5E "Labels" and D&D Gaming

pming

Adventurer
Hiya!

First, no, not "that" kind of label.

Second, I was skimming the forums here and for some reason got 'irked' with all the labels everyone seems to be using to describe D&D, and RPG'ing in general, that I think are...unnecessary? Let me explain a bit...

A Groups Home Game.
The labels used to describe it tend to be: "Sandbox", "Open-World", "Hexcrawl" and sometimes just "Wilderness"

Now I'm probably showing my age here, but back in my day we called that "a DM's campaign". There was no need for labeling it because RPG'ing encompassed, well, "open imagination and exploration". EVERY campaign was a "sandbox/open-world/hexcrawl/whatever". The DM presented his world, and tossed hooks out, the players bit on what they found interested, the DM...well... DM'ed.

I find it quite strange when people talk about their "campaigns" and then I find out they are going to "be finished with it in a month or so". That's not a campaign as I remember it. That's called "an adventure/module". For example, the GDQ series. If when the PC's finish Q1...the campaign doesn't "end" magically. It's still going. The next week the players will be there with the same PC's and just keep on playing them in the campaign setting/world that they have been. Or, they'll be there with new PC's, perhaps henchmen of the former (no retired) PC's, continuing on the next day the high-level heroes return to the Prime Material Plane (re: campaign setting). On Friday, the high-level heroes were in the Demonweb Pits. On Saturday they returned home. On Sunday they sleep. On Monday, new PC's are at the local inn hearing that the "Lords & Ladies of the country just returned from The Abyss after a harrowing adventure!". :)

PC Builds.
I very much dislike the very notion, to be honest. I understand the desire to somehow "control" how your PC is going to turn out...but it seems to be far too...specific? I guess? A PC shouldn't, IMNSHO, be a fore-gone conclusion as to exactly what class(es) of what level(s), with what specific abilities, combined with a specific race, and having certain stat scores, and a specific listing of spells/magic items. A beginning 1st level PC should be a relatively blank slate; with only the base "theme" reflecting that PC's background/history as written by the player (and DM). Once that is done, the Player plays the PC and that PC's "shtick" may or may not be the same by the time it hits 5th, 10th, or higher level. Again, IMHO, this uncertainty should be seen as a GOOD thing! Not something to be avoided by carefully crafted "builds" on a detailed level-to-level spreadsheet. It just sucks all the mystery and excitement out of the game. Playing, making decisions, and seeing what fate unfolds before the PC's is probably THE biggest draw to RPG's. "PC Builds" stomp all over that. :(

RAW.
This ol' bugaboo! Back when I started playing ('80/'81), the "rules" where there for us to refer to when we encountered a situation that we wanted to have handled in a consistent manner. That is NOT the same as "a situation handled exactly as the rules say". Why? Because, frankly, too many variables. But today's more modern player/DM seem to almost have a phobia in regards to modifying or even outright ignoring rules. CONSISTENCY is not necessarily the same as "RAW". Anyway, we did have "Rules Lawyers", and they were initially very annoying to deal with because their inflexible outlook on the rules of the game. It was sometimes impossible to placate them; if a rule was in the game, they wanted to use it...but in the current situation it would be detrimental to the Rules Lawyers' PC, they would be annoyed/upset, but would still want to use the rule as written...because if they didn't, then that sets a precedent in their mind that the RAW can sometimes need to be ignored/adjusted/modified.

How this related to modern gaming...a lot of gamer's seem to see the rules as "equal" to the DM. That somehow, if there is a rule the DM wants to change or ignore, he/she needs permission from the Player(s) to do so...because otherwise it might "make the game bad" or even worse, "mess up a planned PC Build". ;) 5e is better at alleviating that mindset a bit, but it's a far cry from ye olden days of yore when "What the DM says, goes!" was the bedrock. (sucky DM's that ran roughshod over their Players quickly found themselves 'unemployable', from a Player perspective; a nice self-correcting error, if I might say so! :) ).

......

Anyway...I just found it mildly irksome realizing that I am old and my "old man gaming style" is making it harder and harder for me to converse with some players and DM's. My notion of "campaign" means never-ending timeline advancing with the Players playing many PC's over the decades...all taking place in that shared imaginative world. So hearing "The campaign is ending soon, what should I play next?" gives me a double take; I still jump to the thought of "...well, try a sci-fi game, or maybe super hero". Because a "campaign", in my mind, never actually "ends"; PC's just die or retire. With 5e, me saying "No Feats, no multi-classing, and only PHB, DMG, MM...unless reviewed on a case-by-case basis for other things"...pretty much is the same as saying "DM available! Nobody need apply, thanks!" ;)

Any other old grognards out there feel the same? Or am I just an anomaly in not "getting" all these new-fangled terminologies and whatnot?

