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D&D General The unique nature of TTRPGs, D&D and traps

loverdrive

Makin' cool stuff (She/Her)
Not that long ago I’ve participated in an interesting discussion with plenty of smart people here on enworld, and after some time I realized that couple of the things I said there were actually pretty smart. So I decided to write this.

Your intelligentsia folks would call it “un essai”, but I have only nine grades of education and learned French only because I wanted to bang a Godard fanboy, so I’ll just call it a post.


So.

People like what they like. Sounds obvious, right? When someone says that they like, say, Michael Bay flicks or Call of Duty or modern Russian hip-hop, they probably mean it. You may think of them as uneducated peasants, but it doesn’t really matter. They like what they like. Specifically.

I don’t think there’s anyone out there who really ####ing wishes for a thoughtful and psychological Michael Bay film with no explosions and spinning camera, yet still continues to chew on the same cactus. Of course not. This makes no sense.


Yet, there are people who play one specific fantasy tabletop role-playing game with heavy emphasis on exploration and ascension to a ruler in earlier editions and shifted to beating the naughty word out of monsters with time, treat it as an important part of their identity, wear weird polyhedral necklaces and then excitedly tell their friends over a pint, how they were solving a murder mystery in the last campaign and how there was no single combat and how much they liked it!

We all know such people. Truth to be told, we all were such people. Yes, even you in the back, your hipster beard doesn’t fool me.


No, I’m not going to try and convert you into my favourite system, not this time, even if I firmly believe that a large portion of D&D players actually enjoy playing TTRPGs and not D&D specifically.

Now, let’s discuss reasons, reasons unique to tabletop RPGs. I can think of two.


The only limit is your imagination!​

...is the pitch people use to lure sweet summer children into their vile satanic cults of twisted dice that can’t be used for craps and elves that aren’t slaves to that bearded dude from the Coca-Cola advertisement.


So, you get into this vile cult. And you love it here. Really ####ing love it. What’s not to love about being a mighty wizard who has healthy sleep habits and possesses knowledge so vast and powerful that these dumb handsome athletic blockheads tremble in horror before her?

But you don’t care about mindless violence and robbing poor kobolds of their hard-earned money. You didn’t spend your childhood playing 7.62 or even Counter-Strike 1.6, no. You were playing Мор: Утопия, Sublustrum and in Fallout, you always started with Good Natured trait.

You look at this newly discovered thing and scream into the void “Oh my ugliest fattest cannibal gods, it has so much potential!”

And you set out to fulfil that potential. You decide to run a game about people actually talking and mysteries and plot and themes!

You still use D&D, though. You’ve heard somewhere that there’s a game just like it, that was about detectives, was it something lovecraftian? Doesn’t matter. You have the golden rule at your side, and you’ve already spent so much time learning the rules of 3.5E, picking classes and subclasses that would fit your grand idea, and expanding on the lore of Greyhawk. You don’t have time to read any other crap.

The players keep trying to turn your games into hack&slash fests, seduce your dragons and solve your mysteries with one spell. It’s your fault, though. You should’ve anticipated that.

You persist. Over time, you expand your horizons. You rise your gaze to the night sky, and pick a place for your next campaign. Coruscant sounds nice, doesn’t it?

Your name is Alice Loverdrive.


Now, a bit less flowery: there’s a perceived ease of modification. In, say, videogames, when one “oh my God I love Call of Duty so much, what if it was like Star Wars, with blasters and stuff?”, modding the game to be Star Wars is not really an option. You can do that, sure, but for an average gamer, it's an insurmountable task — it's obviously easier to look for a Star Wars first-person shooter than it is to mod stormtroopers into Call of Duty.

In tabletop role-playing, on the other hand, you don’t need to spend hours learning weird scripting languages or watching 3DS Max 2009 ####ING CRASH! or learning brushes in a counterintuitive editor made for space-monkeys with brains the size of a bulldozer.

