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

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
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'm an outlier's outlier these days, it seems, yet the only disagreements I have with your list are #5 (I dislike multiclassing in principle other than a very few combinations that single classes just can't cover well) and #12 (I use the official magic items as well as my own). I'm not as big on #16 as you are, I think, in that I don't mind short and-or no-tactics combats now and then.

I think my outlier-ness is added to by:

18. The campaign is bigger than the characters within it, much like a sports franchise is bigger than those who play for it.
19. Instead of jumping from edition to edition I've just slowly (and with help!) built my own over the decades.
20. I prefer a much higher degree of luck and-or gambling in the game than do, I suspect, most people. If luck wasn't to be involved the game wouldn't use dice.
 

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the Jester

Legend
1. I run a persistent setting that is the same world that pcs have adventured in since the mid-90s, with all things being connected in various ways. This means that there are callbacks to earlier editions in my game, and that changes in lore over time really matter to my campaign.

2. I looooove megadungeons.

3. I prefer, both as a player and a DM, rolling for stats. Moreover, I prefer to roll them in order and see what I can make.

4. I appear to be an outlier in both considering myself 'woke' and yet strongly disliking the new lineage system because it detracts from the meaningfulness of the choice of race in character creation.

5. I use material and art from all editions, converting on the fly or in advance as needed.

6. I don't care about balanced encounters as much as I do encounters that make sense in the world. I'm pretty old-skool-sandbox that way.

7. All pcs in my campaign start at first level (excepting the 3e and 4e years, when the game simply wouldn't support play with significantly mixed levels).

EDIT:

8. I run groups that are much larger than typical, up to 10 or so players on the reg.
 

GreyLord

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.

1. So is half of one of my groups...not an outlier (these days in some areas at least)...unless my group is all an outlier

4. Okay...now you are ostracized. Definitely an outlier.

9. That MAY be an outlier in today's gaming
10. Seems to vary from group to group...so maybe?
11. Seen #1 above...BUT...reading another of your posts...it seems maybe it is far less common than I thought?

Some, but not much.

There were no other PoC in my first exposed to D&D in 1977. I used to game with one black guy (different group, city & state) back in the 1980s, and another briefly joined a group I was in in the early 2000s*. There’s another black dude I know who is a veteran gamer who works at one of the better game stores around here, but weve never tossed dice together.

In the same period, I’ve gamed with 3-4 “East” Asians and a similar number of Hispanics.

So that’s 10-12 PoC gamers I’ve gamed with in 44 years?**

I’ve seen a fairly sizable number of southeast Asians and middle-eastern gamers in the stores I frequent, though, so I know change is occurring.

That actually goes with my experience as well now that I think about it. Starting in the 90s a majority of my groups became recruited by me, so that meant that those I hung out with usually were the ones who became players. That could mean that the composition of those I play with differ greatly than those who generally play the game otherwise. I don't go to CONS and other things, so my exposure to large groups of people could be different.

At least one of my groups is composed of players that are 86% POC with only one white guy who plays with us (7 players one DM). It never occurred to me that this may actually not be typical.

I've had Japanese, Chinese, and Korean players in my groups occasionally, never a Southeastern Asian yet. I've had a few players from Central and South America.

Never thought of most of the things mentioned in the thread as outliers overall...but now that you mention it and discussed it, it may be that I and the group (I have several gaming groups, this particular group I've been gaming with for around 5-6 years?) actually might qualify as an outlier (meaning my statement on #1 above is actually wrong, it is an outlier).

Strange, I never really thought of the group as the odd ones out or on the fringes of gaming. They are the MOST D&D oriented group I play in as well. The farthest we've gone from D&D is mixing some stuff from various editions together and maybe some C&C stuff, but that's the most we vary from D&D itself. I don't think any of us ever saw ourselves as being different from the rest of the gaming community...but now that it's mentioned...maybe we are?

Weird thing to think about all of a sudden.
 

