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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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
A long time ago a man named Wittgenstein tried to explain to the world that rules for languages and rules for games are never exact and only seem so insofar as we decline to examine their details. Suppose a friend and I play a game of chess. Suppose my friend is much better at it than I, so she spots me a rook; is that still chess? Suppose on top of spotting me a rook, she also lets me take back foolish moves when I make them even though she herself does not; is that still chess? Wittgenstein's whole point here was that if you think there is an actual fact of the matter with which to answer these questions, you don't understand what games (or languages) are yet.

Suppose HammerMan and his players decide to allow something like "mulligans" in the game and everyone at the table endorses this principle. Is that still D&D? What makes anyone suppose there even is a definite answer to be found for that question??
I disagree, to a point. The examples you gave about chess are playing chess while breaking the rules of chess. That means you're playing a game adjacent to chess. It's not far enough away to not call it chess, because that's a useful term and imparts a large amount of understanding. If I try to explain the game I'm playing outright, that's a long slog, but if I say I'm playing chess except for these things, then understand is much more quickly reached. The game played is certainly close enough to be informally called chess, but it would never be an officially rated game and participants would be well aware of the differences.

With games that are already full of informal agreements as the basis for the game, and without the level of detail and clarity that chess has, the grey area expands. When rules are openly interpretable, and even designed that way, we're moving into a conception space where game is a loose term for what's really more like the kinds of playground rules that govern tag -- you have to know which game of tag you're playing in to be able to understand how that game works. We've more created a loose family of independently instantiated games that bear large similarities. I'm not sure that it's worth trying to say two tables play the same game of D&D under any circumstances. Rather, "I play D&D" is a shorthand to get everyone close to a reasonable understanding of what, in general, is happening.
 

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Oofta

Legend
Yes, I get that. But my point was about how such authority is tempered by other phrases and descriptions of the process. The authority is there to facilitate play not to empower the DM.

I don't expect there are many games where the DM actually exercises the full level of authority granted by the entries you've quoted because that game would absolutely suck. It would involve the DM deciding the results of every declared action without any rolls. That's not how the game is meant to work, even if it is technically allowed by the rules.

No one plays D&D that way, and if they did, I'd likely utter the dreaded phrase "they're doing it wrong".

So yeah, I don't really care about the hypothetical extreme that doesn't actually exist.

I'm not sure how we got onto this tangent. All I ever said was the by default the DM makes the final call and for some reason that was challenged.

How much the DM leans on the players for rules knowledge, how strict they are on how actions or declarations are adjudicated are going to vary widely. How many times has there been discussion about whether or not a player can declare "I make a [insert skill/ability here] check" or whether they have to describe what they're attempting to do and the DM decides whether there is a check or not?

On the other hand there are times when players will declare an action and I'll tell them either they can't because I didn't clearly describe something or they attempt something and nothing happens or something unexpected happens. It's just part of running the game, there's no maniacal laughter of the mighty DM crushing the hapless PCs involved. Well, not usually anyway. ;)
 

HammerMan

Legend
I'm comfortable with my anecdotal evidence. Almost 40 years of play in many, many groups and zero instances of games like yours encountered, including at the many conventions I've gone to. Is it theoretically possible that I somehow missed huge numbers of players and tables that play like you do? I suppose. Those odds would likely be as long as my winning the lottery tomorrow, though.
the funny part is that 32ish years of playing (20+ of them including cons and stores) I have met WAY more people that 'cheat' or 'let cheating slide' now some will say 'only a little' or 'only when____' but I have met very few like you and your group. So again we have no way of know what is the more numerous of
I'm not misframing what you said. I'm telling you what it means to allow players to do whatever they feel like, whenever they feel like it.
and as someone who has 1st hand experience (something you claim not to have, since you have never met a group that does it) you are mistaken.
If your players are allowed to "cheat" whenever they feel like it, there are no rules in your game. Rules are prescriptive and you've set it up so that nothing in your game is prescriptive. Ergo, no rules.
we have rules. Even if we don't punish those that break them.
And the game default disagrees with you.
citation needed
OMG...please tell me that you really did understand what I was saying and aren't wearing blinders.

