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D&D 5E Existentialist Sword and Sorcery

Yaarel

Mind Mage
I don't think you can decide, for the players, that their characters will be uneasy with that. They may think town life is just grand.
Of course. That is why Darksun allows players to play Defilers.


But that choice too helps actualize the feel of the setting where civilization=corruption.
 

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ph0rk

Friendship is Magic, and Magic is Heresy.
But that choice too helps actualize the feel of the setting where civilization=corruption.
I like Darksun, but that so many physical mechanics are required is an excellent example of how poorly dnd (particularly 5e) models morality. Frankly, it just doesn't.

And, thus, with no system for what is good and bad, an arc that requires characters to feel bad about a thing they may feel good about doesn't seem like much of a sure thing to me.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
What if they don't care that their characters have changed over time? And if the characters themselves do not care?

People change all the time; and they change their personal narratives to fit the new them. I don't think it is as inherently crisis fodder as you make it to be.
Then... That'd be fine? Like. What reaction are you expecting from me, here?

In this thread I specifically suggested that the elf queen in the example could choose to accept the change.

That's a perfectly fine way to go.
 

ph0rk

Friendship is Magic, and Magic is Heresy.
You titled a section:

Sword and Sorcery are based in Existentialism


And I said I do not think that works as a core theme for a dnd setting.

You said it could work - and it could if the players play ball. But if they don't, or only half of them do, then some of them will be bored.

I don't see it as a core defining part of a S&S game. If you aren't arguing it should be but merely that it could be - okay, I guess? It could be.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
I like Darksun, but that so many physical mechanics are required is an excellent example of how poorly dnd (particularly 5e) models morality. Frankly, it just doesn't.

And, thus, with no system for what is good and bad, an arc that requires characters to feel bad about a thing they may feel good about doesn't seem like much of a sure thing to me.
When describing a setting, it is less about how the players feel. It is more about the mood and tone that the setting evokes.

Players can roleplay within this setting however they want.
 



Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
You titled a section:




And I said I do not think that works as a core theme for a dnd setting.

You said it could work - and it could if the players play ball. But if they don't, or only half of them do, then some of them will be bored.

I don't see it as a core defining part of a S&S game. If you aren't arguing it should be but merely that it could be - okay, I guess? It could be.
Fantasy doesn't work in a game unless everyone is willing to accept the fantastic.

Horror doesn't work unless everyone is willing to be scared

If they don't, or only half do, they'll be bored.

No. I don't think it is the core defining concept of sword and sorcery. But it is important. That's why magic is the weapon of evil. The unknowable and inscrutable power of the Sorcerer is subverted, avoided, redirected rather than overpowered because all the muscle in the world doesn't beat lightning bolts.

It is a big part of the foundation of such a setting.

How you bring it forward... That is the question.
 


Yaarel

Mind Mage
@Steampunkette

This forumer did some interesting things for his sword-and-sorcery setting.


 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
@Steampunkette

This forumer did some interesting things for his sword-and-sorcery setting.


They just went all in on the problematic issues of the genre and other trappings. It holds little interest for me.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
@Steampunkette

This forumer did some interesting things for his sword-and-sorcery setting.


Xoth is one of the best D&D-compatible sword and sorcery settings out there. I remember looking at the 3.5E and Pathfinder releases and being very impressed.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
They just went all in on the problematic issues of the genre and other trappings. It holds little interest for me.
Heh, well, obviously, ignore those problematic parts.

Parts that I found interesting.

• Make a monster isolated, unique and monstrous, emphasizing its grotesqueness and oddity. [Especially near corruption.]

• Make combat lethal, and healing scarce.

• It is important to find ways to spend treasure.

• Here, subrace helps define where the character fits in within the process of corruption. This probably works better to rethink as a level 1 free feat. The categories describe increasing corruption.

  • Savage
  • Nomad
  • "Civilized"
  • "Enlightened"
  • Decadent
  • Degenerate

Obviously, these characterizations are ethnically problematic. But the idea of increasing political power inviting increasing corruption is relevant, and can be redone without alluding to ethnic groups. Indeed, any ethnic group can undergo this process. Meanwhile, a player character mechanically expresses this process.
 

Remathilis

Legend
Personal Opinion: I think Primeval Thule handles S&S far better than Dark Sun. PT feels like much of the classic pulp tropes modernized (though maybe not modernized enough) whereas Dark Sun always felt very edgelordy. If I was interested in exploring existentialist tropes, I think the setting with literal Elder Gods would be my choice.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Personal Opinion: I think Primeval Thule handles S&S far better than Dark Sun. PT feels like much of the classic pulp tropes modernized (though maybe not modernized enough) whereas Dark Sun always felt very edgelordy. If I was interested in exploring existentialist tropes, I think the setting with literal Elder Gods would be my choice.
I'd never played it, but looking over some of the reviews? Coooool!
 

I've always loved the IDEA of adding in existentialism to D&D, but I've always had trouble actually implementing it.

Because D&D characters gain new levels and abilities that continue to define, rather than redefine, who they are, change seems to be more about scaling than, well, change!

I wonder if there is something that could be added to, say, leveling up, or downtime activities that would introduce some systems to help players put their characters through existential changes?
 

Yora

Hero
I think it's mostly about asserting yourself both in the world that surrounds you, and towards your own preconceptions of what you should be.
An affirmation that whatever you are is valid, even when it does not live up to social expectations.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
I've always loved the IDEA of adding in existentialism to D&D, but I've always had trouble actually implementing it.

Because D&D characters gain new levels and abilities that continue to define, rather than redefine, who they are, change seems to be more about scaling than, well, change!

I wonder if there is something that could be added to, say, leveling up, or downtime activities that would introduce some systems to help players put their characters through existential changes?
Alignment is that. To some degree.

But you could instead give people specific identity titles. Like "The Barbarian" or "The Destroyer" as appellations given to them by the populace based on what they're like. Let the player choose one at level 1 and see if they hold onto it.
 



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