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


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dave2008

Legend
I'd be more pragmatic about D&D being the 800lb Owlbear in the room if it was capable of delivering a fuller, richer experience than what has become D&D-fantasy. If there's going to be one game that in-the-darkness-binds-them, it would need to be a more complete (complete, not complicated) rule set with either better settings or better world-building tools.

I'm ambivalent at best about D&D. Sure, it's the hook and line but these days I think it's also the sinker.
I disagree, I want the default system to be as vanilla as possible. That everyone else (3PP, homebrew, etc.) expand on it and innovate with it. I would be happy with an even more simplified / basic version of 5e as a base.
 

cranberry

Adventurer
Not that I'm picking on this specific post, but it ignores the fact that a lot of people just happen to like the game as well or better than alternatives they've been exposed to or learned about.

Yes, there's also the exposure, but as one example I remember discussing a co-worker's WoD campaign and ... it just wouldn't have worked for me like D&D does. If other games work for you, fantastic. I'm not going to tell you that Cthulhu is a bad game just because it doesn't work for me, I'm just going to say that the premise and style doesn't work for me. 🤷‍♂️

Sure, one of my fellow D&D players prefers less crunchy games, and refuses to try Pathfinder, but on a macro level I think it's fair to say that people who are brand new to RPG's are going to lean toward what "everyone else" is doing.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
To expand on what I was saying above, take this example: Cubicle 7 has the RPG license to the Doctor Who franchise.

Last year (2022), C7 announced that they were doing a 5E Doctor Who game. This was roundly made fun of by the general RPG crowd across social media and forums. I'm sad to say that I engaged in that as well. Because I honestly cannot think of a game system less suited to that franchise than 5E (or D&D in general).

Then the game came out and I read it and played it. It's a really good adaptation of the 5E engine to handling the Doctor Who franchise...but it's still 5E. Instead of physically fighting, inflicting slashing or fire damage, and eventually killing your opponents...you're verbally fighting, inflicting emotional or logical damage, and eventually convincing them to stop fighting. Which...works...sort of. But it doesn't feel like Doctor Who. It still feels like 5E. They just changed the names of a few things. Don't get me wrong, there are some absolute gems of design in Doctors & Daleks (the name of the 5E game), but it just doesn't feel like Doctor Who at the table because it's built on the 5E engine which centers combat and resource drain when that's just not in keeping with Doctor Who.

So fans naturally asked, "Why didn't Cubicle 7 release a Doctor Who game with a different, more suitable system?"

And the answer absolutely dumbfounded a lot of people.

See, C7 has had the Doctor Who license for almost 20 years. They got it back in 2007 or 2008. They released Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space in 2009. It won awards and was generally hailed as a spectacular adaptation of Doctor Who to an RPG. In the years since C7 has regularly supported the line and have put out a few dozen supplements, including a line of individual Doctor's eras breaking down the film and television stories into game terms and offering advice on running those, or extensions of those, as RPG adventures. It really is an amazing game. Perfectly suited to Doctor Who because it was purpose built to suit the franchise. Though there are a few quibbles about power level between the Doctor and the Companions.

And yet...the vast majority of people in RPGs literally had no idea it existed at all. Which is also kinda why C7 decided to put out a 5E version of Doctor Who in the first place. To get the insular 5E crowd to realize that a Doctor Who RPG even existed at all. People are so blinded by the network effect and the false notion that 5E can do everything that they do not even acknowledge...are not even aware...that non-D&D or compatible games exist.

D&D is a bubble that blinds people to the wider hobby. If you think there is creativity within the 5E bubble, try looking outside the 5E bubble some time. You will be utterly blown away by the stuff going on out there.
 

Oofta

Legend
Sure, one of my fellow D&D players prefers less crunchy games, and refuses to try Pathfinder, but on a macro level I think it's fair to say that people who are brand new to RPG's are going to lean toward what "everyone else" is doing.
Considering the growth of TTRPG's seems to mostly come from D&D over the past several years, I don't see much evidence of that.

On the other hand I don't really care what other people like ... I know what I like. I know that I can easily find as many players as I can handle who also like the game. That's good enough for me. If you like something else, cool. You don't have to call D&D variations of a bad game just because you like something else instead.
 

