in both commentaries on the expanded new editions. Quite frankly, I’d like to remove the concept from a medieval fantasy roleplaying game system and put it into a game where it belongs – something modern or futuristic. That is not fixed yet, and it could go either way. The new Monster Manual will be the key. If there is nothing about psionics therein, then you can count on the whole being removed from the AD&D game system. If you find references to monsters with such ability, then it will remain in the Second Edition.

Now. . . the DEITIES & DEMIGODS Cyclopedia, recently retitled Legends &
Lore by others as a sop, or bowing to pressure from those who don’t buy our products anyway. (For those Candid Enthusiasts who do not read between my lines, as they say, I do not particularly approve of the retitling of the work!) Anyway, whether it is under one title or the other, the work will be revised, expanded, and generally improved to conform to the new high standards of the other books in the system.

“So, Graybearded Windbag,” you say, “What is the point of all this preamble?” Fair enough! I’ll not take offense, merely give you the information. Statistics on deities are given only as a minimum guideline for the power of the individual in question when he, she, or it is encountered for whatever reason on the Prime Material Plane. Those individuals who have had the foresight to acquire the WORLD OF GREYHAWK™ Fantasy Game Setting will understand what I am (eventually) getting to. In the above-referenced work, the various sorts of deities are detailed in a manner that I believe the new edition of L&L, shall we say, should follow.

The players’ section of that work (the Guide) gives information on what clerics and worshipers of each deity should know – color of robes, special interests or requirements, usual location of places of worship and type of ceremony, and so forth. The DM’s section (the Glossography) has the “hard data.” Standard and nonstandard powers are given, and these are typically far greater than the material in L&L. Additionally, the statistics of these beings are given for DM knowledge only. Deity powers are great, special information is detailed regarding each, and the extra or
special spells gained by their clerics are also stated.

If the DM considers the power of planetars and solars as stated in Monster Manual II, there can be no question as to the abilities of those who command them. Statistics must be considered in this light and as a yardstick for deity comparison only. The revised L&L tome must give more information regarding clerics and followers of each deity. A separate DM section should then deal with the minimum powers of each
deity, along with a solid list of the standard powers typical for each deity. Spells usable only by such beings should be there too! Of course, the whole is to be expanded by inclusion of new material. An extensive section of non-human deities should be given, so demi-humans and humanoids are represented. That should do nicely.

What we have, then, when all of this is completed, is a set of four books once again: Players Handbook, Dungeon Masters Guide, Monster Manual, and Legends & Lore. Each is far larger than now, but the needed information is all under the cover of the appropriate tome. While this plan is seemingly fine, I foresee one special difficulty, so I’d better confess it to you now.

We are all what must be known as “hard core” gamers. The four books are quite acceptable, even a benefit, to us. But to an uninitiated person, especially one interested in beginning without benefit of experienced players, it will be a big drawback. The books will be big, and their prices will be that too, comparatively speaking. Sure, the new edition of Monster Manual will cost less than all three books of creatures now being sold – but the beginner doesn’t buy all three. See the point? Entry to the AD&D game system will be difficult and costly. None of us desire a shrinking, incestuous system. What can be done?

If Players Handbook is made to contain only general information on generating characters and how to play them, it becomes quite a small work indeed. Perhaps with careful study and preparation, it could be in the 128-page range. Character information of specific nature could then be handled in special works which detailed the four basic sorts, with sub-classes, weapons, armor, spells, and so on. No! Not more books again! Why not? A one-volume edition could be offered for the adepts, while those desiring to learn could enter by picking up but one or two small books. That is being considered, Loyal Enthusiasts, and you got it directly from tie. This sort of system would also enable us to add more information from time to time without going through a major effort – no Umpteenth Edition, no new big bucks to lay out to get the new data!

As usual, your good offices are appreciated. If you have helpful advice, go ahead and fire it off. I do not promise to reply, but the suggestions and comments will be read and considered as we begin this project.

