What tone do you prefer for D&D?

What Tone Do You Prefer For D&D

  • Really Grimdark

    Votes: 2 1.4%
  • Gritty Realism

    Votes: 26 18.7%
  • Heroic Adventure

    Votes: 91 65.5%
  • Paragons of Virtue

    Votes: 2 1.4%
  • Silly and/or Cutesy

    Votes: 1 0.7%
  • Other

    Votes: 17 12.2%

  • Total voters
    139

Sacrosanct

Legend
I'd probably be a bigger fan of this model if the dm's I play with don't immediately get disinterested the minute the pc's do anything heroic, and start talking about resetting to zero.

Zero to still zero is not fun for me.
Wouldn’t be fun for me either. Goes back to the contrast I was talking about. Without being able to do heroic actions at some point, the gritty realism would have no meaning. Being able to look back and say, “man, it was a rough journey and we overcame x and y challenges with just our wits, but look at us now” is a lot more fun than “what are we even doing this for if it’s just gonna be rough all the time and we can’t ever do anything awe inspiring?”
 

Lord Mhoram

Explorer
My most played and GMed genre is Superheroes - so that tone (people doing the right thing because it's the right thing to do and/or power/responsibility correlation - tends to be what I like in D&D.
 

Tallifer

Adventurer
Hmm ... I voted for "heroic adventures" which to me mean zero-to-hero with an emphasis on "hero" as in as little murder-hoboing as possible and no necromancers etc. All set in a pseudo-mediaeval world with all due reverence to Tolkien and le Morte d'Arthur.

I do like to have some unusual and imaginative elements such as pumpkin spice dragons and clothforged, but those are just fun riffs on dragons and warforged, not gonzo spaceships or (in my opinion) silly anachronistic pop-culture references.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Voted for 'gritty realism' but if some heroic adventure and-or silly cuteness happen to wander by now and then I won't complain. Maybe I'm after silly heroic realism with some grit to it?

I've no use for paragons of virtue, and grimdark is fine but only in rather small doses.
 

Reynard

Legend
I do like to have some unusual and imaginative elements such as pumpkin spice dragons and clothforged, but those are just fun riffs on dragons and warforged, not gonzo spaceships or (in my opinion) silly anachronistic pop-culture references.
Pumpkin spice dragons don't qualify as an anachronistic pop-culture reference? I mean, to each their own of course, but that's the kind of cutesy/silly thing that pulls me right out of a game.
 
I didn't vote because none of the options felt quite right. Heroism is important, for sure, I want characters striving for moments of greatness, even if they fail. For me, I want a lot of grey and darkness woven into the background so the characters have some thing to shine against, but that's not the same as gritty realism. I mostly don't like or use the mechanics associated with gritty realism. I don't know what the term is for what I like to run. Pulp dark moralism? Grimbright? Who knows...
 
To me I see tone as more of the relationship or ratio of the players to their expected challenges.

To me:
Grim means roll success is low. Victory is hard and always with major loss. Every enemy is a big threat.

Gritty means roll success is even. Victory is possible and usually with some loss. Every enemy is a threat.

Heroic means roll success is good. Victory is usually assured. Only boss or tactical enemies are threats.

Paragon means roll success is high. Victory of some level is assured except in rare cases. Only named characters are threats.

Any of these can be high power or low power. High level or lower level.
 

Reynard

Legend
To me I see tone as more of the relationship or ratio of the players to their expected challenges.

To me:
Grim means roll success is low. Victory is hard and always with major loss. Every enemy is a big threat.

Gritty means roll success is even. Victory is possible and usually with some loss. Every enemy is a threat.

Heroic means roll success is good. Victory is usually assured. Only boss or tactical enemies are threats.

Paragon means roll success is high. Victory of some level is assured except in rare cases. Only named characters are threats.

Any of these can be high power or low power. High level or lower level.
I don't think roll success has anything to do with it. It's more about moral tone, but how hard the rest of the world is certainly feeds into it. Grimdark is bloody and mean and treacherous and so are the PCs. Paragons of Virtue always do the right the thing and generally live in a world that makes that possible, evil if it is inhabited by evil.
 
I opted "heroic", but that could really span from, "hero - like a good teacher or a fireman in real life is a hero" all the way to Hercules and Gilgamesh and demigods. I like SOME sense of grittiness in my heroism so that it's not all just Greek epic. E6 has come to be my ideal where the PC's are clearly above and beyond "normal" folks that plow the fields but even PC's have their limits. Even 1HD orcs never cease being at least a nominal threat and large, epic, and DANGEROUS creatures will ALWAYS be large, epic and dangerous no matter how long you've been playing that PC.
 

