D&D General D&D, magic, and the mundane medieval

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Micah Sweet

Legend
I still don't understand why you don't want them in either TBH? no reason other then 'cause in 80's it said so has been given
Beyond that they are explicitly said not to be there (which is good enough for me), there is no role for the heritage to play in the setting. Call it economy of design if you prefer.

Honestly, since the ASIs and all the cultural signifiers have been removed from orcs, it's become rather difficult to see a role for them in D&D in general. What exactly differentiates orcs from humans at this point that isn't strictly asthetic?
 


I apologize- "Giff". British anthropomorphic hippos with a love of beefy firearms. Debuted in Spelljammer.

It's a known D&D race, although a bit obscure. Meant to be a bit comical although dangerous. Admittedly, it's a bit of a hyperbolic question. Kind of snarky, actually. Sorry, I try to avoid doing that.

EtA: There are many valid ways to play. I think there are invalid ways to play. So far in this thread I don't believe I've come across an invalid manner. There are two ways I learned to DM, first by by trial and error while reading the books. This was followed by playing at the tables of three DMs at a local community center. All three had persistent sandbox worlds. This was in the early-mid '80s. At least one, probably two, are still running their games. I don't remember ever being hindered or limited by my choices.

The implication that having a persistent world that doesn't have the same options as the D&D 5e is somehow player-negating or constraining ruffles my feathers a bit. It's a bit rich coming from people that don't play D&D much or have rotisserie campaigns. I certainly accept that not all people have had good experiences with persistent campaigns- sorry to hear that. People find a method that works for them and makes time spent with friends time well spent- I've found mine.
 
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Simon Miles

Creator of the World of Barnaynia FRPG setting
Spinning off a bit from some discussion in the Dragonlance thread.

D&D derives a lot of its aesthetic and assumed setting from the medieval to renaissance period in Europe. I've just been thinking about some of the historical factors that were enormously prominent, everyday, and important in the real world, but which D&D either neglects completely, or just casually makes assumptions about without really thinking about how the everyday presence of magic and the verifiable existence of a polytheistic pantheon of gods would affect it.

Tax, for instance. It was probably the cause of the majority of medieval wars and uprisings that weren't caused by religious differences. When was the last time your PCs paid taxes? Who does pay the tax in your campaign world? How does money get raised to build castles, city walls, sewers, and roads, or to pay soldiers and bureaucrats? Higher-level PCs are some of the richest people in a campaign setting (other than dragons...) - if they're not paying tax, who is?

Monarchy. Historically, monarchies almost always drew their legitimacy from the endorsement of the Church, who spoke for god. Divine Right of Kings and all that. Are your D&D campaign world monarchies divinely endorsed? If so, by which gods? What do the residents of the kingdom who worship other gods think of this? Does the endorsing god ever revoke their endorsement when a monarch goes off the rails, or starts worshipping something else, and if so, what happens then? If the monarchy is not tied to religion, where does it draw its legitimacy from? And the same with all the lesser aristocracy further down the chain.

Land. Who owns it? Who decides who owns it? There's a lot of Generic Wilderness in most D&D settings, in your setting is this on nominally owned by someone and it's just too monster-haunted for them to use, or is it legitimately unclaimed? Do you have a squattocracy of powerful adventurers picking bits of land out that they like, slaying the monstrous inhabitants and setting up domains of their own regardless of who owns the title in a dusty ledger hundreds of miles away? And even in more rural and tamed areas, or in cities - who owns the land? Is your average farmer or shopkeeper a yeoman who owns a small holding of their own, or are they tenants paying rent to a noble or landlord? And in a world of dungeons and underdarks and subterranean dwarven cities how deep does title run?

Spell lists. Most D&D spells are intended for adventurers obviously, because that's what the game is about. But that leaves a lot of conceptual space for spells that'd be incredibly important in the non-adventuring world. The Ceremony spell is a nice gesture in this direction, and Plant Growth has some great agricultural utility, but there's some fairly obvious gaps. Does your world have people researching/casting spells like Ease Childbirth, or Improve Dwelling, or Increase Fertility, or Accelerate Fermentation, or Grind Grain, or Contraception, or Permanent Dye? If not, why not? Are there any other obvious utility spells that a pre-modern society would have developed that DON'T centre around bashing monsters?

Punishment. Pre-modern societies were very big on corporal punishment. Floggings, hard labor, and mutilations and so on. There's some fairly obvious Rule Zero reasons that this stuff wouldn't be welcome at a lot of tables, but in that case, how do minor crimes get punished? Corporal punishment works because people are afraid of pain and injury, but this is D&D, when most injuries disappear after a good night's sleep and pain (or deprivation, or discomfort, or boredom, or bad food) only matters if you choose to roleplay it. What sort of punishments do your rulers apply? Are there magical options - application of spells like geas?

