D&D General How am I a D&D outlier? How are you one?

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Way back in the early days of these boards, before they were officially these boards even, was when I first began to realize that what my approach to running (and to some degrees playing) D&D was not as standard and common as I had thought it was before I was involved in any gaming internet communities. I think without any real experience to the contrary, it is easy to assume that your way is not only the "right" way, but that it is the most common. I was wrong, of course.

After a decade or so break from these boards (and from running D&D), I returned with my adoption of 5E to what seemed like an even more changed world, in terms of expectations and standards of play (for example APs went from a novel thing to a standard way many if not most people approach adventures). Some of these changes are very welcome to me (all the reflection on the cultural impact and meaning of elements in the game and the efforts to be more inclusive of players from different backgrounds, identities, and desires - a fight I was fighting back when people would regularly tell me on these very boards that "[You are] the real racist" or "I didn't even know people of color liked to play D&D" or saying "Sex and sexuality are not a part of my games" as a way to erase queer folks while still having things like heteronormative marriages, people having children, NPCs getting betrothed, etc), others not so much.

Anyway, another thread got me thinking about the ways in which I feel like an outlier in terms of preferences and approach, and I thought it'd be interesting to make a list of them. Some of these I may not actually be an outlier about, but I just sometimes feel that way. As I mentioned in another thread a while ago, these boards can give a very skewed perspective on the community of D&D players at large, and I rarely come across the kinds of disagreements and refusal to compromise in real life that seems to dominate the discussions here - so I am not claiming any kind statistical anomaly based on data - but totally on experiences/vibe. I'd be happy to hear how some approach I take is not actually an outlier, if you don't think so.
  1. I almost always aim for campaigns that last several years.
  2. I never run any adventure as written and tweak everything.
  3. The majority of what I run for 5E is stuff I have converted from 1E or 2E or that someone else has.
  4. I have a list of available PC races that is more restrictive than the 5E PHB (but sometimes unlock other possibilities through the course of the game based on in-game events).
  5. I have a hard time imagining D&D without multiclassing (except for BECMI, which had the original version of what I'd called prestige classes for switching things up as you advanced).
  6. While I love the stories that emerge from D&D sessions, I do not try to make the game fit "story beats" or narrative conceits - I play to see what happens - even if "what happens" is a TPK on a random encounter.
  7. I eschew most cinematic comparisons and don't think of D&D as an "action movie." While there are certain scenes and events that might fit in an action movie, that is not the aim. I describe everything from the POV of the PCs (no cut scenes to what the villains are doing, for example).
  8. I think of mechanical balance as a general neighborhood to aim for and not some kind of granular precision that can ever be achieved. Some restrictions or benefits (like slower speed or darkvision) are more about shifting the tactics between individuals and developing a group approach.
  9. I don't think every encounter should be designed with the notion of allowing every PC to do their best thing (or even allowing any of them to do their best thing) and definitely not every round. (Basically, I design the encounters that make sense for the scenario and let the players figure out if they can use their best thing - that's their job, not mine).
  10. I still calculate XP. PCs have different amounts, but are in the same neighborhood.
  11. I am not a fan of VTTs and remote play (though I do the latter when necessary and use Owlbear Rodeo a little bit).
  12. Nearly every magical item introduced in my games are designed by me, not from a book (or highly adapted/revised versions of what appears in a book). They are never for sale. They always have a history. There are rarely magical items that make common everyday tasks easier. Magic is magical and for heroic action.
  13. Travel, exploration, and resource management are a core part of the game.
  14. Players can contribute to "world-building" through their backstories (though one isn't necessary) but mostly through their inquiry during play.
  15. I play with alignment, finding it a useful shorthand for running NPCs and a guide to help players consider the consequences of their behavior. For example, this didn't happen, but when the party's neutral good bard was considering killing a defenseless captive because of the inconvenience of guarding her or bringing her with them, I was ready to ask for the player's character sheet, and cross out the "good" part of the alignment and hand it back with just "neutral." I never say "You can't do that because of your alignment.
  16. I like long combats and tactical play - cover, ranges, verticality, difficult terrain, and other obstacles and aims are often a part of combat.
  17. D&D should be challenging.
There are probably others, but that is enough for now.

How are you an outlier? How do you feel like one?
 
