D&D 5E Don't make the game too weird


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TheAlkaizer

Game Designer
It's easier to get add weirdness into your game as it progresses and remove some. So I'd say, start with a more conservative scenario and simply poll them after each session to make sure the level of weirdness is good.
 

MarkB

Legend
My tolerance for weirdness is high, but I'd say "too weird" for me is when a setting lacks enough context and internal consistency for me to make informed decisions in-character.

So basically, introduce whatever weirdness you like, but do it in such a way that your players can keep up and feel like they're part of this strange universe, rather than hopelessly lost in it.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Yeah. It's literally a defining feature of the setting.

"Not too weird" is akin to saying "not too Spelljammer".

Either you want Spelljammer or you don't. Weird comes with as part of the package.
People are gonna use a setting for whatever they want. I know my group isn’t into the farcical when RPing, but silly and weird are great for us, so we likely won’t use space clowns or things so heavy on puns that it’s impossible to meaningfully engage in character with them, but plasmoids are a source of excitement.
 

Nothing is too weird. And, since your the DM and DMs are in such short supply, you run what you feel like and if the players don't like it, they can find a new DM (which you've already established that they can't...).
To have a conversation with people and come to an agreement and then to disregard that agreement is, to me, just completely disrespectful. It's not how I would treat other people.

If one were to start off saying, "Hey I'm going to run a game and it is going to be X", then fine. (It's how I usually start my campaigns.) But that's not what happened here. Though if the DM decides what the players want is not what they are willing to run, then fine. But be honest and respectful of each other.
 

The players are all younger then me, so there is a huge culture gap with our ages.
I tried to ask what was "too weird", but just go a bunch of confusing non answers. I did e-mail everyone to get what they thought was too weird....no answers yet.

So.......what do you think is "too weird"?
Too weird?
 

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jgsugden

Legend
.... So.......what do you think is "too weird"?
The line is different for everyone.

And that means you should be talking to your players to find their lines and then making sure you draw within those lines. What we think, as a forum, is irrelevant. I've played in games that strove to be Sin City. I've also played in games that strove to incorporate every element of wokeness we could find. Both were fun experiences, but they had extremely different lines for what was too weird.
 



theCourier

Explorer
I draw the line at weird becoming "fetish-y" and "uncomfortable" to people. But other than that, I like my RPGs weird. No elves, no dwarves, no orcs, no castles, no fighting rats in a tavern's basement. Gimme strange worlds to explore, ancient tombs filled with alien technology, sentient illnesses, crystal beings that communicate by morphing together, and whatever weird gonzo thing you can conjure.
 

Azuresun

Adventurer
For me, a really weird world still needs to feel like it's functional and coherent in its own way, rather than a sequence of flashy novelty. It's....like the difference between the Dying Earth novels (really weird stuff, but contributing to a coherent aesthetic and feel within the stories) and Axe Cop ("Wouldn't it be SO COOL if THIS happened?!?!"). Axe Cop works when the audience are just chewing popcorn as the lunacy unfolds, but as a setting where you're meant to get invested with the characters and look forward to stories paying off in a coherent way, not so much.

I'm thinking of an urban fantasy series I started reading where, in the first book, we find out that the protagonist is an immortal druid, he's friends-with-benefits with a goddess, his best bud is a werewolf, his lawyer is a vampire, he's hunted by demons, a ghost is possessing a girl down the coffee shop.....and it just felt completely weightless. How do all these supernatural beings work together as part of a world with internal logic and consistency? Dunno. What does it mean to be a vampire here? Dunno, they seem pretty much identical to humans.

Also, "weird" can too often turn into novelty for the sake of novelty. Replacing elves with psychic jellyfish is a surface level change, and it won't make a setting any more interesting if the psychic jellyfish are bland and one-note. It's why so many sci-fi settings basically end up with Space Elves, Space Dwarves and Space Orcs.
 

