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D&D General If D&D were created today, what would it look like?

Sacrosanct

Legend
Let’s say D&D wasn’t invented yet, and let’s assume RPGs didn’t get created yet either for the sake of argument. If the game were to be created today, what would it look like and how would it be different from the white box?

I think the obvious one would be presentation. With modern computers, publishing software, and access to freelancers, I think the game would be presented fairly professionally.

I also think it would be a full game, rather than have add on references as the white box was in reference to Chainmail.

Concept wise, the classes and races would be pretty similar. It’s easy to call them primitive from today’s standards, but if it were a new concept that came out today, I don’t see that changing. After all, the concepts and ideas are based off of imagination, not technology, and thus would be close to the same.

Then I also think it would be presented a bit more inclusive, as our views as a society now are much different than 1974.
 

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Concept wise, the classes and races would be pretty similar.
Disagreeing on this one. Races almost certainly would be different. We're in a post Warcraft and Warhammer world. We'd have humans, elves, dwarves, orcs and goblins. Maybe gnomes. Almost certainly not halflings. Heck, minotaurs have a better chance of getting in as base over halflings. There just isn't the market drive out there for short hobbit-y folks as there used to be and gnome would snap it up quicker

Additionally a lot of the stuff that exists due to D&D's history and how its handled stuff historically wouldn't exist. Almost certainly wouldn't have 'cleric' as the healer, wouldn't be so much baggage on the ranger, and I'm honestly gonna say that sorcerer and wizard would be completely different in pretty much everything about them.
 


Sacrosanct

Legend
Disagreeing on this one. Races almost certainly would be different. We're in a post Warcraft and Warhammer world. We'd have humans, elves, dwarves, orcs and goblins. Maybe gnomes. Almost certainly not halflings. Heck, minotaurs have a better chance of getting in as base over halflings. There just isn't the market drive out there for short hobbit-y folks as there used to be and gnome would snap it up quicker

Additionally a lot of the stuff that exists due to D&D's history and how its handled stuff historically wouldn't exist. Almost certainly wouldn't have 'cleric' as the healer, wouldn't be so much baggage on the ranger, and I'm honestly gonna say that sorcerer and wizard would be completely different in pretty much everything about them.
None of those would have existed without D&D though. No Warcraft. No war hammer.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
I think the obvious one would be presentation. With modern computers, publishing software, and access to freelancers, I think the game would be presented fairly professionally.
yes. But it's more that gaming would be more professionial due to how the business model of today works.

I also think it would be a full game, rather than have add on references as the white box was in reference to Chainmail.
"Full game" Complete package. Nooo. D&D would be rushed out the door. Yes, everything needed to play D&D on a basic level would be included in the first package. But it would not be complete in the sense we see it now.

Concept wise, the classes and races would be pretty similar.
Hard no. The popular elements of fantasy are very different. Classes and raced would be more based on broader heroic archetypes than D&D is now.
 

I think the obvious one would be presentation. With modern computers, publishing software, and access to freelancers, I think the game would be presented fairly professionally.
I think most of it would be online. The rules would be on online documents, books most likely would not be printed. The rules would just be in "packs" that people could buy. Kind of like what D&D Beyond currently does, but in a more open approach.
I also think it would be a full game, rather than have add on references as the white box was in reference to Chainmail.
This is a no-brainer. Most companies don't reference different rulesets like this anymore.
Concept wise, the classes and races would be pretty similar. It’s easy to call them primitive from today’s standards, but if it were a new concept that came out today, I don’t see that changing. After all, the concepts and ideas are based off of imagination, not technology, and thus would be close to the same.
Hard disagree. Halflings would almost definitely not be in the game. Gnomes would probably not be in it either. Humans, Elves, and Dwarves would almost definitely still be in the game, but I could also see Dragonborn, Minotaurs, Goblins, and Orcs being major races. Bugbears would almost definitely not exist, but Hobgoblins could.
 

I feel this question is very hard to confidently answer due to first having to speculate on what video games would look like without the influence of D&D and ever tabletop roleplaying games. No Wizardry, no Ultima, no Dragon Quest, etc. No LARP either, or if LARP does come about, it would be adapted from theatre rather than from gaming. Competitive improv I guess?

I might hazard a guess that science-fiction might be more prevalent in the public consciousness in this alternate timeline? Space opera particularly; I don't see Star Trek or Star Wars being butterfly effected out of existence by D&D's absence. Arcade games and the first generation of computer games probably would also go by relatively unaffected. No CRPGs though, or if CRPGs somehow sprung into existence by themselves, they would probably look very different due to taking inspiration from different sources. Meanwhile, what happens to tabletop wargaming without the birth of the roleplaying game? What direction would that go?

So fast forward to this alternate 2021. No D&D, no adaptations of it into video games... If a roleplaying game was to be invented out of whole cloth this point in time, I highly doubt it would resemble D&D at all. And if the medium is not restricted to pen-and-paper either but could make use of computing technology... My personal guess is that it would resemble something like Alice is Missing more than a "traditional" TTRPG as we would understand it.
 
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Zardnaar

Legend
Impossible to say but no gnomes, dragonborn, Tieflings.

Maybe not hobbits.

Elves, Dwarves humans probably make it in.

