What houserules for a new 2e campaign?

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I'm an experienced DM and I'm looking at running an AD&D 2nd edition campaign starting in the new year. I both played and DM'ed 2e extensively, but I've been a 3.5e/4e player and DM since those editions released and I've forgotten a lot about the 2e system.

To prepare, I've read and re-read the PHB and DMG and I've got a good handle on the rules. The trick is, 2e had so many supplements released that were of varying quality, I'm wondering what house rules I need to put in effect to ensure a smooth running game.

Here's my goal: To run a fair, sandbox style campaign for a group of 4 to 5 players. These are players used to 3.x/4e who enjoy a good mix of RP, exploration, and combat. They tend to be very crunch driven players with a tendancy to min-max, BUT they agree that they want to move away from that and do more RP and story development. They want an even mix of dungeon crawling/wilderness/town and the freedom to do as they please but have an overarching story they interact with.

I would personally like to see a core book only game, but I know the players want a few more options, probably a quality supplement or two that adds options but preserves some amount of balance and stays true to the core (ie- no volcano magic). Any ideas for what 4 or 5 supplements would best suit this game?

In addition, are there any house rules that we could put in play that would greatly help our game? I know 2e had a few flaws, but it's been so long that I'm having trouble remembering what they were. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Also, if there are any pre-made adventures you can recommend for this campaign it would help me out. Thanks!
I realy liked the concept of the Skills and Powers and the Spells and Magic player's options books. They added a lot of freedom for customizing characters. If your players like to 'build' characters, and/or change up the way they approach magic, these might be good to use. I'd stay away from Combat and Tactics as that is basically 3e style grid-based combat without the refinement of 3e's more streamlined rules (in other words, it is very clunky and slows down the game).

Spells and Magic worked pretty much as written without too much houseruling, but unfortunately Skills and Powers was very poorly written and I believe slapped together and rushed out the door. My old 2e group made so many changes to it that I basically ended up rewriting the whole book. But I still advise giving it a look, because the basic foundation it lays out is great, and if DM and players are working together in the character creation phase, it can be a great tool for creating unique characters. (Skip the chapter on kits, they never got that quite right in the character point system). Best of all, it works pretty well with the traditional style of characters, so you can have some charater-point characters and some PHB characters in the same campaign and it won't really hurt balance.

If you don't want to get that complex, the best advice I can give is to allow PHB races and classes, and then offer to allow character kits, subject to DM review. Some kits are great and add a lot of flavor to the game, but there are some out there that you need to watch out for because they can be overpowered. The "Complete Handbook" series is probably the bext source for kits.

As for house rules, since your players are used to 3rd & 4th edition, you might find it helpful to invert armor class, so that higher is better, and convert Thac0 into a to-hit bonus. It pretty easy to do - AC still starts at 10 and just gets higher instead of better. To-hit bonus works out to be 20-Thac0. When doing this my group found it helpful to write up new tables for armor and to-hit bonuses to replace the ones in the PHB, just to have the quick reference so you don't need to convert during play.

For published adventures, old issues of Dungeon are fantastic if you can get your hands on them.

I don't have a lot of 2nd experience, but from what I do have...


My main advice would not be to add splat books, but rather specific sections from them. I found a lot of stuff that did the same thing, but was reprinted somewhere else and worded slightly different. Allowing people to choose them both made them pretty powerful.


I'd also ditch ability and racial requirements for classes, and max levels for specific races in specific classes. 


I'd also look at this thread for examples of things to nerf or be warry of. http://brilliantgameologists.com/boards/index.php?topic=10675.0


Oh and homebrew some point buy. 

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Ouch.  I have a lot of 2ed materials but after playing with the refinements that came with third edition I'm not sure I could go back to the crazy and wild days of 2ed.

Part of me wants to know what levels you're looking at playing because low levels and completely different then high levels.  At 1st-level bows are king as you get two shots every round and a single shot can potentially kill a target; at higher levels you may still only get two shots but your damage isn't going to be significant to make a quick kill.

When I think of 2ed here are the things that stand out to differenciate characters:
Ability Scores (how lucky did you get)
Class/classes  and race (sets so much of what is to come)
Equipment/Magic Items (for so many characters if they share class/race and had the same ability scores these would be the ONLY thing that distinguishes them)
Spell Selection (casters only; aside from equipment perhaps the only thing that varies much)
Thieving Skills and proficiencies.

