D&D 5E Is D&D 90% Combat?

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In response to Cubicle 7’s announcement that their next Doctor Who role playing game would be powered by D&D 5E, there was a vehement (and in some places toxic) backlash on social media. While that backlash has several dimensions, one element of it is a claim that D&D is mainly about combat.

Head of D&D Ray Winninger disagreed (with snark!), tweeting "Woke up this morning to Twitter assuring me that [D&D] is "ninety percent combat." I must be playing (and designing) it wrong." WotC's Dan Dillon also said "So guess we're gonna recall all those Wild Beyond the Witchlight books and rework them into combat slogs, yeah? Since we did it wrong."

So, is D&D 90% combat?

And in other news, attacking C7 designers for making games is not OK.


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B/X Known World
The game mechanics in the books, mostly yes.

The game as people actually play it at the table, mostly no.

As discussed in the Doctor Who thread, the fact that Wild Beyond the Witchlight had to be marketed as having the potential to be completed without combat and apparently has special rules written to allow this proves the general point.

ETA: Since this just keeps coming up and coming up, here’s the “special rules” I was told exist in Witchlight. Clearly I was lied to and clearly they’re not special rules.

“One of the many novelties of this adventure is that the characters can accomplish their goals without resorting to violence—but only if they're clever. They can fight their way through the adventure as well, but the odds won't always be in their favor.” WBtW, p4

Though advancement is based on travel-based milestones rather than combat.
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im my experience I'd say it's about 50 /50 the number of tables that play it either way. i know people that just do dungeon crawls and would rather die than go back to town and roleplay with the citizens. I also know people that can play for 6 months and have one combat. Both are equally valid ways to play and there are groups all the way across the spectrum. It's funny how many people love to think thier way is the way most people play, when even the most experienced of us have played with less than 1 percent of the gamer community.


Not normally in my experience, but that is anecdotal at best.

It's more of a 50/50 in most cases, though I've had cases where it's been as low as 10% combat or lower.


He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
Thats really too bad to hear. I think Dr. Who is the least combat focused idea of a game I can think of. A lot will be up to the presentation on how the game will be played. In the past, I've found 5E to be hard to evade the combat drive. For example, we did a run of Carbon 2185(?) that was cyberpunk skinned 5E. At one point when a player was struggling to attack a person or not. The GM just said "dude these are like D&D goblins; just kill them" and it destroyed our immersion.

So, really it will come down to the fact if you see mechanics as simple under the hood tools, or bits that blend into the game experience itself. I have found that the answer is yes, 5E does mean 90% combat for me and prefer other systems for other genres.

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