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D&D General Can we talk about best practices?


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Mort

Legend
Supporter
Hey, to each his own. Some people want to roll dice and call out damage more than RP, and that's great for their table. I was that guy for my first decade of play. Good on them!

5e can easily accommodate either style, so why not both?

Why should there be any discouragement of a style the game can easily accommodate?

Especially when the game can easily accommodate multiple styles at once.

It doesn't matter to me if the group wants to be stealthy, diplomatic, blunt force hack N slash or a combination of all those things! Now, some challenges will be much easier with stealth, some with diplomacy, but that's a different issue.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
5e can easily accommodate either style, so why not both?

Why should there be any discouragement of a style the game can easily accommodate?

Especially when the game can easily accommodate multiple styles at once.

It doesn't matter to me if the group wants to be stealthy, diplomatic, blunt force hack N slash or a combination of all those things! Now, some challenges will be much easier with stealth, some with diplomacy, but that's a different issue.

To me, role play vs roll play is very much in the hands of the DM and players to decide what style they want. The DMG even goes into it in detail in the section "The Role of Dice". Personally I try to do a middle of the road approach, letting people know that what they say matters. I still want their skill proficiencies to matter, but what they do will definitely affect the target DC and may result in advantage/disadvantage for the roll.

I also try to mix it up from session to session. One session may be largely RP, another may be more similar to an old school dungeon crawl. I like how easy it is to shift from one style to another.
 

Campbell

Legend
Personally I'm not really a fan of "Get with the times" rhetoric. Design is not linear. There is great work being done in more traditional spaces, indie spaces, and OSR spaces. There are even some pretty great games that represent a blending of styles - games like Vampire Fifth Edition, Exalted Third Edition, The One Ring, Alien, 2d20, Freebooters on the Frontier, Legend of the Five Rings Fifth Edition that combine indie and mainstream approaches. We would all benefit from a more holistic and integrated view of the hobby that does not see play we are not interested in as aberrant.
 


Hey, to each his own. Some people want to roll dice and call out damage more than RP, and that's great for their table. I was that guy for my first decade of play. Good on them!

That phrase has a big history of dismissing people who are at least as interested in the game element of RPG (you know, that "G" there) as the roleplaying aspect. It comes across as anything but "good on them."
 

Personally I'm not really a fan of "Get with the times" rhetoric. Design is not linear. There is great work being done in more traditional spaces, indie spaces, and OSR spaces. There are even some pretty great games that represent a blending of styles - games like Vampire Fifth Edition, Exalted Third Edition, The One Ring, Alien, 2d20, Freebooters on the Frontier, Legend of the Five Rings Fifth Edition that combine indie and mainstream approaches. We would all benefit from a more holistic and integrated view of the hobby that does not see play we are not interested in as aberrant.
Well, honestly, I don't see them as some sort of two different universes. I see various elements of process of play, and I see various structural elements of RPG design. Some designs are more flexible in the "to what degree, and in what kind, do the various participants contribute elements to the fiction."

So, really you need not go further than 4e, which IMHO, though it isn't very explicit about it, handles quite a range and is thus extremely flexible and sort of in-the-middle. I find it ultimately ironic and emblematic of how little some people 'get it' that they think 5e is 'flexible'! I could run my virtually 100% Story Game 4e game on the same rules that clearly many people used to play almost a pure skirmish wargame with completely traditional processes.

Yes, there are plenty of good games that haven't absolutely put themselves irredeemably in one camp or the other. Usually I don't talk a lot about many of them in discussions because A) I haven't played them, aside from 4e, and B) it can be a lot easier to illustrate a point about Story Game play techniques or whatever is the focus of the thread with a simple, elegant, unequivocal design like Dungeon World.

In terms of 'best practices', I am a real advocate for 'Continuous Improvement', so asking questions of participants, getting feedback, assembling hypotheses and testing them against how things actually go in games. Then introducing various techniques gives you some objective data and shows where you're right or wrong. I'm not going to say that what I learn applies to everyone, or anyone but me, but I do try to improve, and over the 40+ years of doing this stuff it has led to a number of innovations. Some turned out to be bad ideas, Story Now seems to be pretty successful though! :) I guess the 'best practices' lesson is TEST YOUR BELIEFS and be objective.
 

That phrase has a big history of dismissing people who are at least as interested in the game element of RPG (you know, that "G" there) as the roleplaying aspect. It comes across as anything but "good on them."
Meh, nobody is here to pick a fight. We probably all live 1000's of miles apart, anyway, lol. Besides, when people come to my table they are always having fun, regardless of their philosophical position on "how it should be done."

I think the only guy that I ever ran a game from that just didn't click at all was one guy that joined our MapTool-based 4e game way back when. I think he just used the 'find a game' tool (Maptool would register active games on its server, though very few people really used that to find games). Problem was he was a total optimizer. The rest of the group was like "what would be cool to put on my Paragon PC" and this guy was like "Oh, you're dead weight, I have to kill everything myself with my super tweaked Psion tactics!" lol. He lasted a few sessions, but I think he was bored outside of combat, and frustrated by the not perfectly (but not badly either) optimized party and its haphazard tactics. Oh well.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Well, honestly, I don't see them as some sort of two different universes. I see various elements of process of play, and I see various structural elements of RPG design. Some designs are more flexible in the "to what degree, and in what kind, do the various participants contribute elements to the fiction."

