WotC is right to avoid the word "edition."

Iosue

Hero
This something I just have to get off my chest after watching too many D&D youtubers smugly saying, "WotC says it's not 6th Edition, but actually..."

In the RPG context, and particularly the D&D context, the word "edition" is a skunked term. It's skunking began with TSR's pretty drastic overhaul of the game in 1989, which probably should have been called something like "Revised Advanced Dungeons & Dragons", but no one knew at the time how tortured the term "edition" would become. WotC's initial strategy of planned obsolescence turned the word inside out. I can give them "3rd Edition", even though it was a good time to make a clean break with the "edition" terminology altogether. But "3.5" was a lexical abomination. By any normal definition of the term, 3.5 was really 4th Edition, but by combining the "edition" word with "version" numbers, the understanding of what an edition was became more and more muddied. Then 4th Edition came out, and the term was truly skunked. An edition was an entirely new game, not compatible with the one that came before it, an idea only reinforced with 5th Edition.

So now we come to the latest revision of the game. And there's confusion. No longer does "edition" have its straightforward publishing meaning of a new edit of an existing work; now it means "new ruleset." But does backwards compatibility mean it is 5.5? Is it 6th Edition? This by itself would be plenty of justification for abandoning the term "edition," but then there's the additional baggage the term brings from the "Edition Wars." Some of that baggage has been mitigated thanks to WotC releasing 5e and largely leaving it alone for eight years. But there's no benefit to bringing all of it back by grandly proclaiming "6th edition!"

Good-bye and good riddance to "edition" as some nebulous term of game design that only ever had any meaning as marketing pablum in the first place.
 

log in or register to remove this ad


Parmandur

Book-Friend
This something I just have to get off my chest after watching too many D&D youtubers smugly saying, "WotC says it's not 6th Edition, but actually..."

In the RPG context, and particularly the D&D context, the word "edition" is a skunked term. It's skunking began with TSR's pretty drastic overhaul of the game in 1989, which probably should have been called something like "Revised Advanced Dungeons & Dragons", but no one knew at the time how tortured the term "edition" would become. WotC's initial strategy of planned obsolescence turned the word inside out. I can give them "3rd Edition", even though it was a good time to make a clean break with the "edition" terminology altogether. But "3.5" was a lexical abomination. By any normal definition of the term, 3.5 was really 4th Edition, but by combining the "edition" word with "version" numbers, the understanding of what an edition was became more and more muddied. Then 4th Edition came out, and the term was truly skunked. An edition was an entirely new game, not compatible with the one that came before it, an idea only reinforced with 5th Edition.

So now we come to the latest revision of the game. And there's confusion. No longer does "edition" have its straightforward publishing meaning of a new edit of an existing work; now it means "new ruleset." But does backwards compatibility mean it is 5.5? Is it 6th Edition? This by itself would be plenty of justification for abandoning the term "edition," but then there's the additional baggage the term brings from the "Edition Wars." Some of that baggage has been mitigated thanks to WotC releasing 5e and largely leaving it alone for eight years. But there's no benefit to bringing all of it back by grandly proclaiming "6th edition!"

Good-bye and good riddance to "edition" as some nebulous term of game design that only ever had any meaning as marketing pablum in the first place.
Absolutely to all of this. In any meaningful usage of the word, this is a new typical edition being worked on. But not a new game, which is what WotC tried to make the word mean (not that theybwrre consistent!). In reasonable terms, this is approximately the 15th Edition of D&D, including OD&D, the BD&D typical editions, 3.5, and 4E Essentials as what they are in publishing terms: distinct typical editions.
 


Sir Brennen

Legend
In D&D terms this is a new edition.

If you want use version that’s fine too. This in a new set of rules.
But it's not an entirely new set of rules, just modifications of an existing one, with the intention of backwards compatibility.

3E, 4E and 5E were entirely new sets of rules compared to their predecessors. So, should the term "edition" be equally applied to those instances as well as the final 2024 rules?
 





Parmandur

Book-Friend
[You quoted me before I finished my post. My cat literally stepped on the keyboard and submitted before I was ready 😂]

Would you call reprints of a book that contains errata a new edition then?
No, that's a new printing: errata are changes applied to an established type-set when a new printing is issued. When a new type-set is made, that's a new edition. Which is why "3.5" was disingenuous corporate BS, it was a new type-set that was substantially rewritten and not the same type-set with minor corrections, that is, a new edition in normal publishing parlance.
 





MockingBird

Adventurer
Calling it a new edition could scare some people, I can see why they would want to avoid it. They don't want to fracture the player base and by looking at the playtest I'm afraid they may fracture it by some fraction (less than half). They had me sold with "compatability" but I'm starting to have my doubts.
 

Sir Brennen

Legend
No, that's a new printing: errata are changes applied to an established type-set when a new printing is issued. When a new type-set is made, that's a new edition. Which is why "3.5" was disingenuous corporate BS, it was a new type-set that was substantially rewritten and not the same type-set with minor corrections, that is, a new edition in normal publishing parlance.
And I guess that's where the problem lies. Are we talking about "normal publishing parlance" or regarding changes in base rule sets?
 

FitzTheRuke

Legend
We could probably accept that this will be the (IIRC) 16th edition of D&D, but not that big of a change to the game this time. It might be changes that you don't want, and that's okay! But how "big" it is is hardly worth arguing about (in particular because I don't think anyone, even the designers, know exactly how "big" it will be yet.

I think it depends on what they can get us to (seemingly) accept. Sure, they have a plan about how big they want it to be. The playtest will not make the game for them. But anything that the community overall really cries foul about will be dropped for the extant 5e version of the rule. It's the safe way to go.

Of course, sometimes the community will cry foul about a change that would be really good for the game, but we'll have to live with that (again).
 

Oofta

Legend
I'm probably going to approach everything as an optional rule, and use what parts and pieces I want. For example most half-anything are probably still going to be half orc* or half elf. Others will probably be allowed if people really want them. On the other hand I don't see adding ardlings that have animal heads any time soon.

Taking a wait-and-see stand on what the final rules are and what other changes they make. I don't really have a problem moving stat bumps to background for example since I already let people use Tasha's.

So is it a new edition? Time will tell, at most it sounds like (in software terms) 5.1 or 5.5 not 6.

*most half orcs have a half orc parent, still debating if I'll change orcs from a race that is effectively manufactured similar to the clones in Star Wars.
 


Parmandur

Book-Friend
And I guess that's where the problem lies. Are we talking about "normal publishing parlance" or regarding changes in base rule sets?
TSR and WotC used the word to mean several different things over the years. Hence why they don't want to confuse people with what was made into an ambiguous term.
 

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top