Advanced Dungeons & Dragons was the second edition of D&D and it has a lot of rules differences to 5e, which is the current edition of the game. There’s no denying that 5e is a lot easier for new D&D players to understand and is streamlined in a number of different ways. However, AD&D had some great ideas that can be incorporated into existing games.
AD&D was replaced as the main edition of D&D in the year 2000 when the third edition of the game was released. The third edition of D&D is a lot closer to 5e, due to how often it uses the d20, and how there are fewer limits on classes and races. Nowadays, most people’s exposure to AD&D is through the video games developed by Black Isle Studios, including Icewind Dale, Planescape Torment, and the legendary Baldur’s Gate series. AD&D might be a defunct game, but people can still grapple with the terrible THAC0 rules by booting up the ports of the Black Isle Studios games, which are now available on all modern platforms.
The current edition of D&D has a number of differences from previous editions, but one of the biggest is in its number crunching. Compared to games like Pathfinder, D&D 5e rules have fewer instances of bonuses/penalties coming into effect. On the one hand, this makes it a lot easier to run/play the game, with the advantage rules picking up a lot of the slack in instances where characters would receive a plus bonus in the past. The D&D players who aren’t scared of maths can add some extra depth to their game by bringing back some rules from the days of AD&D.
Different AD&D Armor Types Reduce Damage From Damage Types
In D&D, there are three types of damage that are inflicted by most weapons: bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing. There are some enemies that are resistant, immune, or weak to these types of damage, so it helps if the party has several different weapon types, on the off chance that they’re needed. There are some class features and spells in D&D that give player characters a bonus against damage types, such as the Rage ability of the barbarian class.
In AD&D, the armor worn by characters provided a bonus against different damage types, such as plate mail providing a bonus to slashing weapons. This means that are additional benefits provided by armor, outside of their Armor Class score or maximum Dexterity modifier. If 5e added similar benefits to different armor types, then it would give players more of an incentive to use different armor types, rather than just going straight for the one that provides the best AC/Dex modifier result.
AD&D Initiative Rolls Could Be Used For D&D 5e
In D&D 5e, once a battle begins, the players and the DM roll initiative for every character on the field. Once these numbers are set, then they remain in place for the rest of the battle. This means there could be circumstances where the majority of the members on one side can act before the other, giving them the advantage in combat, especially to those with the ability to inflict status effects on others. In AD&D, the initiative count was re-rolled every round. This ensured that the flow of combat kept changing and that one side couldn’t hold on to an advantageous run of numbers.
Another way in which the initiative rules affected combat was through casting time. Each spell had a casting time that added to their initiative count, many of which were reflected by their level. This meant that casting a third-level spell would bump up a caster’s initiative count by three. The addition of casting time to the rules would add some extra bookkeeping to the game, but it would be a good way to restrict the strength of certain D&D spells. A spell like banishment or polymorph is a force to be reckoned with, but casters might be warier about using them if it means being pushed further down the initiative queue.
D&D 5e Could Use AD&D Death Rules
Death can be a mere annoyance in some D&D campaigns, thanks to spells and magic items that can bring people back to life. The downside for being raised by spells like raise dead and resurrection is a-4 penalty to pretty much all rolls, with the penalty dropping for each day of long rest they take in D&D. A party with a high-level cleric need not fear death, as it’s the class that has the most resurrection spells. If the party has access to resurrection spells, then it makes combat less interesting, as the ultimate sacrifice isn’t that ultimate.
In AD&D, the rules for bringing someone back from the dead were a lot stricter. A character first had to pass a resurrection survival check, which was a percentage roll tied to their current Constitution score. If the character passes the check, then their character permanently loses a point of Constitution, along with an associated number of their maximum hit point score. This meant that there was a hard limit on how many times a character could be raised, and each successful attempt left them weaker than before. The Critical Role campaigns also had interesting resurrection rules that 5e D&D DMs should consider checking out.
Charging Into Battle Has Additional Benefits & Penalties In AD&D
The charge action was something all characters could do in AD&D and 3e. A character could charge in a straight line at an opponent, in order to give them a boost to their movement speed and a bonus to attack rolls made to hit their target. The drawback was that they would take a penalty to their Armor Class score until their next turn, as the charge made it harder for them to defend themselves.
The charging rules were especially deadly to mounted warriors, but they could also face a fierce counterattack from people wielding spears. The charge action is no longer present in 5e, likely as part of a bigger push to cut down on the number-crunching in Dungeons & Dragons, but it’s something that can easily be homebrewed into a D&D campaign, for those who want to give warriors some extra options in combat.
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