Returning to 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons
I paused my ongoing Dungeons & Dragons campaign for the last few months. Timing just wasn’t great to run sessions, but now that it is 2023, I have been trying to get a regular schedule going to play again. This means organizing players and making sure that the play world ready for them.
My current campaign is set in my home-brewed world that I have been using since I was a kid, and I am using the 5th edition ruleset. It wasn’t always 5th edition with this group. We started about 9 years ago using 1st Edition and then switched to 2nd Edition. After a while, I got curious about 5th Edition and decided to give it a go. It has now been at least 5 years of 5th edition.
The thing is, a few months ago, I pulled my original 1st Edition AD&D books off the shelf and started reading them for fun. It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with the system again.
Is it more difficult to understand? Yes. Does it take forever to find things in the books? You bet. But the writing is energetic and full of enthusiasm for the system. I was ensnared by Gygax and his writing, just as I had been as a kid, and I wanted back in.
So I had some back and forth with my players. Haven gotten used to 5th Edition, they were lukewarm. Then something happened that changed their minds. The Wizards of the Coast Open Gaming License Drama.
If you are not into Dungeons & Dragons, you might not have heard this, but it has been making waves that even pretty casual players are starting to feel. The makers of Dungeons & Dragons, Wizards, planned to (maybe are still planning) to make changes to a license that had allowed other people to make content based on their system.
A lot of people were pretty angry with their plans, and they seem to be walking some of it back. At this point, it is hard to tell. It doesn’t matter too much to me because the damage is done.
All my players have contacted me and are ready to move away from 5th Edition. Some were hoping that we would move away from Dungeons & Dragons completely. I don’t think this indignation will last very long, so I am seizing on the moment.
For the last few nights, I have been helping people redo their characters back to 1st edition, and it has been a blast. In a week or so, we should be ready to start rolling dice and deciding the fate of kingdoms.
I am following along with the current D&D drama, but I feel separated from it. As a DM, the changes to the license would not have affected me much. With my new direction, or old direction, I get the satisfaction of not supporting a company where genuine support for its community needs seems half-hearted at best. All the while playing a game I can continue to love.
For those who are trying to build their livelihood or creative output on a system that can be closed so easily, please reconsider. Look towards Paizo. Look towards Kobold Press. Unless gamers can get an open system with a license that is perpetual and irrevocable, this can happen again and again.
If you are a player or DM, do what makes you happy. Just remember to be supportive of creators you respect and keep trying to get more people to jump into this amazing hobby.