Dungeons & Dragons

89 Variants History Edit

Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) is the leading tabletop roleplaying game. It has a medieval fantasy theme, and was first published in 1974. The D&D Basic Rules are available for free online. These Basic Rules are drawn from D&D 5th Edition, aka D&D Next, which was released in 2014. This should not be confused with Basic D&D (BD&D), a series of out-of-print early editions of the game, or the D&D Basic Game, an introductory boxed set for 3rd Edition. See below for more on the different versions of D&D. But note that there is not 100% agreement among fans about the terminology used to refer to the early editions of the game. Other sources may use some of these words differently.

Although 5th Edition is the most recent version of D&D, there have actually been more than 5 distinct rulesets released. Some would argue that the total is 14, or even higher. Nevertheless, the various editions can be placed in 5 groups, though these do not all match the 5 numbered editions. A list of these groups follows, with release dates for the earliest edition in each. Note that the 3rd and later editions are descended from AD&D, which had 2 editions, but "Advanced" was dropped from the name. Classic D&D is not counted when numbering editions:

Classic D&D (CD&D), 1974
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D), 1977
D&D 3e, aka D&D 3.x, 2000
D&D 4e, 2008
D&D 5e, aka D&D Next, 2014

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition (AD&D 2e, aka D&D 2e) came out in 1989. Although AD&D 2e and the 1977 AD&D 1e (aka D&D 1e) are more similar to each other than to other editions of D&D, there are considerable differences between them.

D&D 3.5 came out in 2003. It is a heavily-revised sequel to the original 2000 3e rules, which are often called “D&D 3.0” to avoid confusion. These two editions are sometimes referred to collectively as “D&D 3.x”.

5 editions of the Classic rules have been printed. But note that the differences between BECMI and RC are trivial except for the Immortals rules, which were heavily revised for the latter edition. So fans who do not use the Immortals rules often treat BECMI and RC as the same edition.

Original (or Old) Dungeons & Dragons (OD&D), aka D&D 0e, aka White Box D&D, aka Brown Box D&D, aka the Little Brown Books (LBB), aka the Three Little Brown Books (3LBB), 1974
Holmes D&D, aka Blue Box D&D, 1977
B/X D&D, aka Moldvay D&D, aka Moldvay/Cook D&D, aka Moldvay/Cook/Marsh D&D, aka Magenta Box D&D, aka Purple Box D&D, 1981
BECMI D&D, aka Mentzer D&D, aka Red Box D&D, 1983
The D&D Rules Cyclopedia, aka RC D&D, aka Black Box D&D, aka Allston D&D, 1991

The Holmes, B/X, BECMI, and RC versions of Classic D&D are sometimes referred to collectively as Basic D&D (BD&D), to distinguish them from OD&D.

Some fans also argue that the 1975 Greyhawk expansion to OD&D amounted to a distinct edition, as well as the 1985 Unearthed Arcana supplement to AD&D 1e, the 1995 Player's Options series of supplements to AD&D 2e, and the 2010 Dungeons & Dragons Essentials series for D&D 4e.

To further muddy the waters, the Open Game License and the Old School Renaissance have led to the publication of many variant rulesets. Some are retro clones, while others combine the fundamental features of D&D with innovative mechanics. The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game is the most popular of these. Fans have called it "D&D 3.75", since it is based on D&D 3.5, and meant for fans who were dissatisfied with D&D 4e.

Some other examples of D&D variants are the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG (inspired by OD&D, but mechanically very different), 13th Age (has elements of D&D 3e and D&D 4e), Castles & Crusades (has elements of D&D 3e and AD&D 1e), Adventures Dark and Deep (an alternate AD&D 2e based on Gary Gygax's writings), Adventurer Conqueror King (based on B/X D&D, but with expanded character classes and an emphasis on commerce and empire-building), Lamentations of the Flame Princess (a free B/X clone, with expanded spell lists from BECMI and a simple, unified system for skills and thief abilities), Microlite20 (a free and greatly simplified variant of 3e), Basic Fantasy RPG (a free B/X D&D clone, with a few elements of BECMI and 3e), Dark Dungeons (a free Rules Cyclopedia clone), For Gold & Glory (a free AD&D 2e clone), Labyrinth Lord (a free B/X clone, with expanded spell levels from BECMI), OSRIC (a free AD&D 1e clone), Wizards Warriors & Wyrms (a free Holmes D&D clone, with extended level advancement). and Swords & Wizardry (a free OD&D clone),

Official Site
A D&D Glossary
A Breakdown of the Editions of D&D
Another Edition Breakdown
Still More Perspectives on D&D Editions

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