^_^

Paul L. Ming
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
A Groups Home Game.
The labels used to describe it tend to be: "Sandbox", "Open-World", "Hexcrawl" and sometimes just "Wilderness"

Now I'm probably showing my age here, but back in my day we called that "a DM's campaign". There was no need for labeling it because RPG'ing encompassed, well, "open imagination and exploration". EVERY campaign was a "sandbox/open-world/hexcrawl/whatever". The DM presented his world, and tossed hooks out, the players bit on what they found interested, the DM...well... DM'ed.
Well, yeah. And since then, the hobby has expanded, and there are now more ways that people play. As such, it became necessary to develop language do describe these different styles of play, so as to be able to effectively communicate about our home games and how we run/play them,

I find it quite strange when people talk about their "campaigns" and then I find out they are going to "be finished with it in a month or so". That's not a campaign as I remember it. That's called "an adventure/module".
Usually when someone describes a game with a planned endpoint as a “campaign” rather than as an “adventure” or a “module,” its because the plan spans multiple adventures. Some people call that an “adventure path,” and I do think that is a better name for such games than “campaign,” but for the most part, people use “campaign” and “adventure path” interchangeably these days. We can grumble about that being less clear than it could be, or not the way we used to use those terms, but that’s language for you. Might as well be complaining about people using the word “literally” wrong for all the good it does.

For example, the GDQ series. If when the PC's finish Q1...the campaign doesn't "end" magically.
Well... it can. Or it can keep going. Depends on what the players and DM want.

It's still going. The next week the players will be there with the same PC's and just keep on playing them in the campaign setting/world that they have been. Or, they'll be there with new PC's, perhaps henchmen of the former (no retired) PC's, continuing on the next day the high-level heroes return to the Prime Material Plane (re: campaign setting). On Friday, the high-level heroes were in the Demonweb Pits. On Saturday they returned home. On Sunday they sleep. On Monday, new PC's are at the local inn hearing that the "Lords & Ladies of the country just returned from The Abyss after a harrowing adventure!". :)
Yeah, sure, if they want that. But sometimes the group doesn’t want that. Sometimes they want a change of pace, and decide to play a new campaign, in a different setting. Or maybe in the same setting, with entirely new characters who have no relation to the characters in the previous campaign.

I think this kind of thing has become more and more common as the dominant style of D&D game has shifted from the more open, explorative style you are used to towards a more linear, narrative style. DMs design ongoing plots that their adventures weave through, and often players will make characters specifically to fit the story bring told. And when that story reaches a satisfying conclusion, they would rather start a new story with a new character made to fit it than continue aimlessly playing a character whose narrative purpose has already been fulfilled.

PC Builds.
I very much dislike the very notion, to be honest. I understand the desire to somehow "control" how your PC is going to turn out...but it seems to be far too...specific? I guess? A PC shouldn't, IMNSHO, be a fore-gone conclusion as to exactly what class(es) of what level(s), with what specific abilities, combined with a specific race, and having certain stat scores, and a specific listing of spells/magic items.[/quote]
I think you may be reading more into the concept of “character builds” than is intended by it most of the time. I mean, yeah, some players enjoy going into that kind of detail with it and plan out every single character advancement decision from 1st to 20th level (this was especially common in 3rd edition when doing so was often necessary to avoid accidentally ending up with a character who couldn’t meaningfully contribute to the party or deal with the kinds of challenges the party would typically face). But more often than not when people talk about “character builds” in D&D they’re taking about something much less involved than that. Sometimes someone will mention like “my PAM build,” just referring generally to the fact that they have made and/or are planning to make character advancement choices that complement the Polearm Master feat. Or they’ll talk about a “sorloc build” in reference to a character who has levels of Sorcerer and Warlock and has chosen their spells and invocations and such so as to take advantage of that combination of classes. Other times it will refer to a specific combination of features that is widely known to work well together, or to produce a particular result. It’s pretty rare that someone talks about a character build in the sense of a preplanned roadmap of every single character advancement decision they are going to make for a character (anymore).

A beginning 1st level PC should be a relatively blank slate; with only the base "theme" reflecting that PC's background/history as written by the player (and DM). Once that is done, the Player plays the PC and that PC's "shtick" may or may not be the same by the time it hits 5th, 10th, or higher level. Again, IMHO, this uncertainty should be seen as a GOOD thing! Not something to be avoided by carefully crafted "builds" on a detailed level-to-level spreadsheet.
That’s a perfectly valid (and in my opinion, very fun) way to play a character. But some people prefer to do it a different way, and that’s fine too.

