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

overgeeked

B/X Known World
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.
There's not really an argument there. It's a fact. Video games simply do it better. Your assertion was that the game play loop was a draw. Okay. So if that game play loop is the draw...why do people play games that do a substandard version of that same game play loop, i.e. tabletop RPGs. The computer can give you scrolling damage over your avatar's head, give you scrolling healing over your avatar's head, and give you scrolling XP gains over your avatar's head. If your argument is the game play loop is a "reward center of the brain" addiction mechanism, then clearly video games do that infinitely better. Tabletop RPGs have to have a Referee calculate those numbers and dole them out. That takes time. It's usually done at the end of a session, if it's done at all. Doling out specific XP rewards that is.
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.
They arguments are not connected. One argument isn't predicated on the other. RPGs are infinitely better, at least in theory, in that regard. But again, that is a definitional trait of tabletop RPGs as a whole, not D&D specifically.
The strength of D&D is the gameplay loop within the context of that freedom and real intelligence.
Again, that game play loop is not unique to D&D. Lots of adventure RPGs have it. And again, the freedom of choice is a definitional trait of all RPGs, it's not unique to D&D.
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).
Or read a novel. That's one I hear more frequently. And I agree.
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 think you're wrong about the loop. Lots of games have it. It's mostly the inertia of D&D. It's popular because it's the most recognized name in the space. It's largely the only recognized name in the space.
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.
It's the inertia. Sure, you could go play some other game, but playing those is orders of magnitude harder to find players for. It's easier to simply backslide into D&D as the default state.
Your food metaphor from earlier is flawed. There's a not-insignificant amount of overhead in learning a new system.
It depends entirely on the system.

Here. Let me teach you a game system.

"If the outcome of an action isn't obvious from the fiction, roll opposed 2d6. Higher roll wins. Negotiate ties."

There. Now you've learned a new game system.

Now, tell me how hard that was and how much it cost you besides the few seconds to read the sentence?
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.
Not all games have systems as complex as D&D. There is a whole universe of games with drastically less complicated rules. If you spend a few minutes looking, you can find games where the system is less complicated than a fast food chain's menu.
IMO, people stay with D&D because it is fun.
And the inertia. And because their friends play. And because...and because...

It's not just one thing.
 

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iserith

Magic Wordsmith
All the people complaining about how D&D doesn't do what they want it 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.

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.
Do you actually have this problem or are you speaking for all those poor multitudes who haven't been blessed to be able to play GURPS because of D&D's hegemony?
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
Do you actually have this problem or are you speaking for all those poor multitudes who haven't been blessed to be able to play GURPS because of D&D's hegemony?

I have a shelf full of GURPS books and yet I can honestly say I have never had a "fun" GURPS session. Tried with my group (me DMing and someone else DMing), tried at conventions (Gen Con several times and a California Con I can't remember the name of) - just never had a session work all that well for me.

My current theory is that I've been so conditioned to multiple types of dice during a session that I can't get into just rolling d6s (well, it's a working theory).
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
All the people complaining about how D&D doesn't do what they want it to.

If there really are "all the people..." complaining, why is it so hard to find people to play things other than D&D? Real question.

"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.

McDonald's is tasty - the salt, sugar and fat ensure it. It's not competing with Michelin starred restaurants.

And I disagree that D&D is not a good game - It's plenty good and works for a lot of people. The mechanics are decent and have some modern concepts thrown in with all the sacred cows and nostalgia.

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.

I'll have to agree here, as I have a good friend of mine who loves gaming but D&D is way down on his list. Yet finding games outside of D&D (in LA of all places) is HARD.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
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.
Right. You're accepting that it doesn't do things well but you keep playing it anyway...because reasons. What reasons?
I think it does combat plenty well and the other stuff decently. It's flexible enough to do what I want.

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.
Exactly like the vast majority of other RPGs out there. So, since the vast majority of RPGs can do exactly the same...and there's a very good chance that any given game does some stuff better (note how you said above that you're accepting D&D doesn't do some things well), why stick with D&D?
You first have to prove that it's bad gaming.
If the system you're using doesn't do things well, especially things you want it to do...that's bad gaming. That's not some wild leap of logic.
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.
D&D 5E has basically no rules for social interaction. Yes, I'm aware it technically has some. But when they amount to "DM decides and maybe make a roll" they might as well not exist at all. The exploration rules are poorly written, scattered across several books and scattered across several chapters within those books, and it's extraordinarily easy to press a button and overcome the majority of exploration "obstacles". What you're saying looks a lot like equivocating. "Just because it's not good doesn't make it 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.
One has nothing to do with the other. You're a human with a brain and can think for yourself and make decisions about how the game should work...you can make rulings. You're not beholden to the game system or rules. You're not confined by it. If nothing else, you can simply ignore what's in the book. That you ran social interactions in 1E...which literally did not have social interaction rules beyond reaction tables...suggests that you either cobbled together a system for it yourself or just went with your gut, which is basically freeform role-playing...no system required. Either way, what was or was not in the book didn't limit you as a DM. You didn't have "great social and explorations" because of some rules in AD&D, you had "great social and explorations" despite the limitations of the game system. You as the DM did that. Not the game system.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I have a shelf full of GURPS books and yet I can honestly say I have never had a "fun" GURPS session. Tried with my group (me DMing and someone else DMing), tried at conventions (Gen Con several times and a California Con I can't remember the name of) - just never had a session work all that well for me.