Social mobility. Ancestry and birth were historically very important. Even if you were rich and successful, if you were low-born you could almost never truly achieve equality of social status with those who were born noble, or high-caste, or royal. How tightly do the nobility guard their class integrity in your world? Can your successful adventurers purchase a title, or can their wealth open doors into high society and will they be genuinely accepted there? Can the commoner hero marry the princess without comment, revolution, or ostracism? But if there's no meaningful dividing lines between noble and commoner, what does being a noble even mean?
There's a lot of food for thought there. The economics of a fantasy world are pretty unguessable perhaps, but the biggest bullies will get the most power and seek to pass it on to their offspring, justifying their position through violence and money. Keep the poor down, train only the ruling classes to fight or use magic, and write your own laws and taxation. If you have patronage of some temple all the better, but it's not vital.
We have explored quite a lot of these ideas in our Playets' and Games Master's Guides to Dunromin, plus other stuff, which is a pseudo medieval European setting on a very strange world.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
It's a bit rich coming from people that don't play D&D much or have rotisserie campaigns.
Rotisserie campaigns?

Didn’t you lecture people about criticizing campaigns with limited options in this same post?

Anyway, I run long-running campaigns in worlds that evolve from one campaign to the next when a campaign does finally end, and I dislike limiting options of races.
 

Rotisserie campaigns?

Didn’t you lecture people about criticizing campaigns with limited options in this same post?

Anyway, I run long-running campaigns in worlds that evolve from one campaign to the next when a campaign does finally end, and I dislike limiting options of races.
I criticized people telling me that long term campaigns with different options that the 5e default are inherently player-limiting. I think that is incorrect. Post #355 seemed pretty clear that there are preferences were no adjustments from the default are required, or even desirable. My apologies if that was unclear.
 
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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I criticized people telling me that long term campaigns with different options that the 5e default are inherently player-limiting. I think that is incorrect. Post #355 seemed pretty clear that there are preferences were no adjustments from the default are required, or even desirable. My apologies if that was unclear.
I’d advise ignoring (don’t mean the ignore button, just don’t worry about) anyone that seriously states that a more restricted game is somehow inherently bad.

It is more limited, though. That just…isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

I still don’t know what a rotisserie campaign is…
 

I still don’t know what a rotisserie campaign is…
Allow me to share my definition with you! A rotisserie campaign is one of a series of limited campaigns which have nothing to do with one another. It's a term derived from "rotisserie baseball", where people take turns picking baseball players to form a fictional team. Here different people pick different scenarios to run. A perfectly valid way to play that I'm not strongly enamored with.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Allow me to share my definition with you! A rotisserie campaign is one of a series of limited campaigns which have nothing to do with one another. It's a term derived from "rotisserie baseball", where people take turns picking baseball players to form a fictional team. Here different people pick different scenarios to run. A perfectly valid way to play that I'm not strongly enamored with.
Huh.

Okay. I enjoy a good short story campaign. I’m going to start one soon in order to playtest the new UA stuff with some continuity so we get real play experiences, not just quick fights with no meat in between.

I don’t recommend it as a primary mode of play, but I suppose there is a person for every preference.
 


jasper

Rotten DM
Allow me to share my definition with you! A rotisserie campaign is one of a series of limited campaigns which have nothing to do with one another. It's a term derived from "rotisserie baseball", where people take turns picking baseball players to form a fictional team. Here different people pick different scenarios to run. A perfectly valid way to play that I'm not strongly enamored with.
Thanks. I love how language is different in other parts of the net. My language. Module. A one shot adventure taking under 8 hours but generally 4 hours. See the 16 to 32 page dungeons put out during 1E or the seasonal adventures which tie with the hardcovers. Adventure those hard cover canned adventures. Campaign the whole kit of what ever a DM runs. The campaign only ends when the DM dies.
 


Micah Sweet

Legend
So, basically, the table is hostage to your preferences? And you don't see any problem here?
If the group insisted on playing Dragonlance with orcs, I would either not play or play and be irritated about it. Hopefully the former. The table isn't hostage to my preferences. I or them can always walk away if an accord can't be reached.
 

If the group insisted on playing Dragonlance with orcs, I would either not play or play and be irritated about it. Hopefully the former. The table isn't hostage to my preferences. I or them can always walk away if an accord can't be reached.
How would you feel about Dragonlance with Giff? :angel:
 

Okay, but you’re replying to me, and I’ve been arguing that it doesn’t make sense to imagine a world where the player options exist and PCs can use them and have all the available backgrounds (minus setting specific ones), where personal magic is also very rare.

Because it takes generations upon generations of mathematicians sharing knowledge, learning in schools and by way of tutors, ie it requires mathematicians not being very rare, to produce Isaac Newton. So even if we absurdly assume that the PC wizard is the only wizard in the world, or one of 5 globally, there has to be something less than a wizard proper who can cast some basic spells and understands enough fundamentals to teach them to kid wizard.

That isn’t a coherent world, IMO.
The classic reflection in PC terms would be the Rogue who has a high Intelligence and Expertise in Arcana, but no spells. They probably know more about magic than the party Wizard but don't have the spark needed to be able to actually cast spells.
 


doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
The classic reflection in PC terms would be the Rogue who has a high Intelligence and Expertise in Arcana, but no spells. They probably know more about magic than the party Wizard but don't have the spark needed to be able to actually cast spells.
Sure, but IMO it doesn’t match up with the rest of the game, and the Arcana, Nature, and Religion, skills should have magical things you can do with them. Like detect magic and identify should have the same relationship with them as knock has with thieves tools, at least.
 

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