D&D General What D&D reflects today, media wise...

I saw someone mention in another post that D&D no longer reflects LotRs (and Conan). Society has moved on and now D&D is or is expected to lean more into DOTA and The Witcher (funny enough is based heavily on classic fairy tales like Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, etc etc)

I found the poster choosing DOTA and Witcher really odd choices. If anything I'd say more like MMOs and Anime...

Anywho, it got me to thinking while LotRs is far far more widely known period, what younger D&D fans may care about more now-a-days is Pokemon or Warcraft. Should D&D reflect the more current modern popular fiction? A monster hunter that catches Beholders in special magic balls?

Would it even be D&D anymore if you pushed to the side Halflings, Elves, Dwarves, etc?

Does D&D NOW reflect current media as opposed to the old and dusty LotRs (What Amazon tv series?). What do you think it should reflect? Lean back into more MMO play like 4th ed?
 

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billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
It should ultimately be able to reflect a variety of influences, just like it always has to a certain degree. While it may include content specifically oriented toward certain works (elves, dwarves, halflings, orcs for LotR), a lot of the approach and attitude is brought by the DMs and players. Do they run a swords and sorcery type of world? A points of light world? A fantasy kitchen sink?
D&D can and should be adaptable enough to put at least a foot in any of those doorways without losing complete sight of the others.
 

Plaguescarred

D&D Playtester for WoTC since 2012
To me D&D has always reflected many fantasy genres, and always will.

Campaign vary far and wide from low to high magic, post-apocalyptic, low to high fantasy, gothic dark, heroic to gritty etc and today's D&D edition or popular TV series don't really change that perspective for me.

D&D can be so many things after all that there is generally a movie or serie that you can more or less associate with a genre or campaign style. It's just that today there's more produced to potentially make association than there was in the 80's, and tomorrow, will be even more...
 

TheAlkaizer

Game Designer
I started with 3E, and to me D&D never really reflected much of Lord of the Rings. There's obviously a huge and undeniable part of the DNA of D&D and fantasy as a whole that comes from it. But D&D was always too pulpy to feel Lord of the Rings. To me, Lord of the Rings always felt very coherent and muted. If it was a painting, it'd have low saturation, greys, beiges, browns with specks of color at specific places. D&D always felt like an overwhelming deluge of ideas. The amplitude between the tamest and wildest ideas is huge. If it was a painting, it'd have clashing colors all over the place. But once again, I didn't play 2E (I did once) and didn't experience that era (and the previous ones) of D&D.

The Witcher is definitely much closer in tone to my concept of D&D. It's still rooted in something a bit realistic and historical, but it has a scope that's closer to what I experienced as a player. And most things that are magical are explained; spells have words, there's a method to it, there's recipes to mutagens, etc. Where in Lord of the Rings it's all very mysterious and unexplainable.

I think where the relationship to DOTA is interesting is that DOTA is also highly ecclectic. It's characters are all very different, weirds and not much is explained. It's common throughout many video game franchises: APEX, Dota, League of Legends, Overwatch. Humongous casts of colorful character. Coherence is not the goal.

I'm a huge fan of history, so I tend to base myself on some historical realities and I lean towards low-fantasy or grimdark settings. But most of the players that are my age or younger (I'm 31) lean towards these colorful and eclectic characters that could come out of one of these franchises. To them, D&D is making a character that's very unique. It'll have pink hair, weird contraption as glasses, or look/garments that could come out of anything historical period or more modern esthetic (leather coat). They really seem to pull heavily on popular culture and mix things (Steampunk, 18th century gothic, Renaissance, Bronze age, etc). I don't mind it, but I notice the difference in mindset and approach.

So, the distinction I'd make is that I don't think the way D&D presents itself has changed much since the 3E (it has in many ways, but no in the ways you describe) but I think there's been a shift in the playerbase and they're bringing different influences and it has became of vessel of mixing up any creative ideas people want to play with. I also think the eternal debate of "homebrew D&D to play any genre or setting VS learn a new RPG adapted for it" is also related to that shift in some ways. The rules of D&D are good enough to create fiction, and people just want to jump around and experience other things.

