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Why do you play games other than D&D?

Manbearcat

Adventurer
I run two versions of D&D; 4e and Moldvay Basic. So the answer is while D&D 4e can scratch an itch similar to Mouse Guard, Cortex+ , Dungeon World, and Mouse Guard, it and Moldvay Basic can't reproduce Dogs in the Vineyard, Apocalypse World, Dread, Blades in the Dark, Torchbearer, My Life With Master, Sorcerer, and Star Wars like Strike (!) and Scum and Villainy.

Because system matters.
 

pogre

Adventurer
Rules matter. Which, is a shorthand way of saying I agree with the OP's reasons. Different systems give a different feel to the game.

I used to play a LOT of different RPGs. These days, I play almost exclusively 5e.
- I like the game.
- I never have to sell the concept.
- There is a seemingly endless supply of players.
- Almost all of my miniatures and terrain are tailored for fantasy rpgs.

I would prefer to play Ars Magica or even WFRP, but 5e is good, and for the above reasons, that is almost all we play these days.
 

DrunkonDuty

Explorer
I play other games for the system. Yeah, sure you can play any game with any system.

BUT it's more fun to play a game with a system that supports the style of the game being run.

A game like Ars Magica can't easily be done in any DnD system. You would have to house rule the system so much it would bare no resemblance to DnD. You could build an Ars Magica look alike with GURPS or HERO. But why bother when there's already Ars Magica?

So if there's a style of game I want to play I'll do it with a system that adds-to/enhances/supports (choose your synonym) that style. If I want to run a game with a lot of politicking and social interaction DnD is NOT what I'd want. L5R does it much better. (Hell, Exalted probably does it better. Hard to tell, the rules are sooooo complicated.)

DnD does gonzo fantasy*. If I want something different (and I usually do) I'll go with something else.



*There was a discussion here or maybe the HERO forums where someone coined this term for the genre that DND represents. I think this is the best description for it that I have heard.
 

Tony Vargas

Adventurer
A game like Ars Magica can't easily be done in any DnD system. You would have to house rule the system so much it would bare no resemblance to DnD.
What I recall of Ars Magica is a medieval world ruled by mages, opposed by a divine dominion? You were expected to play a mage, but could play a custos, a powerless bodyguard of a mage, if you really wanted to.

Apart from the inherent honesty of the presentation, and the details of the magic system, sounds right up D&D's alley.
 

ccs

39th lv DM
What I recall of Ars Magica is a medieval world ruled by mages, opposed by a divine dominion? You were expected to play a mage, but could play a custos, a powerless bodyguard of a mage, if you really wanted to.

Apart from the inherent honesty of the presentation, and the details of the magic system, sounds right up D&D's alley.
Well, if you played it "correctly", as in how the book described the game, each of you were supposed to create a mage + at least one of the supporting non-mage characters. And then 1 person played their mage, the rest the custos, & 1 person DMd (forget what they called it) for an adventure. Then a new adventure & the roles rotated with someone else playing a mage, yadada yadda yadda.
So everyone DM'd, everyone got a turn as their mage, & everyone played custos.
It was a pretty neat idea.
I never actually saw it happen.
 

Jer

Explorer
Well, if you played it "correctly", as in how the book described the game, each of you were supposed to create a mage + at least one of the supporting non-mage characters. And then 1 person played their mage, the rest the custos, & 1 person DMd (forget what they called it) for an adventure. Then a new adventure & the roles rotated with someone else playing a mage, yadada yadda yadda.
So everyone DM'd, everyone got a turn as their mage, & everyone played custos.
It was a pretty neat idea.
I never actually saw it happen.
Troupe style play! Yes - that's almost how we played Ars in college. Almost because it was more often the case that we'd have more than one of the wizards in the group and we each had multiple henchmen that we could choose from. (I actually enjoyed playing my henchmen characters more because, well, I was an Ars newb and didn't know the magic system inside and out like some of the others did, but I sure could play the heck out of the comedy sidekick character.)
 

Arilyn

Explorer
Ars Magica is one of my favourite games. The magic system is nothing like D&D. Mages don't have slots or spell points, and skilled mages can easily make up simple magical effects on the fly. More powerful spells are very hard to pull off, so you might want to have researched your spells ahead of time. There are example spells in the game, but mages spend a lot of time researching and collecting vis (magical bits from plants, critters,etc.) in order to create their own spells and improve their artes.

Players usually have one mage, a companion and a grog. Companions don't have magic, but are specialists. They are competent, but lack raw power. Grogs are the guards. They have simpler sheets, and die often. Think red shirts. So you could have an adventure where the mages are heading off for a symposium with another covenant. The players use their wizards to deal with the political machinations at the hosting covenant. This can be broken up with the players using their companions to solve a mystery perhaps, or maybe the wizards need them to accomplish a mission. Meanwhile, the grogs could be getting into drunken brawls. Play sessions don't necessarily have to have all your characters. You could have a pure grog or companion session.

