The specific question is: For experienced AD&D 2nd edition players who haven't played in 10+ years, but want to get together for a 1-time adventure (not continued play), what would be the recommended edition/version of D&D RPG to play (mainly concerned with simplicity)? Or would it be best to stick with AD&D 2nd edition?

A group of friends and I used to play D&D 2nd Edition back in the late 90's early 2000's. It's been 10+ years now since any of us have played, but we'll be getting together this summer and were reminiscing about playing. The plan is to get together for 1 day and play a canned adventure. Prior to that day, they will be creating characters (about 8th level in 2nd Edition terms), giving me the details (I'm the DM) and then I was going to tailor a canned adventure based upon their characters.

As we've kicked around ideas and done some research, it seems the D&D RPG has made a huge leap since we last played. With that in mind, I was hoping to get some recommendations or input on the edition or version of D&D that might be best for our group given the circumstances outlined above. From what I can tell, D&D Essentials (as opposed to the full 4e) might be the best option for a 1 time session. I tried to find a similar question, but they all seemed to be posed from people who had limited or no past experience playing D&D.

Here are some notes:

  1. We still have our 2nd Edition books (or most of them) from back in the day.
  2. This would be a 1 time thing, mainly for nostalgia purposes. I don't think it's realistic that we can play again since we're all spread across the country and have families and other boring adult responsibilities.
  3. We have 2.5 months until we get together, so there is some time to learn new things. However, I don't think any of us have an abundance of time. The goal is to come ready to play and then have an adventure to play rather than trying to just figure things out all day. I don't know if 4e or even essentials is too big of a leap to pick up in out spare time to be ready to play when we convene.
  4. Our plan so far is to have characters rolled and created prior to getting together, back stories created, and a tailored canned adventure all ready to go. We don't want to spend all day just getting to prepared to game.
  5. Although our group enjoys battles/fights, I don't think any of us have an interest in large scale simulations, tactics. The story is key for us. I guess it's the difference between someone who goes to see a hardcore action flick, and someone who enjoys an intense story that has some occasional fight scenes in the movie.
  6. It's most important that we don't get bogged down on the details, rules, or complexities. Again, it's more just for fun and reminiscing, rather than trying to get involved in a long term project.
  7. Although we did occasionally use miniatures and battle maps, it wasn't a big part of our gaming experience. That would be the same now.

Any advice or opinions would be greatly appreciated!


Without more, I would say that your best edition is 2nd Edition.

First, it is already familiar to you. This is a huge advantage, especially if you are currently planning only one adventure rather than investing in system mastery of a whole new system.

Second, there are some things about 2nd edition that at least some players prefer over later editions. It is, at least in my opinion (possibly also tainted by nostalgia) simpler than 3.5. It is also flexible enough to handle games that are low on combat where later editions seem, at least to me, to emphasize combat far more. Further, it does not require the use of miniatures where playing 3.5 without miniatures (or something similar) is difficult.

Now, if you say you specifically want to move to a combat heavy game that emphasizes system mastery and tactical decisions, then I will shift my recommendation to 3.5, but from just what you have said, I would use 2nd Ed. I still play 2nd Ed. from time to time and while I have dabbled with 3.5 I prefer 2nd for many campaigns.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the response! I don't think we want to go the route of complex battle/tactical engagement. We're more used to simple casting spells, rolling a die to see if you hit, making a saving throw, etc. I am worried about getting weighted down in so many rules that little actual role playing gets done. Having quite a bit of experience in 2nd edition, I just wasn't sure how huge of leap it would be to transition to 4e or Essentials. \$\endgroup\$ – jimbobharper Apr 29 '14 at 20:05
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @jimbobharper WotC's D&D 4e is pretty much an entirely different game than TSR's AD&Ds. It can be played more like old 2nd edition (just like any RPG can be bent to work differently than it does by defaul) but its going to resist the whole way. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Apr 29 '14 at 20:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ I haven't messed with 4e or essentials much, so I won't comment on them. But based on your edits, I would stay with 2e. Even if you don't still have your books, they aren't hard to find either second hand or in digital format. And if you do still have enough books, then that is even less to buy. 3.5 is a good game, but it is very different. \$\endgroup\$ – TimothyAWiseman Apr 29 '14 at 21:03
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ These are all great points. I'm starting to feel that it would be best to stick with the edition you know unless you're ready to commit huge time resources in learning a new system. It was terrific point made that 2 different companies made the 2nd edition and 4e. If we were going to make this a long term project (rather than just a one-off things), maybe 4e would be worth looking into. \$\endgroup\$ – jimbobharper Apr 29 '14 at 21:50

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.