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D&D: 5 Generations of Designers – 5(ish) Editions of D&D

3 Minute Read
Mar 28 2018

Designers from every edition of D&D got together on one big panel at GaryCon this year. Come see what they had to say.

D&D has changed a lot over the years–even something as simple and iconic as Fireball has gone through a surprising number of changes throughout the editions–which makes it real interesting to get the perspective of people who’ve been tinkering with the way the world works throughout the years. Mike Mearls moderated a panel comprising developers who worked on every edition under the AD&D tree, and it got recorded and aired as part of the Plot Points podcast.

I don’t know that that specific tree is the AD&D Tree–but it seems like a good candidate

If nothing else there’s one interesting tidbit about an hour and a half in, where Mike Mearls lets slip the fact that they’re working on psionics rules, but they’re not going to do them until they get to Dark Sun. Which says to me, hey guess what, Dark Sun is coming up soon. Especially since we know they’re working away on the Mystic–but more on that later. For now, let’s just gather ’round and listen to what the D&D Designers (D&Designers?) have to say.

via Plot Points

It’s interesting to get a perspective of how the game has changed–not just in terms of rules, but in terms of like concepts of how people play and/or engage with the game. One of the big things for me was the idea of taking a character and bringing it from game to game or table to table. You’d take a character to conventions or whatever and accumulate this amalgamation of things from myriad GMs–which I don’t think I’ve ever seen happen outside of something like Adventurer’s League or Pathfinder League. But that doesn’t have the same freedom to it now.


Even something like a campaign has changed over the years. Back in the OD&D days a campaign was basically your gaming group, “I play with the same people,” as opposed to “We play the same party and tell their stories through playing adventures,” or “We play through a big boxed adventure and then seap characters.”

But even though the game has changed there are a few constants. I think one of the biggest takeaways, aside from Mearls’ admission that they want to work up the Mystic with Dark Sun (though we did not get an official announcement, and that’s all he had to say about that)–is that one of the constants of D&D is its conmunity. Whether writing ketters or articles for Dragon or reaching out through the Living Greyhawk campaigns or watching Critical Role or diving into Adventure League, the Community is an important part of D&D.

The community produces and drives a lot of the ideas in D&D’s development. In the AD&D days, the idea of opposition schools of magic came about because of the community. Illusion and Necromancy come up in the podcast, but even things like kits and skills and powers got developed in the midst of things. That same tradition carries over in Unearthed Arcana today. So, if you’re playing D&D, find the part of the community that grabs you. And hang out there. Get involved. If that’s here, then thanks.

As always, Happy Adventuring! 

Author: J.R. Zambrano
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