Being a game of the imagination doesn't make it an illusion. It's still a game with rules like monopoly. You can even use pieces like monopoly if you want. D&D is a real game. It's just played in a different medium.
no I really think you take it too seriously. I am glad you aren't so far that way that you think it real... but you do think it matters, and that people that do it for fun are wrong...
I'm not putting words in their mouths. I'm telling you what cheating means.
and again since you admit to 0 experence with it why not trust the person who's telling you about there game?
If I say nothing, I am in fact taking part in it. I know the truth and am now lying by omission if I say nothing. My integrity means something to me.
um... that is a super scary thought when taken into any nongame setting, so I hope you only use it for play time. (cause there are LOTS of things that are going on in the world that are bad, and you are NOT bad for not stopping them...or even for not trying)

luckly I can skip this scary idea cause for it to matter I would have to think fudgeing dice/slots/hp was wrong to begin with... and I don't feel that way.
I always know or know within 1 of what the PCs bonuses are.
okay got it... you spend WAY more brain power on adult gaming then I do... I have not had that amount of bandwith to spend on gaming in 20 years.
The answer is that even if I don't know the player cheated, that player has still compromised the integrity of the game. In instances where the player was caught, that player gets only one warning and will be kicked out the next time he cheats. The integrity of the game is very important to me and my players.
wow the integrity of make believe... I don't get it. What is this Integrity what doe is mean?
As I said, "called on it" strongly implies cheating, so no I didn't call him on it in any way, friendly or not. I approached it from a position of assuming a mistake and reminded him. That's different than "calling him on it."
You called him on his mistake and corrected him...


did you see the chess thing, it was WAY better said.

A long time ago a man named Wittgenstein tried to explain to the world that rules for languages and rules for games are never exact and only seem so insofar as we decline to examine their details. Suppose a friend and I play a game of chess. Suppose my friend is much better at it than I, so she spots me a rook; is that still chess? Suppose on top of spotting me a rook, she also lets me take back foolish moves when I make them even though she herself does not; is that still chess? Wittgenstein's whole point here was that if you think there is an actual fact of the matter with which to answer these questions, you don't understand what games (or languages) are yet.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
not reporting income on one's taxes; Um that's not little... you go to big boy prision for that (unless your rich then you can get away with it but no one I know is rich)

The number of contractors who want cash payment for work, or who sell off collectibles at a profit, or... who don't put it in.

I'm guessing there will be a lot of people at the end of the 2022 glad the IRS doesn't have many investigators when they realize they really are going to be getting 1099's from Paypal and Venmo based on their total intake and not just for large single exchanges.
 

HammerMan

Legend
The number of contractors who want cash payment for work, or who sell off collectibles at a profit, or... who don't put it in.

I'm guessing there will be a lot of people at the end of the 2022 glad the IRS doesn't have many investigators when they realize they really are going to be getting 1099's from Paypal and Venmo based on their total intake and not just for large single exchanges.
I just assumed that (like I do) most people reported income. I know my dad (a criminal in MANY ways, and in no way a role modle or good guy) used to do that he called it 'under the table' and it is HIGHLY illegal and can get you prision time.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
The number of contractors who want cash payment for work, or who sell off collectibles at a profit, or... who don't put it in.

I'm guessing there will be a lot of people at the end of the 2022 glad the IRS doesn't have many investigators when they realize they really are going to be getting 1099's from Paypal and Venmo based on their total intake and not just for large single exchanges.

That's usually the gig; underreporting rather than not reporting at all, and taking payment in ways that don't leave much paper trail. Its true that any significant degree can end up putting in big time hot water, but there are a lot of dodges for getting around it in ways unlikely to be detected, and even if they catch someone at petty-ante cases they usually are just going to insist on your paying up and fine you for it (telling the DOJ you want them to go after someone for $200 dollars in unreported earnings would most likely get you really and sincerely laughed at).
 

