• Resources are back! Use the menu in the main navbar. If you own a resource, please check it for formatting, icons, etc.

What is the essence of D&D

Elfcrusher

Adventurer
As long as it's some /magical/ ability, sure. ;)
Classic D&D had many examples of arbitrary abilities granted by interacting with the environment ("I drink from the glowing pool!") or getting a whammy put on you by some uber-being (god or devil or high-level wizard or whatever) for good, ill, or some combination.
Mmm...I don't think I agree with this. If a quest reward was that I was taught how to do something cool (basically a free feat? are feats magical?) I'd find it equally satisfying.
 
You cynic.
We have a few Cap'n's on the board, already, but not a Cpt Obvious.
Are you auditioning?

Mmm...I don't think I agree with this. If a quest reward was that I was taught how to do something cool (basically a free feat? are feats magical?) I'd find it equally satisfying.
Most feats, at least in the ed that introduced them, were not magical... though some, like metamagic feats, obviously were, and Stunning Blow was, IIRC, (SU)pernatural. I can't say I recall free feats being given out, though, in any WotC edition.

But, would a free (but mundane) feat really cut it? You're just doing something anyone else with a feat available and the right BaB (or whatever perquisites) could choose. Maybe if it was feat-like, but unique?

But, really, what could be an example of that? Magical or at least, supernatural, powers can be arbitrarily unique. Learned mundane skills/feats/whatever could presumably be learned by anyone. At least, that seems to be the D&D paradigm: mundane can't be special or unique, it must be, well, mundane.
 

lowkey13

Exterminate all rational thought
Eh. If someone was very specific about the essence of D&D - specific enough that some editions had it and others didn't - it could certainly cut out other editions. Just because you're seeing some answers you don't like doesn't mean people aren't sincerely answering the question.
Mmm... don't mind people expressing preference. Just don't want to see another "This edition sucks," "No it doesn't, yo momma" thread.

It's not Festivus; we do not need the ritual airing of grievances. :)
 

Elfcrusher

Adventurer
We have a few Cap'n's on the board, already, but not a Cpt Obvious.
Are you auditioning?

Most feats, at least in the ed that introduced them, were not magical... though some, like metamagic feats, obviously were, and Stunning Blow was, IIRC, (SU)pernatural. I can't say I recall free feats being given out, though, in any WotC edition.

But, would a free (but mundane) feat really cut it? You're just doing something anyone else with a feat available and the right BaB (or whatever perquisites) could choose. Maybe if it was feat-like, but unique?

But, really, what could be an example of that? Magical or at least, supernatural, powers can be arbitrarily unique. Learned mundane skills/feats/whatever could presumably be learned by anyone. At least, that seems to be the D&D paradigm: mundane can't be special or unique, it must be, well, mundane.
I'm trying to get my head around what you're saying here. Most magic isn't special or unique, either, right? A +1 sword could "presumbably be (found) by anyone." Right?

Then again, you've got some theory about magic vs. supernatural vs....something else that I've never quite understood, so we might just be coming at this from totally different angles.
 

lowkey13

Exterminate all rational thought
It's not about sucking, it's about being Really D&D or not. And it certainly needn't be about preference.

"So I had a comment a while back discussing how the greatest strength of D&D, the very reason why D&D is the "Big Tent" RPG, is because it is a continuing dialogue between the past and the future; that "D&D" (construed as the various editions of D&D, the various OSR clones of D&D, and even PF) share a commonality and a continuity, as well as a scale, that other RPGs lack. ...

So what was interesting to me is that, for example, this is why we get such interesting conversations on enworld. You can have people discussing 5e, but bringing in perspectives from the 70s, and from just having picked up the game. You can have people trying to bend it to a "old school OD&D feel" or to a more "3e" or "4e" feel ..."


You can't say I didn't try. It's 2019; do we have to keep having this discussion?
 
I'm trying to get my head around what you're saying here. Most magic isn't special or unique, either, right? A +1 sword could "presumably be (found) by anyone." Right?
Magic seems to get to be arbitrarily unique, but that's not the same thing as /always/ being unique.

