Editions of Dungeons & Dragons

Most of you know that I run an old-school Dungeons & Dragons game for my daughter and her friends. We started when they were between 10 and 11 years-old and now they are between 14-15! We gained a new player on the very second session (the younger sister of one of the original players) but sadly lost both sisters from the group when their family relocated and the girls opted not to continue playing via Zoom. 

As I began getting really involved in the game, I started tweeting a lot more and I would always mention that I was using the old B/X D&D rules. After doing this for months I realized a large portion of the people who followed me on Twitter had no idea what I was talking about when I said "B/X" and given our modern attention spans and how we always move quickly onto the next thing, nobody thought to search it up. I found out after probably a year or more of doing this that many of these folks ignored my tweets about "B/X" because they decided it didn't apply to them. A lot of these folks were 5E players, but as you know from following my blog, the vast majority of the ideas I share are things that can be easily adapted to 5E or, really, to any edition (4E might be difficult, not because it's "bad" - I don't think that - but because it's so very different from the editions that came before and after). 

So, I decided to make a chart to illustrate to my followers what the different editions of Dungeons & Dragons are, so they could easily tell what I meant when I said, "I'm running B/X D&D for my daughter and her friends." Despite this chart, I'm still more likely to state, "I'm running 1981 Moldvay Basic Dungeons & Dragons..." and I still get folks who aren't quite sure what I mean. If you didn't play in the pre-3E era when there were two separate, but concurrent, lines of D&D (Advanced and "regular" which we always called "Basic" but technically it was just "Dungeons & Dragons" as opposed to "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons"). 

A few weeks ago while joining my friend Wes Allen from DMTales for a lunch stream on his YouTube channel, he mentioned that I should post the chart I made here on my blog so folks could refer back to it more easily than trying to find an old tweet I sent out over three years ago. So, here's the chart. 

Now, a couple of things on this, just to head of a certain type of comment that I get from folks who don't read the fine print as well as some other general comments: 

  1. No, I didn't "forget" anything. This is probably the most common comment. "You forgot XYZ." And it turns out what I "forgot" was something I specifically said I wasn't going to include. I mention on the chart that I'm only including games with the official name "Dungeons & Dragons." That means no Chainmail, no Tunnels & Trolls, no supplements by other companies that aren't games (e.g., the licensed stuff by Judges Guild and Mayfair), etc. 
  2. I'm only including games with the name "Dungeons & Dragons" that are published by the rights holders to that name at the time. That means I'm only discussing editions published by TSR and Wizards of the Coast. Pathfinder is a fine game and it is a spiritual successor to 3.5 (I am still running a Pathfinder 1E campaign, although we've had a long hiatus), but it is not called "Dungeons & Dragons," and it isn't published by the company that holds the rights to the name "Dungeons & Dragons." That means, by extension, that I'm also not including any clones like Old School Essentials, Labyrinth Lord, OSRIC, Swords & Wizardry, etc. Again, all very cool games, but they do not fit my criteria. 
  3. "I've never heard anyone refer to 5E, post-Tasha's, as '5.5'." I get this comment a lot. The thing is, I have heard that, many times. Tasha's and the subsequent books introduce small, but meaningful, changes to 5E that many folks take to constitute a half-step difference. I've even seen it reported in the press this way. It's not something I made up (I don't even play 5E regularly). I get that you don't call it that, but it's common enough from what I've seen that I included it.
  4. I didn't put the next edition coming out in 2024 on here for two reasons. The biggest one is that it wasn't out yet at the time I made this graphic and while it was being talked about, originally we didn't even know the publication date. The second reason is, while the cover art for some of the books have been shown, it's still not out yet, and also I'm lazy and didn't want to figure out how to revise my graphic to fit it in. The real purpose of the graphic is to illustrate all the stuff that came before and influenced the current editions. The new 2024 edition is going to be so close to 5E that anything that influenced 5E could be said to influence the newer edition.
It was this "D&D Family Tree" that inspired me to eventually make the video on my YouTube channel, "The History of D&D Editions" which became (at the time) my most popular video and helped steer the direction of my channel into talking about the history of early tabletop roleplaying games and companies.

Okay, so with all that out of the way, here's the graphic. I know sometimes the resolution here in Blogger isn't great, so if you'd like a PNG of this, send me an email at samothdm AT gmail DOT com and I can send it to you. All I ask is that you give me credit for the graphic and include my attributions on it. 

Let me know what you think! I'd love to hear your comments and suggestions. I'm sure a lot of folks will have disagreements about what I think influences some of the more modern editions, and I'd love to discuss it with you!

Hanging: Home office (laptop)
Listening: "Afro-Centric" by Joe Henderson, from the album "The Freedom Sound: People Arise!" by the Jazz Dispensary. I have this one on vinyl. 


  1. You forgot the Games Workshop edition!

    (I joke. I believe it was just Holmes with new art.)

    1. Ha! I laughed even before I saw your parenthetical statement!

      You've given me an idea to make sure to include at least the cover of the book (I believe you're correct that the text itself is the same) whenever I update my "The History of D&D Editions" video.


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