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

FrozenNorth

Explorer
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?
Instead of “what are their chances?”, I would ask “what are their choices?”. I would call the tone grim if the characters always take the heroic option, but the choice is always between “50 people die” and “100 people die”.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
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.
But you could be in smurf world and still be unlikely to succeed.

That would not meet the generally accepted definition of bleak and forbidding world that defines grimdark. I didn't make up the definitions I provided - it's what you get from a quick google search.
 
But you could be in smurf world and still be unlikely to succeed.

That would not meet the generally accepted definition of bleak and forbidding world that defines grimdark. I didn't make up the definitions I provided - it's what you get from a quick google search.
The poll says grim not grimdark.

Grim and Dark are two different things.

Grim means you likely won't succeed. And if you do, you don't affect much. And either way, you are damaged. Grim

You can succeed in dark fantasy. You can be a big hero in dark fantasy. The world is just a level of gross or terrible.

You can have a grim realism but in a nice and appealing world. If you cannot change the world.. if you won't succeed in your quest... it's grim. Many cyberpunk worlds are grim but not exactly dark.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
The poll says grim not grimdark.

Grim and Dark are two different things.

Grim means you likely won't succeed. And if you do, you don't affect much. And either way, you are damaged. Grim

You can succeed in dark fantasy. You can be a big hero in dark fantasy. The world is just a level of gross or terrible.

You can have a grim realism but in a nice and appealing world. If you cannot change the world.. if you won't succeed in your quest... it's grim. Many cyberpunk worlds are grim but not exactly dark.
My page says "Really Grimdark".

In any case, do what makes sense for you and your game no matter what style you prefer. Have a good one.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Instead of “what are their chances?”, I would ask “what are their choices?”. I would call the tone grim if the characters always take the heroic option, but the choice is always between “50 people die” and “100 people die”.
Sounds good.

What would you (or anyone) call it if-when the characters don't always take the heroic option?
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I like pulp games, where even if the campaign themes are dark, it's never hopeless, and I prefer heroic PCs who don't need money as a motivator to adventure. So I voted Heroic Adventures.
 
PCs solely motivated by greed can really drive me up a wall. This is D&D, you know there's going to be plenty of overflowing treasure chests and magic items. I don't appreciate when a player that tries to shake down the quest-giver. Meanwhile, everyone else just wants to get to the actual adventure.

I prefer heroic PCs who don't need money as a motivator to adventure.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
PCs solely motivated by greed can really drive me up a wall. This is D&D, you know there's going to be plenty of overflowing treasure chests and magic items. I don't appreciate when a player that tries to shake down the quest-giver. Meanwhile, everyone else just wants to get to the actual adventure.
I've come to accept - and even at times embrace - the fact that rare indeed is the PC who isn't either largely or solely motivated by greed. If nothing else, it makes baiting adventure hooks so trivially easy... :)

That said, I'd only shake down the quest-giver once we'd got back from the quest, for two reasons: one, we'll be better at what we do by then and thus more likely to succeed; and two, pulling the shake-down before we leave wipes out any potential reward we might have otherwise got.

Greed says do the quest, take the reward, and then shake him down. :)
 

Reynard

Legend
I've come to accept - and even at times embrace - the fact that rare indeed is the PC who isn't either largely or solely motivated by greed. If nothing else, it makes baiting adventure hooks so trivially easy... :)

That said, I'd only shake down the quest-giver once we'd got back from the quest, for two reasons: one, we'll be better at what we do by then and thus more likely to succeed; and two, pulling the shake-down before we leave wipes out any potential reward we might have otherwise got.

Greed says do the quest, take the reward, and then shake him down. :)
The worst part is there isn't really anything for them to do with thousands of gold pieces. 5E needs training costs and upkeep rules! AT the very least, let them gain XP by spending cash carousing, or something.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
The worst part is there isn't really anything for them to do with thousands of gold pieces. 5E needs training costs and upkeep rules! AT the very least, let them gain XP by spending cash carousing, or something.
And-or it needs purchaseable or at least commissionable magic items, and-or stronghold/temple/etc. construction rules or guidelines, and-or some key spells (death revival spells, xxx Restoration spells) to gain a requirement of some mighty sacrifices in payment... etc.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
The worst part is there isn't really anything for them to do with thousands of gold pieces. 5E needs training costs and upkeep rules! AT the very least, let them gain XP by spending cash carousing, or something.
I mean, you can reward XP for anything. There is nothing stopping you from rewarding it for downtime activities. They're spending resources, accepting opportunity costs, and taking the risk of complications.

Meanwhile, there are pretty notable training costs in the downtime rules.

