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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default 3.5 DM considering running dnd 2e for the first time.

    What books do I need to get started?
    What sort of mechanical changes am I going to be in 'cultural shock' of that I should take time to be especially familiar with?
    What sources should I allow access to create an interesting level of depth while not overwhelming myself for first time play?
    What are some fun lowerish level prefab adventures preferably with a hub for players to start multiple plots from. Akin to the Vault of Larin Karr ?
    Last edited by Reprimand; 2020-10-28 at 08:48 PM.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Troll in the Playground
     
    Lord Torath's Avatar

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    Default Re: 3.5 DM considering running dnd 2e for the first time.

    Whew. Such simple questions. So much to go over.

    This is not a complete list by any means, but here goes.

    1: You will need Player's Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide, Tome of Magic, and the Monstrous Manual or Monstrous Compendiums 1 & 2.

    2: Not everything is covered by the rules. You will need to make a lot of rulings.

    Most characters do not change classes during their careers. Humans can occasionally dual class, which means advancing as far as they want in one class, then starting over in another class. They cannot use any of the abilities from their first class until they are higher level in their second class than they are in their first class. They can never gain any more levels in their first class.

    Demi-humans (elves, dwarves, etc) can multi-class, which is advancing in two or more classes at the same time (I think this is like Gestalt in 3.X?). They divide the XP they earn evenly among all their classes, so they advance slower than single-class characters.

    Humans can advance to level 20 (or beyond, if you are so inclined), but demi-humans can't advance as far (although many DMs ignore the level limits).

    Not every race can be every class. Monster PCs are not permitted (unless you include the Complete Book of Humanoids - I'd recommend against that for now).

    Non-weapon proficiencies are not the same as Feats, and are intended to be a list of things you excel at, not the total list of things you can do.

    Hit points are much lower in 2nd Edition than they are in 3rd.

    Many spells cap damage at tenth level. A tenth level wizard and a 20th level wizard both inflict 10d6 damage with their fireballs.

    THAC0 instead of BAB and descending armor class. In 2nd Edition, a lower armor class is harder to hit. THAC0 stands for To Hit Armor Class Zero. The difference between your die roll and your THAC0 is the AC you hit. Alternatively, add the AC of your target to your die roll. If that is equal or higher than your THAC0, you hit.

    Attacks of Opportunity are not called that, and are much more limited. Shooting into melee is generally not a good idea.

    Mages and clerics can lose their concentration when casting much more easily.

    3: The core books are probably fine. There are additional monster books for the various settings. Eventually you will probably want to allow the Complete <class>'s Handbooks, which allow greater customization, and introduce psionics. There are also the and the Complete Book of <Race> books which give extra kits and abilities for the demi-humans. Complete Book of Elves is well known for having some very over-powered options. Complete Book of Humanoids is also one to be careful of. Some people like the Player's Option books, which make 2nd Edition much closer to 3rd edition, sort of a 2.5 edition. I personally don't like them much, although I do borrow some of the stuff from PO: Combat and Tactics. Not the grid fighting, though.

    4: I've always liked B2 The Keep on the Borderland as a starting module. L1 The Secret of Bone Hill is supposed to be a really good one, and U1 The Sinister Secret of Salt Marsh also gets excellent reviews. Note that B2 is not an AD&D module, but a Basic D&D module. They are mostly interchangeable, though.

    That's all I've got time for now. I can come back later, and I'm certain others will have better advice.
    Warhammer 40,000 Campaign Skirmish Game: Warpstrike
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    Thri-Kreen Ranger/Psionicist by me, based off of Rich's A Monster for Every Season

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Troll in the Playground
     
    Telok's Avatar

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    Default Re: 3.5 DM considering running dnd 2e for the first time.

    Seconding B2 and U1.

    Be... careful... with anything out of the completes. Balance & fun rests on the DM, not on the material. Nix psionic wild talenting. Just trust us on that.

    As an alternate to ThAC0 there are to-hit matrices in the 1e AD&D DMG that you can sub in for your rolls. The players can handle their own stuff.

    Realize that pretty much everything is optional. Pick and choose which rules and sets you'll use. If I recall 2e even noted druids as an example of what a priest of a different mythos could be.

    Get yourself a treasure roller. There's bunches of them out there and it does make stuff easier. Try to find one that does the gems and art objects for you, actual descriptions and not just a gp value.
    Niven's Laws, #5
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  4. - Top - End - #4
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: 3.5 DM considering running dnd 2e for the first time.

    Last post before bed.

    I've also heard of a book with some popular options rules I think the giant also referenced in the comic.
    Not dying at 0 hp sounds like a good idea.
    A few others I can't remember off the top of my head.
    What book are those rules presented in?

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    Troll in the Playground
     
    Lord Torath's Avatar

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    Default Re: 3.5 DM considering running dnd 2e for the first time.

