D&D (2024) What the 1e-2e Transition Can Tell Us About 5.5e

Parmandur

Book-Friend
I think they're in for a rude awakening. I'll be very surprised if the number of D&D players don't drop off within the next few years. Not because anyone is angry or any of that "go woke go broke" baloney, but because the resurgance of popularity will have run its course.
I think you may be underestimating the heavy investment in children's books WotC has been making for the past decade: the ABCs of D&D, the 123's of D&D, look and fund books, and the Little Golden Books are part of an intentional strategy to grow the next generation of players.
 

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Parmandur

Book-Friend
I think it’s more that they want to be able to program the mechanics into a computer and have it be able to run the system. “Let the DM decide” doesn’t work as well on a computer as it does at the table.

I think part of 5E’s success came from “rulings not rules for everything” but the design team seems to be going back to rules for everything...so they can code it.
However, the VTT doesn't apply the rules, on purpose: the VTT as they have been showing it is built around facilitating DM fiat and houserules.
 

Geoff Thirlwell

Adventurer
I think a major need for a 2nd edition was that the game was really antiquated in its look and presentation. By this time, there were lots of games on the market with much more accessible and clearer rules. It was really obvious the books were very dated. 2nd edition was mainly just an attempt to have a coherent rule set with the fiddly bits shaved off. People (including me) look back at 1e and talk about how flexible 1e was and how DMs made it their own game but a lot of that is due to the rules being quite jumbled and not written in a way suited to be used as a reference during play.
 

True words, though I was certainly upset about Gygax being pushed out. I grew up on Marvel comics and Stan's soapbox, so I was perfectly primed for St. Gary's essays and observations delivered throughout the AD&D books, and especially Dragon magazine, which I read and re-read voraciously. Not that I always agreed with him - I'm a liberal Canadian at heart - but I believed in him, if you get my drift. So the idea of TSR without Gygax personally offended me at an almost visceral level.

It's funny, but the older I get the more open-minded I am becoming. I think it's because I have just been wrong so many times, that I have finally learned a tiny bit of humility. Reading Game Wizards (5/5, hugely recommend) really made me reassess a lot of my ideas about what TSR was. I've gone from idolizing Gygax as a teen, to kind of vilifying him when some of the less savoury stuff about him came out, to seeing all those guys as just people, warts and all, who still gave us something great, and for which I am thankful.
I had almost an inverse experience of this. I came into D&D about 1986, so at the tail end of AD&D 1E. And I quickly made the 2E transition (it came out I think when I was in 7th or 8th grade). We knew the name Gygax and who he was, but I didn't have those memories of reading his essays in Dragon (and if I did read them, I likely wasn't remembering who wrote them at the time). By highschool 2E was in full swing and, at least to my peer group, 1E was considered dated and hokey. And Gygax wasn't really on our mind (though the term Gygaxian slowly came to have some negative meaning in terms of gameable content and writing style). Now we did have the 1E books, so the material was there and we were familiar with and liked a lot of it. But I think things like the cartoon art and some of the gonzo elements weren't fitting what was in the air at the time (and being young people in highshool, what was in the air is what we thought was the best way to go). But later, after 3E came out and I started to tire of some of the adventure structures in 3E, but also didn't want to go back to those 90s adventure structures either, I bought the 1E DMG again for cents online and read it (initially because I thought it would have amusing and bad advice). But I found it was very engaging and it had a lot of content that was highly useable, and if not useable at least pointing me back in a direction where I was looking to go (I was tired of adventure paths, wasn't into things that felt railroady, didn't want to go back to heavy handed storytelling approaches from the 90s era, and wasn't all that into narrative style games, so I wanted something more open). I also have to say, people can say what they want about Gygax as he was strongly opinionated but the 1E DMG is a much better read than any of the other DMGs in my opinion if only because it has a conversational tone and the guy had personality. He may not have had the man's talent for words, but it was almost as if Norman Mailer wrote an RPG book. You might not agree with everything the guy says but he can hold your attention and make you laugh.
 

MGibster

Legend
I think you may be underestimating the heavy investment in children's books WotC has been making for the past decade: the ABCs of D&D, the 123's of D&D, look and fund books, and the Little Golden Books are part of an intentional strategy to grow the next generation of players.
I thought those were just novelty products designed to appeal to current fans. Kind of like cute coloring books with Cthulhu. I think D&D is riding a wave of popularity and nobody is quite sure how or why it happened. Like in the 70s and 80s, D&D is lightning in a bottle only now it's hopefully better managed. It's very exciting that D&D is so popular, and while I like for it to remain this popular or get even more popular, I doubt that's going to happen. Players will age out, move on to other things, and they won't be replaced as quickly as they are lost.
 

Staffan

Legend
The monk people missed. I had a player who brought the 1E PHB to games so he could play the monk (he adored the Quivering Palm ability).
There's a reason there were like half a dozen monk-like classes and kits over the course of 2e, until at the very end they released a proper monk class that was mostly a port of the 1e class in the Scarlet Brotherhood sourcebook.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
I thought those were just novelty products designed to appeal to current fans. Kind of like cute coloring books with Cthulhu. I think D&D is riding a wave of popularity and nobody is quite sure how or why it happened. Like in the 70s and 80s, D&D is lightning in a bottle only now it's hopefully better managed. It's very exciting that D&D is so popular, and while I like for it to remain this popular or get even more popular, I doubt that's going to happen. Players will age out, move on to other things, and they won't be replaced as quickly as they are lost.
No, they are legit kid-oriented products, and my kids eat them up. If you check the charts, they are selling well, too. That's how WotC is targeting the "aging out" phenomenon: people "age in," too.
 

MGibster

Legend
No, they are legit kid-oriented products, and my kids eat them up. If you check the charts, they are selling well, too. That's how WotC is targeting the "aging out" phenomenon: people "age in," too.
Maybe they'll be successful. I have my doubts, but in 10 years maybe they'll have even more people. Games Workshop did the same thing by introducing a line of fiction for kids aged 8-12.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Maybe they'll be successful. I have my doubts, but in 10 years maybe they'll have even more people. Games Workshop did the same thing by introducing a line of fiction for kids aged 8-12.
Games Workshop pretty aggressively markets primarily to younger players, not longterm players. WotC isn't going quite so hard into it, but genuinely child focused D&D products have been huge in the past 10 years: cute owlbears, Young Afvebturer booklets, choose your own adventure stufff..all very focused on the next generation who will play the game.
 

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