Generic: is it Good or Bad?

I say "Generic," you say...

  • That's a good thing.

  • That's a bad thing.


Results are only viewable after voting.

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
The word "generic" has been getting thrown around a lot in these forums, but the context seems to be a mix of positive and negative...and sometimes, confusingly, both at the same time.

So how about you? When someone describes a feature of D&D as "generic"--a new product, an adventure, a class or campaign setting--is your reaction most often a positive one? Like maybe you read that word and think "oh nice, this thing is going to be versatile and easy to add into my current game." Or is your reaction most often a negative one? Like perhaps you read it and think "ugh, another uninspiring and bland idea that will probably water down my zesty, flavorful game."

No exceptions, no fence-sitting, no "sorta kinda maybe in some cases possibly ..." We all know that preference is relative and there are always exceptions to any given system, no need to campaign for a variety of poll options. Feel free to add nuance in the comments below. But as for the poll...

"Generic." Is it good or bad for you?
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
I'd like to sit the fence on it a bit, but I chose a bad thing.

When I read "generic", in my mind it is synonymous with "bland".

That said, I have no problem using anything in a game that I run if I want to use it, generic or not.
Excellent answer...I'm trying to get the general gist of the word, the feels it gives you when you first see it in reference to a D&D product or feature...not measure each and every instance of it. This is good stuff.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
For my part, I voted "good." I rarely use things out-of-the-box, I'm always adding my own lore and backgrounds and style, and it's hard to do that with something that is highly-specific and detailed. I prefer broad strokes and strong frameworks to build on. I struggle to incorporate stuff like thri-kreen and mind flayers, for example, because they would require me to overhaul large parts of my setting.
 
If a system is say, "for generic fantasy" or a mechanic is "generic" that likely means it's easily adaptable to a specific sub-genre, setting, or concept.

OTOH, in the context of TTRPG "generic fantasy RPG" can just mean "another D&D imitator, locked into D&D's self-referent sub-genre."
 

TwoSix

The hero you deserve
"Generic" comes with a fairly strong connotation of "bland" or "boring", so I voted bad. Even though rationally I probably get more utility out of generic supplements that I do out of exciting, highly specialized ones.
 
When I hear "generic," I more or less interpret it to mean "free of canon requirements". In other words, it can be slotted in most anywhere with little headache. I suppose that might mean uninteresting, but I don't think that's necessarily the case. A work can be "generic" and still be evocative, clever, useful, or whatever.

Overall, I consider that a good thing.
 
The answer is both. Generic is fine if that was the goal. for example, a rule for a generic rules engine that's supposed to be dressed up in different ways depending on genre or whatever. The more targeted and specific the use of that rule (or whatever) is supposed to be the lazier generic looks.
 
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Parmandur

Legend
Depends on context, but for RPGs a decidedly good thing.

Tropes help role-playing. Certainly they are not needed, but most people will get into it easier with hooks they can hang onto, like "I'm Jack Sparrow teaming up with Elvis and Harry Potter tonight Nazi's in the back alleys of Mina's Tirath."

Hence why Forgotten Realms, Dragonlance, and such are so popular. Also, why Exandria from Critical Role is so good: it is blessedly generic, free of sales gimmicks trying to artificially create a market distinctive.
 

MonkeezOnFire

Adventurer
I said it's good as ultimately generic products are the easiest to adapt to home brew campaigns which is useful to me personally.But ultimately I think the edition needs a good balance. Once a generic baseline is established it's overall healthy to start serving wider tastes by offering variations and twists.

If this thread is motivated by the discussion surrounding the announcement of the Wildemount setting then in the interest of balance I think it's a good thing. After all the last two settings we got were Eberron and Ravnica which focus on a more specific aesthetic replicating a later time period through magic and technology.
 

Saelorn

Adventurer
As with most adjectives, it depends on context. You mention adventures, classes, and campaign settings.

I'm not sure how you can divorce an adventure from its setting. It seems like an adventure would require a lot of assumptions in order to run as intended, and those assumptions wouldn't hold across settings. In that context, a generic adventure is incomplete and not very useful.

A generic class makes even less sense. What kind of abilities could it have, if it doesn't represent anything specific. You need to have some sort of specific thing that you're trying to model, in order to figure out what the class is. A generic class would be impossible.

A generic campaign setting sees much of the same problems as a generic adventure, but moreso. If you aren't giving us specifics, then what's the point? This basically functions as a lack of a concrete campaign setting.
 

Parmandur

Legend
As with most adjectives, it depends on context. You mention adventures, classes, and campaign settings.

I'm not sure how you can divorce an adventure from its setting. It seems like an adventure would require a lot of assumptions in order to run as intended, and those assumptions wouldn't hold across settings. In that context, a generic adventure is incomplete and not very useful.

A generic class makes even less sense. What kind of abilities could it have, if it doesn't represent anything specific. You need to have some sort of specific thing that you're trying to model, in order to figure out what the class is. A generic class would be impossible.

A generic campaign setting sees much of the same problems as a generic adventure, but moreso. If you aren't giving us specifics, then what's the point? This basically functions as a lack of a concrete campaign setting.
Generic products help tremendously with DM prep time and player buy-in. That's why the most popular products, the most useful products, are ge Eric TTRPG material.
 

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