D&D 5E D&D and who it's aimed at


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All things considered, I doubt age has much to do with it, besides that our own tastes and preferences change slightly as we grow older.
Anyone from 12 to 99 can like / dislike / whatever Candlekeep, Ravenloft, any Wotc product. It's a matter of personal taste, not age.

Wizard's marketing team might well want to convince management that they 'know' what their prime audience is (and some of those marketeers might even believe that themselves), but ultimately it's an individual decision what you like.
 

Well, not entirely. "Adult" as a form of praise is perfectly reasonable, but then, so is "for children" or any other formulation that targets a segment of the market.
To give you the exact words of his assertion--which, I will note, is him responding very specifically to people who were saying that literature written for children was, necessarily, inferior to literature written for adults--here is the full context of the relevant quote from On Three Ways of Writing for Children, emphasis in original:
This canon [that if a story is written for children and can only be enjoyed by children, it is a bad story,] seems to me most obviously true of that particular type of children’s story which is dearest to my own taste, the fantasy or fairy tale. Now the modern critical world uses ‘adult’ as a term of approval. It is hostile to what it calls ‘nostalgia’ and contemptuous of what it calls ‘Peter Pantheism’. Hence a man who admits that dwarfs and giants and talking beasts and witches are still dear to him in his fifty-third year is now less likely to be praised for his perennial youth than scorned and pitied for arrested development. If I spend some little time defending myself against these charges, this is not so much because it matters greatly whether I am scorned and pitied as because the defense is germane to my whole view of the fairy tale and even of literature in general. My defense consists of three propositions.

1. I reply with a tu quoque. Critics who treat adult as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development. When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.

Note, here, that he separates "adult" as a term of approval (as in, "this fiction novel is superior because it is adult, rather than being merely for children") from its use as a purely descriptive term ("this adult fiction novel describes the life of...[etc.]"). You appear to be speaking of it purely in that descriptive sense, with which there is no issue; some fiction is written with children in mind, other fiction is written with adults in mind. Some children may enjoy some literature intended for adults, as I did when I was a kid, and some adults may enjoy literature intended for children, as we all of us do because D&D is very literally us writing our own fairy tales together.

Indeed, I suspect, apart from some of the darker aspects that D&D can engender (e.g. greed, murderousness/callousness, tribalism), Lewis would actually have been genuinely delighted by the existence of roleplaying games and their culture of writing one's own fairy-tales with personally-invested characters at the helm. These elevate the fairy-tale fantasy even further. Instead of merely empathizing or finding common cause with the heroes of the tale, roleplaying games allow us to become the heroes of the tale. Instead of merely witnessing the moral choices of others and learning from them, we get to make moral choices in a safe, IRL-consequence-free environment. Instead of thinking words of encouragement or kindness for those who are struggling to do the right things for the right reasons, we ourselves struggle to do them.

To me the two things I've bolded here are one and the same.

I've always maintained that D&D is best designed for and "aimed at" college-age people and above, both in content and in level of writing/prose; and if kids want to play it anyway that's fine too but they're not the intended market.

Defanging it and cleaning it up just makes it boring.
Surely it depends on what one means by "defanging it and cleaning it up." Half-orcs being the product of sexual assault was never positive nor productive, it was just a crappy idea that got retained because MUH TRADISHUNS, and we are all better for its removal.* Drow being exclusively misandrist, murderous, backstabbing dominatrices who are the only elf POCs (except the allegedly-few Noble Defectors, like the veritable mountain of Drizzt clones) was not particularly good for the game either, and a better, more interesting space of stories can be told when this race is more complicated. (It's not like we don't have plenty of enemies literally made of evil and/or madness still.) Failure to include the Realm of the Fae in D&D cosmology was an understandable but persistent error, to the point that even people who otherwise despise 4e recognize that its addition of the Feywild to the mix was an unequivocal good.

So...frankly most of the "fangs" being removed are ones that were biting where they shouldn't have been, and much of the cleanup has been to produce a game that really does expand possibilities and the mythic/narrative space, letting us do more, rather than less.

