5E DnDBeyond: on adapting genre to D&D

Parmandur

Legend
He says it's fine to ADD revolvers to D&D. The issue is with restrictions and alterations - to make a D&D game feel like Game of Thrones may require radical restrictions such that you'd be better off buying A Song of Ice & Fire RPG. OTOH you could add GoT elements to a 'Birthright' style D&D campaign.
But "gritty" rules are also in the DMG.

Honestly, this article is less useful than the DMG guidelines, so, eh.
 

Kurotowa

Explorer
Having been in a couple brief lived campaigns where the DM tried to change the genre by going the route this article advises against and hacking away large sections of core material... I feel it gives very good advice. Those games were painful.
 

Saelorn

Adventurer
But "gritty" rules are also in the DMG.
Of course, every variant in the DMG is still circumscribed by the basic limitations of the game. Using the most-restrictive combination of variant rules possible, you can still heal up from 1hp to full overnight. If you really wanted a gritty game, then you'd be better off playing something else.

Likewise with setting options. The Forgotten Realms is such a massive morass of nonsense that you'd have to cut most of the classes/races/etc before you approached a reasonable setting, at which point it would make sense to start adding new stuff again.

Fifth Edition is such an extreme corner-case that you're almost always better finding a better game, rather than trying to force some other genre into its inconveniently-shaped box.
 
The area of D&D most ripe for subtraction is probably the Monster Manual. I played in a campaign where the DM was aiming for a Middle-Earth feel, which I think he achieved, and he cut the "savage humanoids" down to just goblins and orcs. We actually encountered a flail snail in that game but it was an exhibit in a travelling circus.

EDIT: Should've had my PC think the flail snail was a fake, claim it was made of wood and painted canvas and animated with a clever assortment of pulleys and ropes, and try to get into the cage to prove it. Oh well, thought of that about 28 years too late.
 
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vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
I dont know, I feel like it would be somewhat easy to fit GoT in 5e:
Races are now Houses
Stark
Lannister
Tully
Greyjoy etc

Classes are:
Fighter, rogue, slayer (barbarian), warden (AiME spell less bard), wanderer (AiME spell less ranger) and Scholar (spell less healer).

Create some pertinent backgrounds.

Use gritty rules, permanent injuries etc

Kill characters a lot.
 
Hey, if something is worth doing...

As I said, it's not really necessarily helpful advise.
Its helpful if your intention is to play a Dungeons & Dragons game that features cosmic horror, not try to make a 5e version of Call of Cthulhu .

I think that's the point he's trying to make; the DMG rules for gritty or firearms still reflect the fundamental basis of the game; they don't replace or neuter classes, they don't remove spells or spellcasting, they don't make other elements of the game inoperable like removing Hit Dice. They play within the framework.

I think its worth cautioning that trying to turn D&D into something its not is a fools errand. I have considered in the past converting Masque of the Red Death from its 2e/3e roots to 5e; but the sheer amount of re-writing necessary to accommodate a low-magic world set in 1890's Earth is practically a new game unto itself. Just to start, you'd need to re-write every class (and cut most of them) and subclass, every background, large swaths of the combat rules and magic, and the entire equipment chapter right down to the copper piece. All to fit a square peg in a round hole. I'm sure there is a system that handles Gothic Horror much better than D&D (and I'm all ears if you have a suggestion for one) so making D&D try to handle Penny Dreadfuls is more effort than its worth.

Compare that to Curse of Strahd, which is basically Dracula/Transylvania in all but name, but doesn't attempt to emulate the gaslight world of Victorian London but instead sets the D&D tropes up front (even as it twists some of them). You are still an elven mage or a dwarf barbarian or a dragonborn paladin facing off against Strahd. Your magic might not work right and Strahd might have far more power than a common vampire should, but its still fundamentally D&D, just with a thick coat of Brahm Stoker on top of it.

So the point is that D&D is best when its D&D with flavoring or seasoning, not when its contorted to emulate a genre its ill-suited to play in. D&D is not a generic RPG like GURPS is; it excels best when it does what it does.
 
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Parmandur

Legend
Its helpful if your intention is to play a Dungeons & Dragons game that features cosmic horror, not try to make a 5e version of Call of Cthulhu .

I think that's the point he's trying to make; the DMG rules for gritty or firearms still reflect the fundamental basis of the game; they don't replace or neuter classes, they don't remove spells or spellcasting, they don't make other elements of the game inoperable like removing Hit Dice. They play within the framework.

I think its worth cautioning that trying to turn D&D into something its not is a fools errand. I have considered in the past converting Masque of the Red Death from its 2e/3e roots to 5e; but the sheer amount of re-writing necessary to accommodate a low-magic world set in 1890's Earth is practically a new game unto itself. Just to start, you'd need to re-write every class (and cut most of them) and subclass, every background, large swaths of the combat rules and magic, and the entire equipment chapter right down to the copper piece. All to fit a square peg in a round hole. I'm sure there is a system that handles Gothic Horror much better than D&D (and I'm all ears if you have a suggestion for one) so making D&D try to handle Penny Dreadfuls is more effort than its worth.

