Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D)

System: Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D)
Type: Tabletop
Publisher: Tactical Studies Rules, Inc. (TSR)
Overall rating (1-10): 7

Before Wizards of the Coast (WotC) bought the rights and created Dungeons & Dragons 3.0, there was TSR's Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D). A simplified D20 system well before D20 was solidified and made opened source, and before the inclusion of skills.

The biggest flaw with AD&D is THAC0 (To Hit Armor Class 0). Armor Class was a whole different monster than it is in the current incarnation of D&D. A lower AC indicated that a creature was more difficult to hit. An unarmored human had an AC of 10, and armor lowered a character's armor class. Powerful creatures would usually have an armor class lower than 0.

In Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, a character or monster's ability to strike successfully was indicated by its THAC0, the minimum roll needed on a 20-sided die "To Hit Armor Class 0". The die roll needed to hit other armor classes could be computed by subtracting the armor class from the THAC0. The lower one's THAC0, the more likely a hit would be successful.

The term "advanced" does not imply a higher level of skill required to play, nor exactly a higher level of or better gameplay; only the rules themselves are a new and advanced game. In a sense this version name split off to be viewed separately from the basic version. The three core rulebooks are the Monster Manual, the Player's Handbook, and the Dungeon Master's Guide; later supplements included Deities & Demigods, Fiend Folio, Monster Manual II, Oriental Adventures and Unearthed Arcana. This was followed by a fairly constant addition of more specific setting works and optional rule supplements.

The great thing is that you could actually run a game with just the 3 core books. There were a number of published adventures ranging a huge range of level's for player's. You also have the option of other campaign settings such as Greyhawk, Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance; each of which add a new level of creativeness for dungeon masters and players alike.


As this system as a precursor to the modern D20 system, I feel that most modern gamers would be able to learn AD&D fairly easily. The only real hang-up for modern gamers would be THAC0, but that's easily remedied.

As much as you can run a game with the 3 core books, I highly recommend that addition of the supplemental books mentioned above as well as possibly the campaign setting books. These books add more flavor and possibilities for your campaigns.

Unlike the D20 system, AD&D wasn't really setup to allow players to use monsters as races.. but with the right tooling from you Dungeon Master, I'm sure you can make it work.


  1. Running games in a published setting doesn't increase the "creativeness for dungeon masters and players alike", it reduces it!

    1. I have to disagree. The core books allow you to create your own world, which is fine, but the campaign settings (Dragonlance, Greyhawk, Forgotten Realms, etc) inspire people with new stories, monsters, magic and such. When I first read the Dragonlance campaign setting book, I took to creating other items similar in nature to the Dragonlance.

      If you treat the published settings as canon that can't be altered, then you've got a problem. The additional setting books are sources for inspiration no banality.

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