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

Left D&D in about 1983, as it became apparent that it was a badly written and poorly conceived game which didn't deliver interesting or dramatic fantasy. By that stage there were excellent alternatives, and more coming all the time - Runequest, Call of Cthulhu and Pendragon were mainstays as both player and GM, but with many others played and run. Didn't ever return - 4e was an interlude for my friends. D&D hasn't been a game which commands attention among anyone I know since AD&D.
 

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Marc Radle

Legend
I started playing D&D as a kid in the mid to late 70’s – good ol’ First Edition AD&D! We also played many other RPGs back then … Marvel Superheroes, Champions, Elfquest, FASA's Star Trek, Star Frontiers, the list goes on … but it always came back to AD&D for us!

I kind of faded out of gaming around the time 2nd Edition came out - mainly because most of my gaming friends turned into grown ups when I wasn't looking and moved away but also because 2nd Edition just didn't quite do it for me (although I did play it a little and there were aspects that I did like).

Third edition really pulled me back in though and was definately my game of choice.

4th edition was not for me though, so I made the switch to Pathfinder and played that exclusively for a decade.

5th edition very much was for me though, and I’ve been playing it pretty much since it was released.

I’ll be switching to a different, but 5E compatible game soon of course, but that’s not the point of this thread :)
 

Longspeak

Adventurer
I discovered other games besides D&D in high school. Mid-Late 80s. The Fantasy Trip, Villains and Vigilantes, Chill. TMNT. Star Wars. Paranoia. MERP.

But I kept playing D&D. Running it, too, more often than the others.

Discovered but didn't really play (like, one or two sessions, if that) several other games through the early 90s. Cyberpunk. Shadowrun. Fringeworthy. I was buying lots of new things to check out. Dragonquest. Man, Myth & Magic. GURPS.

It was the early 90s when that exploration led me to experiment a lot harder with other games. By then I wasn't playing D&D every week. I was playing Heroes Unlimited, The Fantasy Trip, Chill, and sometimes D&D.

I was also writing reviews around then, so I played a LOT of games as part of reviewing them. Legacy: War of Ages. Feng Shui. Attack of the Humans. Nephilim. Immortal: The Invisible War. Deadlands. The Whispering Vault. Theatrix.

Then... 1995, I think. I got a copy of Everway to review. I think I've shared that story before, but the TL;DR here is that's when I stopped playing D&D and pretty much anything else.

For the next 20+ years I played Everway and a series of other new games. Didn't come back to D&D until 2018. I was invited to a D&D game for a birthday, and enjoyed the familiar but new feel of 5e.

Been playing/running mostly D&D since then. I've said before, I'm no purist. I don't slavishly love D&D. But I do slavishly love getting to run games. So... D&D. The game people play. That's what brought me back. Getting to play instead of spending weeks trying to get something together.
 

pemerton

Legend
Left D&D in about 1983, as it became apparent that it was a badly written and poorly conceived game which didn't deliver interesting or dramatic fantasy. By that stage there were excellent alternatives, and more coming all the time - Runequest, Call of Cthulhu and Pendragon were mainstays as both player and GM, but with many others played and run. Didn't ever return - 4e was an interlude for my friends. D&D hasn't been a game which commands attention among anyone I know since AD&D.
I played B/X and AD&D near-exclusively from 1982 until very early 1990. (I also played a bit of Classic Traveller in that time, but didn't really get it and couldn't make it work well.)

In 1990 I discovered Rolemaster, and that was my principal RPG until the end of 2008. I did play a bit of AD&D 2nd ed in that time (but GMed only a handful of sessions) and bits and pieces of BRP systems (RQ, Pendragon, CoC, Stormbringer, Elric).

For me, RM and BRP has a type of crispness and "power" of fiction that D&D just couldn't rival.