  1. I've been in the same group for over 20 years. Some additions and losses, but not many.
  2. We rotate DMing. There's 6 of us, and we almost always have 2 games running concurrently. We play once a week.
  3. I don't like multiclassing. I think it subverts the design of having a class based game. That said, I don't ban it or anything. I just find it distasteful.
  4. I generally run premade modules, but I hack them up.
  5. I customize nearly all magic items. I'm not a fan of generic +X items. Most or all items are
  6. I roll behind a screen. I fudge dice.
  7. I don't care if the game is easy or hard as long as the players are having fun. If I want to challenge them, I have a bag of infinite monsters. Challenge isn't that difficult to do. and that kind of makes it less interesting.
  8. I love designing set piece encounters and they happen all the time. I want stuff that's weird and awesome to happen a lot.
  9. I want my players to feel like they have no idea what's going on in the short term, but still understand the big overall picture and benefit from their own choices and insight.
  10. I treat the Monster Manual as if it were a book on the shelf in a library in-game. That is, it's what some guy a hundred years ago said the monsters were like. You think all dragons fit into neat, color coded categories? What a neat myth, but nature isn't really like that!
  11. I generally don't like having a lot of fantastic looking races. I feel like it detracts from the depth of the world.
  12. I think spells over level 6 and class levels above level 10-13 or so are almost universally terrible designs. I really think the class levels should end about level 12, and then the game should do something else. I think Wish should be a capstone ability that is limited. 1/week, not cheap, and has a moderate risk of failure.
  13. I think what you discover during gameplay should have more impact than what you choose from your class list.
 


Stormonu

Legend
I guess mine are:

1) I've been DMing this game since I was 10, now I'm 51.
2) For about 6 years during 2E/3E, the number of female players at my table outnumbered the guys (and for about 6 months, was entirely female). I've had women gamers at my table all the way back to at least '81
3) I don't do arms races with my players - did it once in a different game system ages ago and vowed I'd never do it again
4) Combat is maybe a quarter of the player's XP; they earn far more for story-based actions or roleplaying interactions
5) I greatly enjoy using a variety of in-character voices, personality quirks and other methods to bring my NPCs to life and encourage the players to do the same
6) I hate high-level D&D and dislike the game after about 9th level.
7) After 3E, I hate multiclassing; I urge my players to shy away from it and have created homebrew content to replace it where possible.
8) I still use alignments and sometimes hand out alignment quizzes to new players to help them and me decide what mindset might best be best fit their character in play and comfortable for them to RP
9) Although I love making up spells and other magics, I tend to lean pretty heavily into a martial focused (or at least friendly) fantasy world. Wizards, clerics and other spellcasters are pretty rare encounters

A lot of my gaming style has changed over the years and many things that used to be true about how I handled running the game are no longer true or have otherwise changed in some way. Perhaps one of the biggest is I now take the time to be on the player's side of the screen a lot more - up until about 2018 I DMed 80% or more of the time, now it's about 30%.
 

Hussar

Legend
Hrm. I have to admit, I actually don't know if my players are white or not, having almost never seen their faces, but, I think most of them have been white. The ones I do know, have almost always been white. The last POC that I know was at my table would have been about 2000 or so. Since I've been online, it's been pretty much all white dudes. While I have gamed with a woman in my group since about 2003 or so - the same woman, I can honestly say that women have very, very much been the minority at any table I've ever seen. One or two at the most and very often none.

Dunno if that makes me an outlier or not. Judging from what I've seen, I don't think so.
 


Hex08

Explorer
The thing that makes me a D&D outlier is that I love the game but I no longer play it. I moved on from D&D when 4E was announced and Pathfinder was available in Beta. I had played Basic, Expert and 1E through 3.5. I didn't give up on the hobby, I just moved away from D&D. I was a DM for Pathfinder 1E until 2E came out and abandoned it (more from burnout than anything else), although one of my players has taken up the DM reigns so I still am a player. Currently, my go-to game is Savage Worlds but I will occasionally run Castles & Crusades when the D&D bug hits me.

Oh, and my first copy of the Players Handbook, 1st edition, had a nifty little gift inside it when I bought it from my local Walden Books. It had a religious pamphlet all about the evils of Dungeons & Dragons stuffed in it. I long ago sold all of my 1st Edition stuff but still have the pamphlet.
 
