Some Differences Between 1st and 5th Edition Chivalry and Sorcery RPG

Considering it’s been over 40 years between 1st edition and 5th edition, not to mention several gaming company changes, here are some of the major changes between the two editions – None of the links are affiliate links.

Hello there. Someone asked the difference between 1st and 5th editions. In passing someone commented that they had 3rd, and did not know what 5th gave them that 3rd did not.

This is my (Colin D. Speirs’s) answer, others might focus on other aspects, I hope you find it useful


Big question but can you bullet point the main differences between 1st Ed and 5th Ed?

I am afraid it is not going to be exhaustive, as 1st edition and 5th edition are separated by 40 years, but you asked for the main differences so I’ll do what I can.

  • First edition tried to be everything, RPG, wargame, medieval economics etc, which is why it ended up with such a tiny font, it was really 4 pages per printed page, the pages were photo reduced. From 2nd edition on the concentration in the main books has been on the RPG, including societal framework, the extra game types, worldbuilding and expansions were in supplements. 5th ed, while a big book, continues this concentration with the RPG, sorry, the figure wargame will be in a different book ;).
  • First edition had a variety of systems, 2nd edition tried to simplify that, but, from the 3rd edition onwards a new, unified percentile system has been used. This has been refined and streamlined.
  • In 1st edition Characters started at 1st level and were bound to classes. Classes remained in 2nd ed but it had a previous experience system and a way to buy skills outside your class. From 3rd edition on the system became skill based. Characters have starting vocations which help determine previous experience and skills that are learned more easily than others. In 5th this has also been streamlined and rationalised.
  • IN 1st there was, let’s face it, some heavy Tolkien influences that would not stand up to modern IP enforcement, so, sorry to say, they have gone.
  • Third edition was seen as being a bit bland, a bit lacking the flavour of 1st and 2nd. When BGD acquired the rights and produced 4th, Rebirth edition, they looked to the 2nd edition as the touchstone. It restored the more medieval feel, the ability to play some “monster” kinds that 1st and 2nd had but 3rd lacked. 5th retains that and has, for example, a book that has already been reached in the stretch goals to expand on Vampires and Werewolves. A later book will give more info for the Goblinoid peoples.
  • C&S 1st to 4th modelled the medieval Christian Church for its religion, Swords and Sorcerors and Saurians notwithstanding, but 5th will add options for characters to be of the Jewish or Islamic faith, both those religions were not only in Europe, but encountered in Outremer.
  • There were a few mage types that were, let’s say, problematic as player character paths. Alchemists are the ones that stand out, these will also be put into their own book, tentatively called “Forgotten Lore”
  • There is a “half life” to knowledge, things thought true 40 years ago may be modified by subsequent research. This is true of C&S, not only on things like manors, agriculture and the like, but even the basics, including checking the weights of weapons with the Royal Armouries.
  • There is more, but a foretaste can be obtained by downloading (the free!) C&S 4 Rebirth from drivethrurpg.  5th is a developed and improved version of that. If Rebirth appeals to you then 5th might. If it is not to your taste, at least you gave it a look and can have a more informed opinion.

Thanks for your question

For the DriveThru RPG (DTRPG) free items as well as some paid items – (not an affiliate link; should be sorted by price – low (free) to high.

Specifically Rebirth–Sorcery-4th-Edition-The-Rebirth?manufacturers_id=3675 and 5th edition Quickstart Rules ––Sorcery-5-Quickstart-Rules?manufacturers_id=3675.

Not mentioned above, but Land of the Rising Sun was feudal Japan and some of the sourcebooks also included items that did not fall into the above categories, including Celts, Mongols, and Vikings. Another sourcebook was Saurians, a lizard-like species. Arden was a map sourcebook for campaigns along the lines of Feudal England. Bireme and Galley was an ancient ship sourcebook for sea battles. Castle Plans was a sourcebook for conducting sieges in 25 mm scale.

Personally, I appreciated the attention to detail of 1st edition although I was in the minority. I also enjoyed the focus on things often not taken into account with most RPGs of the time.

About Wichita Genealogist

Originally from Gulfport, Mississippi. Live in Wichita, Kansas now. I suffer Bipolar I, ultra-ultra rapid cycling, mixed episodes. Blog on a variety of topics - genealogy, DNA, mental health, among others. Let's
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