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

Remathilis

Legend
You specifically left out the B/X and BECMI lines, but they still had an influence in that they made the 0e-1e and 1e-2e transitions much smoother and less jarring; as all three of those editions borrowed from, lent to, and-or overlapped with B/X and BECMI in their design, adventures, etc.

WotC-era transitions haven't had this softening influence.
With WotC, you have to look to the other RPGs WotC was working on like Star Wars Saga to find that half-step Basic used to have.
 

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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Perhaps, then, we should dig into the recipe. For a ".5 edition," I mean. [...]

So. What were the relevant factors that made 3.5e a ".5 edition" to you? Which among them applied to Essentials, and how/why?
Were you playing/DMing in the mid 1980s when Unearthed Arcana came out?

If yes, I'd be interested in seeing your comparison between [pre- and post-UA 1e] and [pre- and post-Essentials 4e] in terms of how much each editoon changed on their release.

It's not a comparison I can make myself as I've never looked at Essentials.
 

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
Were you playing/DMing in the mid 1980s when Unearthed Arcana came out?
If I was, I was doing it in Heaven. In the "mid 1980s," I was at best a twinkle in my parents' no-longer-newlywed eyes. (I suppose it depends on your exact definition of "mid 1980s." If you take a very open view, you might possibly be able to squeeze the day of my birth in there...but only just.)
 

Voadam

Legend
Were you playing/DMing in the mid 1980s when Unearthed Arcana came out?

If yes, I'd be interested in seeing your comparison between [pre- and post-UA 1e] and [pre- and post-Essentials 4e] in terms of how much each editoon changed on their release.

It's not a comparison I can make myself as I've never looked at Essentials.
I was there for both.

UA bumped up a lot of power options. More spells for casters, weapon specialization, higher level limits, expanded more powerful race options, some powerful new classes (particularly cavalier and barbarian), and human rolls. Thieves were still thieves, although they could be mechanically terrible thief acrobats alongside standard mechanically terrible thieves. :) Overall it shifted the game to allow lots of higher powered options. All the underdark races's special abilities and class options really outclass the options for a PH halfling.

Looking back at 0e, which was before my time for playing, it would be similar to original box D&D versus Greyhawk supplement one adding percentile strength, the thief class and more spells.

4e was similar but had some differences too. pre-essentials was tight balance not just between classes and races at equal levels, but in resource management on a daily schedule. The at will, encounter, daily, utility power scheme meant there could be really tight PC to PC balance but also a DM could really anticipate how far a party or an individual could go based on their hp/healing surges/ and AEDU powers. Whether there was one big fight for the day and everyone nova'd, or grinding hall fights against hordes of minions that came in waves, everyone had at will attacks and everyone had roughly equal nova stuff over a day. This was through three PHs full of classes and worked well primal expansion classes and psionic expansion ones and one offs like the sword mage as well as the core fighters and wizards and rogues.

4e Essentials took away the AEDU tight equal power resource management paradigm and gave some new classes more at will and encounter powers while dropping some dailies. This fit a number of people's playing styles better, but threw some DM encounter balance calculations out of whack and you had some people with nova powers while others had consistency in power output, which fit different playstyle preferences, but could be not as balanced depending on the situation.

I personally really like the essentials mechanics innovations, particularly in fighter and paladin defender mechanics being easy to track and remember auras at the table instead of tracking fiddly individual marks on specific targets, and I really liked the increased at will options, I recognize there are tradeoffs for going with design to match different playstyles.

So 4e changed the dynamics of the game, but it was not a raging influx of power the way 1e UA human roll stat generation charts pumped up the power of 1e characters.
 



jasper

Rotten DM
My forecast. It will be like changing from 1e to 2E. Just enough minor changes to tick you off so you have to upgrade.
 

Clint_L

Hero
However, the homebrewing system (which is what the staff of D&D Beyond use to add new official content to the site's character builder) is a complicated mess that takes forever to get any sort of mastery over. And is heavily restrictive in the kinds of things it allows.
See, I don't think this can be true. Because I figured it out pretty quickly, and I'm sort of an idiot with technology. Like, you should have seen me trying to master Roll20. Embarrassing.
 

Clint_L

Hero
Were you playing/DMing in the mid 1980s when Unearthed Arcana came out?

If yes, I'd be interested in seeing your comparison between [pre- and post-UA 1e] and [pre- and post-Essentials 4e] in terms of how much each editoon changed on their release.

It's not a comparison I can make myself as I've never looked at Essentials.
UA was exciting when it came out because it consolidated and made official a lot of stuff that had been happening over the years in Dragon magazine and had GG's name on it. There was a ton of fluidity in D&D, and in RPGs in general at the time, and it felt to me like the game was really in flux. It was moving towards allowing for a lot more character customization, so there was a portent of 2e, which had been rumoured for awhile (Gygax had been dropping hints in Dragon). So UA felt kind of like a stepping stone to the next thing.

Except then TSR almost went belly up and the next thing you knew GG wasn't writing 2e at all. I remember being stunned to learn that TSR was in chaos and almost bankrupt. At that time, it felt like the 900 pound gorilla of the RPG world.

4e I can't comment on as I didn't buy it and only played that version a few times with friends.
 
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