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I'm new to Savage Worlds and using the "Explorer's Edition" that came out in 2007-2008(?), usually abbreviated "SW:EX".

Can anyone briefly summarize the edition history of SW for the last few years, with a note as to major differences in each edition?

This is mainly for me to evaluate whether I'm using the "right" edition of SW for my group, and to understand where the designers are headed with the game.

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There have been five stand-alone† editions of Savage Worlds:

  1. Savage Worlds was printed in 2003 and was the first edition.
  2. Savage Worlds (Revised Second Edition) was printed in 2004.
  3. Savage Worlds Explorer's Edition was printed in 2007 and brought a significant rules revision. This also brought a smaller form factor and a low price, with the intention of making it an easy sell to curious GMs and their doubting players.
  4. Savage Worlds Deluxe was launched in 2011. It is an expansion on the rules in SWEX and contains minor rules revisions, but is intended to remain compatible with (and more importantly, not invalidate) existing material or SWEX. This is also higher page-count hardcover, so it's more expensive.
  5. Savage Worlds Deluxe Explorer's Edition was launched in 2012 and is just the previous edition in a smaller, easier to carry around and cheaper format (same format as SWEX).

So the most up-to-date version is Savage Worlds Deluxe, but this is more a new version of the SWEX edition of the rules than a new edition. In the same way, the original Savage Worlds and Savage Worlds (Revised Second Edition) were mostly rules-compatible, so there have really only been two major editions of the rules, regardless of the number of books they've been contained by.

If you're using SWEX, you're using the most recent edition. This is the edition that all of the settings (first-party and third-party) and the Companions line of books are based on, and the Deluxe book this year indicates they're invested in keeping this rules base stable for players and third-party publishers for a while yet.

† Savage Worlds was evolved out of the rules for Deadlands and the Savage World of Solomon Kane, so it's arguable that there have been a couple of pre-first-edition editions of the rules as well.

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Great answer! And your footnote brings up a new question: the player with SW experience I mentioned has the Solomon Kane book--is it out-of-date/incompatible compared to the SW:EX or have there been updates to it? –  cr0m Oct 14 '11 at 0:06
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The changes to Deluxe are minor really. No more Empowered multi bolts, new chase and dramatic interlude rules, changes to fear and incapacitation rules (again). –  David Allan Finch Oct 14 '11 at 9:22
    
@cr0m I got into Savage Worlds with SWEX, so I can't say. It's possible! It's also possible that it used to be a "mook average", not a normal-person or hero-person average. I can only guess. –  SevenSidedDie Oct 14 '11 at 18:07
    
@David Thanks for the added detail! Incapacitation rules are one of the places where fine-detail changes can have noticeable effects. They've been recommending groups tweak them to taste for a while now, so I wouldn't be surprised if this is just the latest "best practices" variation. –  SevenSidedDie Oct 14 '11 at 18:12
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