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How many editions of D&D are there really?


Gamer Talk


A few years ago over on the ENWorld boards a member there counted up every version of Dungeons and Dragons ever. He and his group still played the original version of the game (the very first published version, if I recall). He considered every rules addition to be a different or newer version from that set onward. I think he counted up a dozen or so "editions" that way. Does anyone have any idea if he was right or not?


Here's a decent chronology. You'll have to count it yourself and decide what constitutes an 'Edition' versus an 'enhancement'.


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber

I believe that the popular groupings break down as such:
Chainmail
OD&D (Woodgrain or Whitebox + supplements)
D&D (Basic + Expert + Master + Immortals)
AD&D
AD&D 2ed
AD&D 2ed Revised
D&D 3ed
D&D 3.5
D&D 4ed
D&D Essentials
D&D 5ed


Except there are several versions of BD&D. Holmes, Moldvay and Mentzer.


lordzack wrote:
Except there are several versions of BD&D. Holmes, Moldvay and Mentzer.

And I'd throw the Rules Cyclopedia in there as another version


Except it's mostly just a complitation of Mentzer isn't it?


The rules were compiled from BECMI and re-edited, but I believe there were additions/changes, like the mystic which I think was more flushed out.


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lordzack wrote:
Except it's mostly just a complitation of Mentzer isn't it?

That's what my old DM said when he was selling off/trading his D&D books. He kept the Rules Cyclopedia since it was a compilation of the rules for levels 1-36.

Was there a significant difference between Moldvay and Mentzer's versions (other than the levels above 14)?


You could probably expend the list out even farther if you include each d20 game as well.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
lordzack wrote:
Except it's mostly just a complitation of Mentzer isn't it?

The Holmes version (1977) came before Moldvay (1981), which in turn came before Mentzer (1983)...

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Aranna wrote:
You could probably expend the list out even farther if you include each d20 game as well.

Then you'd have to include Caltech's version of D&D: "Warlock" which came out in the 1970's (no it's not d20, but it is a derivative of D&D non-the-less)...


Digitalelf wrote:
lordzack wrote:
Except it's mostly just a complitation of Mentzer isn't it?
The Holmes version (1977) came before Moldvay (1981), which in turn came before Mentzer (1983)...

Irrevelant, because I was speaking only of Mentzer and the Rules Compendium.

Taldor

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

One for each gaming group, really.

Silver Crusade

Awwww, Jess beat me to it. :)

Silver Crusade

Yes! My threadkilling powers are complete!
Horse dead! Moving on... </silliness>


lordzack wrote:
Digitalelf wrote:
lordzack wrote:
Except it's mostly just a complitation of Mentzer isn't it?
The Holmes version (1977) came before Moldvay (1981), which in turn came before Mentzer (1983)...
Irrevelant, because I was speaking only of Mentzer and the Rules Compendium.

There is only minimal content in the Rules Cyclopedia relative to Immortals - next to none of the Immortals set content really as I understand it. Also, I believe that the RC doesn't include the Siege Machine rules from the Masters set although I don't have my copy of the RC or Master rules in front of me at the moment to be sure.

The RC includes more Mystara/Known World/Hollow World content, even if just at a high level, than the earlier BECMI books did since it draws on the Gazetteer line.

Other than that, I think it's mostly errata, tweaks to some of the tables, etc. that make it different.


Jess Door wrote:
One for each gaming group, really.

That's the same as calling every modified Honda civic a different model car. I think officially published is a useful minimum bar for consideration.

Andoran

WampaX wrote:

AD&D 2ed

AD&D 2ed Revised

I don't think there really is an AD&D 2ed revised edition. All the revised AD&D 2 books were revised for clarity and didn't intentionally change the rules. There's the AD&D 2ed + Player's Options books, but there were options, not to be used as a whole as a new edition.

Quote:
D&D Essentials

Complex. New classes, new books independent of the old, but same old base rules.


Because the original question uses the word "Edition", the answer could be very complex. There were six editions of the AD&D Players Handbook. Without a clarification of just what, exactly, is being asked, it might be very hard to answer.

And then again, if we were to try and codify the versions of the rules, ourselves, we would spend thousands of posts arguing about the subtlities between versions (Does the "Barbarian" class, introduced in Unearthed Arcana, technically belong to "First Variation" rules, or what some might call a "Second Edition" of Advanced D&D?).

