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

D&D is in no way, shape, or form undergoing an identity crisis.

Right from the outset, once it spread beyond the Wisconsin wargaming circles in which it was founded, it began taking on a big-tent nature that would not be unfamiliar to observers today.

It's always been a big-tent game that encompasses many styles of play, while remaining comfortably within the cultures of play that it has shaped and existed in for forty years (along with the vestiges of its old wargaming-style exploration play of its first decade).
 

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Remathilis

Legend
Man you want an identity crisis: I nominate Batman.

I mean, compare the various takes on Batman from Brave and the Bold, The Batman, the Synderverse, The Killing Joke, etc. Sometimes he's Adam West G rated, other times Frank Miller Hard R. And that's all official DC projects.

Frankly, if Batman can run the gamut like that D&D has zero problem.
 

Hussar

Legend
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.

But quality standards and tone standards or target audience standards are very much not the same thing.
 


No. Not over this.

Nearly EVERYTHING made by the Big Corporations is made for one market and one market ONLY: The very low end PG-13 and whole G market.

If your a company, this is simply the best way to make money

The rated G/bit of soft PG13 lets you get all the kids....or more specifically allows the parents of those kids to see the game as "ok".

And, the rated G/bit of soft PG13 also lets you get at least HALF of all the Adults. That huge number of adults is more then willing to play the rated G game. So many adults just like the "plain and simple".

So that gets you "most" of the people that are gamers to buy and play your game.

That is why they do it.
 

Man you want an identity crisis: I nominate Batman.

I mean, compare the various takes on Batman from Brave and the Bold, The Batman, the Synderverse, The Killing Joke, etc. Sometimes he's Adam West G rated, other times Frank Miller Hard R. And that's all official DC projects.

Frankly, if Batman can run the gamut like that D&D has zero problem.
Brave and the Bold even had an episode that directly talked about this in-universe. It was awesome.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
This past summer I went to see the D&D movie. It was a lighthearted movie appropriate for the whole family with no bad language, the cutest fattest dragon I've ever seen, bloodless violence, and comedy. In contrast, I've been playing Baldur's Gate 3 and there's a party member who frequently drops F-bombs, you can bone a bear (apparently), and I interrupted a bugbear as he was about to rawdog an ogress from behind. I'm suffering from tonal whiplash here. And the table top RPG material is different still as it's not usually a lighthearted comedy though ther's at least some sexually related shenanigans in Ravenloft.

Who the hell is D&D for? Or, as Drax might say, "I'll do you one better, 'What is D&D?'" Because the movie, the computer game, and TTRPG seem to be aimed at different audiences. Don't they have some sort of IP manager who figures out what kidn of tone a D&D product should have? I'd be mightly confused if my introduction to D&D came from the movie and I went into Baldur's Gate expecting a similar experience. It's not that I'm offended by the content of BG3, it's a good game and I'm enjoying it, but I can't help but think if WotC published an adventure where you interrupted some hot bugbear on ogress action it'd be pretty devisive.
So, I think what the OP is trying to connote here is that brands – by virtue of their nature as brands – are supposed to connote information to the audience regarding a branded product, and that doing so informs them about (among other things) the overall tone that it presents (at least where the brand is for something that contains a narrative).

In this way, the presumption is that the tone of the brand transcends the medium. If someone says "Harry Potter," then it doesn't matter if they're talking about the books, the movies, a video game, etc.; you don't expect there to be much (or really, anything) in the way of F-bombs and strong sexual content. Presuming you're familiar with the Harry Potter brand, you know the general tone that's to be expected.

The OP is saying that D&D doesn't have that, and that compared to a lot of other (narrative fiction-type) brands, this can potentially lead to some confusion (at least among casual fans) when it comes to D&D-labeled materials, as the difference in tone between BG3 and HAT can be fairly stark in that regard.
 

D&D is in no way, shape, or form undergoing an identity crisis.

Right from the outset, once it spread beyond the Wisconsin wargaming circles in which it was founded, it began taking on a big-tent nature that would not be unfamiliar to observers today.

