What game Could "Be" D&D, Culturally?

So many other games lacked the long play of D&D and more resembled board game design. D&D has elements of danger, but the danger is based on your involvement. Games like Traveler and WHFRP had too many mechanics where you were just removed from the game, which plays more like a board game than an RPG. There were other games where the advancement was too stagnant and the challenges were not defined (Palladium or WoD) so the campaigns would stall out rather quickly. Another problem is most games lack specific roles to give everyone a unique place at the table. Games like Marvel Super Heroes were fun but completely unbalanced and one character could completely dominate a game. So it wasn't just the time and place, there was a lot more that went into the success of D&D, and why we're always going back to it.

Think of how long we've been playing RPGs and how long it's taken for game designers to build mechanics that foster a particular style of play. It's really a miracle that D&D was able to get it done first with no frame of reference.
 

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Reynard

Legend
So many other games lacked the long play of D&D and more resembled board game design. D&D has elements of danger, but the danger is based on your involvement. Games like Traveler and WHFRP had too many mechanics where you were just removed from the game, which plays more like a board game than an RPG. There were other games where the advancement was too stagnant and the challenges were not defined (Palladium or WoD) so the campaigns would stall out rather quickly. Another problem is most games lack specific roles to give everyone a unique place at the table. Games like Marvel Super Heroes were fun but completely unbalanced and one character could completely dominate a game. So it wasn't just the time and place, there was a lot more that went into the success of D&D, and why we're always going back to it.

Think of how long we've been playing RPGs and how long it's taken for game designers to build mechanics that foster a particular style of play. It's really a miracle that D&D was able to get it done first with no frame of reference.
Having played lots and lots of different RPGs, including most of the ones you mention, I don't agree with any of this.
 

Having played lots and lots of different RPGs, including most of the ones you mention, I don't agree with any of this.

Yeah. Honestly, just to contrast D&D and Traveler, while Traveler had the dumb (and I say that even understanding the purpose it served in constraining character gen, but it was still dumb) die-in-character gen, you really weren't any more brittle in most combats than low level D&D characters were, no more likely to be taken out of play in other ways. It did lack any in-play (as compared to training based) advancement, but that wasn't true of some of his other examples (and honestly, you'd probably notice a World of Darkness character's advancement more than you would an OD&D fighter's).
 

innerdude

Legend
D&D not existing leads to vast holes in the timeline including foundational video games like Colossal Cave Adventure, Wizardry, Ultima, and from them DragonQuest and Final Fantasy. It possibly also sweeps the legs out from under Games Workshop who initially grew from the makers of hand crafted wooden boardgames when they got an exclusive license as the D&D importers.

It's such a huge hole I'm going with "If Gygax & Arneson hadn't published D&D in 1974 then something equivalent would have happened".

I mentioned it earlier, but my big question in all of these hypotheticals is, does Nu-RPG, whatever it is, get off the ground and with the same traction as D&D before 1977? Because if not, I think the creative energy behind RPG design would radically shift following the release of Star Wars.

The question is, what direction? Would the tabletop wargamers have jumped on that bandwagon, because suddenly there was a massive untapped market? Would the convention / freeform RP groups have tried creating their own thing to capture that, especially since Star Trek also hopped on the bandwagon and tried riding that same wave with the first motion picture in 1979?
 

Reynard

Legend
I mentioned it earlier, but my big question in all of these hypotheticals is, does Nu-RPG, whatever it is, get off the ground and with the same traction as D&D before 1977? Because if not, I think the creative energy behind RPG design would radically shift following the release of Star Wars.

The question is, what direction? Would the tabletop wargamers have jumped on that bandwagon, because suddenly there was a massive untapped market? Would the convention / freeform RP groups have tried creating their own thing to capture that, especially since Star Trek also hopped on the bandwagon and tried riding that same wave with the first motion picture in 1979?
Again, I wasn't really positing a world where D&D never existed, just one where D&D died with TSR.
 

dragoner

solisrpg.com
D&D is its own universe, it builds on medieval myth, then goes from there. That said, just about anything, some D&D analog, to sci-fi, like Star Wars or Star Trek.
 

Reynard

Legend
D&D is its own universe, it builds on medieval myth, then goes from there. That said, just about anything, some D&D analog, to sci-fi, like Star Wars or Star Trek.
Interesting. So you don't think there is an inherent quality of D&D that made it the zeitgeist in the last 5 or so years? (I'm not arguing, just curious.)
 


Reynard

Legend
Middle Earth
I don't know if a setting, even one as beloved as Middle Earth, that is so focused on a singular story could get much traction. Star Wars showed early on that there was a big universe out there (except when everyone is always bumping into one another because fan service) whereas Middle Earth is "small" by comparison. I think MERP had it right in the 80s with focusing on a time totally different than but recognizable as background for the novels.

