Did I discover the Left Wing and Right Wing of D&D gaming styles?

Turanil

Visitor
Okay, I am opening the can of worms here, especially as I will present my opinion in an extremely biased way, ready for flame war...

So, in reading some threads around, I think I have discerned two main tendencies in gaming style. I say "Left Wing" and "Right Wing" to quote the terms used to designates the two main political currents in France, that have been bickering and insulting each others for ages, and will never reconcile. It seems to me that there is likewise two opposing conceptions of D&D gaming style, that will fight each other bitterly until the ends of time and will never reconcile. Hey! I don't speak of role-playing versus roll-playing, but of a new concept World Cuisine D&D versus Traditionalist Campaign Setting.

[Before all, a word about "World Cuisine". A friend of mine once told me (don't know if this is true or not) that a new culinary concept had been invented in the US: the "World Cuisine". Basically, it is putting everything and its brother together on the same dish: Spanish paella + Italian spaguettis + Mexican buritos + Chinese nems, etc. Needless to say, as Frenchs we were both staggered for days by this abomination. (Don't meddle with a French's food)]

So, that being said, let me describe World Cuisine D&D and Traditionalist Campaign Setting in gaming:

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World Cuisine D&D

[SARCASM]
A typical World Cuisine example: adventure of the Princess Rescue.

The four PCs are:
-- Countess Ulricka Mallory, a paladin and Arthurian knight. [You may notice that Ulricka being a German name has nothing to do with an Arthurian character, but frankly, who cares? You may also note that there weren't women among Arthurian knights, but it would be sexist to point out.]
-- Myamoto Musachi, a monk from Shaolin who like to quote Lao Tseu whenever he feels it would be cool to do so. [You may notice that Myamoto Musachi is the name of a Japanese samurai, not a Chinese monk, but frankly, who cares? You may also note that Shaolin monks being Buddhist wouldn't quote a Taoist, but frankly, who cares?]
-- Sganarel, a gnome sorcerer with kewl neopunk clothes (read black leather Trenchcoat) and hairstyle. [This name is drawn from French literature, and everytime you hear it you cannot but remember that boring theatre play you went to see when you were a schoolboy. It's really annoying, but since you rejected the player's wish to have a nunchaku for weapon of choice, you let him keep this name.]
-- Lady Vine Solania, an elven cleric of Taarnhul God of Storms. [First note the funny pun in the character's name. Taarnhul comes from a cheap pdf bought online, that the player chose because of the cool domain associated with this deity, and that it will let her gain the Arcane Archer prestige class reworked into Divine Archer at 9th level.]

And so the players meet in a tavern. There was probably only one table with just four seats in this tavern, otherwise how to explain that so different characters would seat at the same table in the first place? And become friends 5 minutes later? Anyway, just then they are hired by Jarl Osric, a local noble of this Viking community, to seek beyond the Trolls' mountains to the East, his daughter who was kidnapped by Ankhatmon the necromancer.

And so, after some random encounters where the PCs defeated a couple of orcs, wolves, and raiding berserkers, the party arrives in front of Ankhatmon's obsidian black pyramid. Entering inside the pyramid proves difficult, because the door is magical and thus cannot be broken or get past using magic. Instead, the players have to solve a riddle inscribed in Fiendish tongue on the door. Fortunately they succeed as the riddle resembles that found in LotR on Moria's entrance. You could wonder why this door can be easily opened by anyone finding the solution to a riddle, instead of simply requiring a key (that good-doers wouldn't have)? But who cares?

Then, the PCs do fight a beholder, a drow party (drow are so cool!), a mimic, and then the mummy of Ankhatmon. The players were afraid the fabled necromancer would be much tougher, like being a lich. Fortunately the DM knows how to use the CRs of monsters to make balanced encounters. Then, the adventurers get the treasure, with a chest of 4500 gp (notice how treasure chests never contain odd numbers like 4358 gp, but always 500, 1000, 1500, etc.) and various magical items (including one that could have saved Ankhatmon's unlife if he had used it instead of leaving it in the chest; how stupid these BBEG!). There is also a wonderful nunchaku +3 of disruption for the gnome, as the player didn't cease to whine about it during the session.

Then, the PCs travel back to Jarl Osric. No random encounters or what not on the way back home though, since it's too late and the gaming session must finish in 30 minutes. Then, the players just have time for a few minutes of roleplaying. So they tell that they sell their gems (4 gems of 1200 gp each) to a local merchant, and as the DM agrees, they just need to take their pencil, and replace "deep red gem" by "1200 gp". Just note how convenient having four gems for four players, and don't ask about a gem merchant residing in this small Viking village, with large amounts of money at his disposal. Who cares after all? Then, the paladin wants a magic sword. However, the DM saiys this is a low magic world here: no magic shops!! On the other hand, as you saved the Jarl's daughter, he can make an effort. So the DM rolls a percentile dice (behind his screen of course), and tells that indeed the Jarl is okay to sell her a +2 longsword of electricity for 1850 gp. As Ulricka's player modifies her character sheet to remove the money and add the sword, she notices that she still has enough money for a healing potion and asks if there is a wise woman in the village who could sell her one (we are roleplaying in this campaign dude!).

