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Friday, 6 December 2013

RPGPundit Reviews: the AD&D Reprints

RPGPundit Reviews: The Advanced Dungeons And Dragons Reprints

This is a (sort of) review of the AD&D reprint books, released a couple of months ago by Wizards of the Coast as a kind of commemorative edition. 

This isn’t really going to be a review, not of the AD&D system that is, since its pretty well the most famous RPG in the world and really needs no reviewing.  Instead, I’m just going to comment on this specific printing.

I was lucky enough to receive all three books as a complementary bonus to my gig as an official Consultant for the currently under-development 5th edition of D&D. These books were a very welcome arrival indeed; since by this point my own AD&D book collection was in pretty pathetic state.  My PHB and Monster Manual were both long gone, and while I still had the 1e DMG, it was quite literally falling to pieces from decades of use and abuse, to the point that I cringed any time I had to try to remove it from the bookshelf where it lives.  So it was the perfect time to obtain a replacement.
These new books are absolutely majestic. Hardcover of course, with a gorgeous colour, and texture too; the thing has bumps! All the little decorations around the central cover image are three-dimensional. There’s beautiful gold foil in the corners; and the central image of each book is a recreation of a key part of the original cover image, jutting out from their encapsulating circles as though moving to life. Its beautiful.

Each book also has a sewn-in bookmark; blue in the case of the PHB and MM, and red in the case of the DMG. The binding of the books is really astounding and they have all the appearance of a product made to last the ages (or at least the next two or three decades of heavy use I plan to put them through).
The interior of the books are absolutely unchanged from the originals, nothing added or taken away.  Contrary to some concerns, the margins are just fine and totally legible. The interior artwork is fantastic as always, though some images have come out slightly darker than the originals were. That’s probably the worst thing I could say about these books.

I suppose I can’t really finish a review about the reprints without saying something, at least, about the AD&D game itself.  Getting the books provided an opportunity to re-read the AD&D rules, something I hadn’t done in quite a while (I’ve always been more of a Rules Cyclopedia guy); and while some of the material in there seems clunky by modern standards, some of it downright goofy in its excesses of detail, I couldn’t help but be struck by the richness of material in the AD&D rules, the quality of the game itself that has stood the test of time, and its potential value beyond the game itself in terms of a cornucopia of inspirational material that can be readily borrowed or stolen for any number of other games.  The AD&D Dungeon Master’s Guide, in particular, is a magnum opus of an absolutely awe-inspiring amount of both rules, advice, flavour and setting material.  I couldn’t help but imagine how, when it first came out, it would have been the RPG-hobby’s equivalent of an atomic bomb: nothing like it had ever existed before, and it would have absolutely changed the game for anyone who bought it.  Even to this day, anyone who hasn’t ever read it really should; and not just glance over it, but make the effort of reading it section by section to uncover all the amazing hidden gems it contains.

I pray to all the gods of creation that the main writers of the 5e game will bother to do so.


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(originally posted September 7th, 2012; on the old blog)

1 comment:

  1. At some point when I have more money than sense, I want to grab both the oAD&D and AD&D 2 reprints.

    In many ways, I think original AD&D is the more interesting game, but 2nd edition is what I grew up with.

    A few years back, ran a 1st ed AD&D campaign as much "by the book" as possible, after countless people told me it "wasn't possible" and was "unplayable". Same reason I ended up as a huge Rolemaster fan incidentally.