I paid attention as 4e D&D was being hyped, and it seemed to me a very appealing version of the game. So from 2009 to 2016 or so I played 4e near-exclusively. Since then I've played the occasional session of 4e D&D, a handful of sessions of "classic" D&D (either AD&D or Basic), but mostly other systems: the mains one have been Classic Traveller, Prince Valiant, MHRP/Cortex+ Heroic, Burning Wheel, and Torchbearer 2e.

I've not played any 5e D&D and don't see that changing. The last time I did some RPGing with people whose main game is 5e D&D, I ran them through a session of In A Wicked Age.
 

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
5e. Because I felt continuously excluded, and felt that my preferences as a player were actively mocked, sidelined, or opposed.

I mostly played 4e, Shadowrun, and 13A, with some Lords of Creation (forum god/divinity RP) in there.

I came back because I literally couldn't find games to play that weren't PF (which I'd burnt out on) or 5e. I tried, very hard, to find a game I wanted to play more.
 

Back in the early 80s it felt like D&D was just one RPG amongst many, so I played a lot of different RPGs - D&D, AD&D, Runequest, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying, Gamma World, CoC, Traveller, Golden Heroes etc. The last two, I played the most.

Later on, through the 90s, I played Traveller, FASA Star Trek RPG, and Star Wars D6. Not really interested in keeping up with whatever was current in D&D, and prefer SF to fantasy in any case. CRPGs like Baldur's Gate were my only contact with D&D.

I play D&D now because I like the 5e rules. They hit the right balance of simplicity/complexity for me. I wouldn't say I left and came back, because I was never fully committed in the first place!
 

Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
I started playing D&D in high school with 2nd Edition in 1993. Played intermittently after graduation until 2008 or so; 4e wasn't really my jam and I had other stuff going on. I played Pathfinder at a local Pathfinder Society game here and there in the meantime.

I picked up D&D again with 5th Ed playtest in 2012 and played intermittently until 2020 or so, when I discovered Dungeon Crawl Classics. I haven't really looked back, though I follow the news and my 10yo plays in a D&D game at his school.
 

5e. Because I felt continuously excluded, and felt that my preferences as a player were actively mocked, sidelined, or opposed.

I mostly played 4e, Shadowrun, and 13A, with some Lords of Creation (forum god/divinity RP) in there.

I came back because I literally couldn't find games to play that weren't PF (which I'd burnt out on) or 5e. I tried, very hard, to find a game I wanted to play more.
Since someone's gonna ask: have you looked into PF 2e yet? Because it's closer to 4e DnD than any other edition thereof. I suspect you have but you didn't mention it.

It's not as openly high-magic as 4e, which I do miss and also can't find people to play with, but it definitely scratches the "DnD but the rules are actually clear" itch beautifully.
 

I played B/X and AD&D near-exclusively from 1982 until very early 1990. (I also played a bit of Classic Traveller in that time, but didn't really get it and couldn't make it work well.)

In 1990 I discovered Rolemaster, and that was my principal RPG until the end of 2008. I did play a bit of AD&D 2nd ed in that time (but GMed only a handful of sessions) and bits and pieces of BRP systems (RQ, Pendragon, CoC, Stormbringer, Elric).

For me, RM and BRP has a type of crispness and "power" of fiction that D&D just couldn't rival.

We struggled to get Traveller to work in that era as well. Everyone could see it should be brilliant, and I would devour Andy Slack's White Dwarf column each month, but we couldn't quite get play to spark into life.

I think the problem for us was that sci-fi was defined by a range of brands - Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, the Stainless Steel Rat, Neuromancer, Blake 7, Doctor Who - and Traveller didn't give you those. Or Rogue Trooper, Strontium Dog, or ABC Warriors from 2000AD. It wasn't built from recognisable sci-fi. It was more like the computer game Elite - it did it's own thing, and you had to appreciate that thing for itself.