But even a 'mere' +1 sword can't readily be made by the smith in the next town. Depending on the ed, it might not even be readily made by the next full Wizard, since he might be loath to part with another point of CON for the Permanency spell. Even when it's not unique, D&D makes magic special - I mean, that +1 sword can 'hit' monsters against which you'd otherwise be helpless, or at least, at a severe disadvantage (except in 4e, of course).

Then again, you've got some theory about magic vs. supernatural vs....something else that I've never quite understood, so we might just be coming at this from totally different angles.
Magic vs mundane, really.
The Essence of D&D is the Primacy of Magic.
In D&D, 'Magic' the way I'm using it, really is anything supernatural, though, "Magic" just sound pithier, and more rooted in fantasy.
Psionics for instance, whether 'magic' or 'not magic' technically, could still fill the bill. So could 'sufficiently advanced' technology, I suppose (Expedition to the Barrier Peaks). But, generally, "Magic" says enough.
 
Last edited:

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
"So I had a comment a while back discussing how the greatest strength of D&D, the very reason why D&D is the "Big Tent" RPG, is because it is a continuing dialogue between the past and the future; that "D&D" (construed as the various editions of D&D, the various OSR clones of D&D, and even PF) share a commonality and a continuity, as well as a scale, that other RPGs lack. ...

So what was interesting to me is that, for example, this is why we get such interesting conversations on enworld. You can have people discussing 5e, but bringing in perspectives from the 70s, and from just having picked up the game. You can have people trying to bend it to a "old school OD&D feel" or to a more "3e" or "4e" feel ..."


You can't say I didn't try. It's 2019; do we have to keep having this discussion?
Oh I admire the effort

Here is the football stand (I am not really that cynical but my humor is now engaged)
 

lowkey13

Exterminate all rational thought
Oh I admire the effort

Here is the football stand (I am not really that cynical but my humor is now engaged)
The fault was never with Lucy; it was with Charlie Brown. I mean, what a blockhead- he should know better.

And yet this time, maybe, just maybe, it will be different, and ...

whoosh whomp Hey, look, blue skies, clouds ...
 
Ah, I see. Since I don't agree with you about that assumption, I guess we won't agree on some of the conclusions you reach.
It's not an assumption. It's a possible answer to the question posed by the thread. One that lines up with the rejection of 4e as NOT-D&D - and the acceptance of PF, OSR & the like as D&D.

I mean, the Primacy of Magic /is/ a common thread throughout non-4e D&D, retroclones, and most D&D-imitators that might pretend to the 'being essentially D&D.'

It's also to be found in Ars Magica, but I'm not sure something has to be exclusive to D&D to be it's Essence? Just that lacking it disqualifies you from being D&D, out of hand.
 

Elfcrusher

Adventurer
It's not an assumption. It's a possible answer to the question posed by the thread. One that lines up with the rejection of 4e as NOT-D&D - and the acceptance of PF, OSR & the like as D&D.

I mean, the Primacy of Magic /is/ a common thread throughout non-4e D&D, retroclones, and most D&D-imitators that might pretend to the 'being essentially D&D.'

It's also to be found in Ars Magica, but I'm not sure something has to be exclusive to D&D to be it's Essence? Just that lacking it disqualifies you from being D&D, out of hand.
Ok. I don't think it's a good or correct answer to the question of the thread, though.

At least, when I think about what I love about D&D (specifically, as opposed to other RPGs) it's not "because magic is primary!". In fact, the more overt and omnipresent it is in a setting, the less it feels like the D&D I loved playing the 80's. Forgotten Realms? Too..."magical". Eberron? WAY too magical.
 
Ok. I don't think it's a good or correct answer to the question of the thread, though.
It wouldn't be the internet if everyone just agreed. ;)

At least, when I think about what I love about D&D (specifically, as opposed to other RPGs) it's not "because magic is primary!". In fact, the more overt and omnipresent it is in a setting, the less it feels like the D&D I loved playing the 80's. Forgotten Realms? Too..."magical". Eberron? WAY too magical.
The thing about magic becoming pervasive and common is it can stop feeling magical.... Make/buy threatens to do that, spells being even somewhat balanced with mundane maneuvers really does it - magic items becoming comparatively minor build resources, nail in the coffin, really.