There is usually long gaps between adventures. A campaign could take many decades, or even longer, if the players want to take their covenant from its beginnings to its inevitable decay/destruction.

There are no levels. You get points to spend on increasing your skills. The world is authentically medieval Europe. Monsters are rare, and ones you would expect to find in a bestiary from the time period.

You couldn't cram it into a dnd rule set at all.
 

GrahamWills

Registered User
It has to do with being a representative sample and the bias that self-selection introduces to the data collection process. [GenCon Attendees] won’t have nearly as random a selection of hobby participants as data collected from, say, a list of 1000 people who bought games from a set of websites or a similar number of people selected entering or leaving game stores.

In my 42 or so years of personal experience in the hobby across 3 states and 5 cities, I’ve only gamed with 2 other people who ever attended an RPG convention...and they went with me. If you expand the selection parameters to include CCG tournaments, I get to about a dozen.

I doubt that my experiences are typical, however. In fact, based on my time at ENWorld, I suspect they’re not.

So while the GenCon crowd may be an actual mirror to the hobby’s general demographics, odds are pretty good that it isn’t.
As a statistician, there is always the question "can I generalize from sample to population". I am thoroughly aware of the problem, and the pitfalls. It's impossible to be completely sure that the sample is representative. We don't have a lot of random sample data for gamers; it's nearly all self-selection of one form or another. One form of data we do have quite a bit of, and multiple years of, is the gen con event data. Yes, it's heavily self-selected. But that doesn't mean it is unrepresentative of game preferences. The default hypothesis is that is *is* representative, so let's look at why it might not be.

One poster suggested that Gen Con attendees have more money and/or free time. This makes a big difference in many other preference situations -- political affiliation being a prime example. However no-one seems convinced that there is a link between either money / free time and gaming preferences, certainly no-one seems willing to say it makes a big difference, so that argument seems weak.

You state that a very small percentage of your associates go to conventions. That in itself is not really an issue -- what is on debate is whether they are different sorts of people from the overall population. Unfortunately, you have only 2 cases to consider, so you can't really draw any conclusions -- too little data.

This may seem like a minor thing, but so many arguments and threads talk about "what gamers like" or "what is played" or industry trends and we have so little fact to go on. People who buy things online, as well as people who buy things from stores are also strongly self-selecting, and I could make a decent argument that they are more likely to be biased in tastes then convention-goers (e.g. people who prefer out of print games will have strongly different buying habits than those who like D&D 5E).

To do a great job, we would randomly phone people (using a known mix of cell-phone and landlines reflecting the overall US division) and ask simple questions like "have you played one or more roleplaying games this last month" and if they answer yes, collect information on what those games were and how frequently they played each. That would give us a pretty good unbiased sample (phone calls are currently the best randomizer available short of tracking people down census-style -- they're pretty good actually). But absent that info, I haven't seen anything other than "gut feeling" to suggest that Gen Con attendees are not reflective of the overall community in terms of game preferences.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Moderator
Staff member
One thing I’ve noted from non-American gamers is that gaming seems to be a more diverse hobby overseas.

Every gaming convention I’ve been to- GenCon isn’t one- has been overwhelmingly white and male, demographically. And that’s largely reflected in the game groups I’ve been a member of. Most times, I’m the only minority at the table, save one which was 1/3 each white, asian, and black. (And that one was still 100% male.) There was also one group that was 50/50 men & women, including one gay male.*

While the hobby is still most likely a largely a North American one, the number of non-American participants is significantly large enough to imagine that GenCon’s demographics are not necessarily typical of the hobby as a whole.





* one of my personal favorite guys to game with, FWIW.
 

Rory Fansler

Villager
I've seen people convert the Ars Magica system to GURPS but cant say how successful they have been. That style ofplay doesnt really appeal to me.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Moderator
Staff member
Well, if you played it "correctly", as in how the book described the game, each of you were supposed to create a mage + at least one of the supporting non-mage characters. And then 1 person played their mage, the rest the custos, & 1 person DMd (forget what they called it) for an adventure. Then a new adventure & the roles rotated with someone else playing a mage, yadada yadda yadda.
So everyone DM'd, everyone got a turn as their mage, & everyone played custos.
It was a pretty neat idea.
I never actually saw it happen.
No joke, but that’s kind of how my longest running core gaming group ran one campaign world. The most powerful PCs weren’t all spellcasters- not single-classed, anyway- and we’d run parties of different power levels through adventures. Most of the lower-tier PCs were related to the heavy hitters in some capacity.