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One thing that possibly makes me an outsider is that...I don't particularly use the lore? I mean, I see the lore (for monsters or whatever) as possibly interesting for ideas, but I never use it wholesale. Rereading the (5e) Genie and Rakshasa entries recently, I thought that if I were using these as a DM I would chuck about 3/4 of the lore. Similarly, I can't read an adventure module without wanting to change things starting paragraph 1 (usually the horrendously cheesy names).
 



payn

Legend
The first step in therapy is admitting you have a problem. I'm proud of you. :p
read suicide squad GIF

This is a Bard's therapist.
 

Professor Murder

Adventurer
I've been playing since 1st ed, have abandoned each edition when its been replaced with a new one, and unequivocally feel 5th is the best incarnation of the game.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
1. So is half of one of my groups...not an outlier (these days in some areas at least)...unless my group is all an outlier

4. Okay...now you are ostracized. Definitely an outlier.

9. That MAY be an outlier in today's gaming
10. Seems to vary from group to group...so maybe?
11. Seen #1 above...BUT...reading another of your posts...it seems maybe it is far less common than I thought?



That actually goes with my experience as well now that I think about it. Starting in the 90s a majority of my groups became recruited by me, so that meant that those I hung out with usually were the ones who became players. That could mean that the composition of those I play with differ greatly than those who generally play the game otherwise. I don't go to CONS and other things, so my exposure to large groups of people could be different.

At least one of my groups is composed of players that are 86% POC with only one white guy who plays with us (7 players one DM). It never occurred to me that this may actually not be typical.

I've had Japanese, Chinese, and Korean players in my groups occasionally, never a Southeastern Asian yet. I've had a few players from Central and South America.

Never thought of most of the things mentioned in the thread as outliers overall...but now that you mention it and discussed it, it may be that I and the group (I have several gaming groups, this particular group I've been gaming with for around 5-6 years?) actually might qualify as an outlier (meaning my statement on #1 above is actually wrong, it is an outlier).

Strange, I never really thought of the group as the odd ones out or on the fringes of gaming. They are the MOST D&D oriented group I play in as well. The farthest we've gone from D&D is mixing some stuff from various editions together and maybe some C&C stuff, but that's the most we vary from D&D itself. I don't think any of us ever saw ourselves as being different from the rest of the gaming community...but now that it's mentioned...maybe we are?

Weird thing to think about all of a sudden.
It’s that old distinction between anecdotes & data.

Before one of my friends invited his GF to join us in the mid-80’s, I hadn’t even seen a female human being in a game store besides Moms buying stuff for their kids.

I met my first female game store employee in the 1990s...most of them in a single location of a local game store chain.

When I started looking online at gaming boards likr this one, I encountered dozens of players wit experiences similar to yours. Even met a few female GMs. But the more I looked, the more I realized how atypical the latter situation was.

Hell- I didn’t meet my first uncloseted gay player until the 21st century, when a small gaming group asked me to be their DM. (I had known 2 of the players for years, but never gamed with them.) Sadly, I haven’t met any since then- not in person, anyway.

So I really appreciate the changing demographics of the hobby!
 
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Yora

Legend
I think D&D was the best in the early 80s, even though I only started in 2000, and first looked at B/X in 2015.
It's not nostalgia, I think the whole system is a genuinely better game than what D&D became after that.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
As a player?

  1. I've played all sorts of races and alignments (other than evil).
This one got me thinking. At some point or other as a player I've played every class in our game except Monk, I've played every PC-playable species in our game plus a few (Dryad, Sylph) that aren't normally PC-playable, and I've played all nine alignments.

Of the nine alignments the only one I won't play if at all possible is LG, because LG in my eyes is the abbreviation for "boring". :) LN can be a blast if taken over the top a bit, and NG can certainly be fun in the right situation, but combining them into an LG character makes for a dull time for me* if I'm the one stuck playing it.

* - unless I go full-on Paladinic and take it way over the top, but that tends to (quite justifiably!) be very short-lived in play as the other PCs will usually throw it out of the party at the first opportunity.
 


The Lizard Wizard

Adventurer
This is a new one but since having to go online, both the groups I play in don't use online dice.
We all just roll our own physical dice and say the result based on the honor system. It requires a bit of trust, but we've never had an issue. Every single player has had a bad day where they were rolling terribly, or missed a save they really needed to make at some point.
 

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