Now, I don't think FR or Eberron (in 3e or 5e) cross that line to the point of being not-D&D - there's still actual, strictly-inferior, mundanity to be had there, for contrast - but I can certainly empathize (moreso with FR. Eberron feels almost cyber-punk, to me, with magic taking the place of tech, which is, well, not the steampunk or film noir it was going for, but still kinda cool... and still pretty D&D, AFAICT).
 

TheCosmicKid

Explorer
@Tony Vargas When your argument amounts to "The essence of D&D is that people secretly want a broken game, even though people expressly deny that they want a broken game, and this fact lets me pin the blame on the market failure of my preferred edition on this character flaw of others", I can't help but detect an ulterior motive that casts a shadow of doubt on your conclusions.
 

Zardnaar

Adventurer
@Tony Vargas When your argument amounts to "The essence of D&D is that people secretly want a broken game, even though people expressly deny that they want a broken game, and this fact lets me pin the blame on the market failure of my preferred edition on this character flaw of others", I can't help but detect an ulterior motive that casts a shadow of doubt on your conclusions.
Hey you have to push that narrative.

Mines a lot simpler. The casuals don't really care one way or another, most people don't play level 10 plus so God wizards don't functionally exist.

Give then something simple that's good enough and they will come. B/X, 5E etc. Lose the casuals though and you're screwed.
 
When your argument amounts to "The essence of D&D is that people secretly want a broken game,
It's never that simple, though, it has to be broken in /just the right way/… (for instance, when we detected a 0.5-average-damage difference between the 3.x Great Axe & Greatsword, that was a broken that drew complaints)

...and the case can be made* that the Primacy of Magic needn't be radically imbalanced (just give everyone access to magic in some form**), or at least needn't be unfair (just give every player the option to access magic - no one forces you to play the Tier 5 mundane class)...

...and it's no secret.







*of course the contrary case can also be made: that fair & balanced-with-the-mundane just ain't magical.
**1e AD&D, for instance, which, for me, is the defining edition, went to some lengths to salt treasure tables such that fighter-useable magic items would pop up quite a bit, in the name of balance.
 
Last edited:

Elfcrusher

Adventurer
Hey you have to push that narrative.

Mines a lot simpler. The casuals don't really care one way or another, most people don't play level 10 plus so God wizards don't functionally exist.

Give then something simple that's good enough and they will come. B/X, 5E etc. Lose the casuals though and you're screwed.
God that's condescending/elitist/dismissive.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Mines a lot simpler. The casuals don't really care one way or another, most people don't play level 10 plus so God wizards don't functionally exist.
Sure but I have also been noticing if your DM does insane things like giving every party member limited use magic item creation for down time activity by way of WoW crafting for instance and those items are all over the field over powered, everybody is ridiculous and you cannot even notice the limits that martial character might have had in the default rules. DMs willing to go zongo whether its by magic items or whatever will have players not even blinking at the disparity that makes me cringe or Tony pull out his hair.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
The essence of D&D is that people secretly want a broken game, even though people expressly deny that they want a broken game
"Secret" - since when? Do we need to hunt for the numerous quotes either explicitly or amounting to "Of course magic should be more powerful it's magic after all" or the various incarnations of "you cannot do that with skill it would step on the toes of the spell caster." Note they arent exactly saying they want the game broken we are the ones saying what they want really means something we consider a broken game which is two different things. Note even if my fighter has a strong guarantee of having some ancient relic class artifact weapon by taking a uniquely fighter background "Fated Wielder" I can be very powerful the relic might make me skilled in a super wide variety of things and provide other spell like non-combat elements too. Magic remains supreme but I get to use it with my non-caster archetype.
 
Last edited:

Advertisement

Top