D&D 5E D&D and who it's aimed at

LOL yes, and 95% naked dudes with huge swords.

I've been very clear here. :D
And that is where it becomes impossible to target everyone. If you target adolescent male power fantasies you are excluding the 50% of the potential market who are female. And that is what has changed since the early days of D&D.

But sexualised imagery is not generally listed as a requirement of the Sword and Sorcery genre, and REH never mentions chainmail bikinis in the text. He wasn't responsible for the illustrations.
 

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Scribe

Hero
And that is where it becomes impossible to target everyone. If you target adolescent male power fantasies you are excluding the 50% of the potential market who are female. And that is what has changed since the early days of D&D.

But sexualised imagery is not generally listed as a requirement of the Sword and Sorcery genre, and REH never mentions chainmail bikinis in the text. He wasn't responsible for the illustrations.
Yes, I'm sure 100% of the female population are against bikinis. Certainly checks out for swimwear.

And as noted thrice, at least, just running an adventure as Sword and Sorcery, is not the main issue. Tone, style of art, are part and parcel of the books Wizards sells, and for my money there has been a shift in tone away from books like ToA, or Rime, and even the 2 pages on Dark Fantasy made mention of keeping it heroic or something like that.

Yes, I could run a game, with options to make a gritty game if I chose, probably picked out of a handful of products.

OR I could go with a third party option that actually makes an effort to fit the style I'm looking for, because AGAIN that isn't where Wizards is trending.
 

Hussar

Legend
I do kind of wonder what your exposure to Conan has been. I'm guessing the novels and/or the comics? In any case, Conan becomes king of Aquilonia, but a) it's not at all clear that he isn't a tyrant, and b) it's just one kingdom. The Hyborian Age is lousy with tyrants! Second, the beginning of the Hyborian Age is literally defined by an environmental disaster.

And finally, the one, central theme of the stories is corruption, decadence and decline of civilization. So yes, the jeweled cities of the age are flourishing...and also doomed to fall (or really, be conquered by younger, more virile peoples) by their own internal decay. "One of the most common themes in Howard's writing is based on his view of history, a repeating pattern of civilizations reaching their peak, becoming decadent, decaying and then being conquered by another people. Many of his works are set in the period of decay or among the ruins the dead civilization leaves behind."
Fair enough.

But, none of that is dystopian fiction.

And, sure, you have the fall of Atlantis (certainly a big deal in the Kull stories) at the beginning of the Hyborian Age, but, that's 1500 years before Conan. It's not like it has any real impact on the setting as it is.

My issue is with the description of dystopian. It's not that Howard didn't write any dystopian fiction (he certainly did) or that the setting in Conan isn't pretty brutal (it certainly is). It's just that Conan stories, not Kull, not the other ones, specifically Conan stories aren't dystopian. The Tower of the Elephant, The Phoenix on the Sword and lots of others aren't dystopian fiction.
 

Fair enough.

But, none of that is dystopian fiction.

And, sure, you have the fall of Atlantis (certainly a big deal in the Kull stories) at the beginning of the Hyborian Age, but, that's 1500 years before Conan. It's not like it has any real impact on the setting as it is.

My issue is with the description of dystopian. It's not that Howard didn't write any dystopian fiction (he certainly did) or that the setting in Conan isn't pretty brutal (it certainly is). It's just that Conan stories, not Kull, not the other ones, specifically Conan stories aren't dystopian. The Tower of the Elephant, The Phoenix on the Sword and lots of others aren't dystopian fiction.

Hey, I'll leave it here. The Cataclysm literally creates the conditions for the Hyborian Age: "savages" flee up north, fight ape-men, grow strong and numerous, and then head back south to forge the Hyborian kingdoms. I'll grant that this is a more anthropological effect of environmental disaster, as opposed to, say, the various proximate disasters in The Hunger Games that leaves most of society starving.

Be that as it may, most people in the thread want to ignore the elements of dystopian literature I posted and focus on the question of how pleasant it would be to live there. To which I say: I'd far, far rather live in the Forgotten Realms ca. 1500 DR than anywhere in the Hyborian Age. :D
 

Hey, I'll leave it here. The Cataclysm literally creates the conditions for the Hyborian Age: "savages" flee up north, fight ape-men, grow strong and numerous, and then head back south to forge the Hyborian kingdoms. I'll grant that this is a more anthropological effect of environmental disaster, as opposed to, say, the various proximate disasters in The Hunger Games that leaves most of society starving.