And we did rotary DMing, too.
 

Ratskinner

Adventurer
In my case, I think it boils down to two reasons:

1) There are plenty of quirks in the D&D core that bother me. Some of them have rather subtle effects on the narrative, which I noticed when I tried other systems. As a most-of-the-time DM, it bothered me that I was fitting my world-design to the rules and not vice-versa. That got me into system-tourism as far back as the '90s, and quite frankly there are other systems that handle some things far better to the way D&D does them. (Often to support specific playgoals.)

2) I'm fine with detailed "tactical" combat as a game, but I don't find that it actually adds to the progress of a story much (at least the way rpgs usually handle it). Additionally, detail like D&D combat always slows things down. So, if I'm approaching a campaign/game as a way to explore a story or setting, I prefer systems that can handle that more smoothly.
 

aramis erak

Explorer
Well, if you played it "correctly", as in how the book described the game, each of you were supposed to create a mage + at least one of the supporting non-mage characters. And then 1 person played their mage, the rest the custos, & 1 person DMd (forget what they called it) for an adventure. Then a new adventure & the roles rotated with someone else playing a mage, yadada yadda yadda.
So everyone DM'd, everyone got a turn as their mage, & everyone played custos.
It was a pretty neat idea.
I never actually saw it happen.
I have... When it works, it's great.

When someone has managed to garner no clue about the setting tropes and throws a D&D type adventure in.... not so much. We voted one adventure off the campaign.

It does require a bit of paradigm shifting, because you never know which characters you're going to get to play... In a 6 month long campaign, I had a stretch of 3 weeks where neither my Magus nor Custos characters were suitable... so I wound up playing grogs. And not even the same grogs. My main PC was doing research, and my custos was training new grogs...
 

John Dallman

Villager
I've done enough dungeon-crawling, but I like playing roles. I do two fairly separate sets of gaming:

The D&D I play is mostly relics from college days (1979-83) and I spent all of last weekend in games that have grown from that. A science fantasy campaign set on a spaceship trading between several astroid belts in the same solar system; at least three of the crew are constructs of various kinds. Actual AD&D1e with characters from several campaigns, assisting a reform movement in the Church of Set. More 1e, DMing a police campaign in the fantasy city I created in 1979.

Apart from that, I mostly play GURPS, in a weekly group, which runs two campaigns alternate weeks. I run "Infinite Cabal", an Infinite Worlds game centred on the Cabal, which started nearly nine years ago. The other game is currently urban fantasy noir, set in an expy of New York in the 1930s that's infested with Fae. GURPS fels a lot more real than D&D-family game systems, and handles things on the scale of ordinary people much better.
 

Aldarc

Explorer
In my case, I think it boils down to two reasons:

1) There are plenty of quirks in the D&D core that bother me. Some of them have rather subtle effects on the narrative, which I noticed when I tried other systems. As a most-of-the-time DM, it bothered me that I was fitting my world-design to the rules and not vice-versa. That got me into system-tourism as far back as the '90s, and quite frankly there are other systems that handle some things far better to the way D&D does them. (Often to support specific playgoals.)
This is probably my most consistent dissatisfaction with D&D. There are many times where I have brainstormed possible campaigns or games of D&D that I have wanted to run. But in the process, I invariably find myself feeling like my vision of the world becomes a slave to the rules and not the rules to the world. D&D does D&D fantasy well, and many could run nothing but these types of stories, worlds, and aesthetics. However, I have found myself fighting the D&D system when generating the sort of stories, worlds, and aesthetics I want for a campaign. Sure, the option to house rule games exists, but after a certain point, it's just easier to find systems that are less resistant or more flexible to those design intents.
 
I think of 'D&D-Style Fantasy' its own genre, with the attendant elements and expectations. So when I want to play that genre, I reach for D&D 5E, which I think does that articular genre better than anything else I've tried.

But when I want a different genre--pulp, sci-fi, supers, horror, or even
fantasy that isn't
D&D-style--I have to go with a different ruleset. I know there are 5E books for sci-fi and modern-era action, but I don't think class-and-level, escalating HP, and spell slot/spell list rules translate to the other genres I want. I think those tropes are too deeply embedded in D&D-style fantasy to work for me outside of it.

Edit: I see that I've essentially copied Aldarc's response, though they phrased it better. So let's pretend I wrote what they wrote!
 
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aramis erak

Explorer
On the popularity and default state of D&D ...

I think people tend to overstate the dominance of D&D -- not that it isn't the biggest player by far, but it seems common to assume that most games are D&D. Even at "Peak d20" this was not the case -- here's the list of events from GenCon 2003 (events counts only, I could not get details on the players allowed per event). I'm not sure that even if we assume some of the living events had huge numbers of players, that even then half the people were playing a d20 game.