FaerieGodfather

Aberrant Druid
I realized very recently that my answer to this question is She-Ra and the Princesses of Power.

I feel like there are two different axes buried in this single spectrum poll...

Because in terms of morality, I prefer something between Heroism and Realism: the player characters are not necessarily Good, but are working to make the world a better place despite their feet of clay. They make terrible mistakes, sometimes on purpose and sometimes without remorse, but the world is inarguably a better place for their efforts.

In terms of power/scope... I prefer characters to have special powers from the beginning, without necessarily being especially powerful. The "zero to hero" track appeals to me... except I consider 1st level characters to be blooded veterans in the "real world", about to take their first steps into the world of adventurers... and you're not really "heroes" until I unbox Wrath of the Immortals.
 
I don't think roll success has anything to do with it. It's more about moral tone, but how hard the rest of the world is certainly feeds into it. Grimdark is bloody and mean and treacherous and so are the PCs. Paragons of Virtue always do the right the thing and generally live in a world that makes that possible, evil if it is inhabited by evil.
Roll success does matter. There is a disconnect in the world says you are a hero but you struggle to reliably outroll minor goblins.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Roll success does matter. There is a disconnect in the world says you are a hero but you struggle to reliably outroll minor goblins.
Where I would say that heroism is about rising to the occasion despite the odds. Not that you're necessarily perfect or always personify your values (that's paragon).

If the goblin is a serious threat and you take it on anyway, that's heroic.

But different people, different definitions. :)
 
You are using hero as a measure of power, but that's not what I mean by it.
I'm not using hero as a measurement of power.

I'm using hero as a measurement of power relationships or power ratios.

40k Space Marines are powerful. But so are everything else so it is grim. A SM is only a little bit better than an expected threat. And with a nice amount of numbers, a SM can fail bad vs many minor threats.

Or you can be Batman who is low power but heroic because anyone but mob bosses and supervillains are a real threat to him.
 

Tallifer

Adventurer
Pumpkin spice dragons don't qualify as an anachronistic pop-culture reference? I mean, to each their own of course, but that's the kind of cutesy/silly thing that pulls me right out of a game.
Pumpkins and spices are both ancient things. :D
 
Where I would say that heroism is about rising to the occasion despite the odds. Not that you're necessarily perfect or always personify your values (that's paragon).

If the goblin is a serious threat and you take it on anyway, that's heroic.

But different people, different definitions. :)
In my definition, that grim.
The player's characters are always rising to the occasion. Otherwise there is no game to play.

The question is what are their chances? How dangerous are their normal challenges relative to them?
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
In my definition, that grim.
The player's characters are always rising to the occasion. Otherwise there is no game to play.

The question is what are their chances? How dangerous are their normal challenges relative to them?
To me grimdark has more to do with lasting injuries, being worn down by permanent conditions, losing nearly everything on a regular basis. The PCs can't really win in the long run, all they can do is hold off the inevitable.

Grimdark:​
a genre of fiction, especially fantasy fiction, characterized by disturbing, violent, or bleak subject matter and a dystopian setting.​

Heroic does assume you win, or at least have a good chance of winning, in the long run. On the other hand, the definition from Wikipedia doesn't exactly fit my campaign either.

Heroic fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy in which events occur in a world where magic is prevalent and modern technology is non-existent. The setting may be entirely fictitious in nature or based upon earth with some additions. Unlike dark fiction, it provides a setting in which all men are strong, all women beautiful, all life adventurous, and all problems simple. This means that adventures based in heroic fantasy are unlikely to mention any wider problems that cannot be fixed by a quest. Characters within heroic fantasy are likely to be underdogs of humble origin who are placed in situations forcing them to act in a heroic manner, past what is expected of them.​

So maybe I really run more of a dark heroic fantasy.
 
To me grimdark has more to do with lasting injuries, being worn down by permanent conditions, losing nearly everything on a regular basis. The PCs can't really win in the long run, all they can do is hold off the inevitable.
And that's mostly relationship between PCs and challenges.

If you fail your rolls a lot, you'll get hit more. You'll take more damage. You'll take lasting damage. You'll run out of resources faster. And you'll most likely lose. Bad. That's grim. Your chances are grim.

In heroic, you'll succeed more of your rolls and more likely succeed if you don't go over your head. Because you are better than your challenges and stronger than your enemies.
 

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