5E A Post-Edition World

ParanoydStyle

Peace Among Worlds
I noticed the tiny, tiny, tiny "2nd Edition" logo in the tower & banner ads* Paizo is running on this very site and my immediate instinct was to make a snarky comment on how these Pathfinder ads seems to be downplaying what edition of the game they're for (I haven't been following any news coverage on the quality of PF2E so the snark wasn't motivated by anything except a desire to be snarky). But anyway uh...then I picked up my D&D 5E PHB just to make sure that the 5E logo was bigger...

...and as I imagine most of you know, there IS no 5E logo. As a matter of fact, the only place that D&D5E identifies itself as being the 5th iteration of what it is (although if I recall my old school history it's actually more like the 7th or 8th or 9th iteration of it is with the basic, advanced, blue box, red box, white box, b/x w/e the fudge old editions that proceeded WotC, though that's not relevant) is in what I'm actually tempted to describe as fine print at the very bottom of the BCC (back cover copy, or blurb for any normal person that hasn't published a mess of RPG books).

"When you're ready for even more, expand your adventures with the fifth edition (Insert Book That Is Not This Book)."

And even that now that I think about it seems like a pragmatic necessity: they want to make sure that the consumers are buying the new books because they'll make the most money that way (and, to be fair, this way nobody's gonna buy a 3.5 DMG after being gifted a 5E PHB and find they've bought what amounts to an expensive paperweight in terms of the game they actually wanted to play, so it's not ENTIRELY self-serving).

Still though, my overall question is...as far as the mainstream goes, I mean the big AAA players, are we headed toward a "post-edition" world where every edition of the game that comes out is just THE EDITION as though there were only one (made my saving throw versus highlander reference)? About half of the people (idk let's arbitrarily say 45%) I've played 5E with have been aware of 3.5E & 4E and been able to discuss them, but half (45%) of the people I've played 5E with--nearly all of the people for whom 5E is their first edition--have had so little knowledge of other editions of the games that at times they literally did not know they existed. To them, especially the kids, there was no 5E, this wasn't "5E", there was just...D&D. It was clear that for all intents and purposes in the minds of the younger people that 5E brought into the hobby, there simply was no flavor of D&D except the flavor of the week. A lot of these people hopefully will learn about other RPGs eventually--they'll probably not buy any of them, having spent all of their money on luxury gamer goods, don't even get me started--but they will learn about them. Still, it's so strange that so many people--even if it's a minority that's still a LOT of people on an absolute level--that play 5E believing it is or might as well be the only edition of the game that has ever existed.

I'm curious about how this decision to downplay the fact that "this is the fifth edition of this game" was reached by the marketing wonks at WotC.

(If the incomplete math was bothering anyone, the other 10% of people I've played 5E with are super hardcore TTRPGers like me that have played virtually every edition of everything under the sun.)

* My favorite adds on the site are the ones for Torg Eternity, if you were wondering. Torg was way before my time so it's not something I nostalgia, but I did get a nice long lecture on how awesome it was it from some older Rando Calrissian at a con in 2011 or whatever. Cool guy, I think he also said he'd playtested Shadowrun 1E. Anyway I well never not be delighted to see the word "cyberpapacy".
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Oh, there’s no question. The 3e vs. 4e edition war was what taught WotC (and Paizo) that edition labels are marketing poison. As early as “D&D Essentials” they were trying to disguise the edition label. Then when that failed to save 4e, they did the “D&D Next” playtest, and they weren’t really shy about the fact that they weren’t keen on calling the edition they were playtesting “5th edition.” I distinctly recall a tweet from Mike Mearls saying that if it was up to him, the new edition would just be called “D&D” with no additional qualifiers.
 

Shiroiken

Adventurer
I'm curious about how this decision to downplay the fact that "this is the fifth edition of this game" was reached by the marketing wonks at WotC.
Edition wars are a serious thing, and while they've existed since AD&D was first introduced, the major split from 3E to 4E (which helped spawn a major competitor) was a lesson the entire industry learned. By downplaying that it's a new edition, you allow new players to avoid a lot of baggage from earlier editions. The only downside of this is in FLGS players can find older edition materials and potentially become confused (hopefully the FLGS staff will help, however).

The other big reason, at least for 5E, is that it was meant to be an evergreen edition. In a perfect world, this would be the last edition of D&D, with only new supplements and perhaps a revision or two. Of course this isn't realistic, but at its current pace 5E should easily surpass a decade, which both the last two editions failed to do. I expect it could last maybe 15 years, or even 20 if a revision is put in at about the 10 year mark.