Nah, it’s the other way around — it seems easier to write a couple of houserules than it is to learn another ruleset, especially given that after the bloated behemoth of D&D (I started with 3.5E, but 5E isn’t that much better, honestly), it’s reasonable to assume that other games to be as damn complex.


The normie word​

You get into another satanic cult, one backed by the bottomless pockets of military-industrial complex. And you love it here. Really ####ing love it. You even wear a Call of Duty T-Shirt.

You’ve never heard of any other videogames. What even is “videogame”? Like, game that tries to mimic Call of Duty?

Your name is an empty string and your birthplace is null. You don’t exist.


There's no “normie” word for videogames or films or hip-hop music. My mother can’t tell Mario from Team Fortress or Eminem from Chali 2na, but she knows the broad term.

Call of Duty, however big, way damn bigger than D&D will ever be, is still a videogame. Other games, however small, ain’t CoD-likes.

There's a “normie” word for TTRPGs — it's "D&D". Dungeons and Dragons is the tabletop role-playing game. Other are D&D-likes, will forever be, and I don’t think there’s much we can do about that.


So, that’s how I think D&D traps people in. I don’t know nor care if its an intentional marketing ploy, and I also don’t think that everyone who plays D&D is some kind of trapped idiot. No, you can’t trap someone who doesn’t want to get out. I believe there are plenty of people who actually enjoy D&D for what D&D is, hell, I’m one of them, despite whatever you might think.


Такие дела.
 

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Fanaelialae

Legend
I don't think your reasoning bears out.

It's only in the past few years that D&D has become somewhat normalized, in part due to streams like Crit Role. For a very significant portion of the time since the invention of D&D, it actually had seriously negative connotations.

If you told some random person that you play Traveler or Paranoia, you'd probably get blank looks or asked whether that's a board game. Speaking from personal experience, if you told them you play D&D, this was about the best that you could hope for. A relatively innocuous reaction would be if they asked "Isn't that satanic?" Worse was if they outright assumed your soul needed saving (like the time I got sent to the principal's office because a teacher saw my Rules Cyclopedia).

On a similar note, one of my closest friends was forbidden from playing D&D as a kid. But his mom was perfectly fine with Paladium's TMNT and Other Strangeness RPG.

D&D has generally always been better know than other RPGs, however that hasn't necessarily equated to being a good or attractive thing.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
I don't think your reasoning bears out.

It's only in the past few years that D&D has become somewhat normalized, in part due to streams like Crit Role. For a very significant portion of the time since the invention of D&D, it actually had seriously negative connotations.
Positive or negative connotations, it is the single, one and only almost household by household recognizable brand name for RPGs. Has bee since the ’80s.
If you told some random person that you play Traveler or Paranoia, you'd probably get blank looks or asked whether that's a board game. Speaking from personal experience, if you told them you play D&D, this was about the best that you could hope for. A relatively innocuous reaction would be if they asked "Isn't that satanic?" Worse was if they outright assumed your soul needed saving (like the time I got sent to the principal's office because a teacher saw my Rules Cyclopedia).
But that proves the point. Non-players know what D&D is. Because D&D is synonymous with RPG. That’s literally what you’re arguing against.
On a similar note, one of my closest friends was forbidden from playing D&D as a kid. But his mom was perfectly fine with Paladium's TMNT and Other Strangeness RPG.
Again, proving the point.
D&D has generally always been better know than other RPGs, however that hasn't necessarily equated to being a good or attractive thing.
It’s not about positive or negative outside of the gamer community. It’s recognition and conflating D&D with RPG.

Within the community, that conflation continues as large chunks of people who should know better simply kludge D&D to do anything and everything rather than look for a system designed to do what the Referee and players actually want to use the game for.

Sure, you could run a murder mystery with D&D...but it’s going to suck, mechanically, as the system is not designed to handle that and so will fight you the whole way. This is why conflating D&D with RPG is bad. People conflate the “your only limit is your imagination” part of RPGs with being unique to D&D...rather than a common, definitional aspect of all RPGs. So they think only D&D is like this. It’s not.
 
