D&D 5E Heteroglossia and D&D: Why D&D Speaks in a Multiplicity of Playing Styles

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
@FrogReaver

There's a Changing the game section in Blades from p. 229-235 that discusses expanding the scope of the game, tweaking how stuff works and mechanics for special narrative situations. Some of the changes include changing how Tier works, changing how Resistance works, playing vigilantes rather than criminals, rules for journeys and stuff like joining a cult or becoming bound to a demon.

Things like rituals, inventions, et al are entirely negotiated and designed by the play group as a matter of general play. Like there's one example ritual.

There are also all sort of expansions available to play that change the scope of the game including playing cops, vigilantes, secret police, etc that fundamentally change how stuff like heat works.

Generally this is encouraged to by an exercise the whole group is involved in and treated as an act of game design, but that's also how I treat house rules in D&D.

Here's the opening text to Changing the Game:
Seems fairly robust. I did notice the specific omission of play principles and gm/player advice there. I also didn't see suggestions on changing the setting. But still really robust and far reaching advice, though maybe a slightly lower scope than D&D's anything goes.
 

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hawkeyefan

Legend
Seems fairly robust. I did notice the specific omission of play principles and gm/player advice there. I also didn't see suggestions on changing the setting. But still really robust and far reaching advice, though maybe a slightly lower scope than D&D's anything goes.

I’m currently running a game called The 13th Fleet. It both removes Position/Effect from play and takes place in an entirely different setting than Blades.

You’re starting with your conclusion that D&D is more flexible than other games and then doing everything you can to support that conclusion. Despite evidence to the contrary.

The Changing the Game section makes it very clear that nothing is off the table.

There’s nothing greater about the flexibility of D&D.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
I’m currently running a game called The 13th Fleet. It both removes Position/Effect from play and takes place in an entirely different setting than Blades.
Maybe elaborate on how a 'not Blades in the Dark game' shows that "Blades in the Dark' is more flexible? Maybe it does, but it's not clear at the moment why that is the case?

You’re starting with your conclusion that D&D is more flexible than other games and then doing everything you can to support that conclusion. Despite evidence to the contrary.
I assure you I am not doing this and I would appreciate that you not accuse me of bad faith.

The Changing the Game section makes it very clear that nothing is off the table.

There’s nothing greater about the flexibility of D&D.
I just read it and don't see that. Maybe you can point to something specific there?
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
Here's a few general question:

Let's say I run a game of D&D where for 6 sessions in a row we are engaging in fancy parties, social encounters and interpersonal drama. That counts as D&D even though the rules might impact play once or twice a session (other than basic play loop stuff) ?

"Counts as" is doing some heavy lifting in that sentence. You can say "yes" because its embedded in a D&D campaign and probably uses the D&D setting assumptions, but when viewed as just its own slice, the question is "is there anything telling you anything about the game system at all?"

Let's say I run a game of Monsterhearts where the characters are doing Teen Wolf / Vampire Diaries action adventure stuff for a couple sessions where there's tons of exploring the environment, sneaking into enemy compounds and much violence. Basic moves only matter once or twice a session (although the basic play loop and principles are being observed). How is this still not Monsterhearts?

This is a case where, even though I read Monsterhearts 1e once or twice, so I'd need to ask some questions: how were potential conflicts being resolved? I recall that incarnation of PbtA had some moves to represent violence (because, honestly, there's no lack of that in the style of media its based on), but I don't recall what it had to handle the sneaking-and-exploring part. How does it do so? My inclination is to say that its still Monsterhearts because that sort of thing isn't particularly uncommon in the source material involved, but I'm not sure how well the rule system supports it.

Why are the standards different for different games on this score?
Why are house rules in D&D treated differently than special permissions in Blades, custom moves in Apocalypse World, changing the game or other ways to customize games when games explicitly talk about these things and how to do them?

Well, as you know, my opinion is fundamentally they aren't, though how often you need to do them and to what degree matters, and how much the additional material seems outside the normal mechanical scope; though its not a hard-line, I think there is "houseruled X" and there's "game based on X that is really a new game". And it usually has to do with mechanical structures you'd not see a parallel in X.
 

hawkeyefan

Legend
Maybe elaborate on how a 'not Blades in the Dark game' shows that "Blades in the Dark' is more flexible? Maybe it does, but it's not clear at the moment why that is the case?

The 13th Fleet is a Forged in the Dark game that does exactly the things you said the “Changing the game” section omitted.

