D&D General Games People Play: Looking at the Gaming Aspects of D&D

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
Am I the only one who finds it irritating that quotes disappear when the OP deletes their post? Or is that them hiding their content from me?

Mod Note:

When you have made yourself sufficiently unpleasant to someone, they may use the Ignore/Block function, and that would be the result.
 

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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
I kinda expected that to result in them not seeing my posts, not the other way around.

Mod Note:
Moderation posts are not an initiation to discussion - quite the opposite, in fact. If you want to talk about how Ignore/Block works, or if you ever have question or comment on moderation posts, please take it to PMs with any member of the moderation staff, and let the discussion continue without the derailment. Thanks.
 

Clint_L

Legend
Well, Snarf @ ed me.


Nah, it easily can be.

If there was, well, actually engaging gameplay (like in 4E or, better, Strike!) and tight rules on encounter creation, instead of mere "guidelines", it would work.

Like, yeah, it wouldn't be a storytelling game (as outcomes are decided by the effectiveness of players' actions, rather than necessities of the story), but D&D isn't even remotely a storytelling game anyway.


I assume most people don't care enough about RPGs to actually learn something about them, so they rely on the world's best source of information: marketing materials!

Playing D&D is like drinking bud light or being straight: things that seem alright until you try better options.
I generally reject the "people who disagree with me must be ignorant" argument. It is usually a sign that I need to look more closely at my own assumptions. Is it possible that I am wrong, or that there is another perspective that, while I disagree with it, could still be valid? When it is a large number of people who disagree with me, I try to keep an open mind.

Your claim that D&D is "not remotely a storytelling game" seems very hyperbolic. When I DM, I prepare various story elements of setting, plot, characters, etc. Players narrate what they do, making choices that alter the direction of the story, sometimes in completely unexpected ways. Dice rolls similarly add new elements to the story, so that both they and I have to improvise. At the end, a story has definitely happened, and we usually have a great time. Often, it is hilarious or exciting. Occasionally it is sad, stressful, or frustrating. These are definitely stories in the way I normally use the term.

I don't understand how you can claim otherwise, unless you are using a very idiosyncratic definition of the word "story." Perhaps I am misunderstanding your point. What would be an example of a game that is a storytelling game?
 

loverdrive

Prophet of the profane (She/Her)
Players narrate what they do, making choices that alter the direction of the story, sometimes in completely unexpected ways. Dice rolls similarly add new elements to the story, so that both they and I have to improvise. At the end, a story has definitely happened, and we usually have a great time.
All activities produce stories, that is just a natural byproduct of events happening in a sequential order.

Yesterday, I played Team Fortress, I flirted with this girl playing Soldier, and then I popped kritz on her and she bathed me in the blood of the enemy team. Story! Or, in-universe: yesterday, a group of 12 mercenaries hired by Builders League United took control of a gravel processing plant in the New Mexico desert with minimal casualties, soldier Jane Doe (callsign "♡Diana♡") and known war criminal Fritz Ludwig (callsign "Alice can't hit pipes") earned commendation medals from the corporation. Story!

OK, I know I'm being cheeky. But in, say, Warhammer, people been writing, uhm, literary (?) battle reports where unit movements and shootouts are woven into narrative since before my ma even decided she wanted a kid, but calling Warhammer a storytelling game would be lunacy.

D&D isn't a storytelling game because it provides no tools and no incentive to engage with Shared Imaginary Space through the lens of storytelling, and the rules themselves don't act as such a lens either.

What would be an example of a game that is a storytelling game?
The best storytelling game I know of is probably Daniil Shipaev's MUJIK IS DEAD. It directly provides prompts for situations (like "Falling in love" or "Money problems"), and the players purposefully weave a tragic story of suffering and misery. One player takes on the role of the titular Mujik (translated: rough, tough, "real" man), the others are playing as his destructive drives. At the start of each scene, a random prompt is chosen and Mujik describes the situation, the other players tell what they think should happen next, they all roll dice and the winner narrates the outcome.

The story isn't just a byproduct of the gameplay, it is the gameplay. The dice are rolled not to determine success or failure, but to decide who has narrative authority.