Some meat starts to attach itself to the bone here. A brand-new bard as an archetype class, with a jester as a sub-class. Adding the mystic and savant as well, fleshing out all the archetypes to having at least two sub-classes. Psionics removed, destined for another game system. Reorganization of the Monster Manual, not only to include all of the three monster books into a single volume, but organizing them by habitat to make the whole more conducive to being used as a wandering monster resource. And, not bearing on the content, but on the presentation, a small “Introduction” book to let new players start up without a huge investment out front; perfect for the cash-strapped middle-schooler who was their core audience at the time.

Here’s where things get interesting, though. As I mentioned, Gygax was more willing to share and speculate on how things would have gone in an Updated Edition under his direction. Sorry that I’m not including links to where all these quotes are culled from; I can produce them on request, but this thing is taking long enough to write as it is.

For example, Gygax made several references to the development of a skill system. It would presumably be very different from that seen in either the published Oriental Adventures (which he is on record as saying that he disliked compared to the material written by Francois Marcela-Froikeval) or the Underworld/Wilderness survival Guides (which he is on record as not being fond of at all).

The new work would not have been akin to [the published] 2E, although some expansion and detailing of Secondary Skills was planned.


I was indeed considering something akin to what I did for the C&C system in regards to secondary skills for a revised edition of AD&D. Of course the current material I put together is influenced by what I created for the Lejendary Adventure RPG, thus more developed that what I was working on back in the 80s.

So, a skill system akin to that he put together for Castles & Crusades, possibly informed by a reading of Lejendary Adventure.

That Unearthed Arcana was the prototype of Gygax’s nascent Updated Edition, he stated flat-out:

In truth, I had begun planning for a revised edition of the AD&D game beginning around 1983. I made notes for what I planned, and those remained with TSR when I left the company at the end of 1985.

The UA compilation contained the initial pass at some to the revisions and expansions I envisioned for the game, but I had not had time to sit down and concentrate on exactly how I would complete a revision and what it would entail.

Now, some have accused me in the past of placing too much emphasis on Gygax’s work, and many folks take a dim view of the changes wrought in Unearthed Arcana (some deridingly referring to it as 1.5E). I’ve always liked UA, however, despite a couple of flaws, and that it points the direction that Gygax wanted to move AD&D into brings it up another notch in my view. Indeed, he explicitly addressed those critics:

I know some grognards dislike the direction of changes included in the UA work, but IMO thay made the campaing more varied and interesting. That includes the raise in the level limits of some demi-human types, for I remain firmly behind the restriction on such races as the game assumes a human-dominated world.

He certainly wasn’t against admitting his own shortcomings and mistakes that had made it into the first AD&D books:

Actually, yes, as I wanted to remove some things from the AD&D rules–weapon speed factors, weapon vs. armor, and psionics for sure. then I would have added some new classes, new spells for the new spell-using classes and the existing ones as well, and cranked in a much inproved skills section rather akin to what I did for the C&C game. I also wanted to revise the MM (and all like books) into two volumes, roughly A-L, and M-Z.

And away go weapon speed and armor adjustment against armor type. Alas; I use those rules regularly in my own campaign. If I was running a hypothetical UE game, I would probably graft them in from 1E myself.

I believe I would use most of the UA work in my theoretical OAD&D campaign–and not use weapon speed, adjustments vs. armor. I did use most of the components of that work in my actual campaign.

Something completely unmentioned in the Dragon magazine articles was a re-working of hit points and hit dice for monsters. Here are a couple of quotes on the subject conjoined.

I say that as barbarians get d12 for HPs, then clearly extrapolation of the same principle must apply to large and vigorous creatures. This mitigates the potential increase in PC prowess. As a matter of fact, adult critters were assigned 7-12 HPs per HD in my AD&D campaign–have been given the same in what I have designed for the C&C game system. Also, with increase in damage due to Strength, all large and powerful monsters, including ogres and giants, gain a damage bonus equal to their number of HD.

