D&D General How has D&D changed over the decades?

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
On the consensus piece, it's because I've seen it used so many times out-of-game as a bad-faith delaying tactic - usually by the losing side in an argument or debate - that when I see it now I just assume this to be the case, and in response I push for a binding resolution now by vote or other lock-it-in means so as to cut off the backroom lobbying crap before it starts.

The minute I hear someone say "Can we just come to a consensus?", up go the red flags.
Except, you are reaching consensus when everyone at the table agrees to play the game you're playing. Or when you agree to game time. Sure, one person can propose the game or time or location, but everyone that shows up to it is in consensus about it or it doesn't happens.

At least, I hope this is true, and you aren't running a kidnapping ring and running for hostages! 😱
On the in-game religion piece, to me pantheons and deities etc. are part of the background setting* and thus fully under the DM's purview. Sure the DM could open this up so players could in effect build their own deities, but in my settings at least this would risk running aground in two ways:

--- all deities in all my settings work on an underlying universal chassis that players might never see or know about; a player-designed deity might run afoul of this without realizing it, meaning I'd have to keep a hard veto power
--- my pantheons are already designed intentionally so as to allow a wide variance of Cleric types and alignments to be chosen for play; and some of the "holes" left in those lineups are intentional. For example, one can play a Dwarven Nature Cleric (a.k.a. Druid) in my game but to do so said Dwarf has to go out of culture to find a deity as no Dwarven deities support that type of Cleric - what self-respecting Dwarf wants to spend time frolicking about in forests when there's good mining to be done? :). A player inventing a Dwarven nature deity to fill this hole would violate this intentional design and in so doing probably force me to come up with a completely bespoke spell list just for it; and that's a crap-ton of work I ain't about to do just for one character, thank you very much.

* - the exception of course being if the PCs are deities, but I've never tried that type of game.
Ok. Yeah, the suggestion was an alternative where you let the player decide, and your only response was about players doing nonsensical things for no reason you could articulate and then saying that this is way it can't work that way. You made up a strange corner case of crazy to leverage the precautionary principle in favor of not letting players have any input because they might, I dunno, hurt themselves or the game? You weren't very clear on what you thought the end outcomes were here.
 

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Hussar

Legend
Why would you come up with a bespoke spell list? That’s a great job for a player. Subject to approval of course but why would you do any of the work?

And I’m afraid things like, it will violate my invisible model that doesn’t really even matter to you is a really bad reason for not changing.

Lastly, if you simply presume bad faith as soon as something like consensus is suggested, why shouldn’t the players presume bad faith on the part of the dm?
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Except, you are reaching consensus when everyone at the table agrees to play the game you're playing. Or when you agree to game time. Sure, one person can propose the game or time or location, but everyone that shows up to it is in consensus about it or it doesn't happens.

At least, I hope this is true, and you aren't running a kidnapping ring and running for hostages! 😱

Ok. Yeah, the suggestion was an alternative where you let the player decide, and your only response was about players doing nonsensical things for no reason you could articulate and then saying that this is way it can't work that way. You made up a strange corner case of crazy to leverage the precautionary principle in favor of not letting players have any input because they might, I dunno, hurt themselves or the game? You weren't very clear on what you thought the end outcomes were here.
The That bold bit is the problem. The person pushing for consensus is wanting to play something else & will continue to pine for that.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Why would you come up with a bespoke spell list? That’s a great job for a player. Subject to approval of course but why would you do any of the work?
First off, it would need to be a player who had been around long enogh to know what spells can and can't do at various levels.

Even if such were the case, I'd half expect the approval/editing/ruling process to take as long as doing it all from scratch; with the added complication/time-sink of having to collaborate with someone else. Doable, yes, but probably (relatively) quicker and easier to just do it on my own.
And I’m afraid things like, it will violate my invisible model that doesn’t really even matter to you is a really bad reason for not changing.
Why? In divine matters the invisible model matters to everything a little bit, even if nobody either in or out of character knows the nuts and bolts of it other than me-as-DM.
Lastly, if you simply presume bad faith as soon as something like consensus is suggested, why shouldn’t the players presume bad faith on the part of the dm?
If I'm the DM I won't be suggesting consensus. :)
 

Hussar

Legend
If I'm the DM I won't be suggesting consensus.
Funny.

But the point still stands. If you automatically presume bad faith on everyone else's part, why should anyone trust your judgement?

----

Another thought does occur though. You mention the idea of a dwarven druid being a problem in your setting. But, the thing is, in D&D, there are half a dozen druid archetypes that fit dwarves without any problems. Circle of Fire Druid, for example, is a fire worshipping druid - perfect for a forge priest. But, since your campaign was created over a decade ago, everything in the campaign is based on what D&D looked like then and not now.

