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


I have played since 1982 but I often feel like an outlier because I dont really have any gronard tendencies and greatly prefer recent editions. I played 1e again recently and really wondered how I stuck with the hobby all these years.

As such, I also like high level D&D even more than low level and consequently, liked 4e because it worked so well at high levels.

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I think given the nature of the hobby we are all outliers OR there is no Box-Standard, and therefore nothing to lie outside of.

1. I like GM screens, I lay them flat to peek at occasionally especially if they have something interesting on them
2. I like written modules, they are great to tweak, give some consistency to names, and I even scribble on them with pencil when I change stuff
3. I roll in the open
4. I am not fond of familiars, esp when they steal PCs thunder
5. I am very "player first"
6. I despise an NPC-NPC conversation, and have left games because the GM has done this too much to demo is Leet acting skillz
7. I have never watched a full episode of CR and any other video where you get to watch others play
8. I do not like long involved backgrounds; they are the game we never got to play. 6 bullet points should do it
9. I'm not a fan of big dungeons. 12 rooms should be enough for its 'story'.
10. I see nothing wrong with the 5e bard (well except the stupid memes and the 'seduce everything' that seems prevalent.


Guest 7034872

  1. I really like the original stuff from the 70s and 80s, even acknowledging how imbalanced the game gets and how dated some of its material feels.
  2. I strongly like alignment and disagree with eliminating penalties for failed alignment checks (the deed is long since done, though, so I'm not going to make a house rule that brings them back). Such penalties keep players honest about playing their characters instead of just using them as extensions for themselves.
  3. Along with alignment, I like the Great Wheel and have liked it since the 80s.
  4. I even like racial alignments and ultimately disagree with their critics (but not harshly or nastily). I don't regard these as stereotypes; I regard them much more as Jungian archetypes that work at a very deep psychological level--one that predates humanity. All those monsters we encounter are, one way or another, distilled traits of our own selves reflected back at us in a generally alarming form. I've no quarrel with using players and NPCs that break these patterns, mind you; I just refuse to jettison the patterns altogether in the interests of a fashionable moral/political fastidiousness. The game is bigger than me, so it needs to be bigger than my beliefs.
  5. If the world, the game, and the NPCs never escape my control, I'm not satisfied. I tend to think players are supposed to break the game and take it places for which I am wholly unprepared. I want the NPCs I create to shock, surprise, and even sometimes disgust me. If they don't get away from me, I haven't made them well enough.
  6. I'm fine with PC death. Maybe because I started back in the early 80s I am very comfortable with some PCs actually, truly, permanently, irretrievably dying. I've had lots of my own characters do that. What's the big deal? I've added greatly to the drama and tension of the game, plus I get to roll up a new character, which I've always enjoyed.
  7. As per point 1, I'm generally okay with the game being imbalanced (up to a point). In the games I've played, wizards mostly die early on. So do halflings. So long as it never gets boring for anyone, I don't see why all PCs ought to be equally powerful. If people want adventures in which they are, that's fine. I just don't see why we always must have it that way.
  8. I'm with John R Davis: I like Bards, too.
  9. I miss using XP. I mean, I get why it fell out of favor and all, but it did introduce a level of background competition between party members that made things a lot more interesting. That's why I also miss awarding XP for gold and treasure; it made all the players a bit greedier in the midst of their overarching teamwork and collaboration.
I guess that's most of it.


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?
I play the way I've played the way I have since the late 70's. I've never had a complaint from players. Nothing succeeds like success.


Staff member
I started using computers for gaming back in the early 1990s when I wrote up my Supers:1900 campaign in MS Word and did a HERO character sheet in Excel* (or whatever the spreadsheet in MS Office was).

Wait what? Microsoft never stopped supporting Excel.

Sorry, my bad!

It wasn’t Office (with Word, Excel & PowerPoint)*- it was Works, which was its predecessor. When they ceased Mac support for Works, the word processing documents were convertible with minimal issues; the spreadsheet was not at all.

I could- and should- redo the spreadsheet, but I’d have to rebuild the characters for that campaign from scratch. I have hardcopies of some- not all- of them somewhere, but I’m not 100% sure where. In a sense, that’s the loss that hurt the most, because the NPCs for that campaign were some of my best...

(I really should work on reassembling that rogue’s gallery.)

* I should have caught that error, since I’m still using Office. 🤪 🤦
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I believe our table style is a bit of an outlier as we still play primarily older modes of D&D with 5E.

1. Heavy use of large dungeons and dungeon exploration.
2. Resource management and encumbrance is a factor (plus food, water, light, ammunition).
3. Experience points matter; no milestones.
4. Devotion to player agency, zero dice fudging. Roll in the open.
5. Current group has been together 15 years (through many different campaigns).

1 to 3 are reflections of the hobby's roots, where it seems more recent gamers may eschew dungeons entirely. The debate on the importance of the dice goes back all the way, that one is not new. I'd like to see us revert back to random ability score generation, that's a practice I haven't seen on these lists. Anyone still use it?


Victoria Rules
I believe our table style is a bit of an outlier as we still play primarily older modes of D&D with 5E.

1. Heavy use of large dungeons and dungeon exploration.
2. Resource management and encumbrance is a factor (plus food, water, light, ammunition).
3. Experience points matter; no milestones.
4. Devotion to player agency, zero dice fudging. Roll in the open.
5. Current group has been together 15 years (through many different campaigns).
Other than 'roll in the open' I'm on board with all of this.
I'd like to see us revert back to random ability score generation, that's a practice I haven't seen on these lists. Anyone still use it?
Yes, though I'd like to think that doesn't (yet!) make me an outlier.

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