It just sucks all the mystery and excitement out of the game. Playing, making decisions, and seeing what fate unfolds before the PC's is probably THE biggest draw to RPG's. "PC Builds" stomp all over that. :(
For you. Other people have different preferences.

RAW.
This ol' bugaboo! Back when I started playing ('80/'81), the "rules" where there for us to refer to when we encountered a situation that we wanted to have handled in a consistent manner. That is NOT the same as "a situation handled exactly as the rules say". Why? Because, frankly, too many variables. But today's more modern player/DM seem to almost have a phobia in regards to modifying or even outright ignoring rules. CONSISTENCY is not necessarily the same as "RAW". Anyway, we did have "Rules Lawyers", and they were initially very annoying to deal with because their inflexible outlook on the rules of the game. It was sometimes impossible to placate them; if a rule was in the game, they wanted to use it...but in the current situation it would be detrimental to the Rules Lawyers' PC, they would be annoyed/upset, but would still want to use the rule as written...because if they didn't, then that sets a precedent in their mind that the RAW can sometimes need to be ignored/adjusted/modified.
Again, I think you’re reading more into this than is typically meant by it. With the (debatable) exception of organized play like Adventurer’s League, very few groups play 100% by the book. Every game involves DM judgment calls, most games have at least some house rules, etc. But, if you’re going to refer to the rules in the book in contrast with the way you play at your own table, it’s necessary to have the language to describe that, and “rules as written” is a pretty good term to use to refer to the former.

How this related to modern gaming...a lot of gamer's seem to see the rules as "equal" to the DM. That somehow, if there is a rule the DM wants to change or ignore, he/she needs permission from the Player(s) to do so...because otherwise it might "make the game bad" or even worse, "mess up a planned PC Build". ;)
Well, to be fair, this was an attitude that was very much fostered by the game design itself. Mike Mearls has talked in the past about how with 3e and 4e, they had a design goal of making the game as consistent as possible between different tables, and that in service of that goal, they designed the rules to try and minimize the necessity (or some might say opportunity) for the DM to use their judgment, whereas with 5e they decided to embrace the individualized nature of different games and tried to get the rules back out of the DM’s way.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Usually when someone describes a game with a planned endpoint as a “campaign” rather than as an “adventure” or a “module,” its because the plan spans multiple adventures. Some people call that an “adventure path,” and I do think that is a better name for such games than “campaign,” but for the most part, people use “campaign” and “adventure path” interchangeably these days. We can grumble about that being less clear than it could be, or not the way we used to use those terms, but that’s language for you.
I'll hazard a guess that @pming isn't talking so much about planned end points, but instead of how soon those planned end points arrive.

And I tend to agree. Calling an 8-month AP a campaign to me cheapens the term "campaign" a bit, as after 8 months a campaign should just be nicely settling in and getting established with an eye toward its potentially decade-long future.

Well... it can. Or it can keep going. Depends on what the players and DM want.


Yeah, sure, if they want that. But sometimes the group doesn’t want that. Sometimes they want a change of pace, and decide to play a new campaign, in a different setting. Or maybe in the same setting, with entirely new characters who have no relation to the characters in the previous campaign.
This depends on what the players (and DM) signed up for in the first place. Did they sign up for a closed-ended 7-adventure GDQ run, or did they sign up for an open-ended campaign in which the GDQ series just happened to arise?

I think this kind of thing has become more and more common as the dominant style of D&D game has shifted from the more open, explorative style you are used to towards a more linear, narrative style. DMs design ongoing plots that their adventures weave through
OK, so far none of this rejects an open-ended campaign. Even with a - to use your term - linear, narrative stlye a DM can interweave many stories and plots (and PCs, no reason to restrict players to just one each!) and keep a campaign going for many years; and to prove my knowledge that this is possible I will simply plead guilty as charged. :)

and often players will make characters specifically to fit the story bring told.
Now here you lose me completely, as other than some basic setting conceits (e.g. it's starting in a Norse-based Human culture, and Hobbits are banned along with (as always!) Dragonborn and Tieflings) the players shouldn't have any knowledge of the intended story at time of char-gen.

And when that story reaches a satisfying conclusion, they would rather start a new story with a new character made to fit it than continue aimlessly playing a character whose narrative purpose has already been fulfilled.
Which to me seems a rather self-limiting way of playing a character.

Sure, I'm often the first to for whatever reason get bored with playing a character, retire it, and bring in something new; and who knows - someday I might later cycle the retired one back in. But a character's "story" usually extends past any given adventure or series of adventures - sure you start out with the goal of driving the invading Giants back out of your home village, and eight adventures later you've done just that, but why stop there?

