[RPG] What exactly is AD&D?


I am considering getting a new Dungeons & Dragon set, and I am considering getting AD&D, but what really is AD&D? Does it involve more combat compared to 4e? Does it add more classes compared to 4e? Is it more roleplay oriented?

Best Answer

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons is from 1979*. It's not related to Dungeons & Dragons from 2014 (a.k.a D&D 5th edition), except that it's an ancestor of it. Put another way: AD&D is the 1st edition relative to which D&D (2014) is counted as the 5th edition.

The reason it was called “Advanced” back in 1979 is because it was compared to the original game and a simpler version (called “Dungeons & Dragons” and “Basic Dungeons & Dragons”, respectively). The “Advanced” was also tacked onto the front for (ultimately futile) legal reasons having to do with the split between the two creators of the original edition of D&D (now called “OD&D” for clarity, since the naming and numbering of D&D editions is confusing). Relative to those editions from the 70s, yes, AD&D has more options and rules.

How does it compare to current-day D&D? I would say it's roughly the same amount of complexity, actually. Characters are mechanically simpler with fewer moving parts, but the rest of the rules are less unified and therefore somewhat more complicated to learn. In play experience, it's about the same complexity.

Do you want it? Almost certainly not. If you were deliberately looking for an old edition of D&D, then you might be interested in AD&D, but if so you'd already know what AD&D was and you wouldn't be wondering what the “Advanced” in “AD&D” means. For someone looking for “more better” D&D than D&D 5e, AD&D is completely different than what you're assuming its name means.

Why is AD&D still being sold then, if it's ancient? Because lots of people never stopped playing it, or stopped and then returned to that edition. Everyone has a favourite edition of the game (because they're all so different as to be effectively separate games), and WotC clued in a few years ago that they could make decent money by putting AD&D and other previous editions back into print.

* The precise year is debatable actually: the AD&D Monster Manual was 1977, the PHB was 1978, and the DMG was 1979. I'm using 1979 because that's when AD&D was “complete” enough to play as “AD&D”, but a 1977 date would also be perfectly accurate.