D&D General Some Thoughts on Historical Edition Changes, and What that Portends for OneD&D


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Jack Daniel

dice-universe.blogspot.com
3.5 to 3.0 was the exception though, more like AD&D to B/X.

I've heard 3.0 to 3.5 compared to AD&D 1e to 2e, since that's actually kind of a fair comparison. Nobody ever really talks about "AD&D to B/X," though, because B/X wasn't based on AD&D, it was based on Holmes Basic and the white box (and Greyhawk).

The incompatible differences between B/X and BECMI or RC are that thieves skills advance slower (there might be specific other differences like xp charts or whatever, but I never checked and used material from BECMI and RC era basic in my AD&D games as I had B/X stuff). I would expect to use a Merchant Prince or shaman class from the later Gazetteer series directly in a B/X game without mechanical conversion issues.

There are a bunch of little differences in the attack roll tables, saving throw tables, XP tables for certain classes (thief comes to mind), spell tables (cleric and elf), and of course the vaunted thief skill progressions. But it's hard to call them an "incompatible difference" when the changes to thief skills were made after the 1983 printing of the Mentzer Expert Set, which conforms to the to the thief skill table in the 1982 Cook Expert Set. The thief skills weren't stretched out until after the Companion Set was published, and then the Expert Set was updated to match in 1984.

In short, if B/X and BECMI are different and incompatible editions because of the thief skills table, then the 1983 Mentzer Basic and Expert Sets are part of the B/X edition and not the BECMI edition. (I think the more defensible position is that Classic D&D is one game that was gradually changed in small, piecewise increments between its debut in 1981 and its twilight in 1996.)
 

Voadam

Legend
I've heard 3.0 to 3.5 compared to AD&D 1e to 2e, since that's actually kind of a fair comparison. Nobody ever really talks about "AD&D to B/X," though, because B/X wasn't based on AD&D, it was based on Holmes Basic and the white box (and Greyhawk).
I have talked about B/X to AD&D as a comparison for my experiences in using material from 3.0 in 3.5. Multiple times. :)

I used the 3.0 Crypt of St. Bethesda module as the lead off to a Pathfinder campaign using the Pathfinder 1e rules. It felt the same to me as when I used the Basic D&D B1 In Search of the Unknown as the lead off to a 1e AD&D campaign using AD&D 1e rules.
 

TwoSix

Uncomfortably diegetic
Which is funny because D&D used to only be that diegetic, randomized play...which is exactly what the OSR and NSR crowds are trying to recapture. The last edition of D&D to have any kind of focused opinion or specific goal/drive was 4E. And it think that's the last time WotC will ever do that. Focused games tend to not have big-tent audiences WotC wants. What I'm seeing is a return to overblown rules which will shrink the audience.
Well, I think WotC is aware that character building and character options are what sell, but if you dip into that well too many times the product gets diluted and the audience burns out. They seem to be navigating that treacherous middle pretty well so far, but we are at the 8+ year mark now, so it's tough to say how it will go.

It also seems fairly obvious from the "Mother may I" comment that there's a design trend towards codification and away from rules improvisation; how that will land in the vastly changed market from 10 or 20 years is an open question.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Well, I think WotC is aware that character building and character options are what sell, but if you dip into that well too many times the product gets diluted and the audience burns out.
I think they're fully aware of the first and have basically no conception of the second. That's why there are character options in almost every single book they've put out for 5E. Because character options sell books. With the exception of the MM, are there any books that don't have character options? Even the DMG does. Every module does. Every supplement does. Even if it's something as simple as a background or feat.
They seem to be navigating that treacherous middle pretty well so far, but we are at the 8+ year mark now, so it's tough to say how it will go.
I disagree. They're selling to the players and hoping that referees can simply deal with it. I don't think it's the players who're burning out, it's the referees who have to keep up. The players want more and more options. They always will. It'll only become a problem of burn out for the players if we get back to 3X and 4E levels of product churn. This is especially true now that you have things like D&D Beyond where players can simply buy the character options from a book for a few bucks instead of buying the whole book at full price.
It also seems fairly obvious from the "Mother may I" comment that there's a design trend towards codification and away from rules improvisation; how that will land in the vastly changed market from 10 or 20 years is an open question.
Unfortunately, yeah. The pendulum is swinging back to a locked down, rule-for-everything mode. I think that's going to backfire. The killer app of RPGs is the referee being able to make calls. Closed systems are stifling and less fun to play and run. The trouble with 5E is that it relied overmuch on referees being able to do basic design work for the game instead of making on-the-spot rulings to cover the occasional gap or shenanigans the players get up to.
 

GreyLord

Legend
The only constant is change. Accept it. Change is neither good nor bad, it just is.

It's a good thing the WotC commando squads don't have my address so can't come to my house and take my old books.

Oh, we have our ways...but with several million copies out there it is going to take a while to get to you...please hold....
 




TwoSix

Uncomfortably diegetic
I think they're fully aware of the first and have basically no conception of the second. That's why there are character options in almost every single book they've put out for 5E. Because character options sell books. With the exception of the MM, are there any books that don't have character options? Even the DMG does. Every module does. Every supplement does. Even if it's something as simple as a background or feat.
Yea, but most barely have anything. We've only really had 2.5 supplements that were really crunch oriented, in Xanathar's, Tasha's, and (sort of) SCAG, which got overwritten in large part anyway.

I mean, there's no comparison compared to the 3e and 4e days. It's hard to imagine them changing their publishing strategy to the degree they have without it being mindful.
 

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