Is D&D better focused, broad or stepped?


NOTE: I put this thread in the Older Editions sub-forum because I don't think it is evena question if 5E. Feel free to argue but my intent is to talk about his primarily in regards to systems prior 5e, and really 3.x and earlier.

First, let me define some terms:

"Focused" means its rules and intended play are limited. in the case od D&D, this means primarily that it is intended for exploring "dungeons" (whatever that means) as a primary activity.

"Broad" means that D&D can be used for essentially all kinds of fantasy adventures, from the aforementioned dungeons to courtly intrigue to slice of life fantasy stories.

"Stepped" means, essentially, serially focus. That is, the game works best when focused, but that focus can shift over the course of play. I.e. characters start out dungeon delving then go to wilderness exploration then get involved in politics and so on.

For my part, I think Stepped is best, as exemplified by the BECMI rules. There is a clear progression of intent of play that begins with dungteons and ends with seeking immortality, and each stage is intended to last as long as it needs to and no longer.

What do you think?

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Victoria Rules
There's theory, and then there's practice.

The theory going in was, I think, that D&D would be reasonably hard-focused on dungeon-crawling and that once the PCs moved any distance beyond that into stronghold-building and politics the game would kinda wind down.

The practice turned out to be a combination of stepped and broad, as people realized that without too much kitbashing the pre-3e D&D systems were in fact flexible enough to handle a lot of non-dungeon-crawly things more than well enough to rock and roll. You could do courtly intrigue and politics. You could do wilderness exploring. You could do inter-character drama. You could do fantasy commerce. You could do stuff with your strongholds once you'd built them. And a boatload of other things, all with one system and even - if so desired - all within the same campaign and-or setting.


I think most/all editions can do dungeon crawl or stepped. Rules for starting a little realm of your own existed in AD&D, 2e, and 3.x for sure.


A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
All of the above? I've enjoyed all the approaches described.

In practice, with 5e (though the OP seems to indicate 5e is out of scope), I basically use it to run any fantasy game. I have limited funds and time. If I'm going to buy and run a different system, I'll choose something very different than D&D. As a player, I only have time for one-shots and convention play and will play anything.


5ever, or until 2024
My long running AD&D game was the broadest. Largely due to time and effort.

Over many sessions, ran 3 of the famous 1e adventures, plus 1 from Dragon (so pre Dungeon). A few small homebrew dungeons and lairs, and lots of travel, city stuff, and just whatever. No clear progression. At some point the party has a castle and lots of responsibility, but that actually began at mid-levels. But it started in the city and ended in a homebrew dungeon.

Dungeon Delver's Guide

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