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D&D General How Long Did You Play the Different Editions of D&D? (+)


Moderator Emeritus
Time is weird. And when you've been playing D&D for nearly 40 years, the time you spent playing one edition over another can seem really skewed, as some editions can have an outsized influence on your view of the game even when you didn't play them that long. So I decided to try to break down how long I played/ran each edition.
  • BECMI: 1983 to 1985 (2ish years)
  • AD&D (1E): 1985 to 1989 (4ish years) [switched to it eagerly because "advanced" meant I was more "mature" :ROFLMAO:]
  • AD&D (2E): 1989 to 2000 (11ish years) [switched reluctantly at first but then jumped in whole hog]
    • Used Combat & Tactics options for 2E from '96 to '00.
  • D&D (3.xE): 2000 to 2016 (16ish years) [I was adopting 3E rules before it had even been released thanks to Eric Noah and picked up my PHB at GEN CON 2000]
  • D&D (4E): One playtest session in 2008 [was skeptical, remain skeptical - but still adopted a rule or two from it]
  • D&D (5E): 2019 to present (hasn't been two full years yet, but will be soon) [after a break from D&D and a move to a new city I was talked into starting a new game]

    So I was wondering what other people's breakdowns might be. I know some people play multiple editions with different groups at the same time, so in that case just break it down how it makes sense for you (maybe just focus on the most common and/or the one you preferred to play). I also know that some of you have not been playing as long, but that is okay - I am just curious when and if you shifted to each edition after playing the previous for however long. I am even interested in hearing about people who stuck with a previous edition or switched back to it after trying a newer one.

    For myself, 2E is always gonna have a large influence on my play and DM style and what I want out of a game, with a healthy dose of 3E's tactical focus (but without the "arms race" and "build" mentalities and sans the overly-granular rules), thus why I find myself enjoying 5E (which feels like a good mix of those two), even if some of its choices are not what I would have done.

    One other notable point: I have used material for or from each of the editions in each of the other editions that I played for any length of time and have never had any issue converting stuff (in fact, I find it fun). I still used the best DMG (1E) regularly and have barely cracked the 3E or 5E DMGs.

    Notice the "(+)" in the thread title. This thread is not meant to become an edition war. It is okay if you want to mention why you switched editions, but don't slag off on other people or judge their choices.
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Unserious gamer
2e: 1991-2000, used the PO books from 1996 on.
3e: 2000-2011
PF: 2011-2015
4e: 2008-2014
5e: 2014-Present

Those are the time periods when I had active campaigns going with those systems. Other games fit into there as well, of course.


Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
Holmes Basic: less than a year mid 1981-1982
1e: 1982-1989
2e (with some inevitable 1e hybridization): 1989-2001
3e/3.5: 2001-2015 (minus a 9 month gap for 4e)
4e: 2008-2009
Pathfinder: 2009-2019
5e: 2015-present
Pathfinder 2e: a handful of PFS scenarios in 2019-2020


1E one shot probably back in 1990
2E couple months around 1998
3E 1-2 years around 2005
Pathfinder Classic 10+ years 2009-current
5E 1-2 years 2018
PF2 couple months 2021


AD&D 2e: 1989-2000 (11 years)
D&D 3.0/3.5: 2000-2008 (8 years)
D&D 4e: 2008-2012 (4 years)
Pathfinder: 2009-2014 (5 years)
D&D Next/5e: 2012-2021 (9 years)

There are various other systems I've played for a few months here and there, but these are the main ones. 4e and PF ran pretty much simultaneously in two different groups.


Dungeon Master at large.
Cut my teeth on BECMI and quickly dove headlong into RPGs from there.

BECMI: 1986 - 1989. (with a barely non-existent dabble in 1e. I had the books but not the patience to figure out the nuance as I was young, stupid, and impatient. Also played Palladium games heavily during this time)

AD&D 2nd Edition: 1989 - 2019. This was my go-to for many, many years. Still playing some Palladium in there until about '95 when I gave up all other games but D&D. Was introduced to the player's options around 2000, and in 2001 started what went on to be an 18 year campaign that I wrapped up in 2019 when I retired from DMing 2nd Edition and concentrate on 1st Edition (and as it turned out 5th edition).

AD&D 1st Edition: 2013 - present. So, as mentioned I had the stuff as a kid but never properly delved into it until 8 years ago when I started taking an earnest look at what AD&D had to offer, and something just clicked. I could not believe how wonderfully nuanced the system was, and the 1e DMG is a work of mad-genius. After running several 1e games concurrently with a handful of 2e games, I ultimately decided that 1e was preferable to me so 2e got shelved. (lots of damn fine gaming hours in 2e though!)

