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D&D General When did you leave D&D? Why? For what game? And what brought you back?


I feel like it is fairly common for folks to decide they are "done with D&D" at some point (or multiple points!) and to leave for other games. It is also fairly common IMO for those same people to eventually come back to D&D.

So this thread is a place to talk about our experiences leaving D&D and returning it. This is not meant to just talk about now, but any time that it has happened to you and your group.

A note: the goal here is not to start edition wars or otherwise wallow in negativity. I am more interested in the kinds of circumstances and preferences that drive people to move out of and back into the active D&D playing community. Let's be honest and respectful and supportive.

Throughout my gaming career, the driving force that has pushed me out of D&D every few years has just been a frustration and exhaustion with D&Disms by and large -- the tropes, the expectations, the limitations and the rigidity of it all. I always seem to eventually get tired of dealing with D&D (in whatever form it is at the time) and try and find other games to run.

What usually brings me back is simply that it is a lot easier to find players. Eventually, those attempts to run other stuff often fail or collapse and I am stuck without a game to run. I get antsy to GM and after some failed attempts to get folks to commit to a non-D&D, I usually end up deciding to run D&D so I can fill a table. And it works every time.

What's extra frustrating is that I don't have any problems filling a non-D&D table at a con, but doing so for a regular game sometimes feels impossible.

Tell us about your journey in and out of D&D.

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For a long while I held a mindset not popular on r/rpg, which is hate for D&D because it crowds out room and space.

Then I got over that by realizing the rules are just one of many vehicles of expression and that for a table of friends, said rules become springboards, and it doesn't matter which rules you use so long as the people at the table are able to feel comfortable with such rules -- this comfortability itself being not just a result of the quality or ease of learning the rules, but how everyone's own unique brain interfaces with the information contained within.

And, making 5E classes is the most fun thing to design mechanically IMO. I have a lot of fun doing it. And all the mechanics I like from other games are pretty easy to port to 5E, it just takes effort and playtesting to streamline them so that they enhance the game, not make it feel clunky. So, being ultra-familiar with the 5E ruleset, I returned to it and began working on my upcoming book and have been happy ever since.

There are other games I play. I start a Spire campaign next Saturday. I'll be running Mythic Bastionland once I get the books. I've wrote and designed professionally for other games too, like Aether Nexus and Scion, but in the end, my own version of 5E is the game I prefer. It's the one that is the most stimulating for me to design player-facing content for, and one that I find is remarkably blank as a cavans yet comes with enough lines that I'm not totally starting from scratch.

I do not like the 2014 classes though. Fortunately, not only do I enjoy making new classes but there are many 3rd party and homebrew options out there that satisfy my needs. I also don't like how much effort it takes to design a 5E monster, but I've come to enjoy designing them in a maximalist way. Its all a work in progress.


4e made me move to PF1 and Star Wars Saga Edition. I tend to play other systems at cons for one shots. I did play ina long term Vaesen game and enjoyed it although I did it because that was the one being run by a friend.

The big reason I stopped playing was having my kids. I had zero time to play and did not get back to it until they were older.


For me it was simple logistics. After I graduated from college I moved to a relatively small city and there simply weren't any game stores, much less games. This was back in the dark ages when there was no internet, no organized play in the area, and D&D was still something to be, if not ashamed of, something you didn't necessarily want to advertise. That, and I wasn't confident enough in my DMing abilities to run a game.

I eventually moved and heard some friends were starting a game and I've been playing ever since. It helps that I'm willing to DM of course and it's far easier to find people to play with now than it was at one time.


I got burned out by fantasy in general. Not just D&D, but 3.5 happened to be what we were playing at the time. By that time, i was playing more or less only D&D for four years and just had enough of it.

So i played Vampire Dark Ages, some new WoD ( as a werewolf and hunter), fair amount of 7th sea (man, i love that game, it's awesome). We had good Hunters campaign inspired by Supernatural, with some new people, it was fun, but it fizzled out due to real life stuff and 2/6 people bounced. Friend pitched new idea using Dawnforge, so back to 3.5 i went.

Second time, i just got feed up with ttrpgs in general, mostly cause we played so erratically due to, again, real life stuff ( DM got kid, i broke off engagement with my than fiance and relocated to another country cause of job, other friend had to study for his licensing exam while working full time). Playing long, character driven, story focused campaigns like we usually prefer, isn't really possible when you have 10-15 sessions in a year.

