D&D General The Tyranny of Rarity

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Sabathius42

Bree-Yark
To which I can only respond: what evidence do you have that "more content" or "new content" (in terms of races/species/monsters in the game-world) makes for a better game/experience? What evidence do you have that Side B makes for a better game/experience than Side A? To me, it all seems too subjective to be worth getting tied into argumentative knots over. There are just too many variables at play to ever draw a conclusion beyond, "I'll do what works best for me, you do what works best for you."

For my part, I can see how Side A can work and be good, and I can see how Side B can work and be good. What I can't countenance is any argument that Side B can't make good games because it's (ooOOOoooOOoo) authoritarian, and authoritarian elfgames are inherently problematic — or, for that matter, that good isn't good enough, and we "authoritarian" worldbuilders are "missing out" on "could be better." The first statement is pure tripe, and the latter is (as I've said before) trying to be a legitimate argument, when all it's really doing is grasping at fomenting FOMO that simply doesn't exist.
I don't need evidence to prove an opinion. The belief that freeform campaigns are best is as valid as highly curated campaigns are best. This whole topic is opinion, is it not?

Do you think there is some sort of factual argument to support any part of this discussion on either side?
 

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Also, the GM maintaining the premise of the campaign certainly is not just for the GM themselves. It is for the players too. If I was pitched a gritty human centric D&D campaign in style of Game of Thrones except with a better ending, and arrived to the table with my human mercenary, but some other players had made a loxodon and a shardmind, I would be a tad annoyed. Same with if I had been promised an innovative campaign in a world of animal people and an other player made a stereotypical viking-scot dwarf.
 


Oofta

Legend
YOU were the one that decided to post the sweeping allegation that everyone on one side is just chatting and everyone on the other is attacking. I never said any such thing....because that's factually untrue and irritatingly simplistic.

You just posted a bunch of defenses for yourself as if my attacks were a condemnation on YOU, but in reality they are a condemnation on the statement that one side is somehow morally superior to the other. Your personal statements are not the sum total of "your side" and my statements are not the sum total of "my side".

If you can't spot the bad apples in your bucket then it's probably because you aren't seeing your bucket, not that it's free of bad apples.
I was replying to and agreeing with another post.

I have never once told people that my way of doing things is superior. You have. It's been repeatedly said that restricting races is tyranny, the only reason DMs don't add other races is because their control freaks that are lazy and selfish. On the other side? People explaining their personal preference. Maybe occasionally using verbiage you find offensive, but I have yet to see the direct attacks on other people's preferences that I see.

But what do I know, your way of doing things is obviously superior.
 

Egon Spengler

"We eat gods for breakfast!"
I don't need evidence to prove an opinion. The belief that freeform campaigns are best is as valid as highly curated campaigns are best. This whole topic is opinion, is it not?

Do you think there is some sort of factual argument to support any part of this discussion on either side?

Well it's hardly all-or-nothing, don't you think? Most people, I should imagine, like to apportion the strength of their opinions to the strength of the evidence in their favor. What are we even doing here, if not delving into the reasons why we believe what we do?

If, on the other hand, you're happy to concede that one opinion on how to run campaigns is as valid as another (which, I reiterate, has historically been the position staked out by the pro-curation side), that's fine too. In that case, we're done here, it's been real, slán go fóill.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
Oh, you mean the side that says being open is "caving in" or "cantina-style" or "rubber masking" or implying that one can't have internal consistency or logical setting if one allows their players to use all the WotC content instead of just a subset of it?
I don't think anyone has said that some worlds couldn't be consistent allowing everything. I don't think anyone has described thinking it over and trying to be flexible as caving. I don't think anyone has said everyone (or even most) play them as always just like masks. Did I miss some posts that do that?

I've certainly seen people say it would make the world they're running themselves feel inconsistent.
 

So you have a preference. Cool, me too.

What evidence do you have that the default "the DM gets to decide" is something to be concerned about? (And, heck, just for the sake of good-faith argument, let's go ahead and assume competent, non-Viking-Hat, non-antagonistic DMs all around, regardless of whether players have some creative control over the setting or not.)

What evidence do I have? Likely the same evidence that you have that DM Decides is a good approach: anecdotal.

