Focus: What is D&D about?

Mike Mearls: "I agree that 4e had very clear goals, and that was a strength if those goals matched what you wanted. What we've learned is that people play D&D for a staggering variety of reasons." [emphasis added]

For me, 4e's very clear goal was to make a game about fantasy combat. Mearls seems to have recognised that thousands of people play D&D for a staggering variety of reasons beyond 'fantasy combat'.

What is D&D about, for you?

For me, it's about problem-solving - approaching intricate issues and overcoming them with the tools at hand. What about you? Is it 'fantasy combat'? Emulating a fantasy world? Problem solving? Interpersonal interaction? Trap-avoiding? What? What is D&D about - if, in fact, it's any one thing at all, instead of a huge variety of things?

There's a school of design that says, many years after the first successful RPG, that to create a 'good' RPG, it must be coherent, and have a specific goal. I think this is bull-hockey. I think to create a successful RPG, you must allow for, and design for, all the goals that anyone might bring. What do you think?

Should you design an RPG to exclude all the goals except the one you decide should be the 'focus'? Or should you design the RPG to emulate a fantasy world, and let players decide where to 'focus'? 
To me, D&D was the game I started with.  Modern D&D is just one of many games, if D&D is good compared to other games out there, and I can find people to play it, I'll play it.  Organized play makes the latter terribly easy.  If there's another game that's better, and I can find people to play it, I'll play that.  I'm a hobbyist, and D&D is just the most evident tip of that hobby's ice-berg.  But that's just me.



"D&D" is the hallowed 'first RPG,' as such, it has a lot of history and a certain mystique about it.  Thus, to a lot of us, D&D is about our earliest role-playing experiences.  They may have been experiences we had as naive kids in a parent's basement or school library or other ignoble location, but they were meaningful to us.

D&D is also just one of many TTFRPGs - most of which are arguably (some even demonstrably) technically superior to it for any given mechanical standard or niche goal you might prefer.

4e finally addresses a lot of long-standing flaws of D&D, and, in a business sense it 'failed' (whether that was because the goals set were unrealistic, or because of a divided fan base, or due competition from 'itself' in the form of OGL/SRD retro-clones, doesn't really matter).  That failure taught WotC something: making the game better isn't good enough.  D&D has already survived competing with technically superior games.  The D&D franchise is nothing more than nostalgia, name recognition, and the sheer momentum of being 'biggest' for a long time.  The OGL tapped into that by giving would-be competitors the chance to jump on the badwagon, so even though it did deviate /slightly/ from the old-school - hobbled a sacred cow or two in multi-classing, for instance, and in standardizing on d20 resolution - it was a relative commercial success (compared to 2e in it's waning days).  

If 5e isn't going to try a similar tactic to get the 3pps on board, it's going to have problems.  If it doesn't jump whole-heartedly on the nostalgia bandwagon, itself, it's going to have even more.  


If it really were about catering to the broadest possible range of campaign, DMing, and play "styles," 5e would have to be a very flexible, very well-balanced game.  And, it's not going to be that.  4e was balanced, flexible, re-skinnable, with neatly laid out guidelines for improvisation and it was violently rejected.   That aproach has failed.  5e is going to have to tap the established audience for D&D - and the vast pool of lapsed players who haven't touched it since the 80's fad - and tap it hard to have any chance at delivering the kind of numbers WotC needs.  On it's side is timing: people are most nostalgic for silly stuff they did as kids when they're in their 40s.  It has a shot.  In the long run, it's not going to win new players or lead the industry with that strategy, but, as a great man said, "In the long run, we're all dead."

 

 

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Tony: Are you willing to consider that what you call 'making the game better' wasn't, in fact, making the game better? As in, a design focused on making D&D 'coherent' around fantasy combat was misguided?
Tony: Are you willing to consider that what you call 'making the game better' wasn't, in fact, making the game better? As in, a design focused on making D&D 'coherent' around fantasy combat was misguided?



This is the crux of the matter, and I have to agree with Tony 100%. For instance, I need rules for combat because combat can (and is) a big portion of the game for me and my group. I also don't see the need for rules when it comes to Roleplaying. So 4E's rule-lite RP aspect, reskinning, and combat-centric focus was a great way to go about making an RPG. Sadly, too few agreed. And for us, the more unbalanced this is, the less fun it is. It's a reason most of us enjoy 4E. But apparently a more broader audience/fanbase is ok with unbalanced because that's sort of D&D's thing.

Personally, I believe that D&D is about interesting characters and the conflicts between them.  You could just have a bunch of quirky idiots sitting in a room criticizing each other (in reference to the characters, not the players), but the ruleset provides a great framework for why these people stick together instead of just killing each other.  The traditional D&D set-up provides:


  • A shared goal.  You need to slay the Big Bad, or find the MacGuffin, or whatever.  It's important, and you all are the ones best able to deal with it, so breaking up the group is tantamount to letting the bad thing happen (end of the world, whatever).

