D&D General What is Good for D&D ... is Good for the RPG Hobby- Thoughts?

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
C. The Case Against D&D.
....
1. The "You're Learning It Wrong" Objection.

The problem with this as an objection is that it isn't D&D-specific. It is true for whatever game is your first. If your first game is D&D, switching to other styles is going to be difficult. If your first game is FitD, that's going to be your formative experience, and anything else with a different process or goals of play will be weird to you.
 

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Thomas Shey

Legend
You may find this Fantasy AGE 2E preview article interesting in light of your earlier question: "Fantasy Age 2nd Edition Preview: Advancement and Damage!"

I'll give it a look. I really wanted to like AGE more than I did, because I thought some things with it were really interesting for a relatively lightweight game. In the end we really just--couldn't. I'd go into it more, but this is probably not the thread for it.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
D&D is the big fish/shark in the ocean. Pathfinder and some others are not as big and could survive without the shark but are never going to be dominate
The rest are the examples of mutualism. The small ones produce a product that can be used with d&d and d&d benefits from more exposure

I think this requires ignoring an awful lot of games that have no real relationship to D&D. Or were you limiting this comment to, effectively, D&D 3pps? Its not entirely clear.
 


The problem with this as an objection is that it isn't D&D-specific. It is true for whatever game is your first. If your first game is D&D, switching to other styles is going to be difficult. If your first game is FitD, that's going to be your formative experience, and anything else with a different process or goals of play will be weird to you.
I think this is true, and it makes me feel pretty lucky.

My brother and I benefited from:

A) Being taught we could and should DM, like, as the first lesson about RPGs, by an experienced and skilled (and unusually for the '80s, female) DM.
B) Having enough pocket money to buy multiple different RPGs.
C) Being in a city where we had multiple options for buying RPGs and saw different ones.
D) Having a loyal core group of players who would dutifully try the new RPGs we suggested to them.

So instead of being sort of tied to any one system, we basically got trained from an early age to be adaptable to a variety of different systems, none of which really seems more natural/unnatural. PtbA/FitD was definitely a mental jump, but it wasn't a hard one.

It's good to realize this because I can see it's coloured my perception of how easy it is for others to learn new systems. I do think D&D has a slightly unusual deleterious effect because in practice it is one of the harder systems on the market to learn the full ins-and-outs of, and as a result people raised solely on D&D (esp. 3E and 5E) tend to overestimate how hard it is to learn other systems.

EDIT - Re: 5E I should add that part of the issue is 5E is often promoted as being the "easiest to learn" version of D&D, and whilst that's at least arguably true of the AD&D line of descent (1E/2E/3E/4E/5E), because it's still pretty hard to learn the whole system, even thought relatively easier, people further inflate the difficulty of learning other systems.
 
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Thomas Shey

Legend
It's good to realize this because I can see it's coloured my perception of how easy it is for others to learn new systems. I do think D&D has a slightly unusual deleterious effect because in practice it is one of the harder systems on the market to learn the full ins-and-outs of, and as a result people raised solely on D&D (esp. 3E and 5E) tend to overestimate how hard it is to learn other systems.

Yeah. I've made an argument that a game like Hero is, on the whole, easier to learn to play than D&D because there's less special casing, and there's more there than in a lot of games.
 

Yeah. I've made an argument that a game like Hero is, on the whole, easier to learn to play than D&D because there's less special casing, and there's more there than in a lot of games.
Yeah I think that's an interesting example.

If you want to learn the whole of the system, in a way most DMs kind of need to in order to go beyond slightly cluelessly running prewritten adventures, HERO is a lot easier to learn than D&D, and vastly more consistent.

However, I'd say that the amount you need to understand in order to put together a PC yourself in HERO, and not screw it up, is vastly higher than D&D. There are fewer guardrails, and you need to understand more of the system. That isn't the end of the story - because the DM or books can guide you into safe decisions, but fundamentally, the "upfront" cost of learning HERO as a player is higher than the "upfront" cost of learning D&D. Whereas the "lifetime" costs are reversed.

If that makes any sense.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
Yeah I think that's an interesting example.

If you want to learn the whole of the system, in a way most DMs kind of need to in order to go beyond slightly cluelessly running prewritten adventures, HERO is a lot easier to learn than D&D, and vastly more consistent.