HammerMan

Legend
That's usually the gig; underreporting rather than not reporting at all, and taking payment in ways that don't leave much paper trail. Its true that any significant degree can end up putting in big time hot water, but there are a lot of dodges for getting around it in ways unlikely to be detected, and even if they catch someone at petty-ante cases they usually are just going to insist on your paying up and fine you for it (telling the DOJ you want them to go after someone for $200 dollars in unreported earnings would most likely get you really and sincerely laughed at).
so I assume you think Al Capone went to jail for murder, and being a mobster?
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
and as someone who has 1st hand experience (something you claim not to have, since you have never met a group that does it) you are mistaken.
I can't be. I'm not talking about your kind of game. I'm talking about mine and that is in fact what it means to my kind of game.
citation needed
The 5e rules. At no point is a player allowed to cheat. Anywhere in the entirety of 5e rules.
no I really think you take it too seriously. I am glad you aren't so far that way that you think it real... but you do think it matters, and that people that do it for fun are wrong...
Now you're just inventing stuff. Why would be who play the very real game of D&D for fun be wrong?
and again since you admit to 0 experence with it why not trust the person who's telling you about there game?
I do. I accept that allowing players to do whatever they want, regardless of what the rulebooks say, is fun for you and your group.
um... that is a super scary thought when taken into any nongame setting, so I hope you only use it for play time. (cause there are LOTS of things that are going on in the world that are bad, and you are NOT bad for not stopping them...or even for not trying)
Holy False Equivalence Batman! Failing to speak the truth about a game error is not the same as failing to go out and stop bad guys. If I see a crime committed, though, I do have a moral obligation to tell the police what I saw.
okay got it... you spend WAY more brain power on adult gaming then I do... I have not had that amount of bandwith to spend on gaming in 20 years.
Nah. I just have a gift for numbers. They stick with me. Names, not so much. I'm far more likely to know that the barbarian has +8 to hit than to remember his name.
wow the integrity of make believe... I don't get it. What is this Integrity what doe is mean?
I get that you don't get it.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
I just assumed that (like I do) most people reported income. I know my dad (a criminal in MANY ways, and in no way a role modle or good guy) used to do that he called it

One survey had 24% of people in the US willing to lie about under the table income. Another had 12% feeling it was ok to cheat on taxes.


It's big with how companies classify workers too...


That's usually the gig; underreporting rather than not reporting at all, and taking payment in ways that don't leave much paper trail. Its true that any significant degree can end up putting in big time hot water, but there are a lot of dodges for getting around it in ways unlikely to be detected, and even if they catch someone at petty-ante cases they usually are just going to insist on your paying up and fine you for it (telling the DOJ you want them to go after someone for $200 dollars in unreported earnings would most likely get you really and sincerely laughed at).

Yup. I wonder how many of the crooks who do it are upset when they catch someone fudging a move in a game for fun. (Hence my curiosity about how folks would order the list I had, and where they would draw the line).


But, anyway, what was the topic of this thread again? :)
 

hawkeyefan

Legend
I'm not sure how we got onto this tangent. All I ever said was the by default the DM makes the final call and for some reason that was challenged.

How much the DM leans on the players for rules knowledge, how strict they are on how actions or declarations are adjudicated are going to vary widely. How many times has there been discussion about whether or not a player can declare "I make a [insert skill/ability here] check" or whether they have to describe what they're attempting to do and the DM decides whether there is a check or not?

On the other hand there are times when players will declare an action and I'll tell them either they can't because I didn't clearly describe something or they attempt something and nothing happens or something unexpected happens. It's just part of running the game, there's no maniacal laughter of the mighty DM crushing the hapless PCs involved. Well, not usually anyway. ;)

Because I think most of the time, the rules make the final call. The DM needs to step in when the rules are unclear, or there's some out of the ordinary factor that needs to be considered.

To offer an example or two, if the DM says it's time for initiative, it may be well within the phrasing of the rules for him to just decide who goes when, but that's not the process I would expect nor enjoy; or if I attack a troll, I don't expect the DM to decide if I hit or miss or what happens as a result. There are rules for these things and they should be followed. If for some reason, these processes would seem to not suit the situation, that's when the DM needs to step in. If a troll has an SC of 16 and my attack roll results in a 22, then I hit the troll; if the DM steps in and says "oh no, you missed", then I'm going to be annoyed, unless there's some compelling reason to do so.

The caveat of the DM being the final arbiter of all things is in the books, but it's not meant to apply at all times. The DM's judgment is not needed to determine if I succeed or fail at a check (unless it's either trivially easy or clearly impossible), but instead it's to determine the difficulty of the attempted action, and to determine what ability and skill may be relevant. My roll will determine the result. The DM may also determine the nature of failure, although very often this may be clear.

This is how I apply my point to 5e, but my initial comment was about all editions of D&D, and also many other games. You've replied to me by citing the 5e rules, and so I've tailored my response accordingly, but my original point was not specific to 5e.