  • Wide and varying obstacles, necessitating people with various skillsets and backgrounds in order to overcome them.  ("Why did we bring that guy along?" "Oh, we needed someone who could speak Goblin.")

  • Constant danger, allowing characters to form bonds.  ("I was going to turn you in to the authorities for stealing that horse, but since you just saved my life I'm going to let you off with a warning.")

  • Opportunities for individuals to shine ("This looks like a job for the bard!") and combat as an opportunity for all characters to shine.


And of course, D&D in particular offers one thing that most other games lack:


  • The ability to assemble a group of players from people posting on the local meetup group, without spending months on the search. 


The metagame is not the game.

Diffan: Is combat a big part of the game, or all of the game? As you say that you don't see the need for rules when it comes to roleplaying, I'll assume that for you, D&D is a combat game. This pretty much fits my theory - those who like 4E see D&D as a combat-centric game.

Nothing wrong with seeing D&D as combat-centric. What's wrong is ridiculously assuming that's how everyone else sees it.  
For me, D&D is about portraying a character.  Stepping into her shoes, seeing through her eyes, reacting to her situations and telling her story from a forward-narrative perspective (ie, not a long-term view of 'heres what happened', but an immediate, second by second day by day experience).  For this reason it's not uncommon for me to spend an hour+ (when I'm a player) shopping, chatting with NPC's, doing little deeds for people around town, talking with the travelling merchants and so on.  It's not uncommon for an entire session in my group to be -nothing but- these kinds of activities.

When combat does come, when it -must- come, then I like to go all out, use every imaginative strategy to not only not have to worry about rules minutae but to make them obsolete.  As a long-time Mage player...that's -much- easier than people think it is.

"Lightning...it flashes bright, then fades away.  It can't protect, it can only destroy."

Diffan: Is combat a big part of the game, or all of the game? As you say that you don't see the need for rules when it comes to roleplaying, I'll assume that for you, D&D is a combat game. This pretty much fits my theory - those who like 4E see D&D as a combat-centric game.

Nothing wrong with seeing D&D as combat-centric. What's wrong is ridiculously assuming that's how everyone else sees it.  



No just NO I don't see D&D as a combat game I see OD&D as a combat game D&D Has evolved from that based on the way the fans played.  D&D now offers far more rewards, information, and systems on things outside of combat skills and the likes certain feats and even some newer spells. Now some of those systems might not play right for you and that's fine but they are there that you may or may not like them doesn't change that. Hell 4th even brought in skill chalenges trying to get everyone involved in the non combat game. It was horrible and in no way fun in my opinion but it was there. 

@anjelika: From my limited perspective, this is how most people play D&D. Combat is a big part of the game. It is not the center of the game.
@nexusvalhees: This is how combat-centric people play D&D. OD&D, if you read it, is not a combat game. The combat part of it is entirely interchangeable. Want to play wargamish combat? Okay. Want to switch it out, ignore most of it, just roll to-hit vs ac? Okay. 4E's skill challenges is basically 4e's way of saying 'nothing but combat is important. Just roll skill, add up successes, and skip past it.' It is horrible and in no way fun, as you say. Because, in 4e, combat is the focus - it is the focus point that gives coherency to the rules. Because someone decided, erroneously, that combat was the raison d'etre of D&D. And it is freaking NOT.

When I look at my character sheet I see a little Homunculus that will act as a catalyst for change in a fantasy universe. How the homunculus will change his own fortune and the destinies of those around him is limited by my imagination and the rules of the game. I control this creature and I hope that his existence entertains me and that he thrives in the environment in which he is placed. I recognize that this character may have great obstacles; self-induced, racial, environmental, cultural, mental and physical et al., that will potentially prevent his success in the world in which he lives.


 Each character I make is an experiment in role-playing, and my goals shift with each new persona. Will this character be a detriment and need help? will he be good? will he have a hard goal that, if met, will bring about his retirement?
 My character's success hinges on the difficulty of what the DM decides is an obstacle, and how tough that obstacle is, the DMs job is to challenge and entertain, it's a tougher job than mine as a player. My character has many paths to becoming exceptional and among those paths are (but not limited to): exploration, treasure finding, combat, puzzles and social interaction with the other creatures in the fantasy world.
 My character can act as a source of stability and security for a community, or attempt to undermine everything a community stands for. It's about choices, chances and assigning value to what you want your character to believe in.
 My character has a toolset, both on the character sheet and included in the world he lives in. His toolset matches his obstacles: self-induced, racial, environmental, cultural, mental and physical et al.
I almost always wish my characters the best, but sometimes I secretly want them to fail.


That's what d&d is to me.

