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
social mechanics were very much a part of pre 3.x.
...y'know, it's funny, I really don't want to agree with that statement, but...
There were the reaction adjustment rules for charisma that worked very much like diplomacy in 3.x.
...that's actually kinda true, and it wasn't subject to being exploited by a diplomancer build...
And the morale rules were a better form of intimidation than what we currently have imho.
They were more codified, certainly than the DM simply setting a DC & calling for a check when you declare an action that seems intimidating...

...so, yeah...

...and, then, there were henchmen & hirelings with loyalty ratings, influenced by how you treated them.

Darn.
 

hawkeyefan

Adventurer
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.
If you’re using the skill system, then you’re using the system. But without combat, you’re basically ditching the overwhelming majority of the system.

So the question then is can another system better deliver the desired experience.

Yes, but why do I want to learn a whole new system when I've already got one that'll do?
Because you want a good play experience? Because the “system” you seem to be advocating for is actually no system?

What you’re advocating for is essentially to put everything on the DM. Using unknown and nebulous criteria, players try to convince the DM that their action could succeed.

Yes, this “system” may work. But what's wrong with something more in depth? Something more structured so that players have reasonable expectations about play and about deciding what they may try to 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.
Again, the game may work. It largely will depend on the skill of the DM, that of the players, and the game matter.

But in a case where the group was deciding to play a game with minimal or no combat, I would think that considering a rules system that may be designed with that play experience in mind seems to make sense.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
So what happens in said game when the thief decides to backstab the guard or someone.
That might depend on how - and how rigidly - the DM wants to enforce the non-combat aspect of things.

If it's on the meta level, then the thief in theory wouldn't make - or wouldn't be allowed to make - this decision in the first place.

If it's on the fiction level, the the consequences for such violence would be severe, consistent, and inevitable; probably along the lines of apprehension, trial, and death by hanging.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
If you’re using the skill system, then you’re using the system. But without combat, you’re basically ditching the overwhelming majority of the system.
Which is no different than what happens now in a non-combat run of D&D play. The only difference is that here it becomes the expected norm, rather than the unusual exception.

Because you want a good play experience? Because the “system” you seem to be advocating for is actually no system?

What you’re advocating for is essentially to put everything on the DM.
Which is a) kind of a system in itself and b) not far from my usual position the rest of the time.

Yes, this “system” may work. But what's wrong with something more in depth? Something more structured so that players have reasonable expectations about play and about deciding what they may try to do?
My expectation even now in a with-combat game, both as DM and player, is that the players can decide to try anything they want; and the game (sometimes, either by rule or by dice) or the DM (the rest of the time) will determine whether that try succeeds or not.

That doesn't change here.
 
If it's on the fiction level, the the consequences for such violence would be severe, consistent, and inevitable; probably along the lines of apprehension, trial, and death by hanging.
Or, forgone and pointless. "I sneak up & backstab the guard" "Roll stealth, if you succeed, he dies." Essentially no different in resolution than if the declaration were "I sneak past the guard."

So a low-/no- combat game could be as simple as combat is hand-waved - choose the wrong fight and you're defeated without touching dice, otherwise you win the same way. Actually not that different from how non-combat is often handled. ;)
 

Anoth

Explorer
...y'know, it's funny, I really don't want to agree with that statement, but...
...that's actually kinda true, and it wasn't subject to being exploited by a diplomancer build... They were more codified, certainly than the DM simply setting a DC & calling for a check when you declare an action that seems intimidating...

...so, yeah...

...and, then, there were henchmen & hirelings with loyalty ratings, influenced by how you treated them.

Darn.
Very Nice to see someone that actually knows these rules existed. Thanks
 

hawkeyefan

Adventurer
Which is no different than what happens now in a non-combat run of D&D play. The only difference is that here it becomes the expected norm, rather than the unusual exception.
It sounds like you’re saying that rules that govern an unusual exception and rules that govern the expected norm should carry equal weight. Which seems odd.

Imagine if there was a game that was the opposite of what you're proposing.....all the social encounters and exploration were heavily mechanized. Multiple rolls for a skills, and then some kind of measure of a successful check's impact (let's say social points which function like hit points). So if my PC wants to convince the duke that the duchess is plotting to have him killed, I'll need to achieve 50 social points of success. That kind of thing. But in the event of combat, we simply compare level, and the higher level character wins. So combat is resolved without any real mechanics.

Now, imagine that I said that I wanted to use that system for a classic, combat heavy dungeon crawl. Wouldn't that be an odd choice when a game like D&D exists?

