Monday, March 9, 2015

D&D Editions Timeline by Nick Wedig

Have you seen this? I just discovered it -- a very nice visual timeline of all the different major editions of Dungeons & Dragons. I'm not sure where this was first posted, but the credit at the bottom is to Nick Wedig, so big kudos to him for that.

For quite some time I'd been planning to make something just like this myself -- mostly to be able to educate those people who still didn't know there was a version of D&D that predated Red Box or AD&D. Surely none of the readers of this blog. But in case you find it helpful in a discussion, here it is for posterity sake. Thanks a bunch, Nick!



13 comments:

  1. I don't think I've seen that before. Pity the date of Moldvay Basic is wrong (it should be '81) but otherwise that's a very neat and helpful graphic.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Surprised 1st ed to 2nd is "Major" as opposed to "Re-written but compatible"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can see that either way. Admittedly they did change the class structures quite a lot.

      Delete
  3. Surprised 1st ed to 2nd is "Major" as opposed to "Re-written but compatible"
    I was going to say the same thing. 3 to 3.5 is listed as rewritten, and was the same flavor, but there were probably more rules changes than 1str to 2nd. There need to a different color for "not the same game" that links 3.5 to 4th.

    ReplyDelete
  4. First, I disagree that the changes from 1E to 2E were minor. There were significant changes, from the loss of complex components like weapon vs. armor type and simplifying initiative to the structure of the classes, the Cleric class is almost entirely different, and so on. It was a huge revision, though many of the revisions were merely incorporating what most people were already doing at their tables.

    Second, I didn't realize until looking at that graphic, but the longest-lasting version of D&D was 1E, going for 12 years before being given a full revision - although an argument could be made that Moldvay/Mentzer/Cyclopedia was longer-lasting, going some 19 years if one doesn't count Mentzer and Cyclopedia as significant changes (I strongly feel that Holmes is a different game, lacking race-as-class, having the Dex-based turn order, and so on; I'd argue that Holmes is only a slight revision of D&D74, though).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Right, I mostly agree with that. Holmes definitely a thoughtful edit of OD&D. With 2E if you look at the PHB class info it's a pretty major overhaul; the MM got some monsters very changed (dragons, giants); while spells & magic items were mostly copy-and-pasted.

      Delete
  5. It seems to me you could take a module made for pretty much any product prior to 3rd edition and use it with any other, making small changes on the fly. If you tried to do that with 3rd edition you would have to make up more about feats and skills and save DCs etc. etc. 2nd edition had changes to a vast scope of rules, but most of them were minor.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's true, and of course a lot of this is very subjective. A lot of effort went into making sure that there was some backward compatibility of 2E material. And, to be sure, I can adapt early 2E stuff to 1E with little difficulty (Spelljammer being happily notable there). I guess that my subjective impression is very much colored by the so-called 2.5E material such as Skills & Powers, which is a more complete break, conceptually, with earlier editions. I have a couple of later issues of Dragon that I picked up for Birthright material, and I just have no idea how to use most of what is there.

      Delete
    2. Skills and powers definitely pulls away even more, I can see that.
      Putting the changes between 3rd and 4th on any sort of scale with the changes between 1st and 2nd shows how coarse and subjective it is. Still a great amount of information is condensed there.

      Delete
    3. Well, at least the publishing company felt compelled to release the module "WG8 Fate of Istus" whose plot involves systemic changes to the World of Greyhawk in order to make it 2E at the end (i.e., eliminating monks, assassins, cleric types, I think?).

      But it certainly depends on what part you're looking at. If you try to run G1-3 with 2e stats, likely you get a TPK because the giants were bulked up so much. But most other monsters would be copy-and-paste jobs (except for the extensive cultural/environmental writeups).

      Delete
  6. I think the D&D4e should be on it's own evolution, maybe influenced by AD&D2e and BECMI. Pathfinder is evolution of D&D3e, and so is D&D5e. Just because marketing says 4e is D&D, does not mean it is... It's like taking Mongolian and inserting it between Latin and Frech, there's no relation...

    ReplyDelete