Ivid: You are a sterling example of the massive, MASSIVE range of expectations that players bring to D&D. The system should be able to accomodate you and the tens of thousands like you, not just those who think D&D is a rather boring combat simulation.
Ivid: You are a sterling example of the massive, MASSIVE range of expectations that players bring to D&D. The system should be able to accomodate you and the tens of thousands like you, not just those who think D&D is a rather boring combat simulation.



It's awesom how you completeley misrepresent peoples arguments you sir are a winner don't ever let anyone else tell you different. I don't think anyones refered to the current D&D or future products as a combat simulation in this ongoing argument assides mabey you.

@nexus: Why so sensitive about combat, unless, in fact, what you're really only concerned with is combat balance? If you're not concerned primarily with combat balance, well... then we have no issue.

But we both know that's not the case, don't we? 
@nexus: Why so sensitive about combat, unless, in fact, what you're really only concerned with is combat balance? If you're not concerned primarily with combat balance, well... then we have no issue.

But we both know that's not the case, don't we? 



Look I'm not sensitive about combat I want it to run smothly, be fun, I want the game to have built in options,and I'd like some new exiting things to. If it's got to be peacmale to make everyone happy that's fine. I'll build my game heavy you can build yours light. But I don't want to just rebuild the game I'm playing now it has to be Better, Stronger, Faster or whats the freakin point. I'm looking for that to come in the form of more Options for More social and exploration type things. Because we could all use a little more of that.  but I wont complain about seing more combat inovation as well. 

Caveat: IMO

D&D is:
A fantasy role-playing game. 
     Usually Western European fantasy, and had it's roots in Tolkien fiction.
A brand name owned by WotC and previously TSR.
A set of rules that are used in part or entirety for a variety of specific settings.
     These settings may or may not be LotR inspired or Western European Fantasy.

Frequently the Celt in many "No True Scotsman" fallacies.
I have an answer for you, it may even be the truth.
For me D&D is a medium through which an heroic high fantasy story is told collaboratively. It is driven by character motivations and made unpredictable for everyone through chance, encouraging everyone to live in the moment and respond to the unexpected.

The above description matches pretty much every fantasy RPG, I know. But in the end that is all I want. Different RPGs accomplish the above with different degrees of success. For me D&D has been the best, much because of the great backdrop of Forgotten Realms which helps all players enter a world with a long and impressive history.

The different in quality between editions for me, is how smoothly I can accomplish the things above. If battles take too much time, it is a problem. If flavorful gods/NPCs disappear, it is a problem. If some rule breaks the suspension of disbelief, it is a problem. In the end, I don't need one part of the game to be really really good... it is just that there cannot be any parts that are bad.


The Character Initiative


Every time you abuse the system you enforce limitations.
Every time the system is limited we lose options.
Breaking an RPG is like cheating in a computer game.
As a DM you are the punkbuster of your table.
Dare to say no to abusers.
Make players build characters, not characters out of builds.





@nexus: You are sensitive about combat. It's nothing to be ashamed about. It that's what excites you, go for it, try to make that a big part of the new game. I have absolutely no problem with large amounts of combat complexity. I just don't want it being necessary to play the game.


@Verdegris: I know people who would argue vehemently about Tolkienian fiction - they'd say Tolkein was a thin wash over swords-n-sorcery 1930's stuff.


@Butcha: Alright. That's your prerogative. I play it differently - but I play it differently from everyone. I just hate that someone decided they knew best how to play, and figured they should slant the game that way. i.e., 4e.

The history of D&D informs the future. 

First Ill start with what DnD is to me and should be moving forward, then I'll tell you why I feel that way.  That way if people dont care, they can skip that part.

What I need back is the magic system.  The 4E magic was so ridiculous in its effects that I literally couldn't take it seriously.  Thats the best way to describe it.  It wasn't the idea of giving at wills and such.  That wasn't half bad thinking there.  It was the "powers" themselves I found absurd in so many ways and the way they applied to a world filled with minions.

I want there to be a way, like the Leadership Feat, or other mechanic to start building your empire and rules on how to play DnD on the macro level too like the Companion Set did in Basic DnD so long ago.

I need Fighters to be the hardest hitting muthas on the team and for them to wipe the smile off villains faces like the Black Knight or mighty Conan the Barbarian.  I want picking a fight with them to be the furthest thing from any sane persons mind.

I need Rangers to be the most impressive dual wielding Fencers and light fighters the world knows, like the Fox Elvensword character.  They should be skilled with healing and forest/terrain magic.  I want Rangers tied to the Forest Deities again and pledged in a MEANINGFUL way to its defense, either now or in the long term by their actions.  I want them to be masters of dealing with survival in their home environments.