Does that make more sense?
 

HammerMan

Legend
I can't be. I'm not talking about your kind of game. I'm talking about mine and that is in fact what it means to my kind of game.
even then...how do you know without trying it?
The 5e rules. At no point is a player allowed to cheat. Anywhere in the entirety of 5e rules.
every rule is optional. So I don't see where opting out for a roll is a problem. You could have said that of 4e though.
Now you're just inventing stuff. Why would be who play the very real game of D&D for fun be wrong?
you keep popping up telling me I am wrong... not just in this thread. Think about that.
Holy False Equivalence Batman! Failing to speak the truth about a game error is not the same as failing to go out and stop bad guys. If I see a crime committed, though, I do have a moral obligation to tell the police what I saw.
Okay kind of good... this is game only (for the most part). although I also would not say anything if I saw someone stealing from shop rite. I would assume that if things are bad enough for someone to have to steal, it isn't my place to make a judgement.

infact my buddy who works at walmart HATEs that I think that way. I have heard him brag about stopping a woman from stealing formula (before it was in cased)... I am always in shock. I could understand "I stopped a kid from stealing a new game" (weather I agree or not) i can understand it... but I am 100% on Jon Vajon's side not Jovair.
I get that you don't get it.
and yet you dont explain. How it hurts. How it makes the game worse. Give an example (I do all the time) heck go back and take an example of mine and tell me how it (in theory) hurt some integrity (mine or the games)
 

HammerMan

Legend
One survey had 24% of people in the US willing to lie about under the table income. Another had 12% feeling it was ok to cheat on taxes.
wow... okay color me surprised.

edit @Maxperson if 24% of the country admits openly to breaking a law (way worse then a game rule) and 12% think it is okay... I am starting to think that people who think rules of games are sacrosanct may not hold the majority you think they do.
 


Cadence

Legend
Supporter
Because I think most of the time, the rules make the final call. The DM needs to step in when the rules are unclear, or there's some out of the ordinary factor that needs to be considered.

Does "most of the time" works for a lot of things discussed on ENWorld?

If the fudging die rolls happens rarely for the DM, if the cheating on a die roll doesn't happen often for the player, if the player doesn't use OOC knowledge too much, if the DM doesn't hack the usual rule too often, if someone didn't contribute to the snacks and soda one night, if someone missed a game without letting anyone know in advance, if the DM gave special treatment to one player... then it could be a nothing. But when it rises to the level of being noticed, and then is noticed a second time before the memory of the first occasion fades, then it feels like things can start coming off the rails.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I'm a bit surprised, @HammerMan, at your belief on one hand that it's perfectly normal and indeed encouraged for people to cheat for fun in things that don't actually benefit them, but that it's shocking to think that people might cheat when cheating actively does benefit them.
 

HammerMan

Legend
Right? I'm shocked it's as low as 12%!
12% that would admit it...

much like game rules (way less important) people will hide things that THEY think are wrong... that first PF game I chose my stats, everyone else swears they rolled (very high) naturally. The reason the DM okayed my "I just picked what I wanted" was becuse he knew he couldn't police people re rolling or fudging.

Heck the two (I do it cause they are generic enough) names I throw around on here 'Criting Jon' and '+1 floating Jimmy bless' would look you right in the eye and swear they never cheated.
 


South by Southwest

Incorrigible Daydreamer
I disagree, to a point. The examples you gave about chess are playing chess while breaking the rules of chess. That means you're playing a game adjacent to chess. It's not far enough away to not call it chess, because that's a useful term and imparts a large amount of understanding. If I try to explain the game I'm playing outright, that's a long slog, but if I say I'm playing chess except for these things, then understand is much more quickly reached. The game played is certainly close enough to be informally called chess, but it would never be an officially rated game and participants would be well aware of the differences.
I'm afraid you're still not seeing Wittgenstein's point. I'll put it rhetorically first: What makes you think "chess" is in fact a fully defined concept?

