D&D General Rules vs. lore preferences in D&D sourcebooks?

What is your preferred ratio of rules to lore in a Dungeons & Dragons sourcebook?

  • No rules, only lore - I just want story ideas, I can make up my own mechanics.

    Votes: 4 4.5%
  • Less rules, more lore - Lore is the major draw for me, but I want some rules to represent it.

    Votes: 13 14.8%
  • Mix of rules and lore - A sourcebook isn't worthwhile unless I get about the same amount of both.

    Votes: 40 45.5%
  • More rules, less lore - Rules are the major draw for me, but some lore suggestions are fine.

    Votes: 31 35.2%
  • Only rules, no lore - I just want the mechanics, I can make up my own stories.

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Poll closed .

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I voted more rules, less lore. I like both, but I would prefer base rules that are lore-agnostic with suggested lore over rules that are lore-specific that I have to specifically alter from the baseline to fit to my home games, ya know?
 

log in or register to remove this ad

clearstream

(He, Him)
Just curious after recent discussions what the general view here is on ENWorld as far as lore/rules balance. (Might also take a tour of rpg.net and Reddit and see what they think as well, but starting here.)

Feel free to elaborate, but please be respectful towards people who have a different preference.
Rules can embody or give rise to Lore. The opposite of ludonarrative dissonance: ludonarrative consonance.
 

loverdrive

Makin' cool stuff (She/Her)
I'd say, if it's even possible to separate rules from lore, something is wrong.

All in all, my preference is "just enough rules, just enough lore". I don't need rules for every goddamn thing, and I don't need to know irrelevant history.
 

S'mon

Legend
Just curious after recent discussions what the general view here is on ENWorld as far as lore/rules balance. (Might also take a tour of rpg.net and Reddit and see what they think as well, but starting here.)

Feel free to elaborate, but please be respectful towards people who have a different preference.

Player-side, I prefer rules with minimal fluff, since the fluff will need to be adapted to my setting anyway and I get annoyed when my teenage son treats it as canon. :)

GM-side, I like monster books with flavour but fairly generic fluff/lore easy to adapt to my settings. I like setting books if I'm going to run a setting. Too much Midgard in Kobold Press books gets in the way of me using them. WoTC 5e fluff is fairly useless to me, I find it bland and flavourless.

So, hm, I guess I basically want rules/crunch not lore/fluff. Unless it's a specific setting book or campaign adventure.
 


I don't want more rules as such, but I want more playable content: basically, more monster statblocks.

Telling me about different folkways of creatures doesn't help me prep new and exciting battles - that requires numbers. I could do the math myself, but I'm happy to pay for someone else to do the work.

besides, a few basic rules and I can fill out the culture pretty easily. This isn't work for me - it's the fun part - so I see no reason to pay for it.
 

cbwjm

Legend
I like a good mix of rules and lore, the lore helps inform the rules I feel. I may not use the lore in my games, but I like reading it as it provides me with ideas for my own games.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
In a D&D sourcebook, I want about a 90/10 mix of Rules and Lore. Odds are, if I'm shopping around for "official" 5E content, it's because I'm looking for new Rules: new monster stat blocks, new spells, etc. So I voted "more rules, less lore."

But in a non-5E D&D sourcebook, or a third-party 5E D&D book, I want about a 10/90 mix of Rules to Lore. Odds are, if I'm shopping for third-party material or non-5E material, it's because I'm looking for Lore: new factions, pantheons, kingdoms, myths, legends, adventure hooks, that sort of thing. I'm looking for shiny new stuff to hang off of the established 5E rules framework.
 
Last edited:

Lore heavy for sure. Of course it depends on what the book's focus is: player option books need crunch, monster resources and adventures need stat blocks. But for anything dealing with setting, rules only give books an expiration date (or give the DM a headache if you want to convert to a new game or edition). One of the greatest examples of product lines that would be fantastic if not for the rules is Rifts. Practically every worldbook is fantastic to read through, and it's one of my favorite kitchen sink settings ever, but man, those rules weigh it down.

So yeah, give me world building, monster ecologies, etc. Save the rules for something I'm likely to need during play.
 


I can write a story just about anytime, but it's useful to have pointers, a basic starting point, that sort of thing. What is sometimes referred to, in player-facing terms, as a "skirt-length" backstory--enough to cover your butt, in other words. Having that baseline gives me the tools I need in order to overcome the tyranny of the empty page; either I have a seed I can grow into my own thing, or I have a wall to push off against so I have a direction to go.