Maybe 15 years ago or so I’d have been posting things very much in line with some of the folks I’ve been disagreeing with in this thread. I was very much a DM Decides type of guy. I had my world that I crafted and spent hours on in between sessions and which was curated and tailored to my tastes.

Then, almost out of curiosity, I started a campaign without taking total control of the world. Mostly this was because I was a little burned out at the time. My players were asking me what kind of characters to make and what kind of world was it going to be, and was there a theme or focus….and I just hadn’t put in the work, so I said “just make what you want”.

And they did. And we started play with little more than that. And the game was great. It was just as enjoyable as usual. Actually, it was even better. Because I was discovering things as we played too. And because the players were contributing more they were very invested in the setting and very aware of what was going on.

And that game made me question my assumptions and how I’d done things previously. It wasn’t always easy to actually examine that stuff. I was being brutally honest with myself. I was placing at least equal but likely more importance on my time alone with the setting compared to time at the table in actual play.

It’s a bit contradictory, isn’t it? To spend all that time and effort alone supposedly in service to a group experience.

Then there are also the experiences I’ve had as a player. Being involved in the creation of the game and setting versus not being involved. I mean it seems pretty obvious that if you want people to be involved, you involve them. Does this mean I’ve never been excited by someone’s “humans only” campaign? No, of course not. I dig theme and I can get on board for lots of concepts.

But I expect to have a say and to contribute. I expect other players to as well. I expect the GM to involve us. I think it enhances my experience and the experiemces of those I’ve gamed with.

This is totally my opinion. I would indeed suggest that others try it. Maybe it won’t be for them…that’s fine. Still probably a good learning experience. But if it doesn’t suit, then sure go right back to doing things as always, no harm.

But if there are folks out there wondering about GM methods, who are open to suggestions and want advice, this is what I’d tell them. And not to worry about the concerns of those who don’t try and play or GM this way….those concerns are mostly boogeymen.
 


Oofta

Legend
I don't think anyone here has stated that they curate races as an excuse to flex their authority.
Obviously everyone who curates their races is a power hungry authoritarian. Of course I am simply because I think the game works best on the incredibly rare occasion I make a ruling someone at the table might disagree with.

I can't remember the last time someone actually disagreed outside of a "how do you run it" but I'm sure it's happened. Totalitarian control freak that I am, I likely made a decision after a brief discussion and didn't do a broad based internet poll.
 

You know that it is very very very rare to see a DM going against the wish of his group (not one player, but a whole group).

Two things on this.

First, I don’t know if it’s all that rare. I’ve experienced it. Hell, I’ve done it. Based on what I read here on the boards, it seems plenty of others have experienced it in some form.

Second, how does a DM know if he’s going against their wishes? I mean, if it’s the kind of DM who has a curated world that they’ve had for years and they have a list of replacement players lined up and ready to go and so on….how do we know they don’t have players in their game who’d like to see things work a bit differently?

I mean, it doesn’t exactly sound like there’s a suggestion box put out for them, or a lot of solicitations for feedback and the like.
 

I don't think anyone here has stated that they curate races as an excuse to flex their authority.

But is that a factor? Isn't that a legit question?

Of course no one’s saying “I use the opportunity to select playable races as a chance to exercise my authority.”

Instead we get concerns of the cantina effect and incoherency and so on. But aren't those things born of fear of lack of control? *

That you let one dragonborn in, and then there you go…Klingons and Smurfs! And that one there has a friggin’ laser gun! My ability to be sensible and say no vanished entirely because I said yes that one time!!

Odin’s taint, how’s a DM to make sure the world makes sense if someone else has some say? I let a player decide what god his cleric worshipped one time. Do you know what god he chose? Anubis! Like we were in bloody Egypt rather than my homebrew world where my god of the dead has a vulture head, as any respectable, sensible deity would. It’s madness, I tell you! Madness!!!!