During those eight adventures surely something else has piqued your/your PC/s interest enough to keep playing it - be it an opportunity to be heroic some other way, or a romance with another PC, or simply finding the high life is worth living and you'd like to finance more if it.

But character turnover (or even player turnover) does not equate to campaign turnover; with the rare exception of a TPK but even there the campaign doesn't have to end if the players have other PCs floating around in the setting.

The only type of turnover that kills a campaign dead is DM turnover: if the DM don't want to run it no more, there ain't no more campaign. :)

That’s a perfectly valid (and in my opinion, very fun) way to play a character. But some people prefer to do it a different way, and that’s fine too.

For you. Other people have different preferences.
Unfortunately, some of those "other people" hold or have held paid positions as WotC game designers over the last 20-ish years.

Again, I think you’re reading more into this than is typically meant by it. With the (debatable) exception of organized play like Adventurer’s League, very few groups play 100% by the book. Every game involves DM judgment calls, most games have at least some house rules, etc. But, if you’re going to refer to the rules in the book in contrast with the way you play at your own table, it’s necessary to have the language to describe that, and “rules as written” is a pretty good term to use to refer to the former.
Agreed.

Even in 0e-1e it's often worth distinguishing between RAW, RAI, and RAP* when discussing these things.

* - Rules As Written / Intended / Played.

Well, to be fair, this was an attitude that was very much fostered by the game design itself. Mike Mearls has talked in the past about how with 3e and 4e, they had a design goal of making the game as consistent as possible between different tables, and that in service of that goal, they designed the rules to try and minimize the necessity (or some might say opportunity) for the DM to use their judgment, whereas with 5e they decided to embrace the individualized nature of different games and tried to get the rules back out of the DM’s way.
In the days of 3e design, WotC were very much influenced by M:tG's picky-rule-for-everything and everyone-plays-the-same ethos, in part because that game was pulling in money by the boatload.

Had 4e been more successful 5e - which would be a reality in some form by now no matter what - would almost certainly have continied the rules-uber-alles ethos; but it wasn't, and WotC decided to back off this philosophy a bit in 5e. And going by the edition's success one has to say so far, so good.
 
As a fellow old timer, I'll weigh in.

A Group's Home Game
Since 2E, there has been a movement towards adventures and campaigns with significant, long term plots. This is jarring compared to the open adventure/campaign concepts of 1E, but overall more players prefer this style of gaming (I was resistant at first, but found that I prefer it as well). The reason for the various terms is because this is no longer the standard form of play, and terms were created to describe it for those who'd never experienced it.

As for the length of campaign, this leads to the exact same issue. Story/plot based campaigns have a lifespan, and once the tale has been told, it no longer has any purpose. Think of it like a TV show that jumps the shark; it should have ended when it was still popular, rather than pushing on until the ratings are in the toilet. I ran an campaign in Greyhawk that ended on Q1, with the party facing Lolth, after which they retired back to their home base (one of the PCs had become a baron, with the other PCs serving various roles there). I may pull them back out again for a one-shot adventure (I'm thinking Isle of the Ape), but otherwise they live on in memory and legend.

PC Builds
This is a carryover from 3E, where the game was designed with "character building" as a player skill (there were many "trap" options that would significantly weaken the character). 4E had a low amount of builds, but fewer choices made it less important. The same is true with 5E, but unlike 4E, most "builds" are completed around level 4-5, where the concept of the character is fully online. Even when I build a level 1 character, I have an idea of what sub-class I plan to take and what my first feat will be (even though I might change my mind, I rarely do). Most multi-class options are taken during these low levels as well.

RAW
I detest this notion with a holy passion. It came about during 3E, but I don't blame the edition, because I saw it infect other RPGs during the same timeframe. I think that the sudden growth of popularity in internet RPG sites are to blame. Rules Lawyers back in the day, IME knew the rules, but only wanted to use RAW when it suited them; otherwise they took the written rule and twisted it to their own purposes. 5E was the first edition since then to specifically move away from this concept, even though there are still groups/players that play this way.
 

dnd4vr

Tactical Studies Rules - The Original Game Wizards
I mostly agree with the OP but not so much in the terms but the implication as to how play-style has changed. Change is inevitable, so I just have to deal with it. For us older players (I am 46, but started when I was only 5), at many tables this "ain't your papa's D&D, sonny."

IME every time we made up new characters, the intent was to play them until we finished the grand "campaign"--whatever that was. It would be a series of linked adventures where ultimately we would be mighty heroes, etc. Nowadays, you have one-shots, players and/or DMs getting bored by level 5-10, etc. and abandoning current characters because there is some other "build" they want to try.

