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D&D General DM Authority

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Of course it lies in multiple places at once. The line isn't an objective thing. It's subjective, which means that it will lie in many places simultaneously, depending on who all is trying to discern it.

I will lay good odds that if you, myself, @Oofta and @prabe (first other name I remembered :) ) all sat down and started changed D&D rules one by one towards Tunnels and Trolls, we'd find four different places where we felt the game switched from D&D to not D&D.
We probably would, yes. But we couldn’t all be correct. Again, a game is D&D or it is not. It can’t be both at once.
 

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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
A) That seems to be moving the goalpoasts, at least slightly.

B) They're using optional rules in the D&D rulebooks to play D&D. It's ... difficult to argue they're not playing D&D.
I don't hold that opinion. Even if there had been no optional rules, it would still be D&D to me. I'm just saying that if you use rules to change other rules, you have still changed those other rules. :)

I also find it interesting that some of those who argued that if I am using D&D rules for Centaurs for my game that differ from the Ravnica Centaurs, I am changing rules, but are now arguing that using D&D rules to alter far more rules is not changing rules. It's highly amusing.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
We probably would, yes. But we couldn’t all be correct. Again, a game is D&D or it is not. It can’t be both at once.
We would absolutely all be correct. That the thing about subjectivity. We would all of us be correct for ourselves and in our PERSONAL opinions about it. You seem to be trying to twist it into objectivity a bit with the, "A game is D&D or is not." and that's simply not going to work with subjectivity like this.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
I don't hold that opinion. Even if there had been no optional rules, it would still be D&D to me. I'm just saying that if you use rules to change other rules, you have still changed those other rules. :)
That's fair, and I don't think I disagree with it.
I also find it interesting that some of those who argued that if I am using D&D rules for Centaurs for my game that differ from the Ravnica Centaurs, I am changing rules, but are now arguing that using D&D rules to alter far more rules is not changing rules. It's highly amusing.
That's a different argument, I think.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Alas, I suspect this is like the strike zone in baseball. Eventually, it's just one umpire's opinion.
I don't think so. The strike zone is objective. The umpire can get it right or wrong, but the objectivity of the throw result does not change. A better analogy would be that we are all judges presiding at an Olympic gymnastic event. We're all watching the same thing and for the same merits and flaws, but our personal opinions about how well it's performed will cause our scores to vary, because it's also an art.
 

Campbell

Legend
I can understand a comparing the way someone is playing the game to a specific game and saying that what they are doing is pretty far removed from the text. That's specific targeted analysis. I personally do that all the time.

D&D is not one game. It's many games that share some common tropes. I personally think the way most people play modern iterations of the game is pretty far removed from Moldvay, but I am not comfortable saying that any successor or spiritual successor is more or less legitimate than any other.

The reason I think this is important is because when you position yourself as a tastemaker on this count you are saying who does and does not get to have relevance in the conversation. This is a D&D conversation on a board almost entirely dedicated to D&D. When you position someone else's play outside the bounds of what counts as D&D you are basically saying that in the context of the conversations we are having on this board that other people's experience and perspective are not worth considering.

Go ahead and make that argument if you want to. I just would not be surprised if you get push back on that point. It's also a terrible way to have nuanced conversations with people who disagree with you on that point.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
I don't think so. The strike zone is objective. The umpire can get it right or wrong, but the objectivity of the throw result does not change. A better analogy would be that we are all judges presiding at an Olympic gymnastic event. We're all watching the same thing and for the same merits and flaws, but our personal opinions about how well it's performed will cause our scores to vary, because it's also an art.
Heh. The rules for the strike zone are objective, but the umpires vary from that to varying degrees. The players on the field need to live with the strike zone of the day (arguing balls and strikes is a shortcut to being ejected from the game). I guess I'd say that the strike zone is objective in principle but subjective in practice.

The judges at Olympic events (gymnastics, figure skating, whatever) are being varying degrees of subjective, as well. At least, that's my memory from when I used to watch the Olympics.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
We would absolutely all be correct. That the thing about subjectivity. We would all of us be correct for ourselves and in our PERSONAL opinions about it. You seem to be trying to twist it into objectivity a bit with the, "A game is D&D or is not." and that's simply not going to work with subjectivity like this.
The status of an activity as one game or another is not subjective. Baseball is baseball, football is not. D&D is D&D, Tunnels and Trolls is not (again, unless we’re using the title D&D more broadly to refer to the genre, or the hobby, or something). There’s nothing subjective about that. There are some cases, like heavily houseruled D&D, where the distinction is less clear-cut, and we may disagree about where exactly it lies. But it does lie somewhere and it is objective.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Heh. The rules for the strike zone are objective, but the umpires vary from that to varying degrees. The players on the field need to live with the strike zone of the day (arguing balls and strikes is a shortcut to being ejected from the game). I guess I'd say that the strike zone is objective in principle but subjective in practice.

The judges at Olympic events (gymnastics, figure skating, whatever) are being varying degrees of subjective, as well. At least, that's my memory from when I used to watch the Olympics.
Excellent analogy.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
There are some cases, like heavily houseruled D&D, where the distinction is less clear-cut, and we may disagree about where exactly it lies. But it does lie somewhere and it is objective.
I think the break-point for me would be once you've altered more than half the rules of the game. Of course, that raises the question of what a rule is. :lol:
 

Campbell

Legend
The status of an activity as one game or another is not subjective. Baseball is baseball, football is not. D&D is D&D, Tunnels and Trolls is not (again, unless we’re using the title D&D more broadly to refer to the genre, or the hobby, or something). There’s nothing subjective about that. There are some cases, like heavily houseruled D&D, where the distinction is less clear-cut, and we may disagree about where exactly it lies. But it does lie somewhere and it is objective.