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overgeeked

B/X Known World
I don't think you're an outlier. At least not compared to me. Of your entire list, the only one I'm not that interested in is this:
I like long combats and tactical play - cover, ranges, verticality, difficult terrain, and other obstacles and aims are often a part of combat.
To me, combat is the most boring part of the game. At least as it's most often played. Kick in the door, X foot by Y foot room with Z opponents...yawn. I like fewer more interesting fights. Set piece encounters with lots of moving parts. But they must, must, must be quick. Anything more than 30-45 minutes and I'll fall asleep.
 

Laurefindel

Legend
I don't think I'm that much of an outlier, but here are the thing I do "differently":

  • I don't use a DM screen.
  • I roll in the open and let the dice fall where they may.
  • I like to give the players a lot more information that what their characters may or may not know, using prologues, epilogues, and post-credit scenes featuring the bad guys, or something happening somewhere that will foreshadow events to come.
  • I encourage meta-gaming from the player's perspective, although I discourage in-character meta-gaming.
  • Four players is already too big of a group for me.
  • I use different house rules for each campaign. It helps bringing the focus of the campaign forward.
  • I don't use a mat, grid, hex, or otherwise.
 
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overgeeked

B/X Known World
How are you an outlier? How do you feel like one?
I'm apparently an outlier in that I couldn't care less about RAW. The rules of the game are guidelines to facilitate consistency and provide some semblance of verisimilitude to the fiction of the game world. They're neither "hard" nor "fast". They're strongly (and often poorly) worded suggestions at best.

From the Moldvay Basic Set:

“The D&D game has neither losers nor winners, it has only gamers who relish exercising their imagination. The players and the DM share in creating adventures in fantastic lands where heroes abound and magic really works. In a sense, the D&D game has no rules, only rule suggestions. No rule is inviolate, particularly if a new or altered rule will encourage creativity and imagination. The important thing is to enjoy the adventure.”

Tom Moldvay
3 December 1980

That introduction still stays with me. I wish more people would read it and play by it.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
1) Only in the last year or so have I ever run a published adventure or module, and even than I change them up quite drastically. When I learned to play D&D back in the 90s with 2e, running other people's adventures (instead of making them up yourself and tailoring them to your PCs) was heavily frowned upon in my gaming circles. I still have an innate resistance to APs and modules that is difficult to shake.

2) I like every edition of D&D (with the exception of 1e, which I never played.) I like OSR stuff and pawn-stance play, I love 4e, with heavy tactical combat and narrative-style play. I like 5e and storypath-focused play. I love heavy crunch games like 3e/PF. Heck, I like 2e and Skills and Powers. Whatever you put in front of me, I embrace it and enjoy its own take on the game. I really struggle to understand people who only think D&D or RPGs should be played a certain way.

3) I LOVE novelty and change. Nothing would make me happier than a 6e that radically changed concepts and lore that are familiar. New races, new classes, new takes on old material; I love all of it.
 

Gradine

Final Form (they/them)
1) I rarely if ever say "no" to something. "No" is the fun killer. I will try to resolve situations mechanically (adv/disadv is a great tool for this) if I can or come up with a mechanical solution otherwise.

2) I make no excuses: I am a storyteller. I envision campaigns primarily as TV shows, with each session/adventure as an episode. I don't force anyone to stick to the rails and I'll work hard to incorporate whatever swerves my players throw at me. That said, every adventure and every campaign is something I consider as having a beginning, a middle, and an ending; the further from the beginning, the more flexible I have to be with my structure.

3) I don't fudge rolls but I will play around with HP, especially if an encounter is dragging on and the outcome is clear.

4) I give players a role in their characters' deaths. That includes saying no to death if they don't feel like their story is complete. My players know that there are worse consequences for failure than the deaths of their characters.
 

Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
How are you an outlier? How do you feel like one?
That's easy. I still prefer 4th edition, even though I find nothing wrong with 5e (or any other edition). I don't think I need to explain that one.