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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Positive or negative connotations, it is the single, one and only almost household by household recognizable brand name for RPGs. Has bee since the ’80s.

But that proves the point. Non-players know what D&D is. Because D&D is synonymous with RPG. That’s literally what you’re arguing against.

Again, proving the point.

It’s not about positive or negative outside of the gamer community. It’s recognition and conflating D&D with RPG.

Within the community, that conflation continues as large chunks of people who should know better simply kludge D&D to do anything and everything rather than look for a system designed to do what the Referee and players actually want to use the game for.
I was with you until there. I don't think it's conflation, so much as familiarity(people are often scared to try new things) and/or love of the D&D. I'd rather play D&D with weaker social rules, than a non-D&D game with very strong social rules, but which I don't like as much of the rest of the game. D&D is very flexible in that it does some things well, and most of the rest okay. That's sufficient for me to play the game that I want.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
Positive or negative connotations, it is the single, one and only almost household by household recognizable brand name for RPGs. Has bee since the ’80s.

But that proves the point. Non-players know what D&D is. Because D&D is synonymous with RPG. That’s literally what you’re arguing against.

Again, proving the point.

It’s not about positive or negative outside of the gamer community. It’s recognition and conflating D&D with RPG.

Within the community, that conflation continues as large chunks of people who should know better simply kludge D&D to do anything and everything rather than look for a system designed to do what the Referee and players actually want to use the game for.

Sure, you could run a murder mystery with D&D...but it’s going to suck, mechanically, as the system is not designed to handle that and so will fight you the whole way. This is why conflating D&D with RPG is bad. People conflate the “your only limit is your imagination” part of RPGs with being unique to D&D...rather than a common, definitional aspect of all RPGs. So they think only D&D is like this. It’s not.
I really don't think that is it.

I think it has more to do with D&D being the introductory RPG for many people, but even that is only scratching the surface IMO.

For example, my friend that I mentioned in my previous post. His first RPG wasn't D&D. He's played plenty of RPGs over the years, some of which he, himself, created. Yet, he continues to play D&D as his game of choice and hacks it to do all kinds of things it isn't inherently designed to do,

But, and this is important, he doesn't try to change it in ways that would make it feel like it isn't D&D. It retains that inherent D&D gameplay loop of fight monsters, loot, level up, repeat. Oftentimes with additional layers on top that aren't part of that loop, but the loop remains intact.

I would say that this gameplay loop, which has been borrowed by many other successful games including video games, is why people stay. Because it's fun (another way of putting it is that it stimulates the reward center of the brain, although the two aren't actually synonymous). I think many people start playing D&D because of its popularity, but they stay because it's really quite good at that gameplay loop. Irrespective of edition.

Obviously, that's only one reason (the one relevant to this essay). The reasons people enjoy games are many. Some people do in fact find other games that scratch their itch better. There's a reason other games exist.

However, I don't agree that the reason people play and hack D&D is because they're self deluded into believing it's the "norm" or anything along those lines. That sounds more like something someone would come up with to justify why their game of choice isn't more popular than D&D. To which I would reply by recommending that the person stop worrying so much about justifying their own choices, and just enjoy the game of their choice. Just my opinion.
 

