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D&D 5E On rulings, rules, and Twitter, or: How Sage Advice Changed

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I don't feel like its really our responsibility to inspire others to defend inspiration and BIFTs. We like it, so we speak out, but we don't have to convince people that don't like it that they're wrong. The existence of people the like it, in sufficient enough numbers, should be justification enough to keep it.
Sure,. but, I mean, "I like it because it's there?" That's not great advocacy. Please, I 100% support advocating for your preferences, so by all means. I don't follow advocating for something just because it's there -- that is extremely uncritical.
 

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Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I do have to point out two things:

1. Just because you prefer trad games does not require you're oblivious to the design decisions in games of more modern origin; it can mean you're aware of them and just don't find them compelling.
100%. I like 5e. I can tell you why, and what it does and doesn't do. I also like other games, and can do the same. The comment isn't that knowledge means you have to like other things, it says that arguments are very couched in terms of experience, and a lack of experience with a broader set of games usually coincides with a lack of criticality in analyzing the ones you do have experience with. Much of D&D is received wisdom -- how it's always been, therefore how it must be.
2. You can have people who's only gaming experience is PbtA derivatives who still haven't the least idea of the design principals behind them. What you play and how interested you are in design philosophy is largely orthogonal.
True, but those people are a vanishingly small set of gamers out there. D&D is the 800lb gorilla, after all, and a lot of other game mimic it's structures, at least as far as core loops and authorities.
 

Asisreo

Fiendish Attorney
Sure,. but, I mean, "I like it because it's there?" That's not great advocacy. Please, I 100% support advocating for your preferences, so by all means. I don't follow advocating for something just because it's there -- that is extremely uncritical.
Its a part of our hobby. The reason why we like it doesn't really require critical reasoning.

If I'm playing uno with the original ruleset, I don't have to justify why I'm doing it to other people because its the type I enjoy. I just play the game as I enjoy playing it. And I don't walk around telling people they're playing it wrong. I just play my way.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I dunno, man. The general vibe of your posts is that the rules are terrible and tables are in conflict. That all feels very high stakes and its affecting me. LOL
BIFTs are terrible. They are tacked on and misaligned with the rest of the game. I understand the intent, but they fail to get there. I say this because I know of systems where it does get there, and can see both the similarities and how BIFTs are broken getting there. So far, though, you've defended them as things that direct play, when they cannot accept by consent, for which BIFTs are unneeded; you've defended them as roleplaying aids, but they're super simple and tropey and there's 3pp supplement that do this far better even within the structure; and you've defended them as a necessary part of the rules because they came in the rules, which is begging the question (an oft misunderstood phrase that doesn't mean it's begging for a question, but that it's a circular argument). Why are they necessary? They're in the rules. What are they in the rules? Because they're necessary. Ugh.
I am lawful and good.

I'm told that's annoying.
So am I -- engineer by trade and a nice guy in person. Donate good amounts of time and service to others. I don't feel that the rules of an RPG are beyond question or reproach. Bad systems should be pointed out. I don't think 5e is a bad system, I like it, but I'm not going to sugercoat it or give it a pass just because it's D&D.
You may be onto something as D&D is the only RPG I've ever played. (Like, literally ever.)
That's not a failure, although I encourage it. Other games can run very much like D&D (WFRP has similar loops, so it's easy to pick up the system, although, fair warning, it's much more brutal). Others do not -- Apocalypse World, Burning Wheel (for which I recommend Mouse Guard as an introduction), Blades in the Dark. These upend the assumptions that D&D rests on and do things pretty differently. You have some in the middle, like FATE (which can swing around, depending on how you do it) or Alien. These require picking up some new assumptions, but not so many that it's completely alien (heh). Although, I strongly dislike FATE for how it waffles about things, but that's me.
 

mrpopstar

Sparkly Dude
Sure,. but, I mean, "I like it because it's there?" That's not great advocacy. Please, I 100% support advocating for your preferences, so by all means. I don't follow advocating for something just because it's there -- that is extremely uncritical.
I'm a member of teaching faculty in post-secondary education. Dungeons & Dragons is my escape from a long, hard day of being critical. LOL

I make the conscious decision to like it because everything is just easier that way. "Better is the enemy of good enough," and all that.
 
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Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Its a part of our hobby. The reason why we like it doesn't really require critical reasoning.

