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

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Note this is a plus thread.

If your response to the thread title is "nothing," then this thread isn't for you. Please keep that comment to yourself and move on.

The premise of the thread is: D&D 5E can be improved by learning from video games.

If you want to argue against the premise of the thread, then this thread isn't for you. Please keep those comments to yourself and move on.

#

So the question is: what specifically can D&D 5E use from video games to improve the game?

I think it's fruitful to first eliminate all the things that video games can do that people at a table cannot. Talking about graphics, soundtracks, etc are not really things the people at a table can curate in the way that video game companies with millions to spend can.

So what can people at a table do to improve the game by emulating video games?

Speed of Play. RPGs infamously pack 30 minutes of fun into four+ hours of play. Working to shrink that ratio as much as possible would be a great step. Video games have a computer to run all the complex maths and systems, but this is generally mental work the players at the table have to perform themselves, so either introducing computers into the game to resolve all the complex maths and systems or simplifying the maths and systems to be more easily run by the players at the table. While RPGs will never realistically get to the point of reflexive button smashing that some video games thrive on, I think it's a worthwhile endeavor to speed up game play.

Solo Play. Most video games are designed for solo play; most tabletop RPGs are designed for group play. Some video games include group play; some RPGs include solo play. Do you play World of Warcraft? Imagine only being able to play when there's a raid. While there are a few tools out there and solo play is becoming more accepted, it's still a niche within a niche within a niche. Getting more tools, more acceptance, and including solo play by design would be great.

Focused Theme. Video games are, generally speaking, much more focused than most RPGs. Traditional RPGs tend more towards life sims while storygames tend more towards the kinds of thematically-focused experience you'd find in video games. While there are pros and cons of both trad and storygames, there's a lot to be said for focusing on one type of experience, one kind of play and doing that incredibly well rather than trying to do everything and being not that great at delivering.

Wide-Open World. Some video games have very limited themes and therefore very limited maps or areas where the game takes place, other video games have exploration as their theme (or one of their themes) so they come with huge, wide-open world maps that you can explore. This is a staple of the most D&D-like video games, such as WoW. Some D&D games have this, some don't. This is a staple of a lot of old-school play.

Persistent World. Video games like MMOs where group activities are a regular occurrence tend to have persistent worlds. While having a persistent world created by the referee and having huge groups or multiple groups playing in that same, persistent world is a staple of some old-school play, it's generally not that common any more. One group of a few players in a persistent world is the norm, from what I can tell, but massive games with dozens of players and multiple concurrent groups is not.

Save Points & Respawning. Video games have save points and RPGs do not. It is a difference between the two, though I'm not sure RPGs would benefit from save points. Some RPGs, most notably D&D, has effectively respawning in the form of reliable and easy resurrection.

Dungeon Scaling. This is specific to WoW, rather than video games generally. In WoW you can take just about any level character into just about any dungeon and have the experience scaled to your level. This is done by adjusting the PCs' current numbers and the NPCs numbers to basically match what they should be if the PCs were the appropriate level. Generally reducing the numbers by quite a lot. This is easy to do with a computer, but not that easy for a person at the table. However, there are lots of tools referees could use to inflate the NPCs' numbers to bring them in line with a higher level group. This allows a group of almost any level to engage with a dungeon of almost any level.

What else is there?

#

Note: discussion of board games has a dedicated thread. Here.
 
Last edited:

log in or register to remove this ad

Discovery. Not sure how to implement that, as I’m sure many will say it’s on the DM to paint a good picture or set up a grid map or something, but many video games have a sense of discovery as a major feature, both in environments and secrets. I think that having some kind of system that encourages both within the core books and not just in DMG or adventure modules would be great. Put some words to it so people can understand that’s it not all combat or rolling your Perception.
 


Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
Boss Monsters with cool Power moves

Boss Monsters with semi-predictable/exploitable patterns that can be used to give Players an advantage

Boss Monsters that adapt to player interactions by releasing the next ‘Power move’

Boss Monsters that get to summon waves of mooks to keep the player busy while the recover or set up the next Power Move

Dungeons that include Sub-Bosses before reaching the Boss monster

waves of easy mooks to keep the player occupied
 
Last edited:

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
Save Points & Respawning. Video games have save points and RPGs do not. It is a difference between the two, though I'm not sure RPGs would benefit from save points. Some RPGs, most notably D&D, has effectively respawning in the form of reliable and easy resurrection.
I want to talk about this one for a minute because I think it has a very powerful effect on play. Before I begin, tho, I want to note that there are games (or at least game modes) that eliminate this in video games: permadeath in roguelikes is one example, as are "nightmare" modes in other kinds of games.

With that said, I think that if you built the lore of a ttrpg to incorporate the idea of "save points" or "extra lives" it would have an interesting effect on play. For example, imagine the characters in a D&D campaign are caught in a time loop where they are trying to fix some catastrophe at the behest of a godlike being. If they die, the being just shunts them to a new timeline just a few moments before the fateful encounter or decision that ended their "run." or, imagine a world in which death is just a speed bump. If the PCs die, they upload their stack into a new clone and teleport it to some location adjacent to where they died. In either case, the important part is that it is part of the world for both the players and the PCs.