Admittedly, this is not in the UA work, but it logically follows, and would have been included in the revised edition of AD&D that I was planning.

“Actually I planned to go through the monsters’ roster and re-assign HD types–d4, d6, d8, d10, and d12. While doing that in regards to the HPs of each type, the monsters’ chance to hit based on number of HD would not be affected.

As too often “weak” monsters were randomly generated, I also planned to have robust adults possess HP totals of something over 50% of the possible maximum by using a HP generation system such as 3-4, 4-6, 6-10, 7-12 using the appropriate die to determine the actual number generated–d2, d3, d5, d6. Non-robust–immature, old, sick, injured, or even non-physically active sorts such as spell caster–monsters would have the obverse HP range using the same type of die without addition.

“When the monsters were consolidated into a revised MM volume or two, I planned to give a point summing and/or intellect rating for them so as to enable the DM to use that information when acting for the monsters. (After considering the matter for a time I have done this in the supplement to the LA game.)

I believe I would have left the XP award guidelines alone. Damage bonus would not be re-rated, and the HPs possessed would suffice for adjusting XPs gained, most up a bit, some down.

A minor note, but one sure to rankle some fans, is that he changed his mind on the half-ogre. I never played one myself, but I did have a half-giant in a Dark Sun game when I was in the Air Force…

The idea of half-ogres is one to which I no longer subscribe.

As mentioned in the Dragon magazine articles quoted above, Gygax intended to remove the AD&D monk to a more Oriental setting. What, then, would replace it?

What I was contemplating was a non-Oriental sort of Monk character to replace the clearly Eastern martial artist one featured. The class would likely have been a sort of dedicated warrior-spy with a few elements of the original Monk class, new abilities of more European sort to round it out. that way the Scarlet Brotherhood would not have had to lost its warrior-monk component.

All the notes I had for the new classes are gone, so don’t ask for details.

The most visible changes, from the perspective of the ordinary player, were the new character classes. Aside from the information contained in the Dragon magazine articles quoted above, Gygax did give some more information as to his intentions (despite his early vow never to do so, apparently borne of the fact that it was specifically mentioned in his legal agreement upon his leaving TSR in 1985, and was partly the basis of Lorraine Williams failed lawsuit upon the publication of his Mythus system).

Mountebank–a skilled liar/slight of hand trickster/minor illusionist/thief

Savant–a learned character also knowing arcane things and having minor magic-use

Mystic–an augur-clairvoyant with minor monk and cleric abilities

Jester–a gymnast-tumbler with some special spells for attention, laughter, anger, etc.

I should have mentioned that I was working on special spells for the Mountebank, Savant, Mystic, and Jester alike. I had a fair list put together, some number detailed in draft form, but I fear all are long lost.

As for that last line, I daresay he was being a bit cagey, as Mythus Dangerous Journeys seems to have a *lot* in common with some of the material he describes. Certainly enough to be looked to for guidance in some areas.

Now, it’s important to note that this next quote starts with the suppositions of a fan (in itallics) about the nature of the proposed new character classes, and is then followed up by Gygax’s general approval and commentary. The fact that Gygax pretty much says that the descriptions are how he envisioned the new classes makes them entirely germane, even if they weren’t written by Gygax originally.

