Quick Thoughts on the Jump to D&D 3.5

I got my latest issue of Dragon yesterday and discovered its section dedicated to a “countdown” to the revised edition of D&D, which is supposed to be released this summer. The new release includes revisions and tweaks based on customer feedback, rules integrated from the various handbooks, and about 25% new material.

I’m ambivalent about the revised edition. On the one hand, I have no desire to spend $90 to replace my three core rule books, especially since the new game will only be 3 years old this August. But at the same time, there’s plenty in 3E that could use fixing, and the revised edition of Star Wars was an excellent improvement over the original (that said, the original Star Wars d20 game had a heck of a lot more that needed fixing than the original D&D release).

So the release of a revised edition doesn’t bug me. What is bugging me though, is the name that Dragon gave to it: D&D 3.5. Now all geeks are familiar with “dot” updates — they happen all the time with software — so that’s not what bugs me. What does is that it’s “.5”, which implies to me that the thinking at WotC is that this revision represents a halfway point to a new “4th Edition” D&D, and that in 2006, we could see a whole new edition released.

Maybe I’ll feel differently on that not-to-distant day, but given the amount of time, energy and money that myself and others have put into D&D 3E and its d20 offshoot, I’m not pleased with the idea that it could all be tossed in a few years time. Of course, it’s possible that a “D&D 4th Edition” wouldn’t represent a serious departure form 3E, but even moderate changes could wreck havoc with older source books, not to mention d20 publishers.

Ultimately I (and the rest of my gaming group) will make the decision to buy new books based on the quality of the new releases. If they do a really bang up job with them — and there are some signs that they might have done just that — then we’ll consider upgrading. And if not, well, we’ve been doing just fine with the current edition.