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Author Topic: D&D and change?  (Read 655 times)

Jaeger

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D&D and change?
« on: October 11, 2006, 03:51:57 AM »
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What is D&D anyway?

I think this is a real question. Just how far can WOTC diverge from the whole classes, levels, hit points thing, and still call their game D&D?

Many would say C&C is more D&D than 3.5. Others have said D&D3.5 is D&D as it currently stands. And some still lament the changes that were made to the game in the switch from AD&D to 3.5.

The game has changed over time. We are a long way from the 70's, but people still call it D&D.

How much does WOTC have to stick to twenty year old plus mechanics to still be able to call it D&D?

If they were to make some real changes, would it really alienate that much of their market? Even with the marketing campaigns telling joe gamer how cool it will be?

I would be inclined to think that the D&D brand name, is far more important to the game than any specific set of mechanics.

Is D&D is what WOTC/Hasbro tells everyone D&D is?

Or is it such a sacred cow that they would ruin the 300lb. Gorilla if they made one too many changes?



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Maddman

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D&D and change?
« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2006, 09:32:54 AM »
It's an illusion to think that there's some 'D&Dness' that goes beyond the name of the game.  Whatever WotC puts in a book and puts D&D on the cover, that's D&D.  Arguing about what is and isn't "real" D&D is silly.  Now you may think that version X feels totally different than version Y, or that Z was the best version of all of them, but saying any of them aren't D&D when that's the name on the cover is pointless.
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jrients

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D&D and change?
« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2006, 10:12:29 AM »
While there's some truth to what Maddman says, I can easily imagine changes that could be in the 4th edition that would render Wizard's product line irrelevant to me.  Removing classes and levels, for example.  Or wizards no longer being able to throw fireballs.
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Sosthenes

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D&D and change?
« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2006, 10:24:04 AM »
Well, D&D-ness is an illusion. But that's the case with most words. The meanings we attach to them differ and often are greater than a mere unique descriptor. De Jure WotC (or whatever will replace them) can attach the name "D&D" to anything they want. D&D 4E is a variant of checkers with spiked and poisoned pieces? Great, at least it's not a CCG!

But a lot of people will disagree. There's a certain quality attached to the word. Not many people will agree on the exact definition, but it goes beyond a mere trademark. Such is the way with legacies. Sometimes a product can survive major changes, sometimes it can't. The new Mini Coopers retained something of their quality, most movie sequels didn't.

So, what is "D&D-ness" and what would you have to do to the game to change that? Characters with different abilities form a group, overcome obstacles and gain improvement from the rewards they reap. This is the core of the D&D experience, I think it would survive without the window dressings of levels and classes, though those are pretty neat ways to achieve the gameplay mentioned before.

Another aspect of "D&D-ness" would be some elements it has gathered during its long history. I don't think they're really neccesary, but they form a certain frame to enhance the legacy. Dungeons, dragons, magic missiles, demons, orcs, kobolds, named spells, tarrasques, beholders...
 

Abyssal Maw

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« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2006, 10:29:58 AM »
I pretty much agree with you. That said, there are certain changes that could legitimately ruin D&D:

Dice pools, for example.
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JamesV

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D&D and change?
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2006, 10:40:18 AM »
There is a consensually unconcious standard of what D&D is, and if it strays too far it will alienate people. Levels/classes, HPs and ACs are great examples of it. This is well illustrated in D&D's 30th anniversary book, where a chapter is spent discussing the balance between change and D&Dness when they were developing 3rd ed. As long as the line developers stay aware of this balance the game will be healthy.
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D&D and change?
« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2006, 12:38:45 PM »
What you're all trying to say is that D&D isn't really a single game, its a GENRE.

Any game that fails to emulate that genre could not be called D&D.

As it happens, there are certain things that are absolutely core to emulating that genre.  Classes, hit points, levels, fire and forget spells, certain key monsters, key character races, use of the D20 as principle die for the mechanic, etc etc.