I think this goes a long way towards explaining differences. To me, a campaign based on D&D as D&D looked ten, twenty or thirty years ago isn't something I'm even remotely interested in playing. There's too much new stuff that I want to try. So, campaigns and campaign settings are disposable to me. If you run a completely new setting every two years, then your setting will much more easily incorporate any new developments that have appeared in the game.

The game adds artificers? No problem. Next campaign will have artificers if someone wants to play one. Players no longer assume a human dominated setting and want to play what would once have been really weird races but are now pretty common in the game? No problems. This next setting will have space for anything you want to play.

Of course, all of this is predicated on the idea that campaigns and campaign settings are collaborative efforts. I talked about the dwarf druid having a bespoke spell list. To me, I'd just hand that off to the player with the admonition of choosing stuff that that player thinks looks about right. IME, players will always be far, far more concerned about balance that I will ever be. If something turns out to be a problem, we'll deal with that then. Otherwise? Go for it. Impress me. Show me what you can do.

Works so much better and it's so much easier on me as a DM.

Then again, I come from a gaming tradition where we always rotated DM's. It wasn't until much, much later that I became the only DM for the group. So, the idea of D&D as collaboration has always been part of my experience. That's how I started playing. So game worlds were always a collaborative effort based around consensus. Bob adds something, Dave adds something else. I add a third thing and then Bob changes what Dave added and so on and so forth.

The very top down approach a lot of people advocate for was not how I learned to game. And, when I met that kind of table, I very much found it not to my taste. I'm currently on full time DM duty because no one else is stepping up. The second someone volunteers, I'm out of the DM chair so fast my pants catch on fire.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
The That bold bit is the problem. The person pushing for consensus is wanting to play something else & will continue to pine for that.
Ok. So, you're saying that sometime at your table right now is a last because they don't actually want to play the game you're playing but instead are planning to elitists the game choice layer. Right now,. At your table.

I say that's crap.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Ok. So, you're saying that sometime at your table right now is a last because they don't actually want to play the game you're playing but instead are planning to elitists the game choice layer. Right now,. At your table.

I say that's crap.
What does it mean for someone to "[be] a last"?
 




Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Another thought does occur though. You mention the idea of a dwarven druid being a problem in your setting. But, the thing is, in D&D, there are half a dozen druid archetypes that fit dwarves without any problems. Circle of Fire Druid, for example, is a fire worshipping druid - perfect for a forge priest. But, since your campaign was created over a decade ago, everything in the campaign is based on what D&D looked like then and not now.
My campaign is based on what D&D looked like about 30-35 years ago, and any future campaign I run likely always will be.
I think this goes a long way towards explaining differences. To me, a campaign based on D&D as D&D looked ten, twenty or thirty years ago isn't something I'm even remotely interested in playing. There's too much new stuff that I want to try. So, campaigns and campaign settings are disposable to me. If you run a completely new setting every two years, then your setting will much more easily incorporate any new developments that have appeared in the game.
If I ran a new setting every two years I'd be doing nothing but build settings; the last two settings I've built have taken about (1) a year and (2) about a year-and-a-half of work. With (1) I did some of the work ahead of time and some of it after play began (I wasn't expecting to resume DMing so soon after my previous game ended but got talked into it); with (2) I did almost all the work ahead of time.
The game adds artificers? No problem. Next campaign will have artificers if someone wants to play one. Players no longer assume a human dominated setting and want to play what would once have been really weird races but are now pretty common in the game? No problems. This next setting will have space for anything you want to play.
And if that's how you roll then more power to ya! :)

Me, I'd rather hew a lot closer to Tolkein if possible. Sure if a new class holds interest I might adopt it (or, more likely, design my own version), but I'm not in the least interested in having what seems like every species in the setting be PC-playable.
Of course, all of this is predicated on the idea that campaigns and campaign settings are collaborative efforts. I talked about the dwarf druid having a bespoke spell list. To me, I'd just hand that off to the player with the admonition of choosing stuff that that player thinks looks about right. IME, players will always be far, far more concerned about balance that I will ever be. If something turns out to be a problem, we'll deal with that then. Otherwise? Go for it. Impress me. Show me what you can do.

Works so much better and it's so much easier on me as a DM.