For me, personnaly, there is only one edition of D&D, and there will will always only be one version of D&D, it's just that when I talk about it these days, I have to call it "Pathfinder" so that it is clear what I am talking about.


Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
Legendarius wrote:
lordzack wrote:
Digitalelf wrote:
lordzack wrote:
Except it's mostly just a complitation of Mentzer isn't it?
The Holmes version (1977) came before Moldvay (1981), which in turn came before Mentzer (1983)...
Irrevelant, because I was speaking only of Mentzer and the Rules Compendium.

There is only minimal content in the Rules Cyclopedia relative to Immortals - next to none of the Immortals set content really as I understand it. Also, I believe that the RC doesn't include the Siege Machine rules from the Masters set although I don't have my copy of the RC or Master rules in front of me at the moment to be sure.

The RC includes more Mystara/Known World/Hollow World content, even if just at a high level, than the earlier BECMI books did since it draws on the Gazetteer line.

Other than that, I think it's mostly errata, tweaks to some of the tables, etc. that make it different.

Rules Compendium picks up where the 1070 Black Box "Dungeons & Dragons" game leaves off. (Black Box covers levels 1-3, I believe - don't want to pull my box down to confirm).

The Black Box would essentially serve as the "Basic" analog to the whole "BECMI" quintet.

As far as Immortals content, you're mostly right. RC is derived from Basic, Expert, Companion and Master, and itself doesn't contain much of the old Immortals box. A box set entitled "Wrath of the Immortals" was released that contains the missing Immortals stuffs.

There were also a couple other box set derivatives of the Black Box.

All of this can be considered to collectively make up a separate edition, with the Rules Compendium hardcover an easy reference to that edition overall.

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

What about Pathfinder? Just because it does not say DnD does not mean its not a version of DnD. It's based from the 3.5 rules, IMO it counts.


CapeCodRPGer wrote:
What about Pathfinder? Just because it does not say DnD does not mean its not a version of DnD. It's based from the 3.5 rules, IMO it counts.

Is d20 Iron Kingdoms an edition of D&D?

Star Wars?
Spycraft?
Silver Age Sentinels?

I might give it to PF, because just reading PF you can find traces of the actual D&D roots (by that I mean other earlier editions), not just 3.5 associations. Mostly the spells chapter, but it is there.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Irontruth wrote:

Is d20 Iron Kingdoms an edition of D&D?

Star Wars?
Spycraft?
Silver Age Sentinels?

I would say no, but some d20 games do come very close:

Castles & Crusades
DCC RPG
Swords & Wizardry

Just to name a few...

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
CapeCodRPGer wrote:
What about Pathfinder? Just because it does not say DnD does not mean its not a version of DnD. It's based from the 3.5 rules, IMO it counts.

Quite frankly, so what? Pathfinder at this point, gains nothing from association with the Dungeons And Dragons trademark, save confusion. I don't really consider Pathfinder to be that simmilar to 3.5 once the Advanced and Ultimate books were out. And both are worlds away from AD&D.


Digitalelf wrote:
Irontruth wrote:

Is d20 Iron Kingdoms an edition of D&D?

Star Wars?
Spycraft?
Silver Age Sentinels?

I would say no, but some d20 games do come very close:

Castles & Crusades
DCC RPG
Swords & Wizardry

Just to name a few...

Yeah, I would say that part of D&D is the implied setting, and it does have an implied setting with how Clerics, Wizards and Paladins are portrayed. I think we're also confusing lookalikes with editions.

If I make a car that looks a lot like a Ferrari or has elements inspired by Ferrari, does that make it a Ferrari? Which would lead me to lean towards only things with D&D on the cover. I'm hesitant about PF being included, it's both extremely similar and yet it is its own thing as well.

So, close or clone shouldn't count.

I would propose a possible identifier of different editions: does some element of a character need to be converted to play.

If a character is 100% compatible, it might be the same edition.


I think to avoid the conversation expanding far beyond the scope of the original question it's probably best to stick to products that have actually born the Dungeons & Dragons trademark. Even if I agree that Pathfinder is basically a flavor of D&D, as are the various clones since by definition the true clones are attempting to copy the older D&D rules.