So, really you need not go further than 4e, which IMHO, though it isn't very explicit about it, handles quite a range and is thus extremely flexible and sort of in-the-middle. I find it ultimately ironic and emblematic of how little some people 'get it' that they think 5e is 'flexible'! I could run my virtually 100% Story Game 4e game on the same rules that clearly many people used to play almost a pure skirmish wargame with completely traditional processes.

Yes, there are plenty of good games that haven't absolutely put themselves irredeemably in one camp or the other. Usually I don't talk a lot about many of them in discussions because A) I haven't played them, aside from 4e, and B) it can be a lot easier to illustrate a point about Story Game play techniques or whatever is the focus of the thread with a simple, elegant, unequivocal design like Dungeon World.
This is going to sound flippant, though it’s not meant to be. I would honestly love to hear all about that. Though I’m not sure this is the thread for it. Quote me or tag me when you get around to writing that up. I’ve been digging in to my 4E stuff again and kinda loving a lot of it.
 


Campbell

Legend
@AbdulAlhazred

I don't entirely disagree, but I think best practices must be filtered through the prism of a given set of shared objectives. We really cannot meaningfully talk about best practices for all roleplaying games because different games have different objectives. Sometimes these differences are subtle. Sometimes games hit you over the head with their objectives so you don't miss the point. Regardless our filters here should be specific if we intend to have meaningful conversation and also respect the bigger picture of the hobby.
 


Grendel_Khan

Adventurer
Personally I'm not really a fan of "Get with the times" rhetoric. Design is not linear. There is great work being done in more traditional spaces, indie spaces, and OSR spaces. There are even some pretty great games that represent a blending of styles - games like Vampire Fifth Edition, Exalted Third Edition, The One Ring, Alien, 2d20, Freebooters on the Frontier, Legend of the Five Rings Fifth Edition that combine indie and mainstream approaches. We would all benefit from a more holistic and integrated view of the hobby that does not see play we are not interested in as aberrant.

I agree with this in principle, in a huge way. But here's my honest-to-goodness, not-spoiling-for-a-fight question: Are there examples of great design work happening in D&D? I don't see designers adopting ideas or mechanics from 5e, but, as you point out, there's a wide variety of games that mix trad and less-trad approaches. To me it feels like we're in a super interesting and fluid time for RPG design...except when it comes to the biggest game in the industry, which is in it-ain't-broke-so-don't-fix-it mode for the foreseeable future.

But am I missing design elements in 5e that are seen as innovative? "Fixing" 4e by going back to basics or whatever doesn't seem to count--that's just beating a hasty (and financially successful) retreat. Because I don't see non-D&D games cribbing from 5e. If anything there are tons of examples in the other direction, with trad stuff pulling from the narrative/story now space.
 


I don’t know if it was the first game to use the Advantage/Disadvantage mechanic (something tells me no, but I can’t say that for sure) but it has certainly popularized its use. I’ve seen it in several games since 5E came out.

Yeah. My reaction is kind of "more's the pity" because I'm not a fan (if you want to do something in that direction, I'm much more tolerant of SotDL Boons and Banes), but its definitely popped up elsewhere, including systems that don't use a D20. I suspect some people would argue for bounded accuracy too, but I'm not sold that's even relevant once you get away from the big-linear-die-resolution school of games.
 


overgeeked

B/X Known World
I agree with this in principle, in a huge way. But here's my honest-to-goodness, not-spoiling-for-a-fight question: Are there examples of great design work happening in D&D? I don't see designers adopting ideas or mechanics from 5e, but, as you point out, there's a wide variety of games that mix trad and less-trad approaches. To me it feels like we're in a super interesting and fluid time for RPG design...except when it comes to the biggest game in the industry, which is in it-ain't-broke-so-don't-fix-it mode for the foreseeable future.

But am I missing design elements in 5e that are seen as innovative? "Fixing" 4e by going back to basics or whatever doesn't seem to count--that's just beating a hasty (and financially successful) retreat. Because I don't see non-D&D games cribbing from 5e. If anything there are tons of examples in the other direction, with trad stuff pulling from the narrative/story now space.
Well, yeah. It's head-and-shoulders more popular than anything else out there. There's nothing to fix in that sense. They're not only out-selling the competition, their sales are increasing year-over-year. But it's odd to expect the market leader to be super innovative. No way, they're going to be super conservative. If they keep doing what they're doing things are work out exactly how they want them. They're not going to innovate. Last time they innovated they tanked their market share and spent the last almost decade pretending 4E didn't exist. Which is weird considering how many elements from 4E made it into 5E...like advantage/disadvantage.
 



Grendel_Khan

Adventurer
I don’t know if it was the first game to use the Advantage/Disadvantage mechanic (something tells me no, but I can’t say that for sure) but it has certainly popularized its use. I’ve seen it in several games since 5E came out.
That's a great example. I was trying to remember if it was in 4e first. It was, as @overgeeked pointed out, but it does seem like 5e really brought it to the fore (as @Thomas Shey pointed out...I'm just recapping everything it seems....cool post by me).
 

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