I need Paladins to be everything that is right and good, arbiters and judges for the people, who wander and are welcomed by all good peoples and hated by evil.  They need to be written so that it is not a straight jacket class, but remains thoroughly Good (chaotic or otherwise).  Evil Paladins is just a dumb idea.  Sorry.  I'll never feel good about evil Paladins.  BlackGuard are right there if you want that.  Dont make the mistake of making BlackGuard core.  Tieflings are all the reasons you need not to do it.  I want their stallions to matter and be beleivable as well.  I want them to be men of the people and come with abilities to draw on their local support in times of need.

I want Priests whose job is to care for their party, their community and their church...and for the church to be important...but not more important than God.  Ever.  Like Crysania of Dragonlance.

I want Wizards to be able to tumble mountains and monarchs when the need arises and yet vulnerable and needy of support by their companions.  I want them to become the Gandalf, Elminster or of their world.

I want the races to be Dungeons and Dragons races, not Monsters turned PC.  This offended me greatly.  Draconians as player races?  HALF DEMONS?  No matter how enlightned I like to think I am, this offended me viscerally that a player would be allowed to call this a CORE race.  DUMB move.  Nearly Every Dragonlance fan probably reached for the dial to turn the channel when they saw those two races.  And that famous...no infamous... flash cartoon of a Gnome saying "A lair....a LAIR!!" to be burned forever in effigee.


 I want Clerics to not be walking bandaids. 

I want Tithes returned and I want heavy teaching for DM's on roleplaying and how to USE roleplaying in the commission of those mechanics that are necessary for order.

I want a system that recognizes the DM's vision for the world and its challenges.

I want Elves to be awesome in the woods and Dwarves be awesome underground, and Halflings awesome in their communities and Gnomes be awesome tricksters.

I do NOT want a board game.

And now for some history you may not care about:
Basic and AD&D were  ridiculously awesome because of one thing only:  I could be Gandalf.  To wield his power, to have Shadowfax bring me to and hither, and to ruthlessly crush tyrant Kings at higher levels, toppling their towers for the common good...  Man.  WOW.  Just awesome.  I loved being able to become powerful and influential in a fantasy realm, and be Gandalf.  My characters name was Jocintha the Grey and I rode that horse nearly every day for years to 36th level, the highest the Master Set went.  Then we tried the Immortal Rules and we just could not understand it at the time.  We switched to AD&D full time instead of sometimes.  A passing of the torch had officially happened.


I did not care about THAC0.  I couldn't have cared LESS how bad that mechanic was.  Fighters at 10th level and above were Godlike in combat, while Wizards at 9th level were fear incarnate to those they showed disfavor to.   Getting to those levels was serious effort which was something I liked about those earlier versions.

I did not care about which funny dice I had to roll and It never registered in my mind that I should do anything but have a good freaking time.  That was the goal.  None of this elitest garbage.  No heavy mechanics to slow us down.  There were evil empires to end and we needed to get going.  I always thought of D&D like I did a TV show.  Lots of episodes of daring do, but for a reason bigger than all of us.

As 2nd Edition came into its own I started to pay more attnetion to the technical side more, but by and large the game was unaffected.  More layers were added to initiative, to skills and to other areas, but these really had very little effect on how the game played.  It was just more to consider in order to bring it closer to a "realistic" representation of how things might operate in a fantasy setting.  The Red Handbooks added more depth to character creation without really crossing the lines and I was really happy until the "Skills and Powers" crap came out.  That's when I started to worry.  But I could ignore those rules and did and it was at the waning hours of 2E anyways.

3.X came and again, I felt it was DnD albeit...  This time...  the math of adding instead of subtracting was great.  THAC0 gone?  Wow.  I liked that every class could be customized, that skills had finally become a bigg part of the game, classes that maybe hadn't been played as often were going to be (Druids, Bards and Monks, as well as Psionics rules that I could at least understand and implement).  Players LOVED it and the transition was scary smooth.  I didn't love the XP chart which seemed ridiculously easy for people to level but even learned to accept that.  Perhaps Jocintha had made me want others never to reach those levels (and no one I know ever did anyways).  Not a noble thought but perhaps true.

I didn't worry very much at first as the splat books came out.  They had been part of 2E and were logical additions.  But as time went on and the enormity of Feats, Prestige Classes and such mounted up like dead skin; and as I started to notice the poor work done to playtest them (Book of Exalted Deeds was the one that my disappointment climax'd on),  I started to feel a little worried again and saw the time table for new releases as ridiculously aggressive.  The sheer volume a DM had to follow to keep up with player requests was financially frightening and I stopped bothering with supplements.  I think the avalanche reached a critical point where DM's just weren't buying the crappy splat books near the end there.  Change was inevitable as overhead started to creep closer to income due to so much aggresssion in their releases.

