General Discussion for D&D and its resurgence

Agreed on both points. Especially in 1st Ed, a quick game was no problem at all. 1 player1 games were far from ideal, but doable. Same for Traveller and BattleTech. In fact BattleTech a 1 player1 game worked fine.


1 as in 1 player and 1 ref.

No, that almost perfectly describes how I played D&D when I was 12, especially in the summer. Things like “narrative” and “inter-session continuity” just weren’t on our radar. We just wanted to roll dice, describe our totally sick monster kills, and get loot. “I’m bored. Wanna play D&D?” was a typical July afternoon, whether it was me and one other kid, or literally every single member of my pre-teen social circle.

And WotC kinda shot themselves in the foot, having a ad campaign which mostly showed have crappy the prior edition was. That was a really stupid marketing idea. To a lesser extent they have done this with 5e.

Of course, they have already announced a 6th edition. :roll_eyes:

Well, it did a little, originally it was a set of houserules simplifying the overly complex mess that 3.5 had gotten to. Then when the fans turned on 4e, they saw a market.

Note I started playing in 1974. 3 vol set.

The Pathfinder setting overlapped with the 3.5 era - the first three or so adventure paths used 3rd ed. rules, but set in Paizo’s world of Golarion. Pathfinder as a stand alone rule set came a little bit after the switch to 4th.

I started playing D&D about the time I learned to read. Most of my experience is with 2nd ed. I never played 3rd or 4th that I recall. I have played Pathfinder. I think the campaign I’m in now is a mix of Viking stuff, some homebrew and 5th.

I never got into other editions partly due to inertia/stubborness and partly not wanting to shell out the money for a whole new set of books.

I do miss the the thieves skills from 2nd edition.

I know 4e has its defenders, but it wasn’t even D&D. It was almost New Coke. So wrong that it paved the way for a D&D resurgence with 5e feeling a lot like 1e only fixed.

One complaint I have in 5e is the rogues feel a little devalued. They’re skill monkeys but they don’t seem to occupy a special place like 1e & 2e had them. A Grey Mouser type was much more vital to the early edition parties.

I don’t have all that much to offer regarding D&D as I only played it with any consistency in the 1st edition AD&D and even then quickly moved onto other games in different genres and mechanics, but while “D&D” is synonymous in the general public as a generic term for role-playing games, there is certainly a vast array of other systems, settings, and genres that have maintained more consistent popularity and whose players haven’t been jerked around by corporate shenanigans they way TSR/Wizards of the Coast/Hasbro has with AD&D players. None of these games has ever enjoyed the broad popularity of AD&D—the next closest is probably Call of Cthulhu, and even it is far more popular in East Asia than it has ever been in the United States or Europe—but they’ve often fed into videogame franchises and also served as an inspiration for television and movie screenwriters (I know at least three science fiction screenwriters who ran Traveller campaigns, and I swear that The Mandalorian is just Jon Favreau’s Star Wars: Edge of the Empire campaign with a multi-million dollar budget).

Although there has been a general resurgence in games across the board in the last couple of decades, I’m not sure it is just one thing that is behind it. Beyond the wider acceptance of ‘geek culture’ that has somehow made Dr. Who—a show that I’m pretty sure that I and I alone watched in high school on the local PBS station, and even then more to laugh at the corny monsters, awkward dialogue, and generally hammy acting than being under any illusion that it was good—a generally popular show watched and celebrated by millions of otherwise non-science-fiction fans. (Personally I can’t stand the ‘New Who’ because it misses on everything I enjoyed about the original even when David Tennant was playing the title role, but there you go.) It seems like boardgames got a boost from Euro-style games with worker placement, resource management, and cooperative mechanics while sci-fi films and television just started being produced with high enough production quality and indistinguishable-from-reality CGI that it no longer required a master’s degree in suspension of disbelief to watch it. High definition videogaming has certainly opened up the idea of spending hours obsessively playing a game, and I suspect tabletop RPGs have at least partially benefitted from that as well as the exposure of Critical Role and other online or stage RPG viewing channels (although I often have difficulty watching them, particularly when the players or GM gets overly cute about the roleplaying.)

There is also just the generally higher quality of roleplaying game texts and materials; back in the day, most games came in a cardboard box that quickly started tearing at the corners with the rules and other texts in center-stapled booklets that quickly became dog-eared, soiled, drink-stained, and eventually torn. At that time the hardbound TSR tomes were something extra-special that nobody else did, and while other game companies eventually followed suit (at least, in more premium options) the art was often lackluster and the copyediting left much to be desired, while mechanics become ever more complicated without really offering anything in terms of better gameplay or guidance on roleplaying. In fact, before I played Call of Cthulhu I had never experienced actual roleplaying; every game was some version of a dungeon crawl regardless of genre, and even many CoC players and Keepers attempted the hack & slash type of play with the fully predictable character mortality essentially making it impossible to complete even a full scenario without a total party kill much less survive a longer campaign.