The interesting question could be: do we think D&D will change how it presents itself to cater to this new perspective on the hobby?
 

Reynard

Legend
I think D&D long ago reached the point where it is perpetually referencing itself. Especially in 5th edition, even more so than 4th, 3rd, and 2nd.
Looking at what is around for D&D today, it seems to be near exclusively things that had been well established since AD&D.
Came here to say this. If D&D looks like MMORPGs or fantasy anime, it is because they referenced D&D first.
 


I started with 3E, and to me D&D never really reflected much of Lord of the Rings. There's obviously a huge and undeniable part of the DNA of D&D and fantasy as a whole that comes from it. But D&D was always too pulpy to feel Lord of the Rings. To me, Lord of the Rings always felt very coherent and muted. If it was a painting, it'd have low saturation, greys, beiges, browns with specks of color at specific places. D&D always felt like an overwhelming deluge of ideas. The amplitude between the tamest and wildest ideas is huge. If it was a painting, it'd have clashing colors all over the place. But once again, I didn't play 2E (I did once) and didn't experience that era (and the previous ones) of D&D.

The Witcher is definitely much closer in tone to my concept of D&D. It's still rooted in something a bit realistic and historical, but it has a scope that's closer to what I experienced as a player. And most things that are magical are explained; spells have words, there's a method to it, there's recipes to mutagens, etc. Where in Lord of the Rings it's all very mysterious and unexplainable.

I think where the relationship to DOTA is interesting is that DOTA is also highly ecclectic. It's characters are all very different, weirds and not much is explained. It's common throughout many video game franchises: APEX, Dota, League of Legends, Overwatch. Humongous casts of colorful character. Coherence is not the goal.

I'm a huge fan of history, so I tend to base myself on some historical realities and I lean towards low-fantasy or grimdark settings. But most of the players that are my age or younger (I'm 31) lean towards these colorful and eclectic characters that could come out of one of these franchises. To them, D&D is making a character that's very unique. It'll have pink hair, weird contraption as glasses, or look/garments that could come out of anything historical period or more modern esthetic (leather coat). They really seem to pull heavily on popular culture and mix things (Steampunk, 18th century gothic, Renaissance, Bronze age, etc). I don't mind it, but I notice the difference in mindset and approach.

So, the distinction I'd make is that I don't think the way D&D presents itself has changed much since the 3E (it has in many ways, but no in the ways you describe) but I think there's been a shift in the playerbase and they're bringing different influences and it has became of vessel of mixing up any creative ideas people want to play with. I also think the eternal debate of "homebrew D&D to play any genre or setting VS learn a new RPG adapted for it" is also related to that shift in some ways. The rules of D&D are good enough to create fiction, and people just want to jump around and experience other things.

The interesting question could be: do we think D&D will change how it presents itself to cater to this new perspective on the hobby?

It already is changing to cater to a new perspective, just have to see all the new updates monsters and rule changes etc.

I wouldn't be surprised if in 6E Elves Dwarves an Halflings etc got dropped for core and replaced with Tabaxi, Goliath, and Goblins
 

Reynard

Legend
It already is changing to cater to a new perspective, just have to see all the new updates monsters and rule changes etc.

I wouldn't be surprised if in 6E Elves Dwarves an Halflings etc got dropped for core and replaced with Tabaxi, Goliath, and Goblins
I behind there is a 0% chance they are going to drop elves, dwarves or halflings from the core.

