D&D 5E L&L: Monsters and Stories

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
The papers are available for anyone to read, and I think they're pretty crystal clear that the default effect is huge. They explicitly say that the power of the default effect on many different decisions is one of the takeaways their research shows. If that's not convincing to you, I don't think anything I can say is going to be. If you don't believe the paid, trained experts from Columbia University who say that the simple act of having a default can have a remarkable effect on how people think and act, because they actually make a living studying human thought and behavior, and this is what their research actually tells them, then you ain't never gonna believe some jerk on the internet with a banana avatar.

I think you should reply to the entirety of my post, rather cherry pick a paragraph out of context like that. I addressed what you're saying, and explained why it's a hasty generalization. I didn't say the effect described in the study is not real, I explained why it's not applicable to these circumstances and how the circumstances are almost opposites.

We're peers. Have the basic level of respect to not outright dismiss the post I drafted so carefully in response to your argument with a hand-waive of, "Well, Science!".
 

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I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
Essentially, you appear to be making the case that D&D is not subject to the default effect because it presumes a level of user input. But this isn't true if they provide a default, like "This is what a medusa is like," because then they are not presuming a level of user input at that point. If the books say something like what Mearls says in this article, they have presumed a default, and will be subject to the default effect, no matter how many times they say in other places that anyone can change anything. People say you can change your organ donor status, too, and then people don't, and you get the default effect, which is what the articles are about.

D&D isn't exceptional, here. If it gives you a default, it's subject to the default effect, because the default effect is the effect of having a default. I don't think it can get much more blatant than that.
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
Yeah I am really not getting it. I can only assume this is some damage done in more modern editions that shifted power from the DM to the Players, and taught players to think about the game in a different way. The concept that the DM must run it all like it's written, or else players will complain and the DM has to explain themselves, is bizarre to me.

I think it's far too easy to shoot the messenger here. Traditional power structures are eroding because our society is changing. Authoritarian command and control leadership is no longer the norm. Decision making in businesses is becoming more distributed. 20 years ago people were also far more likely to take what their immediate supervisors told them at face value, and entertainment media were a much more passive pursuit.
 

delericho

Legend
I don't have a particular problem with them writing new default origins for monsters, provided:

- the monsters are designed (mechanically) in such a way that they still work with my lore where it is different

- they don't insist on retro-fitting all the existing campaign worlds to use the new lore. If 5e's halflings are peaceful river-dwellers, that shouldn't force Dark Sun to follow suit!

Apart from that, I'm not to bothered. Though I do wish he'd chosen a different example creature to use; something specifically D&D in nature (drow, or githyanki, or something), rather than a 'known' creature from mythology.
 

am181d

Adventurer
Apart from that, I'm not to bothered. Though I do wish he'd chosen a different example creature to use; something specifically D&D in nature (drow, or githyanki, or something), rather than a 'known' creature from mythology.

I would think the whole point is to give creatures a distinctly D&D story, which drow and githyanki already have. I'm still fairly certain that part of their mandate is to lockdown a "D&D Bible" for use with the company's non-RPG products.

Think about it: Diversification is a big part of Wizards' plans for D&D these days, whether it's board games, video games, books, a potential new movie, etc. And none of these rely on homebrew worlds. For the greater brand, they NEED default assumptions for everything.
 

delericho

Legend
I would think the whole point is to give creatures a distinctly D&D story, which drow and githyanki already have.

I don't doubt that that's what they'll be doing in the MM. I'd just have preferred him not to do so here for this article.

I'm still fairly certain that part of their mandate is to lockdown a "D&D Bible" for use with the company's non-RPG products.

Think about it: Diversification is a big part of Wizards' plans for D&D these days, whether it's board games, video games, books, a potential new movie, etc. And none of these rely on homebrew worlds. For the greater brand, they NEED default assumptions for everything.

All of which is fair enough. I don't argue their right, or even need, to create their own brand identity, nor that they'll want that to be consistent across their D&D lines. That's fine.

But...