I'll actually warn you away from the Player's Options series.  Don't get me wrong it can be great have all that "build your own class" freedom but it can also make insane characters and I believe some of the spellcasting options were among the worst offenders. 
I run 2E the way I run 3.5 (or should I say that I run 3.5 the way I run 2E...), and allow core & the "complete" series (the brown books). Kits are always fun to play with.


The only rule I ever really yank from the system is level limits. Higher levels, we modified the Basic "Immortal Quest" and immortal rules, but I wouldn't recommend it unless you have that all written up as to how you want to do that. As for THAC0, which we never really were confused by, I've had new players make up a chart so they know which AC they hit; MS Excel works great for this. We never bothered with the Player's Option/DM Option books, as we didn't have them. Hell, I just picked these up recently when I finally found copies.


The system is still a lot of fun to play, so hope it goes well!     

Just roll some dice.

 

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Thanks for all the advice. I think I'll stick to the core books and the "Complete ..." series and limit players to those choices.

Does anyone know of a good adventure that I could run that fits with the campaign my players are looking for? (see OP)
I'm an experienced DM and I'm looking at running an AD&D 2nd edition campaign starting in the new year. I both played and DM'ed 2e extensively, but I've been a 3.5e/4e player and DM since those editions released and I've forgotten a lot about the 2e system.

To prepare, I've read and re-read the PHB and DMG and I've got a good handle on the rules. The trick is, 2e had so many supplements released that were of varying quality, I'm wondering what house rules I need to put in effect to ensure a smooth running game.

Here's my goal: To run a fair, sandbox style campaign for a group of 4 to 5 players. These are players used to 3.x/4e who enjoy a good mix of RP, exploration, and combat. They tend to be very crunch driven players with a tendancy to min-max, BUT they agree that they want to move away from that and do more RP and story development. They want an even mix of dungeon crawling/wilderness/town and the freedom to do as they please but have an overarching story they interact with.

I would personally like to see a core book only game, but I know the players want a few more options, probably a quality supplement or two that adds options but preserves some amount of balance and stays true to the core (ie- no volcano magic). Any ideas for what 4 or 5 supplements would best suit this game?

In addition, are there any house rules that we could put in play that would greatly help our game? I know 2e had a few flaws, but it's been so long that I'm having trouble remembering what they were. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Also, if there are any pre-made adventures you can recommend for this campaign it would help me out. Thanks!

The first that comes to mind is ignoring ability maximums and level caps on female PCs. Also ignoring level caps on nonhuman PCs.
Thanks for all the advice. I think I'll stick to the core books and the "Complete ..." series and limit players to those choices.

Does anyone know of a good adventure that I could run that fits with the campaign my players are looking for? (see OP)



A great module that can be altered a little bit to be a good group-geller/starter is Curse of The Azure Bonds. I used to mod it and use it as a first adventure, and it did a good job of bringing the players together as a cohesive unit.

Just roll some dice.

 

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Night Below. A module worth looking into I think.
 

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Night Below. A module worth looking into I think.
 



I second this one wholeheartedly.

The adventures within it take PCs from level 1 to level 10 and above. It is also made to be dropped into basically any campaign setting (with the exceptions being extreme ones like Dark Sun, but even then it's possible).  
I liked the Dragonskull Throne module.  Most of it took place underwater, but it was made for land-based PCs.  It's an interesting way to introduce a new environment, at leasr.
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I do, however, have one last lesson on this subject. That last one? The only build in this post that can one-shot average opponents[by dealing twice as much damage as they have HP? I would argue that it is not optimized. Why isn't it optimized? Because it's overkill. Overkill is NOT optimizing. This means that there are portions of this build dedicated to damage which can safely be removed and thrown elsewhere. For example, you probably don't need both Leap Attack AND Headlong Rush at the same time. You could pick up Extra Rage feats for stamina, feats to support AoO effects, feats that work towards potential prestige classes, and so on. However, you could also shift our ability scores around somewhat. I mean, if you're getting results like that with 16 starting Strength, maybe you can lower it to 14, and free up four points to spend somewhere else - perhaps back into Charisma, giving you some oomph for Intimidating Rage or Imperious Command if you want. You can continue to tune this until it deals "enough" damage - and that "enough" does not need to be "100%". It could easily be, say, 80% (leaving the rest to the team), if your DM is the sort who would ban one-hit killers.
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