D&D General When did you leave D&D? Why? For what game? And what brought you back?

Thomas Shey

Legend
No, that's not true. By the end of the 80s, I'd read almost everything on the appendix N and D&D only resembles anything there in extremely narrow and specific ways. And literally nothing in sword & sorcery, or any other literary subgenre resembles the core activity of older D&D, namely dungeon crawling. The only thing that comes close, and it postdates D&D by many years, is the opening sequence of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Yeah, the typical dungeon crawl cycle might have looked slightly like parts of a few stories or novels, but as a general thing it was a convenient gamification of some very, very broad fantasy stroke.
 

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Kind of the counter to the line "Don't call it a comeback, I been here for years," my response to the OP question would be something like 'don't call it leaving, I was never beholden to begin with' (or maybe 'I'm not leaving you, we were never a couple' but I don't like that imagery).

D&D is my first TTRPG*, and I've played it on-and-off ever since. However, excepting that 3-4 year period before I could readily bike to the FLGS and thus became aware of other RPG options, I/my main groups (with one exception) haven't really felt obligated to play using a D&D system. D&D hits a specific sweet spot of seriousness, complexity, and recklessness that works well for specific play experiences, but not others. I have one group I joined maybe 17 years ago that only plays current-version D&D. For all others, we only play D&D when we want that specific play experience.
*first played a Holmes/BX/AD&D hybrid that some older kids played, the '82-3 school year, then in summer '83 got a first printing Mentzer basic box set of my own.
In my early 20s, I joined the Army and worked in the Signal Corps. If you're not familiar, it's where the Army keeps most of its nerds so I was briefly able to play D&D 3e but walked away because of a really awful DM (short story is having PCs threatened with rape was funny to him). Fast forward 6 years and 2 moves, I tried to get into PF1e but my work schedule never aligned with any games I could join so I was back out of the hobby.

In 2016 I was out of the Army and moved back home to Minnesota where ...
Heh. There's a pocket of 90s Army SIGINT retirees over in the East metro who are part of my 'not necessarily D&D' gaming. Good guys.
That’s not true, D&D in the 70’s and early
80s actually did resemble a lot of popular fantasy literature of the time, particularly the sword and sorcery genre. Appendix N in the back of the first DMG lists all of the literary influences on the game,some of the more well known ones being Michael Moorcock’s Elric series, Robert E. Howard’s Conan stories and Fritz Liebers’s Lankhmar stuff. And early D&D and Greyhawk is full of the flavor of appendix N, and Gary wanted fans to know that. Many of the authors listed were actually writing fantasy that was purposefully counter to Tolkiens horrid fantasy, and that’s what Gary liked about it.

So, no, D&D doesn’t resemble LotR, but it does a massive disservice to the rich literary traditions that were an influence on the creation of the game by saying it only resembles itself. Yea, it ended up up becoming its own “D&D” genere in time, but the games beginnings are steeped in mid 20th century pulp fantasy and science fiction.
No, that's not true. By the end of the 80s, I'd read almost everything on the appendix N and D&D only resembles anything there in extremely narrow and specific ways. And literally nothing in sword & sorcery, or any other literary subgenre resembles the core activity of older D&D, namely dungeon crawling. The only thing that comes close, and it postdates D&D by many years, is the opening sequence of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Conan alone spends a bunch of time in dungeons of one sort or another. I have to wonder what you were reading.
Yeah, the typical dungeon crawl cycle might have looked slightly like parts of a few stories or novels, but as a general thing it was a convenient gamification of some very, very broad fantasy stroke.
Ugh. Always on both sides with definitive how-it-really-is (to something inherently mixed and subjective). Look, Dungeons & Dragons was this fun little doors-traps-chests-monsters treasure-hunting* game that Gary and Dave found people really liked to do (to the point of ignoring the town siege of the intended Braunstein/Chainmail** main game). No argument, the fantasy part serves the game part.
*And, honestly, despite the Dungeon part in the title, the dungeon in Dungeons and Dragons only serves the greater purpose of at-risk-treasure-hunting. **Chainmail itself being such that the fantasy element was half superficial overlay (turning cannons into wizards), and half new mechanics to enforce the fantasy theme (spells and monster rules).

However, many to most of it was present in the fantasy literature. Not just the Conan stories and their constant treasure hunts and traps and corridors and so forth*, but the Hobbit as well*. And Fafhrd/Grey Mouser, and parts of the Dreaming City, and definitely huge swaths of the Pulp/Cliffhanger genre from which Raiders of the Lost Ark took its inspiration [edit: also mythology]. Of course not all fantasy literature included dungeon crawling, and it's easier to replicated The Hobbit in D&D than Lord of the Rings. However, it seems unnecessarily hairsplitting to say that D&D didn't resemble fantasy because it hewed closer to one aspect of fantasy than another, or that it made some concessions to making the thing into a working game**.
*Honestly, the part TSR-era D&D gets wrong for Conan is no rules for being conked over the head and waking up in chains (plus seducing the evil warlord/sorcerer's beautiful assistant). **Which seems like one of the most D&D stories of all of Appendix N. ***honestly something a bunch other RPGs and licensed video games of the same era should have tried harder to do.