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Sosthenes

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D&D and change?
« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2006, 12:48:28 PM »
I'd say D&D is a (considerable) sub-genre. There are other games with minor differences that offer a rather similar structure.

And most of the mechanics mentioned aren't as neccesary as one might think. One could implement other mechanisms that still offer a gaming experience that isn't that far off. Specialization doesn't mean classes, advancement doesn't mean levels, resource management doesn't mean hit points and f-n-f spells. Replacing the D20 isn't as hard to do, either.

Those elements are rather superficial. Actually, I think the even more superficial stuff would be missed first, i.e. a lot of people would rather give up classes than a fireball effect...
 

blakkie

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D&D and change?
« Reply #8 on: October 11, 2006, 12:50:47 PM »
Quote from: RPGPundit
As it happens, there are certain things that are absolutely core to emulating that genre.  Classes, hit points, levels, fire and forget spells, certain key monsters, key character races, use of the D20 as principle die for the mechanic, etc etc.

I'm not entirely convinced that you really need that "etc etc". The only thing really missing from that list is the arcane/cleric split of magic and maybe Alignment.  The later really being on the bubble as a mechanic. It could become entirely fluff without a tie-in to the mechanics.
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blakkie

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D&D and change?
« Reply #9 on: October 11, 2006, 12:51:57 PM »
Quote from: Sosthenes
Replacing the D20 isn't as hard to do, either.

Replacing it and selling it as D&D is.
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Sosthenes

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D&D and change?
« Reply #10 on: October 11, 2006, 12:59:23 PM »
Quote from: blakkie
Replacing it and selling it as D&D is.


Well, after the D20 _brand_, it sure isn't easy. And I don't see a good reason why you would do it, as it's the best platonic solid for the usual range of values you'd get with a D&D game. It would be a bad marketing decision, but not entirely impossible. A D12 as medium between the attack and initiative roll, maybe ;)

It might be interesting to actually build a system that purposely avoids all mechanic details of D&D while retaining the same style. Or it could be hunting elephants with throwing knives.
 

blakkie

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D&D and change?
« Reply #11 on: October 11, 2006, 01:08:25 PM »
Quote from: Sosthenes
And I don't see a good reason why you would do it, as it's the best platonic solid for the usual range of values you'd get with a D&D game.

The range of values you 'get' with a D&D game is a function of tuning the rules towards working with a D20.  The good reason that that range of numbers grow somewhat cumbersomely large at times to work with the D20, and the resultant probability curves create some wierd situations.
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Sosthenes

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D&D and change?
« Reply #12 on: October 11, 2006, 03:12:58 PM »
Quote from: blakkie
The range of values you 'get' with a D&D game is a function of tuning the rules towards working with a D20.


And you'd get a much smaller spread of levels, BAB or, say, attributes if you'd use 2d10 or 3d6?
 

blakkie

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D&D and change?
« Reply #13 on: October 11, 2006, 04:35:18 PM »
Quote from: Sosthenes
And you'd get a much smaller spread of levels, BAB or, say, attributes if you'd use 2d10 or 3d6?

Not sure what you mean by spread of levels?  But you would end up with smaller numbers and less space between them for representing the same gap.  This means less granularity, but looking at the gap between DCs I'd argue that D20 has an excess there.

Not that using a d20 is inherently 'evil'. Just that it does make some places tougher to get to.
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Sosthenes

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D&D and change?
« Reply #14 on: October 11, 2006, 04:50:42 PM »
1-20, 2-20, 3-18. Different probability curves, but a rather similar range. I don't see the big difference. If you'd use one of them for a AD&D attribute test, you'd still have attributes values similar to the D20-based tests. And the change on the good old bend bars/open doors check would be even less...

With a die/dice+modifier system, you wouldn't neccesarily get DCs that are closer together. Most bell-curve systems have the intention of making higher DCs even more unattainable.