Be that as it may, most people in the thread want to ignore the elements of dystopian literature I posted and focus on the question of how pleasant it would be to live there. To which I say: I'd far, far rather live in the Forgotten Realms ca. 1500 DR than anywhere in the Hyborian Age. :D
But the Hyborian Age is moving towards what you might call the Biblical Age. Things are progressing. It is moving towards civilisation, not away from it.

But pretty much any fantasy world is a better place to live than the past of the real world. That's where things where really grim.
 

Tone, style of art, are part and parcel of the books Wizards sells, and for my money there has been a shift in tone away from books like ToA, or Rime, and even the 2 pages on Dark Fantasy made mention of keeping it heroic or something like that.
Yes. There has been a shift in tone. It's geared towards attracting a female audience, since that is WotC's biggest untapped market. It still has more male players than females ones, so they are going to focus on attracting more female players until they reach parity.

Your traditionally brought up male has been taught to reject emotion, so they are going to respond negatively to images designed to elicit emotional responses.
637677438124899477.jpeg
1632861247942-png.144543

And covers like Radiant Citadel feature young women front and centre, as the characters the prospective players are intended to identify with.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Sorry, I must have missed something. It's a rather lengthy thread. I wasn't being snarky or anything. I literally don't understand why you would need a spreadsheet.
Assuming no floating ASIs here:

With 30-ish different playable species each with their own bespoke and locked-in ASI pattern, some sort of spreadsheet or chart will be needed so that players can quickly compare one species' mechanics to the next without having to flip to a lot of different pages in several different books.
 

Mister_Fish

Explorer
Yes. There has been a shift in tone. It's geared towards attracting a female audience, since that is WotC's biggest untapped market. It still has more male players than females ones, so they are going to focus on attracting more female players until they reach parity.

Your traditionally brought up male has been taught to reject emotion, so they are going to respond negatively to images designed to elicit emotional responses.
637677438124899477.jpeg
1632861247942-png.144543

And covers like Radiant Citadel feature young women front and centre, as the characters the prospective players are intended to identify with.
And as a man that likes both cute things and smashing down doors and taking names, Infernal contracts with Asmodeus, hags eating children and the gonzo world of Spelljammer, I couldn’t be happier with some cute things showing up alongside heaps of the other stuff.
 

And as a man that likes both cute things and smashing down doors and taking names, Infernal contracts with Asmodeus, hags eating children and the gonzo world of Spelljammer, I couldn’t be happier with some cute things showing up alongside heaps of the other stuff.
Yeah, I like those things too, but then I've always rather rejected convention.

TBH, what I really like is novelty.
 

Yes. There has been a shift in tone. It's geared towards attracting a female audience, since that is WotC's biggest untapped market. It still has more male players than females ones, so they are going to focus on attracting more female players until they reach parity.

Your traditionally brought up male has been taught to reject emotion, so they are going to respond negatively to images designed to elicit emotional responses.
637677438124899477.jpeg
1632861247942-png.144543

And covers like Radiant Citadel feature young women front and centre, as the characters the prospective players are intended to identify with.
I think it's generational as well - as you get towards younger men, fewer have been brought up in that way (though plenty still have been), so it has a double-benefit in that sense.

It's very noticeable in Britain because we do actually have a lot of people still raised this way, and it's not really a stiff-upper-lip thing, it extends across class divides, there's basically still an "It's okay to get excited/emotional about sports, cars, and maybe dogs, but everything else you must pretend to be cynical and worldweary about", and this includes plenty of people who are involved with nerdy stuff, sadly. As someone who never bought into it, and wasn't raised that way, it's always been a little disturbing/concerning to me, as I don't think it's tremendously helpful to mental health.
 


LOL yes, and 95% naked dudes with huge swords.

I've been very clear here. :D
The trouble is that's never been D&D's vibe.

The closest you can get from 2E onwards is Dark Sun, but even that has a more Mad Max than Conan The Barbarian vibe. So it's not really reasonable to expect WotC to do that kind of art in 5E, when TSR didn't in 2E, and WotC didn't in 3E, and didn't in 4E.

