hot take, the positioning of Dungeons and Dragons as the "default" tabletop roleplaying system/modality is immensely limiting to the hobby.
@starkatt Yep. IMO something like the spirit of the game is frozen in the 80s and it hasn't grown since. The mechanics, sure, but not the content.
@Kyresti @starkatt like, we've certainly had fun with d&d in the past, but it's not unproblematic, and it's so dang hard to get anyone we know to play anything else (aside from pathfinder/starfinder, but those are just d&d in different clothes)
there are tons of different tabletop systems out there that incorporate interesting mechanics and interpersonal and narrative dynamics that would be fun to explore
we really want to try playing numenera with a group at some point, though, as we are completely enamoured with the possibilities afforded by the setting. not sure if it would actually be fun, though
@starkatt OK, first to be clear: I am a system doesn't matter person. The system is just an engine to take you on a journey.
Doing a horror game in Call of Cthulhu or Dread or GURPS is going to be a heck of a lot easier then in D&D or Champions or such, but Ravenloft exists because some people know D&D as a ruleset, only have the mental space for one game, and are willing to use it for stuff it really wasn't designed for. And that can work.
@starkatt D&D is this basically the Excel of roleplaying games. It was designed to do something back in the mists of time, but because it was there first, and easy to misuse, now it is used for a *lot* of stuff.
@starkatt Heck, the core assumptions the writers are working with have changed. D&D started as basically a tactical level wargame. Gygax thought all this storytelling stuff was dumb and his dungeons had signs from the Greyhawk Construction Co. that this part of the dungeon wasn't finished yet if you reached somewhere he hadn't mapped yet. Arneson apparently disagreed, but he was always a junior partner.
@starkatt Early versions of D&D even had notes that the exact god your cleric worshipped wasn't relevant to the game.
That changed pretty quickly, and every edition has had more information on background, and roleplaying, and non-violent solutions to problems, and those are....pretty common in play?
@starkatt So between 2001 and 2008 my Dad and I were BIG into an international campaign called Living Greyhawk. ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Living_Greyhawk ) where you had an international set of rules, very strict by-the-book play, so you could take a character from a game in Ontario along with some paperwork, and play at a table in the UK (and I know people that did that)
@starkatt Adventures were either worldwide or regional, and regional ones you could only play within that real-world geographical region.
And despite all this standardization, you saw a LOT of variance. You had things that are how people on the internet describe D&D. An obligatory thug fight at the start of the adventure, some skill roles in the middle, and a big fight at the end.
@starkatt Greece was apparently infamous for that, since almost all of its players were US military personnel there who wanted a combat simulator.
But you also had a lot of roleplay heavy, multi-year plot arcs involving parties or intrigue, and (my favourite in that format) creative problem solving (The ruler we favour has been drugged insensate, and we need to smuggle him out of the palace during an ongoing coup).
@starkatt and that is in a 4-8 hours, must be 3e or 3.5e D&D, rules exactly as written, VERY limited format D&D game. Home games can be a LOT looser then that.
Even just looking at the rulebooks, like, yes, they are HUGELY problematic in many areas, but reading it and reading what the indie RPG critics say doesn't feel like we are reading the same book?
@starkatt Like, I'm not super familiar with 5e as I've not played it very much, but EVERY edition from 2nd to 5th has added more about PC character background and such? They seems to assume if there aren't rules for group character creation your character is a backgroundless collection of numbers? The last TWO editions have had backround rules (that I don't LIKE, and think hinder background creation, but...) to encourage backstory creation
@starkatt And, not counting 4th edition, they've also put more and more work into a skills system so you can resolve things outside of combat.
Is it the same as Fudge? No, its still a very game-y system. Is it my favourite game? (No, GURPS or Basic Roleplay or the one I'm writing myself would be those). Is it the best we could do for a basic system for the game.....I'm gonig with no, but I think it is FINE for that
@starkatt 1) Its got enough situational complexity that playing different characters and doing different stuff FEELs different, which gives it longevity.
