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D&Detox


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DMMike

Game Masticator
I don’t think it helps that there’s a narrative out there that it’s hard work. Sure, some games might be. But a lot of games are very simple, and people being told repeatedly that it’s hard work feeds the belief that it is.
I blame GURPS.

D&D might seem less intimidating with a full game in one book, versus three. Three books is an investment. Does that create a resistance to learning new games in players, that they might somehow lose their time invested in learning/reading D&D/GURPS/dense game?

The player who took to it most readily in my group was the one who had the least amount of gaming experience. Only a few years to the decades of the others.
Was there a trick that helped them grasp Blades, or did you just use sustained bludgeoning?
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Was there a trick that helped them grasp Blades, or did you just use sustained bludgeoning?
I've learned from my time in kitchens never to grasp the blade, unless you want to season your cooking with blood (not that there's anything wrong with that ...). ;)
 

Was there a trick that helped them grasp Blades, or did you just use sustained bludgeoning?
Not really a trick, no, and probably a bit softer than bludgeoning. I’d just nudge them here and there. I’d offer suggestions occasionally. I’d remind them of the options available to them.

I also eased into the game’s other mechancs a little at a time so that they could absorb each part and then start to grasp how they all interact and so on.

But it became a huge hit with my group, so i think those first few sessions being kind of light made things much easier in the grand scheme of things.
 
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aramis erak

Adventurer
Can‘t say ive seen much of that. I mean, I know of players who might grouse that an RPG handles things differently than D&D, but none have been tripped up by those differences in any major way. The closest I’ve seen was continued dissatisfaction with the way M&M handled iterative attacks from one player using automatic firearms and a super speedster.
You've been lucky.

I've been having problems with that in almost every non-D&D game I've run. Not always big issues.

Dragon Warriors. Players keep forgetting that 1's are Crit Success
Pendragon, cheering when rolling a 1... the worst possible level of success... (KAP is High-but-not-over)
FFG Star Wars "Hey, that's my slot"...

MANY systems: Action economy in conbats and conflicts.
 

I get the problems. I didn't back Deadlands this week because as awesome as it looks getting my group to learn/play/enjoy it would be an effort. Instead, I will just hack new World of Darkness for a Western setting if I want to play Weird West. We are older players that over the decades played dozens of systems, but now play so infrequently that it is D&D or World of Darkness.
 

slobster

Hero
I still don’t understand people who look at learning how to play a game like it’s work.
To share my perspective, learning a new rules set is a lot like work because the rules arent what I enjoy about gaming. The rules are necessary, but what I enjoy are the stories, the characters, the fun of triumph and the frustration of getting set back, and all the goofing off that happens in between.

So for me if i have to learn a new set of rules, at best that is a necessary evil standing between me and what i actually came to enjoy with my very limited available time to game. At worst with a system I dont jive with, it actively sabotages me from having a food time because I'm too busy wrestling with the mechanics of whatever is going on to be able to catch the flow of the fiction.

My 2 cp!
 

pemerton

Legend
Is Dungeon World the game you're running? I can see people having some issues adapting to a PtbA style game. It's very different, and there is a lot more responsibility in the player, at least compared to a more passive D&D style player. They just arent used to playing to find out what happens.
I can see what @hawkeyefan is talking about in relation to BitD. But that's not really applicable to DW or Apocalypse World, both of which allocate narrative responsibility in pretty traditional ways (in another recent thread I posted the less than 10% of AW moves that allow a player to take "narrative control").

A PbtA game requires the players to play proactively and follow the fiction, but there is nothing about D&D that has to get in the way of that. I was GMing D&D along those sorts of lines in the late 1980s!
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
I can see what @hawkeyefan is talking about in relation to BitD. But that's not really applicable to DW or Apocalypse World, both of which allocate narrative responsibility in pretty traditional ways (in another recent thread I posted the less than 10% of AW moves that allow a player to take "narrative control").

A PbtA game requires the players to play proactively and follow the fiction, but there is nothing about D&D that has to get in the way of that. I was GMing D&D along those sorts of lines in the late 1980s!
You'll notice I said more passive players. PbtA has some built in mechanics that change the expectations of the players around what they should be doing, and what to expect as far as framing goes. Also, success with consequences is baked in. You certainly can play D&D in a similar fashion, you do and I do for example, but it's not baked in in quite the same way. So while it's true that "there is nothing about D&D that has to get in the way of that", I would also submit that there is very little that actively encourages it either.