    Not dying at zero is called Hovering on Death's Door and is an optional rule in the PHB and DMG.
    Warhammer 40,000 Campaign Skirmish Game: Warpstrike
    My Spelljammer stuff (including an orbit tracker), 2E AD&D spreadsheet, and Vault of the Drow maps are available in my Dropbox. Feel free to use or not use it as you see fit!
    Thri-Kreen Ranger/Psionicist by me, based off of Rich's A Monster for Every Season

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    Orc in the Playground
     
    BardGuy

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    Default Re: 3.5 DM considering running dnd 2e for the first time.

    I'm curious - Why do you think Tome of magic is a must-have?
    I love playing in a party with a couple of power-gamers, it frees me up to be Elan!


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    Troll in the Playground
     
    Lord Torath's Avatar

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    Default Re: 3.5 DM considering running dnd 2e for the first time.

    Quote Originally Posted by Duff View Post
    I'm curious - Why do you think Tome of magic is a must-have?
    Mainly for the additional priest spells. Really gives a lot more options for clerics. I really like the Quest Spells, for one thing. The spheres of Law and Chaos also have some great spells in them: Strength of One, Champion's Strength, Miscast Magic, Random Casualty. Lots of fun to be had. There are a number of good wizard spells, as well. I also happen to like Wild Mages, though I know many do not.
    Warhammer 40,000 Campaign Skirmish Game: Warpstrike
    My Spelljammer stuff (including an orbit tracker), 2E AD&D spreadsheet, and Vault of the Drow maps are available in my Dropbox. Feel free to use or not use it as you see fit!
    Thri-Kreen Ranger/Psionicist by me, based off of Rich's A Monster for Every Season

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    MonkGirl

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    Default Re: 3.5 DM considering running dnd 2e for the first time.

    While I don't think its essential it does add a lot and the new specializations it allows are a lot of fun.
    Minister of sarcasm and pragmatism of the Grayview fanclub.

    No, none of us were altering the unimutable laws of physics. That would be wrong.

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: 3.5 DM considering running dnd 2e for the first time.

    Another major difference is that nobody gets hit dice after 9th level. Instead you get a fixed amount per level. Level progression is also slower.

    No saving throws against level drain from undead, and saving throws in general work differently. The proficiency system is "roll under a fixed number" instead of 3.5s "beat the DC" skill system. Thieves have their own separate skill system.
    Last edited by Jason; 2020-11-04 at 11:08 AM.

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    Pixie in the Playground
     
    DwarfBarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: 3.5 DM considering running dnd 2e for the first time.

    Well, it's gonna be like learning DOS command line after learning Windows. 3.x definitely has more internal consistency and coherence of design, but curiously enough I think 2nd edition did balance better.

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    DruidGuy

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    Default Re: 3.5 DM considering running dnd 2e for the first time.

    I'd add a couple more things.

    Stats aren't as important, at least not compared to later addition where you had to take certain stats to certain scores or you fell behind the maths curve. It is only at high stat scores that it makes much of a difference in 2e. The difference between a fight with 9 STR and 16 STR? 1 point of damage. That is it.

    It also means cookie cutter builds are less likely. And it encourages different builds. Want a high int fighter? Go for it. They work perfectly fine.

    And secondly - skills, or non-weapon proficiencies. Unlike later editions where skills ended up being an all or nothing affair, 2e's NWPs meant anyone could contribute. And a bigger bonus is that warriors weren't useless outside of combat. They actually get as many NWPs as anyone else.

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: 3.5 DM considering running dnd 2e for the first time.

    I did consider running a simpler dnd and figured out 5e was not it.(still very complicated)
    Which dnd have the shortest rules or the rules I can modify to be the most understandable for people which does not want to read the rules?
    Ad&d is supposed to be rather simple so is it the one I should try?
    Or should I try basic dnd?
    Last edited by noob; 2020-11-13 at 05:26 PM.

  13. - Top - End - #13
    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: 3.5 DM considering running dnd 2e for the first time.

    First and foremost: do not let the name fool you. This is not just a different edition of the game you're used to. It's a very different game, with very different rules.

    A. I strongly urge you to use only PHB, DMG, and the Monstrous Manual. Nothing else. You don't need extra options while your players are still unsure about the basics. Most especially, do not use Tome of Magic. It gives more options for wizard and priests, with no equivalent advantage for Fighters and Thieves.

    If you are still playing it two or three years later, you can add more books.

    B. Read spell descriptions carefully. Every time. These spells do not work the same way they do in 3.5e

    C. Use total xps, not levels, to compare characters.

    D. Multi-class and dual class characters do not have a "character level" as you think of it. A 4th level wizard / 5th level Thief is not 9th level. She's 4th level for some things and 5th level for other things and nothing else.

    E. Do not expect to find all the answers you need by reading. The fourth rulebook, and the one you will consult the most, is you.

    F. When players describe what they want their characters to do, your first impulse should not be "Do you have that skill?" Except for a very short set of NWPs, there are no skills. Figure out how likely it is that a person with their background should be able to do it, and set a roll that you decide on (see the fourth rulebook, above).