Next adventure: the DM has got a nice spelljammer module with Mind flayers! Cool!
[/SARCASM]

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Traditionalist Campaign Setting

-- Conan d20
-- Black Company d20
-- Dragonlance
-- Nyambe

-- Anything that tries to reflect with some consistent degree of accuracy a European (or Arthurian, or Oriental, or Antique, etc.) medieval setting. In this case, ahem: no magic shop, no out-of-place class, no riddles on the magic gate, etc., etc.

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So now the flame war:
In which camp do you reside. Tell us why your game style is the good one, and why the other side doesn't understand anything to the game. (If you lack arguments, there is a good deal of examples on the latest Magic Item Purchase thread...)

And of course no insults please. We wouldn't want to close this thread don't you??

:D
 

BiggusGeekus

That's Latin for "cool"
World Cuisine. I don't like telling my players what kind of character they can play.

Also, I eat omlettes with salsa and drink white wine with a steak dinner. I'm a food rebel, baby!
 

EricNoah

Community Supporter
I have almost always participated in (run, played in) the World Cuisine style of campaign. That's not to say I wouldn't love to try the other sometime as a one-shot or mini-campaign.

I can't really support "my side" except to say "hooray for variety".

And I like Mexican Egg Rolls, Thai Salsa, etc. :)
 
I just like how you fundamentally set up one side of the argument to look like idiots based on the way you wrote them up, great way to foster real discussion there.

However, saying Dragonlance is trying to create a realistic setting doesn't go over too well, and I'm a huge fan of DL. Especially out of place would be the Roman...I mean minotaur Legions and empire with their famed gladiator arenas. That doesn't really fit in with the rest of the world.

Can't really speak for the other ones as I've never seen Nyambe or Black Company d20 and avoided Conan d20 like the plague simply because I found the Conan world and stories mind numbing.
 

Turanil

Visitor
Captain Tagon said:
I just like how you fundamentally set up one side of the argument to look like idiots based on the way you wrote them up, great way to foster real discussion there.
I warned I would be biased. I don't know if I will foster real discussion here, but I should foster some discussion.

As for Dragonlance, what I do like is the coherence and unity, unlike the FR melting pot.
 

Raloc

Visitor
I play the latter kind I guess. Though when I started back when I was 12 it was the former. Oh, and the spelling is Miyamoto Musashi :p
 

diaglo

Visitor
Mulligan Stew for me.

edit: Mulligan Stew is a meal in which everyone adds something to the pot for all to eat.
 

Andre

Visitor
The only observation I have is that, as in most things, the majority lie somewhere between the extremes. In other words, the distribution doesn't look like a dumbbell, with most people at either extreme, but like a football, with only a few at the extremes, and most somewhere in the middle.

[BTW - I stole the analogy from The Atlantic the latest issue of which discusses a similar idea, but in the political/cultural arena. The imagery seems appropriate for this discussion.]
 
I think you need to redefine the Traditionalist. Traditionalist says that characters, NPCs, monsters, etc. follow some sort of consistent logic. If that is how we define it, then I am a traditionalist. Pretty lax when it comes to players characters. I don't like using the big hammer of DMing. But, in my game, you would not find a minotaur in an ancient tomb unless there is an expalanation for why it is there and how it survived.

Is this what you're talking about? Logic versus fancy?
 

EricNoah

Community Supporter
Captain Tagon said:
I just like how you fundamentally set up one side of the argument to look like idiots based on the way you wrote them up, great way to foster real discussion there.
Well he's being intentionally silly, I think. In traditional French style. :D


Captain Tagon said:
However, saying Dragonlance is trying to create a realistic setting doesn't go over too well, and I'm a huge fan of DL. Especially out of place would be the Roman...I mean minotaur Legions and empire with their famed gladiator arenas. That doesn't really fit in with the rest of the world.
Agree -- Dragonlance is indeed more "World Cuisine" than "Pure Strain Human." (That's my new, sassy name for "Traditionalist," as Turanil calls it. 5 points for the first person who can tell me where Pure Strain Human comes from -- it's pretty easy if you're an old fool from the old school.)
 
To actually contribute something, I prefer the melting pot approach. If i want soemthing historical I'll go read a history book. If I want exciting and fun I'll play a game that worries more about fun and recreating a certain time period in our own past.
 

Evilhalfling

Adventurer
Trolling are we?

