Nobody actually played AD&D the way it was written, including Gygax himself. We all had (or have) house-rules, sections we ignore, other sections we embellish, etc. All my musings on this blog thusfar have been geared towards some sort of new game (although that was not my intention when I began the series), and I’d like to see how I can apply my thoughts to my favorite RPG; Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (oft’times referred to as 1E).
Right off the bat, out go psionics. I’ve never liked the concept, and don’t think it’s necessary in a fantasy game. Why bother when you have magic? Pick one or the other; I could see doing an AD&D game without magic-users or clerics, but where psionics took their place. But “mainstream” AD&D doesn’t need it.
And hot on those heels, in come more character classes. I know, I know; I was toying with the idea of paring down the core character classes to a mere two just a couple of days ago. But if it’s AD&D I’m talking about, more classes are better. Not necessarily willy-nilly; I’m not talking archers and anti-paladins, but it definitely seems like there’s room for another magic-user sub-class (necromancer? invoker?). A straight-out bard would be welcome. I’ve always loved the idea of the mountebank as a sub-class of thief; essentially a con man who dabbles in minor magics. I wrote a jester class earlier this year, and I’d probably toss that in as well. I’d keep clerics, if for no other reason than I think they’re too iconic in D&D terms to jettison. I’d get rid of monks, though; they don’t make a lot of sense in a medieval setting. I happen to like cavaliers, myself, but I’d probably put them under fighters as a sub-class.
Combat needs some work. I’d change initiative to make it individual for PCs. Make the difference between armor type and armor class more obvious, so the weapons vs. armor-type table makes more sense. Give some sort of option for “active defense” that would make parrying a real option. And I would split hit points into wounds and fatigue. The former heal more slowly, the latter are recovered quickly. But I wouldn’t want to go overboard; if it ends up slowing down combat with a jillion modifiers, I’d toss it out and start over.
Gnomes would be history. I know the removal of gnomes from the 4E Players Handbook caused a minor ruckus, but there’s just not a need for a half-dwarf half-elf demihuman. I’d include all the sub-races from Unearthed Arcana.
Magic would pretty much stay the same, although I’d beef up some of the magic-user spell lists with some more other-planar spells. And (f)lame arrow would get a complete re-write. Obviously the magic-user sub-classes would need spells of their own, and the bard would get songs with magical effects.
Monsters would have some of the worst of the Fiend Folio excised, fill in some of the more obvious gaps (special familiars for all alignments, for example, and more Upper Planes creatures). I’d pare down the dinosaurs, and include the “missing dragons” that Richard Lloyd wrote about in Dragon magazine (filling in the color wheel with evil dragons). I like the crystal dragons for neutral ones, too.
Would I include skills? Probably not. With a heftier supply of character classes, they just aren’t needed. Maybe a section on character background would do the trick; roll for (or choose) some pieces of personal history, and let that act as a guide.
How would you “fix” AD&D?