February 16, 2014

40th D&D - Edition Wars

Day 16: Did you remember your first Edition War? Did you win?

I've been around for all the edition transitions and I would say the one from 3E to 4E was the harshest and most prevalent edition war.

Going from 1E to 2E was fairly quiet. Sure there was some grumbling, but overall I think most people felt 2E was more of some minor chances (some would say improvements) to the system. 1E had long been introducing new sub-systems or alternate ways of running the game for years, mostly through Dragon articles or such books as Unearthed Arcana. Thus the changes in 2E were not really surprising. Also, communication was not as fast as it is these days with the internet; it was simply harder to start an edition war that could sustain itself.

Going from 2E to 3E also was a non-event. By the time 3E came out, 2E D&D material had pretty much dried up. TSR didn't have the money to produce anything new. In fact D&D looked like it was on its last leg and about to permanently die. 3E revitalized D&D as an entity (and the whole rpg industry as well). People were more happy that D&D was again relevant than any problems they may have had with the new rule changes. 3E again seemed like a natural evolution from 2E much the way 2E seemed like an evolution of 1E. Sure not everyone liked the changes but it was easy to house rule a change people didn't like. Maybe there was a lot of edition warring with the release of 3E, but it was easy to ignore those people as curmudgeons.

The transition from 3E to 4E was my first true Edition War. 4E came too soon after 3E. The changes to the system were far more radical than previous edition changes. It was harder to retrofit older editions into 4E. It is my supposition that 4E actually gave the players what they had been asking for over the years (usefulness of spellcasters once they run out of spells, not requiring cleric healbots, more magic items, easy to set up encounters for the DM, easier stat blocks, exciting and epic feeling encounters, etc). WotC gave the players what they had been asking for, except the players then discovered they didn't really want them after all. I have spent some of my time defending 4E. In the end, to me it doesn't matter which edition of D&D you are playing (and that includes retroclones and Pathfinder) - they are all D&D to me.

Did I win? Of course I did.

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