To a certain extent, roleplaying games have emerged fully into improvisational acting rather than just exercises in tactical simulation with a narrative loosely tacked on, and I think part of the appeal is the moving away from mechanics completely driving gameplay and toward a more narrative-focused approach that appeals to a broader array of people and the creativity it inspires; it has certainly opened up new genres and new types of gameplay that do not involve having to kill monsters/aliens/supervillains and collect treasure. My favorite type of games have really become those that are actually hopeless (shades of Call of Cthulhu) and in which the game isn’t about defeating an opponent so much as trying to live out your best character arc before inevitable defeat. A game like Fiasco is all the more fun for the fact that you know that things are probably going to end badly for your character irrespective of what choices you make, and not having to keep track of abstract mechanisms like hit points or fatigue, or be limited by quantitative characteristics open up the opportunity to be as inventive as your creativity allows, which appeals to a lot of people who like the idea of roleplaying but aren’t into the math and mechanics.

I don’t have any particular opinions about D&D in general beyond that I’m not sure that any of the changes across various editions have fundamentally improved the game, and that an adherence to certain mechanics in general draws away from the experience of roleplaying versus the tactics of combat, trap-disarming, sneaking, et cetera. I personally like game systems that have some crunch to them because I don’t care for purely narrative storyplay that doesn’t have an element of random effects and “you could die at any time”, and I kind of feel like ‘5e’ D&D is sort for of the worst of both worlds in the sense that it is both heavy on mechanics and yet low on consequences, the likelihood of character death, and motivation for players to engage in actual roleplay but that is probably a minority opinion formed by years of playing and reading about systems that are intended to make character choices really count and are not focused on character survival above all or ‘fairness’ of the game world in not disadvantaging a character for unknowingly walking into a trap or bad situation. I do feel like a game company should offer and support a system of mechanics without trying to radically change it from edition to edition without much back-compatibility support in what gives every impression of being a cash grab, and should focus on offering good supplementary material that GMs and players can adopt or not without affecting the usability of the core mechanics, which is something WotC in particularly has not done well. Again, that is just my opinion and not really reflective of the mainstream, so take it as you will.


It’s not clear whether it’ll be “6th edition”, or a half-edition like 3.5. I think most folks are assuming the latter.

I’ve been hearing 5.5 quite often. It is expected to utilize a lot of the newest materials into the new system. I’ve seen semi-official announcements that 5.5e is coming in 2024. But neither 5.5 nor 6.0 is official yet.

Word is the the new rules will be backwards compatible to 5e. Which gives credence to the 5.5e nomenclature.

Josh, is that you? If not, then you weren’t the only high schooler tuning into Dr. Who in 1983/1984 on the local PBS…but among my friends, he was the only real fan. He insisted on watching alone, so nobody would interrupt him with questions about what’s going on.

I bet It will be a new set of players handbooks, etc. Source material will be okay, sure.

While I agree with this 100%, those are fightin’ words on some D&D forums. I didn’t start playing World of Warcraft until after I played a little 4th edition D&D, and I noticed immediately how much it reminded me of the TTRPG with it’s healers, DPS, tanks, and cool down abilities. The next time I played D&D, every time I used one of my powers, I imagined myself pressing a button on my keyboard.

I cut my teeth on AD&D 1st edition as a pre-teen back in the 80s, but really came into my own with 2nd edition in 1989 when I had a little more money to purchase my own books. All in all, I’ve been playing some verson of D&D off an on since 1987-88. The longest break for me was during 4th edition as I didn’t care for it at all. I played one campaign and didn’t return to D&D until 5th edition, which is actually my favorite edition.

Though I’ve found that D&D is moving in some directions I don’t personally care for. Many vocal members of the playerbase these days can’t stand the idea of things like ability score increases based on race, or, in many cases, the use of the word race at all. The corrent favor is to just allow PCs to choose their bonuses for whatever stat they want, alignment is pretty much completely irrelevant, and 5th edition shifted the balance of survivability in favor of the PC to the extent that most combat holds no tension. Despite some of my criticisms, I still think 5th edition is the best edition so far.

And I don’t mean to get sour grapes here. I’m in my mid-40s, and I am not D&D’s primary demographic. I espect the game to change based on the needs of the bulk of the players who are buying those books. Even if D&D moves in a direction I don’t care for, I’m glad it’s still around and people are still playing it after almost 50 years.