JAMUMU

actually dracula
I disagree, I want the default system to be as vanilla as possible. That everyone else (3PP, homebrew, etc.) expand on it and innovate with it. I would be happy with an even more simplified / basic version of 5e as a base.
Vanilla's fine. But there are gaps in what the core D&D system can do. If those were plugged I'd have less of a problem with its market and mindshare dominance.
 

Jer

Legend
Supporter
Then the game came out and I read it and played it. It's a really good adaptation of the 5E engine to handling the Doctor Who franchise...but it's still 5E. Instead of physically fighting, inflicting slashing or fire damage, and eventually killing your opponents...you're verbally fighting, inflicting emotional or logical damage, and eventually convincing them to stop fighting. Which...works...sort of. But it doesn't feel like Doctor Who. It still feels like 5E. They just changed the names of a few things. Don't get me wrong, there are some absolute gems of design in Doctors & Daleks (the name of the 5E game), but it just doesn't feel like Doctor Who at the table because it's built on the 5E engine which centers combat and resource drain when that's just not in keeping with Doctor Who.
So I'm going to bounce off this because it hits on an insight I've had that was long and slow for me to learn and I'd like to share it.

Some folks have no desire at all to play an RPG that doesn't feel like D&D. They don't want to play a narrative game. They don't want to play a game that emulates the tropes of a particular genre. They don't want a game that gets the "tone right". They don't want to play a game that "feels" like the source material at all.

They want to play D&D. But with lightsabers and set on a spaceship. The trappings of the genre with the gameplay of D&D.

You are never going to get these folks to play Call of Cthulhu for more than an occasional one shot. You're never going to get these folks to play the other, really good Doctor Who RPG for more than a one shot. Even when they're amazing role players at the table you're not going to get them interested in playing Hillfolk or Monster of the Week or Blades in the Dark or some other game that has the "feel" of the genre that its set in.

Because they aren't into RPGs, they're into D&D. It's like in the boardgame world there are folks who are boardgamers and they'll pick up any boardgame and try it at least once. And they'll pull various boardgames off their shelves and play them and they'd love to teach other people to play them. And then there are the folks who play Settlers of Catan a lot. They aren't "boardgamers" - they're Catan players. They might be happy to indulge a friend and occasionally play another game that that friend really wants to play. Once in a while. But at the end of the day what they really want to do is play Catan or maybe - maybe - one of its variants.

And that's D&D. It's the Catan of RPGs.
 

dave2008

Legend
Vanilla's fine. But there are gaps in what the core D&D system can do. If those were plugged I'd have less of a problem with its market and mindshare dominance.
Again, not what I want. But it is completely fair for you to want that. I want a simple core and a whole bunch of gaps. I could use more gaps honestly. I think the PHB and DMG could be about half there current size and we might get close to what I would prefer.

However, we homebrewed 5e into nearly our ideal game about 7-8 years ago, so we are all good!
 

MGibster

Legend
I think of Games Workshop and their relation to table top miniature wargaming. Like most Warhammer fans, I have my issues with GW, but they're not the devil and I have a lot of nice things to say about them as well. I do think it's bad for the table top war gaming sphere to be so utterly dominated by Games Workshop though. As the only game in town (sometimes literally), they can get away with terrible rules and business practices I find are not to the customer's advantage. But they make really good models, and I can always count on being able to find a Warhammer game no matter where I am.

Some folks have no desire at all to play an RPG that doesn't feel like D&D. They don't want to play a narrative game. They don't want to play a game that emulates the tropes of a particular genre. They don't want a game that gets the "tone right". They don't want to play a game that "feels" like the source material at all.
And that's okay. While I like a variety of games, it's okay to just like D&D.
 

JAMUMU

actually dracula
Again, not what I want. But it is completely fair for you to want that. I want a simple core and a whole bunch of gaps. I could use more gaps honestly. I think the PHB and DMG could be about half there current size and we might get close to what I would prefer.

However, we homebrewed 5e into nearly our ideal game about 7-8 years ago, so we are all good!
I mean, I don't "want" that. There are other games that handle social interaction, economies, relationships, politicking etc better than D&D and it's nice to have them as alternatives. But for me to accept D&D's dominance as a net positice and take a knee before the Coastal Wizards, D&D would need to do a lot more than it does.
 

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