My current theory is that I've been so conditioned to multiple types of dice during a session that I can't get into just rolling d6s (well, it's a working theory).
I played GURPS once in the late 80's or early 90's and didn't like it.

Los Angeles has Gateway, Gamex and Orccon. Maybe it was one of those.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
Right. You're accepting that it doesn't do things well but you keep playing it anyway...because reasons. What reasons?

Exactly like the vast majority of other RPGs out there. So, since the vast majority of RPGs can do exactly the same...and there's a very good chance that any given game does some stuff better (note how you said above that you're accepting D&D doesn't do some things well), why stick with D&D?
Because it does enough things well enough that it isn't worth having five different games to try to arrange a gaming group around, and so has worked to set up a long running campaign?

If the system you're using doesn't do things well, especially things you want it to do...that's bad gaming. That's not some wild leap of logic.
Which system does everything someone might want to do in a fantasy campaign well?

D&D 5E has basically no rules for social interaction. Yes, I'm aware it technically has some. But when they amount to "DM decides and maybe make a roll" they might as well not exist at all.

I've loathed most of the things that tried to make it more than that, and have had just fine experiences with it... Having the PC spend meta-points to make a lifelong X switch to a Y seems odd to me and not what I want in an RPG.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I think sometimes people who don’t like D&D (or who are ok with it but prefer other games) project pretty hard onto other folks. Not everyone who plays D&D does so only because they don’t know any better or can’t find a group for anything else. Lots of people do genuinely like D&D, even having played and enjoyed other systems. I’m sorry to anyone who struggles to find a group for the game they want to play, but not everyone who plays D&D does so because they’re “trapped” by ignorance or by D&D’s market share.
 
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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Right. You're accepting that it doesn't do things well but you keep playing it anyway...because reasons. What reasons?
@iserith has stated them pretty well. Also, I tend not to like other systems completely, so even if a system does social or exploration better than D&D(which does them just fine), I tend to dislike other aspects of it. D&D on the other hand I like all of, even if it doesn't do an aspect as well as some other system.
Exactly like the vast majority of other RPGs out there. So, since the vast majority of RPGs can do exactly the same...and there's a very good chance that any given game does some stuff better (note how you said above that you're accepting D&D doesn't do some things well), why stick with D&D?
If those RPGs were exactly like D&D, they would be D&D. They aren't, so they aren't exactly like D&D. That means that even if they offer the flexibility I want, it's likely that they won't do so in a way that I like. I don't want to spend time and money to learn a game that I'm not going to like as much. I periodically try new games at local game conventions. I've never tried one that I ended up wanting to buy. Some were okay. Most I just disliked.
If the system you're using doesn't do things well, especially things you want it to do...that's bad gaming.
Cool. Cool. I'll let you know if I ever try a system that doesn't do things well. D&D isn't that system. You keep trying to present your opinion as if it were some sort of fact that the rest of us should accept. Again, you have yet to back up your claim that D&D is bad at these things.
D&D 5E has basically no rules for social interaction. Yes, I'm aware it technically has some. But when they amount to "DM decides and maybe make a roll" they might as well not exist at all.
The social skills are rules for social interactions. Charisma is a rule for social interaction. The rules on starting attitudes are rules on social interaction. The rules on changing attitudes are rules on social interactions. The rules on determining characteristics for NPCs which can be identified and exploited during social encounters are rules on social interactions. Specific rules like Charm Person and Suggestion are rules on social interactions.

D&D has plenty enough social rules to have meaningful social interactions. That you personally prefer more doesn't change that.
The exploration rules are poorly written, scattered across several books and scattered across several chapters within those books, and it's extraordinarily easy to press a button and overcome the majority of exploration "obstacles". What you're saying looks a lot like equivocating. "Just because it's not good doesn't make it bad."
The exploration rules are even better than the social. There's no equivocation here. I'm not attempting to conceal the "truth" and I have in fact committed myself. D&D is plenty good enough at social and exploration. Your personal feelings to the contrary don't change that.
One has nothing to do with the other. You're a human with a brain and can think for yourself and make decisions about how the game should work...you can make rulings. You're not beholden to the game system or rules. You're not confined by it. If nothing else, you can simply ignore what's in the book. That you ran social interactions in 1E...which literally did not have social interaction rules beyond reaction tables...suggests that you either cobbled together a system for it yourself or just went with your gut, which is basically freeform role-playing...no system required. Either way, what was or was not in the book didn't limit you as a DM. You didn't have "great social and explorations" because of some rules in AD&D, you had "great social and explorations" despite the limitations of the game system. You as the DM did that. Not the game system.
And this is one major Stawman, man. I didn't argue that I could go outside the rules to make it good. Your argument there is basically saying that I have to do those things to have good social and exploration interactions. I don't. The game does just fine all by itself.
 


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