4E started being developed.  Lots of rumors came out and they were all good.  Playtesting was super secretive and I managed to find my way into one of those groups a few times and had connections to another.  Some of it looked real good.  I was excited, but then the final form came out and....  I was stunned.  It was like a knockout blow.  It took the wind from the sails of all of us locally.  We disbanded our group and ddin't play together again.  Ever.  That group, which had been together since 2nd Edition was now gone gone gone and I can't describe how strongly I felt.

Organized play was dead too.  Pathfinder came in and gobbled up tons of people who liked Dungeons and Dragons, including me and I felt like a traitor doing it, but what choice was there?  They announced there would be multiple players handbooks and DMG's, rumors were one every year and I thought have they learned nothing?.  I tried playing a few games now and again with my daughters group as she ws just barely old enough to play.  Though I didn't like it, I wanted to pass on the legacy and I sat at those tables listening to people talk about it like it was a "map parade" instead of being about the other stuff I loved.  Combats were ALL we did.  The RP was just...  Basically not there.  DM's would get razzed and given a hard time if they didn't get "enough maps in" that session.  Good lord.  I wanted to upchuck when I felt this attitude, and it seemed to pervade every organized play group I tried with my daughter.  Those Poor DM's, especially new ones, never had a chance to develop that area of skills unless they weren't doing organized play and as the player well dried up quite a bit, many had no other choices.

And so Pathfinder grew.  Released a new combined version of their book and all.

Now here we are.  On the eve of necessary change again.

My opinion is exactly the same as Tony said, couldn't said it better than him in a thousand years.
@Jancoran: BAM. You said what you like, and you like what you said. Diversity - that's what D&D is about. D&D is about playing fantasy roleplaying how you want to play it, not how some designer TELLS you you should fight monsters 3/4ths of every session. If you want to do that - good. If you don't? Good.

@nexus: You are sensitive about combat. It's nothing to be ashamed about. It that's what excites you, go for it, try to make that a big part of the new game. I have absolutely no problem with large amounts of combat complexity. I just don't want it being necessary to play the game.



 I know you feel the need to make up a position for anyone who doesen't agree with Kaldric's one true vision for D&D so you can simply dismis them but your not even close to knowing anything about anything so how about we both speak for ourself.


Got no problem with someone liking D&D and combat. That's pretty much me. Your particular goal is, from looking at your back-posts, to make it so combat is the be-all and end-all of D&D. I don't think you'd accept that the goal can be 'to support as many types of games as possible'. I think your goal is 'to support D&D as a combat game of adventurers vs. monsters'.

Again, looking at your posts, that's what I get from them. You're concerned about combat, first, last, and only.
 I know people who would argue vehemently about Tolkienian fiction - they'd say Tolkein was a thin wash over swords-n-sorcery 1930's stuff.


I consider Tolkien's LotR an attempt to reconcile Nordic myth with Christian eschatology. My appraissal of how well it went is... irrelevant.
However, the Tolkien influence was enough that some small legal conflict with the Tolkien estate.
www.acaeum.com/ddindexes/setpages/origin...
For a small slice of what lead to that debacle.

I have an answer for you, it may even be the truth.
@verdegris: I think Howard, Lovecraft and Leiber probably had a greater impact on how the game works than Tolkein.


@nexus: You too? What's it about? What is D&D about, for you? Living in a fantasy world, with all that entails? Or punching monsters? Which?
Diffan: Is combat a big part of the game, or all of the game? As you say that you don't see the need for rules when it comes to roleplaying, I'll assume that for you, D&D is a combat game. This pretty much fits my theory - those who like 4E see D&D as a combat-centric game.

Nothing wrong with seeing D&D as combat-centric. What's wrong is ridiculously assuming that's how everyone else sees it.  



well my problem with "roleplay rules" is the folowing
I rather see things played out in role play like trying to get a discount when buying equipment.

instead of :
player: i'm going to haggel for a discount, looks at rules, rolls a dice, acording to the table i'm entiteld to a 10% discount now.

to me social skills that reduce interaction to a set of dice rolls are a bad thing, there aren't many rules needed for roleplay.

to me social skills that reduce interaction to a set of dice rolls are a bad things there aren't many rules needed for roleplay.



Those who are terrible at expression and leading but love the game and comradery may need some way to get at least a chance of success.  It's tough.  Allow one player to roll but make the other roleplay it out and dissent can happen.  Might need some sort of way to allow those who are terrible atit but atleast make an effort to do something.
I don't believe that. I think it's about a multitude of things. Combat is simply one of them. Some people think that's the most important thing. FINE. Some people don't. ALSO FINE. But people like you, Pashalik, think they're RIGHT.

I don't. I think D&D is all things to all people. And any formulation of this game that pretends to KNOW what's important, and tries to twist the game to emphasize what a particular person, or group, thinks is important? They're WRONG.