It will be interesting to see if Amazon's "Rings of Power" series opens up the perception of the setting at all.
 

I don't know if a setting, even one as beloved as Middle Earth, that is so focused on a singular story could get much traction. Star Wars showed early on that there was a big universe out there (except when everyone is always bumping into one another because fan service) whereas Middle Earth is "small" by comparison. I think MERP had it right in the 80s with focusing on a time totally different than but recognizable as background for the novels.

It will be interesting to see if Amazon's "Rings of Power" series opens up the perception of the setting at all.
I did think about that, but came to the conclusion that while it is a single setting, it would have morphed into something larger. It would be similar to having the Icewind Dale Trilogy come out before D&D, then D&D modelling itself after. While there are a lot of die-hard "constructionists" out there, I think it would have morphed. It would have eventually gotten a Medusa and other things.
 

dragoner

solisrpg.com
Interesting. So you don't think there is an inherent quality of D&D that made it the zeitgeist in the last 5 or so years? (I'm not arguing, just curious.)
It's self-referential enough to have its own cultural "inertia" if you will. Like any other IP, though it does a lot of great things, all the separate classes for each person to be special, the art is awesome, and peripherals such as dice. Though I don't think most of it is inherent to D&D, though it would be difficult to reproduce in another IP.
 



I mentioned it earlier, but my big question in all of these hypotheticals is, does Nu-RPG, whatever it is, get off the ground and with the same traction as D&D before 1977? Because if not, I think the creative energy behind RPG design would radically shift following the release of Star Wars.

In an earlier post of mine, I pointed out that Traveller and Star Wars both released in 1977, but did Star Wars have any influence at all on the sales and/or popularity of Traveller? And the very first sci-fi RPG, Metamorphosis Alpha, was released in 1976. Did Star Wars do anything for it's popularity?
 

MGibster

Legend
In an earlier post of mine, I pointed out that Traveller and Star Wars both released in 1977, but did Star Wars have any influence at all on the sales and/or popularity of Traveller? And the very first sci-fi RPG, Metamorphosis Alpha, was released in 1976. Did Star Wars do anything for it's popularity?
I've always been surprised that Star Trek wasn't a more popular gaming franchise in the 80s and 90s. I would have expected more overlap between Trekkies and gamers but I found that there really wasn't. Most die hard Trekkies I knew weren't at all interested in RPGs.
 

I've always been surprised that Star Trek wasn't a more popular gaming franchise in the 80s and 90s. I would have expected more overlap between Trekkies and gamers but I found that there really wasn't. Most die hard Trekkies I knew weren't at all interested in RPGs.

I knew quite a few in the Greater L.A. and Bay Area areas, albeit this was the 70's and 80's.
 

dragoner

solisrpg.com
I've always been surprised that Star Trek wasn't a more popular gaming franchise in the 80s and 90s. I would have expected more overlap between Trekkies and gamers but I found that there really wasn't. Most die hard Trekkies I knew weren't at all interested in RPGs.
FASA Trek in '83, it was big, a lot of people played it.
 

I agree with whoever mentioned World of Darkness just in terms of inertia.

Part of what makes it hard to imagine is that so much of whats come since has been reactive to DND (even while DND is semi reactive to it) that its hard to even say what sort of value system that market would have. Its actually very possible you would have had a multiway split of DND 'child systems' that all try to deliver what DND did to take its place-- especially since those systems would potentially be designed by the people who had been working at TSR in the first place or the people groomed by them. Like Chris Perkins was writing for Dragon Magazine in 1988 when he was young, even though he joined WOTC in 1997, and remembers the feedback and encouragement he was given by people who were working on the magazine back then. James Wyatt has the same story previous to being hired by WOTC in 2000. Cook was already at TSR at the time of the takeover and again, primarily had a background in fantasy RPGs.

So you still have a bunch of the people who were behind 3rd edition and set the tone for later DND puttering around, a market hungry for heroic fantasy, and further stimulation coming from DND's other heirs in the video game market. I think the only real effect it would have if the DND name was forcibly taken off the market, is split it between a number of other companies created to capitalize on the void. But since none of them would have had the original street cred, you'd probably see something like the OSR, with people cloning TSR systems to prove themselves before the surviving companies finally start innovating to differentiate themselves.
 


Hadn't WoD's star faded even before TSR went under?

No. It was in 2004 that White Wolf went from World of Darkness to Chronicles of Darkness/Vampire the Masquerade to Vampire the Requiem/etc. And then in 2006, everything was bought out by CCP Games. In 2001, the WoD games were 2nd in sales only to D&D, 4 years after WotC bought TSR. White Wolf had a great 10-12 year run and then destroyed itself with the new versions of the games.
 

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