dragoner

Dying in Chargen
Literally in some countries, like Russia, D&D is the name for table top role playing games; it is ok, things are great! Or not so much. It is similar to how soft drinks are Cokes, or all American cigarettes are Marlboroughs. I mean I have received traction for my game from both Russia, and Japan, and it being called D&D, yet it is sci-fi, and Cepheus Engine, ie not D&D at all. Funny to in that I did go through a period of not being that happy with D&D and one might think it would upset me, except it doesn't. As a matter of fact I stopped being that way after accidentally hurt the feelings of another player by saying bad things about D&D, and have to kick myself, why on Earth would I do that? Since then it is like "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb." The Bomb being D&D, in this case.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
I was with you until there. I don't think it's conflation, so much as familiarity (people are often scared to try new things) and/or love of the D&D.
I think that's where the conflation comes in, honestly. People complain all the time about how D&D can't do this or that, produces an experience they don't enjoy, etc...but still just keep playing D&D. Why? If the person is someone who came into the hobby (rather than being the kid of a gamer), they're already in the trying new things territory...so being scared of trying new things isn't really a problem for them...yet they will complain about D&D but still play it regardless. It's really rather confusing.
I'd rather play D&D with weaker social rules, than a non-D&D game with very strong social rules, but which I don't like as much of the rest of the game.
You know there are other games out there that don't have strong social rules, right? You know you're also free to drop the strong social rules in those other games, right? Point being that RPGs are a DIY hobby that you can literally alter any aspect of any game to perfectly suit your desired playstyle...or you can cobble together your own game from the spare parts of any other game out there.
D&D is very flexible in that it does some things well, and most of the rest okay.
But it's not flexible and it only really does one thing sort-of well. That's the point. Modern D&D only focuses on combat, which it doesn't do that well. The rest it does rather badly. If you're after a combat-focused do nothing else game, then D&D is your best bet. But it's not a good game. Nor is it even designed that well. The thing it does the best, combat, it doesn't really even do that well.
That's sufficient for me to play the game that I want.
What do you want an RPG game system to do?

I ask because I'm honestly interested, but also to reiterate that you can DIY a game, from minor house rules on up to Frankenstein's Monster level of hacking and creating your own game to precisely match what you want from gaming. There's no need to settle for "sufficient". No need to settle for a game that does a few things "okay".

I think that's where some of the tension is in conversations like this. First there's "D&D is neither the best nor the only RPG" but then there's also "there's not only a universe of already designed games and amongst those there's got to be at least one that perfectly matches how you want to play...and if there isn't...you can make one." It's like settling for McDonald's instead of learning that other fast food places exist...to say nothing of actual restaurants...to say nothing of fine dining...to say nothing of learning to cook for yourself.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
The way I think about it is that system does matter, but probably not as much as the people who frequently post about that notion say in any practical sense. But it's nice when the system isn't fighting what you're trying to do. At the same time, one has to consider whether it's worth the time sink for GM and players and potentially lower quality games while learning when switching to a new system. In some cases, better the devil you know even if it's not perfect for what you're trying to do.
 

payn

Legend
What I do is refer to what im actually playing. Which is often Traveller, Call of Cthulhu, or Pathfinder. When folks ask, "what is that?". I just say a role playing game. If they ask if its "like D&D?", I say kind of. If they inquire any further, I'll explain the differences. Folks will either care or they don't. I just dont want to refer to games I like as D&D when they are not.

I find that VTT has really changed the landscape too. It used to be difficult to recruit for anything but D&D. Now, its pretty easy to find folks for whatever you want to play. My long time F2F group had a habit of not wanting to learn new systems (3E took us a long time to master) so that was an obstacle. When I started doing one shots and pregens of different systems, they really liked what they saw. Now its easier to get that buy in. The D&D gravity well is very hard to escape tho.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
I really don't think that is it.

I think it has more to do with D&D being the introductory RPG for many people, but even that is only scratching the surface IMO.
Right. D&D is the center of gravity for RPGs. There's no denying that. The question isn't "why is D&D the main intro RPG?" the question is "why do people stick with D&D and ignore basically every other RPG out there?" Especially when those other games do most things (if not everything) smoother, better, faster, and with less cruft than D&D. At some point it really is simple brand loyalty. Which, to me, is the same as conflating RPGs with D&D proper.
For example, my friend that I mentioned in my previous post. His first RPG wasn't D&D. He's played plenty of RPGs over the years, some of which he, himself, created. Yet, he continues to play D&D as his game of choice and hacks it to do all kinds of things it isn't inherently designed to do,

But, and this is important, he doesn't try to change it in ways that would make it feel like it isn't D&D. It retains that inherent D&D gameplay loop of fight monsters, loot, level up, repeat. Oftentimes with additional layers on top that aren't part of that loop, but the loop remains intact.