I assure you I am not doing this and I would appreciate that you not accuse me of bad faith.

Your comments have done nothing to show how D&D is more flexible than Blades in the Dark. Yet you claim it’s true. When someone else pointed it out, you said it was the fault of others for not explaining the text in full.

If you’re going to claim that D&D is more flexible than another game, then it’s on you to show how. No one else is gonna do your work for you.

As for the flexibility of either game…I don’t know how either game is “more flexible” than the other given the context of changing the game. How would either game not be changeable?
I just read it and don't see that. Maybe you can point to something specific there?

Just read what? The entire section in the book or just the bit that @Campbell quoted? I feel like if you read the whole section I don’t think you can walk away with the feeling that any particular part of the game is untouchable in this regard.

Given how undefined the setting for Blades is, I’m struggling to imagine how anyone could read the text and think of anything about the game as beyond personalization or customization.
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
@Thomas Shey

The way Monsterhearts and Apocalypse World both work is that when no basic move applies than the GM makes a move that follows from the fiction. Basically the GM decided what happens in a way that is consistent with the game's agenda and principles. A decent portion of the game will be like this.

If something comes up often enough you are encouraged to build custom moves that fit the theme of the game. You can also do situation specific custom moves on the fly if it makes sense. Custom moves that apply in specific situations are a big part of running AW and Monsterhearts.
 


Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Perhaps this thread should be moved to RPG General, with all this talk having moved to non-D&D games.

Perhaps the more interesting question is how is it that a threat that is marked D&D 5e, in the D&D section, with D&D in the title, and discussing D&D and a theory about D&D in the OP…. has so much talk about non-D&D?

Actually, that’s not a very interesting question, is it? Pretty pretty pretty predictable.
 


FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Perhaps the more interesting question is how is it that a threat that is marked D&D 5e, in the D&D section, with D&D in the title, and discussing D&D and a theory about D&D in the OP…. has so much talk about non-D&D?

Actually, that’s not a very interesting question, is it? Pretty pretty pretty predictable.
Let's not explore that. I feel I'm just as much to blame ;)
 



Aldarc

Legend
If we are talking about the flexibility of rule systems, there is nothing, for example, in the 5e PHB or DMG that talks about how one can turn 5e D&D into Esper Genesis or the myriad of other games that use the 5e engine. But we do not use this as a strike against claims of 5e's flexibility. Likewise, taking the omission of advice for turning Blades in the Dark into 13th Fleet should not be taken as a sign of BitD's lack of flexibility when it comes kitbashing. But when one looks, there are a LOT of FitD hacks out there.

A lot of indie games out there are built on the same DIY ethos that people claim exists as part of D&D's idiomatic culture. I'm honestly puzzled why people want to make the idea of hacking, tinkering, and the DIY ethos exists solely as the exclusive domain of their TTRPG subculture or community: e.g., D&D, OSR, BRP, FitD, PbtA, etc. It doesn't matter. People will hack the game. System flexibility is not exclusive to either D&D or FitD. It's what happens when you put a game system in the hands of a community that loves tinkering with the system and creating new things. It's the natural out growth of game hobbyists.
 

Here's a few general question:

Let's say I run a game of D&D where for 6 sessions in a row we are engaging in fancy parties, social encounters and interpersonal drama. That counts as D&D even though the rules might impact play once or twice a session (other than basic play loop stuff) ?
I would say yes, this still "counts" as dnd. However, if I were to assert such a thing on these boards, let's say in a thread about social mechanics in games, I would expect resistance. People might say that such play is not really using anything from the system, and thereby relies on one's own invention, and in that way such play should not be credited to the system. And if the players of those games wanted to play a game of interpersonal drama, why not pick up a different game specifically for designed for that (like Monsterhearts)?

Let's say I run a game of Monsterhearts where the characters are doing Teen Wolf / Vampire Diaries action adventure stuff for a couple sessions where there's tons of exploring the environment, sneaking into enemy compounds and much violence. Basic moves only matter once or twice a session (although the basic play loop and principles are being observed). How is this still not Monsterhearts?
I would say this does count as Monsterhearts. But then, to quote Jay Dragon again, "If I hang out with my friends and we all tell stories set in the world of Earthsea, can it not be said that we’re playing Earthsea? And by extension, if we all tell stories in the world implied by Monsterhearts, isn’t that still Monsterhearts even if we’re not using the dice mechanics described by the book?"