Builds didn't exist prior to 3E because multiclassing changed it. Your class (or MC) was established at level 1 and other than the occasional dual-class, your "build" was predetermined so you never worried about it much. But now with MC level dips, and all the optional features and subclasses, planning out "what you get" has become a min/maxer's paradise. As I've written in other threads, too much time seems focused on "what can I do by taking XYZ" instead of "what did I do" in the adventure that drives the fun.

RAW annoys me as well since the game has always be made with the intent "if a rule doesn't fit your understanding, don't use it or change it to a new rule". But with AL and other "standardized" play it has become more a thing because you need a concrete rule-set that everyone understands and accepts "this is how it is supposed to be done." It was like growing up and playing a game in your neighborhood to moving on to a professional league. Nothing wrong with it, in and of itself, but to me such play and rigidness takes some of the imagination, novelty, and "innocence" from the game.

This ain't your papa's D&D anymore, sonny...

Luckily, those games still exist. Friday one of the guys in our group stayed at my place were we played on Saturday. He is running the CoS game (dare I say, "campaign") and has only played 5E. I offered to run a 1E session for him and use the classic Keep on the Borderlands. He wanted to try so I took him through making up 3 characters and I made one for myself to round out the party.

In short, he LOVED it.

He enjoyed using more dice, having to learn about different tables and systems, how things like AC adjustments mirrored weapon effectiveness against different armors, the risk of only have 1d4 HP for his Magic-User (the poor guy actually rolled 1 LOL, but had a CON 16 luckily... but no AC bonus for DEX so AC 10--still yikes). When the other guys showed up Saturday afternoon (we had been playing most of the morning as well), he was excited to tell them about it. Our DM laughed because he is old-school as well. Now, they want to pick it up after the other games finish and I might end up running a 1E/2E game instead of 5E. Funny how things work out, huh? :)
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
As for the length of campaign, this leads to the exact same issue. Story/plot based campaigns have a lifespan, and once the tale has been told, it no longer has any purpose.
If you limit yourself to only one tale, this is true.

So interweave several tales (and start with at least two), some of which aren't even going to appear until deep into the campaign but - in hindsight - have been foreshadowed from day 1, and then add more as you think of them during the campaign and-or if the players latch on to something unintended. And don't be afraid to change up your storyboard and even abandon large chunks of it if the players/PCs don't bite - it happens to all of us! :)

Also, allow - encourage, even! - the players to have more than one PC in the setting at a time, and allow opportunities for these PCs to form into different parties and also interweave and interact now and then (vitally important that you-as-DM don't allow them to get too far separated in game-world time!). That way later on you also end up with different characters having done different things over time and come back with different bits of knowledge, which can make things fun.

Current campaign: 11 years this month; at least four embedded APs (i.e. micro-stories) within it of 4-6 adventures each along with dozens of other adventures some of which relate to three or four macro-stories (one of which is complete though I'm not sure anyone realizes it yet!); a very large boatload of PCs have come and gone, run by a total of 13 players over the years; and it probably 3-to-4 years of play left in it even if nothing unexpected gets added in.

It can be done. :)
 

Eric V

Adventurer
How this related to modern gaming...a lot of gamer's seem to see the rules as "equal" to the DM. That somehow, if there is a rule the DM wants to change or ignore, he/she needs permission from the Player(s) to do so...because otherwise it might "make the game bad" or even worse, "mess up a planned PC Build".
My players read the same rulebooks (the ones written by professional game designers) as me (not a professional game designer). Based on that, they reasonably expect the game mechanics to run a certain way. If I want to change one of those rules, it only makes sense to get buy-in from the players around the table; we're playing a game after all, and we're all supposed to be having fun. I can not see the problem with this.
 

jasper

Rotten DM
Put your walker down and join me on the group w bench. I mean sit in the rocker.
Words and meaning have shifted since 1980. Campaign back then started when the DM put pen to paper and ended when we buried the DM. I have gotten use to the idea a campaign is an adventure path/gdq module. How many adventure plots were finished back then? Very few due to people moving, going to college. Heck my first high school group only finish two module series completely. But we had 7 players and 6 dms.
Pc builds we had those but not a lot of variety due to the complex rules and lack of multiclassing options.
RAW how many times did the table get into fight over the rules. The rules were poor written and poorly edited.
NOW TELL YOUR GRANDKIDS TO MOW MY LAWN!
SNORE.
 

Coroc

Hero
Hiya!

First, no, not "that" kind of label.