CreamCloud0

Adventurer
For me, a really weird world still needs to feel like it's functional and coherent in its own way, rather than a sequence of flashy novelty. It's....like the difference between the Dying Earth novels (really weird stuff, but contributing to a coherent aesthetic and feel within the stories) and Axe Cop ("Wouldn't it be SO COOL if THIS happened?!?!"). Axe Cop works when the audience are just chewing popcorn as the lunacy unfolds, but as a setting where you're meant to get invested with the characters and look forward to stories paying off in a coherent way, not so much.

I'm thinking of an urban fantasy series I started reading where, in the first book, we find out that the protagonist is an immortal druid, he's friends-with-benefits with a goddess, his best bud is a werewolf, his lawyer is a vampire, he's hunted by demons, a ghost is possessing a girl down the coffee shop.....and it just felt completely weightless. How do all these supernatural beings work together as part of a world with internal logic and consistency? Dunno. What does it mean to be a vampire here? Dunno, they seem pretty much identical to humans.

Also, "weird" can too often turn into novelty for the sake of novelty. Replacing elves with psychic jellyfish is a surface level change, and it won't make a setting any more interesting if the psychic jellyfish are bland and one-note. It's why so many sci-fi settings basically end up with Space Elves, Space Dwarves and Space Orcs.
Agree with all of this, keeping the individual worlds each as a single coherent thematic niche and not letting concepts bleed between each other too much is vital i think, having too many concepts at once is what screams ‘too weird’ to me, a genasi/warforged magic/tech war? Cool and interesting, a genasi/warforged pirate intrigue war and there’s also avatars of gods and Eldritch horrors walking about who are trying to build cults? messy and overcomplicated, the only setting bleed IMO should be 1) with things the players bring with them or other NPC world hopping adventurer groups like them, 2) an overarching villain or otherwise threat or plot thread or 3) some sort of specific crossroads world
 
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Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
I'm with Charlaquin.

You say they gave "Confusing Nonanswers" but that could just be a cultural difference going with the age gap. Can you provide any of their nonanswers that younger people might try to better explain?
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Yeah, sorry, that screams sci-fy... but not D&D, IMO.

Now, that isn't to say you can't do a d20 game in space, but not with all the iconic things that make D&D "D&D" for me. No wonder it never appealed to me. 🤷‍♂️

Well, to each, their own I suppose. :)
Really? Other than the thri-kreen looking dude, I don't see anything about the picture that screams even remotely sci-fi? No guns, no lasers, no space-looking stuff at all. The total lack of any sort of equipment and pretty generic clothing makes it seem like that picture could be almost any fantasy or sci-fi setting.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
Really? Other than the thri-kreen looking dude, I don't see anything about the picture that screams even remotely sci-fi? No guns, no lasers, no space-looking stuff at all. The total lack of any sort of equipment and pretty generic clothing makes it seem like that picture could be almost any fantasy or sci-fi setting.
I'm just thinking of how lasers are core in at least 3 and 5e, how the spellcasting system is literally lifted from a post-apocalyptic sci-fi and how one of the most famous adventures involves a downed space ship. Also Cthulu has been thoroughly slathered on everything.

Sci-fi in D&D? Not a new or even novel concept.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
Really? Other than the thri-kreen looking dude, I don't see anything about the picture that screams even remotely sci-fi? No guns, no lasers, no space-looking stuff at all. The total lack of any sort of equipment and pretty generic clothing makes it seem like that picture could be almost any fantasy or sci-fi setting.
Yes, really, otherwise I wouldn't have posted what I did. ;)

As for the parts that scream sci-fi? Well, the clothes reminds me of sixties and seventies sci-fi shows. The lack of anything quintessentially D&D (swords, shields, spellbooks, etc.) doesn't help any to take the feel away from sci-fi. If I showed this to the people I play with, I don't think any of them would think of D&D instead of sci-fi...