Please note, we used the term “tank” back in OD&D games, where the only computer game was Pong. :stuck_out_tongue:

One of our DMs was a top programmer, who bought the full DM access package, and he ran a DAMN good 4th ed game.

But as I have always said- it ain’t the edition, it is the DM and players who make the game fun.

I concur. We played through 16th level or so in one of those big published hardbound campaigns. One player asked for a heroic death for his PC, and got it, (he had a new concept he liked) and oddly that same player had his PC hit hard, dropped to 0 HP AND dropped into lava. Only actual unplanned death. (Okay we used revivify once or twice, sure). We don’t like the “every race gets +2 and +1” but we three DM shave agreed that it can be requested if a great concept is also forthcoming. (Tortle Chronomancer anyway? ) But it is still fun.

We used it in the 80s as well, in addition to brick, but the tank was just a big beefy fighter type who could soak up damage and dish it out. It wasn’t a character specifically designed to get punched in the face while the strikers (DPS) remained safe.

I’m currently playing an Eberron campaign, and my Bard died in the very first session. On the flip side, I got frustrated when running my first 5e campaign and my group ended up dominating an encounter with an ancient red dragon. I threw up my hands and said, “%#$% it, we’re done. Let’s play somerthing else.”

Same here, though for me, it was Star Wars: The Old Republic. One of the things I came to realize, once I actually started playing an MMO, was how 4E tried to mimic MMOs with things like the distinct character roles, powers that had cooldowns, buffs and debuffs that were on timers, aggro management, etc. The difference was, in an MMO, the game engine keeps track of all of those, and manages when each power/effect recharges/ends/etc. 4E required the players to keep track of them, and it wound up becoming extremely tactical and mental-bandwidth-consuming.

For a moment, I’d like to discuss the changing demographics of gamers. When I started back in the 80s, I observed very few women and African Americans were rare as hen’s teeth. i.e. I don’t think I ever saw a black person at the game store until Magic the Gathering started gaining popularity. Despite playing RPGs since 1987-88, I didn’t have any black players sitting at my table until 2017, and in another oddity the majority of the players were gay. Something like that would have been unheard for me through the 1990s. While the local game store is still overwhelmingly made up of white adolescent males, it’s not unusual to see women play and even seeing black players is not a particularly notable occasion.

For a moment, let’s talk about Cat Piss Man. For those of you who might not know, CPM was a ubiqious presence at many game stores/events/conventions. This was a dude who was most commonly overweight, likely had a beard, often had little to no social graces, and smelled as if both bathing and changing clothes were foreign concepts. A lot of times their nickname was Ogre, or perhaps that’s what their mothers named them, I’m not sure. CPM has largely disappeared from gaming spaces. I can’t pinpoint when this occurred, but it happened. I can’t remember the last time I ran into CPM. (CPM shouldn’t be confused with convention attendees who are stinky. CPM is like that all the time, not just at conventions.)

My wife used to avoid goign into game stores, in part, because they smelled funky (see CPM above), and she used to make fun of the amount of asscracks that were visible. Asscracks have all but disappeared in gaming spaces. My theory is that this happened more than a decade ago when someone posted some shaming photos on the internet of asscracks at a Magic the Gathering tournament. But, for whatever reason, I no longer see a lot of asscracks at the game store these days.

Your issues track pretty close to my own views and I doubt I’ll be investing in any more books. Of course, I have enough materials for a lifetime but I haven’t found myself interested in (much less excited by) a new 5e book since probably Xanathar’s. I wound up buying a few anyway such as Tasha’s because it was cheap on sale and I figured I should have just to be able to access the rules but… meh.

But, also like you, I’m happy that people are still playing and I’m not mad or upset about it. Just recognize that it’s probably time for me to move onto other systems if I want stuff that’ll perk my ears.

I haven’t run into CPM. A local game store does/did (been a while) have the “Please practice basic hygiene if you’re going to play here” sign but they also hosted Pokemon and Magic: the Gathering so had multiple routes for stinky people to enter.

When I was playing Adventurer’s League, we did have one middle aged man who would try to “educate” the women players or say things like “Hmm… I see you painted your mini’s armor this green shade. I guess that could work if it was Mithral armor but, at Tier 1, I don’t see…”. He got shuffled to tables with no women players and I think got a talking to and stopped showing up. For the most part, people were cool and “normal” though and not the stereotypical nerd horror shows.

Our original group had 3 women, and one PoC, a couple mixed races and a bunch of others. Back in the late 70’s.

So is eBay the best place to sell old gaming books?
I need to light a fire under my butt and sell my 2e books and maybe some of my 1e ones. Also Star Trek RPG game

First of all, I’d like to say that these kids today annoy me when they abbreviate it as DnD instead of D&D.

