D&D General Sacred Hamburger - What classic elements of D&D do you disregard?


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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
The biggest examples for this question are:

Neat Symmetrical World-Building - Stuff like the Great Wheel, the over-categorization of the gods (and everything in the game), the existince of neutral evil fiends because obviously if you have Chaotic and Lawful Evil Fiends you need to also have Neutral Evil ones! I hate all of it. I make no attempt to satisfy the urge folks have to say “the existence of X implies the existence of Y” in any part of the game. One of my worlds has a heaven and no hell, I don’t distinguish between types of fiends (devil and demon are interchangeable terms), etc


Dungeons and Delves (site based adventures) - a lot of people ditch this cow, in favor of more narrative driven structure, or sandboxes, or some other structure.


Semi-Medieval Eurocentric Patriarchal baseline - My games are very queer, and not Anglo-centered, and not set in Europe analogues, and not even really medieval. There

The Past Was Better trope - Nope! So much of D&D has this assumption baked in, and I am not a fan. Basically, Rome has fallen and we don’t know how they did plumbing or civics or whatever. Most magic items are ancient? Nah. Some are, but the masters now are just as good and often better than the masters a the past. Magic and tech have gotten more advanced over generations.
 


Yora

Legend
Alignment
Common
Weapon restrictions
Pre-2008 spell preparation
+1 weapons
Dearves, halflings, and orcs
Beholders
 

Levistus's_Leviathan

5e Freelancer
Wait dragons are supposed to have specific head types? This is news to me.
Yup. At least the Chromatic Dragons do.

Blue Dragons have a single horn kinda like a Rhino.

Black Dragons have two horns, one on each side of their head, but they point forward.

Red Dragons have two horns, but they point backwards.

Green Dragons don't have horns and instead have a smaller version of the Spinosaurus's sail, but it extends up to their forehead and down to their tail.

White Dragons don't have horns and instead have a fin that juts out from the back of their head.
 


EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
Planar structure. The Great Wheel is a terrible cosmology. It's an attempt to systematize something that shouldn't be perfectly systematic. Simultaneously, it's trying to be an "all myths are true" universe where Heaven, Nirvana, and Asgard all coexist, while also having a bunch of weird and largely unnecessary gradations that come across much more as grid-filling than as anything productive. (Do we really need Acheron, Hell, Gehenna, Hades, Tartarus, the Abyss, Carceri, Pandaemonium, and Limbo? Do we really need Nirvana, Arcadia, Celestia, Bytopia, Elysium, the Beastlands, Arborea, and Ysgard?)

No game I have run, or ever intend to run, will use the Great Wheel. Some may use the World Axis, because it's a dramatically better cosmology, but a tad too specific to be an always-on choice.

The Weave. Pretty much the same concerns as above. It honestly baffles me that this has become a "default cosmology" thing--the Weave is so weirdly specific. It would be like if the magical bells from Garth Nix's Old Kingdom trilogy had become a default expectation of how wizards cast spells. (Which, don't get me wrong, I love the books and their magic system! But it's very setting-specific.) Having one singular uber-deity of magic and a literal thaumaturgic field that permeates reality is just...really limiting. Those limitations can be leveraged, to be sure, but much of the time, I want greater freedom with my writing.

The behavior of devils and demons. The devils and demons of standard D&D cosmology are ABSOLUTE IDIOTS. Mine are almost totally different, because they're a hell of a lot smarter and MUCH less likely to shoot themselves in the foot. They are abstract creatures, for whom symbol and significance are way more important than paltry mortal concerns. Mortal souls are either a consolation prize or the slowly-ripened fruit of a long relationship producing a servant at the end, not something so greedily sought after that it gives every fiend ever a bad name.

Dragons...sort of. See, I love dragons. That means I want them to either be EVERYWHERE, or I want them to be special. My current game favors the latter. Other game ideas I have favor the former. In my current game, the party has met exactly two dragons, and the second was only met very recently, after four and a half years of play. There is technically a third dragon, but that's an enemy secretly hiding in their city, so they haven't "met" the dragon properly....as far as they know. As a result, the two actually-met dragons in my home game have some mysterious connections to higher powers and are generally very congenial, but more than a little cagey about their exact nature. Not because they want to deceive, mind, but because there are things they've promised not to do, and "reveal X piece of information" is sometimes on that list.

