D&D General Rant: Sometimes I Hate the D&D Community


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The definition of fandom is people who love a franchise or activity and incessantly complain about every aspect of it.
Star Wars fans hate star wars, star trek fans hate star trek, marvel comics fans hate marvel comics, DC comics fans hate DC comics.

I could give examples of all... but I am in messageboards/facebook groups where people call themselves fans, spend hours per week just saying how it sucks now...

this isn't new. 2 of my buddies bought a comic store a year or two ago... but one of them worked there for years (2002 I think) and at least 10 years maybe more ago we were there and taking with the then owner and we all agreed that more regulars would complain about comics (It was around civil war II). From back then to now I have asked a few times and Matt (old worker now owner) still agrees that they get more people wanting to talk about complaints... even as they buy the books they complain about...
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
Ah, I see. I know from having looked into the history of Curious George that French really doesn't make the distinction. And historically, English was fuzzy about it: Macaques used to be called Barbary Apes despite being monkeys.

Googles Barbary Macaques.

Look of shock and horror.

"I can't believe the song lied to me!"

 
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Thanks, glad to know that Bachelor's in English Writing still comes in handy!

There may be a better post that sums up what is so great about this site, but if there is, I can’t think of it. Brilliant by @Ralif Redhammer

So it would seem most days. While I think it is possible to love something and still be critical of it (and indeed, I think it's important to do so), want it to be better, it increasingly feels like the complaints in fandom come from a place of hate, not love.

The definition of fandom is people who love a franchise or activity and incessantly complain about every aspect of it.
 

South by Southwest

Incorrigible Daydreamer
it increasingly feels like the complaints in fandom come from a place of hate, not love.
Mm. I'm not sure it even rises to the level of actual hate; I'm inclined to call it, "a place of moral impatience." Still a pretty unhappy way to live, though.

I have to say, in every single session my friends and I have had since 2018, pretty much the only thing about which we've groused and moaned is the way challenge ratings are calculated: that's it.
 

this isn't new. 2 of my buddies bought a comic store a year or two ago... but one of them worked there for years (2002 I think) and at least 10 years maybe more ago we were there and taking with the then owner and we all agreed that more regulars would complain about comics (It was around civil war II). From back then to now I have asked a few times and Matt (old worker now owner) still agrees that they get more people wanting to talk about complaints... even as they buy the books they complain about...

From Howard Stern's Private Parts, 1997, based on a conversation from 1985:

Researcher: The average radio listener listens for eighteen minutes. The average Howard Stern fan listens for - are you ready for this? - an hour and twenty minutes.

Pig Vomit: How can that be?

Researcher: Answer most commonly given? "I want to see what he'll say next."

Pig Vomit: Okay, fine. But what about the people who hate Stern?

Researcher: Good point. The average Stern hater listens for two and a half hours a day.

Pig Vomit: But... if they hate him, why do they listen?

Researcher: Most common answer? "I want to see what he'll say next."
 

So it would seem most days. While I think it is possible to love something and still be critical of it (and indeed, I think it's important to do so), want it to be better, it increasingly feels like the complaints in fandom come from a place of hate, not love.

My own feeling is that a very, very large number of fans are in love with the version of a property they have in their head, and their perpetual disappointment with the version they actually get slowly curdles.
 


My own feeling is that a very, very large number of fans are in love with the version of a property they have in their head, and their perpetual disappointment with the version they actually get slowly curdles.
I thought the whole point of DM empowerment and rule zero was that the players would transform the game from what it is to what they want?

Didn't people ignore vast amounts of sub systems back in the game? Add pages of house rules? Not use spells/races/items they didn't like??
 

I thought the whole point of DM empowerment and rule zero was that the players would transform the game from what it is to what they want?

Didn't people ignore vast amounts of sub systems back in the game? Add pages of house rules? Not use spells/races/items they didn't like??

Are you somehow under the impression even when that was true that people didn't find reasons to hate on the direction the core game went, and not just in D&D?