Good point above about the Black Box version of the game. Unless I am mistaken that is the same exact rules as the Cyclopedia, just limited to the lower levels and not including things like skills or weapon mastery or mystics, etc. And from what I recall reading my copy of Wrath of the Immortals in addition to the adventure/campaign changing elements it has, it's basically meant to fully replace the older Immortals rules in terms of running Immortal level characters.

Shadow Lodge

Digitalelf wrote:
Irontruth wrote:

Is d20 Iron Kingdoms an edition of D&D?

Star Wars?
Spycraft?
Silver Age Sentinels?

I would say no, but some d20 games do come very close:

Castles & Crusades
DCC RPG
Swords & Wizardry

Just to name a few...

Those aren't really d20 games (thankfully).

Andoran

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Kthulhu wrote:
Digitalelf wrote:
Irontruth wrote:

Is d20 Iron Kingdoms an edition of D&D?

Star Wars?
Spycraft?
Silver Age Sentinels?

I would say no, but some d20 games do come very close:

Castles & Crusades
DCC RPG
Swords & Wizardry

Just to name a few...

Those aren't really d20 games (thankfully).

They're OGL games, though, which makes them d20 if you scrunch your eyes up the right way.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
John Woodford wrote:
They're OGL games, though, which makes them d20 if you scrunch your eyes up the right way.

Pretty much... d20 with the serial numbers filed off... ;-)

Shadow Lodge

And that use other mechanics than a d20 roll to resolve lots of actions.


Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

If it's not called Dungeons & Dragons, it's not an edition of Dungeons & Dragons.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

Ohhhh, new game name idea, "I can't believe it's not Dungeons and Dragons!"

Andoran

Irontruth wrote:
If I make a car that looks a lot like a Ferrari or has elements inspired by Ferrari, does that make it a Ferrari?

If you make a soda that looks and tastes a lot like Coca-Cola, does that make it a coke or a cola? In certain parts of the US, the answer to the first is yes, despite all objections of the Coca-Cola company (and sometimes Pepsi, too), and the answer to the second is certainly yes. In this case it's frustrating, because D&D is a trademark, yet there's recognized subset of fantasy RPGs that people tend to use D&D for, because they clearly exist as a subset, but yet lack a name.


Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

People genericizing the trademark doesn't really alter the fact that derivatives (1st party or 3rd party) not bearing the trademarked name "Dungeons & Dragons" aren't editions of "Dungeons & Dragons (TM)".


prosfilaes wrote:
Irontruth wrote:
If I make a car that looks a lot like a Ferrari or has elements inspired by Ferrari, does that make it a Ferrari?
If you make a soda that looks and tastes a lot like Coca-Cola, does that make it a coke or a cola? In certain parts of the US, the answer to the first is yes, despite all objections of the Coca-Cola company (and sometimes Pepsi, too), and the answer to the second is certainly yes. In this case it's frustrating, because D&D is a trademark, yet there's recognized subset of fantasy RPGs that people tend to use D&D for, because they clearly exist as a subset, but yet lack a name.

A genre of RPGs is a different subset from editions of D&D, though with fantasy the is overlap. If Coke were the first soda ever, we wouldn't classify Pepsi products as part of their product catalogue. A lot of music is inspired by The Beatles, but we don't put it all under their name.

Tracing roots is different from looking at one company and a specific line of products they've made. Sprite isn't a different version of a cola, for example.

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Kthulhu wrote:
And that use other mechanics than a d20 roll to resolve lots of actions.

Fair point; rolls to hit and saving throws still use d20s (as God and Gygax intended!), but the only skills in the game (thief's abilities) use percentiles, IIRC, and a few other things are d6s. It's part of the beauty of the OGL that the SRD can be carved into something virtually indistinguishable from OD&D.

Shadow Lodge

...or 1E, or the Rules Cyclopedia, or even, theoretically, 2E.

It's always kind of fascinated me that nobody has retro-cloned-up a faithful version of 2E. Especially since there are resources in existence that would remove lots of the grunt work from such a task: the AD&D Core Rules CD-ROM 2.0, it's expansion, and a web site that has compiled the entire collection of 2E monster compendiums (which makes it a near-complete collection of 2E monsters).