I'm also not strictly talking about moves when I'm talking about the allocation of narrative responsibility either. Right in the original AW game rules the suggestion is made that the players should be regularly responsible for the description of things, and that the specifically that GM use the players as a resource in this way. That is really not the case for D&D. It certainly is narrative control though, as those descriptions are what suggests action.
 

If you've GMed other bloodlines of games, like Fate or Dungeon World (or Amber?), how did you help players break out of the D&D mindset?
Actually, can't say I've ever seen this problem, but if I were running such a game I'd tell them to buy the player rules for the game in question and read them. If they agree to play non-D&D games then I fully expect them to come to grips pretty quickly with how that game differs from D&D, mechanically, thematically, grammatically...

Maybe reading some FICTION that inspired the game (or was inspired by it)?

If you've learned a non-d20-style game as a PC while coming from a D&D background, did you have trouble avoiding old habits? What did you do to overcome them?
...
I read the manual.

I have had one or two players who, once upon a time, apparently couldn't be bothered to learn/remember which dice to roll for D&D even when it was explained to them EVERY combat round for session after session. Playing other RPGs? Just not something I've ever seen.
 

pemerton

Legend
success with consequences is baked in. You certainly can play D&D in a similar fashion, you do and I do for example, but it's not baked in in quite the same way. So while it's true that "there is nothing about D&D that has to get in the way of that", I would also submit that there is very little that actively encourages it either.

I'm also not strictly talking about moves when I'm talking about the allocation of narrative responsibility either. Right in the original AW game rules the suggestion is made that the players should be regularly responsible for the description of things, and that the specifically that GM use the players as a resource in this way. That is really not the case for D&D.
On the one hand, Vincent Baker is obviously a genius of RPG design. On the other hand, he didn't invent AW from whole cloth. The idea that players might help establish setting and context for their PCs didn't begin with AW, although there's no doubt that AW takes a big step in the way it tries to systematise and articulate the idea.

For instance, Classic Traveller 1977 (Book 3) says that

At times, the referee (or the players) will find combinations of features which may seem contradictory or unreasonable. Common sense should rule in such cases; either the players or referee will generate a rationale which explains the situation, or an alternative description should be made.​

When my group started our current Classic Traveller campaign, it was one of the players who suggested that the starting world, which I (as referee) had rolled up, was a gas giant moon.

So from my point of view, it's not so much what D&D actively encourages, but rather what is about either D&D rules or D&D culture that actively discourages players engaging with the fiction in that sort of way? (And it's not like D&D is a monolith in this respect. There's 4e and especially but not only the DMG2 - eg the idea of player-authored quests is right there in the PHB and DMG. And as I said, I was working out some of this stuff for myself around 1986/7, GMing AD&D.)
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
@pemerton - Before I WoT here, a question. Do you think it's common in D&D games for the DM to ask the players to describe something in the game world? As in, the player walk into their local tavern, and the DM asks OK, what does it look like and who's here? That sort of thing.

My basic premise is that isn't common at all, nor is it suggested or encouraged by the rules set. Why I think that's important is another story, but I wanted to set the ground before we got any more involved, as I think we're coming at this form different angles.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
@pemerton - Before I WoT here, a question. Do you think it's common in D&D games for the DM to ask the players to describe something in the game world? As in, the player walk into their local tavern, and the DM asks OK, what does it look like and who's here? That sort of thing.

My basic premise is that isn't common at all, nor is it suggested or encouraged by the rules set. Why I think that's important is another story, but I wanted to set the ground before we got any more involved, as I think we're coming at this form different angles.
It might not be common, but I also don’t think that DMing style is rare. I’ve run across it many times, and also hear it frequently in live-streamed games. I use it myself, selectively.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
It might not be common, but I also don’t think that DMing style is rare. I’ve run across it many times, and also hear it frequently in live-streamed games. I use it myself, selectively.
I agree. What I was getting at is that it's far more a part of the 'basic style' of PtbA games, and actively encouraged in the rule book. I think that changes the expectations of players as to what their job is and what they're responsible for in a PbtA game. The D&D books don't do this, and I think that correlates well general player expectations for D&D players. My contention isn't that DMs who use this play style are rare, but rather that D&D players who expect this to be the way things work are rare. This works back to my original notion that PbtA encourages more player control over the narrative outside the mechanics for action adjudication.
 