But again, I would expect that point of view to see a fair amount of resistance on these boards. I do find this current discussion interesting and surprising because of all the times I've seen the insistence that a game (any game) occupies, or at least ideally occupies, a relatively narrow band of focused play. And that if you go beyond this narrow band, one is not playing by the rules, and thus playing it wrong, or that the game "drifts" to some other narrow band of play.

Personally, if someone says they played dnd last weekend, and then I learn that they are playing OCs in the Stardew Valley extended universe and they spent their time playing a fishing mini-game using a homebrewed d12 dicepool system...they are still playing dnd. The important thing to me is their experience and conceptualization of the activity, which takes precedence over my categorization preferences.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
@Thomas Shey

The way Monsterhearts and Apocalypse World both work is that when no basic move applies than the GM makes a move that follows from the fiction. Basically the GM decided what happens in a way that is consistent with the game's agenda and principles. A decent portion of the game will be like this.

If something comes up often enough you are encouraged to build custom moves that fit the theme of the game. You can also do situation specific custom moves on the fly if it makes sense. Custom moves that apply in specific situations are a big part of running AW and Monsterhearts.

Thanks for the answer. As I said, I read it at one time, but its been some time and it was unlikely that a lot of details would stick in my mind given the mild antipathy I have toward a lot of PbtA's approach.
 

Hussar

Legend
What is confusing about "in my opinion" and "I consider"? You may consider livers and onions a delicious meal, I'm not sure I could choke it down. That doesn't make your opinion incorrect, we just have different opinions.

So the "context" is that quality is largely in the eye of the beholder. In my eyes, 5E is a good game.
Adding IMO does not clarify anything, and that's confusing.

Saying liver and onions is good can mean that it is well prepared, perfectly cooked and presented in an appealing way. But, like you, I wouldn't eat it because I hate liver and onions. So, if I say it's bad, what I mean is, "I don't like it". It does not mean that "it is badly made". That's the confusion.

You saying that 5e is good, simply means you like it. It does not mean that it is well designed. If you mean that it is well designed, then provide examples where you think that it is well designed and SAY that you think it is well designed. Simply saying "5e is good" doesn't mean anything. It just means you like it.
 

Hussar

Legend
There are plenty where that's not true, though. A lot of generic and semi-generic systems are built specifically to provide a variety of experiences as built, not only in genre, but in emphasis and style (and do the latter at least as well as any D&D version would). I've seen both BRP and Hero campaigns over the years with vastly varied emphasis. This doesn't mean the mechanics don't lean one way or another, but that's every bit as true of D&D.
Oh, sure. There's definitely a spectrum here.
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
Adding IMO does not clarify anything, and that's confusing.

Saying liver and onions is good can mean that it is well prepared, perfectly cooked and presented in an appealing way. But, like you, I wouldn't eat it because I hate liver and onions. So, if I say it's bad, what I mean is, "I don't like it". It does not mean that "it is badly made". That's the confusion.

You saying that 5e is good, simply means you like it. It does not mean that it is well designed. If you mean that it is well designed, then provide examples where you think that it is well designed and SAY that you think it is well designed. Simply saying "5e is good" doesn't mean anything. It just means you like it.

Agreed. In general opinions make for very poor discussion. The reasoning behind those opinions can lead to very interesting avenues, but I believe X and you believe Y is the start -> not the end. Like I am not really trying to change people's minds at all, but finding the reasons why people believe what they do and exploring the issue can be enlightening.
 

Oofta

Legend
Adding IMO does not clarify anything, and that's confusing.

Saying liver and onions is good can mean that it is well prepared, perfectly cooked and presented in an appealing way. But, like you, I wouldn't eat it because I hate liver and onions. So, if I say it's bad, what I mean is, "I don't like it". It does not mean that "it is badly made". That's the confusion.

You saying that 5e is good, simply means you like it. It does not mean that it is well designed. If you mean that it is well designed, then provide examples where you think that it is well designed and SAY that you think it is well designed. Simply saying "5e is good" doesn't mean anything. It just means you like it.
I think most judgements of quality are subjective. So ... we agree? I guess.

There is no concrete objective measure of good design after a certain level of competence. I think tens of millions of people think the game is at least decent or we wouldn't se years of double digit growth. I've played 5e with a few dozen people now, we've all had fun. People in the real world only have had minor complaints about the game, if any.

How many times do I have to say all that? Yep, all it proves is that I have an opinion. So?
 


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