If I'm playing uno with the original ruleset, I don't have to justify why I'm doing it to other people because its the type I enjoy. I just play the game as I enjoy playing it. And I don't walk around telling people they're playing it wrong. I just play my way.
There's nothing wrong with not wanting to think about it. Perfectly fine. But, this is a discussion of how the game works, not what you like, so while you saying you like it because reasons is fine, it's not really adding much to the discussion of how the game works. If you have an opinion on that -- how the game works -- I'm keen to listen. If you just want discussion to stop because you like a thing and it's being criticized... okay, duly noted.
 

100%. I like 5e. I can tell you why, and what it does and doesn't do. I also like other games, and can do the same. The comment isn't that knowledge means you have to like other things, it says that arguments are very couched in terms of experience, and a lack of experience with a broader set of games usually coincides with a lack of criticality in analyzing the ones you do have experience with. Much of D&D is received wisdom -- how it's always been, therefore how it must be.

Well, the great truth is a lot of people don't look at their games critically in general.

True, but those people are a vanishingly small set of gamers out there. D&D is the 800lb gorilla, after all, and a lot of other game mimic it's structures, at least as far as core loops and authorities.

Not so convinced. I've seen Fate fans who just take it as a given that elements of that experience are the best way to approach things without stepping back and asking themselves why. And who flat out act like you don't know what you actually like when you claim some elements of their approach is actively unappealing.

Now, if you want to claim you're somewhat less likely to run into those than unself-reflective players of D&D, in an absolute total numbers sense you're obviously right--but I'm not convinced you're right in regard to the percentage of players of those kinds of games. To the degree its true, its only so because relatively few people end up in Fate or PbtA games without having wandered through some other kind of game first--but those that do are perfectly capable of not thinking about why they like what they like just as much.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I'm a member of teaching faculty in post-secondary education. Dungeons & Dragons is my escape from a long, hard day of being critical. LOL

I make the conscious decision to like it because everything is just easier that way. "Better is the enemy of good enough," and all that.
"Perfect is the enemy of good." This means that if something is good, not using it because it's not perfect is a bad idea. This is a good statement, that reminds us that sometimes you have to take the non-perfect solution and that's fine.

Yours, though, suggests that it's never a good idea to try and improve if what you're doing is sufficient. This is anathema to my worldview. I'm always striving to improve what I do. My job is about improving things. I just cannot agree with this formulation at a fundamental level. If your approach to life is that things are fine if they work at all, then, sure, we're just never going to have a productive conversation. Happy gaming!
 


Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Well, the great truth is a lot of people don't look at their games critically in general.
Very true, and they shouldn't have to. I'm not barging into people's homes and demanding that they think about games, though. I'm talking about people that are here, discussing how game work, and that's when the bar should be minimally passed, yes?
Not so convinced. I've seen Fate fans who just take it as a given that elements of that experience are the best way to approach things without stepping back and asking themselves why. And who flat out act like you don't know what you actually like when you claim some elements of their approach is actively unappealing.
Yes, jerks exist. I've found that exactly same attitude quite often here at ENW when discussing games that aren't D&D. Sadly, there is a propensity for those that have moved away from D&D to be harsh in criticism about the game. For some, it comes from an honest place. For others, they've just swapped identity in the D&D group for identity in the anti-D&D group, and done no thinking of their own.
Now, if you want to claim you're somewhat less likely to run into those than unself-reflective players of D&D, in an absolute total numbers sense you're obviously right--but I'm not convinced you're right in regard to the percentage of players of those kinds of games. To the degree its true, its only so because relatively few people end up in Fate or PbtA games without having wandered through some other kind of game first--but those that do are perfectly capable of not thinking about why they like what they like just as much.
Nope, percentage as well. If you normalize for the number of players of D&D versus the number of players of PbtA, and took a percentage of who had played both games, the size of only PbtA players by percentage (normalized) will be staggeringly smaller than that of the same for D&D. Claiming otherwise suggests that PbtA has a strong, if small, market penetration such that it can be always available to players and that there is no significant draw to play D&D for those players. Given the market penetration of D&D, it's absolute number dominance, the number of times this could be true is much, much smaller than it is for D&D, even if your normalize for population size.

