D&D General Why Is D&D Successful?

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
My little borther is dyslexic and also had troubles. Thats more because of the disorder as opposed to the rules. 5e is a lil crunchy, but the idea is very easy to get.
One of these players is now a player in my DW game. (Rather, has been since I started it.) They have explicitly said, just in the past few days actually, that they'll never be able to go back to D&D. Simultaneously too rigid and too incomplete. Hence why I am so skeptical of the claims that 5e is "elegant" and "easy to learn." It isn't. Actual experience has shown me otherwise. Instead, it fits a specific group's biases. For them, it is easy to learn.

No edition of D&D has been elegant. Even 4e, which has some elegant pieces, was still quite baroque in several ways. The vast majority of people who frequent forums like this one are simply so steeped in D&D-specific ways of thinking about design, we no longer notice.
 

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Oofta

Legend
One of these players is now a player in my DW game. (Rather, has been since I started it.) They have explicitly said, just in the past few days actually, that they'll never be able to go back to D&D. Simultaneously too rigid and too incomplete. Hence why I am so skeptical of the claims that 5e is "elegant" and "easy to learn." It isn't. Actual experience has shown me otherwise. Instead, it fits a specific group's biases. For them, it is easy to learn.

No edition of D&D has been elegant. Even 4e, which has some elegant pieces, was still quite baroque in several ways. The vast majority of people who frequent forums like this one are simply so steeped in D&D-specific ways of thinking about design, we no longer notice.
Different strokes for different folks. If you prefer a PbtA style game, that says nothing about D&D style games.

I find 5E "elegant", but it's just preference and opinion.
 

wedgeski

Adventurer
One of these players is now a player in my DW game. (Rather, has been since I started it.) They have explicitly said, just in the past few days actually, that they'll never be able to go back to D&D. Simultaneously too rigid and too incomplete. Hence why I am so skeptical of the claims that 5e is "elegant" and "easy to learn." It isn't. Actual experience has shown me otherwise. Instead, it fits a specific group's biases. For them, it is easy to learn.

And you can imagine the obvious counterpoint to this.

I wouldn't call 5E "elegant". It works, and I have multiple addicted friends, for many of whom 5E is their first RPG. Like your assessment of 4E, it has elegant pieces. But it turns out a system doesn't have to be elegant for me to love it.
 


One of these players is now a player in my DW game. (Rather, has been since I started it.) They have explicitly said, just in the past few days actually, that they'll never be able to go back to D&D. Simultaneously too rigid and too incomplete. Hence why I am so skeptical of the claims that 5e is "elegant" and "easy to learn." It isn't. Actual experience has shown me otherwise. Instead, it fits a specific group's biases. For them, it is easy to learn.

No edition of D&D has been elegant. Even 4e, which has some elegant pieces, was still quite baroque in several ways. The vast majority of people who frequent forums like this one are simply so steeped in D&D-specific ways of thinking about design, we no longer notice.
I mean yeah that makes sense, a simpler, more rules-lite game would be better for someone with dyslexia. I'm not sure your point.

I've taught kids, adults who have never played an RPG before, adults who don't really like Fantasy all that much, etc how to play without much problem. It isn't as hard as you're making it sound. It isn't the best designed game, and I think there's a lot of things that can be done differently, but it just isn't that hard to teach, unless things like disorders etc get in the way.

The big thing we're discussing here is anecdotes. I have mine and you have yours. However, the amount of literal children I see playing D&D RAW confirms for me that it just isn't as hard as you make it seem to be. There are snags, yes, there are some issues here and there, yes.
 

nevin

Hero
And you can imagine the obvious counterpoint to this.

I wouldn't call 5E "elegant". It works, and I have multiple addicted friends, for many of whom 5E is their first RPG. Like your assessment of 4E, it has elegant pieces. But it turns out a system doesn't have to be elegant for me to love it.
it's simple and they went out of thier way to make sure the DM knows he doesn't have to use, gold, Feats or even magic items. It's the DND equivilant of bowling with the rails up. But having seen some of the over the top complicated messes myself and other DM's have come up with over the years. I understand why it's so popular. It's really the first edition since 1E D&D that you only need a PHB and a DMG to run a game and the ruleset it very simple and quick compared to previous editions. It feels like the Anime edition of D&D to me. Not really D&D but it is fun.
 

I was talking about this with my (non-gamer) wife today:

Why is D&D successful in this moment? Like, ridiculously successful.

As a 80s kid Gen-Xer, the idea that the current version of D&D is an order of magnitude or two more successful than either 80s D&D or 3E is really surprising.

RPGs is a weird hobby. It not only requires a lot of time investment, it requires a strange asymmetrical amount of effort on players and GMs. On top of that, it's rules are so vague that the GM position isn't just different, but absolutely required.

So, if you had to distill why and how D&D has become a mainstream success in the 2020s, what would you say.

Note: no points for just declaring Stranger Things and Critical Role. They might explain interest and comprehension, but they don't explain why D&D actually works for millions of people.
We Earthly humans are living in an oppressive world that is designed to subdue and depress us, to think we are powerless to change things, or discourage us from fighting for a better world. TTRPGs connect us in ways unlike any other, to team up and do better together. TTRPGs are an escape that lets us fulfill those fantasies and help us explore our own moralities. For instance: "No I don't like tyranny... wait, these politicians are as bad as those D&D villains... waitaminute..."

D&D represents the popular fantasy aspect of TTRPGs, and while there are more than one fantasy game out there, D&D is the one everyone talks about, has stories about, and can find games for. It's simple enough to onboard new roleplayers, and crunchy enough to give heavy gamers something to sink their teeth into, rewarding some system mastery, without allowing casual players to enjoy the game alongside them.

We just want to indulge in fantasies with our friends, through jokes, action, storytelling, and even flirting (just watch live plays like CR). It's about connecting to real minds of real people.
 

We Earthly humans are living in an oppressive world that is designed to subdue and depress us, to think we are powerless to change things, or discourage us from fighting for a better world. TTRPGs connect us in ways unlike any other, to team up and do better together. TTRPGs are an escape that lets us fulfill those fantasies and help us explore our own moralities. For instance: "No I don't like tyranny... wait, these politicians are as bad as those D&D villains... waitaminute..."

D&D represents the popular fantasy aspect of TTRPGs, and while there are more than one fantasy game out there, D&D is the one everyone talks about, has stories about, and can find games for. It's simple enough to onboard new roleplayers, and crunchy enough to give heavy gamers something to sink their teeth into, rewarding some system mastery, without allowing casual players to enjoy the game alongside them.

We just want to indulge in fantasies with our friends, through jokes, action, storytelling, and even flirting (just watch live plays like CR). It's about connecting to real minds of real people.
You just described every game.
 


You just described every game.
While I agree that every game and TTRPG provides that escape, I think my second paragraph calls out why I think D&D is successful. It seems to do that better than others. It has greater market share, which draws in more people, but it also keeps them. It must be living up to the hype.
 

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