Sometime in 1997 I played my last D&D game. We were still playing AD&D first edition, as we had when we started about 13 years earlier. We had avoided 2nd edition as it just seemed like TSR was trying to sell us more books which we really didn’t need, and there didn’t seem to be enough improvements to justify the cost. Due to the events I related in a some previous posts, I stopped paying attention to what TSR was doing, and was unaware of what happened to company and the game for the next 20 years.
When I finally came back I was shocked to see it was now up to a fifth edition! I had heard references to the Edition Wars, but it seemed that a lot of the controversy was dying down. I had thought about just returning to first edition, since that is what I knew. That might have happened if all my D&D books hadn’t vanished in the intervening years. But since I had to start fresh, I decided to settle on 5th edition and started reading the rule books and listening to actual play podcasts.
I finally started playing the game in 2020 (thanks to the pandemic) and I have been pleased with 5th edition. It felt very familiar, the basics of the game were about the same, with a number of key fixes. When I played AD&D I remember thinking how some of the rules made no sense or that they were a bolted-on afterthought and I am glad to see most of those went away. I always thought the lack of a skill system was a problem, but the homebrew solutions I remember seeing were hopelesly complicated. Often in our games, we would just come up with some arbitrary number and roll a dice against it, but that never felt right. But I think the way 5th edition dealt with it was simple enough, but allowed most non-combat actions to be decided in a logical way.
All in all, I am really glad I missed the Edition Wars. Though I have been fascinated to learn about all this in retrospect, one of my favorites is The Editon Wars podcast Also the Plot Points Podcast has been reading the 1st edition DMG aloud and the commentary has shed a lot of light onto the weird corners of the original game.
I can see why people got so attached to their particular editions of the game, but if there is another Edition War, I may, once again, be AWOL. I plan to focus on getting together with my friends and playing the game. That’s what really matters.