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


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2013- present- playtests and 5e with a heavily 1/2e inspired vibe. I do have issues with 5e but it sems to be the edition that causes the least angst for the players and so we stick to it. Current game based on Saltmarsh and lots of 1e modules and Dungeon Adventures which is entering its third year (currently finishing Kingdom of the Ghouls from Dungeon #80).

Cool. :cool:

This sounds like my style of play and I am running Ghosts of Saltmarsh (I call it "Ghosts of Saltmarsh+") with Dungeon adventures and old modules (like N1 - Against the Cult of the Reptile God or "Song of the Fens" from Dungeon #40) interspersed.

My other (remote) group is being run through the same thing about six month behind but with different Dungeon adventures interspersed (the first group is all newbies, so with them I am getting to re-run adventures I ran once upon a time, the second group is my old-timers who I ran those adventures for back in the day, so this is an excuse to try some I missed - "Kingdom of the Ghouls" is on that list).

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For my part:
  • OD&D: once, at a party, just to see what it was like. I think it was 2011? It was fun.
  • BECMI: played regularly from 1986 to 1996. My favorite edition.
  • AD&D (1E): never played it, not even once.
  • AD&D (2E): played it a couple of times in the late 1980s, never cared for it.
  • D&D (3.xE): played regularly from 2000 to 20015. The edition I've played the most.
  • Pathfinder: played for about 2 months in 2015. Didn't care for it.
  • D&D (4E): played it twice--once in 2010, again in 2015. Didn't care for it.
  • D&D (5E): 2015 to present. My current edition, and my go-to RPG system for all genres (fantasy, sci-fi, weird west, etc.)
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  • Some pre-AD&D edition box set (I didn't own it, and I don't really remember the details because I was 9 years old): 1989-1990
  • AD&D 2E: 1990-2001 (never touched the Player's Option material)
  • 3E: 2001 ~ 2012
  • 4E: 1 session about 4 years ago.
  • 5E: Haven't had a group to play with, so not at all.
The timeline is slightly misleading because it makes it look like I played 2E and 3E about the same amount, but 2E is by far my most played edition since from about 1998-2001 I was in a group that played almost daily, and that time period holds practically all of my favorite campaigns.

Holmes Basic: 1976, (1 year), Technically, maybe two years, going well into 1977 and beyond before we obtained the AD&D PH and we had more than just monster stats for AD&D rules.
AD&D (1E): 1977 to 1989, 2008-2022 (26 years) Those are just the ACTIVE years. In a sense, I never really stopped playing 1E, which would make it 45 years now. I resumed actively playing/working with it after WotC rudely and precipitously dumped 3E for 4E.
AD&D (2E): 1989 to 2000 (11 years) While it was the current edition. Pretty much set entirely aside after 3E and have never gone back to it.
D&D (3.xE): 2000 to 2022 (22 years) 3E was very good, but has always competed with 1E for top spot in my heart.
D&D (5E): 2019 to 2022 (3 years) Only as a player. I have no interest in learning it well enough to DM it. I'll DM 3E or 1E instead.


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.
Holmes Basic (1982): 1 year
BECMI (83 - 86): 3 years
1E AD&D (86 - 88): Just the summers of those years at Scout Camp.
2E AD&D (89 - 2001): 12 years. Incorporated minor bits of Player’s Options.
3E (01 - Current): 20 years and counting. I am including PF 1E with this since it’s just an extension of the 3.5 rules.
4E: A couple of the lair assaults. Incorporated the minion rules into 3E, but have largely been a hard pass.
5E (2019 - Current): I volunteer at a local library, running two different rpg clubs, one for tweens and one for teens. If not for Hard Mode rules, it would be tedious to run for me. As a player, I find myself getting bored with the seeming invincibility and resilience of my characters. Having a difficult time getting the kids willing to look at other RPGs.

Honestly, with the way the game has changed, even in the brief time I’ve played and run 5E, a lot has evolved. I have always played as an escape, originally to get free from my home situation and being bullied, then as a way to escape from the stress of day to day, and other darker moments in life. Now with so much of today influencing how the game has evolved, that ability to “escape” is rapidly disappearing. But that’s me, and with as popular as D&D is, my perspective isn’t all that important.
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Li Shenron

BECMI (or rather Black Box first and RC later) for about 5 years in second half of the 90s.