So dominant in terms of "no close competitor", but not dominant in terms of "more of this than everything else".
(determination as to which events were d20 does by me using name, rules version and genre. Not evenly slightly guaranteed to be accurate, but I hope errors roughly balance either way ...)

GameEvent Count
*** ALL D20 ***368
*** ALL Others ***833
Grand Total1201
Flaws with GenCon and Origins data: many games are there because the developers are there to push it; the numbers look much more like the ratio of staffers than players...

Likewise, the sales numbers for some 3rd tier but well known publishers run to the 4000 lifetime print run, and POD thereafter, for the sales life of the product. D&D, Star Wars, and Pathfinder initial print runs are in the 10K to 20K range... and 2 of those are the second tier.

Pathfinder 2 corebooks, we saw dozens of pallets full...
Burning Wheel Gold: one pallet, not as tall.
T5.0: 1.5 pallets.

Surveys have repeatedly been done of players... 90% play D&D. Not all exclusively, but 90% of RPG players play D&D. (have ever played, those ratios climb.)

Likewise, the dataset lacks attendance data. Without which... the gen con numbers are worthless for describing players. It's a good sign of the number of companies; there, it's probably a fairly representative sample.

ALso, the data has categorization issues. Star Wars TSR doesn't describe a known system; it's likely that it was Star Wars d20.

Further, many of the "Living ___" events are setting for D&D 3.X, rather than being generic d20. And they tended to be, according to the coverage, large.

And then, there's the issue that non-D20 D&D is not connected with core 3.X... some 300±20 are actually D&D rules, and include some of the largest events at Gen Con...

I can supply some observations from my local con...

D&D 2 events... but over 30 players between them.
Me: 3 events 3 systems (MLP:TOE, STA, and Feng Shui 2), total 14 players, half of whom also played D&D. 1 of whom was totally new to tabletop RPGing. (She'd come to drop off her eldest, who was one of those 14, as well, and decided to stay for boardgames... but knowing she'd been playing MMOs... She started RPGing with Feng Shui...)

other RPGs: 4 that I saw... total about 12 players (yes, overlap) and 4 GM's; almost all of those players were there for D&D, but taking a chance to play something else.

The ones I know were not there for D&D but for some other RPG? 4... C's group - who were there primarily for boardgames, but also played in my MLP game... Yeah, I ran a kid-oriented RPG at 10pm for a group of adults. We had a bunch of really silly fun.
 

GrahamWills

Registered User
Flaws with GenCon and Origins data: many games are there because the developers are there to push it; the numbers look much more like the ratio of staffers than players...
So, you are saying that the huge numbers of 5E players at Gen Con this year are a mirage, and the large number of tables actually reflect the number of WOTC staffers? That seems ... unlikely.

Surveys have repeatedly been done of players... 90% play D&D. Not all exclusively, but 90% of RPG players play D&D. (have ever played, those ratios climb.)
Now this is interesting; could you please link to your sources? It's OK if they are US-centric, I'd be interested in any other actual data sources.

Also, the data has categorization issues. Star Wars TSR doesn't describe a known system; it's likely that it was Star Wars d20. Further, many of the "Living ___" events are setting for D&D 3.X, rather than being generic d20. And they tended to be, according to the coverage, large.
And then, there's the issue that non-D20 D&D is not connected with core 3.X... some 300±20 are actually D&D rules, and include some of the largest events at Gen Con...
There were other columns fo data I used to make calculations -- feel free to do a better job and post it. I doubt it will make more than a 10% or so difference, but better data always appreciated.
 

practicalm

Explorer
So, you are saying that the huge numbers of 5E players at Gen Con this year are a mirage, and the large number of tables actually reflect the number of WOTC staffers? That seems ... unlikely.
I cannot tell if you are intentionally trying to misunderstand what flaw aramis erak was pointing out or not but having experience with many SF Bay Area conventions, the number of games being run in systems other than D&D are a reflection of the game events being run by the staff of an RPG team or just dedicated players/playtesters.

Having a list of events without the attendance data for each event only shows that a number of events made it to the list and doesn't help measure out the players.


Here's data on a really old survey (1999) with when asked what games
TRPG players play monthly, the answers (multiple choices allowed) were:
D&D: 66%
Vampire: The Masquerade: 25%
Star Wars: 21%
Palladium: 16%
Werewolf: The Apocalypse: 15%
Shadowrun: 15%
Star Trek: 12%
Call of Cthulu: 8%
Legend of the Five Rings: 8%
Deadlands: 5%
Alternity: 4%
GURPS: 3%

edit for link to data results http://www.seankreynolds.com/rpgfiles/gaming/WotCMarketResearchSummary.html
 

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