Yup.

However, I'd say that the amount you need to understand in order to put together a PC yourself in HERO, and not screw it up, is vastly higher than D&D. There are fewer guardrails, and you need to understand more of the system. That isn't the end of the story - because the DM or books can guide you into safe decisions, but fundamentally, the "upfront" cost of learning HERO as a player is higher than the "upfront" cost of learning D&D. Whereas the "lifetime" costs are reversed.

If that makes any sense.

I'd generally agree, though I'll note if you're playing in a heroic scale game and not needing to engage in powers (such as would mostly be the case with building the equivalent of most D&D martials in a Fantasy Hero game) the overhead is considerably lower.

That said, across the course of their game career, any spellcaster player in D&D is having to remember a lot more details than his Hero equivalent, but as you say, that's a "lifetime" cost issue--mostly.

(There's always going to be an issue where a pure build system has at least some more upfront cost when generating a character than a class system, which is why a lot of them over their lifespans develop templates for those who don't want to do things from the ground up).
 

(There's always going to be an issue where a pure build system has at least some more upfront cost when generating a character than a class system, which is why a lot of them over their lifespans develop templates for those who don't want to do things from the ground up).
Yup.

Personally I've actually found in practice that once players have tried this kind of thing once, in any system, they're a lot less leery of it, and complaints more often revolve around "Why doesn't this system allow for Y power from the comics?!" or the like than "Argh this is hard!".

(As an aside, the most demanding and player-deterring character generation systems, in my experience, are those with multiple dependent steps, particularly when heavy use of derived stats gets involved, there's a lot of referencing various books, and high granularity of points spending - which tends to mean things like Rolemaster - or 3E when building PCs above level 5 or so. HERO at least lets you more or less just conceptualize then build a character, rather than having to carefully order things.)

I'd generally agree, though I'll note if you're playing in a heroic scale game and not needing to engage in powers (such as would mostly be the case with building the equivalent of most D&D martials in a Fantasy Hero game) the overhead is considerably lower.
Relative to building a super, for sure, yeah. And god yes re: lifetime cost, full prep casters are the worst for that.

I'm not a huge fan of HERO myself for supers because I feel like the way it plays out tends to be more like a WW2 squad combat skirmish wargame than a comic book, but it's definitely a versatile and pretty reliable system.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
Yup.

Personally I've actually found in practice that once players have tried this kind of thing once, in any system, they're a lot less leery of it, and complaints more often revolve around "Why doesn't this system allow for Y power from the comics?!" or the like than "Argh this is hard!".

We hit things like it early in our careers as gamers, so no one even blinks at it, figuring the trade-off of "getting what you want" is "you have to do the lifting to decide and choose what you want."

(As an aside, the most demanding and player-deterring character generation systems, in my experience, are those with multiple dependent steps, particularly when heavy use of derived stats gets involved, there's a lot of referencing various books, and high granularity of points spending - which tends to mean things like Rolemaster - or 3E when building PCs above level 5 or so. HERO at least lets you more or less just conceptualize then build a character, rather than having to carefully order things.)

The giveaway, especially with 6e, you can approach it from Powers, Skills, Characteristics or Complications in any order and it'll more or less work; you may have to backpedal because of overspends, but that's the worst of it.

Relative to building a super, for sure, yeah. And god yes re: lifetime cost, full prep casters are the worst for that.

Its the thing I always look at with a jaundiced eye; D&D spells have never really been built to a common metric (there's been some effort as time as gone by, but its still pretty marginal). That doesn't have to be the case, but its so ensconced in expectations that people take it as a given.

I'm not a huge fan of HERO myself for supers because I feel like the way it plays out tends to be more like a WW2 squad combat skirmish wargame than a comic book, but it's definitely a versatile and pretty reliable system.

Its very much a game of its age in that regard, and I can understand the objection, but to some extent that's a trade-off in having a lot of actually meaningful decision in combat and distinctions in builds that you don't get to nearly the same degree with more modern games (even relatively trad style ones). As an example, I can say with all honesty I've never found a game that was more fun to play martial artist in (superheroic or not) than Hero. But there's a price for all that (does the game really need to make a distinction between Concealment, Shadowing and Stealth? How much does it matter to most players? But again, a game of its age).
 

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