I would say that this gameplay loop, which has been borrowed by many other successful games including video games, is why people stay. Because it's fun (another way of putting it is that it stimulates the reward center of the brain, although the two aren't actually synonymous). I think many people start playing D&D because of its popularity, but they stay because it's really quite good at that gameplay loop. Irrespective of edition.
That's only the game play loop of WotC D&D, not how TSR D&D played at all. Besides, video games do that exact game play loop far, far better. So if that's the draw of D&D, then why are people still playing D&D? If that loop if the main draw (I don't think it is), then they should be seeking the best iteration of that loop. Hint: it's not D&D. So it can't be that.
The reasons people enjoy games are many. Some people do in fact find other games that scratch their itch better. There's a reason other games exist.
Of course. And D&D is so dominant that it has a greater market share than all other RPGs combined. There's clearly some draw. Since the game play loop clearly isn't it. And since all RPGs have the same fundamental "your only limit is your imagination" premise, it's clearly not that either.
However, I don't agree that the reason people play and hack D&D is because they're self deluded into believing it's the "norm" or anything along those lines.
That's not what's being said. What's being said is people are conflating the uniqueness of RPGs, that "your only limit is your imagination" premise, with D&D itself. That's clearly not the case as all RPGs by definition have that as their starting point, so there must be something about D&D that's unique. It's not that premise. It's clearly not brilliance of game design. It's not "does combat well," it doesn't. It's not "does non-combat well," it laughably doesn't. It's not the game play loop you mentioned, video games do that infinitely better. What we have left is inertia, gravity, and popularity. Name recognition and branding. People play D&D because other people play D&D.
 

loverdrive

Makin' cool stuff (She/Her)
What I do is refer to what im actually playing. Which is often Traveller, Call of Cthulhu, or Pathfinder. When folks ask, "what is that?". I just say a role playing game. If they ask if its "like D&D?", I say kind of. If they inquire any further, I'll explain the differences. Folks will either care or they don't. I just dont want to refer to games I like as D&D when they are not.
Yeah. I used to just call the hobby "D&D" when talking to people outside of it, but then I realized that, well, if they don't care, then they don't care. You can call it sublustrum for all it matters.

If they care, and are interested in hearing about your hobby, then "I'm playing tabletop roleplaying games" is more on point and not really any harder to parse.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
The way I think about it is that system does matter, but probably not as much as the people who frequently post about that notion say in any practical sense. But it's nice when the system isn't fighting what you're trying to do. At the same time, one has to consider whether it's worth the time sink for GM and players and potentially lower quality games while learning when switching to a new system. In some cases, better the devil you know even if it's not perfect for what you're trying to do.
To me, that's exactly the argument. Only coming from the other side. It's not worth the time and energy and effort...the time sink...to try to hack D&D endlessly to make it do a half-assed job...a lower quality version...of any of the other games out there. Skills as a referee or game master are largely transferable. Skills as a player are largely transferable. System mastery generally isn't.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
To me, that's exactly the argument. Only coming from the other side. It's not worth the time and energy and effort...the time sink...to try to hack D&D endlessly to make it do a half-assed job...a lower quality version...of any of the other games out there. Skills as a referee or game master are largely transferable. Skills as a player are largely transferable. System mastery generally isn't.
There are certainly plenty of GMs who run games the same way regardless of system and plenty of players that play them the same. Even if the system is pushing them to do something else. It's a wonder why they don't just stick with the original system they learned on if they're going to do that.