Compare that to Curse of Strahd, which is basically Dracula/Transylvania in all but name, but doesn't attempt to emulate the gaslight world of Victorian London but instead sets the D&D tropes up front (even as it twists some of them). You are still an elven mage or a dwarf barbarian or a dragonborn paladin facing off against Strahd. Your magic might not work right and Strahd might have far more power than a common vampire should, but its still fundamentally D&D, just with a thick coat of Brahm Stoker on top of it.

So the point is that D&D is best when its D&D with flavoring or seasoning, not when its contorted to emulate a genre its ill-suited to play in. D&D is not a generic RPG like GURPS is; it excels best when it does what it does.
Restrict the Class options with extreme prejudice, use the firearm rules from the DMG, maybe the Insanity rules. Completely doable.
 

Beleriphon

Totally Awesome Pirate Brain
Restrict the Class options with extreme prejudice, use the firearm rules from the DMG, maybe the Insanity rules. Completely doable.
I think the point of the article is at that point why are we using D&D? Not that it can't be done, but why are we doing it?

To quote the infinitely quotable Ian Malcolm, "Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether they could, they didn't stop to think if they should."
 

Parmandur

Legend
I think the point of the article is at that point why are we using D&D? Not that it can't be done, but why are we doing it?

To quote the infinitely quotable Ian Malcolm, "Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether they could, they didn't stop to think if they should."
Sunk cost for system familiarity, same reason my college group played Call of Cthulu d20 even if standard CoC might be "objectively" "better" for the task.
 

Ringtail

World Traveller
I agree that D&D is not the best game for every genre or setting. Sure, you technically could adjust the rules for D&D to fit any style of setting or genre.

However I do not always think that is as easy as it seems, or as some people say. (Your mileage may vary, this is my opinion.) There are lots of other great games out there, and I think playing lots of different systems might introduce you to a game you like better, or at the very least improve your ability as a GM by absorbing different practices from different games.

Unfortunately this isn't an option for everyone. Either they can't afford to drop money on a whole new set of books, or their players aren't willing to experiment. In that case, you do the best with what you have.
 

S'mon

Legend
I dont know, I feel like it would be somewhat easy to fit GoT in 5e:
Races are now Houses
Stark
Lannister
Tully
Greyjoy etc

Classes are:
Fighter, rogue, slayer (barbarian), warden (AiME spell less bard), wanderer (AiME spell less ranger) and Scholar (spell less healer).

Create some pertinent backgrounds.

Use gritty rules, permanent injuries etc

Kill characters a lot.
This sounds like the GM should be running AiME and set it in Westeros.
 

Coroc

Explorer
And I still say subtract, restrict and add only what is needed. Especially when converting older settings not yet covered by the official stuff.

Repeat with me: It does not hurt if I cannot play x* in an y* campaign.

*x races like dragonborn, drow, half whatever, maybe human in a dedicated campaign, classes like warlock paladin with a strong fluff around them, but anything else if you got a reason for it

*y campaigns like DS, Dragonlance, Ravenloft, yes I do not think CoS = Ravenloft 5E. But here also any genre, horror Cthullu, modern, space etc.

It is freakin totally unimportant to have everything allowed RAW in FR available in everything else (and vice versa). It does not matter for a good RP experience. It does not hamper any player. It does not unbalance things. It does alter odds, the rules are the same for every player.

I so hate todays wrong mentality that everybody can be everything (Superstar, Rocksinger, Model, President, Rocketscientist etc.) like in those stupid tv - shows is reflecting into every aspect of culture or daily lives.
If you want it that way in your campaigns do it, but call it what it is. If you take 5e as a baseline for the math and mechanics it is ok, but fluff is a different thing. Classes and races and lore are not mechanics.

DS with drow or paladins running around is not DS, it is FR desert edition.
 
.I so hate todays wrong mentality that everybody can be everything (Superstar, Rocksinger, Model, President, Rocketscientist etc.) like in those stupid tv - shows is reflecting into every aspect of culture or daily lives..
Yes, Heaven forbid I get to be anything in a game about pretending to be something I'm not.
 

Coroc

Explorer
Yes, Heaven forbid I get to be anything in a game about pretending to be something I'm not.
No, please, do not get me wrong sometimes the old man shouting at the cloud gets the better of me.
We had similar discussions in other threads, and I respect your view it is just not mine.

The thing is was trying to point out is that I am not recommending to not leave out tings when using D&D 5E for other genres, but rather to leave out things if necessary, except for the mechanics. Like generic D20.

