As far as I am concerned the edition wars should be over. D&D lost and I am not sure who won. Edition wars are nothing new and the first one predates 2nd ed. I suppose there may have been one with D&D vs AD&D but D&D players for the most part moved to AD&D and D&D was canceled because the market favored AD&D over D&D. The nasty edition war however relates to events that happened behind closed doors at TSR in the mid 80's which lead to Gary Gygaxs and Frank Mentzers departure from TSR and the people involved claim they were vindicated when Lorraine Williams ran TSR into the ground which lead to WoTC buying TSR. It is interesting what one can learn from hanging around Grognard sites with allegations of marital infidelity and cocaine use, nepotism along with gold plated taps at Lake Geneva. Modern forum warriors have a lot to learn when the knives really do come out. Even if one does not like WoTC they seem a paragon of corporate responsibility by comparison.
Anyway it seems clear that the D&D fan base has become very fragmented in recent years and it predates the arrival of 4th ed as the OSR (Old School Renaissance) movement started to pick up steam during the 3rd edition era. The grognards (not meant to be offensive, they seem happy to be called that) basically reject everything after AD&D as not D&D (sound familiar) with the hardcore ones rejecting 2nd ed and even things like Oriental Adventures and Unearthed Arcana as for not being the one true way. For the most part there have always been a few grognards around and I personally played 1st edition with some back in the 90's. I have never run 1st ed but I have played it and yes I enjoyed it even if I liked 2nd ed at the time. I also enjoyed BECM as well although I moved to AD&D for more options/complexity. However the grognards seem to be striking back rather than fade off into the night like WoTC seem to have assumed. It also seems that WoTC has realized they exist with reprints of the 1st ed core books + Unearthed Arcana. They are also releasing a $150 boxed set of D&D that existed before 1st ed and that boxed set has Men and Magic and the very early 1974-1977 or so era reprints in it. Back in the day they cost around $42 and adjusted for inflation the modern reprints are actually selling for slightly cheaper than what they cost back in the 70's.
The reason for that is probably things like this.
That is a list of some of the grognard type products available now. How about TSR and the Gygax name? Ancient history right? Well someone cast raise dead. Gygaxs sons were early D&D playtesters and they have recycled the TSR name.
Note an early resemblance to 80's era Dragon magazine. This magazine is also available in print (issue 1 has sold out) and it is the number 1 selling item on RPGnow.com over the classic D&D PDFs WoTC put up a few weeks ago. The Gygax name still has some weight.
Earlier on I also mentioned Frank Metzer who left TSR with Gary in the 80's. For those of you who may not be aware of it all of the Pathfinder books have a tribute to Gary and Dave in them. Frank however worked on the BECM version of D&D. The man has not worked on D&D in decades. Up until now.
Frog God games is a 3d party publisher who have thrown their weight in behind Pathfinder. That kick starter is over 100k. Its not just Paizo who can resurrect designers from D&D's almost 40 year history. Franks name carry's weight among grognards and even the ones who hate 3rd ed seem to like Paizo as they show respect to Dave, Gary and Frank who are the holy trinity of grognardia (Mike who?).
The 4th ed fans have also been mentioning 13th Age on the forums. I do not know to much about 13th Age but Samrin was kind enough to post a link last night.
A $70 000 kick starter for an expansion is quite impressive. The map looks very well done as well. I'm not sure if I will like 13th age but I have put it on my radar so to speak as it could be worth a look. I personally have certain expectations for D&D but 13th Age isn't D&D so things I did not like in 4th are fine in other games- SWSE for instance.
I personally have never really looked at the D&D clones except for Pathfinder. I have been vaguely aware they have existed and have posted on the forums that I would pay money for a 3rd/4th ed hybrid using elements of SWSE or I would pay money for a d20 version of 2nd ed with better mechanics. A few days ago I downloaded the Myth and Magic players guide and forked out money for hexographer.
Myth and Magic d20 2nd ed basically. This one is really pulling at the old heart strings.
And hexographer. If you ever liked the 80's era D&D maps. There is also a free version.
In conclusion to end my long ramble this is whats missing from D&DN. Where is the D&D legacy, the respect, the appeal of the game. Mechanics are just one aspect of D&D. Where is the "it" factor of the game, the oomph of whatever drew you to the game in the 1st place whether it was Gygax's writings, the corny pictures, the d20 mechanics or the balance and appeal of 4th eds powers. Why would you pay money for D&DN over an earlier edition of the game or a clone? What is D&DN's appeal? Simple I have that. Balance, we have that as well. d20, already got it. All of the above in one game? Maybe but I already house ruled 2nd and 3rd ed long ago. The D&D fracturing has lead me to wonder things in the last few weeks. Do we actually need the d20 mechanics, do they need to do a reboot back to 4 classes, should they rerelease AD&D 1st ed as the new D&D flagship along with the out of print classics and new adventures and materials as AD&D 1st ed did not have that much in splats. If the warord class goes bye bye how about things like the Sorcerer, Assassin, Barbarian? Brings me back to the idea of 4 classes. Is "less is more"a better way of doing things?
D&DN is not bad as such but so far it is a bland paint by numbers beige version of D&D. Bounded accuracy? No thanks I'll tweak the numbers in 2nd ed and get the same effect. I like 2nd ed I like 3rd ed and right now I'm not even convinced D&DN offers anything better than BECM and 1st ed AD&D. And that is D&DN main problem. Whatever it was that attracted me to D&D in the 1st place, D&DN does not have it.