AD&D 2nd edition thoughts…

AD&D 2nd edition premium edition

The last few weeks I have been reading up on a game I missed entirely – AD&D 2nd edition.

We stopped playing D&D in 1988-1989 something, just before 2e hit the shelves. However, returning to D&D a few years ago I started buying some 2e stuff on the cheap, and now I have quite a collection on my shelf.

I planned to use it for our adventures, but fell into the OSR-clone marsh and scrapped 2e to be used for inspiration and to be “cannibalized” for ideas and cool stuff.

This christmas when I got D&D 5th edition a lot of people compared it with 2e and I brought out my 2e books for a more thorough reading. And I must say that I really like this version of the game.

Never being a devout fan of the high Gygaxian prose of 1e, the 2e style suits me much more, as does the form and layout of the books. Contrary to most (it seems) I definitely prefer the 1995 black edition of the books.

There’s been a lot of yapping online over demons and devils being renamed or that the assassin, monk and half-orc disappeared and other little things, but at the same time I think that 2e brings so much other cool stuff to the table, making up for those “transgressions” many times around. And they reappeared later – the monk and assassin in “The Scarlet Brotherhood” supplement and the half-orc in the “Complete Book of Humanoids”.

If I’m going to GM an advanced D&D game in the future, I will definitely try out 2e!

Also, keep an eye open for future posts here on 2e. I will write about some personal reflections from the perspective of an bx/1e GM trying out the new 2e.

And for me it IS a new game. One that I am much more exited about GM:ing than the new D&D 5e game.

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The debated Swords & Wizardry single Save – nothing new

The Adventure Begins - AD&D 2e intro box

The Adventure Begins – AD&D 2e intro box

Back in 1999, TSR released this starter box for 2nd ed AD&D. I got it “extra” in a game swap. In my opinion it’s a very good starter set for D&D. It has got a short adventure, a small sandbox area, a small village for the first adventure, a short adventure book, a few character folders with pregenerated PCs and a very nice DM screen with solid advice for the newbie DM.

But most interestingly, it uses a one save system, just like Swords & Wizardry.

So, nothing new there…

Mini book review: The Elven Blade by Nick Perumov

Art by awesome Jon Hodgson

A while back I wrote about this new book i found: The Elven Blade by Russian author Nick Perumov.

What makes it special is that it is an unofficial sequel to LotR, written in Soviet before the Iron Curtain fell.

SPOILER WARNING!

The Story

The book takes place in the 4th Age, 300 years after the War of the Ring. Middle Earth is different. The Elves have sailed to Valinor. The Wizards are gone.  Arnor have been re-settled and are now known as The Twin Kingdoms – an alliance between Arnor and Gondor. Most of the orcs and goblins have been hunted down and eradicated from the earth. Peace have prospered for several hundred years, and everyone has become complacent. And the Hobbits are the most complacent of all.

Our protagonist is Folco Brandybuck, a late relative of Meriadoc Brandybuck of LotR fame. Like Frodo, he’s tired of being a farm boy, and dreams of the adventures of old. In a secret chest, he has Merry’s old Gondor sword and a copy of the Red Book of West Mark.

One day, a Blue Mountains dwarf named Thorin comes to the village, in search of the famed Red Book that is rumored to be among the Hobbits. He’s looking for historic clues, as Moria has been overrun by something dark and evil from the deep, and the Moria dwarves have been driven out. Again. Thorin is looking to get some information of what the threat might be and is trying to gather a party to go investigate the new Moria threat.

Of course, Folco becomes Thorin’s follower and together they embark on an epic journey, where they find that the Darkness indeed is stirring, not only in Moria…

 

My thoughts

I  can’t speak of the Russian original, but at first I was a bit annoyed by what I felt was teen-ish language. However, after a while it settled down, and became a quite nice read. Physically, the book is about 550 pages, and it became my pool reading buddy the first week of my holiday in Crete. Now, my son and wife are battling who’s gonna be the next one to read it 🙂

I think the author does Middle Earth justice, and in my opinion it’s a worthy saga for Middle Earth. I especially liked that it is more adventure focused than LotR. No poems, songs or any such things. In fact, it would work quite well as a fantasy RPG adventure. It’s also much darker in style than LotR. The characters aren’t pure good or evil. Rather, they are all shades of gray, and the gloomy Russian literary tradition shines through here and there. Apparently, there has been some controverse in the Tolkien fandom over Perumov’s deviation from Tolkien’s good vs. evil story, towards a morally more dubious world. Personally, I don’t see the problem, but if you expect a Tolkien clone maybe you will be disappointed.

The book is the first in a trilogy called “The Ring of Darkness” (Mörkrets Ring in Swedish). Part two, “The Black Lance” recently came out and is a beast of 700 pages. The third part isn’t available is Swedish yet, but I’m surely going to read them, and I heartily recommend them for anyone interested in fantasy and Middle Earth.

Sadly, the books are only available in Russian, Swedish, Polish and some other Eastern European languages at the moment. Hopefully, they will be translated into English.

An added bonus is that I’ve gotten back the urge to play some traditional high fantasy again. In fact, I’ve started designing a home-brew world for that!

Book Tip: The Elven Blade by Nick Perumov

 

The Elven Blade by Nick Perumov

The other day I went to the bookstore to buy some good pool-side fantasy books for my upcoming holiday in the sun with my family.

I didn’t have time to go to the Sci-Fi Dork Shop, so I went to my local bookstore, where the range of books offered aren’t all that great.

Then I found this. “Alvklingan”, or The Elven Blade in English. This book takes place in Middle-Earth 300 years after the War of the Ring!

Of course, I had to buy it! I later Googled the author, and found out that he’s Russian. Apparently, he had translated LotR back in the Soviet days, when it was considered forbidden literature, and longing for more adventures there, he had started to write his own fan fiction just for himself. The manuscript spread in the underground fantasy world of Soviet, and after the Perestrojka in 1991, he got an offer to publish the book. Which he did. And now it’s published in Swedish, Polish and some of the Baltic countries. But not into English, so that’s unfortunate for you English-speaking people.

I started reading yesterday, and I must say I like it. It’s not Tolkien, but darn close, and this guy knows his Silmarillion. I think it’s a tad darker than Tolkien also, but I’ve only started so we’ll see where this goes.

But it’s cool! Back in Middle Earth on NEW adventures!

How they have sorted this out with the Tolkien estate, on the other hand, I do not understand.