Home > Uncategorized > Make April into “games other than DnD month”?

Make April into “games other than DnD month”?

I’m going to start with a confession. I’ve never been a really big fan of DnD.

Look, DnD can conceivably stretch to cover a multitude of worlds and thoughts and approaches. And it’s perfect for flailsnailing and I love that. And there is much virtue in Zak’s most disturbing room argument – there’s no particular metaphysical reason why DnD can’t stand in for the gamut of roleplaying experiences, and maybe if we want DnD to contain all possible worlds and genre possibilities then the only way to achieve that is to jam all possible worlds into it. Or something. I get it.

And system doesn’t really matter – I’ve had fun with a whole slew of historical and sf campaigns that ran under GURPS when I could be bothered or were played almost totally rules-free when I just didn’t want to deal with the crunch, and it’s all been fun and I could run it all under some kind of radically reduced 6 stats system, and with some fancy footwork you could totally write a CoC or superhero or Cyberpunk conversion for DnD. But.

Still I think something is lost with this approach. Everything ends up being tinged with the same set of attitudes – look, I love trashy swords n sorcery fun and serious swords and sorcery agon and mock-serious science fantasy and deadly serious what if the world were Hindu-Toltec Wellsian Martian grimdark three-legged imagine-til-you-brain-bleeds speculative phantasy. But.

Jorune in particular, despite appearances, is really not a gonzo dungeoneering setting. The important differences that set it apart are rather delicate, though, so converting it to LL would tend to erase them. If you flailsnail in Jorune I think you lose a lot of what’s distinctive about it. And if you bring dungeoneering expectations to your Sherlockian Gaslight game then maybe you play Victorian Heist and maybe that’s awesome but it’s not The Solitary Bicyclist – there are moods that I think are not well served by the mental baggage of the DnD character sheet.

And if you have a new and challenging flavour to offer the world, is it best served by being added to a list of possible curry ingredients so people can see how it works in combination with other flavours, or should you showcase it on its own, demand that it has its own dishes, insist on its separate tradition?

I actually, honestly don’t know. But exhorting the OSR to embrace the gamut of systems doesn’t seem to have worked (even when done by such luminaries as James M), and I think that might be partly because we haven’t demonstrated just what exactly is lost by DnDing so assiduously. Or maybe partly because we tend to write about DnD because we know that will have an audience, or (my case) because we don’t care enough about mechanics per se to insist on them?

So I have an idea for a blog challenge. A thought experiment. How about spending a month writing about – not just other games, we all know those exist and can be fun – about the important differences? About stuff that could not, should not, or even might just show you a different face if it were not, DnD? Maybe in April, the traditional month of challenges?

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  1. March 8, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    I think there are a number of reasons for the dominance of D&D, and few of them have to do with inherent quality (though I personally love the system and have little desire to actually play anything else). The biggest reason, in my opinion, is that D&D is a shared language. RPGs, even simple ones like traditional D&D, are complex and it’s hard to have widespread familiarity when so much time must be spent to just read (never mind actually playing) a wide variety of RPGs. For example, even as a fan of D&D I can’t really be bothered to become familiar with all the feats in the 3E and later iterations.

    The second reason is that the default mode of play in D&D is really obvious (exploring simplified architectural environments that usually involve some combat with monsters, AKA dungeons) and this is often not true in other RPGs. JB over at B/X Blackrazor has written extensively about this. I like your suggestion about writing about the differences, but I would even suggest more focus: what special difference exists that might be interesting to someone who doesn’t care particularly about the game as a whole? For example, I’ve been reading classic Traveller even though I’m not a sci-fi gamer because I find the life path career system fascinating and I think it is a really interesting and efficient way to create a character background that does not require pages of fan fiction.

    Every RPG system is like a musical instrument; it takes time and practice to become familiar with the mechanics, even if things like reading music might carry over (to strain the analogy).

  2. March 9, 2012 at 3:29 am

    If I wasn’t already committed to the A to Z challenge in April I’d definitely consider this… of course I’ve done it before myself already, but it could be fun to do again.

  3. Guest
    March 9, 2012 at 4:53 am

    Posts like this always make me think: “what else is there?”

    I think we need a top 5 or 3 that all complement each other.

  4. March 9, 2012 at 5:49 am

    Wouldn’t mind cogitatin’ some on Boot Hill or DC heroes, but a months a long time!

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