D&D General Does D&D Have an Identity Crisis?

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
But here’s the thing. Sure I love Andor. Thought it was fantastic. But eight year old me loves Ewoks. And would likely have hated Andor

Shouldn’t there be a Star Wars for everyone?
Philosophically, yes. But I think trying to be everything to everyone for almost 50 years has really turned Star Wars into so much instant oatmeal. Imposing some quality standards, at a minimum, but realistically also more of a point of view, would greatly improve it.
 
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Yeah, I think it’s 100% fitting that different D&D stories have different tones. I have played in D&D games that were tonally similar to DaDHAT; I have played in D&D games that were tonally similar to BG3; I have played in D&D games that run the full range in-between; I have played in D&D games that were lighter and darker than either. That versatility is one of D&D’s selling points.
I don't think DaDHAT and BG3 have hugely different tones, though. So whilst I agree I don't think that this necessarily disagrees with the OP. if D&D is aiming for that range of tones, in think rules-wise and in terms of settings and adventures it could tighten things up considerably.

I actually think the problem is that D&D is increasingly moving to a tone that relatively few players and DMs want but that corporate/marketing seem to think is the right way to go, and that general vibe is one where even DaDHAT seems kind of edgy by comparison, and BG3 is wholly and totally "beyond the pale". So it's not so much that D&D wants to be all things to all people, though it does. It's that current WotC leadership, at I suspect a much higher level than Crawford and Perkins, thinks it can do that by making D&D basically "childsafe". And I'm not sure that's true.

Ironically enough also if they really do want that tone I think the current rules of D&D are not ideal for it.

To be clear, I'm not saying D&D is fully there, but it's like, over 50% of the way there. TSR may have had some similar ideas but the results were not as bland, perhaps due to the mores of the era, or perhaps jus due to laxer focus on actual output tone.

Edit: an interesting piece of evidence for me here is Strixhaven. Compare and contrast the tone of MtG Strixhaven with D&D Strixhaven. MtG Strixhaven is fairly alarming, full of backstabbing, terrible parenting, real peril and general vibe that this is a scary as hell place to go to school. D&D Strixhaven is positively arcadian by comparison, deeply non-threatening compared to say Harry Potter, and at the time it was hard to figure out why on earth they did that. In retrospect it seems absolutely like part of this pattern.
 
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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I don't think DaDHAT and BG3 have hugely different tones, though. So whilst I agree I don't think that this necessarily disagrees with the OP. if D&D is aiming for that range of tones, in think rules-wise and in terms of settings and adventures it could tighten things up considerably.

I actually think the problem is that D&D is increasingly moving to a tone that relatively few players and DMs want but that corporate/marketing seem to think is the right way to go, and that general vibe is one where even DaDHAT seems kind of edgy by comparison, and BG3 is wholly and totally "beyond the pale". So it's not so much that D&D wants to be all things to all people, though it does. It's that current WotC leadership, at I suspect a much higher level than Crawford and Perkins, thinks it can do that by making D&D basically "childsafe". And I'm not sure that's true.

Ironically enough also if they really do want that tone I think the current rules of D&D are not ideal for it.

To be clear, I'm not saying D&D is fully there, but it's like, over 50% of the way there. TSR may have had some similar ideas but the results were not as bland, perhaps due to the mores of the era, or perhaps jus due to laxer focus on actual output tone.

Edit: an interesting piece of evidence for me here is Strixhaven. Compare and contrast the tone of MtG Strixhaven with D&D Strixhaven. MtG Strixhaven is fairly alarming, full of backstabbing, terrible parenting, real peril and general vibe that this is a scary as hell place to go to school. D&D Strixhaven is positively arcadian by comparison, deeply non-threatening compared to say Harry Potter, and at the time it was hard to figure out why on earth they did that. In retrospect it seems absolutely like part of this pattern.
Interesting. If that’s what you think marketing wants, why do you think DaDHAT and BG3 were able to happen?
 




I would suggest the tone of D&D 5e books are more than likely mostly established by the 5e team and what they want, rather than marketing; that would explain the difference in MTG and D&D's tone re: Strixhaven.

It would also explain why the film and BG3 have a very different tone; not the same writers or team.

Outside looking in, I don't think D&D has an identity crisis as a game or system. But the differences in tone, themes, and seriousness is going to result when 5e products are not tied to a particular setting or style. Though, I am saying this being unfamiliar with past editions.

Did previous editions have a similiar 'identity crisis'?
 



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