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Tabletop Game / Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition

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Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (2nd Edition) (1989-1995), commonly called AD&D2E, was the first full-scale revamp of Dungeons & Dragons following Basic Dungeons & Dragons and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Edition. This edition renamed all demons, devils and the like to avoid the Satanic Panic that hit the game in the 80s (calling them instead tanar'ri, baatezu, and yugoloths), tweaked the combat system, threw out material they thought parents might object to, like half-orcs and assassins (who eventually returned with Satyrs and Bandits in the supplemental books The Complete Book of Humanoids and The Complete Thief's Handbook respectively), and other smallish changes.

Later releases were Player's Options (1995) and Dungeon Master Option (1996), highly detailed sets of rules intended to expand and customize AD&D 2nd edition (which was re-released with new covers and artwork at the time). These included new interesting rules, mainly customization via a character points system allowing to easily build variants of basic classesnote  and guidelines on creating new kits, combat options averting Padded Sumo Gameplay and even Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards trend,note  re-integration with Chainmail battle rules and new material.note  However, fatal flaws in its central part Skills & Powers due to noticeable lack of proper coordination and playtestingnote  made it barely usable "as is", which demoted the PO book from the new generation to one more cherry-picked set of sourcebooks.


    Core Rulebooks 
  • Player's Handbook (1989)
  • Dungeon Master's Guide (1989)
  • Monstrous Compendium (1989)
  • Legends & Lore (1990)
  • Tome of Magic (1991)
  • Book of Artifacts (1993)
  • Player's Option: Combat & Tactics (1995)
  • Player's Option: Skills & Powers (1995)
  • Dungeon Master Option: High-Level Campaigns (1995)
  • Player's Option: Spells & Magic (1996)

Tropes in this RPG include:

  • Armor and Magic Don't Mix:
    • Magic users/wizards are simply forbidden to wear armor under the standard rules.note  There were exceptions made in later supplements, such as 2nd Edition class kits which allow a wizard with that kit to wear armor.
    • Druids are only allowed to wear armor (and other equipment) made from "natural" materials (wood, hides, stone, etc.) or else their powers are unusable. With just the core rulebooks (Player's Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide, and Monster Manual), this restricts druids to wearing relatively weak armor (leather armor and wooden or leather shields).
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  • Bag of Holding: A fairly low-level spell is "Deeppockets", which temporarily enchants a wizard's robe with a large number of pockets so that they became miniature bags of holding. No matter how many pockets it has, the robe as a whole can hold no more than 100 pounds and 5 cubic feet, but it weighs only 10 pounds, and the pockets don't bulge at all.
  • Beginner's Luck: The sourcebook Greyhawk Adventures includes optional creation rules that involve starting as zero-level characters — that is, as beginners before any specific Character Class is chosen. Among these rules are the "Luck" one, which consists in trying to perform a task you're not fully trained in by "trusting luck". On a lucky roll, you can attain Insight or Great Insight, allowing you to temporarily perform like a 12th-level character. The example given contrasts a trained cleric carefully attempting to Turn Undead on a vampire using the proper words and faith, with the overeager newbie who resorts to thrusting the holy symbol in the vampire's face and screaming "BOO!", startling the undead so much that it can work.
  • Bowdlerise: The game was significantly changed in the transition from First to Second Edition to avoid the Satanic Panic that had scorched the game's reputation, and was heavily redesigned for full family-friendliness. Demons, devils, and PC assassins were out, artwork was restricted to PG-rated, and a Dragon article by James Ward explained the official policy of "avoid the Angry Mother From Heck."
  • Cannot Cross Running Water: Vampires can cross running water, but if they're immersed in it for 3 minutes, they are destroyed.
  • Critical Hit Class: The Thief class specialize in criticals. The thief can do up to 5 times normal damage with a backstab. It's not as good as a fighter in normal combat, due to armor restrictions and a lower chance to hit but with this ability, there might not be normal combat at all.
  • Elemental Weapon:
    • Tales of the Lance. A Frostreaver is a heavy battle axe made of ice gathered from a secret location on Icewall Glacier. One full day of above freezing temperature or 1-6 hours at warm temperatures (50 degrees Fahrenheit) causes the Frostreaver to melt.
    • Module Rary the Traitor. Lord Robilar wields the Blade of Black Ice, which was created by the demigod Iuz himself out of ice.
    • Dragon magazine #127. The bow Ice Fang can create and fire arrows of ice out of water vapor in the air. The arrows do double damage against creatures that use or dwell in fire. In temperatures of 120 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, the arrows have half normal range.
  • Extra-Dimensional Shortcut:
    • A character can enter the Ethereal Plane, move at tremendous speed to another location corresponding to a particular place on the Prime Material Plane, then leave the Ethereal Plane at that place.
    • In the Greyhawk Adventures supplement, the deity Istus could use her Spindle of Fate to cast a Web of Stars, which sent the targets to another plane of existence. Once there, a creature that knew the way could travel the Web and arrive at any desired location.
    • In the Forgotten Realms Adventures supplement, after reaching level 10, specialty priests of the deity Bhaal could use the ability Plane Skipping. This involved traveling to Bhaal's home plane of Gehenna, moving an appropriate distance on Gehenna and then returning to the priest's original plane. Each 10 feet the priest moved on Gehenna caused them to return 1 mile away from where they started from. The entire trip took about 20 minutes plus the time necessary to move the distance on Gehenna.
    • The spell Shadow Walk allowed the caster and any creatures he/she touched to partially enter the Plane of Shadow. This allowed them to move at a speed of 7 miles per 10 minutes (42 miles per hour) with regard to the Prime Material Plane. When the journey was completed, they could return to the Prime Material Plane at the desired location.
  • Fictional Painting:
    • "Blue on Bronze". An abstract swirl of deep blues and violets. If anyone studies the painting for 20 minutes, the painting will correctly answer any yes or no question.
    • "Dragonnel-by-the-Cliff". A picture of a dragonnel (monster) perched on a rocky cliff over a river valley. If a person viewing the painting says the command word "fuga", the dragonnel will leave the painting and serve them.
    • "The Gladiators". A large painting depicting four gladiators facing off against each other in a sand-covered arena. Anyone who passes in front of the painting without saying a password will be taken into the painting and have to fight the gladiators to the death.
    • "Glorindel's Gates". A set of small paintings created by the wizard-bard Glorindel. Each one acts as a Gate spell, transporting the viewer to the place depicted in the painting.
    • "Glorindel's Living Paintings". These large paintings each show a scene that acts as a TV picture, with things moving and changing as if they were real.
    • "Igraine's Portraits". Each one of these pictures allows the viewer to telepathically communicate with the subject of the painting. If the subject is dead, there is a 50% chance of contacting their soul or spirit.
    • "The Watchers". This work depicts a wooded area with heavy undergrowth. Anyone who looks at it carefully can see the eyes of creatures looking through the brush. anyone who looks at it for too long can have their mind transferred into that of a small woodland animal living nearby.
    • "Widow's Walk". This painting is of the crowded dockside of a busy port. Anyone who looks at it for 10 minutes becomes immune to all divination magic and psionics directed at him for the next eight hours.
  • Gold–Silver–Copper Standard: D&D is one of the early trope codifiers. Prices are usually listed in g.p., unless they're small prices, in which case they're listed in s.p. or c.p.. The exchange rates were as follows:
    • 10 c.p. = 1 s.p.
    • 5 s.p. = 1 e.p.
    • 2 e.p. = 1 g.p.
    • 5 g.p. = 1 p.p.
  • Heroic Ambidexterity: Ambidexterity is a feat that allows you to Dual Wield weapons much more efficiently than otherwise, even if you're already trained for it.
  • Honor Before Reason: The Fighter "class kit" version in 2nd Edition was extreme about this, to a point that, if a party member was in one-on-one combat, they refused to help, even if the ally was 'losing'. The original version was also pretty bad - in combat they would charge the most powerful enemy in range as soon as they could regardless of the tactical situation or even allies in their way!
  • Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action: In 2nd Edition, goblinoid species were specifically cited for fecundity and adaptable with most other races, while elves were specifically noted to choose whether or not they could reproduce with any given partner in The Complete Book of Elves.