From what little I remember from this and Dragon, the Savant was mentioned to have powers to overcome some of the altered magics of other planes, and I would assume they were like mages, but more akin to a combination of 1st Edition Sage, Specialist Wizard (3e) Diviner, and 3e Expert or Prestige class Loremaster. Their abilities would likely deal with knowledge rather than evocations, so they might be better at things like Divination and Abjuration or even Conjuration spells than the typical mage. The 1st Edition Derro “savants” in 1e MM2 might also be akin to what the class would have been. I assume mystics had more yoga like powers–Gary had mentioned that in playtest “mystics rated the lowest, since nobody had them at #1”. Whatever that means. Maybe powers were randomly generated? I assume this involves communing and inner psychic powers and astral projection. Like Gary said, Divine Divination and Fortune-Telling would also be part of this class. Holy Men and hermits might be the way to go here. Mountebanks–well, if we think Hop the Savant having those powers, it might mean a thief or rouge with powers to create potions–some fake, some real, and probably some “hedge-mage” types of powers. If we were going by the 3e, a mountebank template might be a rogue specializing in using magic items, con-games, and potion brewing, with maybe a bit of 3e sorcerer or 1e Illusionist. (Sorry, best way to describe the class). They probably are seen as “pretenders” to magic–having just enough to get by, but a real mage or wizard would probably scoff at them. Jesters–Probably similar to the bard, but it probably was akin to the Mythus skill of buffoonery, which combines joke telling (think of something that either humiliates or puts a victim into a reckless rage, or incites a riot), with pranks (akin to setting traps, or getting hit with a pie or slipping on a banana peel), maybe some illusion or enchantment magic as well. That’s all I can surmise.

Good work as usual. Just a couple of additions. The savant and mystic were meant to deal with critters from other planes as well. The mountebank could use disguise, impersonate, and with his patter or oration affect an audience of one or many more. The jester could use several hurled missile weapons such as daggers, clubs, knives, throwing stars, etc. with speed and accuracy.

But Gygax also mentioned the possibility of really shaking up the whole magic-user class. He once commented on someone’s query about having specialist abjurers, necromancers, etc.

Yes, I did intend to have schools of magic based on the types of spells as you note above. The m-u would begin with one specialization, but at various points along the level progression ladder he could opt to add a new field or intensify his capacity in the original one. This was meant to make m-us interesting beyond the point where they could use 9th level spells, any diversion from specialization delaying the advanced spell level possession but adding new lower level spells of a new school.

No, I never began to work out the tables for such school of magic progression. They would depend in part on how I prolonged the progression of the other classes of characters.

I did employ some of the thinking behind this concept in the DJ Mythus magic system.

And, also to add to the mix:

I was indeed considering a special class for elementalists and sorcerers for a revised edition of AD&D.

And the difference between a magic-user and a sorceror?

Sorcerers practice sorcery; that is, the summoning of demons or devils. They have no magical power, innate or learned.

So psionics are out. What to do with the primarily-psionic monsters in the game like Mind Flayers and Intellect Devourers?

Their attacks would have been revised to be powers, and otherwise they’d have remained in the bestiary for the game. Mind Flayers, the Illithids, were operative before I developed the crappy psionics system I hate to admit I devised.

EDIT (3/16/09): I just ran across the following while researching something online.
Someone asks Gary:

So, while completely different systems, it would not be a far fetched idea to think of the LA Elementalist and Sorcerers as the “types” of characters/magic user that would have ended up in 2nd edition if you had stayed and worked on the project. The spells would be different, but those are the basic archtypes of magic users you were thinking about.

And Gary replies:

Generally speaking, yes. Do not forget that I planned on adding some other archetypes as well. An elementalist would have been a sub-class of magic-user. A sorcerer would havbe been a class unto itself.

And he also offers a little more of an idea where to look for clues as to what some of these new spellcasters might have looked like:

Have a look at the Lejendary Adventure game Avatar Orders some time. They include Geourge (elementalist), Augur (a euphonism for necrourge), and Demonurge (sorcerer).

So… to bring the whole thing together, going through all those quotes and all that material, we begin to get a feel for how an AD&D Updated Edition would have looked if Gygax had been in charge.

