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

Of course there's also far less incentive for the current cohort to find radically different systems than there was back in the ancient times when we had to dodge the dinosaurs to roll our d20s. The core of 5e is very hackable and also very solid - it's actually fairly easy for an individual DM to twist it into the shape of the game they want to play so long as their players are willing to go along with the reskinning of the game and the game they want to play is "something like D&D but in a different genre." Unlike AD&D where you could do it but oof, it was easier to just go find a game that would do what you wanted than to try to run a Star Wars game with it.
Hacking AD&D is luckily an endeavour I never tried to undertake :). And you are right: you can generally do quite a bit using the 5e rules, assuming you don't mind that it will basically still be the D&D cake, just with another icing. I personally find it a bit less flexible than 3e with its more complex skill system*, but I guess the general point still holds.
For me personally, "D&D in a different genre" no longer holds the necessary appeal, and if that was the only option to play, I would probably have exited the hobby when our last big 3.5 campaign died in 2015. But I'm also 20 years older (and probably a lot grumpier) than the people who entered it with 5e. So we'll have to see if they reach the same point of being jaded about D&D and feeling the need to branch out.


*I really wish, 5e lived up to the playtest idea of modularity, but I guess that ship has sailed.
 

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overgeeked

B/X Known World
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.
Absolutely. I've been having variations of this argument with people for almost 40 years. I get it. It's just incredibly sad.

Imagine someone whose first book they read as a kid was Tarzan of the Apes and so now they will only ever read Tarzan of the Apes. That's (almost) literally the only book they will ever willingly read. You might get them to read one of the sequels, maybe. You might get them to read a different book by Burroughs, maybe. But they will return, inevitably, to Tarzan of the Apes. Of course it's good that they're reading since so many people don't. It's also sad that they only read Tarzan. Not because there's anything wrong with Tarzan rather because there's literally an infinite variety of not-Tarzan out there to enjoy. But, for some reason, because Tarzan of the Apes was the first novel they read that's now the only novel they'll ever read.

It doesn't make sense when you put in into different terms, does it?
 

Jer

Legend
Supporter
And that's okay. While I like a variety of games, it's okay to just like D&D.
Oh for sure! I don't think there's anything wrong with it at all. In fact I'm happy when I see it - people gaming is better than people not gaming in my eyes. I love other RPGs and there are many that I would rather play, but I still like D&D an awful lot. And when you get a lot of people playing D&D that increases the pool of people who might potentially want to play other things as well.

But it does mean that if you want to play something not-D&D you have to work harder to find a crowd to do it. It's like trying to put together a group willing to play Twilight Imperium or Gloom - your friends who like to play Catan might be a place to start looking, but don't expect all of them to join you just because they like board games.
 


Jer

Legend
Supporter
It doesn't make sense when you put in into different terms, does it?
But I feel like that analogy is completely wrong. It's more like finding someone who only likes to play baseball but doesn't like soccer or football or tennis. We don't think that's strange or sad at all (well, except for the folks who hate baseball) - it's just they like what they like and they don't like the feel of other sports.

Heck it's even true of viewing sports. The only sports I actually enjoy watching are basketball and soccer. Everything else is pretty boring to me - is that sad? That I can't appreciate the back-and-forth nature of a really good tennis match between two pros? Maybe to someone who is a "sports enthusiast" or to a tennis fan, but to someone who is a basketball fan and that's all they like they'd just be weirded out that I also like to watch soccer.
 

dave2008

Legend
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.
You seemed to have missed the part in the OP where D&D is beyond what WotC has to offer.

Also, I don't believe I ever said anything about accepting anything for kneeling before anyone. Your kind of taking this in a strange direction. I think I will bow out of this discussion.
 

Well, we've seen that modularity in 3PP since 5E launched. Now with the CC-BY release we might see more.
Unfortunately, most 3PPs don't seem to make major changes to the core of the game, i.e. you don't really get a more refined skill system (admittedly, Level Up does something in this regard, but it is also notably more crunchy than core 5e) or a more interesting progression (not even something like basic and advanced subclasses or a career structure like in Shadow of the Demon Lord), and even the products that make the game lighter on magic are rare (Adventures in Middle Earth seems to be the best we got). That is, in general, a lot less customization of the feeling of the game than I would have liked to see.
 

dave2008

Legend
But I feel like that analogy is completely wrong. It's more like finding someone who only likes to play baseball but doesn't like soccer or football or tennis. We don't think that's strange or sad at all (well, except for the folks who hate baseball) - it's just they like what they like and they don't like the feel of other sports.

Heck it's even true of viewing sports. The only sports I actually enjoy watching are basketball and soccer. Everything else is pretty boring to me - is that sad? That I can't appreciate the back-and-forth nature of a really good tennis match between two pros? Maybe to someone who is a "sports enthusiast" or to a tennis fan, but to someone who is a basketball fan and that's all they like they'd just be weirded out that I also like to watch soccer.
I actually think that is a good analogy and I agree with your point. WotC is a bit like the NFL in this analogy (in the USA at least).

But I also understanding the sadness of not being able to discuss my favorite tennis players with others. That, and I hate to watch baseball and basketball! ;)
 

JAMUMU

actually dracula
You seemed to have missed the part in the OP where D&D is beyond what WotC has to offer.

Also, I don't believe I ever said anything about accepting anything for kneeling before anyone. Your kind of taking this in a strange direction. I think I will bow out of this discussion.
Man, that's just the way I lingo, so sorry, no offence meant. Simply put, I don't think the expanded D&D in the OP is any better for the hobby. None of the D&D-alikes solve the knotty problem of missing game systems and most just offer a different flavour of mishmash fantasy world.
 

dave2008

Legend
Unfortunately, most 3PPs don't seem to make major changes to the core of the game, i.e. you don't really get a more refined skill system (admittedly, Level Up does something in this regard, but it is also notably more crunchy than core 5e) or a more interesting progression (not even something like basic and advanced subclasses or a career structure like in Shadow of the Demon Lord), and even the products that make the game lighter on magic are rare (Adventures in Middle Earth seems to be the best we got). That is, in general, a lot less customization of the feeling of the game than I would have liked to see.
Perhaps you have not looked hard enough? There is a lot more customization out there than just those few, somehwat timid, examples. It is understandable because the he issues, IMO, is that there is so much out there that it is hard to wade through it all to find what your looking for.
 

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