2) It doesn't take itself too seriously, which scares people off
@starkatt 3) It isn't a narrative game that paralyzes new players. (This is something I've seen. I was running Cthulhu for a mixed group of new and old RPG players. One night we took a week off to run http://www.1km1kt.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/thepoolrpg.pdf and the old hands got it right away, and the newest player basically didn't say anything all night. This is also something I've heard said about Amber a lotttt)
@starkatt I mean, would it be what I choose for a basic, default RPG? No, I'd go with something more skill-based and with less of a focus on combat. (You mayyy have noticed all my favourite games are skill based). But its...fine
(Oh and 4) in its favour: I think the fact everyone knows the basic tropes are useful training wheels for new roleplayers)
@Canageek I told you at the top that it's an ideological difference.
You said "I am a system doesn't matter person", when I think system does matter.
You also said "[D&D is] still a very game-y system." That's what my problem with it is. The fundamental structure of D&D encourages "understand the rules and use them to your advantage" which is something that is not at all what I -- along with a whole lot of other people -- want TTPRGs to do.
Doesn't matter if they add more rules for like, social conflict resolution. The problem is that it sees social conflict through the framework of mechanics in the first place.
@starkatt I don't think rules sets effect that? I've seen people try and power game some very fluffy narrative games just as much as D&D. (I think it was called Story Engine?)
I've had players try to min-max Call of Cthulhu. I think its just some people have to 'win' however that is.
@Canageek Yes, and that's exactly my problem.
People who are introduced through the paradigm of D&D often then go on to see every other game through the lens of "this is a system, how do I get good at the system."
@Canageek It's not destructive to the hobby that D&D exists. D&D is fine.
What's destructive is that it's the default that every other game is then seen in relationship to.
@starkatt As I said, I don't think that is D&D's fault, I think that is a psychology thing. I've seen that in players that didn't start with D&D.
@Canageek Also, "have to spend an hour filling in a new character sheet and learn a book full of rules" is fundamentally hostile to new players.
@starkatt I mean, yes. Ish. The issue is that the book contains everything from first level to the top of the list. If you buy the Starter Set, it has all the rules, including character creation, in something like 15 pages? Might be 30?
@starkatt (I will say, that is one of my favourite things about the system that powers Call of Cthulhu. I could introduce new people to the game and, if one on one with them, have a new character in about 15 minutes).
But then again, my GURPS GM thinks a character should never take less then a week, since you could be talking to the GM and making a place for that character in the world
@starkatt I feel like that's a big reason people have such a hard time imagining nonviolent play nowadays
@starkatt we had to spend friggin' /years/ unlearning "D&D is the default" and learning to understand anything else...
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thinking out loud about D&D's peculiarities some more re: D&D "default"
@starkatt like, here are some things:
- The primary focus of the rules should be facilitating detailed and lengthy combat encounters.
- The short-term goal of characters should be to find and overcome dangerous obstacles.
- The default way to reward a player for their actions should be giving their character more power or resources.
- Relatedly: the end goal for a character should be on the level of "they can take down a god".
- Also relatedly: the typical person in the setting should start off less powerful than the player characters and soon after cease to become any kind of impediment to the player characters' choices.
- A single participant in the game has a position of authority over the entire game, and, while others may negotiate with them, those others' job is to operate within the rules set by that authority and interact with the world that authority defines for them.
- It is reasonable to require every player to regularly do multiple arithmetic operations to figure out what their character has or has not done.
- It is normal for the options a player has to define their character to be gated behind access to additional sourcebooks.
- Relatedly: defining a character is, by default, a matter of selecting pre-designed elements from sourcebooks and assembling them on a reference sheet.
It's not that any of these cannot be an element in a good game (well, except maybe the implied authoritarian power structure of the game having a single authority), but none of these need to be the /default/.
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