Deities...for my current game only. Of the religious beliefs known to the party, there are some animist/ancestor-worship traditions (a variety of these from various places), a monotheistic religion and its main heresy (the dominant religion of the area), and a sort of hybrid-form religion which recognizes all the animistic spirits and other celestial beings as members of the Celestial Bureaucracy that is ruled over by the August Jade Emperor...and thus effectively monotheist. But in general I actually like deities...so long as they're handled more like the 4e way where they are in some sense "living, sapient concepts" rather than the rather dull "Olympians in the playground" style.

Medieval Stasis. I'm not opposed to a game being medieval. But I prefer to allow things that are from a broader range. Guns and such are perfectly valid, and in Jewel of the Desert you can see the very very earliest first inklings of an industrial revolution on the horizon, but it hasn't actually "arrived" yet, so to speak. Part of this is because human society basically had to completely rebuild itself from the ground up, other than the buildings themselves, when the genie-rajahs packed it up and moved to Jinnistan, their new country in the elemental otherworld.

Saying no. Obviously, I do still say "no" now and then. But I have found a lot of more "traditional" DMs...well, frankly, it comes across like they're gleefully rubbing their hands together and grinning at the prospect of shutting down any idea proposed after 1975, and that they have an incredibly dim, disapproving idea of even basic player creativity when it comes to re-interpreting things or doing something unexpected. I am a HUGE proponent of "say yes or roll the dice," and as a general rule I favor keeping "or roll the dice" only for things I really can't justify just giving to the player. It may be permissive, but I find it permits a way more interesting, engaging, exciting game.
 

Wait dragons are supposed to have specific head types? This is news to me.
It goes back to the art from the 1st edition Monster Manual. All the dragons had distinct designs, which (for the chromatics) was reflected in the art for Tiamat. Subsequent D&D artists have been pretty consistent in picking up on those original designs for the chromatic dragons.

Cudos to the original artist, I think.
 

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
I'd guess that ascending AC and not using THAC0 have become sacred to mainstream D&D players. I ignore that.
Any particular reason? I have always found descending AC and THAC0 to be incredibly confusing and frustrating. It's not--at all--that I lack the math training or preparation to use it. It's just that I find it nearly impossible to get my brain to employ "lower is good" when you have +X weapons and armor and spells that provide a +Y bonus to AC or a -Z penalty to hit.

The only reason I ever got even remotely competent with it was being forced to think through it due to playing Baldur's Gate 1+2 and Planescape: Torment.
 

Levistus's_Leviathan

5e Freelancer
The Great Wheel. Most of the planes in it have too much overlap with other planes (Pandemonium with the Abyss, Ysgard and Acheron, most of the Heavens). Eberron and 4e had superior cosmologies because of the different planes of existence have important distinctions and there's few enough for the players to be able to remember them. And I also hate alignment, so making the main cosmology of D&D be based on a nonsensical morality system that I don't use really turns me off of the cosmology.

Always-Evil Races. Free will means that you have the agency to be moral. Orcs, Goblins, and other races always being evil have always seemed contradictory to me. They can still be evil, but it's based on culture, factions, and religions. I still have always-hostile creatures, but they're either basically demons (demons, most aberrations) or not sentient (beasts, some plants).

Redundant/Superfluous Races/Monsters. There don't need to be three different types of Frog-People (Bullywugs, Grung, Grippli), Bird-People (Aarakocra, Owlin, Kenku), and two types of "overweight giants that like to eat" (Ogres, Hill Giants). Another part of D&D that follows this rule that I haven't successfully excised yet is the redundancy of having Planetouched races and Sorcerers with magical powers that come from other planes. Either the sorcerer class shouldn't exist/be able to get their powers from having an angel ancestor, or the Planetouched races shouldn't exist.

Alignment. Morality is not as simple as D&D presents it, and alignment just causes too many arguments and is too problematic (having Lawful Good gods commit/condone unforgivable acts including genocide). D&D doesn't need to build Buzzfeed's "What kind of pizza topping are you" quizzes into the game or its worlds.
 

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