Then again, I come from a gaming tradition where we always rotated DM's. It wasn't until much, much later that I became the only DM for the group. So, the idea of D&D as collaboration has always been part of my experience. That's how I started playing. So game worlds were always a collaborative effort based around consensus. Bob adds something, Dave adds something else. I add a third thing and then Bob changes what Dave added and so on and so forth.
I guess my experience with different DMs is that each one has always had their own setting(s) with rare if any overlap. Our settings are often connected in that occasionally characters or even entire parties from one will end up in the other for a while, but the settings themselves remain disparate and under control of just one DM. Whcih means, if a character or party jumps settings that character/party is suddenly playing under a different DM.

About the only thing we sort-of try to co-ordinate is universal time; such that if, say, character A jumps from my world to someone else's, spends X-amount of time there, and then jumps back, I know how long in my-world time it was gone for.
The very top down approach a lot of people advocate for was not how I learned to game. And, when I met that kind of table, I very much found it not to my taste. I'm currently on full time DM duty because no one else is stepping up. The second someone volunteers, I'm out of the DM chair so fast my pants catch on fire.
I've hit that point in the past now and then. Fortunately, right now I'm happy to keep going with my current game/setting as long as anyone's willing to play in it, as it still has more than enough "legs" to keep it going for quite some time.
 

Hussar

Legend
Heh. Hewing close to Tolkien is really not a consideration for me at this point. My next campaign will be set on a living world where dungeons are sentient cancers and the only settlement rests on the back of a giant six legged lizard.

:)
 


jasper

Rotten DM
Heh. Hewing close to Tolkien is really not a consideration for me at this point. My next campaign will be set on a living world where dungeons are sentient c....

:)
I assume you mean sentient Creatures. And after some adult and tween versions of that in books. Um not thanks.
 

pemerton

Legend
To me, a campaign based on D&D as D&D looked ten, twenty or thirty years ago isn't something I'm even remotely interested in playing. There's too much new stuff that I want to try. So, campaigns and campaign settings are disposable to me.
I don't think this particular variable has much explanatory relevance in the current conversation.

I'll explain why.

I ran my first game set in the WoG in the mid-80s. (I think 1984 or 1985.) I used the same setting from the late 80s until the late 90s. I've used it again, for FRPGing, for the last 5+ years.

The systems I've used have been AD&D, Rolemaster, Burning Wheel and Torchbearer. Compared to your (Hussar's) desiderata, it's always looked fairly traditional: Dwarves with axes, Elven rangers and spell-users, no Dwarven MUs, Dwarven pagan cleric types focus on earth and not trees, etc.

That hasn't been any sort of barrier to player participation in establishing background/setting stuff relevant to their PCs.

Just a few examples:

* When I started a campaign in 1990 I wanted to set it around the City of GH, using the boxed set for that. One of the players wanted an apprentice, bumpkin-ish, goat-herding mage PC (influenced a bit by Ged in Wizard of Earthsea). I read out the description of the Village of Five Oaks from the setting book, and the player elaborated on that, on his PC's backstory, on his mentor who lived in a great hollow tree and was in hiding from his rivals elsewhere (which ended up being Nyrond, but I don't know if we established that at the time), etc.​
* Playing Burning Wheel around 2016 or so, the PCs were stuck in the Bright Desert. One of the players said "Everyone knows that ancient Suel nomads are as thick as thieves in the Bright Desert; I want to Circles some up!" The check failed, and so the nomads who arrived on the scene were no friends of the PC! As GM, I tied the enmity back into the player-authored PC backstory, which involved the PC having trained with his brother in an isolated tower in the hills just north of the desert.​
* Starting a Torchbearer campaign a month or two ago, I had specified that we would be starting in the Bandit Kingdoms, and pulled out my map. One of the players looked down the option of home settlements and decided his PC was from a Forgotten Temple Complex. We plonked said temple complex down in the Theocracy of the Pale, near the borders with Tenh and the Bandit Kingdoms. The player established a few NPCs there, as part of the relationships aspect of PC building, linking them into the backstory another player was establishing for a Wizard's Tower PC hometown which was also easily placed on the map.​

I've never found traditional D&D, or established settings, to be any sort of barrier to collaborative development of the fiction. If Gygax (or Ed Greenwood, or Salvatore, or REH, or Leiber, or whomever) needs a new NPC or settlement or hitherto-neglected god to make their story work, they just write it in! Nothing stops players of FRPGs doing the same.
 
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Hussar

Legend
I assume you mean sentient Creatures. And after some adult and tween versions of that in books. Um not thanks.

No. I meant cancers. The dungeons spontaneously generate as cancers upon the body of the World Goddess. The adventures centre around ripping out the hearts of these cancers and feeding the hearts to the Village to destroy the cancers.