(although if I recall my old school history it's actually more like the 7th or 8th or 9th iteration of it is with the basic, advanced, blue box, red box, white box, b/x w/e the fudge old editions that proceeded WotC, though that's not relevant)
It's complex, but I'd simply consider it to be 1 edition higher, to include OD&D. In reality the Basic game, and everything spawned off of it, were different enough from both OD&D and AD&D that they should be considered different games IMO. Even if you wanted to include them, you'd have OD&D as 1E, AD&D as 2E, the BECMI boxes as 3E, AD&D (again) as 4E, the D&D Cyclopedia as 5E, and then 3/4/5 editions becoming 6/7/8th. The various mini-revisions of BECMI, like 3.5, aren't significant enough to be consider a truly new edition.
 

LuisCarlos17f

Adventurer
The new edition will not be in the books but in the videogames. My theory is the PCs races will be more customizable, racial traits replace with option racial feats, like in Pathfinder 2. But this doesn't need a new edition.

Other idea is the "anteroom" will be a spin-off, a d20 Modern 2.0. or a Gamma World. And maybe the character stats will be divided into two parts, the level of power, and the level of knowledge (all learnt or studied by the character). This would allow a d20 superhero game where PCs can learn more things, improving the level of knowledge, but the level of power couldn't change (or at least much more slowly) because they are too powerful since the beginning.

I guess Hasbro has noticed D&D has potential to be a true cash-cow, even more than transformers, even the same level of Marvel superheroes or Star Wars. They have got plans for the main media, but they have to learn to find the right key.
 

ParanoydStyle

Peace Among Worlds
Yep, and it seems like he got his wish.
Fascinating.

Ironically, I have actually done the same thing myself, now that I think about it. My science fiction live-combat LARP Systems Malfunction went through four editions in four years (we played it in college, so that left me with summer breaks to spend revising the game) and after playing SysMal 4E for about 5 years, I came up with a new edition of the game that radically simplified everything (1st through 4th edition went up and up and up in crunchiness, with 4th edition being insanely crunchy for a LARP, and 5E was my decision to jettison a lot of complexity in favor of accessibility) and I didn't call it 5E, I called it Systems Malfunction.

Wait, no, I did something muchweirder: I wanted it to be called Systems Malfunction 2nd Edition. My reasoning was that the first four editions succeeded each other so quickly that this radically simplified version was the game's REAL 2nd Edition, with all four previous editions really only counting as one edition.

We jettisoned that almost immediately and just wound up calling it 5E because that was confusing AF.

Much like D&D, 5E was most similar to 1E, only benefitting from the subsequent decade I'd had of game design experience.
 
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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
IIRC, Call of Cthulhu isn't using 7th Edition for marketing purposes, either.

Editions are not good marketing tools, apparently.
It’s no surprise. To newcomers, seeing “Xth edition” in the title can be intimidating. It makes it look like you’re late to the party. Like there are [X-1] editions you’ve missed, and if you try to jump in now, you’ll just be lost. Numbered sequels have this exact same problem. On top of that, enfranchised players don’t tend to like edition changes. Calling a new edition something other than the next number in sequence won’t fool those players, but it does seem to make a difference, probably for some subtle psychological reason.
 

Mistwell

Hero
It wasn't until 3e that the editions really emphasized edition anyway (though B/X did make their distinction clear, the rest was all AD&D). And even then, there was little emphasis on 3.5 vs 3 (even though there were compatibility issues).
 

ad_hoc

Adventurer
I think it just makes sense.

If I'm interested in D&D and I want to get into it, I don't want to see the "5th edition starter set" and then have to go do research about which edition it is I should be buying.

I just want to buy D&D.

5e wasn't created to be a flavour of D&D. It was created to be D&D.
 

dave2008

Legend
It wasn't until 3e that the editions really emphasized edition anyway (though B/X did make their distinction clear, the rest was all AD&D). And even then, there was little emphasis on 3.5 vs 3 (even though there were compatibility issues).
Personally I feel like it was 2nd edition that started it. I know it felt like it was front and center to me:
PHB_2e_1.JPG

DMG_2e_1.JPG

MM_2e_1.JPG
 

LuisCarlos17f

Adventurer
I discovered D&D as TTRPG and not only as a cartoon show in the beginning of 90s, near 92-93. Internet age hasn't started yet. I have got a special feeling with 2n Ed, because I like more the system of 3rd Ed but I feel something special when I remember the time I discovered D&D, it was new, and lots of ideas about adventures sourced from my imagination. It is like that retro or vintage videogames you know they are old now, but you still like them because you remember those past fun times.
 
I'm curious about how this decision to downplay the fact that "this is the fifth edition of this game" was reached by the marketing wonks at WotC.
Well, in one sense, it's a sympathetic-magic/denial way of avoiding edition warring, which went so badly for the last edition. It could be about unifying brand identity. It could signal an unwillingness to ever attempt to improve the game again (also understandable after the edition war). It could be to emphasize D&D as the same game as the fad years, in some sense, as 5e would point out that there were (at least) three editions between it and the historic fad.

Personally I feel like it was 2nd edition that started it. I know it felt like it was front and center to me.
...another factor is that highlighting the fact a product has iterated like that is like saying "new & improved!"
5e certainly is not trying to be either.
 

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