I started playing sometime around 1977-1979 when a friend of mine introduced the game to us. He happened to be at a small bookstore where the had the stuff and he just stood there and started reading the books until he persuaded his parents to start buying them.

We played AD&D (first edition), skipping over Basic, which seemed too limited to us. We played that for many years, through junior high. By the time high school came around, we weren’t playing it as much and all our gaming groups had kind of fractured for various reasons–different people became interested in different things, and many of our D&D friends weren’t really friends anyway, and we didn’t like hanging out with them.

During these years, we also tried some other games–TSR’s Top Secret, Boot Hill, and Gamma World, Traveller … but nothing else really stuck, mostly becasue the games weren’t as fully developed. Traveller was a particular problem, because it seemed to be mostly math. And so much depended on random stuff during character generation that it was really hard to create a character that you wanted to play, or that matched the archetype you had in mind.

We also picked up copies of Lord of the Rings, and Star Trek the RPG, and DC Heroes, but mostly just for reading. I knew friends who played Star Fleet Battles. My brother got into Steve Jackson’s Car Wars.

So high school and a first couple of years of college were D&D free–too much other stuff was going on. But in the last half of college, I reconnected with a buddy, who was in a gaming group. That group played mostly Torg, which was a very interesting game that included almost every genre of TTRPGs in one setting–sword and sorcery fantasy, horror, cyberpunk, etc. That game seems to have disappeared.

I played with them occasionally, but I didn’t really like those guys except for the friend who got me into the group (we are still close friends, going on 40 years now).

After I finished college, I moved out of town and lost touch with D&D for another couple of years until I fell into another D&D group with a group of people who were about 10 years older than I. That was an interesting situation, because these were all rural, working class, white guys, and that was a different situation for me.

We played AD&D 2d ed. I got a bunch of the books but I never really got the full hang of the system. They had a regular Thursday night game going from I think their high school years until their 50s. I moved away after a couple of years, but I kept loosely in touch until the early Facebook years when our cultural differences started to become more and more prominent.

During this time, I also played a little Champions.

After starting law school, I started missing my gaming days and I put up a note in the local comic book shop looking for a group. That got me an introduction to a D.M. whose personality so horrified me that I gave up on that idea for a while.

And then things like jobs, families, and stuff happened, so for the next 30 years or so there was no gaming, although I usually had my books close by.

The first season of Stranger Things definitely reminded me and my brother how much we liked playing. At some point, my neice expressed interest in playing D&D, so my brother got some 5th ed. stuff and learned to become a D.M. He ran a game for his daughter for a while, but she and her friends lost interest after a few sessions.

So we were pretty much all set when the pandemic hit. The last few years have been a disaster for me in a lot of ways, but we discovered that people were gaming on Discord and Roll20. We fell into one group, which my brother has stuck with.

I didn’t like the style of play much, so my brother volunteered to be the D.M. for a new group, and we started playing online. Eventually, after we all got vaccinated, we started meeting in person again. I am now playing weekly. My brother is playing twice weekly (in person)–it’s funny, I’ve always been nerdier than him. And one of the guys in our group plays like three times a week.

We are all aware of Critical Role, but we aren’t really into it that much. We do watch some D&D stuff on YouTube for pointers or laughs though.

During the Pandemic, I also joined a Champions group on Zoom. But they met for like one eight hour session once a month and I couldn’t handle sitting in front of my computer for eight hours. Also, Champions–too many dice and too much arithmetic. I did come up with a character I really liked though.

Well, for me and my friends when we were 12 was that (1) there are no girls who want to be wooed by us (or vice versa), and (2) riding bikes was just a means of transportation to get to your exciting D&D session.

This is not at all my experience. Indeed, if you take a loo at the original structure of the Gygax-designed game, it was the D.M.'s job to create a setting for the players to play in.

The players could make any decision or take any action they wanted. It was the D.M’s job to be able to create encounters on the fly, either based on the ethos of the setting, or based on random encounter tables.

The D.M. wasn’t meant to write an entire story from start to finish and guide the players thorugh that. If you wanted that, you could buy pre-written modules, but that was considered a crutch by the people I learned to play from.

So, you very much could do it on the fly, and you could do it with one player or with only a portion of a party. You would just do a story in which the other players weren’t around.

Also, I vaguely recall something by Gygax that said that the game could be played by up to forty players. That didn’t mean all those people would be playing once in an ongoing party.

That meant that forty different players could have characters existing in that world, and whoever happened to show up for the session that day could just appear “at the tavern/inn” and start having encounters with whoever was there.