There's definitely a market for the "everyone is almost naked, totally ripped, and maybe a little oiled-up" kind of fantasy. And I'm not going to lie and say I hate that look, because I definitely do not. But I don't think it makes sense for D&D.

I do think D&D right now is playing it a little too safe artistically, on multiple levels, but that's not really new - WotC has always had a fairly narrow vision of acceptable D&D art, and one that has been narrowing over time. I'd push for distinctive art before I pushed for more risque or risky art myself. At least WotC regularly publishes very distinctive and stylish artwork - just for MtG, not D&D.
 


What never?!

Well, hardly ever.


I think it was a bit before your time, but in the early 80s there was a lot of that sort of imagery around. In White Dwarf for example, which introduced us to the Houri class, which could stun males by using it's Drop Clothes power.
Yeah I actually edited my post for length and clarity before posting (for once in my life lol) and took out a bit where I basically said "from 2E onwards", because there was a bit of it in the '80s and very early '90s (including stuff like the Ravenloft cover). Though not nearly as much some other RPGs.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
D&D doesn't do Sword and Sorcery setting outside of Dark Sun. It does the the character archetypes. Bare chested barbarian. Grimey rogue. Soldier of fortune fighter. Disgraced, ousted, or down on his luck knight. Grey mage.

There no money in a S&S setting unless you go HAM or add a twist like Dark Sun.

So once nerddom grew, there was no point of constant focus after the PHB.
 

But the Hyborian Age is moving towards what you might call the Biblical Age. Things are progressing. It is moving towards civilisation, not away from it.
Yeah, I definitely don't agree with that interpretation. In REH, it's cyclical, not some kind of linear "progress": Civilizations rise out of savagery, grow corrupt and decadent, decline and fall, rinse and repeat. The Hyborians aren't "more civilized" than the Atlanteans; the Thurian Age, too, had its decadent civilizations and upstart barbarians (e.g. Kull). A second cataclysm will end the Hyborian Age and make way for our own...and the rise and fall of civilizations will continue in our history.
 

Yeah, I definitely don't agree with that interpretation. In REH, it's cyclical, not some kind of linear "progress": Civilizations rise out of savagery, grow corrupt and decadent, decline and fall, rinse and repeat. The Hyborians aren't "more civilized" than the Atlanteans; the Thurian Age, too, had its decadent civilizations and upstart barbarians (e.g. Kull). A second cataclysm will end the Hyborian Age and make way for our own...and the rise and fall of civilizations will continue in our history.
Cyclical, yes. But during the Hyborian Age the wheel is on it's way up, not on it's way down.
 


D&D doesn't do Sword and Sorcery setting outside of Dark Sun
You don't need a setting to do Sword and Sorcery. According to wikipedia:
Sword and sorcery (S&S) is a subgenre of fantasy characterized by sword-wielding heroes engaged in exciting and violent adventures. Elements of romance, magic, and the supernatural are also often present. Unlike works of high fantasy, the tales, though dramatic, focus on personal battles rather than world-endangering matters.
Sword and sorcery - Wikipedia

So you can do it in most D&D settings (apart from Dragonlance, which is pretty much the antithesis). It's defined by more what you don't have, not what you do. Don't have a world threatening danger. Don't have black and white morality. Don't have a bunch of do-gooders as PCs. Don't have an overcomplicated plot.

And of course, at least one of those depends on the players. If the players decide they want to be The Fellowship or The Avengers, there's nothing the DM, the module, or the setting can do to turn it into Sword and sorcery.
 
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There no money in a S&S setting unless you go HAM or add a twist like Dark Sun.
Yeah part of the issue is simply that S&S as a genre has basically been erased by "epic fantasy" in the modern fantasy-reader's consciousness. If you're not publishing a trilogy or even better a series of dead-minimum 300, preferably 500-page plus novels, do you even write fantasy, bro? Certainly the average fantasy fan today will say "No". The idea of reading short stories (THE HORROR) is particularly repugnant, when they're used to immense rolling novels. I mean, I can't entirely blame them - a lot of fantasy works really well in that format, but it also means that older S&S doesn't stand a chance. Even amazing writers like Le Guin, who did write multi-book series are gradually getting forgotten because there aren't literally thousands of pages of blather about Sparrowhawk, only a few hundred, and it's insufficiently power-fantasy-ish. And it's becoming increasingly clear that quantity might be more important than quality though I will not name names re: the authors making this evident!
 

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