Edition Wars Are Merely Failed Diplomacy Checks

Any gamer who spends time online is familiar with the Edition Wars(tm). On forums across the Internet people rage on about the merits of DND 3.5 vs 4e or Pathfinder. Meanwhile diehard AD&D veterans calculate the THAC0 needed to get a shot in on the fight.

The problem here is not game mechanics and which are superior, but rather the way in which the issue is framed. You see, it really is not a matter of which system is better because that is a question that can never be answered. At least not a universal answer like the absolutists would demand. The answer differs from one gaming table to another.

Gaming, at its best (IMHO), is all about collaborative storytelling. There are many different ways to tell those stories – Fudge, Pathfinder, Jorune, Dragon Age, Savage Worlds and others come immediately to mind – and which one works best is entirely dependent on the group in question.

Each gaming table is populated by a different group of personalities and as a result require different mechanics in order to tell these stories in the way that those participating enjoy the most. For some the rollicking old school feel of 1st Edition is the perfect vehicle, for others nothing but GURPS will do. Whatever best serves the story and the people telling it.

It’s great to have a love for your favorite system, and singing its praises is a great way to show support for the company that makes it. Flame wars on the subject simply breed bad blood where none should exist. Just because you don’t like a particular system or it does not work at your table does not mean that it’s not the perfect answer for someone else.

There is only one true answer to the Edition Wars:

Pizza and Games

The best possible gaming system is the one that works best at your table and with your story.

 Instead of tearing down a system that you do not like consider it a diplomacy check and take twenty (3rd edition humor, sorry). One man’s treasure and all that….

9 thoughts on “Edition Wars Are Merely Failed Diplomacy Checks

Add yours

  1. Then I will have to set that someone straight when it happens. We’ll see how well I roll on MY diplomacy check……

    Hopefully that person will read the post before commenting on it. Should blow that assumption away quite handily.


  2. But wouldn’t taking 20 effectively mean I sabotage 1-10 other attempts in the process? 11-20 might pass depending on the ranks I have in it?

    (taking D&D humor too far…)


  3. Sometimes I wish it was possible to talk about what the systems do (both good and bad) without getting into an edition war. For people who want to become game designers, that sort of exploration and discussion is really important. I try my best to never say one is better or superior, just that they are different and here’s how.


  4. I try to actively learn about systems with an eye towards things I might be able to use or transplant into our home campaign. This is why I need to get more familiar with 4e even though my players solidly prefer Pathfinder.

    Hey Matt! You can never take bad rules jokes too far!


  5. I’m not a fan of seeing a new edition every few years when the older materials are just as viable. It just screams, “We’re only in it for the money” from the companies who write these games. I stopped buying new books years ago and am glad for it.

    My campaigns barely use a mix of 2nd and 3rd edition D&D rules, some days I don’t bother with stat rules at all. Everything else is my own custom stuff and works wonderfully.

    The character’s story, and the adventure itself, is so much more important to me and my players, than having the latest booklets and ‘official’ campaign hooks. That extra money saved goes to snacks, and material for props (like buildings, ‘take-homes’, etc) that I can make for my players. I feel it is money better spent.

    “If you can roleplay it well then I’ll probably allow it.” is my #1 DM rule.

    It gives the player more freedom + responsibility for their character – which they enjoy. Because of this, character sheets are more for collecting story notes [rather than stats]. Dice are rolled for random situations…and because the sound of rolling dice is lovely. 🙂



  6. It all comes down to “better” being a matter of taste (no matter what anyone says). Better is in the eye of the beholder, even in games where beholders don’t exist.

    What may seem to be massively clunky to one gaming group may beautifully meet the needs of a more crunch heavy one. Look at Eirien, his/her “system” works perfectly for his group, but would drive some more numbers oriented gamers crazy.


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