*Especially because it is totally still possible to have "my mixed heritage has mostly been a source of drama in my life" without any of the horrific-assault aspect. I would know. One of my players, currently on hiatus for health reasons, plays a half-orc who has a troubled family history with exactly zero assault involved. I was quite pleased with his cleverness on that front and have leaned into the story as a result.
 

You don't think WotC is counting on some people seeing the fanciful whimsy of either product and judging a book by its cover?
I can definitely see this with Radiant Citadel, but Wild Beyond the Witchlight? I'd say it tries to pound the Something Wicked This Way Comes button pretty hard, but I wouldn't call anything about that cover fanciful, light or fluffy. The actual adventure might be -- I haven't run or played it -- but not the cover.

I just don't buy that Wizards has radically altered their publishing philosophy in the couple of years since Avernus and Rime, never mind the generally apocalyptic tone of the first few years of 5e adventures. This recent run isn't my preference, but they don't make me feel like Wizards has abandoned me, either. I only play twice a week and can't get to all this stuff anyway.
 

I can definitely see this with Radiant Citadel, but Wild Beyond the Witchlight? I'd say it tries to pound the Something Wicked This Way Comes button pretty hard, but I wouldn't call anything about that cover fanciful, light or fluffy. The actual adventure might be -- I haven't run or played it -- but not the cover.
Absolutely. I personally am a huge softie and favor fanciful, light, and fluffy. I have pretty much completely ignored Wild Beyond the Witchlight because that cover screams "eldritch horror circus" and/or "gritty fantastical steampunk," depending on whether you focus on the creepy clown who looks like he has blood splattered on his face, or the nonhuman top-hatted gentleman with the glowing pocketwatch (who appears to be an orc or ogre or the like.)
 



Jahydin

Adventurer
Well let me check out what's coming out then...
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Yup, back to my OSR games I go. Have fun with your totally grown up D&D...
 

Hussar

Legend
It utterly baffles me when people get bent out of shape that the current crop of books don't cater to their taste.

I'll admit, I pick and choose and I always have. Outside of core, my first 3.5 WOtC book that I bought was like Tome of Magic. I skipped 99% of the material WotC produced because the OGL stuff was more to my liking. 4e saw me get the core books only. 5e, core books and then my first WOtC purchase was Waterdeep Dragon Heist. My last WotC purchase was Tasha's.

If WotC isn't rocking your boat, there's a freaking MOUNTAIN of stuff out there for you. Who cares if WotC is doing stuff that doesn't speak to you? It's not it's 1992 and the only source of D&D stuff is one company.

Be positive about the stuff you like and ignore the rest. Stop whinging about what they're not doing and sing the praises of those who are catering to your tastes.

It just baffles me that people waste any time with stuff they don't like. I guess I just don't get the payoff.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
  • Candlekeep Mysteries ....teens +
  • Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft...adults
  • Wild Beyond the Witchlight .....kids +
  • Fizban's Treasury of Dragons... dragon lovers only
  • Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos.... teens
  • Call of the Netherdeep... critters
  • Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel... looks like teens+
  • Spelljammer: Adventures in Space...old farts (me) and anime fans
  • Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen / Warriors of Krynn... dragonlance fans only

Any stuff for us 30-40 year olds. ,😆 Mostly kidding.

Though I would love a bit of D&D with some late 90s grime and early 00s shine.
 

Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
Not to get too off tangent, but maybe if you can isolate what you liked about 4e (which I was also a fan), maybe you can find other games doing something similar? There is some overlap in PF2, 13th Age, Soulbound, etc.
I hate to see someone give up.
Thanks for reaching out. I'm not looking for substitutes. I just want the same level of support and the freedom to continue using and expanding my favorite system the way others get to enjoy theirs. But that's really another subject for discussion elsewhere.
 




beancounter

(I/Me/Mine)
yes but marketing to a bunch of 40 and 50 somethings with the maturity of a 12 year old and the sense of humor of an 8 year old (poop jokes) will never be a bad idea.