D&D 3.5: 2006 - 2012(ish). Played in a couple of friends games on and off. Was dissatisfied so gave it up and never looked back.

D&D 5e: 2019 - present. Early in 2018 some friends and I hired a DM for Hire here in Toronto. We were curious about A) checking out 5th Ed, and B) What did a 'professional DM' bring to the table to justify charging for the game. Sadly neither 5e nor the professional`s skills as DM were overly impressive to us. I ultimately softened my stance on 5e after deciding to give the books a proper read, and came to like a lot of what it has to offer, and as such I am now running a campaign on Roll20 for my remote friends, and thinking of getting another up and running.


Great Old One
  • Basic: 1978-1980
  • AD&D: 1979-2000, with many different people
  • BECMI: 1980-1988, played in parallel with the group of friends that I had introduced the game to
  • 2e: 1990+ almost did not play it apart from a few forays into Spelljammer, as we did not like the revision in itself and most of what was published was backwards compatible with AD&D, which was much more to our tastes in whatever group I played with. As a result, we also barely tried the P&O.
  • 3e (then 3.5 as soon as it came out): 2000-2014, we has a huge multi-DMs campaign which did not stop and that we came back to after some forays into 4e)
  • 4e: 2018-2016, some of us really liked it and we did a few campaigns, but it was not really the preferred style of the majority.
  • 5e: 2014-present, really the best edition for us so far.
There is quite a lot of overlap, for playing in different groups but also because we always had multiple campaigns in parallel so that DMs could play too, and some campaigns went on for a long time with a previous edition when new campaigns started with the newer edition.

Also, during all these years, we also did many other games, as one shots, or as long campaigns, in particular Runequest (followed all the editions in parallel to those of D&D), Call of Cthulhu, and Amber Diceless Roleplaying Game. We also had a number of PF campaigns when 3.5 drifted into total chaos, did not mention those above since it's not really D&D.


1e: 1981? up until 2e came out. Then again four years with a new group 91-95. My first game was 1e before I had read anything, just knowing it was a fantasy game. Later my first DMing was 1e.

B/X: 1981 and then for a few years. Played a bunch. It was how I first learned the game from reading the rules and a lot of early play for me. B/X modules got used in my 1e games.

2e whenever it came out up until 2001 or 2002. I preordered the PHs and we used them. Continued with my long term campaign and mixed in 1e stuff all the time like assassins and grugach elves and stuff from the 1e DMG and MMs.

3e 2000 I preordered the PH and read it, dowloaded the SRD and read it. It was a little while before actually playing it as 2e and vampire games continued. Banewarrens was out when I started. Continued up until the 3.5 srds came out, at which point I had been playing a lot of 3e and had a ton of material.

3.5 switched over to the 3.5 rule set immediately after the srds came out. Did not get the physical core books for years but a ton of other books. Played for years until Pathfinder came out with some games after that as well.

Pathfinder 1e played from when it came out via srds until years into the 5e era. Started with the srds and got a lot of PDFs.

4e no SRDs and my groups being happy using 3.5 and Pathfinder meant I waited until I played in a group playing it, which was a few years into the run around when the PH I&II double case sale came out which was my first 4e purchase. I enjoyed it but my group didn't so after a while we switched to pathfinder 1e as our staple D&D type game for years. I continued to play 4e with my son though.

5e I played a playtest game of the Caves of Chaos then it was a bunch of years into 5e before my group switched from Pathfinder 1e to 5e. It has now been a couple of years of 5e.


B/X Known World
B/X. Started sometime in 1984 and played it a bit but very quickly switched to AD&D long term, but still play B/X on occasion along with some retroclones like OSE.

AD&D. From sometime in 1984 to present day...so roughly 37 years. Took some time off from it here and there, but I have more time in with AD&D than all the rest combined.

I skipped 2E and 3X entirely, though I love me some settings so picked up a lot of 2E setting goodness along with Eberron.

4E. Played from release (2008) until the Next playtest (2012), so four years.

5E. Played from the playtest to present day, so seven months shy of a decade.


Magic Wordsmith
2e: 1992 - 2000. Original high school group.

3e: 2000 - 2008. New groups mostly with a couple of people from original group.

4e: 2008 - 2016. Mostly the same groups as 3e, but I started to branch out into online play in 2011 after moving overseas and this greatly expanded the number of people I started playing with for one-shots or regular games. After 2011, the original 4e group was mostly abandoned in favor of better players.

5e: 2014 - Present. A mix of groups comprised of some of the 4e players and a bunch more picked up in the 5e era. All play is online with rare exceptions when I'm back in my hometown. But even then I'd rather barbecue and play board games or something because they just aren't the same quality of player that I have now.