Tolkein still probably more likely main source.

Mechanics hot mess ascending numbers used maybe. May not be d20.
 

None of those would have existed without D&D though. No Warcraft. No war hammer.
LotR still would have.

Stuff would have been different and it would have been based on differing media. D&D has halflings because of its LotR inspiration. As such, if not being done in 1970s? Stuff would have been different. Halflings are a direct response to this. If you divorce it from that, then, well, given the Tolkein estate, they wouldn't risk halflings and just go with generic, rolling in halfling stereotypes into probably gnomes given they have different origins.

It would have been based on popular media at the time, which we can only hypotheticise on.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
With no "D&D" to guide it, fantasy might be be closer to raw mythology and legends and more international in influence.

AKA more anime and comics.
And in that vein, I think the base power level would be higher. How much? I don't know. But even in a "gritty game", PCs would be more powerful that any edition.
 

Raith5

Adventurer
I think it would be significantly darker in tone. Modern fantasy films, shows and games are much darker in tone than that of Middle Earth.

I also dont think we would have alignment given that many modern fantasy and sci shows (Game of thrones, The expanse, the Witcher) have more nuanced notions of morality that the traditional alignment system.

I am not even sure that classes would exist. While I personally feel that classes are super important in a team based game, I think the spirit of our time is more about customization. While it is impossible to remove the influence of D and on all modern computer games, most games now do not have classes (Skyrim, Witcher, cyberpunk etc).
 


I think D&D came along exactly when it should have and if Gygax hadn't created it someone else would have. If it had come 5-10 years sooner or later it probably wouldn't have caught on and we wouldn't be having this conversation.
 


cbwjm

Hero
None of those would have existed without D&D though. No Warcraft. No war hammer.
Can't guarantee that they wouldn't. Might not be in the exact same form but they might still have existed in some form or another in which case I think dnd would follow them in style or in races/class available.

That's the problem with saying what if X was created now, you don't know if Y which may very well derive a lot from X would exist or not.
 

JEB

Adventurer
Basically, as noted by @PsyzhranV2 and @Charlaquin above, pop culture as a whole would likely be vastly different in an alternate timeline where D&D didn't appear in 1974. For example, you not only risk deleting all CRPGs, but any video game with RPG-like mechanics, to include leveling, vital statistics, and hit points. We're talking at least hundreds of highly influential games.

Agreed that space opera would outpace fantasy. D&D also certainly contributed to the boom in fantasy fiction in the 1970s onward, so a lot of those go as well, and less fantasy fiction generally means less reason for someone else to come up with the idea. The exception might be stuff drawing on earlier material, like LOTR and Conan; this does possibly mean the 21st century LOTR and Hobbit films could still happen, however, so I could see that as an influence for a modern-day version of D&D.

Miniatures wargames are an interesting question. There was clearly a market for fantasy wargames, since that's where D&D's ancestor Chainmail came in with its fantasy supplement. But it wasn't Chainmail that took off like a rocket, it was D&D. Also, wargames were pretty niche, and D&D almost surely grew interest in hobby stores that helped the wargaming industry. OTOH, I think D&D also competed with wargames for attention. So it's hard to say what happens there. I assume, however, that we don't see Warhammer (since Games Workshop was an importer of D&D in its early days). Maybe some LOTR-inspired wargames, though?

One thing I'd bet on, though, is that the game would only use six-sided dice. (Assuming it uses dice at all.)
 

If D&D were invented today, we probably wouldn’t be in a post Warcraft world, because Warcraft was heavily influenced by D&D.
As was so much more too. The fantasy movies of the early-mid 80s, Masters of the Universe, and Ultima and the Legend of Zelda just off the top of my head. Without D&D I don't think we would have any of those things. Obviously Tolkien and Robert E Howard were around long before D&D and we may have gotten a movie here and there but I believe D&D paved the way for the audience for the fantasy genre at that time.
 

Miniatures wargames are an interesting question. There was clearly a market for fantasy wargames, since that's where D&D's ancestor Chainmail came in with its fantasy supplement. But it wasn't Chainmail that took off like a rocket, it was D&D. Also, wargames were pretty niche, and D&D almost surely grew interest in hobby stores that helped the wargaming industry. OTOH, I think D&D also competed with wargames for attention. So it's hard to say what happens there. I assume, however, that we don't see Warhammer (since Games Workshop was an importer of D&D in its early days). Maybe some LOTR-inspired wargames, though?
I'm not a wargamer nor do I play warhammer so my knowledge on it is limited. The few times in the early 2000s when I played Chainmail is my only real exposure to it. I've always been pretty much only been interested in TTRPGs. My father was always into building model airplanes, its a pretty niche hobby at least nowadays as well I'd guess traditional wargaming and trainsets. I have a feeling that people such as myself who built a few models or maybe dabbled in wargaming as a kid, without D&D to bridge the gap they'd have lost interest, moved on and Warhammer doesn't exist.
 


JEB

Adventurer
You do know that GW started out in response to people wanting minis for their D&D games, right? Much like Ral Partha, Grenadier, etc.
Interesting! Wikipedia says the minis actually came a little later (after importing Holmes Basic, and before that manufacturing boards for other companies' games). But yeah, that pretty much cinches GW not being a thing without D&D.
 

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