D&D is a game where we can emulate the interesting activities of adventurers in a fantasy world. No-one gets to tell us which particular activities are the most interesting. To decide for us is the height of arrogance. For most, it's combat, true. For many, it's exploration, and all that goes with it. Traps. Interaction. Training. Crafting. Performing. Whatever. You don't get to tell us what's important. We decide. That's how it should be.
And it's still amazing to me how many prolific posters on this forum are unwilling to tell us what they think D&D is 'about'.

Here's mine. D&D is 'about' emulating the interesting activities of adventurers in a fantasy world.

That's the goal I think the D&D game should focus on.

What's your goal? What should D&D focus on? 
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Please keep your posts polite, respectful, and on-topic, and refrain from making personal attacks.
@Pashalik: Seriously, this is that freaking important to you? What is it? Combat? Adventuring? What? What's causing you to freak out? I'm not trolling here. Last week, I got into a conversation about what D&D was about. Some people said it was, to put it succinctly, 'combat'.

I don't believe that. I think it's about a multitude of things. Combat is simply one of them. Some people think that's the most important thing. FINE. Some people don't. ALSO FINE. But people like you, Pashalik, think they're RIGHT.

I don't. I think D&D is all things to all people. And any formulation of this game that pretends to KNOW what's important, and tries to twist the game to emphasize what a particular person, or group, thinks is important? They're WRONG.

D&D is a game where we can emulate the interesting activities of adventurers in a fantasy world. No-one gets to tell us which particular activities are the most interesting. To decide for us is the height of arrogance. For most, it's combat, true. For many, it's exploration, and all that goes with it. Traps. Interaction. Training. Crafting. Performing. Whatever. You don't get to tell us what's important. We decide. That's how it should be.



I have yet to see anyone tell you how to play your game I have seen you Push out a lot of strawman arguments personal attacks ect. and generally try to dismis any veiw counter to yours as combat centric. I understand that works on the sheeple that follow politics but it doesn't really carry water on the web.

@nexus: If you haven't seen anyone tell me how to play my game, I'd say you haven't been paying attention. So. What's your view? You have yet to say. Give it to us in one sentence.

What's D&D 'about', for you? 


well my problem with "roleplay rules" is the folowing
I rather see things played out in role play like trying to get a discount when buying equipment.

instead of :
player: i'm going to haggel for a discount, looks at rules, rolls a dice, acording to the table i'm entiteld to a 10% discount now.

to me social skills that reduce interaction to a set of dice rolls are a bad thing, there aren't many rules needed for roleplay.



I Like the Idea of Skills and such because It gives me an Idea of what the characters are good at. We still Rp our interactions out in my group and I generally will give a bonus on a skilled characters success based on how I feel they adressed the situation.  That said not everyone at my table is as eloquent as others and perhaps they want to play someone who is well they can still do that, and not completeley torpedo the party's chances of success.
@nexus: From your last post, your game style is not completely antithetical to mine. But still... please, the point of this thread is "What is D&D about?"

In one sentence - What is D&D about, for YOU.

edit: Why do you play this game? This game, rather than any other? What are you looking for? What's your goal? Mine is "Emulate the interesting activities of adventurers in a fantasy world, by making improvised decisions from the imagined point of view of an imagined character in an imagined scenario" 
Dungeons and Dragons is about being able to create an avatar in a fantasy world, that provides the skeleton upon which the DM can drape the skin and muscle of their world so I can explore the snot out of it and become LEGENDARY.

To me, that's awesome.  That I can become an actor and play a part as Aragorn or Gilthanas or Hercules or the Grey Mouser or the Aes Sedai in Robert Jordans books or come to be as powerful as Raistlin Majere or playing a lecherous Priest whose taste gfor women equals his faithfulness...whatever.

Just way too cool.  WAY too cool.  After 28 years of playing that just never gets old.  But what good are actors without great directors and screenwriters.  Enter the DM.  Thanks to HIM I get to do it.  And I am going to trust that he has something AWESOME up his sleeve til he proves otherwise.

Episode 1, Scene 1.  Ready...Go!
@nexus: If you haven't seen anyone tell me how to play my game, I'd say you haven't been paying attention. So. What's your view? You have yet to say. Give it to us in one sentence.

What's D&D 'about', for you? 



generally about 30 dollars a book

Seriously though different things on different days sometime I wana slap stuff around and take the shiny sometimes I want to talk the King into giving me his chair I want D&Dnext to be all these things but it can't just be those things. It has to bring something new. I've done those things I've played dungeon crawls. I've played Intrigue campaigns. I've explored The planes. I've killed gods. I've ran country's I've become a god. They need to give me something new to do. and they need to give me new ways to do the same thing I've done before.  They need to do it before my seriously low atention span makes me go find another shiny to play with.
@Jancoran: Again - you don't play precisely how I do - but unlike several others, you've expressed what, exactly, you want out of this game.