But in the spirit of the thread (and because they asked) let's see how the OP measures up:
I almost always aim for campaigns that last several years.
You must be leading a charmed life. I'm happy if I can get people to show up consistently for a few weeks straight. It happens, just not as often as I hope.
I never run any adventure as written and tweak everything.
Isn't that how it's supposed to be done? :unsure:
The majority of what I run for 5E is stuff I have converted from 1E or 2E or that someone else has.
Ironically, a lot of the 5e stuff IS converted from 1E and 2E stuff that a lot of us have!
I have a list of available PC races that is more restrictive than the 5E PHB (but sometimes unlock other possibilities through the course of the game based on in-game events).
You think the 5e PHB is restrictive??
I have a hard time imagining D&D without multiclassing (except for BECMI, which had the original version of what I'd called prestige classes for switching things up as you advanced).
So did D&D, apparently. Look closer at some of the sub-classes and you'll see they're just multi-class options for a particular class without the penalties and trade-offs for multi-classing.
While I love the stories that emerge from D&D sessions, I do not try to make the game fit "story beats" or narrative conceits - I play to see what happens - even if "what happens" is a TPK on a random encounter.
Giving up control and/or responsibility over what happens to the players is a timeless tradition that started with Gygax. You are old school, my friend! (y)
I eschew most cinematic comparisons and don't think of D&D as an "action movie." While there are certain scenes and events that might fit in an action movie, that is not the aim. I describe everything from the POV of the PCs (no cut scenes to what the villains are doing, for example).
Ooh! You're like a VR for the analog gamer!
I think of mechanical balance as a general neighborhood to aim for and not some kind of granular precision that can every be achieved. Some restrictions or benefits (like slower speed or darkvision) are more about shifting the tactics between individuals and developing a group approach.
I think of mechanical balance as a scale. With a fulcrum, a tipping point, etc...
I don't think every encounter should be designed with the notion of allowing every PC to do their best thing (or even allowing any of them to do their best thing) and definitely not every round. (Basically, I design the encounters that make sense for the scenario and let the players figure out if they can use their best thing - that's their job, not mine).
No participation trophies here.
I still calculate XP. PCs have different amounts, but are in the same neighborhood.
You can do my taxes, too, if you like! Math be fun!
I am not a fan of VTTs and remote play (though I do the latter when necessary and use Owlbear Rodeo a little bit).
Lot of us aren't. But there's not always an alternative, and its really hard not to play sometimes.
Nearly every magical item introduced in my games are designed by me, not from a book (or highly adapted/revised versions of what appears in a book). They are never for sale. They always have a history. There are rarely magical items that make common everyday tasks easier. Magic is magical and for heroic action.
So, are these available on Etsy...? Asking for a friend.
Travel, exploration, and resource management are a core part of the game.
You're right! It says so right there in the core books. So how does that make you an outlier? :unsure:
Players can contribute to "world-building" through their backstories (though one isn't necessary) but mostly through their inquiry during play.
Your world is still in beta. Got it. (y)
I play with alignment, finding it a useful shorthand for running NPCs and a guide to help players consider the consequences of their behavior. For example, this didn't happen, but when the party's neutral good bard was considering killing a defenseless captive because of the inconvenience of guarding her or bringing her with them, I was ready to ask for the player's character sheet, and cross out the "good" part of the alignment and hand it back with just "neutral." I never say "You can't do that because of your alignment.
This is correct. Alignment is a reflection of the characters and their actions. It can fluctuate and even change. Its not a safe-guard or a badge the gives license for players behaving badly without some response.
I like long combats and tactical play - cover, ranges, verticality, difficult terrain, and other obstacles and aims are often a part of combat.
4th Edition. Covered that.
D&D should be challenging.
But at what expense? Fun? Immersion? Teamwork? Getting a group together every other week seems challenging enough for some of us.

Ok, I'm poking a lot of fun at this but I hope @el-remmen finds the humor in it, too. Believe me, it sucks to be the outlier in anything, especially in a community that should have your back as a fellow fan and gamer. As long as you and your friends enjoy how you play, you keep doing what you do! ;)
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
I deviate from the norm mostly because my gaming group has been playing together for almost a decade, and we still meet twice a month to play (although lately we've been "meeting" online, in FoundryVTT + Discord.)
 



Reynard

Legend
I deviate from the norm mostly because my gaming group has been playing together for almost a decade, and we still meet twice a month to play (although lately we've been "meeting" online, in FoundryVTT + Discord.)
Is that not the norm? My IRL group is 15 years old and my online groups are with people I have been playing with for 10 to 25 years.
 




