A comment by LoZ in the other posts brought up an interesting phenomenon within the gaming community. I noticed that even more so than in other types of games, tabletop rpg gamers tend to get very strongly attached to a given version of a game.
This has happened in several situations I’ve seen both offline and online. I’ve met several people who were die-hard fans of Mage: the Ascension who would rather stab themselves in the eye with a No. 2 pencil rather than consider ever reading Mage: the Awakening. Also, there are people who cry foul at the very existence of a 4e D&D, despite never having actually read the books.
I’m not exactly sure why this is, but that’s probably because I’m admittedly an early adapter as far as RPGs go. I’ll go out on a limb and admit that as a long time GM and rpg enthusiast, the rules fascinate me. There’s a reason I can take hours out of my schedule combing through the books… not only to just build a kickass character (which is usually the case,) but to also further understand the system.
Having actually gone and read multiple versions of the same game as they’ve evolved, I have to say that RPGs are slowly improving and changing in their form and paradigm. Styles of play have changed since the classic days of Red Box D&D, where a ten-foot pole was not an odd inventory item, but a life saving device.
RPGs, like all other things, are a product of their times. Mage: the Ascension was fantastic in 1995, and if you took the time to actually read through the book again, you can see why. Taken in context, the idea of an upcoming event of metaphysical importance was huge, given that everyone was bombarded by all these 1999 scares, and the infamous Y2K bug.
Now games are coming out with new revisions and new rulesets. White Wolf came out with the New World of Darkness line, Wizards of the Coast have D&D 4e, Hero Games is coming out with HERO 6th edition sometime next year or so, and Steve Jackson Games has updated to GURPS 4.
Change is inevitable. While I won’t judge or belittle the fun you had with previous editions, sometimes it’s good to look ahead, and enjoy what’s coming.