I do not remember when we switched from basic to 1e. As a kid, I think it was all just D&D to me, but I remember the books. 2e I remember playing when it came out and through high school and the Army. We switched over to 3e when it came out and started with a new campaign. I remember the Dragon Magazines having the countdown and getting excited with the new options. 4e and 5e are similar in that we switched over once the main books came out and seem to only play that edition- leaving the older books to collect dust until I sell them off. I assume that 6e will be the same except that now I'm buying the PHB for my son and my father. Mostly since my father cannot use the internet, or the Google Machine as he calls it.


B/X 1981-sporatically until 2012
1e: 1981-2012
2e: 1989-1996 before going to 1e with some 2e elements included (thief skill progression, bard class, priest spheres, etc)
3e: only occasionally and only in video games. The # of ttrpg sessions I can count on one hand
4e: did not play
5e: 2012 playtest to present.

BECMI / B/X: 1985-1987ish. My kid brother and I with a few neighbor kids and a little involvement from our dad kind of fumbled around with Mentzer Basic alongside Cook Expert for a couple of years, soon adding a few modules (BSOLO and XSOLO were big for me) and a couple of 1E books like OA and Unearthed Arcana to the brew, plus some Dragon and Best of Dragon picked up in gaming and bookstores.

1E: 1988-1989, we started attending gaming conventions and playing some 1E just prior to the release of 2E.

2E: 1989-maybe 1997? I played 2nd ed off and on with friends, a couple of long campaigns and several shorter ones, interspersed with Vampire, GURPS, and getting into LARP with the Camarilla and NERO, among a couple of smaller groups. Our 2E games got increasingly house-ruled, and eventually I got away from tabletop RPG for a few years, focusing more on LARP and then miniature wargaming.

3.x: 2002ish until 2008. Ran some 3E for a few friends, and then some of my older wargaming buddies who had been into D&D when they were younger decided to start a group. This group ran steadily through 3.5 and into 4th, getting some crossover with my 90s D&D friends, before finally dissolving. We had several full campaigns run from 4th (the first one) or 1st (the rest) until the high teen levels. Two live campaigns switched from 3.0 to 3.5 mid-stream, but we started over with 4E. I also had a second group that often met at a local game store, and again ran multiple full campaigns as well as a few shorter abortive ones.

4E: Mostly from release in 2008 until a couple of years into 5E's existence; 2016, maybe? My main 3.x group dissolved, but a couple of us formed a new group with some of the 90s crew and a newer guy I met in my LARPing days. We were pretty happy with 4th in most regards, and in no hurry to transition to 5th. I also joined a 4E campaign run by my brother in 2019 and we played 1st-10th with one of my friends from the other group and a couple of brand newbies. The intent was to have a break after the conclusion of the first arc at 10th, have a hiatus, time skip and re-start the game with new adventures at Paragon, but the group wound up not resuming.

5E: My then-main group started running 5E in 2016 or so, and has played through a couple of campaigns. I played one through to 20th and then we wrapped. We had a new game meeting at a game store with a mix of three older and a couple of new players that got only a few sessions in before COVID killed it. Meanwhile I had been running a 5E game starting in Oct 2018 for a different friend group, which went on hiatus around June 2020 and may yet resume. Meanwhile one of the players from that group started running Rime of the Frostmaiden for us over Roll20 in Jan 2021, and that's going strong.

OE & OSR: I first tried out OD&D at a couple of conventions around 2010, including sessions with Frank Mentzer and Tim Kask, and this got me interested in the OSR. While none of my regular IRL gaming friends were really into older editions, I'd read forums and blogs, and usually attend a couple of conventions a year over the last decade and specifically look for old school games to play. Since the pandemic I finally embraced Roll20 and Discord, getting on a couple of servers and playing a bunch of B/X, OD&D, and running a 5 Torches Deep game since April 2020 that's still going now in 2021.

Savage Wombat

My groups and I all basically switched editions when the new edition came out - although we only playtested 4th edition the one time and switched to Pathfinder instead.


Game Designer
2e: Played one session of it in, if I remember well, 2000.
3e: Played from 2000 to around 2005.
4e: Played from 2008 to around 2013.
5e: Played from 2016 to present. I'm probably DMing my last campaign with it though.

The dates on the switchover between BECMI and 1e are a little fuzzy, but as closely as I can remember:

BECMI: 86 - 88, 2 years
1e: 88-89 (though I also ran 1e from 2013-2014 while waiting for 5e to come out), 3 years
2e: 89-98 (though there's about a two-year hiatus in there), 7 years
3e: 01-06 (I'm including C&C with 3e, since it's a derivative and I switched to that when it came out), 5 years
4e: 08-13, 5 years
5e: 14-present, 7 years and going

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