One could probably write a book on the editions of D&D, how they differ, what defines a new edition. Blah blah blah. I’m not really interested in all that, and I know my lackadaisical attitude will probably turn some readers off. Here’s how I’m going to work the breakdown of D&D Editions for the purposes of this blog’s journey of adventure:
Basic D&D – I’m referring to the Basic, Expert, Companion, Master, & Immortals Boxed sets by Frank Mentzer, the ones compiled into the Rules Cyclopedia. There’s little enough difference between the boxed sets and the Rules Cyclopedia that I’ll probably run the game from the hardcover and leave the Player’s Handbooks from the sets available to my players. I’m not going to run Immortals anyway. If a player has the Moldvay books and wants to use those through level 14, I’ll allow it. Hell, back in the day, we freely mixed material from D&D and AD&D 1st edition with no conversion and didn’t encounter anything game-breaking; it’s just not that rules-heavy.
AD&D – Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. 1st edition. This edition was still coming out when I started gaming. I think the Monster Manual II was the newest book available; certainly it was one of the first books I bought with my meager allowance.
AD&D 2E – Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition. I’m debating whether or not it is sufficiently different, mechanically, from AD&D 1E to make it worthwhile running the same adventure under both system. The materials were pretty much interchangeable, and in fact, that is exactly what we did. I don’t recall anyone I ever gamed with taking the effort to update 1st edition adventures to run them under 2nd edition, except to beef up the monster stats.
D&D 3.X – Third edition Dungeons & Dragons produced by Wizards of the Coast. Running the same thing for 3rd edition and 3.5 would be silly since, while there are differences, they aren’t that significant. Besides, I ditched most of my 3rd edition books about a year after 3.5 came out.
Pathfinder – Paizo Publishing’s update of the D&D 3.5 rules. Around the circles I hang out in, this is sometimes referred to as 3.75. In fact, I’m going to go out on a limb and annoy some people: I’m using Pathfinder instead of D&D 3.X for this blog. Running the same adventure under each of those rules sets would get monumentally boring and probably incite me to hang up the DM Screen for good. Besides, I ditched most of my 3.5 books once I had the three main Pathfinder Core Books.
D&D 4E – The current version of Dungeons & Dragons produced by Wizards of the Coast. I appreciate the ease of prepping games under this system, but it is my least favorite. I don’t hate the game, I just prefer something else. If you like it, that’s fantastic.
Truth be told: my favorite editions of D&D are AD&D 2nd Edition and what I call “Basic D&D.” So, call me a grognard, or call me a fool. But if you hate on me for my preferences, I just won’t approve your comments.
Once I’ve run through all these editions, I might run some bonus games with the same adventures using alternate fantasy RPG systems, like HackMaster Basic, AGE (DragonAge), Arcana Evolved, etc. But that’s far off in the future.