I would say that I run a homebrew that tries to maintain internal logic, and sometimes the PCs are travlers from foriegn lands, or I fill in a blank space in the world so they can have an appropriate culture. For instance in my group of six, someone always wants to play a monk. So creating a world with no monks (my prefrence) wont work, So I create a rational for mystic unarmed warriors and walla - no discrepencies.

In one case you give a example of pandering and in the other only published settings
most of us prolly fall between the two.
 

Evilhalfling

Adventurer
EricNoah said:
5 points for the first person who can tell me where Pure Strain Human comes from -- it's pretty easy if you're an old fool from the old school.)
Gamma world - either the actual race of non-mutant humans or the secret society dedicated to killing mutants. TMNT - after the bomb had a similar organization
 

Turanil

Visitor
Abstraction said:
I think you need to redefine the Traditionalist. Traditionalist says that characters, NPCs, monsters, etc. follow some sort of consistent logic. If that is how we define it, then I am a traditionalist. Pretty lax when it comes to players characters. I don't like using the big hammer of DMing. But, in my game, you would not find a minotaur in an ancient tomb unless there is an expalanation for why it is there and how it survived.

Is this what you're talking about? Logic versus fancy?
Yes logic, coherence, and also a true flavor versus fancy. I am not very happy with the term "Traditionalist" but couldn't think of a better one.
 

EricNoah

Community Supporter
Evilhalfling said:
Gamma world - either the actual race of non-mutant humans or the secret society dedicated to killing mutants. TMNT - after the bomb had a similar organization
Cool, good work, here's your 5 points. You can spend them on extra skill ranks, use them as Eberron-style action points, or bump up your stats with them. Don't spend them all in one place!
 

Von Ether

Adventurer
I'd have to say that most RPGs are "World Cuisine" style. If anything DnD pioneered the idea to the point that it's sort a separate genre. Btw, I've been referring to this style as a "cosmopolitan fantasy world" for ages.

When someone uses such broad strokes, I don’t see much difference between Forgotten Realms and Eberron, other than FR has a façade of traditionalism with faux historic cultures while Eberron runs out and gives its World Cuisine style a big “Where have you been all my life” bear hug. Personally, I don't know if Dragonlance really fits in my definition of a “Traditionalist” campaign.

In addition to that, lots of the old sword and sorcery stuff had a faithfulness to style not accuracy. I don’t remember any of my Conan stories reaching for historical authenticity.

When I think “traditionalist,” I go for the in-depth stuff like Pendragon and Ars-Magica (which came out back in the days of TSR), where you can’t find a picture of a chain mail bikini … “evar!!!” LOL! I’m not saying you can’t do Traditionalist with d20, though you might have to throw out half the magic system to do so. Before WotC and OGL, TSR’s main focus didn’t seem to be any real effort for historical accuracy, though there were a few “green books” that touched on it within the company’s history. As noted, all of Turanil examples are all 3rd party support.
 

Kerrick

Visitor
That's funny...

But seriously. I think the folks who don't play something like Nyambe, or Conan, or whatnot DO have a specific, internally consistent view of their world(s). I'll use Robert Jordan's WoT as an example, because I recently reread the first couple books and found a huge FAQ on the net. He uses mixtures of several (real) cultures to form the cultures in his world. Frex, the Aiel are a blend of stuff from the Berbers, Zulu, and a couple of the nomadic Amerind tribes. The Tairens are based on Spain in the time of the Moors; Illian on Renaissance Italy (the city of Illian itself bears a suspicious resemblance to Venice, neh?). Anyone familiar with the world could look at something and say, "No, that doesn't belong" or "Yes, that fits perfectly - I'll use that."

So to answer the question, I reside in the "World Cuisine" camp. We borrowed styles of dress, architecture, etc. to distinguish some of the cultures of our world, which makes it easier for the DM and the others of us who create stuff for the world to make things fit in their proper places, and make everything mesh. Yes, we have monks - the Order of the Black Lotus, the oldest and deadliest assassin's guild in Shtar; we have beholders and dragons and even a tarrasque (the former are bioweapons from the Elder God War, and the tarrasque is a force of the universe, a little-understood creature that cannot truly be slain).

Which camp is "right"? Both of them. Now, for those who play something resembling that travesty in Turanil's post, shame on you. You should sit down and figure out SOME kind of internal consistency - you'll be a lot better off for it.
 

EricNoah

Community Supporter
Kerrick said:
Now, for those who play something resembling that travesty in Turanil's post, shame on you. You should sit down and figure out SOME kind of internal consistency - you'll be a lot better off for it.
Or don't -- if you didn't care before why should you care now? Play how you want to play, as long as it's fun. There's no room for "shame" in D&D. :)

(Now, someone might reasonably argue that running a more culturally consistent game *is* more fun, and I'd like to see that argument played out -- what makes it more fun?)
 

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