Which is a) kind of a system in itself and b) not far from my usual position the rest of the time.
It's pretty much Mother May I. Sure, it may work in a specific game because there's a lot of trust between DM and players, and they're comfortable with it, and so on.

But I don't think I'd ever put forth that this is the best system for the job.


My expectation even now in a with-combat game, both as DM and player, is that the players can decide to try anything they want; and the game (sometimes, either by rule or by dice) or the DM (the rest of the time) will determine whether that try succeeds or not.

That doesn't change here.
It also doesn’t change in another system.

I'm not averse to GM judgment playing a role in whatever system may be in place. I think most games require at least some amount of GM judgment. But I also think that having rules in place to help the GM with judgment is a good idea.
 

GrahamWills

Adventurer
I'd be more likely to play D&D with no combat than DramaSystem with no drama, but unless you are committed to playing only one game system for other reasons, why would you choose a system designed for a combat focus to play a game without combat focus?

Is there anyone who regularly plays several of BRP, DramaSystem, Gumshoe, D&D, Numenéra, Pendragon or Fate, who would pick D&D for their non-combat game? It seems unlikely.
 

Derren

Adventurer
No, you probably don't; but that's not my point.

My point is that it can be done within D&D and that doing so doesn't trample the system.
When your D&D books are gathering dust while you do non-mechanical freeform roleplaying then you are not doing it within D&D, you are doing it besides it.
And in the case where to campaign only consists out of non-mechanical freeform roleplaying as D&D doesn't offer much not tied to combat, all the books are just dead weight.
 
Is there anyone who regularly plays several of BRP, DramaSystem, Gumshoe, D&D, Numenéra, Pendragon or Fate...
Possibly, but not many, I suspect, compared to sheer numbers of those who exclusively play D&D and are entirely unaware those other games even exist.

who would pick D&D for their non-combat game? It seems unlikely.
I have played Pendragon (like, in the 80s), BRP, FATE (when it was still all caps like that), and Gumshoe, but not regularly, like I have D&D for so many years.
And I would certainly choose Gumshoe to run a non-combat game, based on the relative qualities of the systems, alone.
If I could get any players.
 

uzirath

Adventurer
And in the case where to campaign only consists out of non-mechanical freeform roleplaying as D&D doesn't offer much not tied to combat, all the books are just dead weight.
Spellcasting seems like a pretty big subsystem that can be applied in tons of creative ways outside of combat.

I don't think D&D is the best system (or even a very good system) for a non-combat game, but I don't think you're lost in the wilderness if you try it. As others have pointed out, using two of the three pillars is still D&D.
 

Derren

Adventurer
Spellcasting seems like a pretty big subsystem that can be applied in tons of creative ways outside of combat.

I don't think D&D is the best system (or even a very good system) for a non-combat game, but I don't think you're lost in the wilderness if you try it. As others have pointed out, using two of the three pillars is still D&D.
Pillars which imo are very weak in D&D. The main focus, by a huge margin, of that system is combat.

Yes, there are also non combat spells, but not all classes have spells and you can bet that in a non combat game everyone would play a spellcaster as there is no reason not to.
 

uzirath

Adventurer
Yes, there are also non combat spells, but not all classes have spells and you can bet that in a non combat game everyone would play a spellcaster as there is no reason not to.
Yeah, I basically agree with all of this. D&D right out of the PHB would be an odd choice because the classes are so focused on combat options. I would rather play a game where you had a lot more mundane choices (diplomats, nobles, merchants, sailors, etc.) instead of trying to shoehorn such professions into the standard classes.

If we were required to use the basic classes, it might be fun if the entire party was composed of bards—a troupe of travelling troubadours.
 
Yes, there are also non combat spells, but not all classes have spells
Not all sub-classes do. Of the classes you might think of as 'not casters,' the Fighter & Rogue have "1/3rd" caster subclasses, the EK & AT, the Totem Barbarian can do a few spells as rituals, and the Elemental & Shadow Monks can duplicate spells with Ki.
and you can bet that in a non combat game everyone would play a spellcaster as there is no reason not to.
There's not exactly a lot of reasons not to in a regularly-pillared or mostly-/all- combat game, either. It's just that Berserkers, Champs & BMs, Thieves & Assassin, and Open-Hand Monks are all about combat, so there's less reason /not/ to play them, if you really want to due to concept, say, or distaste for D&D's spellcasting mechanics, or whatever.
 

Advertisement

Top