The truth is that many people, even those willing to do that, consider it in many cases something of a failure state. Because at the end of the day there's a lot of players who are resistant to house rules, so having to get on board them using them is another hurdle. That's even more true if you periodically need to find one or more new players, who are going to hear "I'm recruiting for a game of System X" and not hear "plus two pages of house rules, some impacting parts of the game you find important".

(Don't confuse my position here; I've used some degree of house rules over the course of my decades in the hobby, but its abundantly clear a lot of people dislike doing so, especially by need, to one degree or another).

And this isn't even getting into tonal questions as you reference in your last sentence; that can turn into a whole other war of expectations.
 

That is an apt description. That area where people's expectations meets the expectations of the actual creators isn't always easy for people to navigate. So much of fandom is about what a property means to the people consuming it. And with D&D, it is perhaps exacerbated, since so much of the game exists in the hands of the consumers (it did have that tagline "Products of Your Imagination," after all). It's why some people decide "D&D is failing" when it diverges from their expectations, regardless of actual financial data. Which potentially just creates more cognitive dissonance.

My own feeling is that a very, very large number of fans are in love with the version of a property they have in their head, and their perpetual disappointment with the version they actually get slowly curdles.
 

Are you somehow under the impression even when that was true that people didn't find reasons to hate on the direction the core game went, and not just in D&D?

The truth is that many people, even those willing to do that, consider it in many cases something of a failure state. Because at the end of the day there's a lot of players who are resistant to house rules, so having to get on board them using them is another hurdle. That's even more true if you periodically need to find one or more new players, who are going to hear "I'm recruiting for a game of System X" and not hear "plus two pages of house rules, some impacting parts of the game you find important".

(Don't confuse my position here; I've used some degree of house rules over the course of my decades in the hobby, but its abundantly clear a lot of people dislike doing so, especially by need, to one degree or another).

And this isn't even getting into tonal questions as you reference in your last sentence; that can turn into a whole other war of expectations.
Well another alternative is that WOTC create a singular vision of D&D and activily gatekeep out people who won't adhere to it.

After all, every thing you don't want in D&D exist because some one else would want it in D&D. Would it be better if they didn't play D&D??
 



Well another alternative is that WOTC create a singular vision of D&D and activily gatekeep out people who won't adhere to it.

After all, every thing you don't want in D&D exist because some one else would want it in D&D. Would it be better if they didn't play D&D??

Do you want my honest expectation here?

Some out there would answer "yes". They consider people playing D&D sufficiently far from them to just taint the pool of players. I've seen people say things tantamount to it on here on occasion.
 




Yaarel

Mind Mage
The original post voices frustration with some D&D players accusing other D&D players of badwrongfun.

For the most part, this is a fair complaint.

But.



When we are playing around with the cultures and identities of other peoples, the playfulness can sometimes cross the line into badwrongfun.

Sometimes we need to make an effort to be more sensitive to a culture or other identity. Certainly, we must pause and listen when someone from that other culture or identity is voicing concerns.

Sometimes, we are the ones that are in the wrong, and we need to adjust and allow space.

Sometimes, there are no easy answers. Sometimes, there is an honest clash of values. For example, having a sense of humor, playfulness, and irreverence, even to the point of mocking authority figures, is a profound value for many players who self-identify with a Western nation. The history of D&D does sometimes find itself in a tension between reallife playfulness and reallife sacred cultures. No surprise.

Western cultures normally prioritize the values of human rights and personal freedoms. Playfulness and comedy are often powerful weapons to defend our humanity and individualities.

As a general rule, it is polite to make fun of ones own authority figures that define ones own identity, but it tends toward hostile to make fun of the authority figures that define someone elses identity. Sometimes this hostility and weaponization of fun is intentional. But not in a game like D&D, where the goal really is to relax and have fun. In the context of D&D, hostility can come across as bullying, which is badwrongfun.

Fortunately, D&D now has an etiquette of "session zero", so the friends who are at a table, can be on the same page with regard to the "dont-go-there" places, if any. And there are related mechanism thereafter, if something turns out unexpectedly to be an issue.

