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D&D General 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.


The Game Is Over
LOL this is so funny! After the poll on classes, I figured someone would start a thread about the "generic" four bases classes or something similar.

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Generics good for adventures bad for campaign settings IMHO.

Generic settings are basically a dime a dozen. And I can knock one out in an afternoon.

You can sex up deneric how you want but if the differences are only political or minor mechanics difference from the phb what's the point?


Generics are often cheaper and just as tasty as name brands.
But seriously. It's all about execution. Well executed cliches give us things like Harry Potter.


A suffusion of yellow
A good Generic System is generally good, as it means I can use a base mechanic in order to create whatever game and story I wish to create

Thats in direct contrast to a Generic Setting which is generally bad, generic settings are generally bland and lacking any kind of interest, creativity or identity

Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
Substitute generic with any other of a dozen "buzzwords" or "triggers" that automatically invoke positive or negative attitudes without context, like linear, homebrew, roleplay, and narrative. Chances are you already have a strong opinion about each one of these words because someone somewhere convinced everyone else that it is the proper response for being socially correct. Or perhaps you came to your own conclusions but now associate that original feeling or attitude every time the word is invoked.

Thing is, you should be on the fence every time when it is presented to you and not just automatically assume to take a practiced stance because you seen this word before. Not everyone uses it the same way, or it may be used in a different context.

So if you tell me "generic", I'll say "go on" because there must be more to it than that.


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?

Ahm neither, it is just a one word preview characterization. And it totally depends on what I might be looking for. E.g. I want to do a generic campaign not FR and not Greyhawk then I might be delighted.
If I want something freaky and do not want to play DS or Eberron I might be a bit disappointed or not interested that much.

By definition a generic campaign can not add versatility to your campaign. So another take on so called vanilla would have to go paths not taken that often to be kind of "different".
E.g. a drastically different cosmology like light/shadow only "heaven" and "hell" and maybe "twilight zone" as a kind of ethereal/astral plane.
Or e.g. the way birthright took, with exceptional named monsters being unique aka there is only the medusa and the dragon, not medusas and dragons.
I appreciate any contribution to the game because it keeps it alive, but that is because I can convert old stuff, of which more is available than I could ever use, and if everything else fails, I can build my own campaign world, it is just very much work, but no big technical problems else.
But I can totally see others, who want things predefined and served to them in a ready to use package, be it they do not have the time or not the mood to do mods and conversions for themselves.


Context matters- I did vote bad thing. i.e. boring, lacking creativity, etc. When I use it, It's usually in the negative. Just like when I use "vanilla" to describe something that is not food. Boring, bland, ho-hum, nothing special, etc,

Interestingly enough, I don' t use other flavors to describe anything in a positive manner. "That new WOTC book is wicked Chocolate!" Just sounds weird.

Context matters, this is essentially like "Hair, good thing or bad?" or "Fire, good thing or bad?"

You can see this in the responses. Positive ones talk about an entirely different meaning and context of generic to negative. So it's actively unhelpful approach. You're not creating useful discussion, you're hampering it, unless the intended discussion is on the meaning of generic.

Generic products, in a small scale, can definitely be useful.

Equally though sticking to generic tropes and concepts when designing settings almost always has mediocre results, and even where it works, contributes to market saturation.


A suffusion of yellow
Interestingly enough, I don' t use other flavors to describe anything in a positive manner. "That new WOTC book is wicked Chocolate!" Just sounds weird.

It may be a personal quirk but I describe things as being “totally bananas” or a bit “strawberry shortcake”*, I also use the phrase “love it like chocolate”, so yeah maybe you could add those to your vanilla repertoire

Of course the whole idea could be a lemon


Limit Break Dancing
I know this poll is only a day old, but the results are about what I expected.

The knee-jerk reaction to the word "generic," without any context other than "RPG stuff," is about 2:1 positive to negative. This is by no means a scientific study, but it does help me understand the marketing and design side of things a little better: generic is easier to write, easier to sell, and easier to use...and most people actually prefer it.

Kinda makes me want to play G.U.R.P.S. again.