Wednesday, June 13, 2012

What's in an Edition Anyway?

Dungeons & Dragons is working on it's 5th Edition, but that's not true, as it only started counting with AD&D.  So it is really around 7th or 8th Edition.  Pathfinder could easily be considered yet another edition.

Traveller is working on it's 5th (?)

RuneQuest is on it's 6th, although Legend is certainly a divergent path.

Tunnels & Trolls in on it's 7.5 Edition (and 8th is apparently in the works)

Castles and Crusades has "Printings".  I think the Player's Handbook is now on it's fifth.

World of Darkness is on it's... second, third?  someone, anyone?

Hero is on it's 6th.

GURPs is on it's 4th.

Savage Worlds is kinda on it's 2nd.

Rolemaster is on it's 3rd?  Maybe

Warhammer Fantasy Role Play has gone through 3.

I'm sure I missed a few.

With the exception of WFRP, has any RPG gone through the extensive system changed that D&D has?


  1. I typically consider the most important distinctions between versions within a game to be in compatibility between them.

    Most of those you list have decent compatibility between their respective "editions". Though I don't have a whole lot of experience with some.

    If you combine Savage Worlds with Deadlands you might be able to call that a decent sized overhaul.

    I believe it was Hero's 4th which was the rather different Fuzion system or some such.

    I typically consider DnD to be working on it's 4th Iteration, where my distinction of very easy compatibility most clearly comes in (everything from the LBBs up through AD&D2e + OldsSchool/Retroclones is the first iteration, 3.X + PF is second, 4e is 3rd, Next is the 4th iteration), and I see some hopeful signs (crossing fingers) that Next might actually restore some older version compat.

  2. With the exception of WFRP, has any RPG gone through the extensive system changed that D&D has?

    Sure--Traveller. Though I guess you can get fussy about what's an entirely new game under the same name vs. an edition, though honestly if you're going to get into those kind of distinctions I'd have some things to say about 4th ed. D&D perhaps fitting that definition as well.

  3. World of Darkness is on its 4th I believe - although I have not been in that loop for a long time. From what I have seen of the newest edition there are pretty major changes. Interestingly, they rewrote all of the fluff for the 4th edition.

  4. Hi,

    Apologies for the off-topic comment, but I couldn't find a contact email for you.

    A while ago I put out an ebook of my writing, called The New Death and others. It's mostly short stories, with some obvious gamer-interest material. For example I have a story inspired by OD&D elves, as well as poems which retell Robert E Howard's King Kull story The Mirrors of Tuzun Thune and HP Lovecraft's Under the Pyramids.

    I was wondering if you'd be interested in doing a review on your blog (either a normal book review, or a review of its suitability as gaming inspiration).

    If so, please let me know your email, and what file format is easiest for you, and I'll send you a free copy. You can email me (news@apolitical.info) or reply to this thread.

    You can download a sample from Smashwords:


    I'll also link to your review from my blog.


  5. Most games with somelife in them have seen a lot of editions, but I think only D&D has gone through changes so consistently radical that the game is effectively no longer the same system from one edition to the next. This is one of the reasons I can run AD&D, S&W, C&C, Pathfinder and 4E all at the same time, roughly....they are functionally different entities that just happen to share a similar "world space," and I get a distinctly different experience from running each one. And now, of course, WotC is about to to expand the number of distinct systems vying for control of that "worldspace" once more with 5E, which might be a bit more than my book shelf can hold, anymore.

  6. Its like year so-ands0, based upon an arbitrary starting point: It give people context for discussion.

    Off topic; I mention you and your blog in this video, but in a good way. http://thegrumpycelt.blogspot.com/2012/06/grumpy-rpg-reviews-request-and.html

  7. Call of Cthulhu is getting ready for a seventh edition, although it will likely be almost the same as the previous editions.

    Once could argue that RuneQuest underwent an extensive system change when it became HeroQuest, but it's a bit of a wonky distinction as it was two separate rulesets dealing with the same setting rather than a single game changing.

    Similarly, Dragonlance Fifth Age was quite a departure in terms of system from AD&D2, although you could still find the latter in there if you dug deep enough.

  8. The list would be a lot bigger if you counted those systems which got a d20/OGL version. Gamma World got a d20 and a 4th edition version.

  9. For White Wolf the complication is that there are branches that clearly influence later development but are not meant to be "trunk" versions (compare 0e, Basic, B/X, BECMI, AD&D, which makes 4 editions before the "first" edition).

    The Storyteller/Storytelling system history goes something like this, in very rough chronological order:

    Storyteller 1st Edition
    Storyteller 2nd Edition
    Storyteller Revised
    Storyteller Dark Ages (later-day)
    Aeon/Aberrant/Aeon (really, three different inter-related systems)
    Exalted 1st Edition
    Storytelling (new WoD) 1st Edition
    Exalted 2nd Edition

    So they're really on branch number 7 or 8 now, and that's without counting the minor variations within edition eras (e.g., between Vampire 1st ed and Mage 1st ed) and minor games with system idiosyncrasies like Geist and Street Fighter.


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