5E Would you play D&D if you knew there would be no combat?

Would you play D&D if there was no combat?


  • Total voters
    165

Anoth

Explorer
Mutants and Masterminds. So, yes. Mind you, that is a havily modified engine. But also mind that most every homebrewer modifies the engine somewhat....



The last time I played Old School Hack... it felt pretty much like D&D to me. So, I'd say probably yes.



For the second, probably not. "D&D" is not being used as "Kleenex" here.

I think the ambiguity of language is a useful thing. There is "Playing D&D" - using a ruleset published by an appropriate copyright holder as D&D. Then there's "playing D&D", which is playing a game that has enough of the traits of D&D as to feel as if it is in the same sub-genre as D&D itself.

And, much of the issue is right in that word - sub-genre. Folks like sharp lines on their definitions, but genres aren't like that. If you have enough of the tropes (which include, but are not limited to, the published mechanics) then you're in the genre. Genres are defined by inclusion, rather than exclusion.



Asking questions when you don't have a presupposed answer is not gatekeeping.
thanks for that answer. I think I would disagree with you some. And really I have been putting too much thought into this lately when I should be thinking of other things 😉 like just making fun encounters and scenarios. But it is interesting if taken as a thought experiment.
 
Then the label/name "D&D" means nothing.
Just like the label/name Coca-Cola means nothing (because it doesn't contain cocaine or kola nuts, anymore!). Except, D&D totally contains all it's original ingredients. ;)
Are some people just using the words d&d to describe any rpg?
IMX, people outside the hobby always have. D&D is the top of the TTRPG iceberg visible to the mainstream. It's often been easiest to describe any other RPG as "D&D, but...."
 

uzirath

Adventurer
IMX, people outside the hobby always have. D&D is the top of the TTRPG iceberg visible to the mainstream. It's often been easiest to describe any other RPG as "D&D, but...."
Yeah, I'm inside the hobby and I've been using "D&D" as shorthand for any ttrpg since the early '90s. My 10-year GURPS fantasy campaign was generally known to everybody as the D&D Game. Indeed, the campaign grew out of my high school and college AD&D games—set in the same world with the same genre expectations—so it was pretty much GURPS D&D.
 

Celebrim

Legend
The last time I played Old School Hack... it felt pretty much like D&D to me. So, I'd say probably yes.
Every game system can be made to feel like D&D by just preparing a dungeon, and going in to the game with a D&D mindset. Some systems pull that off more naturally than others, but I find that if you are not careful it's easy to create a game that could just as easily be a D&D game (and might even profit from that). Paranoia? Take the humor out, and it's D&D. Leave it in, and it can still manage a goofy, beer and pretzels, dungeon of death, "let's hide behind the stack of dead bards", "expedition to the barrier peaks", D&D vibe. Call of Cthulhu? If no one is particularly thespian or immersed in the horror, and your normal game of D&D has some horror inspired elements, and your players are toting shotguns, then it's low level D&D with shotguns. I haven't played it yet, but I suspect if you tweak the setting correctly, "Dogs in the Vineyard" is just D&D with six shooters, which could be Greyhawk or Pathfinder for that matter.

This is of course not a novel observation. "Knights of the Dinner Table" repeatedly made the same point.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Every game system can be made to feel like D&D by just preparing a dungeon, and going in to the game with a D&D mindset.
I was giving an initial example to give a basic answer to the question. It also probably depends on what you classify as "a system".

For example... Shadowrun. In every edition of the system, automatic firearms are a major element of the system, its design, and balance. How much do we eliminate, and still claim we are honestly using, "the system" to emulate D&D? Not to be answered here, but it does speak to the next bit...

Some systems pull that off more naturally than others...
I think that with many, it is unnatural enough that the fact that you need to constantly apply a crowbar becomes a major issue with actually doing the thing.

But, besides that, broadly speaking, I think we agree - if you bring enough genre tropes to the party, you can have many games play such that the players will walk away with that good old "D&D feeling" - whatever that may happen to be for you.
 

