Many editions - many faces - same game?
Back in the early 1970's, the phrase Roleplaying was not a known concept. However, while playing a war game called Chainmail, two young visionaries, Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax, wondered why there were no rules for the generals and the heors that led their armies. As such they began to develop rules and guidelines for the heroes, that developed into the first Dungeon and Dragons Rules.
Since then the rules and the game has gone through many different guises. An advanced set of rules gave unprecedented realism . However these were badly laid out and many supporting books were published that added to the confusion. Towards the end of the eighties new worlds and new adventures were released. Dragonlance novels and adventures and the first of the Forgotten Realms sets came to the fore. Then a second edition was published, that radically revised the rules. This second edtion was supported with the release of new core worlds and bpxed sets. The Forgotten Realms became the cornerstone of the D&D universe. However Ravenloft, Planescape, Dark Sun, were also released to give more choices to DM's and players. The quality of the writing was never better and the amount of material released kept even the more ardent collector fulfilled.
However with internal politics, bad managment and financial constraints Gary Gygax left TSR. Soon a third edition hit the shelves and the rules were agin fully revised. However this revision was rushed through and a lack of playtesting soon showed. Wizards of the Coast took over the mantle and TSR ceased to exist. By late 1990's 3.5 was in the stores that tried to correct the damage wrought by 3.0. Though still with it's faults, 3.5 was the system of choice for most and D&D remained at the top of the tree.
However by 2004, the open game licence that accompanied third edition was causing alarm at Wizards of the Copast. Too many companies were releasing unsanctioned products of varying quality and no money was coming into the company. This meant that Hasbro were close to ending the D&D product line. The answer was to release a new edition that did not have the open licence. Thus the most contentious Fourth Edition was born.
Fourth Edition had it's hand in the vision of WOTC to move to a more card orientated game like their successful Magic Game. Also elements of the successful online RPGs like World of Warcraft were used to build the core characters. Finally the whole system relied on the use of miniatures and powers required floor plans to be used. This moved the game away from the game of the imagination and alienated many of the older players.
Now in 2013, the fourth edition venture has ended. The company is releasing a new edition (Next) but using fans' feedback and play-testing. Where will the journey lead us next?????
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