Monday, January 16, 2006

2nd edition- alive and well

Since I was off for the holiday today I decided to swing by a used book store near the house. It was a good call because I found a copy of the Night Below Campaign setting for 2nd Edition AD&D. It was in great shape, complete, and only seven bucks! This find has been the exception to the rule for me lately.
I run a 2nd edition Greyhawk campaign every other weekend, my oldest son plays in the game. I decided to get him a set of his own books for Christmas. Since the holiday was coming up and I didn’t have time for EBay, I figured I’d try finding a used copy of the Players handbook and Dungeon Masters guide over at the local game store- no such luck. I found the same at several book stores. Finally, luckily I ran across a set at a used bookstore. When I was telling the owner of the store about my ordeal he stated that he wasn’t surprised. He stated that in the last couple of years he can hardly keep any 2nd edition material in stock, “it’s usually out the door within a day” he said.
I decided to take a sample poll during my weekly book/game/comic store runs. At every store I asked, I was told that 2nd edition material sold very well much better than the 3.0 books clogging the shelves (3.0 became obsolete before their spins became creased). Now I’m not getting into which system is better that argument has been geeked to death, all I’m saying is that for several reasons the 2nd edition game is still out there and still being played. My research has uncovered several reasons why:

• Nostalgia- The guys who played 2nd edition in high school or college in the 80’s and 90’s are getting older. When folks get older and raise families they tend to reflect on life “back in the day…” I started a Play by Email (PBEM) AD&D group about 5 years ago with some friends from a GI Joe collectors forum (see what I mean about nostalgia?), when I first proposed it several of the guys confessed that they hadn’t played in years-since college at least, but they had never forgotten the good times they had. Before you know it they were posting about their characters and looking through their parents attic for the box of books and character sheets.

• Familiarity- according to the game store owners, when these folks do begin to wax nostalgic about AD&D they are surprised to find out that a whole edition and a half has taken place since they hung up their dice bag. As they flip through the 3.5 books the find them similar but not the same. These guys are trying to recapture a feeling, not rededicate themselves to gaming. They want to go home with some books and dice and take their 12 year olds through “The Keep on the Borderlands” or raid “The Temple of Elemental Evil”. They don’t want to relearn a whole new set of rules Feats, prestige classes, etc. They want to play a Dwarf fighter in a Gygax module set in Greyhawk. Not a spell casting robot –thing in Eberron.

• Price-This is probably the biggest reason for the resurgence of popularity of 2nd edition. With a little surfing, and legwork I can get a hold of the three core books for about 30 bucks. That same 30 bucks wont even buy the players handbook, if you kick in sales tax. Once again the guys buying these books are looking to relive the good old days, you start quoting the prices of gaming books these days and their eyes just gloss over.

Lets face it, there is nothing a 35 dollar mega campaign book can do for you on a Saturday night, that you couldn’t get from a copy of “Vault of the Drow” and a decent DM.