[ games ]
What are the versions of D&D? What is the history?
Dungeons & Dragons (commonly known as D&D) is a fantasy role-playing
game (RPG) first designed by Gary Gygax and David Arneson in the early
1970s. It was published by Gygax's company, Tactical Studies Rules (TSR).
For more on what D&D (or AD&D) is, see the sources
section at the bottom of the page.
Original Dungeons & Dragons
- 1971 - Chainmail
(by Gary Gygax & Jeff Perren)
Chainmail was not a role-playing game (RPG). However, Chainmail's
second and third editions contained supplemental fantasy-setting
rules, as well as alternate rules that show similarities to later
1974 - "Dungeons
most memorable published result of the Arneson-Gygax hobby crossover
appeared at GenCon, 1974, in a thousand-copy print run, as Dungeons
& Dragons, 1974, by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. It consisted
of three roughly digest-sized brown pamphlets in a deepish brown
box with white labels. (People are often confused because a
very-nearly identical product, marked with "Original Collector's
Edition," was released in 1978 in a white cardboard box,
hence the mistaken name "white box D&D" to refer
to the 1974 product.) [ view
details on OD&D versions ]
The Sixth printing (OCE: 1977-1979), in a white box showing
a wizard and some orcs, was labeled "Original Collectors
Edition" to differentiate it from the D&D Basic Set,
which had just been released.
Many, many rules and play ideas proliferated in TSR's magazine
renamed from its precursor The Strategic Review.
The RPGA (Role-Playing Games
Association) also became active around the late 1970s, and started
publishing the magazine Polyhedron.
D&D, Expert D&D
The "Basic Set" was reportedly "Developed chiefly
because of disagreements with Gary Gygax over the direction D&D
should take; Gygax favored a far more structured and complicated
Check out this
page for the history and evolution of the covers.
The Expert set was released in 1981 as the obvious sequel to the
D&D Basic Set, which left characters hanging at level 3. For
characters levels 4 - 14. The Basic and Expert sets are sometimes
referred to as "red-box" and "blue-box" D&D.
| Advanced Dungeons &
Dragons (AD&D), 1st Edition
AD&D books were first published between 1977 and 1979.
(Note that is was not named "1st Edition" until after the
2nd Edition came out in the late 1980s.)
had multiple printings; after the 10th printing, the books got new
covers. The Players Handbook 2nd cover (10th printing) is shown at
right (Hardback 1987; TSR2010)
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, 2nd Edition
the late 1980s, AD&D Second Edition was published, which revised
the rules again, consolidating the character classes, and revised
the combat system somewhat.
AD&D 2nd Edition changed the name of the Monster Manual to the
"The most changes between AD&D 1st and 2nd editions
can be found here. Monsters got a face lift and the Monsterous Manual
is the result. One monster per page, expanded stats, a color picture
from every monster. This is stuff we only dreamed of in 1st edition
days. This book was also a big improvement over the early Monsterous
was also a revision published for the 2nd Edition (shown at right).
In my option, the cover art was better on the 1st one. Note that
they are moving towards the "simplification" by no longer
labeling the books with the words "2nd Edition"... [more
about the Revision to the 2nd Edition]
(By the way, the computer games Baldur's
Gate (1 and 2) and IceWind
Dale use 2nd edition AD&D rules, while Icewind Dale II uses
the Third Edition Dungeons & Dragons rule set.)
3rd Edition Dungeons
(3rd Edition D&D; "3E D&D")
2000, Wizards of the Coast (who had purchased TSR two years earlier)
decided to reinvent the franchise, and they released a whole new
revision of AD&D.
As part of an effort to simplfy the game, they dropped the word
"Advanced," and simply called it "Dungeons &
Dragons." (There was no reason to call it "Advanced"
anymore, as the "basic" version was dropped.)
This version has informally been referred to by fans and players
as a "third" edition of D&D, often abbreviated as
3E D&D is based on a role-playing system designed around 20-sided
dice, called the d20 system. It rationalizes movement and combat
(especially ranged combat), removes lots of arbitrary restrictions
(now players can use previously forbidden classes, such as a half-orc
monk), and incorporates skills and feats to allow players to customize
The d20 system is what Wizards of the Coast calls an "open
source" version of the D&D core rules. The idea is that
the "open source" rules allows others to create D&D-compatible
content, or entirely different games using the "game engine"
(for a licensing fee, or course).
| Dungeons & Dragons,
July of 2003 errata was incorporated and a new set of core rulebooks
was released as system 3.5.
(Just like software, they have to keep putting out new versions so
that you will buy something.)