  • The Unearthed Arcana material included
  • Bard completely re-worked as an archetype class, start as a 1st level bard (maybe based on something from OD&D?)
  • Assassins made optional
  • The new character sub-classes (mountebank, jester, savant, mystic) included, with new and unique spells for each
  • 1E monks removed to a dedicated Oriental section of the PH, replaced by warrior-spies
  • Monster hit dice completely re-worked, with tougher monsters rolling larger dice, and getting damage bonuses
  • Psionics gone, psionic monsters re-worked accordingly
  • Weapon speed and weapon vs. armor type gone
  • Half-ogres gone
  • Magic-users allowed to specialize in various spell types
  • Maybe a dedicated elementalist magic-user sub-class
  • Maybe a sorceror class, specializing in summonings and similar spells
  • Back to the “four core book” model
  • Oriental and European sections of the Players Handbook
  • Monster Manual re-ordered by terrain type
  • Deity book being separated into player and DM sections
  • A smaller “introductory” book for new players

Now this really looks intriguing to me, and makes me lament once again what-might-have-been. Perhaps, rather than the plethora of retro-clones with minor differences between them, something along these lines could be produced. A bold departure from what had gone before, but firmly rooted in 1E, and done along the lines that Gygax had intended.

Yeah, I’d buy that.

Written by 

Wargamer and RPG'er since the 1970's, author of Adventures Dark and Deep, Castle of the Mad Archmage, and other things, and proprietor of the Greyhawk Grognard blog.

23 thoughts on “AD&D’s Lost Second Edition

  1. Nice to have all this information consolidated in one place. I would add one caution, however, and that is my observation of Gygax’s “approval” posts. I have noted he was often quick with praise, but that sometimes did not thoroughly read the post he was approving. That is to say, details might easily slip through that he did not agree with.

  2. That was but the one quote (about the nature of the new classes), and from what I’ve seen, the stuff he was approving was pretty well in line with everything else that was previously published on the subject.

    Add to that the fact that he took the time to make substantive additions, and I’m not too worried about it.

    But hey, it’s all hypothetical, right?

  3. Fascinating, Joseph. Thanks for compiling this.

    A few questions and comments:

    Any idea what the “fairly common medieval weapon [not included] in both the Players Handbook and Unearthed Arcana” might be?

    How often while he was still with TSR did Gary let loose with snide opinions such as that about the renaming of Deities & Demigods? Amusing, but impolitic — especially in retrospect.

    “What I was contemplating was a non-Oriental sort of Monk character….a sort of dedicated warrior-spy”
    Can’t help but think of the Jesuit agents of rumor and history, and Father O’Flaherty.

  4. Any idea what the “fairly common medieval weapon [not included] in both the Players Handbook and Unearthed Arcana” might be?

    Not a clue, and Gygax himself seems to have forgotten what he was referring to. More than one person had asked over the years.

    How often while he was still with TSR did Gary let loose with snide opinions such as that about the renaming of Deities & Demigods? Amusing, but impolitic — especially in retrospect.

    Gygax was a good company man, never running down the products or decisions with which he disagreed while he was with TSR. Look at the introduction to Q1, for example. He thought very little of the module (to say the least) but praised it in print.

  5. So, who shall we gather to complete the “Updated Edition”?

    While putting this together, I kept asking myself, “do I really have too much on my plate already?” Because it really does seem like something I’d want to do.

  6. I don't know. Gygax struck gold with D&D and AD&D, but certainly some of his later game designs are less well-regarded.

    Plus, the new races and classes introduced in Unearthed Arcana are not very well-regarded at all.

    Perhaps it's a good thing that this edition never came to be?

  7. I was the one who asked most of those questions. A lot of times I'd ask on ENWorld instead of privately because I wanted the general people to know.

    Sadly, after years away from D&D Gary didn't always remember what he had created almost 2 decades ago, so I think a lot is lost, especially since a lot of the TSR writing was before computers.

    There are a lot of little gems and hints about the possible direction for "Gygax D&D 2.0" if you look at the Mythus book. There was a whole appendix of "professions" which described Mythus-skill bundles that hinted at what they would have done in AD&D would they have been completed.

    FYI–The renaming of DDG to Legends and Lore was done post-Gygax TSR.