It's always been a big-tent game that encompasses many styles of play, while remaining comfortably within the cultures of play that it has shaped and existed in for forty years (along with the vestiges of its old wargaming-style exploration play of its first decade).
I think the issue is that with the published tabletop game the tent is getting smaller, not larger, as WotC increasingly push the game into a specifically G/PG-rated space (not even PG-13). This hasn't really been true for all of 5E - more it's something that's become true as 5E has become extremely successful.

So it's not an identity crisis in the normal sense of "Who am I?!", it's rather different issue - "I've decided I'm a very upright and suit-and-tie-wearing fellow, so I'm no longer going to turn up at the bar with my old buddies, and if they come to my house, they'll have to be quiet and respectful and not drink". There's nothing inherently wrong with it, but it's a smaller church.
The OP is saying that D&D doesn't have that, and that compared to a lot of other (narrative fiction-type) brands, this can potentially lead to some confusion (at least among casual fans) when it comes to D&D-labeled materials, as the difference in tone between BG3 and HAT can be fairly stark in that regard.
Indeed, the larger brand definitely doesn't, and I think that even HAT is pushing the upper bounds of what the tabletop game really thinks is okay, and BG3 is completely outside it.

But BG3 has been an insanely huge hit, and HAT, much as I enjoyed it, has been a flop. There's no question BG3 will make a lot more money than HAT. It's been stuck at the top of Steam best-sellers for weeks now, sold 5m copies some time back, and may well be approaching 10m or more, and that's only being out on PC, let PS5 or Xbox Series X/S, yet. It's easy to see it may well pass 20m copies sold in the next year. Assuming full-price sales (and Larian usually waits a while before dropping it) that'd be a revenue of 1.2bn. On costs that are quite likely lower than those of HAT.

I don't think that's solely attributable to the tone of BG3, but I will say I don't think it would have sold half that many copies if it had HAT's tone and content, and would have sold even fewer if it had, say the PG-ish tone/content we seem to be seeing from WotC. The videogame market is obviously different in many ways to TT RPG one, but I think WotC are maybe chasing the wrong market primarily here. Or that they need to think about somehow chasing both markets (which should be doable, but perhaps not trivially).
 

Warpiglet-7

Cry havoc! And let slip the pigs of war!
It isn’t the game that has an identity process, it’s the fans who can’t accept brand diversity and grasp that different approaches in products are for different groupings of people.

There’s something pearl clutchy and gate keepy about some of these comments lol
I am so glad it is not all in a particular direction. If it was what a lot of people clamor for I would be out.

That said, I would be happy if a little more of what I wanted was offered.

When we play it still feels a little bit like the best parts of 1e. Our concepts about many monsters and lore skews older and I like that!

I know playing with us would feel odd for some players. We are the antithesis of story gamers for example.

A strength of 5e is that it can bend enough
 

I am so glad it is not all in a particular direction. If it was what a lot of people clamor for I would be out.
The issue is, contrary to this, that 5E is actually pushing in a particular direction - and it's a very G/PG-rated one.

Obviously you can be too all-over-the-place, TSR were - 2E was by far the largest church D&D has ever had, and ultimately the weight of putting out a million different things in different directions helped sink TSR (albeit Dragon Dice really got 'em).

But 3E represented a pretty broad church, and whilst 4E didn't mechanically, tonally it was certainly a lot broader than what seems to be happening now. Early 5E also wasn't particularly narrow, but as D&D has become this mega-hit, corporate have become interested, and as corporate often does, they've seemingly decreed that the large possible single audience be targeted, and corporate believes that's the G/PG-oriented one, which includes both kids and adults.

My issue is, I'm not sure they're right, and even if they are, I think it's a short-term plan, which will make a lot of kids grow up enjoying D&D, only to not the find kind of support edgier, more thoughtful or simply just darker stuff as they hit teens and twenties, and will thus see D&D as a "game for kids", and what's sad is, D&D is so dominant, they probably won't go to other RPGs, they'll probably just stop playing RPGs.

This isn't a doom for D&D in the longer arc of history of course. I suspect if this does happen there will be an EDGY AS HELL 7th or 8th edition in like 10-20 years.
 

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