Thursday, August 6, 2009

Tales of Usenet: AD&D Sucks! (and they tell why)

Grognardia asks a question about the infamous TSR web policy here. This got me spelunking into Google Groups as much of the online discussion occurred in the various usenet groups.

The search led as far back as 1981 when I run across this gem.

Apparently one Rich Magill has the honor of being the first troll to take a shot at AD&D.

AD&D sucks for all the previously given reasons. Try The Fantasy Trip
or better yet *****TRAVELLER******!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Rich Magill
Later on we see the first of the many "thoughtful" exchanges on why AD&D sucks

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More options Oct 20 1982, 6:28 am
From: unc!tim
Date: Wed Oct 20 06:28:39 1982
Local: Wed, Oct 20 1982 6:28 am
Subject: AD&D sucks

In a possibly vain attempt to get some discussion on this group, I will now come out of the closet
publicly and say I think that Advanced Dungeons and Dragons is a very poor excuse for a game. Gary Gygax has no conception of how books are actually used in a play situation, and a very poor ability to understand hand-to-hand combat. Further, the magic system is totally counter-intuitive. Finally, the importance of magic items (as well as the ideas of class and level) depersonalizes characters, leading to a "rogue"- type environment. (Oh yes, the description of gods in terms of hit dice, etc., is totally useless to the DM, and the unarmed combat system is an atrocity; sorry to have forgotten these.) The only reason that AD&D is the most popular FRP game around is that it has a major lead on the others--unfortunately, TSR has not used this time to improve the rules, only to lengthen them.

The only game I know of that's worse than AD&D, aside from basic D&D, is Tunnels and Trolls. Both RuneQuest and The Fantasy Trip provide much better alternatives, and I am told that SPI's DragonQuest (now owned by TSR) is hard to learn but very smooth once one learns it. I strongly recommend that any AD&D player buy RuneQuest and play a few games before further glorifying their rather primitive game.

I suppose I should be afraid to sign my name,
Tim Maroney (unc!tim)

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More options Oct 20 1982, 12:47 pm
From: rabbit!jj
Date: Wed Oct 20 12:47:02 1982
Local: Wed, Oct 20 1982 12:47 pm
Subject: Re: AD&D sucks

Well, who do you think is going argue with you? Not me, and I've only been using ad&d (yes, Gary, it's copyrighted) for about 4 years to administer a huge campaign. The magic rules are ridiculous, the hand-hand combat makes less sense than using a quarterstaff (and a quarterstaff DOESN't help your AC , com on now, I use a staff, and see if I am as easy to hit when I have a staff as when I do not).
The reason that I used ad&d was that it was the only well described system on the market when I started DM'ing.
Face it, d&d was the FIRST system generally out, and it was certainly better than anything else (i.e. nothing). Since it couldn't benefit from experience, it has lots of problems.
Hopefully, a revision will come out someday that UPDATES ad&d to the current level of complexity and sophistication, and provide a system that is a bit more playable in the long run.
As for the "organization" of the books, I couldn't agree more.
Take a look at DragonQuest (tm-BANTAM BOOKS!!!!!!) to see something that is better organized. DQ's rights, except for movie rights, are now owned by Bantam, who is distributing it with their normal line to lots of bookstores, which should increase the distribution of the game
quite a bit. For some strange reason, TSR still owns the movie rights, whatever they amount to. Apparantly SPI had already made a deal with Bantam before TSR called in their loan, and TSR had to stick with it, and

More options Oct 21 1982, 12:48 am
From: cbosgd!bsw
Date: Thu Oct 21 00:48:30 1982
Local: Thurs, Oct 21 1982 12:48 am
Subject: Re: AD&D sucks

Ok,so AD&D sucks shit. But what makes the others so much better ?
What are the prices of better frp systems ? are they totally different
or what (ie. are there levels ? ac,hp,etc.?) ?

I'm almost not afraid to sign my name,

Ben Walls

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More options Oct 22 1982, 12:12 am
From: watmath!bstempleton
Date: Fri Oct 22 00:12:07 1982
Local: Fri, Oct 22 1982 12:12 am
Subject: Re: AD&D sucks

For all who say AD&D sucks, I will have to agree that Gygax is far from perfect. The following should be remembered - D&D is just a game, and is not supposed to be realistic. If it were realistic, you would get chopped in half and spill real blood. Quite often you want to play a non-realistic scheme. The combat system is one that can be understood by novices and this is good for the game.

Secondly, just about everybody plays d&d quite differently, so nobody really pays that much attention to the tsr rules. They are a handy thing to base something on, and something that somebody from accross the continent can play with. If anybody in my dungeon quotes gygax, I
just say: Oh, so that's how he plays it. Interesting.

I have played with many many combat and magic systems, and find that many people, in their desire to do better, often do worse.

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More options Oct 22 1982, 2:11 am
From: Physics:els
Date: Fri Oct 22 02:11:51 1982
Local: Fri, Oct 22 1982 5:11 am
Subject: Re: AD&D sucks

I learned my D&D before the other thing was around. I like to think that I play the way the game was meant to be played, by using a few tables and a copy of Greyhawk as a LOOSE guideline, arbitrarily remolding things to suit my whims. This puts the DM in a much more omnipotent role. Combat is much more realistic if the DM randomly makes a character slip and fall under the swords of 15 berserkers, etc. Magic may also be made less silly. Besides, I enjoy the look of despair on the faces of AD&Ders when I throw them a curve!

els[Eric Strobel]

Looks like Eric Strobel wins the Old School award in this exchange. And watmath the "dudes chill out" award.


Michael S/Chgowiz said...

I'm really glad you brought this up because I was just saying something similar in private emails: "This has all happened before and it will all happen again."

I like what I like, but what I don't like, I don't say bad things about it.

Robert Conley said...

Now you have proof. Wait until you see what I got on the first TSR 3 minute hate.

Robert Saint John said...

This is great!!!! Of course, I had no idea what a Usenet was back then, it was impossible to access it on my TRS-80 at the age of 17. But that is exactly the kind of stuff that my friends and I (total TFT and -- briefly -- DQ heads) would spout about AD&D. I don't remember that we ever directly pooh-pooh'd TSR or Gary (like Metagaming's Howard Thompson would in Space Gamer and/or Interplay), but we were definitely drunk on the kool-aid of the also-rans at the time. As 17 years olds, we knew it all, and we were right. Of course.

Oh, and Traveller!? Traveller SUCKED!!! Try SPI's ****UNIVERSE****!!! hahahahaha

Good times, good times.

DMWieg said...

I love the recommendation of Traveller over AD&D... apples to oranges, man.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

Wow, set the way back machine to WAY the hell back.

I remember all furor on Usenet about AD&D getting upgraded to AD&D 2nd Ed! Good ole' The hours I wasted there...

Thanks for this tidbit.

K. Bailey said...

Hey, it also has an ancient example of "D&D is too much like a computer game", Rogue.

Unknown said...

Can you imagine what Gene Weigel would have done to these guys? :)

Patrick Tingler said...

Great link. I've been spending my evening reading from the oldest to the newest and it's amazing how many of the same things are posted in 2009.

Kiltedyaksman said...

For those of us who are just ignorant, can someone explain the idea of a usenet discussion group or is there a short history of these things posted somewhere?

Robert Conley said...