While WotC want to establish their brand identity, that is their concern. My concern is "does this material fit with my game"? If so, that's great, and we can do business. If not, that's also fine... but they don't get my money.

(Of course, I wouldn't expect the question of "does this suit Delericho" to be on their radar, or even close to it. By myself, I have no bearing whatsoever on the success or otherwise of 5e. But there are a lot of DMs out there who use homebrew worlds, or even WotC-owned worlds that aren't FR-style fantasy, such as Eberron or Dark Sun. As a collective, we may be important enough to be considered.)

And bear in mind that my requirement here is not "don't change the lore" - it's "don't change the lore and mechanics such that I can't use this material in my world."
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
am181d said:
I would think the whole point is to give creatures a distinctly D&D story, which drow and githyanki already have. I'm still fairly certain that part of their mandate is to lockdown a "D&D Bible" for use with the company's non-RPG products.

Yeah, the other side of the default effect might be that they intend to exploit it to get brand traction on things like the medusa's curse. I think this would be silly because D&D isn't about the medusa's story, it's about creating your own stories.
 

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
Essentially, you appear to be making the case that D&D is not subject to the default effect because it presumes a level of user input. But this isn't true if they provide a default, like "This is what a medusa is like," because then they are not presuming a level of user input at that point. If the books say something like what Mearls says in this article, they have presumed a default, and will be subject to the default effect, no matter how many times they say in other places that anyone can change anything. People say you can change your organ donor status, too, and then people don't, and you get the default effect, which is what the articles are about.

You're speculating like you don't know for sure people will change it as they please. But, that's not the case. This isn't something you need to theorize about - you have years of experience knowing people do change it constantly for this game. Look in this thread and all the people already ignoring it! Nobody really is going to use a description they don't like. The nature of DMing is such that they wouldn't think of using fluff text they don't like. It just gets ignored, like countless other rules people don't like. It's inherent to the nature of this game. No guessing about it is necessary - you've undoubtedly done it yourself.

It's not like a driver's license is something you constantly customize and re-tinker and discuss and consider and engage with others, like D&D rules are. They're just not in the same ballpark of objects and analysis.

D&D isn't exceptional, here. If it gives you a default, it's subject to the default effect, because the default effect is the effect of having a default. I don't think it can get much more blatant than that.

It's exceptional, that was already proven. You gave percentages of people who go along with the flow for general life, now compare them to the people in this thread who already didn't do that with this very rule we're talking about. You already know for sure the percentages don't hold up for this issue. Why are you pretending that X=Y wen you know X/=Y in this instance? Insisting on a hasty generalization because you're enamored with a psych experiment from a TED talk isn't helpful unless it actually applies. A DM isn't a passive donor making a decision for the far future that likely will never come up - they're an active decision-maker and judge making choices that have immediate direct impact on them. That's not the dame kind of choice as the donor.
 

TwoSix

"Diegetics", by L. Ron Gygax
Hey, it might, and more power to 'em if it does. It's hard to see that from what they're saying in these articles, though. The way James and Mike and even sometimes Jon are talking about these things, they are saying "Medusas are X" or "Goblins are Y" or "Kobolds are Z" or "Minotaurs are Q" or "The planes are W." And the way I see it, they may have some misplaced incentive to limit other takes on these game elements (the "Branding Iron" referred to upthread, wielded inexpertly). They've certainly made mention of a plausible rationale for this approach (a "consistent experience"), and this kind of "here's the fiction, take it or leave it!" style was certainly the established way that 4e entered the scene, and pretty much also the way that elder D&D operated (especially in 2e).
I'm just wondering which edition presented monsters with zero backstory.
 

TwoSix

"Diegetics", by L. Ron Gygax
Yeah, the other side of the default effect might be that they intend to exploit it to get brand traction on things like the medusa's curse. I think this would be silly because D&D isn't about the medusa's story, it's about creating your own stories.
The debate between "D&D is a genre" and "D&D is a fantasy toolbox" isn't exactly a settled one.
 

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