Perhaps for people who are fans of Spelljammer or played it in the past would identify it more as D&D. I just don't.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
So with the talk about Spelljammer coming soon has gotten many gamers excited. In my little corner an ad was posted at the library for a 5E Spelljammer DM. I know the players, but they are not my kind of gamers. I'm Old School Hard Fun Unfair Unbalanced and they are something else. Still, after two weeks the game still had no DM. None of the younger DMs felt they knew enough about Spelljammer to run a game.

So as a Spelljammer fan, I offered to run the game. And they agreed......they even agreed to my Old School Hard Fun Unfair Unbalanced game style. the only big request was that I not make the game "too weird".

So, I'm a "weird" gamer too....I love strange and weird and crazy things in a game. But what is too much? I ask myself what would be too weird for me, and I find myself having trouble getting an answer. My only vague answer is when the GM gets so weird that we are not playing D&D, things like the space trolls are "immune to attacks" or they have a 33% chance to hit a PC and ignore all D&D rules.

The players are all younger then me, so there is a huge culture gap with our ages.
I tried to ask what was "too weird", but just go a bunch of confusing non answers. I did e-mail everyone to get what they thought was too weird....no answers yet.

So.......what do you think is "too weird"?
It might very well be that their comments of the game not being "too weird" has nothing to do with the actual setting and the aliens / sci-fi of Spelljammer... but could possibly be passively referencing your particular DM-style of old-school "unfair" and "unbalanced"?

If these are younger and newer players... and especially if they have never played in one of your games before and don't know how you run your game... they might very well see your requests to have the game be "unfair" as some sort of weird method of throwing out the rulebooks when they don't suit you. And see your desire for the game to be "unbalanced" as a way of taking the 5E rules (that they presumably all enjoy) and just stomping on them and not bothering to use them as designed. Rightly or wrongly... maybe it's just they think you're not going to play 5E as the game it is but will take the 5E rules and morph them into some olden-times kludge of a game that they won't recognize or be able to play with any knowledgeable foundation? Maybe they think the way you intend to run the game will be what's "too weird"? If they're comfortable and happy with the rules of 5E as-is but won't get to play said rules in this Spelljammer game you run in your old-school way... then they lose what it is they wanted to play in the first place.

I could be completely off about this, I freely admit. I was just trying to extrapolate from your post what might be considered "weird" to them other than just the standard tropes of Spelljammer... because we'd assume that if they wanted to play SJ and requested a DM for it, they knew those kind of odd tropes would be there. So old-school unfair and unbalanced DMing might really be what they're talking about.
 

renbot

Explorer
It is modular. The players are who choose the tone of the game. Spelljammer was created to be the "sandbox" where you could add elements from your favorite sci-fi franchises. If you want, your Spelljammer can be Aliens vs Predator, Doom Slayer, Dead Space, Warhammer 40.000, the Thing, Event Horizon, Pitch Black, Disney's Black Hole, Virus, Screamers, System Shock, Body Snatchers, They Live, Saturn 3, Outland (space thriller with Sean Connery).

WotC is only selling the pieces, but you are who choose the figure to be created.
To expand on this, maybe ask them what their favorite science fiction and/or science fantasy movies/TV shows are. Do they want more Alien v Pred? Star Wars? Star Trek? Final Fantasy?
It is tough to answer the question "What DON'T you want?" unless we are talking about food allergies. Ask them what they have liked in the past.
 

grimslade

Krampus ate my d20s
I agree with DEFCON1. They want a Spelljammer game, they want a Jack Kirby pirate fantasy adventure. Too weird might mean 'too mechanically weird' or too many house rules. All this can be hashed out in Session 0. You are already reaching out to try and get more definitive answers from the players and consulting the Council of Eric Noah's Grandma here. It may take your group a bit to articulate 'weird'. The best bet is to give them examples of media that would exemplify what you consider a Spelljammer campaign and let them riff off that.
 

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