In my group, we often tend to forget to reward much money, so we have no trouble finding things to spend it on, but in a "normal" game, there are ships, hirelings (who can be set to do downtime stuff for you while you're adventuring), crafting of consumable resources (poisons are pretty potent, and pretty fairly costed compared to learning ritual spells, I've found. Two hours to learn to make it per 50g of listed cost, and you have to spend the full cost as part of learning it.) I just wish alchemical items had as many examples and as solid a pricing scheme.

One thing I have seen help a lot is to simply work out a more transparent scheme for crafting magic items, put a markup for commisions, and run a game where all the good magic items weren't crafted thousands of years ago, but are being invented now. Doesn't work for everyone, though.
 

Reynard

Legend
And-or it needs purchaseable or at least commissionable magic items, and-or stronghold/temple/etc. construction rules or guidelines, and-or some key spells (death revival spells, xxx Restoration spells) to gain a requirement of some mighty sacrifices in payment... etc.
I mean, you can reward XP for anything. There is nothing stopping you from rewarding it for downtime activities. They're spending resources, accepting opportunity costs, and taking the risk of complications.

Meanwhile, there are pretty notable training costs in the downtime rules.

In my group, we often tend to forget to reward much money, so we have no trouble finding things to spend it on, but in a "normal" game, there are ships, hirelings (who can be set to do downtime stuff for you while you're adventuring), crafting of consumable resources (poisons are pretty potent, and pretty fairly costed compared to learning ritual spells, I've found. Two hours to learn to make it per 50g of listed cost, and you have to spend the full cost as part of learning it.) I just wish alchemical items had as many examples and as solid a pricing scheme.

One thing I have seen help a lot is to simply work out a more transparent scheme for crafting magic items, put a markup for commisions, and run a game where all the good magic items weren't crafted thousands of years ago, but are being invented now. Doesn't work for everyone, though.
I don't like the primary expenditure being gear. You might as well give magic items instead of gold. I would much porefer a robust set of guideline on non-material expenditures, both "punitive" (training costs and upkeep) and "rewarding" (investment, stronghold construction and upkeep).
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I don't like the primary expenditure being gear. You might as well give magic items instead of gold. I would much porefer a robust set of guideline on non-material expenditures, both "punitive" (training costs and upkeep) and "rewarding" (investment, stronghold construction and upkeep).
I mean, I said a lot more than just gear, but okay.
 

Reynard

Legend
Can morally ambiguous dark pulp fantasy be one of the options?
Yes.

If I could go back and change the poll, I would call "Gritty Realism" something else. I did not mean to tie it to any particular view of magic level. Rather, I meant the morality of, say,Game of Thrones or Lies of Lock Lamora -- one step up from the grimdark of Abercrombie and the Black Company. Calling it Gritty Realism implied too much about the world where what I was really trying to ask about was tone.
 
Yes.

If I could go back and change the poll, I would call "Gritty Realism" something else. I did not mean to tie it to any particular view of magic level. Rather, I meant the morality of, say,Game of Thrones or Lies of Lock Lamora -- one step up from the grimdark of Abercrombie and the Black Company. Calling it Gritty Realism implied too much about the world where what I was really trying to ask about was tone.
Perfect, that would be my answer then. I think a lot of people get hung up because many games have a 'gritty realism' setting for the mechanics. Scott Lynch is my sweet spot for tone in fantasy settings, although I do love Abercrombie.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I don't like the primary expenditure being gear. You might as well give magic items instead of gold. I would much porefer a robust set of guideline on non-material expenditures, both "punitive" (training costs and upkeep) and "rewarding" (investment, stronghold construction and upkeep).
The one thing I don't ever want to see again is the PCs going into business and commerce.

This happened to me once, where a rich and successful party decided to go into business. They left a few PCs behind to run it full-time (which worked out as a great place to park some characters of players who left the game around then) while the main group kept adventuring, which was fine for a while.

Problem was, before long every time they got back to town they wanted fairly in-depth updates on how their business - which later became multiple and many businesses - were doing, and what the PC investors had coming to them as dividends, and what businesses needed help, and where they could expand next.....

Never again. :)
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
If I could go back and change the poll, I would call "Gritty Realism" something else. I did not mean to tie it to any particular view of magic level. Rather, I meant the morality of, say,Game of Thrones or Lies of Lock Lamora -- one step up from the grimdark of Abercrombie and the Black Company. Calling it Gritty Realism implied too much about the world where what I was really trying to ask about was tone.
To me 'gritty realism' also implies a set of expectations around play style: detailed resource management, careful exploration, potential death around every corner - old-school stuff.

Game of Thrones is gritty realism. Locke Lamora (which is excellent, by the way) isn't so much; to me it trends more toward heroic adventure, but more for the adventure part than the heroic. Lord of the Rings has elements of both: Frodo-Sam-Gollum is gritty realism at least in style, much of the rest is heroic fantasy.

I've been binge-watching Black Sails this week, another fine example of gritty realism except with cannons instead of magic; of which there's none at all.
 

Advertisement

Top