With that established I don't think it is a stretch to suggest that players -- even while acting in character -- would be more bold. They would be willing to try risky or even weird ideas. They would be willing to take a chance or make a bad decision just to see how it turns out. Of course, limiting the resurrections mechanic (you only have 9 lives!) would mitigate that to some degree, which may or may not be desirable. In any case, players that don't perceive failure or death as the end of the story, who in fact can use what they learned from that failure or death in the next go around, would certainly engage with the game in a different way.

Whether that is desirable or not is of course up for debate.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
I want to talk about this one for a minute because I think it has a very powerful effect on play. Before I begin, tho, I want to note that there are games (or at least game modes) that eliminate this in video games: permadeath in roguelikes is one example, as are "nightmare" modes in other kinds of games.
Absolutely. I was thinking more generally. Games like WoW, most shooters, Souls-likes, etc.
With that said, I think that if you built the lore of a ttrpg to incorporate the idea of "save points" or "extra lives" it would have an interesting effect on play.
Exactly. Just look at Paranoia compared to Alien.
For example, imagine the characters in a D&D campaign are caught in a time loop where they are trying to fix some catastrophe at the behest of a godlike being. If they die, the being just shunts them to a new timeline just a few moments before the fateful encounter or decision that ended their "run." or, imagine a world in which death is just a speed bump. If the PCs die, they upload their stack into a new clone and teleport it to some location adjacent to where they died. In either case, the important part is that it is part of the world for both the players and the PCs.
Yep. The heroes or the special people can do this, not everyone. But it would be wildly different to a game where everyone had that functionality.
With that established I don't think it is a stretch to suggest that players -- even while acting in character -- would be more bold. They would be willing to try risky or even weird ideas. They would be willing to take a chance or make a bad decision just to see how it turns out. Of course, limiting the resurrections mechanic (you only have 9 lives!) would mitigate that to some degree, which may or may not be desirable. In any case, players that don't perceive failure or death as the end of the story, who in fact can use what they learned from that failure or death in the next go around, would certainly engage with the game in a different way.
Spot on. Mechanical changes elicit game play changes which elicit changes of tone and feeling for the player. Love the MDA framework.
Whether that is desirable or not is of course up for debate.
Well, hopefully the designer would make that mechanical change explicitly to elicit some style of play choices or feelings in the player. If they wanted the results (bolder play, etc), they'd make that choice. If not, then not.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Discovery. Not sure how to implement that, as I’m sure many will say it’s on the DM to paint a good picture or set up a grid map or something, but many video games have a sense of discovery as a major feature, both in environments and secrets. I think that having some kind of system that encourages both within the core books and not just in DMG or adventure modules would be great. Put some words to it so people can understand that’s it not all combat or rolling your Perception.
Pulling in advice from people like Justin Alexander and Mike Shea would go a long way to answer any questions people might have about doing this in a game. Bringing back something like skill challenges, though much looser, would solve so many problems.
Minigames and crafting and mercantile systems would be appreciated.
What kind of mechanics would you want for crafting? 3X style spend XP to get a magic item or some kind of series of skill checks? Advice on making crafting into a quest?
Boss Monsters with cool Power moves

Boss Monsters with semi-predictable/exploitable patterns that can be used to give Players an advantage as well as Boss Monsters that adapt to player interactions by releasing the next ‘power move’.

Boss Monsters that get to summon waves of mooks to keep the player busy while the recover or set up the next Power Move

Dungeons included Sub-Bosses before reaching the Boss monster

waves of easy mooks to keep the player occupied
Yes, that would be great. I think MCDM is covering a lot of this with their Flee, Mortals! book. Which essentially brings in most of the 4E monster design WotC tossed when they moved to 5E. Seeing better designed monsters, with cool stuff to do, that are more than just big sacks of hit points would be great. Proper mooks and boss fight mechanics would be amazing.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
People generally like games where they eventually feel powerful but they want that feeling to seem earned. Incorporate more of that.

Don’t treat leveling as the only reward. Players need loot!

Your campaign should have some selling points for things it does well. It doesn’t have to do everything well.
 

Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
What kind of mechanics would you want for crafting? 3X style spend XP to get a magic item or some kind of series of skill checks? Advice on making crafting into a quest?
Of the top of my head, I'd have a ''recipe'' for every magic item and a crafting time. You know, like every spell has its own material cost listed?

Then you have a list of generic reagent/components you can gather while exploring. Something similar to the 4e magical reagents for rituals, but expanded a little (star metal, mithril, iron, sacred yew, elemental X crystal, fae leaves, demon icho, etc)
 

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
I don't think thee is anything that video games have tried that TTRPGs and D&D have not tried first. But some things work better with the aid of a computer. I actually really want to see a really complex TTRPG build specifically for VTTs where you get all the benefits of a ttrpg but the VTT does all the weird esoteric math for you.
 

Voidrunner's Codex

Remove ads

Top