Oofta

Legend
As a DM?
  1. I have a world I first drew up in high school. I still use it and many campaigns and actions of PCs have added to it, large and small.
  2. I have my own cosmology and the gods of humans are based on Norse mythology, although I did borrow most of the non-human deities from Greyhawk and FR.
  3. I run campaigns up to level 20 with an occasional beyond.
  4. I sometimes start PCs at level 0.
  5. Raise dead is difficult, resurrection is practically unheard of.
  6. I don't think I've ever used a published mod, although I do get them sometimes just for inspiration.
  7. One of my first PCs is still an NPC because he became essentially immortal in my wife's campaign (we share the same world). A true neutral wizard, I kind of accidentally created my own cranky atheist Elminister. :LOL:
  8. I don't remember the last time a dungeon was the focus of a game and I rarely use dragons.
  9. The bad guys are almost always human.
  10. People can contribute to the lore of my campaign with backgrounds, but I retain editorial authority to make sure it doesn't contradict anything. They can have major lasting impact as PCs.

As a player?
  1. I don't care much about optimization and don't really read optimization threads especially when the "massive" difference is a point or two of DPR based on a specific set of assumptions.
  2. I've played all sorts of races and alignments (other than evil).
  3. Every elf I've ever played dies before they get to 3rd level. There have been quite a few.
  4. I did once try a half elf to see if I could break the curse. He got to 3rd level and then died.
  5. The personality and motivation for my PC matter more than race or class.
  6. I kind of dislike playing dex based characters, especially those who hang out in the back trying to avoid all damage possible.
  7. I occasionally write short stories about my PCs either revealing bits of their history or what's going on between adventures.
 

I am a pure player never a dm(I likely have a mental disorder that would make dm hell for me.)
I have never quite found a race I just gel with ever most people find one fairly easily.
that I attempt to solve the latter problem by homebrewing one that fits what I like.
I have only played in failed campaigns.
I was the guy who brought all the stuff for the game, not the dm.
I love the monk and the idea of the psion.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
How am I an outlier?

  1. I’m a black dude.
  2. I like- no, LOVE- multiclassing.
  3. I like the old, 9 position alignment system. It helps set D&D fantasy apart from other FRPGs.
  4. I like psionics in general.
  5. I like having meaningful distinctions between arcane magic vs divine magic vs psionics.
  6. I enjoy melee where reach, position, cover, LoS, etc. make a difference.
  7. I don’t think combat optimization is the be-all end-all of character design, and like exploring the nooks & crannies of the possibilities the system offers. (And I have found some doozies.)
  8. I encourage thought out PC backstories because I think they help ME run a better, more immersive game.
  9. I rarely use plot armor. If your PC or party does something silly, naturally forseeable consequences will not be handwaved away. Camp in the road, you WILL get run over.
  10. I generally run my campaigns in an open and permissive fashion. Not quite kitchen sink, but close. But if I say “X doesn’t exist in this setting.” You’re probably wasting your breath trying to convince me to change. I may, however, work with you to reach an approximation.
  11. I’m a black dude.
 

Reynard

Legend
How am I an outlier?

  1. I’m a black dude.
  2. I like- no, LOVE- multiclassing.
  3. I like the old, 9 position alignment system. It helps set D&D fantasy apart from other FRPGs.
  4. I like psionics in general.
  5. I like having meaningful distinctions between arcane magic vs divine magic vs psionics.
  6. I enjoy melee where reach, position, cover, LoS, etc. make a difference.
  7. I don’t think combat optimization is the be-all end-all of character design, and like exploring the nooks & crannies of the possibilities the system offers. (And I have found some doozies.)
  8. I encourage thought out PC backstories because I think they help ME run a better, more immersive game.
  9. I rarely use plot armor. If your PC or party does something silly, naturally forseeable consequences will not be handwaved away. Camp in the road, you WILL get run over.
  10. I generally run my campaigns in an open and permissive fashion. Not quite kitchen sink, but close. But if I say “X doesn’t exist in this setting.” You’re probably wasting your breath trying to convince me to change. I may, however, work with you to reach an approximation.
  11. I’m a black dude.
Out of curiosity (as I am a GenX white dude whose gaming peeps are mostly GenX white folk) have you seen a marked increase in people of color playing D&D in your gaming cicles (whatever those may be)?
 

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