DMMike

Game Masticator
The D&D books don't do this, and I think that correlates well general player expectations for D&D players. My contention isn't that DMs who use this play style are rare, but rather that D&D players who expect this to be the way things work are rare. This works back to my original notion that PbtA encourages more player control over the narrative outside the mechanics for action adjudication.
So an important element of a D&Detox would be giving the players magical rings, still subject to the One Ring, that allow them - nay - encourage them to do some narrating? Maybe a short scene, created mostly by the players, with minimal GM input? Or GM input that requires PC elaboration?
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
An example (more or less from play, IIRC):

PCs are in [place], looking for Things To Do. PC rolls something appropriate to find out what Events are happening in [place]. GM decides that looks like [number, we'll say three] and says to player, "There are three things happening around town. What are they?"
 

John Dallman

Explorer
Do you think it's common in D&D games for the DM to ask the players to describe something in the game world? As in, the player walk into their local tavern, and the DM asks OK, what does it look like and who's here? That sort of thing.
Amber Diceless Roleplaying, published in 1991, goes to some lengths to explain that players are expected to provide much of the scenery. They are, after all, capable of moving through the worlds to ones they imagine. This makes ADR somewhat challenging to GM, especially if the players get on a roll.
 

TaranTheWanderer

Adventurer
I have introduced several groups to Dresden Fate RPG (just, literally, posted a thread about the most recent).

I have to admit that the D&D mindset was hard to shake when I learned FATE. Mostly, I couldn't wrap my head around 'story concept as mechanics' like aspects. It took a while but now that I have it I'm able to teach it fairly well.

1. Pregen characters
2 Pregens are roughed out so that players can add to them as the game progresses. You want to be able to speak Russian because it's convenient? Sure, your character now speaks Russian. Describe to me how they learned Russian. I'll let them add or remove stunts in the middle of the game too.
3. I throw them right into a combat in the first scene to hammer out mechanics and get them immediately immersed.
4. I use the cool and fun things they should be doing in-game against them. I don't only do the typical 'tag to get +2 to a roll'. NPCs will create maneuvers, tag aspects 'for effect' and use block actions. They will coordinate and I will explain things cinematically.

In D&D, I find, you are limited to very specific actions. You can attack and your attacks do 'xyz'. And that's it - no more or less. People sometimes get cranky when you venture out of the very specific interpretation of an action. You can cast a spell and here's an exact list of what you can cast and what each spell does. There's no real creativity or incentive to describe your actions so players tend to default to actions like, 'I move, then I attack'.
In other games(at least FATE), attacking isn't always the most mechanically advantageous action. Describing an intricate maneuver where you throw sand in a person's eyes so your ally can get an advantage makes for a cool story and gives a mechanical advantage.

Using those AGAINST your PCs will encourage them to do the same.

D&D players also tend to ask the GM, "what's in the room". I usually respond, "I don't know, what do you think is in the room?" That gets them thinking and encourages them to make declarations and add to the story.

My 2cents
 

5atbu

Explorer
Narrating what NPCs are doing with the system is IMHO one of the best ways to learn a system. Certainly more fun than reading a rule book... And I have read hundreds..
 

Ratskinner

Adventurer
That is why quick start rules with pre-gen characters and a short scenario exist. The GM can serve a fully cooked meal. All the player has to do is sit down and try it.
IME, those work pretty well for introducing D&D-ers to other traditional rpgs. (or for introducing newbies to rpgs in general) I haven't found that they work so well for games like Fate or PbtA, where the players have a much higher responsibility WRT to the narrative. Especially true if the GM is in the same boat.

One significant issue is the idea of a "scenario" in the first place. By default, games like Fate and the PbtA games are kind of expecting the players (either through character choices/building or through part of play) to play a much bigger role in creating the setting/scenario. As examples, in D&D, fiction questions like "Is there something here that I can...." or "Do I recognize..." or "Can I..." are "DM, may I?" questions. However, in Fate, a player can Create and Advantage (often with Notice) to discover something useful, or have an aspect Compelled so that those Ninjas are working for his old enemy. Similarly, there are many playbooks for various PbtA games (in particular, I'm thinking of Dungeon World) that either directly inject fiction into the narrative, or require the player to do so "...describe how you know...".

To use your GM-as-chef analogy, traditional rpgs ask the players to sprinkle some salt, pepper, or maybe some salsa on the food. Some of these games are more like asking them to cook with you. A turnkey scenario is like a frozen dinner.
 

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