If you got some character concept you want to realize, then I am sure a DM will find a campaign where it fits in. That's the way normal people resolve this. If e.g. Someone wants to play a drow in my DS campaign I will try to convince him to play a normal elf instead, some of them in DS are equally cruel and mean like drow.

And I will offer that the next acampaign I do an all drow (good or evil campaign) in FR if it has to be , I can do that believe me.

I mean at what point does it get ridiculous for you? Drizzt in a Star Wars campaign? There must be a threshold even for you, when trying to create a "believable" scenario.

Greyhawk had spaceships, I never would put them into my campaign, except when I would branch of to spelljammer. My group would not want it. They would protest if I let a spelljammer appear in the sky in my greyhawk campaign. Even though it is part of the original material. Even though it is not Star Wars.
Even though it is official D&D.

I hope this makes you understand my point of view, and it is in no way meant offensive, only an intellectual philosophical debate.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
* Adapt the genre to D&D, not D&D to the setting.

Thoughts on his suggestions?
I think this one, specifically could have been messaged differently. "Adapt the genre to the setting" sounds a bit pretentious, and as if the things in the genre can't possibly be as important as D&D.

He eventually gets to the two good bits there - try not to muck with core mechanics too much, and find the things already in D&D that are similar to things in the genre, and use them as analogs.
 
While other games might be better for certain genres it is often easier to get a group together to play heavily modified 5e than it is to convince them to buy new books and study new rules to learn a new game.
I find the opposite true; giving my players a large banlist and houserule doc tends to confuse and annoy them. While in theory the jumping off point is smaller since they understand core mechanics; the differences in things like classes or such tends to lead to misunderstandings or forgotten rules. The more radical the changes, the more likely they will mess it up.

You might have better luck with dedicated players who play for many years, but casuals or those who are heavily invested, the confusion in changes doesn't always balance with the system familarity gained.
 

Beleriphon

Totally Awesome Pirate Brain
No, please, do not get me wrong sometimes the old man shouting at the cloud gets the better of me.
We had similar discussions in other threads, and I respect your view it is just not mine.

The thing is was trying to point out is that I am not recommending to not leave out tings when using D&D 5E for other genres, but rather to leave out things if necessary, except for the mechanics. Like generic D20.

If you got some character concept you want to realize, then I am sure a DM will find a campaign where it fits in. That's the way normal people resolve this. If e.g. Someone wants to play a drow in my DS campaign I will try to convince him to play a normal elf instead, some of them in DS are equally cruel and mean like drow.
I think the caveat is that the player has to have already bought into playing the setting. You have to get them to agree to premise first before you can talk about appropriate options.

Dark Sun is a good example of adapting genre to D&D. Dark Sun is still recognizably D&D, it hits most of the major tropes pretty well. Dark Sun is the example given though: take away race and class options, or replace them with something else. However, it still uses the spellcasting rules, it still uses the basic conceits about weapons, it doesn't remove those rules at all. What we get is an extra layer on top, defilers cast spells as normal BUT other stuff happens too.

And I will offer that the next acampaign I do an all drow (good or evil campaign) in FR if it has to be , I can do that believe me.

I mean at what point does it get ridiculous for you? Drizzt in a Star Wars campaign? There must be a threshold even for you, when trying to create a "believable" scenario.
Drizzt is easy, he's a character from a species that notorious for being "evil" (Darkside types in Star Wars) that happens to be good natured. He wields two weapons, and has a bunch of friends he hangs out with. Seems pretty simple all things considered, most Star Wars games probably even have a species that most mimics drow abilities.

Greyhawk had spaceships, I never would put them into my campaign, except when I would branch of to spelljammer. My group would not want it. They would protest if I let a spelljammer appear in the sky in my greyhawk campaign. Even though it is part of the original material. Even though it is not Star Wars.
Even though it is official D&D.

I hope this makes you understand my point of view, and it is in no way meant offensive, only an intellectual philosophical debate.
I think the problem is you're talking past each and getting lost the weed of the details. You might not like Spaceships in Greyhawk cool, cool. But their inclusions doesn't make Greyhawk a sci-fi setting. Spelljammer is adapting the tropes and aesthetics and applying them to D&D.

A really, really good example of this is the 3E campaign/setting Dragonstar. It literally took the game and added laser guns and spaceships. It added setting elements to explain why those things existed, but never once removed paladins and clerics and rogues. It added new elements, but I don't recall any being removed. It was very much a sci-fi game, that happened to also be D&D. That's the thrust of the article's suggestion: add elements to D&D to match what you want, remove too much and you're better off with a different game that meets your expectations.
 

Vael

Adventurer
DnD is very much a genre unto itself. That, to me, is a feature though. I quite liked the article, it's kinda like the MCU, keep the core superhero elements and then flavor with Space Opera or Political Thriller. Do the same with DnD, don't try and make a Western, but run DnD with Western elements.
 

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