  • Human-Demon Hybrid: Cambions are monsters in the 1st and 2nd edition, described as the progeny of a male demon and a female human (who always died in childbirth). The 3rd edition replaced them with the "Half-Fiend" template which could be applied to non-humanoid beings like dragons, giants, and magical beasts but stated that cambion is a term that was often used for Half-Fiendish humanoids.
  • I, Noun: There's an 2nd Edition AD&D sourcebook about beholders called I, Tyrant. In the game, beholders are also called "Eye Tyrants".
  • Item Amplifier: The 2nd Edition chronomancer spell Item Supercharger could increase the number of times a magic item could be used per day and the duration of the item's effect(s).
  • Luck Manipulation Mechanic: In the Forgotten Realms setting during 2nd Edition, certain clerics of Tymora, the goddess of luck, have the granted power to re-roll a die once per day. Similarly, some clerics of Beshaba, goddess of misfortune, have the ability to force enemies to re-roll their dice.
  • Made of Indestructium: Artifacts and relics. In the second edition, destroying them takes either disenchantment by an uber-mage with great risk, or an unique method of destruction. Melted down in one specific volcano, crushed under the heel of one specific god, submerged in the tears of a hundred elven princesses and left to dissolve for the next 1001 years — that sort of thing.
  • Magic Compass: 2nd Edition Tome of Magic: The Elemental Compass glows yellow when its owner is headed in the direction of a planar portal or planar boundary the owner is seeking.
  • Magic Fire: In 2nd Edition AD&D, "fire" and "magic fire" were separate damage types and while most creatures would have the same degree of resistance to both, this was not a universal rule. For example a succubus had immunity to fire damage but only 50% resistance to magical fire damage. A few monsters had immunity to magical fire damage but no resistance to nonmagical fire at all.
  • Magic Map:
    • Dragon magazine #125 had the following magical maps.
      • Map of Illusion: Detects and shows any illusions within range.
      • Map of Magic: Magical auras are highlighted in pulsating red.
      • Map of Secret Doors: Secret doors appear as yellow dots on the map.
      • Map of Traps: Detects and shows any traps within line of sight.
    • Kingdom of Nithia: The artifact map Master Plan shows the current position of all burrowers in the Hollow World who have been paralyzed by the Spell of Preservation.
  • Mass Resurrection: The silver Orb of Dragonkind, from the 2nd Edition supplement Book of Artifacts, can resurrect 20-200 bodies once per year.
  • Matchstick Weapon: 2nd Edition Advanced D&D, BATTLESYSTEM Miniatures Rules. A lit torch can be used as a melee weapon to inflict fire damage on opponents.
  • Medieval Universal Literacy: 2E is unusual for Dungeons & Dragons in averting this trope, with literacy being a proficiency skill that player must learn.
  • Morality-Guided Attack:
    • Dragon magazine #229 article "Bazaar of the Bizarre". When the Wheel of Light Rays is spun like a pinwheel it emits a bright pattern of light up to 30 feet away. Any evil creature in the area of effect must make a saving throw or take 1-4 Hit Points of damage for each point of karma it has.
    • All intelligent magical swords have a specific Character Alignmentinvoked. A creature with a different alignment can take Hit Points of damage equal to the sword's Ego rating each time it touches the sword (and each minute of contact with the sword if held continuously).
  • Mundangerous: Marbles are mundane items that don't even cost a single gold piece, rolling on from The Complete Thief's Handbook. They are quite effective against anything with legs not noted for amazing agility. Instead of a saving throw (automatically going up as you level up), victims fall down, becoming vulnerable and losing time to get up unless they made a Dexterity check.
  • Mystical Plague: In 2E, the wizard spell Contagion from Player's Handbook infects one subject with non-virulent disease, and the cleric spell Breath of Death (reversed Breath of Life) from Tome of Magic affects an entire community. Anyone who fails a saving throw vs. death magic is infected with a disease that is fatal in 1-6 weeks.
  • No-Gear Level: Stripping gear tends to occur if you get captured or contained. The impact varies based on edition; in 2e it impacts spells that require somantic components.
  • Not-So-Safe Harbor: The pirate port of Scrape in the Dungeon magazine #16 adventure "Vesicant". Beware landing here.
  • Obvious Rule Patch: The article "What's a Wizard to Do?" in Dragon magazine #219 by Anne Brown, one of the playtesters of the Birthright setting, revealed that the published version of the realm spell move troops was changed to a portal the army travelled through (and could decide not to) rather than a teleport effect, after she used the teleport version on enemy troops, and sent them straight into a monster lair.
  • "Open!" Says Me: Even opening an unlocked door requires a character to roll against his Strength. The chance for an average-strength person to open an unlocked door is 1 in 3. You might have to bang yourself against the door several times before it'll open. Forcing opening a locked door can only be accomplished by someone super-strong (18/91 strength or higher), and even then the chance of success is quite small — and if you fail you can never try to force open that same door again.
  • Psychic Powers: In 2nd edition, the psionicist class and a chance of possessing a wild talent for characters of any class. Except Dark Sun, where everyone has at least a wild talent.
  • Renegade Splinter Faction: The 2nd Edition supplement The Complete Druid's Handbook has the The Shadow Circle. A secret society within another druidic order, the Circle uses evil methods to enforce their radical beliefs.
  • Rerouted from Heaven: In the module A Paladin In Hell, during the funeral of a powerful paladin, the entire temple hosting the service is dragged into the Nine Hells to claim his soul. The players have to travel to the Nine Hells, find the temple and free his soul. Oh, and the module was close to Tomb of Horrors in terms of unfair difficulty.
  • Role-Playing Endgame: The basic game books only provide support up to Level 20. The Dungeon Master Guide encourages PCs at that point to retire to a "semi-NPC" status where they leave active play and devote their time to non-adventuring duties but remain present in the game world. Zig-zagged when the 1996 release of High-Level Campaigns added support for levels up to 30.
  • Scunthorpe Problem: During editing, Encyclopedia Magica, Volume 1 had a search-and-replace run to change "mage" to "wizard." Unfortunately, it also changed "damage" and "image" to "dawizard" and "iwizard". Another search-and-replace to change "cleric" to "priest" changed "clerical" to "priestal".
  • Shields Are Useless: Played straight. A nonmagical shield improves your armor class by only one (1) step, and then only if the attack comes from the front or front-flank and the shield-user isn't stunned or knocked prone. A fighter, paladin, or ranger is always far more effective with a weapon in his off-hand than he is with a shield in it. Since clerics and assassins can use shields, but can't wield two weapons at the same time and don't have many two-handed weapons to choose from, they won't have anything to lose by equipping a shield, but the gain is still minimal.
  • Stepping-Stone Sword: Climbing Daggers is a feat introduced by The Complete Thief's Handbook.