Like many, I was introduced to Rolemaster via the ICE Middle Earth game. The fact the full game was split into Arms Law and Spell Law and Household Tasks Law and so on was a barrier that put my group off. And like Traveller, I didn't really understand how to get all those books of tables to produce drama and action - or even what type of action I might aim to get.
 

JediSoth

Voice Over Artist & Author
The first time, I left D&D during the shift from 3.X to 4th edition. I stayed with Pathfinder for one campaign before realizing that I really WAS burned out on the 3.X/PF style of crunch. I gamed sporadically between the release of Pathfinder 1e and the release of D&D 5e. There were a lot of real-life issues that prevented me from gaming as much as I would have liked.

I always played other games in between D&D campaigns, mostly Star Wars (d6, then FFG), as well as a smattering of other games. I ran a lot of Paranoia 2nd Edition, Ghostbusters, and Star Wars d6 at conventions during this time as well.

I came back to D&D with the release of 5th edition, and while I play or run other games in between campaigns, I never "left" D&D during 5th edition's life cycle until... last winter, during the OGL debacle and the MtG Pinkerton incident. I'd been uneasy with some of WotC's business practices for a while and was dissatisfied with their hardcover adventures, in general, though I still enjoyed 5e. But, after the OGL debacle, I decided that I could no longer support WotC and while I could play D&D for YEARS without giving another penny to WotC/Hasbro, I and my group voted to switch to a different system: Pathfinder 2nd edition.

The choice of system to replace 5e mostly came about because we still play remotely and Pathfinder 2e largely fully supports Foundry VTT at no additional charge. As I had recently lost my job of 21 years, this low monetary barrier to online play appealed to me since I had been using Foundry already since around 2021.

I can run games that feel very much like what I ran with D&D using Pathfinder 2e, though I'm not entirely convinced that I enjoy the complexity of the system. I do find it easier to prep for than 5e, because the math seems to be tighter and more consistent. I could almost guarantee that my players' D&D characters would hit several levels about their weight, right up until I used a monster that didn't let them do that, and often, that would only show itself in actual game play.

But, as I get older, I find less to like in complex rules systems and tend to enjoy more rules light system better instead. Perhaps, this one campaign of Pathfinder 2e will be the only one and we'll choose to change systems for our fantasy game again. Perhaps, we'll return to D&D using just what I already own, with the understanding that neither I nor my wife will be spending any money on any WotC/Hasbro products for it. I had actually begun prep to run The Wild Beyond the Witchlight, including purchasing most of the minis for it, when it became clear we were NOT going to resume face-to-face play in the foreseeable future (several of my players have health issues which make it challenging in this post-COVID world to see gaming as an acceptable risk). Sure, I could run it online, but I can't use all those minis online.

I also feel very constrained by what I have available in Foundry. My group doesn't do well with theater of the mind, and I don't particularly care for the amount of data entry involved with systems that don't enjoy full support, so I always have to balance the workload. I also have to juggle the fact that my group is a mix of player styles that run from "Just let me kick down doors, stab some baddies, and roll some dice" to "Let's roleplay a shopping trip!" and several stops in between, so games with heavy player-based narrative controls don't work for enough of my group (and the fact that you don't actually need codified rules for straight role-playing) that I tend to shy away from them. I've been playing with largely the same folks for over a decade and I like for us all to agree when it comes to choosing a game for long-term play.

I think I could be happy using Savage Worlds instead of D&D, if we don't stick with PF2. But, there would have to be some go-to system on my shelf for fantasy games, and after 40 years of gaming, I know what I like and don't like about a lot of the options out there, and while I do find games like DCC (or other OSR options) fun occasionally, I don't like them enough to run extended campaigns. I LIKE D&D 5e, for the most part, and my choice to not play it is my boycott of WotC/Hasbro. There's really little else I can do to show my displeasure with the way they maintain their stewardship of the game. I'm just one person with one gaming group and no platform, so nothing I do will actually affect them, and can I only satisfiy my own conscience.
 

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