D&D General Understanding History: Why Serious Scholarship of D&D Matters

1E way outsold 2E, and Basic way outsold both. The numbers that have made it out suggest that 3E, 3.5 and 4E did not outdonthem...but 5E has done huge numbers.

Crawford did say recently thst until a few years ago, moat customers had started with 2E, however, so there might be a disconnect between books sold and when people were playing (lots of second hand copies, or piracy spreading 2E on the early Net?).
Odd that starting with 2e would a larger cohort than from better selling editions. But OK.
 

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Clint_L

Hero
So many of 1e’s sales were in the early fad years. People played a bit then moved on.

It’s not that much of a stretch.

Sales do not equal more people playing.

Consistent sales over time means more people playing.
IMO this is more true of Basic than 1e. Basic cost like 15 bucks - everyone in my gaming group had at least one copy that had been gifted to them, and nobody played it (except for the module). Dragon magazine didn't publish articles for it, and TSR published very few modules for it. So I don't think its sales reflected its player base.

Ie was a significantly higher investment, and was TSR's focus. A lot of players definitely moved on, but there are still a heckuva lot of original 1e players still playing today. 2e is I think harder to pin down because it sort of grew out of 1e. It was also in print for longer.
 

Hussar

Legend
Is there really “a heck of a lot”? I know here on en world. Sure. But let’s be honest here, the number of us that started in the 80’s or earlier is absolutely dwarfed by the number of those who’ve started after 2000.

You only have to look at the player age demographics to see that.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Is there really “a heck of a lot”? I know here on en world. Sure. But let’s be honest here, the number of us that started in the 80’s or earlier is absolutely dwarfed by the number of those who’ve started after 2000.

You only have to look at the player age demographics to see that.
Well, the most solid data point we have is what Crawford shared in that recent interview, about 5E players taking the majority away from 2E players in the past few years. So, yes, that suggests folks starting in the late 80's-90's outnumbered Aufhts and early Teens players.
 
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Hussar

Legend
Well, the most solid Fata point we have is what Vrawford shared in that recent interview, about 5E players taking the majority away from 2E players in the past few years. So, yes, that suggests folks starting in the late 80's-90's outnumbered Aufhts and early Teens players.

Sorry I wasn’t clear. I was talking about those that started in the 70’s and up to the release of 2e in what 88?
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
For example your birthday is a fact: you were born in a set place at a set time. A book was published on a set date or a company when out of business on a set date.
🤦‍♂️

You were in no position to remember the date of your birth being all of a day old. So how do you know that your date of birth is a fact? it's because people who do remember told you. Oh, and a document that has it written down, but you've gone and said that memory and documents can't be used. Kind of puts you in a bad position with the birthday fact thing.
 

Is there really “a heck of a lot”? I know here on en world. Sure. But let’s be honest here, the number of us that started in the 80’s or earlier is absolutely dwarfed by the number of those who’ve started after 2000.

You only have to look at the player age demographics to see that.
Right, but here's the problem.

You cannot really judge if you do not collect the data.

You have to look at the data through the lens of how you collected the data.

Chances are really good that many early generation players 'moved on' in some way, such as stopped playing, found a different hobby or, er, died. But chances are also really good that the data collection methodology also favors those that are likely to respond the way in which it is collected. For example, I know many older players that never look at sites like enworld or various Hasbro/D&D associated websites. If your methodology doesn't somehow reach those types of gamer, then you cannot really assess if they exist or not.
 

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
I have to admit, this sort of thing flies right up my left nostril. This idea that you can discount research and expertise so blithely.

Yes, all interpretations are biased. But that does not mean that all opinions are equal. Being biased does not make something wrong. It’s simply part of the process.

If nothing else, we’ve learned how ingrained anti intellectualism has become. The past three years have highlighted that so clearly.

If you want to counter someone’s argument, you have to provide evidence that is at least as strong as the evidence presented with an argument. Just waving your hands and claiming that the “system” makes anything a person happens to disagree with a lie or mistake is nearly everything wrong with pretty much any public discourse on any topic.

When did being an expert become a bad thing?
The exact instant their opinion clashed with someone else's.
 

Tony Vargas

Legend
I mention this both because I have seen it (for example, Gygax was famously again crits, and they did not exist in 1e in the core rules- in fact, even rolling a 20 did not guarantee that you hit (it did in BECMI/RC)). This changed in 2e, with the optional critical hits in the DMG that many adopted. However, there are those that still remember core rules (as opposed to homebrew) that provided for critical hits in 1e. Memory is funny that way!
There were also critical hits in an old Dragon Magazine article, Good Hits & Bad Misses, 1980. The taking of old or Dragon or DM variant crits being 'core rules' might as easily have been a misconception at the time, as projecting memories from 2e back to 1e.

(Personally, I admit to projecting 1e mechanics and qualities onto 2e quite a bit. That's where I really learned the game after all.)
I’d have to go check Ben Riggs book, but I think 2e was lower in sales than AD&D 1e - oddly enough, I think he said Basic (which no one I knew played) outsold both editions of AD&D.
Not surprising, at all: Basic -> Advanced D&D was the obvious upgrade path, and adults buying D&D for their excited middle-school sons/nephews/grandsons/whatever simply bought the basic set.

I can see the confusion though, as WotC famously in charts about who plays left a blank space for born 1965-1981. No one’s ever heard of them.
They'd hardly be unusual in that regard. I thought D&D's 80s fad was one of the very few social trends we actually drove, tho. Sad if it was the Baby Boomers, there, too.
 
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