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

loverdrive

Prophet of the profane (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.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

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.
 

Remove ads

AD6_gamerati_skyscraper

Remove ads

Upcoming Releases

Top