I'd say I'm really about midway between "mostly rules, some lore" and "equal mix." Like, I do enjoy lore assuming it is well-written, but I find a lot of it is...somewhat lacking, shall we say. But it's a HELL of a lot easier to write my own good, functional, self-consistent lore than it is to write my own good, functional, self-consistent mechanics, so I'd prefer that the designers focus on the aspect of game design that is actually difficult for little ol' me to do by myself, and trust me to handle the part of game design that I can do quite easily on my own.
 

loverdrive

Makin' cool stuff (She/Her)
Care to elaborate? Because this seems to throw shade at any toolkit system,from Savage Worlds to FATE to GURPS, and even D&D when it is in generic fantasy mode.
Don't really know anything about Savage Worlds besides Deadlands, so can't comment on that.

Fate doesn't have any lore. It makes barely any little assumptions about the characters and the game world, other than them being proactive, dramatic and competent. Specific rules that do come with lore attached, like Six Viziers or Stormcallers can't be really separated from it. Pretty much the same for GURPS.

D&D is kind of a special case because a lot, if not the majority of fantasy is influenced by D&D. You still can't escape the Weave, the gods being a real deal, fantasy monsters, all that.

Overall, I think if there is lore and it can be easily separated from the mechanics, either the lore is so bland there's no point of having it at all, or the mechanics don't support it.
 

Overall, I think if there is lore and it can be easily separated from the mechanics, either the lore is so bland there's no point of having it at all, or the mechanics don't support it.
I would see that last point as a feature, not a bug in a lot of cases. There may be cases where a specific ruleset better realizes a setting's lore than others, but I can imagine very few where a setting wouldn't be workable without a specific ruleset, and I think in most cases, a group's preferred style of play should be a greater consideration when choosing a ruleset than the setting, if any, attached to it. Having a setting written in such a way that I couldn't transport it to another ruleset or at least meet it halfway by adapting a ruleset to the setting would, to me, indicate that the material was poorly written.
 

Jer

Legend
Supporter
What do you mean by rules? What do you mean by lore?

Because I am certainly not looking for "more rules" in the sense that I'm not looking for a big book of how to run wars in D&D or a generic "horror in D&D" or "here's a book on adventuring in tundra" or "here's the Little Golden Book of Goliaths, Goblins, Gnomes and other races that start with G". 3e burned any desire out of me for stuff like that.

On the other hand - I like new campaign settings. New campaign settings are full of lore, and that lore requires mechanics. The Ravenloft book has lore with mechanics to back up that lore where needed. The Eberron book likewise. A new Dark Sun book would need the same, as would any new campaign settings that they might release.

Every new monster added to the game is a mix of mechanics and lore. Every new subclass or spell likewise.

I guess for me don't give me mechanics for the sake of mechanics. Give me mechanics in the service of some cool thing to add to my game - so I guess I want to see a mix of both (though I can't pin it down to a ratio - enough mechanics to serve the lore would be my answer).
 

Reynard

Legend
Fate doesn't have any lore. It makes barely any little assumptions about the characters and the game world, other than them being proactive, dramatic and competent. Specific rules that do come with lore attached, like Six Viziers or Stormcallers can't be really separated from it. Pretty much the same for GURPS.
I still don't understand why that is a bad thing. Not having lore attached to a rule means you can use it with whatever lore you decide.
 

Plaguescarred

D&D Playtester for WoTC since 2012
I like a mix of rules and lore in sourcebooks. They are great opportunity to introduce new rules, game elements such as new races, classes,backgrounds, monsters, feats, equipments, magic items etc while also providing new lore and story elements.

So say an Underdark Sourcebook could have settlements, maps, natural hazards, new poisons in addition to some of the things i enumerated above.
 

loverdrive

Makin' cool stuff (She/Her)
I still don't understand why that is a bad thing. Not having lore attached to a rule means you can use it with whatever lore you decide.
It's not a bad thing. It's okay, Fate Core is one of my favourite systems.

Having lore that doesn't matter, on the other hand, is a bad thing IMO.
 


loverdrive

Makin' cool stuff (She/Her)
Ah, I misread you meaning in the original statement I quoted.

What constitutes "lore that doesn't matter"?
Like, imagine a class, idk, Spirit Warden. It's whole shtick that they are communing with the spirits of the land.

And then you realize that this class' mechanics can be used to play a good ol' fireball slinging wizard.

The lore, that whole spirit communing thing doesn't matter — it can be removed with no any pain.
 

Reynard

Legend
Like, imagine a class, idk, Spirit Warden. It's whole shtick that they are communing with the spirits of the land.

And then you realize that this class' mechanics can be used to play a good ol' fireball slinging wizard.

The lore, that whole spirit communing thing doesn't matter — it can be removed with no any pain.
I agree, that would be a poor marriage of lore and mechanics. Im can't say I have ever seen it occur so egregiously before, though.

What about lore that doesn't necessarily have a mechanical implication, like a membership in a particular organization or faction? Do you think designers should force mechanics to meet lore like that (through prestige classes, to use a common 3.x/PF example)?
 

Level Up!

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top