Again, after RL stuff settled down, we were at the bar and dm friend suggested that we try out some 2ed ad&d. So back into the trenches. Played that campaign for almost a year, then another friend joined in, dnd next playtest was out, switched from 2ed to Next, then to 5e, and here we are. Still playing 5e, still same group of dudes i play with since 2008ish.

In my group, d&d is no1 choice for only 1 friend, rest of us have different favourites, but d&d is firm no2 for all, so, that's what we play. 5e got us cause it streamlined 3ed, made it simple, had enough of 2ed vibe, and most of all, in this 10 years, player options in supplements are kept minimal and mostly reasonable.


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I've never completely left D&D - one regular group continued in D&D while the other group went D&D-adjacent with PF1.

In one group, we played 4e for several months after it came out, but the group ultimately, and pretty unanimously, decided it was just a drag. So that group went back to 3.5e.

The other group went from 3.5e to PF1 at the end of the Shackled City AP I was running. That group never showed ANY interest in 4e. So we completely avoided playing it while still staying current with a D&D-adjacent RPG.

While we've sprinkled plenty of non-D&D games into the mix, the 4e-era was the closest any of the groups I've been in have really left D&D (as the current D&D available from the publisher).

And what brought both groups back to D&D as a ongoing product was 5e. In my case, I watched the lead up surveys and designer posts and liked what I saw. I brought the playtest to one of my groups, we kicked the tires around, and we really liked it. It handled a lot of older play style assumptions pretty well and combat moved quickly, the latter particularly compared to either 3e or 4e.


I don't think I've ever consciously left D&D, though there have been times I haven't played it for a while - when I was at university Vampire was the game we played, there was a while we were stuck on Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, and there was a fairly long Star Wars holiday. We came back because the GM at the time (very often me) decided to start a new D&D campaign.

I'm now in the process of leaving D&D again - my current group seems to have run its course and I don't have time (or, if I'm honest, motivation) to seek out a new group. There's no telling when, or even if, I'll be back.


I am almost exclusively D&D for things I run.

I have played a number of other games (GURPS, WFRP, Palladium, Rolemaster, Star Frontiers, Shadowrun, Vampire the Masquerade, Mutants & Masterminds, Everquest RPG, Honey Heist, Kids on Bikes, homebrew systems, etc.), and I am up for most games as a player but D&D of various editions is my comfort zone for running a game

I have free formed rules less for my son when he was real young and for him and his friend the neighbor girl. It allowed doing so in situations like while on hikes through the woods and such with no dice or papers.

The one non-D&D I did was real close to D&D, Pathfinder 1e. I checked out and enjoyed the Beta rules and ran a game with them and really liked it and went to Pathfinder 1e once that came out with its SRD even though I liked a lot of the Beta more than the 1e final rules. I had been doing a lot of house rules in 3.5 and I really liked a lot of the Pathfinder 1e innovations like the skills changes over 3.5.

I did not pick up 4e when it came out, I was happy with 3.5 with my house rules, had a ton of material and cool modules I had not used yet, and kept playing it when there was no 4e SRD or free basic rules to check out the new edition. I kept playing and DMing 3.5 then adopted the fairly compatible Pathfinder1e stuff and DMd using a ton of my 3e and d20 stuff. It wasn't until later in 4e that they released the basic rules from H1 Keep on the Shadowfell and I joined a group that was playing 4e that I even checked out 4e stuff and bought the Christmas PH I&II special sale set and got into 4e as a player. When the group I played with burnt out on 4e I took up DMing with Pathfinder 1e and then we moved on to other games when others DMd. I DM'd a little for my son with 4e but all one shots, it was not until 5e that I returned to doing a full D&D campaign as a DM, and that was only after having gotten a starter set and a PH as gifts.


I always wanted to play D&D when I was ickle. Started with the old red box basic D&D, moved to 1st edition and then 2nd. Played second from launch through to 3rd. When 4th was announced I looked into it and I hated it. It felt like a massive step backwards and it was not for me or my group. We took up PF1 and have run it ever since but lately I have become disillusioned with the overly mechanical nature even though I like the crunch. Played a 5th edition campaign online with friends during the pandemic and I hated it, but I have come to see that maybe it's just online play that I don't enjoy.

Then recently I got into the Daggerheart playtest. Really enjoyed it to start with but I'm beginning to lose interest and D&D 5th has become more appealing. I've borrowed the three core books and I have started playing at my local FLGS and I'm enjoying it a lot more face to face.

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