Anoth

Explorer
The more I think about it. I really think players are confusing d&d with the sword and Sorcery genre the more I think about it. To me d&d is an engine to play different games with sword and sorcery genre being the most common. I definitely would not say I am playing d&d if i was playing a sword and sorcery game with the mutants and masterminds engine (which I highly recommend people trying)
 
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hawkeyefan

Adventurer
There is the D&D rules system, which is used as a template for all kinds of genres. I suppose we could call that the D20 system, but it really didn't have that label until the 3e days, I don't think.

But D&D as a game itself....I think in that case, it has an implied setting of some quasi-medieval kind of fantasy world, and relying on genre tropes in a lot of ways. There's also going to be some expectations regarding the play experience. There'll be some variance here, because different editions and play groups have pushed it in different directions, but at its core the idea of kicking in doors, killing monsters, and taking their stuff is pretty fundamental.

If I'm not mistaken, the thread that spawned this one was about using the D20 system/D&D rules to try and craft a survival horror game that would not rely on combat. Basically, the goal was to remove the powerful abilities at PCs' disposal to render combat so foolish as to not be an option. I think the setting was meant to be a modern day one, but I'm not 100% on that. It needed to be able to be labeled "D&D" in order to attract players. But I don't think there was going to be much about it that we would consider D&D.

I think that the D20/D&D System can be tweaked to achieve this goal; restrict class choice to make sense in a modern day setting, slow or halt character progression, limit gear, expand skill use, maybe introduce a horror score or similar mechanic. It can be done.

The question then is if the game that remains would still be considered D&D. I don't know if there's a subjective answer to this because of the overlap between system and setting when you think of D&D....but I can certainly understand why someone would not consider it D&D.

I mean, if there's no chance of a dungeon or a dragon showing up, that says a lot.
 

Anoth

Explorer
There is the D&D rules system, which is used as a template for all kinds of genres. I suppose we could call that the D20 system, but it really didn't have that label until the 3e days, I don't think.

But D&D as a game itself....I think in that case, it has an implied setting of some quasi-medieval kind of fantasy world, and relying on genre tropes in a lot of ways. There's also going to be some expectations regarding the play experience. There'll be some variance here, because different editions and play groups have pushed it in different directions, but at its core the idea of kicking in doors, killing monsters, and taking their stuff is pretty fundamental.

If I'm not mistaken, the thread that spawned this one was about using the D20 system/D&D rules to try and craft a survival horror game that would not rely on combat. Basically, the goal was to remove the powerful abilities at PCs' disposal to render combat so foolish as to not be an option. I think the setting was meant to be a modern day one, but I'm not 100% on that. It needed to be able to be labeled "D&D" in order to attract players. But I don't think there was going to be much about it that we would consider D&D.

I think that the D20/D&D System can be tweaked to achieve this goal; restrict class choice to make sense in a modern day setting, slow or halt character progression, limit gear, expand skill use, maybe introduce a horror score or similar mechanic. It can be done.

The question then is if the game that remains would still be considered D&D. I don't know if there's a subjective answer to this because of the overlap between system and setting when you think of D&D....but I can certainly understand why someone would not consider it D&D.

I mean, if there's no chance of a dungeon or a dragon showing up, that says a lot.
when we play runequest are we also playing d&d?
 

Aebir-Toril

Is lukewarm on the Forgotten Realms
Well in theory if we did would it be d&d? I am more a call of Cthulhu person myself, but I give a thumbs up to the Magic World setting and system that is a BRP rpg heavily based on Runequest. But the question still stands.
Under this analogy, would Agony be considered Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus? :rolleyes:
 

hawkeyefan

Adventurer
when we play runequest are we also playing d&d?
Um....no.

I mean, I get it.....my game is tonight, and my wife asked me if the gang is coming by for D&D and I said yes, even though we're playing another game.

So yeah, it's a colloquial term for RPGing in general.

