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D&D General The Importance of "Official"

How Important is "Official" to you?

  • I will only use "official" material in my D&D games.

    Votes: 7 6.9%
  • I will use some unofficial material from specific sources.

    Votes: 34 33.7%
  • I will use a mix of official and unofficial material in my games.

    Votes: 47 46.5%
  • I use mostly unofficial material in my games.

    Votes: 5 5.0%
  • I don't even play D&D. How did I get in here?

    Votes: 8 7.9%

  • Total voters
    101

Reynard

Legend
Some of the responses in the Mordenkainen's thread got me wondering how important official material is to the average ENWorld user. So, simple poll.
 

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tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
I've moved on from d&d/o5e to other things like a5e/levelup but tried for years to hack o5e into a state where it might support the narrative rather than subordinate it. In a way o5e itself creates a situation where it fights attempts at using 3rd party modifications.

The big problem with unofficial stuff is that o5e lacks an underlying structural framework that can be modified to make global changes to everything it touches. Take a hypothetical shift to change how feats & asi are awarded for example... That would need between three & thirteen different versions because each class has them baked in rather than being a high level rule that just applies to characters and some classes have extra.. Any kind of third party modifications need to make some assumptions in order to build a framework that they can transplant along with their modifications and they will often make different reasonable assumptions. Mixing them results in a mess that needs to be fixed with one off edge case rules and those one off rules themselves need to get fixes to the one off problems they create. The alternative is do do it wotc style and just make a half finished bonkers system like wotc's "crafting" rules that foists the whole job of creating it onto the gm & at that point you might as well have just built it yourself.

Edit:before I switched I used quite a bit of giffyglyph's darker dungeons stuff but then I had to fight with player's looking for ways to loophole around any of the goals I had by using x or y component from it
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
I use both happily. Balance is over-rated in my opinion and thus is never the divining rod on whether to use or not use something. But at the same time I have absolutely no problem re-balancing something myself if I've determined that the thing in question actually is making the game less fun and could be fixed at my own table. I trust my own judgement of what my table needs to have a good time, and if that means not allowing the Lucky feat or letting the Beastmaster Ranger player have both their character and their animal companion take their own individual action, then I'll do it regardless of what the books say.

* And * not then complain that I had to make these my changes myself because WotC wouldn't do it for me. That expectation is just ridiculous.
 





Mostly official stuff. But some 3rd party stuff out there is really good. So it means that while I will not limit myself to official stiff, it will take something really good for me to use.
 
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Most of my early interaction with 5E was through Adventurer's League play, so it is official or it does not count or get used. Official meaning published by WotC, of course. I also lived through the Great Glut of Garbage that was the 3rd party offerings in the 3rd Ed days, so I became wary of just any published material for 5E and am very choosy and tend to go with the trusted companies that did not publish substandard stuff in the 3E days. But these days I am more likely to spend money from my limited gaming budget on 5E OGL systems/settings, than on 3PP supplements for D&D.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
I only use official material, and even then not all of it, but I heavily house-rule/ homebrew it.
I don't know if that is considered unofficial material as the OP meant it. 🤷‍♂️
 

I have two gaming groups. The one that was my home game prior to going virtual, I use a mix of official and unofficial options. The one that used to be my open-table, I strictly restrict it to official content only. Because anyone could show up and it was much easier to tell them "official material only" than to have to vet countless third party and homebrew options.
 

S'mon

Legend
Some of the responses in the Mordenkainen's thread got me wondering how important official material is to the average ENWorld user. So, simple poll.

Most DM-side stuff I use is non-WOTC, so mostly non-official. Most player side stuff is WoTC though, unless it's 3PP campaign specific options (eg Odyssey of the Dragonlords, Primeval Thule). This is mostly because WoTC player-side stuff is better integrated into the e-tools. 3PP monsters, settings and adventures are often better than WoTC's versions, so I tend to favour them.
 

The big problem here is that you've lumped absolutely everything "unofficial" into a single category, and I find that that's not how most DMs work.

Most DMs have a hierarchy of acceptability. These ideas became really blatant (and tended to get ossified) during 3e, meaning a lot of games are still heavily defined by perspectives held when 3e was the "only" game in town.

Inherently Acceptable: Content the DM herself made for this game
This one's sort of a no-brainer. If the DM made it for use, it's inherently acceptable; indeed, it kinda comes before any real thinking about acceptability, because such things are often something the game in question is predicated upon.
Presumed Acceptable: Initial core books, explicitly-approved homebrew
Again, sort of a no-brainer, this is the "ground floor." If the DM starts off by saying, "I approve <3PP book> for this game," well, they're signalling to you that it's been vetted for acceptability. It's still possible that there could be an unforeseen interaction or problem, but it would be just that, unforeseen, because the content was expected to be acceptable.
Probably Acceptable: Official supplements of good reputation, well-known and high-quality third-party content
This is where we start getting into some ambiguity. Many DMs, particularly for 3e/PF games, know about a lot of prominent third-party products, and some of them are less "you definitely can use this" and more "I want to be asked but will probably say okay."
Potentially Acceptable: Obscure but still high-quality 3PP, official supplements of ambiguous reputation
Here, the fact that something is official is shown to not strictly guarantee that it's acceptable. For 5e, much of Unearthed Arcana fits here, and some DMs feel this way about certain specific books. For 3.X, Dragon Mag stuff tends to appear here. Very little from 4e appears here or lower.
Unlikely Acceptable: Medium-quality 3PP, official supplements of poor reputation, homebrew acquired from the internet
Lotta content here, simply because that last one is a HUGE source.
Never Acceptable: Explicitly-banned things, D&D Wiki content
I've literally never seen a DM who was willing to permit D&D Wiki content, so it gets special mention. Even DMs who are radically permissive, we're talking "let's mix all of 3.5e AND PF, all Dragon Mag content is allowed, AND you can gestalt multi-track PrCs together" level of permissiveness, won't let people use D&D Wiki content. It has that bad of a reputation.

So you get this hierarchy of options, and yes, officialness tends to make something more acceptable. But it's not axiomatically more acceptable, as the tarnished reputation of Dragon Magazine content shows, or the rather dramatic popularity of the Spheres of Power/Might 3PP line shows for Pathfinder. (Ironically, SoP+SoM is actually closer to 4e than it is to classic PF, just with things that are a hair more loosey-goosey narrative, and which function a little bit like 4e's Power Points system.)
 


1st party + 3rd party + homebrew

So basically "everything except 2nd party" which im fact I have no idea what it is...
Second parties are the people using the first-party product directly. In other words...the DM and/or players. So formally, second-party products would be anything custom made by either you as DM or made by your players.

Most DMs I've interacted with are HELLA skeptical of player-made second-party content, but either 100% convinced that their own second-party content is perfectly fine, or are more reserved and want to playtest it first.
 

S'mon

Legend
Never Acceptable: Explicitly-banned things, D&D Wiki content
I've literally never seen a DM who was willing to permit D&D Wiki content, so it gets special mention. Even DMs who are radically permissive, we're talking "let's mix all of 3.5e AND PF, all Dragon Mag content is allowed, AND you can gestalt multi-track PrCs together" level of permissiveness, won't let people use D&D Wiki content. It has that bad of a reputation.
The usual issue with Wiki stuff is that careless players find it on the Internet and assume it's official rules, rather than something anyone may have written. This definitely gives me as GM a prejudice against it, I get tired of having to google the source of some unlikely stuff. It's too much like my day job teaching!
 

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