Some people apparently have real trouble telling us what they want from D&D. 
@nexus: Thank you. That's what I want to hear.

edit: Everyone else. Tell me what you Goshdarn WANT FROM D&D!!!

Stop kitty-footing around. What the heck do you want from this game? I've said WHAT I WANT! What do YOU want?
To me D&D is more than just a game its a passion. There isn't a day that goes by without reading, writing, downloading and drawing D&D or even visiting its Forums. I playtest D&D, i BETA test D&D. D&D is the source of social events were we meet up with friends and eat greazy feast, crack jokes while fart bombing the gaming room up into the wee hours, roll funny shaped dice to kill Gelatinous Cubes or sway suspicious merchant NPC, where we toy with miniature figurines on beautifully painted map or in a completly virtual environement with new people and long-distance friends. We tell stories, we solve puzzles, we laught and mimic funny voices while impersonating other creatures in short moments of suspension of disbelief to make believe. D&D is a hobby i hold dare to my heart for more than 20 years, its an escape.  A learning and teaching tool. We tell stories in a cooperative storytelling unwritten contract to loot more bodies and gain more experience to fight more powerful and richer enemies and so on, in imaginary world we invent and fill with fantastic landscape and creatures. This across all its iterations up to this date it was, it is and it will always be because to me D&D is more than just a game; its a passion.

This since i first met the green robbed man with a key around the neck...

To me D&D is more than just a game its a passion...



Great post. Made me regret I didn't bring my dice with me to my vacation in Germany. :D 


The Character Initiative


Every time you abuse the system you enforce limitations.
Every time the system is limited we lose options.
Breaking an RPG is like cheating in a computer game.
As a DM you are the punkbuster of your table.
Dare to say no to abusers.
Make players build characters, not characters out of builds.




The history of D&D informs the future. 

First Ill start with what DnD is to me and should be moving forward, then I'll tell you why I feel that way.  That way if people dont care, they can skip that part.

What I need back is the magic system.  The 4E magic was so ridiculous in its effects that I literally couldn't take it seriously.  Thats the best way to describe it.  It wasn't the idea of giving at wills and such.  That wasn't half bad thinking there.  It was the "powers" themselves I found absurd in so many ways and the way they applied to a world filled with minions.

I want there to be a way, like the Leadership Feat, or other mechanic to start building your empire and rules on how to play DnD on the macro level too like the Companion Set did in Basic DnD so long ago.

I need Fighters to be the hardest hitting muthas on the team and for them to wipe the smile off villains faces like the Black Knight or mighty Conan the Barbarian.  I want picking a fight with them to be the furthest thing from any sane persons mind.

I need Rangers to be the most impressive dual wielding Fencers and light fighters the world knows, like the Fox Elvensword character.  They should be skilled with healing and forest/terrain magic.  I want Rangers tied to the Forest Deities again and pledged in a MEANINGFUL way to its defense, either now or in the long term by their actions.  I want them to be masters of dealing with survival in their home environments.

I need Paladins to be everything that is right and good, arbiters and judges for the people, who wander and are welcomed by all good peoples and hated by evil.  They need to be written so that it is not a straight jacket class, but remains thoroughly Good (chaotic or otherwise).  Evil Paladins is just a dumb idea.  Sorry.  I'll never feel good about evil Paladins.  BlackGuard are right there if you want that.  Dont make the mistake of making BlackGuard core.  Tieflings are all the reasons you need not to do it.  I want their stallions to matter and be beleivable as well.  I want them to be men of the people and come with abilities to draw on their local support in times of need.

I want Priests whose job is to care for their party, their community and their church...and for the church to be important...but not more important than God.  Ever.  Like Crysania of Dragonlance.

I want Wizards to be able to tumble mountains and monarchs when the need arises and yet vulnerable and needy of support by their companions.  I want them to become the Gandalf, Elminster or of their world.

I want the races to be Dungeons and Dragons races, not Monsters turned PC.  This offended me greatly.  Draconians as player races?  HALF DEMONS?  No matter how enlightned I like to think I am, this offended me viscerally that a player would be allowed to call this a CORE race.  DUMB move.  Nearly Every Dragonlance fan probably reached for the dial to turn the channel when they saw those two races.  And that famous...no infamous... flash cartoon of a Gnome saying "A lair....a LAIR!!" to be burned forever in effigee.


 I want Clerics to not be walking bandaids. 

I want Tithes returned and I want heavy teaching for DM's on roleplaying and how to USE roleplaying in the commission of those mechanics that are necessary for order.

I want a system that recognizes the DM's vision for the world and its challenges.

I want Elves to be awesome in the woods and Dwarves be awesome underground, and Halflings awesome in their communities and Gnomes be awesome tricksters.

I do NOT want a board game.

