Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I like D&D Next


I like D&D Next. I'm not really talking about the game, because I haven't seen it yet. But I like the name.

I started thinking about this a while ago, when the kerfluffle started over the announcement of the next edition. It was also inspired by the various timeline graphics posted over at Roleplay-Geek and the musings over at Grognardia.

I laid out some of my thoughts about the problem of editions and the evolution of the game when I kicked the hornets' nest the other day and suggested everyone wait until we had seen the game to comment on it. In that post I laid out the various editions of the game, as I see it, but I didn't give them numbers. If I had to, here's how I would lay it out (in order of publication):

-1: Chainmail and house rules for individual adventures
0: The three little brown books published in 1974.
0.5: The LBBs plus supplement(s) (Greyhawk; Blackmoor; Eldritch Wizardry; Gods, Demi-Gods and Heroes; and/or Swords & Spells)
1b: Holmes (may include rules from 0/0.5 editions)
1a: Advanced D&D (Players Handbook, Dungeon Masters Guide, Monster Manual, Deities & Demigods, Fiend Folio)
2b: Moldvay/Cook/Marsh Basic and Expert Rules (B/X)
2.5b: Mentzer Basic/Expert/Companion/Master/Immortals (BECMI)
1.5a: AD&D plus Unearthed Arcana (UA) and Monster Manual II (MM2)
1.75a: AD&D plus UA, MM2, Oriental Adventures, Dragonlance Adventures, Dungeoneers Survival Guide, Wilderness Survival Guide, Manual of the Planes, and/or Greyhawk Adventures
2a: AD&D, 2nd Edition
2.6b: D&D Rules Cyclopedia (RC)
2.75b: RC plus Wrath of the Immortals
2.5a: AD&D, 2nd Edition plus Players Options and/or DM Options
3: D&D 3.0 (Wizards of the Coast)
3.5: D&D 3.5
4: D&D 4E
4.5: D&D 4E, Essentials
5: D&D Next

And here it is by line:

Precursor:

-1: Chainmail and house rules for individual adventures


0E:

0: The three little brown books published in 1974.
0.5: The LBBs plus supplement(s) (GreyhawkBlackmoorEldritch WizardryGods, Demi-Gods and Heroes; and/or Swords & Spells)


AD&D:
1a: Advanced D&D (Players HandbookDungeon Masters GuideMonster ManualDeities & DemigodsFiend Folio)
1.5a: AD&D plus Unearthed Arcana (UA) and Monster Manual II (MM2)
1.75a: AD&D plus UA, MM2, Oriental AdventuresDragonlance AdventuresDungeoneers Survival GuideWilderness Survival GuideManual of the Planes, and/or Greyhawk Adventures
2a: AD&D, 2nd Edition

2.5a: AD&D, 2nd Edition plus Players Options and/or DM Options


Basic:
1b: Holmes (may include rules from 0/0.5 editions)
2b: Moldvay/Cook/Marsh Basic and Expert Rules (B/X)
2.5b: Mentzer Basic/Expert/Companion/Master/Immortals (BECMI)
2.6b: D&D Rules Cyclopedia (RC)
2.75b: RC plus Wrath of the Immortals

WotC:
3: D&D 3.0 (Wizards of the Coast)
3.5: D&D 3.5
4: D&D 4E
4.5: D&D 4E, Essentials
5: D&D Next

Using this nomenclature, I can easily justify why WotC called their first version 3rd edition. Whether they were deriving that number from the Advanced D&D line or from the Basic D&D line, it makes sense in some ways. And carrying on from there it made sense to call the next version 4E. Whatever they call it, though, 4E isn't the fourth edition of the game.

If you only count the whole editions as I lay them out here, there's 0 (the LBBs), 1b (Holmes), 1a (AD&D), 2b (B/X and BECMI), 2a (AD&D 2E), 3, and 4. That puts 4E as the 7th edition of the game at least. Since most people consider B/X and BECMI to be separate editions, that could push 4E to 8th. If you consider all of the intermittent reformulations listed above, 4E could be as late as 15th or 16th edition, depending on whether you're talking about the original 4E or 4E Essentials and whether or not you agree with the distinctions I've made. Regardless, there's no clear designation by number we can use for what edition we're currently playing or talking about. Even if we're playing with just the three little brown books published in 1974, we would need to decide whether to call it the zero/null edition or first edition.

This all may seem like a spurious argument, but here's the point. The gaming community continues to argue over what exactly constitutes a new edition of D&D and where to draw the lines. That disagreement causes no end of discussion and argument over which D&D camp we're playing in. The reason for that is very clear - Dungeons & Dragons has evolved and changed continuously throughout its entire publication history. It has never been a static set of rules, and it never will be.

The designers at WotC are working on the next iteration of the rules and trying to be as descriptive as possible about the new edition without encouraging the divisions that currently plague the community. So they got rid of the numbers and called it what it is - D&D Next. I like it.

1 comment:

  1. Agreed to the "wait and see" sentiment. I am also going to reserve judgement until I get a better look at the actual 5E system.

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