What official "in-game" materials exist that allow back-and-forth travel of characters between different editions of D&D or between D&D and other gaming systems?

Please note that I am not asking for one-time conversion material from one game to another, nor with ways of incorporating single elements. The characters should be able to take some actions, "visit" foreign editions/games and come back.

PS: This question was inspired by a recent question, which got later deleted by its original poster, that asked 'what happens to a magic user who travels to a world set in a different edition with different magic systems, such as from the Forgotten Realms(5e) to Eberron(3e)'.


closed as too broad by DuckTapeAl, mxyzplk Jan 8 '18 at 4:06

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    \$\begingroup\$ I am not sure this should stay open. There's a lot of conversion material for all the editions, the first answer pulls some pretty esoteric ones. IMO it's too broad (from early D&D conversion info to Gamma World to anytime someone did a conversion in Dragon or something?) Too broad. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Jan 8 '18 at 3:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk: Unfortunately, having never played Gamma World, I am not familiar with such material. So while for you the question is too broad, it feels very restricted for the clueless me; hence I honestly don't know of any ways of making the question more restricted. The only two ways I came across over the years I put in a self answer, but noone else is writing anything. \$\endgroup\$ – ZwiQ Jan 8 '18 at 6:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DuckTapeAl and mxyzplk: Could you please give at least one example of the kind of material you are mentioning? I am unable to refine the question without input as to a particular example. If I could read one, I would be able to search for more of the kind and then understand the scope of how broad the question is. \$\endgroup\$ – ZwiQ Jan 8 '18 at 13:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ Every "update to a new D&D version" conversion doc, many of which are detailed in rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/87885/… which was closed as too broad even for just D&D scope let alone "any other game." The Boot Hill and Gamma World conversions in the AD&D 1e DMG p.112ff. There's a huge wealth of this kind of conversion information for most TSR games. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Jan 8 '18 at 15:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk: Thanks for the pointers. You can see that I had added a sentence explicitly underlining that I was not asking for conversion material. The question is about in-game methods from the perspective of the characters (ie it is more fluff than crunch). So the linked question appears to be a different kind of beast. Likewise the section in 1e DMG reads like an out-of-game conversion guide. Perhaps by the time I started playing the wackiness of the older editions had all died out that I find it difficult to imagine there can be so many game-hopping materials out there. \$\endgroup\$ – ZwiQ Jan 8 '18 at 15:23

Here are two instances of official products that allow this sort of travel:

The D&D Basic product, AC4: The Book of Marvelous Magic by Frank Mentzer had an appendix that allowed direct adaptation its contents to AD&D 1e, so it was advertised as compatible with two different versions of Dungeons of Dragons. In this sourcebook, a couple of magical items called 'Alternate World Gates' were defined. These items are just regular items of their own worlds (like a laser pistol from the Gamma World), but would be odd in others. When the item is touched, it summons a character from the alternate world, who comes from a gate, grabs the item and leaves. If the characters react fast, they can jump through the gate themselves and arrive in the alternate gaming world. A 'dirk of avenger summoning' allowed AD&D characters to travel to D&D basic, and a 'lute of bard summoning' allowed D&D basic characters to travel to AD&D. Other items allowed travel to Top Secret, Gamma World, Dawn Patrol, Star Frontiers, Boot Hill and Gangbusters.

The second example is through time travel. In principle, one could argue that time travellers should be able to visit different D&D editions, motivated by the fact that the edition transitions were coupled to various major in-game events described in novels and adventure modules, such as Fate of Istus, Avatar Trilogy (Shadowdale, Tantras, Waterdeep), Die Vecna Die!, etc. We have instances of time travelling in the Forgotten Realms Arcane Age series of products, such as the Netheril: Empire of Magic boxed set. In these products, characters were given the possibility of travelling back to a historical period when the mechanics of spellcasting (and a number of other game characteristics) were very different from the default in AD&D 2e. Of particular interest for our question, we can consider the adventure module How the Mighty Are Fallen, which allows characters to experience the event known as Karsus's Folly. In the prologue, we even get a clear statement:

For DMs who desire to be historically accurate, game play reverts to strict original AD&D rules (not 2nd Edition). This means that clerics and druids are two separate classes, as are mages and illusionists. Specialty priests and specialist wizards no longer exist.

So you could officially time travel with the AD&D 2e time conduit spell to the Arcane Age with its own "semi-edition", then live through Karsus's Fall and naturally move to AD&D 1e. Then the conclusion of the 1-year duration of the time conduit would pull you back to 'your own time' in 2e.

PS: An appendix to the 2nd edition accessory Chronomancer discusses a means of allowing time-travelling AD&D characters to interact with those of the Gamma World game. Quoting from the updated and expanded version of this appendix that is available for free from the WotC:

It is possible that a far-future group of technological time travelers will be created in an alternate future to patrol Earth's history as a sort of "time police." If encountered, these officers could be easily designed using materials from the GAMMA WORLD(R) game ... . The GAMMA WORLD game itself could depict an alternate future of Earth; this system is largely compatible with the AD&D game. A few mutant humans or animals might have the Time Field Manipulation mutation and thus meet up with actual chronomancers (see the GAMMA WORLD 1st Edition game (1978), page 14).

It is interesting to note that at the time of Chronomancer's publication (1996), Gamma World was already in its 4th edition (1992), which is supposed to be like AD&D 2e, while the quote mentions the much earlier first edition.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think the intro to the time travel option here is misleading/mistaken when it says times are "coupled" to editions. This isn't a two-way coupling: editions are coupled to times, but times are not couples to editions. Put another way, playing D&D 3.5e and travelling backwards or forwards in time does not "officially" force or make the game into another edition; therefore, time travel is not a general official edition-travel means. Netheril / Fallen are specifically-designed exceptions, not a demonstration of a general method. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Dec 31 '17 at 17:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie: The fact that 2-way edition/time coupling is not forced goes without saying; I think it is obvious that anybody can play with whichever rules on whatever times they like. (You could play 5th edition DL with SAGA rules or AD&D2e; though the officially supported system was SAGA.) However, I disagree with you on whether the Netheril/Fallen are exceptions or not; I know of no official explicit statements supporting its opposite. But if you can provide quotations to support your argument, I would be happy to edit my answer. \$\endgroup\$ – ZwiQ Dec 31 '17 at 20:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ Sorry, that's asking me to prove a negative. The existence of an example doesn't prove a general principle; it's the other way around. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Dec 31 '17 at 21:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ (There's lots I want to upvote here, but that statement being the opposite of what the provided evidence actually says means I cannot in good conscience.) \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Dec 31 '17 at 21:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ You claim a general principle that characters can reliably get to another edition via time-travel. You support this by citing a unique historical event in a specific game setting. That cite supports that getting to another edition is possible via time-travel, at least in one setting and if access to one historical event is available, but it does not support a general principle that any D&D character in any setting can always time-travel to another edition, at will. You've cited a unique bit of FR canon and tried to generalise a universal D&D edition-transportation rule from it. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Dec 31 '17 at 22:24

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