Are you using Fifth Edition and D&D as synonyms here? Because there are at least 8 official games that have bore that title. There are also innumerable spiritual successors. Beyond matters of trade dress I certainly do not think a game like The Nightmares Underneath or Worlds Without Number which are both much closer to older versions of the game mechanically are less worthy as successors than modern iterations of the game.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Heh. The rules for the strike zone are objective, but the umpires vary from that to varying degrees. The players on the field need to live with the strike zone of the day (arguing balls and strikes is a shortcut to being ejected from the game). I guess I'd say that the strike zone is objective in principle but subjective in practice.
They have to live with it, but that's because like DMs, Umpires are the ultimate authority, not because the Umpire is right. ;)
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I think the break-point for me would be once you've altered more than half the rules of the game. Of course, that raises the question of what a rule is. :lol:
I’m not so sure. If you compare Moldvay to 4e, certainly more than half the rules are different, but both are definitely D&D. They are different games, but both games are D&D. And, a game that started from a 5e ruleset and got house ruled beyond the point where it cools reasonably be considered to he same game? I’d still call that D&D, even if it’s a bespoke custom “edition” of it.

The “we house ruled D&D to be Tunnels and Trolls” argument is a special case, and ultimately a red herring, because no one would ever actually do that. By the point that it’s closer to Tunnels and Trolls than it is to D&D, any actual group of players would just be running house-ruled Tunnels and Trolls. I’ll concede that I’ve probably confused this issue by taking Max’s “what if you houseruled D&D to be exactly like some other game” bait.
 
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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
The status of an activity as one game or another is not subjective. Baseball is baseball, football is not.
And False Equivalences are false. Sports games aren't anywhere near being like RPGs.

I picked Tunnels and Trolls and Warhammer, because they are all fantasy roleplaying games. It's college football vs. NFL football vs. XFL football. Where one type of football becomes the other is going to be blurry. Change one NFL rule to match a college football rule and people will still probably view it as NFL football. Change enough, and the line will vary from person to person, and they will start switching it over to the next type of football.
 


Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Are you using Fifth Edition and D&D as synonyms here? Because there are at least 8 official games that have bore that title. There are also innumerable spiritual successors. Beyond matters of trade dress I certainly do not think a game like The Nightmares Underneath or Worlds Without Number which are both much closer to older versions of the game mechanically are less worthy as successors than modern iterations of the game.
Yeah... I’ve allowed myself to be distracted by the “house ruling D&D to work exactly like a different game” hypothetical, and made some arguments on that premise that if I step back I realize I don’t actually agree with. Thank you for pointing that out.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
I’m not so sure. If you compare Moldvay to 4e, certainly more than half the rules are different, but both are definitely D&D. They are different games, but both games are D&D. And, a game that started from a 5e ruleset and got house ruled to the point of reasonably being considered to he same game? I’d still call that D&D, even if it’s a bespoke custom “edition” of it.

The “we house ruled D&D to be Tunnels and Trolls” argument is a special case, and ultimately a red herring, because no one would ever actually do that. By the point that it’s closer to Tunnels and Trolls than it is to D&D, any actual group of players would just be running house-ruled Tunnels and Trolls. I’ll concede that I’ve probably confused this issue by taking Max’s “what if you houseruled D&D to be exactly like some other game” bait.
That's fair, and absolutely correct. I have to admit I was thinking of any specific edition. How much can you houserule Moldvay before it becomes something else? How much can you houserule 5E before it becomes something else? Just got lazy--good catch.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Well, I get that. Honestly, playing without a DM not feeling like DnD is understandable.

However, as this conversation keeps going I need to keep making sure that the facts of the conversation aren't getting overwritten.

The post Oofta was responding to was one level removed from the "no DM" discussion. I was defending that a hack and slash megadungeons are DnD. Because it was stated that that style of play is not DnD.

I need this to stay clear, because as more and more people make this about both points, it becomes that I'm being intractable about No DM games, and that makes defending the points I was actually making harder.
I never said hack and slash was not D&D. I don't care for games that are only dungeon crawls, but that's it.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Agreed.

Here’s where we disagree. Different people will have different opinions about where the line lies, but the line can’t lie in multiple places at once. By saying your opinion is that the line lies in a certain place, you are implicitly calling the opinions of those who think the line lies elsewhere wrong in that assessment.

Now, personally, I don’t think it’s reasonable to say that there is no line. But, I try to err on the side of being more inclusive than exclusive with where I draw the line. When I think someone draws the line in an unduly exclusive position, I’m going to call out that as exclusive. Because exclusivity is something I think the hobby needs a whole lot less of.

So I think @Oofta is being exclusive. Saying “it’s just an opinion, bro” doesn’t absolve it of that. Maybe Oofta is comfortable with being somewhat exclusive with what they consider to be D&D, and they have the right to be. But I also have the right to point out that it’s exclusive.

Either there's one line and one clear cut definition of what D&D is or there's not. Since there is no clear cut definition, the line is kind of like Schroedinger's cat, where it falls depends on the observer. But I'm also not being exclusive. I freely admit other people will draw the line elsewhere because it really doesn't matter.
 

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