Second, I was skimming the forums here and for some reason got 'irked' with all the labels everyone seems to be using to describe D&D, and RPG'ing in general, that I think are...unnecessary? Let me explain a bit...

A Groups Home Game.
The labels used to describe it tend to be: "Sandbox", "Open-World", "Hexcrawl" and sometimes just "Wilderness"

Now I'm probably showing my age here, but back in my day we called that "a DM's campaign". There was no need for labeling it because RPG'ing encompassed, well, "open imagination and exploration". EVERY campaign was a "sandbox/open-world/hexcrawl/whatever". The DM presented his world, and tossed hooks out, the players bit on what they found interested, the DM...well... DM'ed.

I find it quite strange when people talk about their "campaigns" and then I find out they are going to "be finished with it in a month or so". That's not a campaign as I remember it. That's called "an adventure/module". For example, the GDQ series. If when the PC's finish Q1...the campaign doesn't "end" magically. It's still going. The next week the players will be there with the same PC's and just keep on playing them in the campaign setting/world that they have been. Or, they'll be there with new PC's, perhaps henchmen of the former (no retired) PC's, continuing on the next day the high-level heroes return to the Prime Material Plane (re: campaign setting). On Friday, the high-level heroes were in the Demonweb Pits. On Saturday they returned home. On Sunday they sleep. On Monday, new PC's are at the local inn hearing that the "Lords & Ladies of the country just returned from The Abyss after a harrowing adventure!". :)

PC Builds.
I very much dislike the very notion, to be honest. I understand the desire to somehow "control" how your PC is going to turn out...but it seems to be far too...specific? I guess? A PC shouldn't, IMNSHO, be a fore-gone conclusion as to exactly what class(es) of what level(s), with what specific abilities, combined with a specific race, and having certain stat scores, and a specific listing of spells/magic items. A beginning 1st level PC should be a relatively blank slate; with only the base "theme" reflecting that PC's background/history as written by the player (and DM). Once that is done, the Player plays the PC and that PC's "shtick" may or may not be the same by the time it hits 5th, 10th, or higher level. Again, IMHO, this uncertainty should be seen as a GOOD thing! Not something to be avoided by carefully crafted "builds" on a detailed level-to-level spreadsheet. It just sucks all the mystery and excitement out of the game. Playing, making decisions, and seeing what fate unfolds before the PC's is probably THE biggest draw to RPG's. "PC Builds" stomp all over that. :(

RAW.
This ol' bugaboo! Back when I started playing ('80/'81), the "rules" where there for us to refer to when we encountered a situation that we wanted to have handled in a consistent manner. That is NOT the same as "a situation handled exactly as the rules say". Why? Because, frankly, too many variables. But today's more modern player/DM seem to almost have a phobia in regards to modifying or even outright ignoring rules. CONSISTENCY is not necessarily the same as "RAW". Anyway, we did have "Rules Lawyers", and they were initially very annoying to deal with because their inflexible outlook on the rules of the game. It was sometimes impossible to placate them; if a rule was in the game, they wanted to use it...but in the current situation it would be detrimental to the Rules Lawyers' PC, they would be annoyed/upset, but would still want to use the rule as written...because if they didn't, then that sets a precedent in their mind that the RAW can sometimes need to be ignored/adjusted/modified.

How this related to modern gaming...a lot of gamer's seem to see the rules as "equal" to the DM. That somehow, if there is a rule the DM wants to change or ignore, he/she needs permission from the Player(s) to do so...because otherwise it might "make the game bad" or even worse, "mess up a planned PC Build". ;) 5e is better at alleviating that mindset a bit, but it's a far cry from ye olden days of yore when "What the DM says, goes!" was the bedrock. (sucky DM's that ran roughshod over their Players quickly found themselves 'unemployable', from a Player perspective; a nice self-correcting error, if I might say so! :) ).

......

Anyway...I just found it mildly irksome realizing that I am old and my "old man gaming style" is making it harder and harder for me to converse with some players and DM's. My notion of "campaign" means never-ending timeline advancing with the Players playing many PC's over the decades...all taking place in that shared imaginative world. So hearing "The campaign is ending soon, what should I play next?" gives me a double take; I still jump to the thought of "...well, try a sci-fi game, or maybe super hero". Because a "campaign", in my mind, never actually "ends"; PC's just die or retire. With 5e, me saying "No Feats, no multi-classing, and only PHB, DMG, MM...unless reviewed on a case-by-case basis for other things"...pretty much is the same as saying "DM available! Nobody need apply, thanks!" ;)

Any other old grognards out there feel the same? Or am I just an anomaly in not "getting" all these new-fangled terminologies and whatnot?