  8. The renaming of DDG to Legends and Lore was done post-Gygax TSR.

    Weird; he mentions the name change in his article in Dragon #103, presumably when he was still with the company. But 1985 was a turbulent year…

    Many thanks for asking the questions in the first place, John!

  9. I just remember L&L coming out a while after EGG left. I didn't read the entire post since I only skimmed it and went over the Gygax quotes from Dragon, since I was going from memory–my apologies.

  10. from . ..

    “The BILL was for many years the mainstay weapon of British infantry. Descended from agricultural tools, the bill was a chopping blade with several spiking projections mounted on a staff of six or seven feet. George Silver, a great fan of the bill recommended that the overall length should be from the ground to two fist grips beyond one’s upper reach, making it 7 feet or so.”

    smaller versions with a triangular blade were also available for one handed usage . . .

  11. oops .. .

    that link did not come out well;
    try putting ‘orc sword’ in your google images to see what i am talking about ; – )

  12. I actually had the chance now to re-read everything and I wanted to provide a few more thoughts.
    I didn't realize my "rated as the lowest" comment meant polls based on Gary's statements–I vaguely thought it was reactions to actual playtest.

    To the best of my knowledge, the Mountebank class in Canting Crew is not based on Gary's ideas, as the d20 stuff in that book was done by somebody else–and didn't IMO even fit with the theme of the book. The general description of Mountebanks in the main text is pure Gary however.

    I don't believe Sorceror (and the Witchcraefter, the "evil witch archetype") would have ever been seen in D&D. I think it was probably a thought for future, but considering Gary's statement about the DDG turning into LL, I suspect the encouragement of "evil-based" classes might have been frowned upon by the others Gary was beholden too.

    I used to be excited about this. This was perhaps one of the biggest disappointments of my life when Gary was removed from TSR, and this incarnation of the project was canceled.

    I doubt though he wanted to revisit this. I suggested attempting to publish this for 3rd Edition, but he didn't want to release it for that version of the game, as he got increasingly critical of it as time passed. He also didn't want to bring this for C&C either–he didn't do much rules writing for C&C at all. In part, I think he'd be going from memory from over 20 years in the past, and in part he has evolved his ideas over time–for instance he didn't like creating his own "mythology" anymore, rather he emulated and adapted the existing myths of Earth in his settings.

    Anybody wanting to try to rebuild this stuff should probably pick up Mythus and Mythus Magick by Paizo (PDFs for $5 each). While it's a different system, a lot of what was developed there could give you a lot of hint as to what the four missing classes might have turned into. Of particular note are some of the K/S areas–Buffoonery in particular seems to be almost detailed enough to make a whole class out of, reading that skill will probably give you the best idea of what the Jester class might have been. And there are a lot of hints in the Appendix of Professions. There aren't as many hints in LA, unfortunately, as LA represents a further removed thought process.

    I learned to let go of this, and just enjoy the new stuff he was writing.

    Although I still don't know details of the Dreggals, Dumladuns, and Maelvis. Sigh

  13. Wow, that is one damn good read.

    One thing I have to wonder about Gygax – would he have used weapon specialization from UA?

    I think once he had a beasty take two arrows for 19 points each from a first level PC, he would have said “um, maybe I’ll just not use that either.”

  14. But hey, it’s all hypothetical, right?


    One thing I have to wonder about Gygax – would he have used weapon specialization from UA?

    He did use it; in fact, he claimed that virtually everything in Unearthed Arcana was in use in his campaign at the time of writing.

  15. I’ve read Chris’ site, Grogdog, but as I worked with Gary I had asked him if he could provide more info other than that definition so I could create those monsters for LA.

    His reply–(IIRC) “it’s been so darn long I can’t really remember what I had intended for them in themes and powers…”

  16. Fascinating read. I sure would like to get an Updated Edition-type supplement for OSRIC/LL, or C&C, one of these days.

    Your blog is amazing Joseph. I just found it and plan to keep up with it. Very inspirational. Please keep it up!

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