A more mainstream example would be Fate, where
  1. The players can directly declare facts using Fate points (like "I'm a *Seasoned Explorer, so of course I find a secret passage here, hidden behind a loose brick wall") and gain Fate points if the fact is detrimental (like "I'm a *Wanted Fugitive, so of course our contact will recognize my face").
  2. Storytelling concepts, like genre, tone, tropes can be codified directly into aspects, and leveraged in the same way. Your game being an *Amateur neo-noir webseries, or your character being a *Designated Love Interest are all part of the mechanics, and players can and should leverage them.
  3. Most importantly, players have an option to back out of pretty much any situation, so they can safely raise stakes and create trouble.

An example of a game where rules act as a storytelling lens would be Horror Movie World (or Dread that you've mentioned upthread): the rules are specifically designed to replicate slasher flicks, where a colorful cast gets picked off one by one, being competent is the easiest way to die, all that.
 

SteveC

Doing the best imitation of myself
Sure there is. You can rewind to the exact point you wanted and make a different choice and see what happens. Just like with saves on computer RPGs. It's just that, for some reason, nobody ever seems to do it.
That's not really true. The Pathfinder games from Owlcat have people who've done dozens of playthroughs on them to see different things. I am amazed that people have that much time! Similarly, Pillars of Eternity and the Divinity games are quite similar. There are people who talk about playing the first Act of Divinity II multiple times.

It's been my experience that a game with branching paths and different outcomes creates this sort of interest.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
That is one way of looking at it, for sure, but the question remains: why do so many players enjoy that kind of play? They could be saying, "nope, this takes way too long and everything moves so goddamn slow." But they're not. They are voting with their time and money in support of that style of RPG.

Thus my speculation above: the complicated rules, coupled with gradual level progression and randomization (e.g. dice) - what I think Snarf is calling the "crunchy gaminess" - are features rather than a flaws.

Well, the simple answer is that appropriate pace is in the eye of the beholder, but beyond that, the question can turn on "What is worth taking up time in a game?" Different people are going to have different ideas of that, and thus, what is appropriate or not to remove to make a game move faster. I'm on record as saying for my purposes a lot of fast-moving and lighter games are overly-schematic in design; they lack the tools to give me part of the play experience I'm there for (and to make it clear, this is not specifically a trad game/other game bifurcation, as I felt that way about OD&D many years ago).
 

niklinna

satisfied?
That's not really true. The Pathfinder games from Owlcat have people who've done dozens of playthroughs on them to see different things. I am amazed that people have that much time! Similarly, Pillars of Eternity and the Divinity games are quite similar. There are people who talk about playing the first Act of Divinity II multiple times.

It's been my experience that a game with branching paths and different outcomes creates this sort of interest.
Those are computer games, and therefore they are exactly examples of what I pointed out as possible to do in TTRPGs, but which nobody seems to do.
 

mamba

Legend
Those are computer games, and therefore they are exactly examples of what I pointed out as possible to do in TTRPGs, but which nobody seems to do.
so you are saying if the fight against the dragon goes wrong, the party rewinds back to when they entered its lair and tries again?

Yeah, in theory that could be done, but then the DM could also just decide that the dragon hit its head so hard that it falls unconscious as things start to go wrong for the party.

Cheating when you are the only player (CRPG) is easier than if there is a group… the reason it is not being done imo is that you want to simulate ‘reality’ in your TTRPG while rewinding to checkpoints is the very opposite of that
 

Pedantic

Legend
To bring things back around to D&D, I think a more robust information gathering procedure could fill in the knowledge gaps. That would allow a skilled group to find out about the opposition and plan an effective strategy against it. Traditionally, D&D does already provide for gathering information, but it seems like that information is typically oriented towards providing the PCs with clues and hooks to advance the adventure rather than for providing details you can leverage into an advantage. I think you’d need to make sure the kind of information that can really be exploited is obtainable (even if it requires some work) and not hidden away behind difficult or impossible DCs.
I definitely agree here. Particularly for monster capabilities, a robust knowledge/monster lore system, that includes signs/information that can be derived before engaging in direct combat and the ability to deduce monster abilities/statistics in combat should be robustly included in the base game.
 

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