^_^

Paul L. Ming

A Groups home game:

Since I wanted to DM and to play it was rather "you do your thing based on this campaign world and I do mine on the other one".

PC Builds:

Well they were a (needed) thing in 3.x because of ASI and feat dependency.
Before that, magic items would define what becomes of you.
I never liked MC much neither the 1e/2e approach nor the 3.x /5e thing. Cannot talk about 4e here. Still I had several MC Dual class NPCs and occasionally PCs especially if a role had to be covered somehow.

RAW

Was impossible before 3e. Yes it was impossible. Of course it was not possible.
Everybody telling different did not make it past his first few encounters - in he never made it, or is lying.

You just could not run things by the book. As you surely know, there was much more space for interpretation and many interaction mechanics were not defined precisely, different character creation rules, different magic items, different party composition on top of the dice luck made for many more unknown variables.
Pulpy rules like e.g. you rol lfor a random encounter, so it is orc, so you open up the Monster compendium and read something like that no. appearing 2-20 if 6 or more are present then there is a 70% that they are accompanied by a 4hd chieftain etc. etc.
You*just*cannot*play*1e*or*2e*by*RAW.
 

Hussar

Legend
The more things change...

I still remember the old WotC data that got published just around the time 3e was released, based on the market research done in the mid-90's. That's actually closer to the origins of RPG's than to now. And, even back then, the average campaign lasted about a year.

It's not that gaming changed. It's that game designers have actually decided to design their games with an eye to how the games are actually being played. This isn't something new. It was that way back in the 90's and probably back in the 80's as well.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
A Groups Home Game.
The labels used to describe it tend to be: "Sandbox", "Open-World", "Hexcrawl" and sometimes just "Wilderness"

Now I'm probably showing my age here, but back in my day we called that "a DM's campaign". There was no need for labeling it because RPG'ing encompassed, well, "open imagination and exploration". EVERY campaign was a "sandbox/open-world/hexcrawl/whatever".
No, it wasn't. There were other styles of play, even back in the day.

For example - There's any number of groups who had no "world" per se. They played through the classic modules. There was no "exploration", no crawling hexes. Travel was boring and glossed over to get to the adventure that someone had bought.

I find it quite strange when people talk about their "campaigns" and then I find out they are going to "be finished with it in a month or so". That's not a campaign as I remember it.
And, however you played it, that's fine. But you may want to embrace the idea that your memory is not a representative sample.

And, I dunno. But.. the terms you are talking about are... like, 20 years old at this point. This isn't some new lingo the kids are using these days.
 
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"RAW" as a constant reference to being some authoriteh to which DM's must bow is something I object to. It suggests that some game publisher umpteen years ago knew better than you what you and your friends wanted and needed for your ongoing game right now, and that all possible circumstances were covered by rules. The DM is there for a reason and we don't all use only "professionally" designed adventure materials. Yes, the designer probably had reasons for doing things the way they wrote them - but I have my reasons as well and MINE TRUMP THEIRS - ALWAYS. And this is a phenomenon of players using "RAW" as a tool to successfully make demands of the DM. It's something that Gygax explicitly said twice in the original DM's Guide (in the preface and the afterword) as well as having clearly had it in mind at many points in between. It is also something that later game authors threw right out the window, completely forgot, or never even knew was originally a thing. The rules don't run the game. The DM runs the game.

PC "BUILDS" is something I also have objected to pretty much since the idea of it arrived with 3E because while it can be a fun exercise FOR SOME, it isn't everybody's cup of tea (and planning the detailed growth and development of a PC in complete denial of potential in-game events and circumstances that might suggest otherwise was certainly was not ORIGINALLY a meaningful aspect of RPG'S). But more to the point it leads people to believe that D&D is a game TO BE WON; that premeditated design of a PC's development over time is effectively in competition with the DM to effectively DOMINATE gameplay rather than merely participate in it; and/or that players are in competition with other players to prove that they know better than others all the rules and how to manipulate them, and by so doing earn the right to lord their gaming skill superiority over others at the table.

Just my own impressions...
 

TwoSix

The hero you deserve
OP feels less like a dislike for labels and more a dislike for the playstyles that these labels are describing.

Edit: At our table, we have rotating DMs. A "campaign" is simply a string of sessions with the same DM and the same general storyline. It's rare for a campaign to last more than 24 months and maybe 30-35 sessions.
 

ardoughter

Adventurer
OP feels less like a dislike for labels and more a dislike for the playstyles that these labels are describing.

Edit: At our table, we have rotating DMs. A "campaign" is simply a string of sessions with the same DM and the same general storyline. It's rare for a campaign to last more than 24 months and maybe 30-35 sessions.
It is fine to dislike certain playstyles, I believe he as expressed similar sentiments before, if not in so clear cut a fashion.