Every retro-clone 2E project I've seen has invariably added in some "modern touches". Which is cool for a new game, but one of the advantages of the more faithful retro-clones (such as Swords & Wizardry, OSRIC, Dark Dungeons, etc) is that you can use them to play old modules with little to no conversion required. Given the fact that the true strength of 2E was in the setting material, not the mechanics, you would think that would be additional motivation for a more faithful approach to a 2E retro-clone.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Kthulhu wrote:
It's always kind of fascinated me that nobody has retro-cloned-up a faithful version of 2E.

While I personally love 2nd edition and I even have a couple of 2nd edition campaigns running currently (in addition to PF).

However, I think the reason that nobody has made one might be that there is a significant amount of people who vocalize just how much they hate, detest, and despise 2nd edition or claim that it is so broken that they simply cannot run it without HEAVY modifications and houserules...

Just my thoughts...

Shadow Lodge

There's also probably the fact that you can still get 2E books pretty cheaply and easily. And about to be even easier since WotC is doing a reprint of, at minimum, the three core books (as well as 1E's Unearthed Arcana, and compilations of S1-4 and A1-4).

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I never played 2E as such; it came out during my hiatus from gaming, and my only real exposure to it was through elements of the game being incorporated into a friend's 1E game as houserules. So that's largely how I think of it--a suite of additional rules grafted onto the 1E core engine.

(Interestingly, I've seen speculation that one could take the OGL and develop a 4E clone, for folks who might be left behind when WotC moves on to 5E.)

Andoran

Irontruth wrote:
A genre of RPGs is a different subset from editions of D&D, though with fantasy the is overlap.

Which doesn't address the question of what we call the subset of RPGs that includes OSRIC, AD&D, D&D 3 and Pathfinder, or the superset of that that includes OD&D, Swords & Wizardry, Labyrinth Lords and D&D 4. There's a set of games that are being called D&D because they're a clear and important set and there's no better name.

Quote:
If Coke were the first soda ever, we wouldn't classify Pepsi products as part of their product catalogue.

No, but (a) we aren't talking about TSR/WotC RPGs, which includes the Amazing Engine, Boothill, etc. and (b) a Pepsi is a coke. (As is a Sprite in the US south.) If you ask a Southerner to list types of coke, they may rattle off Crush, Sprite, Dr. Pepper and so on.

Shadow Lodge

I call pre-d20 D&D and it's associated clones "retro RPGs".

I call all the abundance of d20 games (to include 3.0, 3.5, and Pathfinder) just that: "d20 RPGs". Also, I call them glut.

I call fantasy RPGs that either combine elements of both of these sets or introduce their own new concepts "fantasy RPGs".

Yeah, it's not that difficult.


Kthulhu wrote:

I call pre-d20 D&D and it's associated clones "retro RPGs".

I call all the abundance of d20 games (to include 3.0, 3.5, and Pathfinder) just that: "d20 RPGs". Also, I call them glut.

I call fantasy RPGs that either combine elements of both of these sets or introduce their own new concepts "fantasy RPGs".

Yeah, it's not that difficult.

Though retro doesn't have to mean a D&D clone. In theory you could have retro Runequest or Traveller or any of dozens of other 80s and 90s RPGs.

And it would be nice to have a term to distinguish between direct d20 D&D clones, like PF, and non-D&D D20 games, like the D20 versions of Star Wars or Call of Cthulhu.

I'd probably just lump them as D&D clones, rather than calling them editions of D&D, but I do think the games based directly on D&D mechanics and flavor should be tied more closely than other games not so tightly linked.

Shadow Lodge

I think you're overthinking it. Why does everything have to be categorized?

Call them fantasy d20 games, if you so desire.


prosfilaes wrote:
Irontruth wrote:
A genre of RPGs is a different subset from editions of D&D, though with fantasy the is overlap.

Which doesn't address the question of what we call the subset of RPGs that includes OSRIC, AD&D, D&D 3 and Pathfinder, or the superset of that that includes OD&D, Swords & Wizardry, Labyrinth Lords and D&D 4. There's a set of games that are being called D&D because they're a clear and important set and there's no better name.

Quote:
If Coke were the first soda ever, we wouldn't classify Pepsi products as part of their product catalogue.
No, but (a) we aren't talking about TSR/WotC RPGs, which includes the Amazing Engine, Boothill, etc. and (b) a Pepsi is a coke. (As is a Sprite in the US south.) If you ask a Southerner to list types of coke, they may rattle off Crush, Sprite, Dr. Pepper and so on.

I'm really not sure what the point of your post is.

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