You might be wondering why a guy like me would be playing First Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. And yet, here I am in 2017 playing AD&D more than any other tabletop RPG.
It’s strange especially now! In my opinion, tabletop roleplaying is going through a bit of a renaissance. 5th Edition D&D is drawing new players in and old players back. The success of sites such as DriveThruRPG makes independent games readily available. And beyond that, the vast variety of games available simply makes it a very fun and fertile time for tabletop roleplaying. So, yes, it is odd that I would go back and play AD&D 1e.
Since MadCleric.com has recently seen an upward spike in new readers, I thought I’d give you a more clear and comprehensive on the when, why, and how of my current AD&D project entitled, Chasing the Dragon:
So why play AD&D 1e now?
I started roleplaying in 2011, using the oft-maligned 4th Edition D&D. Maligned or not, me and my friends enjoyed it for quite a while. For three years in fact. Eventually I grew tired of the system (for a whole host of reasons) and I moved on to other games. But when 5e starting getting really good reviews, I found myself wanting to go back to the swords and shields…yet I was left with a nagging question:
Why play 5th Edition, when I could play 1st Edition? Why play new modules and scenarios, when I haven’t even played the oldest, most revered, and most nostalgic?
In fact, it was the plunge into the unknown nostalgia of yesteryear that powerfully drew me into the game of our gaming forefathers.
As I considered the idea more seriously, I started learning the history of the game as well. I learned about Gary Gygax, TSR, their successes, and their difficulties. I learned about the myriad modules, books, and publications released during that wonderful period of the late seventies and early eighties. As a lover of arcane knowledge, this scratched another itch: I love to read and to learn.
What’s the plan?
I appreciate all the kind readers who have written to warn me that “chasing the dragon” is actually a term related to illicit drug use. I appreciate the kindness, but I actually intended that! “Chasing the dragon” means someone trying to recapture that initial experience–trying to get back to that first high. And my project, Chasing the Dragon, is attempting to do just that:
It’s all about going back in time and recapturing the experience of the first D&D players. I’ve been learning the rules of 1st Edition AD&D from the ground up, attempting to play them rules-as-written. And now that I’ve done that, here’s where I’ve gone and am going.
I want to play (as DM or player) all the classic AD&D modules, based upon the recommendations of my readers and my research. I started with a classic Gygax starter module and am moving on from there:
- Sept-Dec 2016: completed T1: The Village of Hommlet.
- Currently playing through U1: The Secret of Saltmarsh as as player and soon DMing (probably) N1: Against the Cult of the Reptile God.
We’re having a third child (hooray!) mid-year, so that will probably slow things for a very short period–or at least force me to play primarily online. But in time, I’m hoping to play the following modules (not all this year, of course):
G1: Steading of the Hill Giant Chief (Lev. 8)
G2: The Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl
G3: Hall of the Fire Giant King (Lev 8-10)
D1: Descent into the Depths of the Earth (Lev. 7-9)
D2: Shrine of the Kuo-Toa (Lev 9-14)
D3: Vault of the Drow (Lev 10-14)
S1: Tomb of Horrors (Lev 10-14)
As you can see, I have them split into some possible campaign groupings. But that is likely to all go out the window, as I’ve renegotiated them about thirty times thus far. And, yes, I’m always open to suggestions in comments below or on Twitter.
What about the rules? And what about 5e?
These are questions that I have gotten pretty regularly. People fear the ruleset of First Edition AD&D, because they’ve heard rumor of its difficulty. Really, truthfully, it has moments that lack clarity. And sometimes it’s unnecessarily wonky. But all said and done, it works great. It’s fun. It’s consistent. And it’s easy to catch onto for players.
So if you’re interested in playing, the best thing to do is to read the Players Handbook. It’s one of the most fun gaming books I’ve ever read. I basically read it all in one sitting. Check it out and I think you’ll be surprised at how innovative and fun it is, even in comparison to today’s games.
And as far as 5e is concerned, it’s a really great system. I played through the D&D Next Playtest and enjoyed every moment of it. But frankly, that playtest was one of the major influences that urged me toward AD&D 1e. I kept seeing hints of an older, more mysterious, and less streamlined way of gaming. It seemed complex, arcane (in a good way), and…might I say…advanced?! 5e in the end influenced me to look for the old ways.
Well, I hope you do care. And I hope you’re interested in following my journey. Here are the best ways to follow along. They’re pretty redundant, so feel free to pick the one that you prefer:
I’m glad to have you on this journey of Chasing the Dragon. And who knows? You might just catch the bug too. Happy travels!
Disclosure of Material Connection: the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”