Gnomes, though, we can only hope.
 


overgeeked

B/X Known World
I saw someone mention in another post that D&D no longer reflects LotRs (and Conan). Society has moved on and now D&D is or is expected to lean more into DOTA and The Witcher (funny enough is based heavily on classic fairy tales like Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, etc etc)

I found the poster choosing DOTA and Witcher really odd choices. If anything I'd say more like MMOs and Anime...
Yeah, exactly. MMOs, anime, superheroes. But there's a fair amount of DOTA there, too.
Anywho, it got me to thinking while LotRs is far far more widely known period, what younger D&D fans may care about more now-a-days is Pokemon or Warcraft. Should D&D reflect the more current modern popular fiction? A monster hunter that catches Beholders in special magic balls?
We already have things almost like that in D&D today. There is a big section of companions and pets in Tasha's and the pet classes were reworked because they were unsatisfying.
Would it even be D&D anymore if you pushed to the side Halflings, Elves, Dwarves, etc?
D&D is whatever the IP owner decides to slap the logo on. It's wouldn't be a D&D that I recognize or would want to play, but it would still be D&D.
Does D&D NOW reflect current media as opposed to the old and dusty LotRs (What Amazon tv series?).
Absolutely. It's old media (LotR, Conan, etc) influenced by new media (superhero movies, anime, pokemon, etc).
What do you think it should reflect?
It should reflect both its own tradition and what's popular now. Kinda like it is. But, that's not going to be attractive to older fans. I'm not sure a perfect balance is possible in one game line.
Lean back into more MMO play like 4th ed?
I think it's big enough to afford at least two supported game lines. Something like Basic and Advanced from the 80s. Make Basic the lighter, more story and character focused line and Advanced the more crunch and combat focused line.
 



I don't know if I really buy the premise here. LotR is still extremely popular, especially through the films. As is the low-magic fantasy series game of thrones, which was a pop culture phenomenon until it imploded in the last season. It's less a shift in culture and more additive, with other varieties of fantasy influencing how people might approach dnd. Often these are dnd-inspired, especially through video games: Zelda, Final Fantasy, Skyrim, Dark Souls, Witcher, not to mention games directly within the dnd IP (baldur's gate, neverwinter nights, etc). But then, dnd was never just LotR-inspired, was it? There was always elements of science fantasy, superhero fantasy, horror, etc, that worked their way through various modules and settings.
 



J.Quondam

CR 1/8
Tally one more for the "it's its own genre" crew.... and it's always been it's own goofy genre. Just look at those old houserules in the "Original Known World" thread: aside from the fantasy and mythology influences, there are call-outs to supers, sci-fi, spy thrillers, and so forth. It's not straight LoTR or S&S by any stretch.

D&D is gonzo, always has been.* If it feels "different" now, it's only because there's more pop-culture easily available to reference, and a wider diversity of gamers to reference it. But it's still the "same" in the sense that it freely sucks in whatever tropes it wants to make for a fun game.


* Gamers (like me!) with "boring" setting sensibilities notwithstanding. ;)
 
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Reynard

Legend
I think it's big enough to afford at least two supported game lines. Something like Basic and Advanced from the 80s. Make Basic the lighter, more story and character focused line and Advanced the more crunch and combat focused line.
Lol. We recently had this discussion on this board and folks by and large came down on no, it isn't (even though I think it is).
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
D&D has always had a wide variety of influences on it from popular culture of its time and the recurring influence of pulp fiction/weird fiction that predates it by decades (and the current view of that stuff at any given time). This is true both for people's home games and for the modules and supplements that TSR/WotC/3rd party companies put out for it.

D&D is (and should be) a "big tent," including a diverse range of possible styles and aesthetics and preferences - and I am not that worried about "what direction it goes" or what it reflects - I can keep playing/running the D&D I want regardless of what the common media influence happens to be at any given point and I can always find some degree of inspiration from whatever that happens to be, even if generally they don't match my style. Heck, one of the biggest influences on my current game is The Wire not any particular fantasy setting or genre. Furthermore, ever since Gygax decided to include Tolkienisms in the game, despite Gygax not being that big fan, GMs have made use of inspirational sources even when they would not be what that GM would choose to read/watch when they sat down with free time.

Finally, I want to reiterate my usual position, which is that WotC does not own D&D. D&D exists among the communities that play it. It is good and convenient that we still have a company putting things out and revising rules, etc. . but that is absolutely not a necessary part of continuing the (diverse) tradition(s) of D&D games.

Edit to add: I had to google what DOTA was, because I had no idea. :ROFLMAO:
 
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