And now for some history you may not care about:
Basic and AD&D were  ridiculously awesome because of one thing only:  I could be Gandalf.  To wield his power, to have Shadowfax bring me to and hither, and to ruthlessly crush tyrant Kings at higher levels, toppling their towers for the common good...  Man.  WOW.  Just awesome.  I loved being able to become powerful and influential in a fantasy realm, and be Gandalf.  My characters name was Jocintha the Grey and I rode that horse nearly every day for years to 36th level, the highest the Master Set went.  Then we tried the Immortal Rules and we just could not understand it at the time.  We switched to AD&D full time instead of sometimes.  A passing of the torch had officially happened.


I did not care about THAC0.  I couldn't have cared LESS how bad that mechanic was.  Fighters at 10th level and above were Godlike in combat, while Wizards at 9th level were fear incarnate to those they showed disfavor to.   Getting to those levels was serious effort which was something I liked about those earlier versions.

I did not care about which funny dice I had to roll and It never registered in my mind that I should do anything but have a good freaking time.  That was the goal.  None of this elitest garbage.  No heavy mechanics to slow us down.  There were evil empires to end and we needed to get going.  I always thought of D&D like I did a TV show.  Lots of episodes of daring do, but for a reason bigger than all of us.

As 2nd Edition came into its own I started to pay more attnetion to the technical side more, but by and large the game was unaffected.  More layers were added to initiative, to skills and to other areas, but these really had very little effect on how the game played.  It was just more to consider in order to bring it closer to a "realistic" representation of how things might operate in a fantasy setting.  The Red Handbooks added more depth to character creation without really crossing the lines and I was really happy until the "Skills and Powers" crap came out.  That's when I started to worry.  But I could ignore those rules and did and it was at the waning hours of 2E anyways.

3.X came and again, I felt it was DnD albeit...  This time...  the math of adding instead of subtracting was great.  THAC0 gone?  Wow.  I liked that every class could be customized, that skills had finally become a bigg part of the game, classes that maybe hadn't been played as often were going to be (Druids, Bards and Monks, as well as Psionics rules that I could at least understand and implement).  Players LOVED it and the transition was scary smooth.  I didn't love the XP chart which seemed ridiculously easy for people to level but even learned to accept that.  Perhaps Jocintha had made me want others never to reach those levels (and no one I know ever did anyways).  Not a noble thought but perhaps true.

I didn't worry very much at first as the splat books came out.  They had been part of 2E and were logical additions.  But as time went on and the enormity of Feats, Prestige Classes and such mounted up like dead skin; and as I started to notice the poor work done to playtest them (Book of Exalted Deeds was the one that my disappointment climax'd on),  I started to feel a little worried again and saw the time table for new releases as ridiculously aggressive.  The sheer volume a DM had to follow to keep up with player requests was financially frightening and I stopped bothering with supplements.  I think the avalanche reached a critical point where DM's just weren't buying the crappy splat books near the end there.  Change was inevitable as overhead started to creep closer to income due to so much aggresssion in their releases.

4E started being developed.  Lots of rumors came out and they were all good.  Playtesting was super secretive and I managed to find my way into one of those groups a few times and had connections to another.  Some of it looked real good.  I was excited, but then the final form came out and....  I was stunned.  It was like a knockout blow.  It took the wind from the sails of all of us locally.  We disbanded our group and ddin't play together again.  Ever.  That group, which had been together since 2nd Edition was now gone gone gone and I can't describe how strongly I felt.

Organized play was dead too.  Pathfinder came in and gobbled up tons of people who liked Dungeons and Dragons, including me and I felt like a traitor doing it, but what choice was there?  They announced there would be multiple players handbooks and DMG's, rumors were one every year and I thought have they learned nothing?.  I tried playing a few games now and again with my daughters group as she ws just barely old enough to play.  Though I didn't like it, I wanted to pass on the legacy and I sat at those tables listening to people talk about it like it was a "map parade" instead of being about the other stuff I loved.  Combats were ALL we did.  The RP was just...  Basically not there.  DM's would get razzed and given a hard time if they didn't get "enough maps in" that session.  Good lord.  I wanted to upchuck when I felt this attitude, and it seemed to pervade every organized play group I tried with my daughter.  Those Poor DM's, especially new ones, never had a chance to develop that area of skills unless they weren't doing organized play and as the player well dried up quite a bit, many had no other choices.

And so Pathfinder grew.  Released a new combined version of their book and all.

Now here we are.  On the eve of necessary change again.



Sir, u put my exact feelings into words. *tip at my hat*
DM: Products of MY Imagination ©. Since 1986.
@Jancoran, Plague: My nerd! That's what I WANT. Tell us what you want, what D&D is about for YOU.

Everyone, let us know. If it's all the mathgeeks (god love 'em) spittin' at them, they'll never get nothing more. We need to let them know that there are real people, wanting real things. What is D&D about for us?

It's about....

I'll give you a dollar, you give me a goood quote.
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