I mean, right now, if you took a representative sample of 100 people who have played D&D and asked them if they had every played (or even heard of) PbtA games, you might get 10 (recall that ENW is a very odd subset of the total market). On the other hand, if you took a sample of 100 PbtA players and asked them if they've played (let's assume heard of is guaranteed) D&D, that number is going to be nearly all. PbtA just doesn't have the market share to provide a stable and robust source for games such that you are unlikely to need to go somewhere else. Most PbtA players come from D&D to begin with -- the ones that are curious, or have groups that like to experiment, or that get tired of D&D and it's D&Disms. Both of the groups I've played non-D&D games have consisted of people that have massive experience with D&D -- all of them. Prior to introducing my home group to Blades in the Dark, none of them had played anything like it -- just D&D and games very similar to D&D.
 

mrpopstar

Sparkly Dude
"Perfect is the enemy of good." This means that if something is good, not using it because it's not perfect is a bad idea. This is a good statement, that reminds us that sometimes you have to take the non-perfect solution and that's fine.

Yours, though, suggests that it's never a good idea to try and improve if what you're doing is sufficient. This is anathema to my worldview. I'm always striving to improve what I do. My job is about improving things. I just cannot agree with this formulation at a fundamental level. If your approach to life is that things are fine if they work at all, then, sure, we're just never going to have a productive conversation. Happy gaming!
My approach to game night is that things are fine if they work for three hours or so every other Thursday.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Sorry if this has been addressed but... you do realize that the BIFTs in the PHB and elsewhere are literally suggested characteristics. Right? Players can create any Trait, Ideal, Bond, Flaw they want - even ones that are complex and/or non-tropey. So... there's that.
Sure -- make it work yourself is a core tenet of D&D. However, the arguments from upthread focused on how the tables in the book provided everything needed -- making them up yourself was considered icing. The rebuttal to this is that there are no guideline or recommendations for making these up yourself -- what makes for a good Ideal? Dunno, if I'm going by the rules, I have to figure that out myself. Maybe I do a good job and get it right, or maybe I end up with an Ideal that never seems to fit the game I actually play -- 5e offers no help here.
 



mrpopstar

Sparkly Dude
Good for you. Why are you here on these boards, though, if you're uninterested in doing it better?

EDIT: and by better, I mean better for you, not some ideal way to play.
I'm always interested in doing better, I'm just not interested in rewriting any rules or using another system. 🤷‍♂️

Temperature check: We've just taken a hard pivot from me defending my game (which I'm cool with) to me defending myself (which I'm not). You're starting to make this personal. Please don't do that.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I'm always interested in doing better, I'm just not interested in rewriting any rules or using another system. 🤷‍♂️
Sure, that's fine. It's an arbitrary line in the sand that I don't think holds, because I doubt you're against houserules for you own games. To be fair, though, this line of argument reads like claiming that the pizza you eat is the best pizza, only to find out you've only ever had 1 kind of pizza from one outlet and not tried anything else. It's very possible that, even if you did, that would still be your favorite pizza (I mean, I still very much like 5e even after trying other games), but someone that has tried other pizzas my find how you argue that the only one you've tried is great pizza a bit flat. "It's got sauce!" Yeah, pizza does that, is it good sauce, though? "It's sauce!" Okay, but is the sauce doing what you want? "It does sauce things!" Okay....

Temperature check: We've just taken a hard pivot from me defending my game (which I'm cool with) to me defending myself (which I'm not). You're starting to make this personal. Please don't do that.
Sure. I'd love a rules discussion that didn't invoke personal arguments like not wanting to discuss a rule because of where you work or some pithy malapropism. Let's do that!
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I think, and note what I'm saying here, in one respect they're not wrong; people who've played a variety of games do have the right to say they have a slightly broader perspective on mechanics, what works in what circumstances, and why. That's kind of inevitable from knowing other systems, not only theoretically but "on the ground" as it were.

What that doesn't say is that they have a right to tell people what to enjoy. Nor to project on others their assumptions that the other person is kidding themself.

But the latter doesn't tell me I should stop telling people they seem to be using a wrench as a hammer in some cases.

(Though the point in the post I was replying to was to note that there's a class of player/GM who's outside this whole discussion; they aren't really so much saying D&D is what they prefer as saying its all they've known and it has served them well enough they haven't been motivated to do the heavy lifting to try anything else. If they did, they might well decide, like you, D&D was really what they did want, or like many other people, that' they'd just been getting by with it. There's just no way to say because their situation hasn't exposed them to anything else enough to try.)
My comment wasn't really directed at any one poster.

