d&d is anti-medieval


I've been on a dnd and classic history kick lately and ran into this blog entry.

The premise is that dungeons and dragons do not follow the medieval model.

I'm of the belief he's pretty much right (it draws as much on the classic western as any medieval trappings), but seeing if it is based on mostly the beginning, I'm asking if editions of dungeons and dragons are more or less similar and why?
 

Tonguez

Adventurer
Yes DnD is part of the imagined history of Pan-Western Folk lore, its “once upon a time in a land far afar away” that projects modern social norms onto a world of castles, princesses, wizards and dragons

Fairytale, Fantasy, Cowboys and Space Opera - they’re all different spins on the same setting tropes
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
1. What Morrus said. D&D models D&D.

2. I disagree with a lot of of what the linked-to post states. So, without turning this into more than it needs to be, I think that the author of the post is conflating some aspects of gameplay (such as leveling, treasure) with the milieu that a campaign (or "D&D") is set in.

D&D doesn't model medieval times. But it's also certainly not anti-medieval. It has a lot of the trappings of "faux" pre-Gunpowder western Europe, as seen through the eyes of early wargamers, history buffs, and Tolkien/Lieber fantasy.

But you know, just because adventurers can level doesn't mean that there aren't kings and things borrowed from that milieu.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen

I've been on a dnd and classic history kick lately and ran into this blog entry.

The premise is that dungeons and dragons do not follow the medieval model.

I'm of the belief he's pretty much right (it draws as much on the classic western as any medieval trappings), but seeing if it is based on mostly the beginning, I'm asking if editions of dungeons and dragons are more or less similar and why?
So, I have the most experience with 4e and 5e, I would say both are similar in some ways and dissimilar in others. One of the biggest points of dissimilarity is in the focus (or lack thereof) on the accumulation of land and power. As the editions have progressed, the standard play experience of D&D has moved further and further away from clearing out land, building strongholds, and acquiring followers. It has focused more and more on doing quests.

5e claims, in the PHB, that most wealth is not actually exchanged in the form of coins, but rather exchange of trade goods for the peasantry and the exchange of land and titles in the nobility - it’s really only adventurers who regularly deal in coinage, which they plunder from the dungeons they adventure in. That said, in my experience it doesn’t really work this way in practice. The player characters deal in coins, which means for practical purposes the people they trade with need to do the same. A cow may have the buying power of 10 gp, but no player is going to sell the suit of plate armor they crafted for 150 cows.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Most D&D worlds don't strictly follow a medieval model, no.

But then... there is no such thing as a strict medieval model! It isn't like all nations and nation-states in the era we refer to as "medieval" had exactly the same governance structures, nor was any nation even static within one structure for the entire period!

And, if the blog post is still referring to Chainmail rules... it isn't exactly up-to-date on the state of the art in D&D, or RPGs in general.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
5e claims, in the PHB, that most wealth is not actually exchanged in the form of coins, but rather exchange of trade goods for the peasantry and the exchange of land and titles in the nobility - it’s really only adventurers who regularly deal in coinage, which they plunder from the dungeons they adventure in. That said, in my experience it doesn’t really work this way in practice. The player characters deal in coins, which means for practical purposes the people they trade with need to do the same. A cow may have the buying power of 10 gp, but no player is going to sell the suit of plate armor they crafted for 150 cows.
You realize that these are in no way in conflict?

You, as a person, have an income of, say, $100K per year. You, personally, only deal in cash, and every vendor your work with takes that cash, and can provide you with change.

The rest of the economy is still massively dominated by electronic funds transfer. Most of wealth exchanged these days, overall, in the nation and the world, is not in cash, no matter what you, as a person, use.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
You realize that these are in no way in conflict?

You, as a person, have an income of, say, $100K per year. You, personally, only deal in cash, and every vendor your work with takes that cash, and can provide you with change.

The rest of the economy is still massively dominated by electronic funds transfer. Most of wealth exchanged these days, overall, in the nation and the world, is not in cash, no matter what you, as a person, use.
Sure, but the fact that the economy is massively dominated by electronic funds transfer would be pretty much irrelevant to a hypothetical player for whom I was the avatar in my-life-as-an-RPG. At best it amounts to an interesting setting detail, but for the most part it doesn’t really matter. The part the player actually interfaces with is still based on exchange of physical currency. (Well, not really cause I try not to carry cash if I can help it and mostly use my debit card. But for the purpose of the discussion.)
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I don't really see the point to the blog. It's not medieval, there are dungeons to be looted and dragons to be slain. Saying it's not medieval is kind of like saying my phone isn't a toaster. The game rules were simply not concerned with society at large, that was left largely to the DM. OD&D did make some minor nods towards feudal society and social power but it was never a focus.

Most campaign worlds seem to be more geared towards renaissance or early industrial sans gunpowder and steam power.

Which is fine. It's modeling a world that has never existed.
 

Nebulous

Hero
5e claims, in the PHB, that most wealth is not actually exchanged in the form of coins, but rather exchange of trade goods for the peasantry and the exchange of land and titles in the nobility - it’s really only adventurers who regularly deal in coinage, which they plunder from the dungeons they adventure in. That said, in my experience it doesn’t really work this way in practice. The player characters deal in coins, which means for practical purposes the people they trade with need to do the same. A cow may have the buying power of 10 gp, but no player is going to sell the suit of plate armor they crafted for 150 cows.
D&D also seems to suggest that the common peasantry deals in copper and maybe silver coins, but prestigious gold is left to the venue of heroes and nobles and kings. Although goddamn I would love to see the paladin buy a suit of plate with 150 cows.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Yes. That's the point.

"5e claims, in the PHB, that most wealth is not actually exchanged in the form of coins..." - that's an overall setting detail, not an expectation of how PCs will manage their own wealth.
It seems like we may be talking past each other here. I did not mean to assert it wasn’t an overall setting detail...
 

Shiroiken

Adventurer
Upon reading the blog, it's obvious that the author acknowledged the fact that OD&D was deliberately written to be setting neutral, and that upon the 1E DMG a variety of government and ruling styles are suggested. However, they seem to believe that this was somehow a bug, rather than a feature. The original Roleplaying Game was far more Game than Roleplaying (Gygax even defined Role-playing as taking on the role of the class, not the individual character), and it was left to the DM to determine how to implement any non-game related add-ons. Social structure, geographic features, even the gods themselves were up to the DM to create or ignore as they saw fit.
 

dnd4vr

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

I've been on a dnd and classic history kick lately and ran into this blog entry.

The premise is that dungeons and dragons do not follow the medieval model.

I'm of the belief he's pretty much right (it draws as much on the classic western as any medieval trappings), but seeing if it is based on mostly the beginning, I'm asking if editions of dungeons and dragons are more or less similar and why?
D&D is as medieval as you want it to be. A lot of games are more fantasy-oriented that ours is and personally I prefer a grittier, more true-to-reality feel (less magic, easier dying, etc.), but I've played in a lot of games that were extremely fantasy-oriented!

In our campaign, the PCs are doing things for the King, clearing a territory of monsters and hoping to establish a fiefdom. The "treasure" we collect and the payments we receive are often goods, weapons, armor, and such, or services in return (healing, research, retainers, etc.).
 

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