B/X Known World
This is a regular point of tension in the community. How well do RPGs emulate stories? How well can they emulate stories? How much of a game is really left the closer you get to emulating stories? And how many people would actually want to play the resulting game?So, spinning off from the Not-TSR thread, I thought I'd try starting a separate thread for specifically discussing Appendix N's influences on the game.
@Mannahnin said that "the game itself is definitely not a particularly good Tolkien emulator." Very true, but I would go further in that it's not really great at directly emulating any single Appendix N work. It's hard to picture Conan, for example, striding into a dungeon and getting dissolved by green slime - the indomitable Cimmerian is, I would posit, far more easily brought to life in 5e with its nigh-superheroic characters.*
And that's okay - what makes D&D so great is that it is not any one single thing, but a stew of influences. Tolkien, REH, Anderson, Leiber, Vance, et al. It's all of them and none of them.
*This is also something I think about a lot with DCC RPG. It frequently emulates the high lethality of early D&D, but if you look at Appendix N, characters frequently survive against all odds, again and again.
A lot of gamers actively avoid anything and everything that would make for a good story and complain loudly and frequently when the referee (or players) do things that would push story over random game elements, optimization, "winning," and various other gamer habits. There are several active threads by both players and referees complaining about the people on the other side of the screen doing things that make perfect sense if the game emulated stories, but are antithetical to gaming.
DCC RPG brings in a lot more of the Appendix N vibe and elements than early D&D did, but it's also terrible at emulating story. Random die rolls can kill any character at any time. Anti-climactic results abound. Magic is chaotic. A good crit can kill anyone. To me, DCC RPG is a terrible Appendix N emulator if you use the main characters of Appendix N stories as your baseline. It's not possible to play as Conan in the DCC RPG. Nor is it possible to play Frodo or Sam or Gandalf. Nor Elric. Nor Fafhrd & the Grey Mouser. But, it is possible to play characters within nearly identical worlds as those characters.