Either way, Gary stating that only a minute trace of Tolkien can be found in D&D was either a legal dodge or a self-facing lie on his part. If it was a bait and switch on his part, it was an unsuccessful one. A story of an adventuring party (one hobbithalfling burglerthief, a dozen dwarven fighting men, and a low-level wizard*) hitting up a goblin camp, going to face a red dragon, and then squabbling over the loot, works almost perfectly in oD&D post supplement I, hampered only by the removal of Chainmail's rule for Hero units being able to shoot dragons out of the air, making Bard downing Smaug with a single arrow impossible. Is it all of Tolkien (much less all of fantasy)? Absolutely not. Is it a bait and switch from anyone who thought they were getting Tolkien in the mix? As I said, inherently subjective, but man can I think of worse examples.
*yes, yes, Maia. Don't care.
 
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Thomas Shey

Legend
That was not me defending Gary's attempt to claim Tolkein was not a heavy influence; it was just to note that at least during the OD&D period, the game generally didn't resemble most fantasy literature except by very selective choices. I mean, heck the game passively discouraged outdoor adventures just because of how easy it was for them to go off the rails with the supplied encounter tables.
 

Ugh. Always on both sides with definitive how-it-really-is (to something inherently mixed and subjective). Look, Dungeons & Dragons was this fun little doors-traps-chests-monsters treasure-hunting* game that Gary and Dave found people really liked to do (to the point of ignoring the town siege of the intended Braunstein/Chainmail** main game).
It's really not subjective. And people can tell me that water ain't wet all day long but as a person who showers regularly, I know better. But since people are almost never convinced of things that they really want to believe for emotional reasons, I really have no intention to continue arguing about it. I brought it up merely because it was specifically the topic of the thread.
 

JEB

Legend
I used to be pretty skeptical of Gygax's claim that Tolkien wasn't much of an influence on D&D, but having read the OD&D rulebooks recently, the Tolkien stuff really does look like it was kind of crammed in for marketing reasons (or maybe his players just insisted on it). Halflings especially seem like an afterthought (examples: they don't appear as NPC monsters unlike men/elves/dwarves, and RAW they don't even benefit from Raise Dead).
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
I used to be pretty skeptical of Gygax's claim that Tolkien wasn't much of an influence on D&D, but having read the OD&D rulebooks recently, the Tolkien stuff really does look like it was kind of crammed in for marketing reasons (or maybe his players just insisted on it). Halflings especially seem like an afterthought (examples: they don't appear as NPC monsters unlike men/elves/dwarves, and RAW they don't even benefit from Raise Dead).
When I first read Fafhrd & the Grey Mouser, I felt like writing an EGG an apology for ever doubting him regarding LotR.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
From what I've read in a number of books and articles on D&D history, the number one influence Gary credited to dungeon crawling was him and his friends exploring the tunnels below a sanatarium and exploring an abandoned lunatic asylum when he was a kid. It is easy to tie these boyhood adventures to the pulp fiction he was reading at the time. Then when Arneson showed him Blackmoor it really clicked for him. The multi-level dungeon crawl was a great gamified setting where you can tie dungeon depth to character progression. So he starts with a tone or mood based on various fantasy fiction and his boyhood experiences and then turns it into a game that allows for a controlled way for player to increase the challenge as their PCs level up.

I think we try too hard to tie the early D&D play experience to certain books and genres, ignoring that while the dungeon dressing, monsters, PC options were an amalgamation of various fantasy tropes, much of how early setting were built were to make a game. It would take some time for the game to grow beyond the dungeon and wargame inspired hex crawls. Story, settings, and lore would eventually become important to the game, and these provide a richer field to go looking for literary influences. The game involved by throwing things into the mix and seeing what was fun. There were many influences. You can see this when they started publishing adventure modules. Everything from dinosaur island (King Kong-->Isle of Dread?), Dungeon Land and Land Beyond the Magic Mirror (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass), Expedition to Barrier Peak (various sci fi), and so on. In they would just map these different adventures, inspired by different genres into Greyhawk or Mystara.
 

Enrico Poli1

Adventurer
I left with 4e and 5e made me return.
I didn't even read the 4e rules. I was angry with Wotc because in 2008 the 3.x rules were still young and thriving. Paizo was in charge of the two magazines, Dragon and Dungeon, and was producing the best material ever, in particular Age of Worms and Savage Tide. So the abrupt change was felt by me as not reasonable and violent - I went with Paizo's Pathfinder and enjoyed their Adventure Paths very much.
Again, I did not want to return to D&D, but in 2016, after many positive reviews of the 5e core rulebooks, I read them and found them so fantastic that I did forgive Wotc for the 4e mistake and returned to D&D. 5e didn't live to the expectations, but this is another story...
 

Laurefindel

Legend
I left in the late days of 3.5 when I felt the system was getting bloated and getting too heavy for my taste. Playing PHB-only helped but there was definitive fatigue.

I waited in anticipation for 4e but was turned off by the presentation and linguistics (also, it looked like it had even more classes than late 3.5).The launch of 5e coincided with me finding a new group and we’ve been playing ever since (along with a few other RPG)
 

jasper

Rotten DM
1. Burn out with my group.
2. Becoming a care giver to parents and parents in law
3. Bankruptcy
New hobby reading, drinking, and then xbox.
Came back after all 3 were not a problem. And was getting into board games when introduced to Pathfinder 1 and 5E. then Adventure league which had a stable of stable players.
 

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