* here ends the part of the post where I don’t try to use exaggeration to illustrate my point
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
But is that a factor? Isn't that a legit question?
Not in my opinion, no. 30+ years of playing, dozens of DMs played with, 100's of players and not once have I encountered or even heard of a DM who curated races to flex his authority.
Instead we get concerns of the cantina effect and incoherency and so on. But aren't those things born of fear of lack of control? *
No. A dislike for cantina style play doesn't imply fear or lack of control at all. We all have preferences. Some like player facing systems. Others like DM facing systems. Some like cantina style play. Others like their races curated to avoid that. These are simply valid preferences and the vast majority of the time are nothing more.
That you let one dragonborn in, and then there you go…Klingons and Smurfs! And that one there has a friggin’ laser gun! My ability to be sensible and say no vanished entirely because I said yes that one time!!
Most of those here in this thread who curate strongly have given examples of saying yes in the past.
 

Not in my opinion, no. 30+ years of playing, dozens of DMs played with, 100's of players and not once have I encountered or even heard of a DM who curated races to flex his authority.

No. A dislike for cantina style play doesn't imply fear or lack of control at all. We all have preferences.

But I think you’ve missed the point. The cantina effect is very often cited as the end result of a single instance of granting a player request that runs counter to the DM’s preference.

It’s not a case of:
Player: Hey can we play a cantina campaign where everyone plays a bizarre race?

DM: No, that’s not really something I’d want to run.


But instead it’s been:
Player: Can I play a tiefling?

DM: No, the game will devolve into the cantina effect.


I certainly can see a bit of fear of lack of control in there. No? Not that it has to be the case, but it seems at the very least a question worth considering.
 



Lanefan

Victoria Rules
None of what you say here does anything to counter the idea of DM as control freak. It seems to double down on it.

There aren’t only two options as you describe. A GM could let the players make their PCs and then use what the players have come up with to craft the lore of their world. The GM doesn’t have to decide all that stuff ahead of character creation. Or even ahead of actual play, for that matter.
You don't get it. I don't run games by RAW, ever.

Before the players make their PCs I come up with a series of rules around each PC-playable species*. I have (the equivalent of) species-based ASIs. I have separate age-height-weight ranges for each playable species. Each playable species has its own pantheon (Humans have several). Etc. And I simply don't want to do this for 35 different bloody species, and this - along with tradition - is a large part of why I keep the species list sharply curated.

* - most if not all of which have to be in place before players start rolling/deciding their characters' species. Otherwise, players are rolling in the dark; for example if you decide to play a Tabaxi Fighter without knowing their species-based ASIs and I later decide Tabaxi get a Charisma boost and a Strength chop as their ASIs you ain't gonna be very happy.

And to add to the fun, as the setting is designed before the players get to it, I have different species be more or less available depending on where you are in the setting e.g. if you're in region XYZ Dwarf might not be chooseable as your species, you might have to roll for it on a species-abundance table (and the roll result is binding, so you risk getting something very not-Dwarf-like).

The other part of it is that it'd be a rare player indeed who would roll up a character and then wait 6-12 months to be able to play it; that being the 6-12 months I'd be spending on setting design. It's not just crafting the lore around the chosen species, it's designing the whole setting such that a) each of those species have a few suitable climatic/geographical areas to live in and b) they have enough contact with each other that there's enough recognition to allow a party of assorted species to function. When there's only 5 or 6 species this isn't too hard. When there's dozens, someone else can do it 'cause I ain't gonna. :)

And if all that makes me a control freak then >shrug< so be it.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
But I think you’ve missed the point. The cantina effect is very often cited as the end result of a single instance of granting a player request that runs counter to the DM’s preference.

It’s not a case of:
Player: Hey can we play a cantina campaign where everyone plays a bizarre race?

DM: No, that’s not really something I’d want to run.


But instead it’s been:
Player: Can I play a tiefling?

DM: No, the game will devolve into the cantina effect.


I certainly can see a bit of fear of lack of control in there. No? Not that it has to be the case, but it seems at the very least a question worth considering.
Hyperbole is often used on both sides. I haven't seen an instance of that where I believed that the person was serious. Same with all the, "If you curate even one race you are a fascist authoritarian dictator who just wants to assert his dominance" posts. :)
 


Lanefan

Victoria Rules
When someone tells me their ten yearlong campaign has never infused any new content (besides non-sapient monsters) it strikes me that they are leaving so much off the table and I can't help but wonder if in some world where they were less tied to a singular vision they might end up with a superior experience.
Well, part of the trick is to run it such that they're still discovering "new" content ten years in that's in fact been there all along... :)
 


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