May 26, 2010 by deadorcs
This is one of those opinion/philosophy pieces, so if you’ve come to the blog looking for some crunch today, you might be disappointed.
However, ever diligent to try and provide something that passes for entertainment for my readers, I wanted to weigh in on the topic of what the gamer blogosphere likes to call, “The Edition Wars”.
Edition wars have been around for a long time. They’re not specific to the gaming hobby, but almost always result when a beloved brand or product goes through changes. Essentially, it boils down to one person not liking those changes and another person totally loving everything new that has just come out. Everyone else falls on the continuum in between.
For Dungeons & Dragons®, though, the edition wars really heated up with the release of the 4th edition of the game. Many things changed in the way the game was played (I’m not going over the details here, see just about every other gaming blog in existence for details on that), and it pissed a lot of people off. Just as others (probably me included), loved the new rules and have embraced them. A third group were those somewhere in between.
The arguments about which game is best can get heated, because these issues can be near and dear to our hearts. I’m okay with that, but I’ve lived too long to get upset because someone doesn’t like the way I choose to play a game. Conversely, I don’t get upset when you tell me that you want to play “X” either.
In order to avoid all the potential vitriol surrounding the edition wars, I developed a gaming philosophy related to Dungeons & Dragons. I’ve been playing the game for some 30 years, and have played every edition (and have acted as a Dungeon Master in all but one edition). I make no claims to the title of “Expert”. I don’t consider myself one. “Experienced” or “Well Traveled” are probably better.
So here’s my Dungeons & Dragons philosophy: I role-play like it’s 1st edition, built worlds like it’s 2nd edition, manage my game table like it’s 3rd edition, and I use the rules for the 4th edition.
Simple as that. Just in case that’s not clear, though, here’s a more detailed explanation.
1) “Role-play like it’s 1st Edition”. Everyone goes on and on about how the 1st edition and/or OD&D were the best for role-playing. Gygaz & Arneson wrote such an encyclopedic and esoteric set of rules that there were plenty of gaps on how certain things had to be played out. What are you left with doing? Well, role-playing, of course. It was the only real way to fill in the gaps. So when you play 4th edition. Role-play like your playing 1st edition.
2) “Build worlds like it’s 2nd Edition”. The second edition of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons saw an explosion of different campaign settings and worlds. Spelljammer, Dark Sun, & Planescape were just a few of the settings that expanded the AD&D universe. When you’re playing 4th edition, think back to those times and create your worlds like they did in the 2nd edition. Expand your horizons and don’t be afraid to break the mold.
3) “Manage your table like it’s 3rd Edition.” For this argument, I’m including the 3.5 edition as well. The 3rd edition of the game saw an increased emphasis on knowing what the battlefield looked like during an encounter. The use of miniatures was encouraged, and factors such as line of sight, area of effect, and terrain considerations all became pretty important. 4th edition maintains a great deal of that emphasis. Keep a good battle mat and some inexpensive counters or miniatures at the table and manage like you would in the 3rd edition.
4) “Use the rules for 4th edition”. The rules are tidy, easy to understand and (for the most part) fairly balanced. While hard core early edition fans will probably out right reject this statement, it’s my personal belief this is the tightest set of rules so far. It makes DMing much easier than previous editions, and I don’t waste a lot of my players time with complicated tables or maths. They’re my rules of choice.
Well kids, that’s my Edition War weigh in. Would love to hear your comments, regardless of what edition of Dungeons & Dragons you play.
Until next time…
Game excellently with one another.