But anyway, one can't discount that moving to a more niche game takes time, effort, and probably money, plus being more niche means you have less of a chance of finding other players playing the same game. (Though the internet makes that easier these days.) So when making the calculation as to sticking with the system you know versus something that might possibly do what you want better, a lot of people are just going to say that what they already have going is good enough.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
There are certainly plenty of GMs who run games the same way regardless of system and plenty of players that play them the same. Even if the system is pushing them to do something else. It's a wonder why they don't just stick with the original system they learned on if they're going to do that.
No, that's not what I meant. And I'm pretty confident you know that. Knowing how to share the spotlight, not talk over other players, knowing to read the rules, finish your character, know what your character can do, know what you want to do before the GM/Referee declares it's your turn, etc are universal player skills. Knowing how to set up a game, make interesting scenes, craft interesting NPCs, set up rumor tables, run factions, etc are universal Referee skills.
But anyway, one can't discount that moving to a more niche game takes time, effort, and probably money, plus being more niche means you have less of a chance of finding other players playing the same game. (Though the internet makes that easier these days.) So when making the calculation as to sticking with the system you know versus something that might possibly do what you want better, a lot of people are just going to say that what they already have going is good enough.
So the sunk cost fallacy along with "people play D&D because other people play D&D." Got it. Seems a rather poor reason. What happened to "no gaming is better than bad gaming"?
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
No, that's not what I meant. And I'm pretty confident you know that. Knowing how to share the spotlight, not talk over other players, knowing to read the rules, finish your character, know what your character can do, know what you want to do before the GM/Referee declares it's your turn, etc are universal player skills. Knowing how to set up a game, make interesting scenes, craft interesting NPCs, set up rumor tables, run factions, etc are universal Referee skills.

So the sunk cost fallacy along with "people play D&D because other people play D&D." Got it. Seems a rather poor reason. What happened to "no gaming is better than bad gaming"?
Who says it's bad? For many it's good enough or that's what they're used to.

Did you write an RPG and sales are bad because of D&D? Because otherwise who gives a flying flumph what other people do really?
 


overgeeked

B/X Known World
Who says it's bad?
All the people complaining about how D&D doesn't do what they want it to.
For many it's good enough or that's what they're used to.
"Good enough" =/= good. McDonald's is good enough, though it's barely classifiable as food. What they're used to is the sunk cost fallacy. Just because you're invested in D&D doesn't make it good.
Did you write an RPG and sales are bad because of D&D? Because otherwise who gives a flying flumph what other people do really?
Because D&D sucks up all the players. Its market share is greater than all other RPGs combined. So if you want to play an RPG you either play D&D or you beg for players/a GM. That sucks quite a lot if you don't like D&D.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
Right. D&D is the center of gravity for RPGs. There's no denying that. The question isn't "why is D&D the main intro RPG?" the question is "why do people stick with D&D and ignore basically every other RPG out there?" Especially when those other games do most things (if not everything) smoother, better, faster, and with less cruft than D&D. At some point it really is simple brand loyalty. Which, to me, is the same as conflating RPGs with D&D proper.

That's only the game play loop of WotC D&D, not how TSR D&D played at all. Besides, video games do that exact game play loop far, far better. So if that's the draw of D&D, then why are people still playing D&D? If that loop if the main draw (I don't think it is), then they should be seeking the best iteration of that loop. Hint: it's not D&D. So it can't be that.

Of course. And D&D is so dominant that it has a greater market share than all other RPGs combined. There's clearly some draw. Since the game play loop clearly isn't it. And since all RPGs have the same fundamental "your only limit is your imagination" premise, it's clearly not that either.

That's not what's being said. What's being said is people are conflating the uniqueness of RPGs, that "your only limit is your imagination" premise, with D&D itself. That's clearly not the case as all RPGs by definition have that as their starting point, so there must be something about D&D that's unique. It's not that premise. It's clearly not brilliance of game design. It's not "does combat well," it doesn't. It's not "does non-combat well," it laughably doesn't. It's not the game play loop you mentioned, video games do that infinitely better. What we have left is inertia, gravity, and popularity. Name recognition and branding. People play D&D because other people play D&D.
I think you're mistaken to dismiss the gameplay loop just because video games do it better. The crux of your response is built upon that dismissal, but I couldn't disagree more with your assumption.