3.0 for about a decade, including about 1 year of 3.5 before going back to 3.0.

Tried 4e for only maybe half a dozen sessions when it came out, decided to stay with 3e.

5e for almost 10 years (but unfortunately not as intensively as 3e), I started running a game as soon as the very first playtest packet came out in late spring 2012!

I played the Blue Box for maybe three sessions. Basically, it was me convincing people to play. I had no idea what I was doing at 11 years old. I think each session lasted 15 minutes or so.
Then I met a friend who was smarter than me and had the hardbacks. We slowly increased our knowledge through seventh grade.
By eighth grade we had all the 1st edition books, and we knew how to play. ;) Our Algebra teacher (shout out Mr. Semen - even if he had an unfortunate name while being surrounded by a bunch of middle school kids) let us use his room during lunch.
9th grade we switched MERP.
The rest of high school was a hiatus as we all moved.

Enter college where gaming came back with a vengeance. D&D 2nd edition was a pillar for two years. Then Earthdawn, Gamma World, Top Secret, Dangerous Journeys, and Rolemaster. Only Dangerous Journeys and Rolemaster lasted for a campaign (6 months). The others were 2 or 3 sessions. But 2nd edition kept luring us back.

An even longer hiatus as now we all lived in different states. We missed 3rd edition completely. (Although I bought some books and kept up on the rules.)

Came back in when 4th edition was released with new people. Three different groups. All wonderful, as was my 4th edition experience. Then transitioned to 5th edition, again because of moving, with all new groups. Another wonderful set of experiences. I have stuck with 4e and 5e since they came out except for the occasional dabble into other games (one shots), and of course like many here, buying other game's rulebooks for a fun read.

So since I missed the first seven years, some of 2nd and all of 3rd, I would say it's been around 25 years of actual playing with different groups. Couldn't have asked for a better hobby.


BECMI: 4 years
AD&D 1e: A few months
AD&D 2e: 10+ years, includes Player Options
D&D 3.5e: 8+ years (got burnt out)
D&D 4e: +/-3 years
D&D 5e: From when it came out, haven't stopped.

Wow, with a few exceptions I realize I'm the 'old man'
OD&D -1978
BECMI - 1978 - 1986
AD&D - 1980 - 1991
2E AD&D 1989 - 2001
3E and 3.5 2000 - 2017(ish)
4E about 4 weeks total
5E 2017-present

Yes there is overlap, it was more about playing than system back then. lol

Plane Sailing

Astral Admin - Mwahahaha!
OD&D + Greyhawk, Blackmoor, Eldritch Wizardry, Strategic Review 1975-77 (3 years)
AD&D 1977-1980 (4 years)
(long period of Runequest and other games!)
3e 2000-2008 (9 years)
4e 2008-2010 (2 years)
5e 2014(?) Playtesting, but never actually played the finished rules

Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
1978 - Holmes for a few sessions - we played through the Into the Depths module. I remember my character had a 10' pole, several canaries, and a whole bunch of other stuff. We were definitely ignoring any encumberance rules if they were even provided.

1978-1984 Then we moved to AD&D. I got the Monster Manual, my buddy got the PHB, and we were off. Played all through high school, including a Monty Haul campaign where we went through D1-D3 and Q1. We each had at least one artifact. If I recall I had the Wand of Orcus playing a thief (I think?).

1991 or 92 - played 2 sessions of D&D, but I don't recall if it was 1st or 2nd ed. It was the first time I got back into RPGs after a break during college. But then we stopped playing D&D and played lots of other games (Shadowrun, MegaTraveller, and then settled on GURPS for the next 10 years).

2008-14 4e. Ran into a buddy from my old GURPS game at the FLGS. I had heard about this "Points of Light" thing with the new edition of D&D. He said he'd run the first module; and we "got the band back together". Same group I still play with today now.

2014-now 5e. We rolled right into 5e when it came out. There actually wasn't any question about it. No one loved 4e so much that they were unwilling to move to 5e. Of course since around 2010, I've been playing lots of other games besides D&D - mostly leaning towards "independent" games.

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