But it's also a specific game. I think in a discussion like this, we're talking to people in the know, and we can make the distinction from one game to the next.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Well if the actual class is contributing nothing than we are going in circles. Why not just play a rogue with the Soldier background?
Because an ex-soldier is far more likely to be a Fighter - strong and tough, rather than nimble and smart which are the hallmarks of a Rogue.

And the actual class is contributing something: background and flavour.

If you have a choice between A and B - and the difference is that B effectively covers everything that A covers but a also bit more - than of course the rational choice is B.
If the only consideration is pure numbers and mechanics, then yes. But if one goes beyond that and considers characterization, personality and background then it's not so cut and dried.

It's like if I have a character concept where my character is a crashed pilot from an intergalactic space ship. The GM agrees that the PC is fine but warns it will mostly be colour for me to play as he doesn't intend for the game to ever go into space or for modern technology to feature. It would then be a bit strange for me to ask him if instead of taking adventuring skills like Perception or Persuasion I could spend my skill picks on Piloting (intergalactic spacecraft) and Quantum Computer Engineering.
Even a somewhat silly example like this could be made to work if the DM co-operates: for example, what experiences have I had in space, while interacting with other strange cultures and lifeforms, that could help inform my actions and choices here?

And Piloting (spacecraft) could come in handy if I or the party ever find ourselves flying anywhere. Quantum Engineering I'd probably replace with Perception (something a pilot needs!), which could stand me in good stead in any situation.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
But then you’ve essentially removed the system from the equation. If it’s pure freeform RP with no mechanics, then it’s not really D&D at all. I don’t even know if it would even really be a game at all....sounds more like collaborative storytelling.
Not necessarily - the DM still puts the challenges, the players/PCs still have to overcome them; but those challenges involve exploration and-or stealth and-or diplomacy rather than combat.

So the question then becomes why not use a system where the mechanics support the desired gameplay experience?

What if there was a game that is to social encounters as D&D is to combat? Just as combat in D&D is supported by player choices for class and other features, which then grant them meaningful choices to make in combat, what if there was a game that worked that way for espionage and court diplomacy and intrigue?

Wouldn’t such a game then be likely to work better for a low-to-no combat game?
Yes, but why do I want to learn a whole new system when I've already got one that'll do?

Part of this stems from my long-held contention that D&D shouldn't have social mechanics, and that introducing them in 3e was a dreadful mistake. Social interaction in D&D should IMO be settled through roleplay, with mechanics either extremely minimal or absent altogether - which means that D&D already works just fine for a non-combat game.

You'd still use the D&D chassis to roll up the characters, to equip them, and so forth; and for the parts of the game where mechanics were still required e.g. exploration, stealth, etc.
 
My point is that it can be done within D&D and that doing so doesn't trample the system.
Free-form RPing, done in the context of a game with actual rules, doesn't trample the system, it merely abandons it, completely - typically, at the point said system proves useless or counter-productive. Later, when play returns to a context in which the system is functional, it can be taken up again, with no damage, and, hopefully, minimal loss of confidence.
 

Anoth

Explorer
Not necessarily - the DM still puts the challenges, the players/PCs still have to overcome them; but those challenges involve exploration and-or stealth and-or diplomacy rather than combat.

Yes, but why do I want to learn a whole new system when I've already got one that'll do?

Part of this stems from my long-held contention that D&D shouldn't have social mechanics, and that introducing them in 3e was a dreadful mistake. Social interaction in D&D should IMO be settled through roleplay, with mechanics either extremely minimal or absent altogether - which means that D&D already works just fine for a non-combat game.

You'd still use the D&D chassis to roll up the characters, to equip them, and so forth; and for the parts of the game where mechanics were still required e.g. exploration, stealth, etc.
social mechanics were very much a part of pre 3.x. There were the reaction adjustment rules for charisma that worked very much like diplomacy in 3.x. And the morale rules were a better form of intimidation than what we currently have imho. I know because I still run a 2E game and use it. Same with Becmi.
 

jmartkdr2

Villager
I would play an rpg without combat, but not using the DnD rules. There's got to be a better system out there for whatever the gm is trying to do.
 

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