D&D 5E [+] What can D&D 5E learn from board games?

overgeeked

B/X Known World
I've asserted a few times that the only fundamental design difference between board games and TTRPGs are the victory conditions and end states. In a board game, the design accounts for an acknowledged goal from the outset, and the conditions and/or time at which the game will end and victory will be evaluated are known from the outset. Players in TTRPG are empowered to keep selecting new victory conditions and the games are expected to generate sensible rules for their evaluation dynamically.

"Only" is obviously working very hard here, because that has huge design repercussions, but the fundamental techniques remain the same. You can do more with a TTRPG to differentiate it further, but I don't think you have to. All of the story/narrative elements can live comfortably inside that repeated reevaluation of goals, and while it is notably important to some users that the game be dynamically designed to include new actions and subsystems as it progresses, I don't think it's necessary.
I mostly agree with you, but there are quite a few tabletop RPGs with clear and distinct end points and goals. One benefit RPGs can gain is the more tight thematic and story focus that you get from boardgames and video games. Designing a loose collection of vague rules that sort of work as a monster fighting game and sort of work (but not really) as a life sim and calling that good enough is, to me, not great. Having a tightly designed monster fighting game that generates rewards for other areas of play, like crafting, factions, domain management, etc would be spectacular. Having dedicated game play loops for those would be great. Ones that also feedback into the main monster fighting game play loop. Reinforcing and reinvigorating each other. 5E, as it stands, just uses gold for all of it and it's boring.
 

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With respect...i don't think you really understood my argument.

Boardgames do not have tactical infinity. The choices are constrained by the game itself severely. Thats what makes them relatively easy to play compared to RPGs. Because in an RPG you technically can do anything. THAT cannot be said of a board game.

So my argument was thus: a designer who wants to lean on the experience of boardgames to develop an rpg is going to have to figure out how to balance those two. Like how do you teach someone about tactical infinity, and yet not constrain that? If that can be done, then I think that would be really cool. And I don't see many RPGs that teach how to make infinite choices. maybe its a pipe dream, and if so, then RPGs will have a barrier to entry that boardgames do not.
I disagree with a core part of this - no ttrpg I'm aware of let's players do anything. There's a theoretically infinite number of options, but only in the sense that's there's an infinite number of numbers between zero and one. In actual practice, there's a large but finite number of options at any given time.

The difference is that ttrpg's allow "make something up" as an available option, if you ca get the gm to agree to it. Board games (and video games) only allow the previously defined list of options. But since "make something up" is usually understood to mean things that fit within the parameters of the existing choices, the theoretically infinite number of new options aren't really letting you do anything the existing options didn't allow.

Ergo, most elements of board games could be used in ttrpgs. Whether they're the right choice for the game you're trying to make is a series of potentially very long discussions. But since this is a DnD thread, I will say there's a lot of useful tricks from games like Gloomhaven or Clank! that could be used to make the DnD experience 'better', or at least different in positive ways.

IE in Clank! there's basically a counter that goes up every time you make noise; once you make too much noise the dragon wakes up and tries to eat everyone still in the dungeon. Having a threat-clock like this (and visible to the players) can add a lot of tension and an important new strategic consideration to your dungeon crawls.
 

damiller

Adventurer
I disagree with a core part of this - no ttrpg I'm aware of let's players do anything. There's a theoretically infinite number of options, but only in the sense that's there's an infinite number of numbers between zero and one. In actual practice, there's a large but finite number of options at any given time.

The difference is that ttrpg's allow "make something up" as an available option, if you ca get the gm to agree to it. Board games (and video games) only allow the previously defined list of options. But since "make something up" is usually understood to mean things that fit within the parameters of the existing choices, the theoretically infinite number of new options aren't really letting you do anything the existing options didn't allow.

Ergo, most elements of board games could be used in ttrpgs. Whether they're the right choice for the game you're trying to make is a series of potentially very long discussions. But since this is a DnD thread, I will say there's a lot of useful tricks from games like Gloomhaven or Clank! that could be used to make the DnD experience 'better', or at least different in positive ways.

IE in Clank! there's basically a counter that goes up every time you make noise; once you make too much noise the dragon wakes up and tries to eat everyone still in the dungeon. Having a threat-clock like this (and visible to the players) can add a lot of tension and an important new strategic consideration to your dungeon crawls.
ok we disagree.
 

Retreater

Legend
Many board games have apps that handle the fiddly bits and run events as the "board." This could be an opportunity for a Choose Your Own Adventure style game where friends sit around a table and play with a pre-recorded DM (kind of like the old Audio CD adventures from the 1990s).
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Many board games have apps that handle the fiddly bits and run events as the "board." This could be an opportunity for a Choose Your Own Adventure style game where friends sit around a table and play with a pre-recorded DM (kind of like the old Audio CD adventures from the 1990s).
Call of Cthulhu has the Alone Against series of solo scenarios. There was a mobile game / app you could use to play through those scenarios. I don’t remember the gameplay. It was taken down years ago. I think it was more CYOA than rolling dice.
 

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