That may be true, but that wasn't what I was getting at. :)

By the time most kids are 12, they try their hardest to avoid being seen as a "little kid". They will start trying to do as much adult things that they can, and be independent from adults whenever possible. This behavior includes avoiding toys and games that they associate with little kids, such as Disney related stuff (among others). In addition, this is about the time puberty hits, and they start noticing the opposite sex.

Whereas most 8 year old kids won't engage in such behaviors.

So, to effectively market to these two age groups you have to employ different strategies. For example, putting a picture of an attractive women (or man) on the cover is likely to be more effective at drawing the attention of a 12 year old than an 8 year old. And conversely, putting a cute, big eyed cartoon animal on the cover is more likely to draw the attention of an 8 year old.

So, ultimately my point is that it doesn't make sense to put all kids into one single demographic.
 

Retreater

Legend
Thanks for reaching out. I'm not looking for substitutes. I just want the same level of support and the freedom to continue using and expanding my favorite system the way others get to enjoy theirs. But that's really another subject for discussion elsewhere.
I'm holding out hope that one day something like the OSR movement can expand to 4E. I think there is some nostalgia there and more goodwill than when it was being published.
But I feel your pain.
 

Yeah I recently saw DCC (from some thread here) and found it refreshing. :D

I mean, don't just dip your toe. Dive in! So much of the discussion of 5e's possible tone shift and audience focus here is just fully solved by DCC, which fully embraces the let's-play-scoundrels swords and sorcery tone. Folks here like to dismiss that as grim-and-gritty edgelord, which means they're too busy sneering to look at DCC. A lot of it is very wild, very gonzo stuff! And some of it is genuinely funny. It just isn't uWu hamsters and such.

But I guess it's easy for me to recommend giving up on 5e because I honestly don't get the system loyalty. It's just D&D. So is DCC. So are a ton of D&D-derived games out there. Sure, there are some differences, but at the end of the day you're still playing a class-based level-progression d20 fantasy game with the same six stats, saving throws, HP, etc. And for all the 5e-specific stuff that isn't in DCC, there's extremely cool stuff like rules for spell duels that make being a caster more interesting, and not just about spell slot management. DCC also has fun dice, amazing adventures, and you no longer have to sit around on pins and needles, waiting to see if WotC will write up a paragraph that gives you the go-ahead to include Sigil in your campaign. You'll probably be too busy with much crazier situations to care.
 



Retreater

Legend
This sound like a post by someone who doesn't know what they are talking about! If these one-liners are what you think about these books (3 of which are not even out yet) then it tells me you haven't really looked them very deeply.
Well the one-liners are just quick takes about them, oversimplified.
The past two years haven't exactly been full of opportunities to look through the books in depth in person at a store. The only one I've actually looked through was Candlekeep. The adventures all seemed too short to really get into. Some of the adventures consisted of going to one site and fighting one guy to finish the adventure. That's just not what I'm looking for.
The other stuff I'm going with the marketing and reviews I've read online, which tend to an extreme "no questions asked" loving everything Wizards makes or someone trashing it.
I do know I have no interest in Critical Role from trying to watch a couple episodes and having had bad experiences with the influence it's had on one of my former groups (my wife's DM fell under the spell badly and kicked her out of the group because she wasn't "streaming quality.")
Then I have to think about how I'm using gaming material these days - exclusively on VTT. If I were to buy and run a campaign setting, that would mean everything I play on a VTT needs to be altered and adapted (or written whole cloth) to that campaign setting.
That's at least twice the work of just finding something premade and running it on the VTT.
In this case Curse of Strahd is much more helpful for me (and usable) than Van Richten's Guide.
I own so much 5e stuff that I have to consider if I'm going to use something and how I will use it before I buy it.
Additionally what's keeping me from playing/running 5e is the implementation on VTT. I was doing ok on Roll 20, but we shifted to Foundry. I have no 5e content on Foundry, and to get it, you have to buy it on DND Beyond and (questionably) port it using a module. It's like a back door hack that's not guaranteed to work, and support can (and has in the past) get pulled at any point.
I can't even buy PDFs of this stuff to use digitally and port over myself.
There are many reasons to dislike WotC now - and it's not all displacer beast kittens.
 

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