    G. A core skill in 3e is build optimization based on rules mastery. That is far less true here. There's not much difference between my illusionist and somebody else's, or my Ranger and somebody else's. The equivalent core skill in 2e is imaginative play. Therefore, you need to be prepared to encourage and reward imaginative play.

    The Rule of Cool is an excellent guide, as long as it's governed by reasonability. This is actually the DM's most important task.

    H. Most especially, there are no rules for Diplomacy, Bluff, Sense Motive, etc. You will need to play out what characters are saying to each other, and judge the NPC's reactions based on what you know about their character. How they react to a player's request should be based on what you know about that NPC's motives and goals. [This requires you to decide each relevant NPC's motives and goals.]

    I repeat my opening line, and most important point: do not let the name fool you. This is not just a different edition of the game you're used to. It's a very different game, with very different rules.

  14. - Top - End - #14
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: 3.5 DM considering running dnd 2e for the first time.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    F. When players describe what they want their characters to do, your first impulse should not be "Do you have that skill?" Except for a very short set of NWPs, there are no skills. Figure out how likely it is that a person with their background should be able to do it, and set a roll that you decide on (see the fourth rulebook, above).
    NWPs are also an optional rule. I prefer the secondary skills option which gives a broad secondary background to base rulings off of rather than a specific skill list. To me it fits better into a system that already relies on rulings.

  15. - Top - End - #15
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    Daemon

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    Default Re: 3.5 DM considering running dnd 2e for the first time.

    It's anecdotal as tastes vary, but the most fun I've ever had in D&D character creation and buildouts was in 2.5 with Skills&Powers and Spells& Magic. Posters above seem not to agree, but I would recommend considering those two, especially the former if you want to try original psionics. The system is completely unplayable without it.

    The original respondent mentioned energy drain, which when applied feels like a silverback slapping a toddler to your players. If they are not used to losing levels or even the concept, be careful in application or prepare for lots of salt. There's a reason why the game has been moving away from it for three editions. On a related note, percentile strength is going to strike many as flawed, you may want to have a house rule for it.

  16. - Top - End - #16
    Troll in the Playground
     
    Lord Torath's Avatar

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    Default Re: 3.5 DM considering running dnd 2e for the first time.

    I'd probably hold off on Psionics for a bit, until you're more familiar with the 2E system. But when you do...

    Before considering using the Skills and Powers psionics (often referred to as Revised Psionics), I highly recommend reading these two posts from a discussion on Dragonsfoot:

    Flaws of Core Psionics vs Flaws of Revised Psionics
    Best Practices for Psionic Combat in Revised Psionics (tl;dr: Don't!)

    The quick summary of the Dragonsfoot posts is that the Revised psionics ruins Telepathy (you cannot quietly snoop on anyone, or plant a secret suggestion, or make them see something that's not there without bashing your way into their mind, and they will know it's you), and makes psionic combat something you never want to use. You inflict more damage to yourself than your do to your opponent.

    In Core psionics (The Complete Psionics Handbook, Dragon Kings, and The Will and the Way), telepathic combat is a series of opposed ability score checks: first one to win 3 of these connects to the other's mind, and can start using things like Dominate, Aversion, or Phobia Amplification. In Revised, you can only connect to a mind if it has no Psionic Strength Points left (or if they voluntarily let you in), so you have to use those psionic attack modes in a vain attempt to expend your opponent's PSPs before running out yourself.

    One thing not touched on in the Dragonsfoot post is that under the Revised rules, you need to calculate a Mental Armor Class for anything and everything your psionicist might want to use psionic powers on. And the MAC is not a trivial calculation. Calculating your MTHAC0 is even worse, but mercifully, only psionicists and wild talents need those.

    Another thing not addressed is the psychic contest: You use telekinetics to try to grab the sword away from an opponent. In Core psionics, power checks are just modified ability score checks: roll equal or under your wisdom-1, for example. You want to roll high but not over your target (The Price is Right, anyone?). So for the psyhic contest, your roll your power check. the fighter rolls a strength check, and the highest successful roll wins. In Revised, you want the lowest successful roll to get your power off, which makes determining the winner of the psychic contest much more difficult.

    Also note that if you use Revised Psionics, you still need the core books, since neither PO:Skills and Powers nor the Revised Dark Sun setting include descriptions for all the psionic powers. Most of them they just tell you the new cost and MAC for each power, and direct you to the other books for what the power actually does.

    The only thing Revised does that is worthwhile is making it easier to use psionic powers as you increase in level. And that's easily fixed with a simple house rule allowing the psionicist to increase his power score by one point in two devotions or one science each time he levels up.
    Last edited by Lord Torath; 2020-12-07 at 11:11 AM.
    Warhammer 40,000 Campaign Skirmish Game: Warpstrike
    My Spelljammer stuff (including an orbit tracker), 2E AD&D spreadsheet, and Vault of the Drow maps are available in my Dropbox. Feel free to use or not use it as you see fit!
    Thri-Kreen Ranger/Psionicist by me, based off of Rich's A Monster for Every Season

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