Now an example, followed by his claim. I'll use the example of colors, which works well because they're on a continuum, not discrete. Suppose someone calls a book "red;" are there in fact universally necessary and sufficient conditions for some object qualifying as "red?" Presumably something that's pink would not qualify, as there's a separate term for that (but I know some people who will call pink a species of red...). Okay, but how far away from pink does it have to get before it objectively belongs in the <red> category? Do you really think there's an actual answer to that??? Wittgenstein doesn't. Or how about if it's orange? We surely then would not call the book "red." But how reddish of an orange does it need to be before it does get called "red?" This isn't a question of, "Where's the line?" for Wittgenstein; it's a question of, "Is there a line?" His unequivocal answer is, "No."

Let's try another just in case it isn't yet fully clear: suppose someone says, "Bob sure is tall." Do you imagine there actually is a fully objective set of criteria for "tall" vs. "short" vs "middlin'?" I can assure you there isn't.

Do you see it now?

In life there's a certain personality that wants clear, definite, objective answers to all meaningful questions. Wittgenstein's claim is that in the end reality is always going to disappoint that sort of person.
 
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tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
I'm afraid you're still not seeing Wittgenstein's point. I'll put it rhetorically first: What makes you think "chess" is in fact a fully defined concept?

Now an example, followed by his claim. I'll use the example of colors, which works well because they're on a continuum, not discrete. Suppose someone calls a book "red;" are there in fact universally necessary and sufficient conditions for some object qualifying as "red?" Presumably something that's pink would not qualify, as there's a separate term for that (but I know some people who will call pink a species of red...). Okay, but how far away from pink does it have to get before it objectively belongs in the <red> category? Do you really think there's an actual answer to that??? Wittgenstein doesn't. Or how about if it's orange? We surely then would not call the book "red." But how reddish of an orange does it need to be before it does get called "red?" This isn't a question of, "Where's the line?" for Wittgenstein; it's a question of, "Is there a line?" His unequivocal answer is, "No."

Let's try another just in case it isn't yet fully clear: suppose someone says, "Bob sure is tall." Do you imagine there actually is a fully objective set of criteria for "tall" vs. "short" vs "middlin'?" I can assure you there isn't.

Do you see it now?

In life there's a certain personality that wants clear, definite, objective answers to all meaningful questions. Wittgenstein's claim is that in the end reality is always going to disappoint that sort of person.
Your post 1430 chess example where your better friend spots you a rook is a house rule, nobody is arguing against houserules. An example that was more comparable to someone deciding to bend the rules of d&d would be secretly flipping extra tile(s) while making a valid move in Go or Shogi & having your oponent not notice or not call you on cheating this time
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
you keep popping up telling me I am wrong... not just in this thread. Think about that.
You're projecting. I didn't tell you that you were wrong here. You asked a question and I tried to explain to you since you admitted you don't get it. Does my explanation apply to you? Clearly not. Are you doing it wrong for your game? Not if you guys are having fun. That doesn't make your version right for everyone or even most people.

Were I to allow cheating, I would be compromising my personal integrity and the integrity of the game that I run, and I'm not willing to do that.
although I also would not say anything if I saw someone stealing from shop rite.
I would.
I would assume that if things are bad enough for someone to have to steal, it isn't my place to make a judgement.
Nor would I. I would simply report it and the thief can explain to the cops and judge what his reasons are. They can make the judgment, because it is their place to do so.

It's my moral obligation to report what I observed, not make a judgment about it.
infact my buddy who works at walmart HATEs that I think that way. I have heard him brag about stopping a woman from stealing formula (before it was in cased)... I am always in shock. I could understand "I stopped a kid from stealing a new game" (weather I agree or not) i can understand it... but I am 100% on Jon Vajon's side not Jovair.
She's not entitled to steal. Period. People with the mindset that the poor should be allowed to steal from stores got 6 CVS stores closed because it got so bad. A bunch of poor people who needed jobs lost them because of those thieves. A bunch of people who used those local stores suddenly didn't have them to shop at any longer. The elderly who couldn't travel far and poor without vehicles got screwed.
and yet you dont explain. How it hurts. How it makes the game worse. Give an example (I do all the time) heck go back and take an example of mine and tell me how it (in theory) hurt some integrity (mine or the games)
It invalidates those who work within the rules like they are supposed to. You're spitting on me and the work I do to kill something within the rules, since you just declare you hit for max damage with each swing? Whether you view it as spitting on me(metaphorically) or not isn't relevant, that IS what you are doing to me in a game that I am playing in if you cheat. When I join a game, I have the reasonable expectation that the rules mean something and will be followed.
 

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