But when it comes to conversations like this, I don't need to have played other systems to know what my preference is. I don't need to play a different game to know what I like and do not. I prefer to have freeform games when it comes to running PCs and social interactions and no system, no matter how elegant will change that. When it comes to specific implementations? Sure others will have a better grasp. But this edition comes close enough to hitting the sweet spot.

I know myself well enough that I won't like anchovy pizza even though I've never eaten it. I don't need to try pizza with jalapenos because I don't really care for that type of spicy. I don't need to play Blades in the Dark to know that for me, I'd prefer to play D&D (or several other games) even if I only glanced at the rules.

So sure. Discuss rules. Just don't tell me that rules that provide a carrot and stick to enforce what my PC thinks and does is universally "better".
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
My comment wasn't really directed at any one poster.

But when it comes to conversations like this, I don't need to have played other systems to know what my preference is. I don't need to play a different game to know what I like and do not. I prefer to have freeform games when it comes to running PCs and social interactions and no system, no matter how elegant will change that. When it comes to specific implementations? Sure others will have a better grasp. But this edition comes close enough to hitting the sweet spot.

I know myself well enough that I won't like anchovy pizza even though I've never eaten it. I don't need to try pizza with jalapenos because I don't really care for that type of spicy. I don't need to play Blades in the Dark to know that for me, I'd prefer to play D&D (or several other games) even if I only glanced at the rules.

So sure. Discuss rules. Just don't tell me that rules that provide a carrot and stick to enforce what my PC thinks and does is universally "better".
Sure thing, no one has said as much. What has been said is that if you want to carrot and stick a behavior in a game, BIFTs do a poor job and other systems do this better.
 

mrpopstar

Sparkly Dude
Sure, that's fine. It's an arbitrary line in the sand that I don't think holds, because I doubt you're against houserules for you own games. To be fair, though, this line of argument reads like claiming that the pizza you eat is the best pizza, only to find out you've only ever had 1 kind of pizza from one outlet and not tried anything else. It's very possible that, even if you did, that would still be your favorite pizza (I mean, I still very much like 5e even after trying other games), but someone that has tried other pizzas my find how you argue that the only one you've tried is great pizza a bit flat. "It's got sauce!" Yeah, pizza does that, is it good sauce, though? "It's sauce!" Okay, but is the sauce doing what you want? "It does sauce things!" Okay....
Call it cherished ignorance, or maybe curated bliss. Either way, I'm content. I like the rules for personality characteristics and inspiration. I think they're fun. I don't want or need anything more complicated.

Note that I engage in the Dungeons & Dragons forum and not the TTRPG General forum. That's also a choice made with intention.

Sure. I'd love a rules discussion that didn't invoke personal arguments like not wanting to discuss a rule because of where you work or some pithy malapropism. Let's do that!
I never said that I don't want to discuss the rule. I've been doing so for multiple pages of this hijacked thread.

What I said I don't want is for this to become needlessly personal, like being told that I'm pithy and arbitrary. -- Do you talk to people like that in real life? Jeez.
 

But when it comes to conversations like this, I don't need to have played other systems to know what my preference is. I don't need to play a different game to know what I like and do not. I prefer to have freeform games when it comes to running PCs and social interactions and no system, no matter how elegant will change that. When it comes to specific implementations? Sure others will have a better grasp. But this edition comes close enough to hitting the sweet spot.

And that's fine. But at the moment someone says "This game does X better than anything else" the less of "anything else" someone is familiar with can't be ignored. And there's a distinct hierarchy of familiarity with "told about" < "read" < "read and played" < "read and GMed". That doesn't mean you always need to go all the way down the hierarchy to know something isn't for you or serve your purposes, but it does matter when talking about elements of play in a more general sense.

I know myself well enough that I won't like anchovy pizza even though I've never eaten it. I don't need to try pizza with jalapenos because I don't really care for that type of spicy. I don't need to play Blades in the Dark to know that for me, I'd prefer to play D&D (or several other games) even if I only glanced at the rules.

So sure. Discuss rules. Just don't tell me that rules that provide a carrot and stick to enforce what my PC thinks and does is universally "better".

"Universally" I think is almost always a mistake to use as you've done above; there are always going to be people something just doesn't work for. I'll maintain "generally" can be applied reasonably as long as you're willing to do the lifting to say why, however, and I don't think expecting people to stop doing that is, itself, reasonable.
 

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