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D&D General How crunchy vs casual do you like your D&D?

How crunchy or casual?

  • Very Crunchy, the more options the better

    Votes: 5 11.1%
  • A fair amount of Crunch and Casual mixed

    Votes: 31 68.9%
  • Very Casual, imagination should drive the game, not tables, dice and math

    Votes: 9 20.0%

  • Total voters


When it comes to Dungeons & Dragons, how crunchy do you like the rules vs how casual do you like the rules?

Crunchy meaning lots of match, numbers, things to keep track of, can make crazy combos. Can be a lot of rules, a lot to memorize and keep track of.

Casual meaning as little rules as possible, most of the fill-in-the-blanks are through DM and player creativity.

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Much more casual than crunchy.

If lots of numbers in all manner of combinations was something I wanted to interact with most of the evening... there are dozens (if not more) actual board games to play which are much more mathematically vigorous and tactically compelling than trying to squeeze that out of D&D. A miniatures combat, tactics, strategy and negotiation game? I'd take Twilight Imperium over D&D for that any day of the week.

D&D has narrative and story. And interacting with THAT is what I find most enjoyable about the game.
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Great Old One
Not crunchy at all. I've had my fill of 3e with endless hours of computing silly modifiers that would change every round. I used to like it, it seemed at least "simulationist" to me, but in the end, it just killed the game for us. And now even browsing the rules of PF2 or playing the latest PF computer game seems like a nightmare, endless rules for, in the end, not much...

Like fresh baked bread- a layer of chewy crunchiness surrounding a warm soft inside.

Well, what does that mean, besides getting close to lunch? I think I want most of my mechanical adjustments to be when I level up a character. I don't think I want skills to be their own thing. Race and class form the bedrock of the character, with the occasional feat to add interest and differentiation.

(Huh. It is lunchtime after all.)


Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
That definition of casual has nothing to do with the defintion of casual in terms of RPGs I've heard. Casual is a playstyle, but it doesn't have to do with the opposite of crunchy/rules-heavy. I know several casual, crunchy players using normal meanings of casual - they play the game like battletech or a wargame, but they aren't there for immersive character development, serialized play with long arcs, and other things that are the reverse of the "casual" playstyle. Casual is more beer-and-pretzels play, but does not prescribe the crunchiness of rules.

I'm note even sure what you are trying for with casual - do you mean more narrative-based games, or are you just talking rules-light?


Very casual. I just throw out a DC for players to roll against and let my imagination run riot.

Combat is as slick as I can make it.


B/X Known World
The lighter the better. B/X is about as crunchy as I’d like. Allow for the option to split race from class. Remove race & class limits. Remove level limits. Bring back the idea from Holmes Basic that you can play anything, even a dragon (as long as it’s on par with the party). That’s the crunch sweet spot. Minimal rules as a rough guide for pure imagination.


Goblin Queen
By your definitions, I’d prefer to avoid crunch as much as possible, but I don’t think these are the way the terms are generally used.


Victoria Rules
Did not vote as none of the options suit.

I want there to be some crunch but I also want that crunch to be modular and, within each module, simple, if that makes sense; and even then really only around combat. That said, I also want there to be enough crunch available to provide at least a modicum of simulation if-when required.

I don't really want any crunch around social interaction and relatively little crunch around exploration and-or downtime.

Need more options. Most people are going to go down the middle, due to the absolute nature of the vote. I tend more towards casual, but there's a minimum amount of crunch I want. I think 5E has hit a good balance, but wouldn't mind a touch better crunch (not more, just improve what we have).


Like @overgeeked, B/X D&D is roughly the level of crunch I'm comfortable with (not necessarily its idiosyncrasies). On the other hand, if we go lower in terms of crunch than, say, Whitehack or Dungeon World, I tend to find such systems not that fitting for campaign play (I do like at least a bit of mechanical underpinning for my character concepts and also some room for play stat development).


Dungeon Master at large.
I guess crunch and casual mixed, if I have to vote from those selections... :unsure:

I like detail and 'crunch' in the general aspects of the game - for instance in my 1e game I use all sort of fun stuff like disease checks, morale rolls for monsters with all the various modifiers, Sage rules, Training and rating, wilderness exploration and random terrain - a very nuanced and chaotic combat system... but what I don't love are excessive powers and abilities for PC classes, and builds. 1e doesn't have a lot of that so it's to my tastes. Only some classes (Hello Monk) have new abilities as they advance... the main classes generally get their abilities from the get go, and simply get better at them as time goes on, with the occasional new power/trick at high levels.

I like how 5e made the core game simple to learn, but they went way overboard on PC classes and options. Min-Maxing on crack. New abilities just pile up as characters advance and can get overwhelming. I can't count the times I've forgotten half my abilities mid-game, only to look at my sheet and think 'damn, could have used that!' and I have familiarity with the game... I have seen countless new players get lost real fast as the sheer volume of abilities that get added.

So yeah, crunch in some areas, more casual in others.


Mod Squad
Staff member
Crunchy meaning lots of match, numbers, things to keep track of, can make crazy combos. Can be a lot of rules, a lot to memorize and keep track of.

Casual meaning as little rules as possible, most of the fill-in-the-blanks are through DM and player creativity.

So, I'm not keen on the word choice - crunchy and "casual" aren't really opposites. I know a bunch of folks who are not "casual" about the role playing, but the things they are more formal about is role playing and story, not rules.

Be that as it may, however, I'm probably a middle-of-the-road type.

With the number of people who have responded they want rules light or casual gaming, I wonder how casual they think 5e actually is. To my mind, there are many, many other games lighter than any version of D&D.

As a GM, I want everything I need for running the game condensed on a gm screen (or equivalent sheet), 1-2 pages of notes, and the players character sheets. I want to run the game without looking up anything in a rulebook (unless it's a totally new system). The system should allow me to make up a ruling that, even if it isn't exactly correct, doesn't break the game or invalidate what the players are trying to do.


Great Old One
That just makes my point stronger. Many versions of D&D are at least as rules-heavy, which makes the claims about liking rules-light...odd.

I'm not sure how you count this, but although 3e is certainly rules heavy, 4e is not that much actually (those that exist are fairly strict and, to my opinion, restrictive, but there are not that many of them), BECMI is certainly rules light compared to any modern edition, and as for AD&D, it's a more complex thing, but the core rules are not that complicated. It's just that there are lots of tables rather than simple rules because it was the lay of the land back them, and that the rules are not unified under simple principles, but if you discount all the optional rules in the DMG that very few people played anyway, it's not a complicated game. It is complex in apparence because it's badly organised, for sure, and the options are extremely involved and badly explained (Initiative and segments, weapons vs. AC, etc.), but not that complex to run.

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