Disliking playstyles only becomes a problem if one insists that other playstyles are somehow invalid or should not be permitted.

Where I disagree with the OP is that I think that many of these labels are useful because there is such a diversity of what constitutes default D&D in the groups that play it.

Thought I do think there is merit is separating campaign (setting + DM + adventuress) from Adventure Path.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
In general I agree with the OP, not that I think it matters all that much what labels we use.

The one thing I do get annoyed at is when people say "That's wrong, RAW SAYS...".

Half the time it's because they're trying to come up with some loophole based on a specific interpretation of the rules. This was more prevalent with 3.5 (and to a certain degree 4), but I still see it now and then. See the old "do I need a free hand to load a crossbow" arguments before the errata was released as an example.

For the most part it's now shifted over to "Well Jeremy Crawford tweeted..." which is almost as bad.

It's one thing if I've just missed a rule or option, it happens to all of us. But it's up to the DM at the table to make a ruling, the term "RAW" doesn't really mean anything to me much of the time.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
In general I agree with the OP, not that I think it matters all that much what labels we use.

The one thing I do get annoyed at is when people say "That's wrong, RAW SAYS...".

Half the time it's because they're trying to come up with some loophole based on a specific interpretation of the rules. This was more prevalent with 3.5 (and to a certain degree 4), but I still see it now and then. See the old "do I need a free hand to load a crossbow" arguments before the errata was released as an example.

For the most part it's now shifted over to "Well Jeremy Crawford tweeted..." which is almost as bad.

It's one thing if I've just missed a rule or option, it happens to all of us. But it's up to the DM at the table to make a ruling, the term "RAW" doesn't really mean anything to me much of the time.
I think it's useful to know RAW (and where applicable RAI), if only so that if you go with something else, it's an intentional thing. I'm willing to disregard RAW (and even RAI) if I think it'll make for a better game, but if nothing else those can serve as a starting point.
 

jmartkdr2

Explorer
In general I agree with the OP, not that I think it matters all that much what labels we use.

The one thing I do get annoyed at is when people say "That's wrong, RAW SAYS...".

Half the time it's because they're trying to come up with some loophole based on a specific interpretation of the rules. This was more prevalent with 3.5 (and to a certain degree 4), but I still see it now and then. See the old "do I need a free hand to load a crossbow" arguments before the errata was released as an example.

For the most part it's now shifted over to "Well Jeremy Crawford tweeted..." which is almost as bad.

It's one thing if I've just missed a rule or option, it happens to all of us. But it's up to the DM at the table to make a ruling, the term "RAW" doesn't really mean anything to me much of the time.
The flip of this is: when a dm I'm playing with does something that changes how the game would work, I generally remind them of the book rule. I usually go with "just so you know, RAW would be..." If the dm decides to go with the change - fine, that's the new rule. Or the way we're doing it just this once. I can live with houserules and even rule of cool (if not overdone).

I can't play with unknown rules, though. If I don't know how my character works it all becomes random guessing rather than playing a game. So I like my deviations from the rules as I understand them to at least be deliberate.

On the other hand - JC's tweets mean exactly dick if I have a voice in how important they are.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
So half the time, pointing out a rule is fine. I get it, no DM is perfect and we all miss things now and then. Personally unless I've made an egregious mistake I'd rather keep the game going and discuss it outside of limited game time.

What I'm talking about is that other half of the time when people disagree with my interpretation of a rule and think they can simply say RAW SAYS as if that in and of itself answers anything.

I do also try to make it clear up front what my house rules are (there aren't a lot) to avoid discussions later.

The best example I can think of was the long-ago hand crossbow arguments where (pre-errata) some people were adamant that because the rules did not specifically state that you needed a free hand you could just dual-wield hand crossbows all day long. Which is cool ... if your DM agrees. Personally I always ruled that it was only common sense that you need to draw the next bolt somehow.

There are other cases even with the current rules that I'd point out ... but I'm not sure I want to tempt the fates on derailing the thread completely.

With 5E we don't have a system written in technical legal language, there are going to be areas where rulings matter. That's all. :)
 

jmartkdr2

Explorer
One thing I have to get out the habit of doing is: I shouldn't assume a game is "RAW unless otherwise specified." That's just A way to play, after all.

Of course RAW can't cover everything, which is why we have dm's in the first place, even when we intend to use RAW as much as possible.

If a game is playing under that assumption, then RAW matters until... otherwise specified. But if that isn't the working assumption, RAW doesn't matter at all.
 

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