It is fun to flirt with sensitive issues. The game is even helpful because the nonserious playfulness can be a safe place to encounter and explore sensitive issues. The most important etiquette is, if the game stops being fun for one of the players, then the game stops being fun.



But the etiquette isnt always simple.

Sometimes I am the one objecting to someone elses badwrongfun. Sometimes someone else is objecting to my badwrongfun.

I am Norwegian. I and many other Nordic citizens sometimes feel concern about how D&D portrays Nordic peoples. Nordic peoples do have fun and silliness with their own culturally sacred heritages. We get that. That is not a problem. The problem is the stereotyping. D&D typically portrays "Nordic inspiration" as if being dirty, unkempt, uneducated, Conan the Barbarian in "viking horns". Not only is that stereotype weirdly untrue, it is insulting. But the insult persists within many D&D traditions. Also, a "Cleric of Thor" isnt a thing − not in any Viking Period Nordic land anyway. The best way to understand the Nordic heritage is to understand animism. It is notable, the ONLY official religious leader in any Norse land is a woman, the vǫlva, a kind of shaman, and her sacred responsibility is to be a seer, what we today would call a "psychic". Some of these shamans know other kinds of magic, like healing and mindmagic, but her job is prescience. All other sacred activities are personal friendships with one or more specific animistic beings, and customs tend to be peculiar to a particular family. Getting the sacred traditions wrong is a matter of ignorance. But the Conan stereotype is sensitive and can cross the line into badwrongfun.

Nordic peoples understand their own cultures better than Non-Nordic peoples do. Obviously. Such self-knowledge goes for any human identity. Those who are part of an identity understand it better. Non-Nordic peoples can become intimately part of Nordic cultures, but it is like getting adopted or marrying in.

Sometimes I am the one voicing concerns about badwrongfun. Sometimes others are.

One of my settings is exploring features about gender more deeply. Personally I self-identify as a masculine male, in other words cisgender. Mostly anyway. The setting calls attention to other genders, incuding transgender and agender. Part of this setting is Norsesque. Where Norse culture strongly gender divides into two genders, individuals can and do choose which side they want to be on. There is real fluidity that archeologists are only beginning to understand more clearly. Individuals can participate in the cultural institutions of the other gender. As a gaming setting, there are appropriate scenarios that explore the complexities of genders.

There have been people who object to this gaming setting. One concern seems difficult for me to understand. It comes across to me as if: because the setting is not part a reallife, hostile, confrontational culture war, the setting cannot talk about transgender characters. Apparently, it is impossible for a transgender character to feel pride in oneself unless one is fighting in a culture war. As if only oppression is the only source of pride. I assume I am mischaracterizing the concern − but honestly that is what it currently sounds like to me. Notably, in the reallife Viking Period Norse cultures, the possibility of adopting a gender that differs from ones anatomy is known and acceptable. These individuals can experience insults for being not manly enough or not womanly enough, but at the same time, the womanliness or the manliness that they do exhibit enjoys the dignity of that gender. Norse culture acknowledges and respects female warriors and male seers. The tension seems more about pressuring the individual to pick a side, where the ambiguity is uncomfortable, but each side is honorable. There is no culture war, per se. Gender diversity is a normal feature of indigenous Nordic peoples. Individuals take pride in ones own gender. They strive to fulfill the responsibilities assigned to ones own gender. Note, the gaming setting has three genders, so a third option that is ambiguous is a normal cultural institution.

Anyway, the gaming setting has been around since 4e, but is only recently focusing attention on the implicit genders within it. The conversations are only beginning. There seems no easy way to muddle thru it. Hopefully, ongoing conversations, with compassion and sensitivity from everyone involved, continue toward a good outcome for everyone involved.

In sum, it seems pretty normal for D&D gamers to accuse each other of badwrongfun. It is the nature of a roleplaying game. We are intentionally taking on identities that are less like oneself − or exploring ones own identity in ways that are less easy in other contexts. It is fun to do so. D&D is an awesome and important game.

A high priority in D&D is to figure out ways to make sure that good and right are still fun for every player in the game.
 


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