The inhabitants of the Village are the dungeon born who are freed when a dungeon is destroyed.

Which means that the sky is the limit for pc races.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
No. I meant cancers. The dungeons spontaneously generate as cancers upon the body of the World Goddess. The adventures centre around ripping out the hearts of these cancers and feeding the hearts to the Village to destroy the cancers.

The inhabitants of the Village are the dungeon born who are freed when a dungeon is destroyed.
Hmmm - I have to say, I've certainly heard worse ideas for a campaign premise; and the sky is also the limit for how long this could run if so desired. All you'd really need to do to keep this going for ages would be slow down the level-advance rate of the PCs.
 

Hussar

Legend
I don't think this particular variable has much explanatory relevance in the current conversation.

/snip
I've never found traditional D&D, or established settings, to be any sort of barrier to collaborative development of the fiction. If Gygax (or Ed Greenwood, or Salvatore, or REH, or Leiber, or whomever) needs a new NPC or settlement or hitherto-neglected god to make their story work, they just write it in! Nothing stops players of FRPGs doing the same.
Kinda sorta. If the DM is insisting on a specific view of those established settings, and that view is grounded in a particular time frame, then collaboration is limited by that. Thus we get people insisting that you can't have Dragonborn in Greyhawk, for example. Greyhawk didn't have dragonborn when it was created, therefore there are no dragonborn in Greyhawk.

Or, as Lanefan's example goes - druids are animal loving tree huggers - the original view of druids and certainly a clear archetype. But, in the ensuing years, there have been many different versions of druids - elemental focused druids that don't really care about living stuff is a good example. Now, if your idea of a druid has to be an AD&D version of druid only, then collaboration is going to be problematic.

I'd say that established settings can be all sorts of barriers to collaborative development. Hell, look at the massive reaction to 4e's version of Forgotten Realms. The whole point of the reaction was that they were changing canon. Or, look at all the lore arguments you see on the boards. Endlessly. The reaction that you cannot add X to the setting or take X away from the setting because it contradicts some established setting lore.

I think I pretty strongly disagree with you here @pemerton. Established settings have long been an enormous barrier to collaborative development.
 

Hussar

Legend
Hmmm - I have to say, I've certainly heard worse ideas for a campaign premise; and the sky is also the limit for how long this could run if so desired. All you'd really need to do to keep this going for ages would be slow down the level-advance rate of the PCs.
True. So long as that sky is about 2 years. :D Because by that time, I'll be tired of this setting and ready to move on to something new.
 

pemerton

Legend
I think I pretty strongly disagree with you here @pemerton. Established settings have long been an enormous barrier to collaborative development.
It's time to argue!

If the DM is insisting on a specific view of those established settings, and that view is grounded in a particular time frame, then collaboration is limited by that. Thus we get people insisting that you can't have Dragonborn in Greyhawk, for example. Greyhawk didn't have dragonborn when it was created, therefore there are no dragonborn in Greyhawk.

<snip>

I'd say that established settings can be all sorts of barriers to collaborative development. Hell, look at the massive reaction to 4e's version of Forgotten Realms. The whole point of the reaction was that they were changing canon. Or, look at all the lore arguments you see on the boards. Endlessly. The reaction that you cannot add X to the setting or take X away from the setting because it contradicts some established setting lore.
I'm going to repost a bit of my earlier post, because I'm going to double down on it, in explaining why I disagree with your core claim, but not (what I take to be) your supporting claims:

I've never found traditional D&D, or established settings, to be any sort of barrier to collaborative development of the fiction. If Gygax (or Ed Greenwood, or Salvatore, or REH, or Leiber, or whomever) needs a new NPC or settlement or hitherto-neglected god to make their story work, they just write it in! Nothing stops players of FRPGs doing the same.
To me, the issue you are pointing doesn't seem to be one of a setting being "traditional", or "established". The Hyborian Age is both traditional and established, and REH wrote whatever he needed into it. Middle Earth is traditional and established, and that didn't stop JRRT writing in versions of King Arthur and Robin Hood as the same character; and he was still playing with the setting, writing in new stuff or rewriting his backstory, until the end.

The issue you're pointing to, in my view, is what Ron Edwards called "karaoke RPGing": ie insisting that the only fiction permitted is stuff that someone else has already written. That will get in the way of authorship, by players or (presumably) GMs.

When I play FRPGs set in GH, and have players introduce new Forgotten Temple Complexes or new histories of the wizards' towers in the Abor-Alz, it works despite GH being an old and established setting. Because none of us object to writing in new content! Just like any genre author does when they need to.
 

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