D&D General What if D&D 5E Was Released in 1974?

Do you think D&D 5E in 1974 would have been more, even or less successful?

  • More successful

    Votes: 8 13.6%
  • About the same

    Votes: 16 27.1%
  • Less successful

    Votes: 38 64.4%

AD&D 1st edition, which is more complex than OD&D
If oD&D was released in '74 and then 5e (probably called something else) was released in ~'78 instead of AD&D, people would probably write a lot of articles about how Gary had heard the criticism of how the oD&D books were inscrutable messes and responded by releasing a completely new/totally-revamped game (instead of how AD&D was seen which, Arneson lawsuit aside, I think everyone saw as a pretty much a re-written and expanded second take on the same concept).

Would this game would have attracted more people than AD&D? I'm not sure. Part of me thinks yes -- AD&D, at it's core, doesn't address a lot of problems that oD&D had when the audience shifted from wargamers to college kids and others -- few people like hirelings, fewer 8-12 participant game night, getting to lead armies at name level isn't quite the fighter perk Gary envisioned, combat (without houseruling) is incredibly dangerous yet few people wanted to play the heist game it supposedly incentivized, etc. etc. I think if a game that came along (with the D&D stamp, because clearly D&D/AD&D had a first-to-market advantage) without those issues, it might have been a bigger hit (there would have been some oD&D fans, however, who would be mad at having to re-spend since the games aren't nearly as compatible). Another part thinks no -- simply because 5e isn't that great at dungeon-crawls, and I think bitd before ubiquitous computer games and such, there was quite a market for just exploring and finding out what was behind door #1 and fight things for their treasure and such and TSR D&D IMO does do that game quite a bit better.
 

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Yaarel

Mind Mage
The 1970s was a different era with different expectations.

Heh, maybe they wouldnt even notice how much better 5e is as an organized system.
 

5E would flop in the 1970s...

People wouldn't like that any race could play any class. They would want a human centric game with strong restrictions on monstrous races.

DM didn't want clear rules. They would want obtusely written material to encourage lateral thinking and improvisation.

Players didn't want easy magic. They would want resource management to keep high level magic rare.

The community wouldn't want accessibility in the game. They would want requiring "skilled" play and understanding a vast amount of unwritten and unspoken rules to play.
 

5E would flop in the 1970s...

People wouldn't like that any race could play any class. They would want a human centric game with strong restrictions on monstrous races.

DM didn't want clear rules. They would want obtusely written material to encourage lateral thinking and improvisation.

Players didn't want easy magic. They would want resource management to keep high level magic rare.

The community wouldn't want accessibility in the game. They would want requiring "skilled" play and understanding a vast amount of unwritten and unspoken rules to play.
but they also would never have known anything else yet, also elves have been popular since the beginning of the game so human-only seems odd are you certain you not speaking of only what Gygax wanted?
 


Jer

Legend
Supporter
but they also would never have known anything else yet, also elves have been popular since the beginning of the game so human-only seems odd are you certain you not speaking of only what Gygax wanted?
Projecting back onto the 70s is hilarious to me.

Honestly my friends and I would have eaten up tiefling characters. In the 70s they'd basically have been an entire race of heavy metal Elrics.

Of course the Satanic Panic would have went even more insane with the visuals and story of tieflings....
 


The audience wasn't there in 1974, so you wouldn't have got the "50m players".

However, 5E is a lot better designed than early D&D, and really heavily developed, so would have been staggeringly influential, even beyond how influential actual D&D was. The idea that a game needed to be thoughtfully designed and balanced didn't really come in, a serious way, until well into the '90s or '00s, but 5E has it strongly built in, and I think that would have been a big influence too.

So I think would it have been more successful than actual 1974 D&D? Maybe. The buy in is a lot heftier though, with 3 heavy-duty hardback books.

I suspect what would have actually happened is a cheaper rip-off would have become popular, but 5E would be regarded as "the source".
 

People wouldn't like that any race could play any class. They would want a human centric game with strong restrictions on monstrous races.
If by people you mean Gary, sure.
DM didn't want clear rules. They would want obtusely written material to encourage lateral thinking and improvisation.
TSR was flooded with so many rules questions about oD&D that they released both basic sets and and Advanced system with greater rigor.
Players didn't want easy magic. They would want resource management to keep high level magic rare.
Arduin Grimoire suggest the former is not the case. Resource management, yes. I think the coins vs. torches encumbrance minigame was part of the early game appeal.
The community wouldn't want accessibility in the game. They would want requiring "skilled" play and understanding a vast amount of unwritten and unspoken rules to play.
Maybe the wargamers that the game started with, but everyone else that jumped on the fad? I doubt it seriously.
 

Vael

Hero
5e is such a product of its time, it is leveraging a lot of DnD's history, without that, a few of the choices will seem, well, weirder.
 

5e is such a product of its time, it is leveraging a lot of DnD's history, without that, a few of the choices will seem, well, weirder.
That's a good point. For example, the paladin, as it is now, is a product of the paladin coming out originally and then things like antipaladins, 'paladins of another alignment' Dragon Magazine articles, people playing paladins as 'lawful stupid' or 'good but not nice' or a bunch of other things. Without having gone through the connected dots of that evolution, people new to the game might wonder what this weird Oath more than religion divine half-caster martial class was or why it was worth making one of the main classes. Same with why there are Sorcerers and Wizards (something modern gamers sometimes question).
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
In 1974? I would vote more. D&D, despite claims it was the first ever TTRPG, was not the first in the wings. People were coming up with RPG ideas outside of just Gary and Dave. so the market of people interested in such a game was still there.

But the main reason I voted more in 1974 is because back then you couldn't play unless you had someone already experienced teaching you. You had to have and be familiar with Chainmail. There was no way someone new to RPGs would pick up the OD&D box and know what to do. It was a giant mess.

Whereas the 5e Basic rules are easily read and understood. You wouldn't need work of mouth and existing experienced players to learn it. Anyone could pick it up and start playing.
 

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