D&D General 50 Years of D&D On a Single Chart

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing (He/They)
Here's a fun little pie chart I made in Excel. It shows the publication history for each edition, as a portion of the past 50 years. And just for added fun, I broke out the different "flavors" of each edition as well, such as 3E and 3.5E, 4th Edition and Essentials, and the four different Basics:

1707512280481.png

Source: Wikipedia [1] [2]


AD&D 2E has the longest production run of any other edition, at 11 years; 5E is in second place at 10 years (and counting). Unless you want to group all of the "Basic D&D" editions into a single category, that is: Holmes + Moldvay + Mentzer + Allston would give you a total of 18 years, with tons of overlap.

The third runner up is AD&D 1E at 10 years.

The shortest run was OD&D, at just 3 years--but dynamite comes in small packages; it's the edition that started it all! An argument could be made that 4E had the shortest run (of just 2 years), because a lot of folks consider 4E and Essentials to be two separate product lines. I don't; so in my not-professional-opinion, I would say that 4E had the second shortest production run, at just 4 years including Essentials.

Anyway, I thought it was interesting. And I'm always looking for excuses to play around with Excel.
 
Last edited:

log in or register to remove this ad

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
Although it winds up double-counting the year, I'd count 1977 for OD&D as well, extending it to 4 years. Holmes Basic is really an intro to OD&D, with a couple of AD&D references added at the editorial stage by Gygax. And the Monster Manual was clearly written for compatibility/use with OD&D and retroactively made the first book of the AD&D line.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
5th Edition has enjoyed the longest production run of any other edition, at 11 years and counting. Second runner up is AD&D 1E (10 years), then AD&D 2E (8 years).
I love your graph, but these numbers seem a little off to me. 5E debuted in the summer of 2014, so it's not quite ten years old yet. AD&D 1E is a bit hard to pin down, because its Core Rulebooks came out in different years (1977 for the MM, 1978 for the PHB, and 1979 for the DMG); I'd say if we start when all three were out (the DMG releasing in August of 1979), then it lasted 9.5 years, as the AD&D 2E PHB came out in February of 1989. Likewise, the last of the AD&D 2E Core Rulebooks to come out was the MC1, in June of 1989. Given that the final 2E product came out almost exactly eleven years later (Die Vecna Die!, in June of 2000), it currently holds the record for the longest edition of D&D...albeit with an asterisk, due to the gap in publishing between 1996 and 1997.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing (He/They)
Although it winds up double-counting the year...
I love your graph, but these numbers seem a little off to me.
Yep, you'll have to blame Wikipedia for that. But the thing is, all numbers are going to seem a little off, because:
  • There are conflicting dates from different websites, and that's not even the half of it. Some sources round up to the nearest whole year, others round down, and others still will break it down into fractions of years, or months, or quarters.
  • Also, some websites only report the Player's Handbook, others count only the core rulebooks, others still will include all "official" products in the line (whatever that means at the time), and at least one includes everything from magazine articles and third-party products.
  • Some product lines ran concurrently, even within the same category. For years, Basic and AD&D were being published side-by-side, and even Mentzer's and Allston's versions of Basic D&D were being published side-by-side despite them both being the same "edition."
  • Some had multiple print runs, others had only one. Anniversary editions, collector editions, and the like were sometimes printed decades after the originals went out of print, and are sometimes counted in the 'longevity' of an Edition.
  • And as you noted, there were long gaps of time where no products were being published at all.
TL;DR: the history of D&D is a hot mess, but I did the best I could with my lunch break and the tools I had on hand (Wikipedia and Excel).
 
Last edited:

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
Yep, you'll have to blame Wikipedia for that. There are conflicting dates from a number of different websites, and I didn't break it down into fractions of years either. Also, some websites only report the core rulebooks, others include all products in the line. Some product lines ran concurrently, too, even within the same category: for a hot minute there, Mentzer and Allston were being published side-by-side, for example.

It's kind of a mess, but I did the best I could.
I personally prefer to look at the product histories written by Shannon Appelcline on DriveThruRPG when it comes to sourcing dates of publication. He's pretty good about listing the month and year when something came out.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
I love your graph, but these numbers seem a little off to me. 5E debuted in the summer of 2014, so it's not quite ten years old yet. AD&D 1E is a bit hard to pin down, because its Core Rulebooks came out in different years (1977 for the MM, 1978 for the PHB, and 1979 for the DMG); I'd say if we start when all three were out (the DMG releasing in August of 1979), then it lasted 9.5 years, as the AD&D 2E PHB came out in February of 1989. Likewise, the last of the AD&D 2E Core Rulebooks to come out was the MC1, in June of 1989. Given that the final 2E product came out almost exactly eleven years later (Die Vecna Die!, in June of 2000), it currently holds the record for the longest edition of D&D...albeit with an asterisk, due to the gap in publishing between 1996 and 1997.

1E was 77 to 89 but was also reprinted in 1990.

Either way it's the longest lasting edition unless you count basic line.

2E also beats 5E.
 



CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing (He/They)
1E was 77 to 89 but was also reprinted in 1990.

Either way it's the longest lasting edition unless you count basic line.

2E also beats 5E.
I didn't intend for this to turn into a contest, with one edition "beating" any others. I thought it was interesting to see how the production runs all measured up, as fractions of the total history of the hobby. Reprints, boxed sets, anniversary/collector's editions, etc., obviously weren't included.

2E was 2000. 1E was in continuous print until 1990 but 89 works. 12 years beats 10 (or 11 years and some months).
Woops, looks like I missed that Priest's Spell Compendium Vol. 3, which was released in 2000 and therefore overlaps with 3E. Good catch! I've revised the graph.
 
Last edited:

Zardnaar

Legend
I didn't intend for this to turn into a contest, with one edition "beating" any others. I thought it was interesting to see how the production runs all measured up, as a fraction of the total history of the hobby. Reprints, boxed sets, anniversary/collector's editions, etc., obviously weren't included.


Woops, looks like I missed that Priest's Spell Compendium Vol. 3, which was released in 2000 and therefore overlaps with 3E. Good catch!

There's also an adventure and Dragon and Dungeon magazines.

Also 3.0 came out in 2000 not 1999.

I have AD&D 2E product on my shelf from 2000. It was still in print.

I'm not counting reprints either. 1E was 77 to 1990 in print no break but won't nitpick if you call it 89.
 

Voidrunner's Codex

Remove ads

Top