348 The Thing About RPG Editions

Thing about rpg editions is we look back at older editions and find things familiar, that we miss. Newer editions could bring ingenuity, a certain pragmatism or mechanics that make better sense.


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@sean The link appears to be inop. Apologies if you already knew that and this is a placeholder or something.


So you’re saying multiple editions are good, not inherently bad…

I agree.

One thing worth noting is that “editions” is a pretty amorphous term in RPGs. In the world of textbooks, for instance, editions are just newer prints with corrected errors and possibly a new or replaced chapter. In RPGs, they often mean dramatic changes in game mechanics, designers, and so on. The confusion is probably caused by D&D, more than any other RPG. There are a number of RPG publishers, in contrast to D&D, that make only subtle changes between editions. One might even call them reprints instead of editions. Dungeon Crawl Classics basically prints the same core text with new covers with each “edition.” Call of Cthulhu, up through the 6th edition, largely made small corrections without fundamentally changing the system.

But even with reprints what your are saying is true. Sometimes it is the art, new or old, that evokes a response from us. For example, a new printing with more inclusive art and language, even if nothing else changes, can make a dramatic difference for some readers and players of the game. Art, fictional inserts, subsystems that get added or removed, scope (CoC went to a more whole world approach rather than just weird New England between 3rd and 4th), and even the format can be the thing that makes an old or new edition desirable.


It has not dropped to public yet. It will at 12:05pm CT today. :slight_smile:

Patrons already have it.

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Regarding how the industry uses the term ‘editions’, yes, they muddy the waters. I mean, is D&D 5e the same game as 3/3.5, of course not, but instead of changing the name - brand suicide, they use edition as a moniker.

Of course, we all know this.


You say Patrons already have it, but I’m so lazy I just wait for it to show up in my podcatcher instead of taking advantage of my privilege. :slight_smile: This is to say that nothing I said above is a criticism of the episode, as I haven’t heard it yet.


Rayotus, you can set your podcather to get the Patreon release. If you care, you may not.

Editions, I’ve heard people complain about 2e not being compatible with 3e with 4e with 5e. I understand the gripe, it’s a thing I’ve never had issue with, but I get the complaint as it does seem in most other fields it’s the same basic book with small changes, like Ray Otus pointed out. Some games do just that, Castles and Crusades is still working out their typos on the ?8th? printing.

I think a lot in the episode ties together. I was going to say, regarding Star Wars and Star Trek having space to game in and other places don’t. I would make the case, even in the limited screen run, Firefly has space to play. But then later they fella said you don’t need the IP, you can just use the themes and I think that’s absolutely true. You could just use the wild west space theme and not worry about laying over the Firefly universe.

Regarding people being mad about new systems replacing their old system. I absolutely agree, if you want the new shiny, try the new shiny. If you like the old work horse, run with that. Third ed came out, I read it, I didn’t like it, and my group continued to run 2e then HackMaster (which was essentially 2e) until about 2016 or so. And to the point of people moving on, I ended up with a lot of 1e/2e stuff we kept using when other friends moved on to 3e. Which is another thing I never understood… people that threw a fit when the Star Wars Expanded Universe was removed from canon. People were mad, that imaginary history never happened. It NEVER happened. And you can STILL enjoy your Zahn books. They have always been stories, they still are. Read, enjoy relax.

And the last point, I’ve always told people to run what they want to play. Many GMs complain they don’t want to run 5e, but it’s what the players want to run. As you all say, the GM is also a player. If the GM wants to run Star Wars, but the players want to play 5e, well, one of the players better learn how to run 5e. I’m guessing for the last 20 years HackMaster probably wasn’t all my players first choice, but it’s what I wanted to run.



Oh… and if Brett runs OSRIC Avalon at Gamehole… dibs on a seat.

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Hahaha! Oh, my side hurts. (Are they really? I haven’t noticed much improvement.)

Anyway, I love Castles & Crusades, but seriously, this goes right there. :slight_smile:


@Fafhrd – loved hearing you talk about AJ (or “Bacon” as I think of him). Tell him I said hi. Having a child who is a smart opponent/player for games is a joy, I can tell you. My kids are 17 and 22. I started them on games early and now, not only are they are both fun to play with, they totally keep me on my toes. My oldest … well, I practically have to mess with him in order to beat him, and that doesn’t even work a lot of the time. Dude is smart like I was smart at his age (focused, quick, etc.). I’m a step slower now, but happy to lose to my kids. :slight_smile:


I’ve been personally struggling with a new edition of my first original RPG for years. Ten years ago, I squeaked out my first game about professional assassins called Killshot. It did what I wanted to do at the time and then I came up with a “faster, better” way to clean up the system and tried launching a second edition the year after the game’s initial release. It did not fund. Too soon.

Every year, I come back to a new idea for Killshot’s second edition. A new system or any variety of mechanical alterations. Maybe a PbtA version, could it work with the current d20 system, and on and on. Nothing clicked and my disdain for how the original version plays is locked - I love the idea of the game, but no longer appreciate how it’s played.

What’s clicked has been a revised approach to what the game’s about. In the first edition, it was just about completing jobs. Kill the target, check to see how many Evidence Points you collected and determine if the cops are onto you, rinse, lather, repeat. It didn’t really provide a framework for campaign play.

The current title for this next edition is Killshot Syndicate. You are a low-ranking member of a crime syndicate tasked with forming a crew to eliminate targets. You live a life of crime, a life that means avoiding getting caught by the cops, sure, but can you survive the very syndicate that is considered your family? Can you rise through the ranks or will your crew become the next target to protect their interests? Pulling this off requires a new system (the same one I’m using for my upcoming supers game, Pandora: Total Destruction) and now it feels like a worth new edition. Similar, but different enough to feel like a new game.

Those are the editions I can personally get behind and it’s why I’ve been more inclined to buy new editions of D&D with significant changes between editions (including the core mechanical loop) rather than subtle option changes and new rules in games like Earthdawn, which really has new editions come out when a new publisher buys the rights to it. For me, a new edition of an RPG is a new game, not a correction.


That’s interesting. So you don’t favor the games that use editions almost like new printings with minor changes? And on the flip side, you prefer when new editions indicate significant changes to the systems?

I look at new RPG editions as being sequels. If you’re gonna make one, have it continue moving the story forward and add more to it. Or they can be a reboot that places a fresh, new spin on a previous version.

If a new edition plays the same but now includes new options to go with the updated material, that can work too. But 19 times out of 20, yeah, give me a reboot more than a sequel.

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