AD&D 2e, Dungeons & Dragons, Learn the Game

Learning to Play Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Second Edition: Chapter 8 Experience (pg 116 – 117)

In an earlier part of this series, Player Character Classes, I noted that not all classes, or groups, advance in experience at the same rate. What does Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Second Edition (AD&D 2e) mean, though, when it talks about experience?

. . . Every time a character goes on an adventure he learns something. He may learn a little more about his physical limits, encounter a creature he has never seen before, try a spell as yet unused, or discover a new peculiarity of nature. Indeed, not all of his learning experience need be positive. After blowing up half his part with a poorly placed fireball, a wizard may (though there is no guarantee) learn to pay more attention to ranges and areas of effect. After charging a basilisk, a fighter may learn that caution is a better tactic for dealing with the beast (provided the other characters can change him from stone back to flesh) . . .

Cook, 116

In other words, experience points represent the accumulation of knowledge in a character’s life – whether that knowledge comes from books, hard won life lessons, or bitter defeat. Experience po0ints are the concrete measure of a character’s improvement over the course of the game.

So how are experience points earned?

There are two key ways that experience is earned during play: a) Group Awards and b) Individual Awards.

Group Awards

These awards are given out to the characters for moving towards their adventuring goals. Every monster defeated, every puzzle solved, and every obstacle overcome by the group will find all members of the party rewarded equally. This is explicitly done to encourage group cooperation during play.

Individual Awards

These experience points are given to characters who are accomplishing individual goals determined by their class. For example:

. . . Warriors earn additional experience points for defeating creatures. The more difficult the battle, the greater the number of experience points. Wizards earn points for using their spells for specific purposes. The wizard who walks into the woods and casts his spells for no reason doesn’t gain experience points . . .

Cook, 117

That’s decidedly different from the way that Dungeons and Dragons Third Edition (D&D 3e) handled experience points. In D&D 3e Game Masters (GMs) were encouraged handle experience as a group award in general though individual awards could be given out based on exceptional play by individual players. Tying those experience points not to clever ideas but to encouraging a particular style of play is a brilliant stroke on AD&D 2e’s part and one that I really like.

We’ll cover experience points in more detail when we get to the Dungeon Master’s Guide later. For now this provides us with a working understanding of how experience points function as AD&D 2e players and will allow us to delve into Chapter 9: Combat with gusto in the next part.

Works Cited

Cook, David “Zeb,” et al. Player’s Handbook for the AD&D Game. USA: TSR Inc, 1996. pg 116, 117 PRINT

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