Sure, there's an argument to be made for video games doing the loop better. However, it completely overlooks the fact that even the best CRPGs are lacking the strengths of TTRPGs. Namely, freedom and real intelligence behind the world. A DM can respond in ways that a computer simply can't, since computers run programs and programs can only do what a programmer programmed them to be able to do. If the programmer didn't program in a way for you to try to kick in doors, then there's no way for you to do that, irrespective of how much sense it might make to do so.

The strength of D&D is the gameplay loop within the context of that freedom and real intelligence. And, I think, that is also why players often respond very poorly to bad railroading techniques and the like. Because once you start down that railroad they really are better off playing a video game. You hear this sentiment not infrequently when the topic of railroading is raised (if the DM is going to do that, I may as well play a video game).

I think that you could argue that there are some other TTRPGs that do the loop just as well as D&D, but none (IME) that are vastly better WRT that loop. Add to that the fact that D&D has a natural inertia from being many people's first game and, if I'm right about the loop being a significant reason for players staying, it seems quite reasonable that they continue to play D&D, even if they try other games as well.

I don't disagree that people play D&D because other people play D&D. That's certainly a part of its inertia. However, I think that if that were the entirety of it, you'd see far more people abandon D&D for "better" games in the long term. Most long-time gamers I know have played other games, despite that D&D is often their game of choice.

Your food metaphor from earlier is flawed. There's a not-insignificant amount of overhead in learning a new system. It's akin to if, before dining at that fine cusine restaurant, you had to take a 101 course on fine dining at your local college (or at least a weekend seminar). Sure, you can learn while you play if someone knows the rules, but someone has to be the first to learn them so that they can teach it. Moreover, everyone is likely to have a better time if they have at least some familiarity with the rules, because then you can focus more on enjoying the game and less on learning the rules.

IMO, people stay with D&D because it is fun. You can compare D&D to McDonald's all you like, but to me it makes you seem like you're just looking down your nose at it. Personally speaking, I don't find that type of argument terribly persuasive. That said, I expect my odds of persuading you are approaching zero. I've said what I felt was salient to this topic, so I think I will bow out of the conversation, at least for the time being.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I think that's where the conflation comes in, honestly. People complain all the time about how D&D can't do this or that, produces an experience they don't enjoy, etc...but still just keep playing D&D. Why? If the person is someone who came into the hobby (rather than being the kid of a gamer), they're already in the trying new things territory...so being scared of trying new things isn't really a problem for them...yet they will complain about D&D but still play it regardless. It's really rather confusing.
That's not conflation. There's no mix-up of ideas going on. We are accepting that it doesn't do certain things as well as other RPGs and playing it anyway, because reasons.
You know there are other games out there that don't have strong social rules, right? You know you're also free to drop the strong social rules in those other games, right? Point being that RPGs are a DIY hobby that you can literally alter any aspect of any game to perfectly suit your desired playstyle...or you can cobble together your own game from the spare parts of any other game out there.
Sure.
But it's not flexible and it only really does one thing sort-of well. That's the point. Modern D&D only focuses on combat, which it doesn't do that well. The rest it does rather badly. If you're after a combat-focused do nothing else game, then D&D is your best bet. But it's not a good game. Nor is it even designed that well. The thing it does the best, combat, it doesn't really even do that well.
This is your opinion. I think it does combat plenty well and the other stuff decently. It's flexible enough to do what I want.
What do you want an RPG game system to do?
Be flexible enough for me to run a social session one night, a combat focused one the next, and an exploration session on the third. If it can do that decently, and D&D can, then it's flexible enough to mix those three up as I see fit.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
So the sunk cost fallacy along with "people play D&D because other people play D&D." Got it. Seems a rather poor reason. What happened to "no gaming is better than bad gaming"?
You first have to prove that it's bad gaming. I get that your personal opinion is that it's bad, but that's a far cry different than there being some sort of objective proof that D&D is bad at social and exploration. It's not. It may not be great at them like some other RPGs, but that doesn't make them bad.

I've been running games since 1e with great social and exploration interactions in every edition but 4th(which I didn't play). For D&D to be truly bad at those, it shouldn't be possible for me to have great social and explorations.
 

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