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Author Topic: Just How WEIRD is D&D?  (Read 2258 times)

Lynn

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Re: Just How WEIRD is D&D?
« Reply #15 on: January 11, 2022, 02:07:09 PM »
Even D&D-inspired anime isn't that crazy. It is fairly strange to an OSR audience because it's undergone largely separate cultural evolution, but multiculturalism isn't a common feature. Race wars and race-based slavery are much more common.

The thing with original anime though is that it isn't "Seattle-flavored" and you get exactly that - the sort of thing that the woke crowd wouldn't accept from a US company.

Japanese media companies that are specifically targeting the North American market 'globalize' a bit or as required, but I think they are inclined to leave in what is going to not raise eyebrows in Japan. WotC / Hasbro doesn't have that luxury.
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Thorn Drumheller

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Re: Just How WEIRD is D&D?
« Reply #16 on: January 11, 2022, 02:10:22 PM »
Do others look at D&D as being as weird? I spent decades running Spelljammer - so weird shit is par for the course for me, but context is context - Spelljammer (and Planescape) is SUPPOSED to be weird. Are their OSR games that do contextually weird stuff? And if 5e collapsed - could the OSR reclaim these young players that play this way?

Good question. I don't know, honestly. When I look at my son and his friends who play the weird races in 5e they really don't see a different looking rac.....er lineage. All they see is what bonus they can get for their build. I know that's just one anecdote and there's probably loads of 5e players out there that wonder how their particular character is fitting into society.....but idk.
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Dark Train

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Re: Just How WEIRD is D&D?
« Reply #17 on: January 11, 2022, 02:46:18 PM »
Kitchen sink vernacular fantasy (which D&D exemplifies) has always been weird because it is a hasty marriage of numerous, often discordant, elements.  However, I do see a relatively recent change in the core assumptions of the default setting.  From 1e through early 5e an attempt was made to present a relatively coherent assumed world.  Settings and situations were weird to degree they deviated from the implied base-line of a sanitized, modernized, fantasy vision of Lancastrian England.   

Later-day 5e seems to be largely unmoored from any coherent setting.  You have Starbucks, magical robots, anthropomorphized animals, and none of the vaguely Medieval population thinks any of this is remotely odd.*  Even the hyper-detailed Forgotten Realms has become increasingly strange in the way it fits together, or doesn't.  I get the impression that a lot of new players aren't even aware that the Forgotten Realms is supposed to be a coherent world.       

As to why, I think that part of the shift is due to media.  Older players first experienced fantasy through books.  For younger players the primary vehicle of fiction is video games.  Video games tend to have shallow worldbuilding and a lot of ludonarrative dissonance.  As a result you have a large group of players with a very high tolerance for things that just don't make any sense.**   

While some people love 'OMG so random' I have found many (most?) younger, newer players like and enjoy tighter, more consistent worldbuilding, they've just never been exposed to it. 

*Yes, similar things were around in D&D from day 1, but there was the implicit and explicit understanding that these things were unusual

**Granted, Spelljammers and plane hopping makes no sense, but they make sense within the context of the universe presented. 

Steven Mitchell

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Re: Just How WEIRD is D&D?
« Reply #18 on: January 11, 2022, 02:50:52 PM »
Not the person to ask.  I didn't particularly like Expedition to Barrier Peaks.  I didn't like Planescape at all--setting, art, anything about it.  I've never liked weirdness for the sake of novelty or the sake of itself.  So naturally, as those things have become even more popular, I've become less interested in the material that uses them.

jeff37923

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Re: Just How WEIRD is D&D?
« Reply #19 on: January 11, 2022, 03:07:37 PM »
One of the observations I have about 5e, which has been talked about at LEAST since 3e, but possibly earlier is the freakshow factor of D&D. Snowflake races/classes always existed, and it's a tried-and-true baby GM right of passage to learn how to reject such characters at the table.

But now? 5e games I see online, generally resemble *nothing* of what I run. Tieflings, Aasimar, and other non-contextual or setting specific weird shit all mished mashed up and running around with Warlocks and Paladins whee!

Obviously not all games are like that, but there certainly seems to be... "more" of the freakshow. So this gets me to eyeballing people of my vintage that play in the OSR...

Do others look at D&D as being as weird? I spent decades running Spelljammer - so weird shit is par for the course for me, but context is context - Spelljammer (and Planescape) is SUPPOSED to be weird. Are their OSR games that do contextually weird stuff? And if 5e collapsed - could the OSR reclaim these young players that play this way?

The only problem with the D&D freakshow is that when you say that anything goes in the game, it is like playing tennis without a net. It isn't the same game.

You can say that anime does this a lot and I agree, but the truly strange characters are not just blandly accepted by people. They are distrusted or stereotyped and held at arms length until plot happens (sometimes even after plot happens).

Lets take Tieflings. You cannot have Tieflings in a setting unless you also have (or have had) a demon/devil incursion into that realm because Tieflings are hybrids. It is similar to the half-orc problem. Any kind of demon/devil incursion large enough to create a population of Tiefling hybrids will also be a major event in that realm's history which does affect the setting. Same with half-orcs.

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Shrieking Banshee

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Re: Just How WEIRD is D&D?
« Reply #20 on: January 11, 2022, 03:18:29 PM »
Well D&D has always been weird. Demons & Devils are separate creature types and there is a universe governed by programming principles carried out by weird looking cube-bots.
There are like 12 different ambush predators based on impersonating dungeon elements.

Its just PCs that have generally been humans, hobits, elves and dwarves. Now its anything.

Eric Diaz

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Re: Just How WEIRD is D&D?
« Reply #21 on: January 11, 2022, 03:18:35 PM »
Well, you could play a Balrog in OD&D.

And fight androids IIRC.

(I like weird in proper places. Ravnica, Eberron? Sure. Middle earth? Not, you are not playing a warforged).
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tenbones

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Re: Just How WEIRD is D&D?
« Reply #22 on: January 11, 2022, 03:21:54 PM »
Well that's kinda why I ask -

I don't feel there is any presumed "world" in 5e anymore.

All the freakshow aspects of the game have the barest of context. But I'm not sure outside of old-school gamers, how much actual home-brew worldbuilding is going on. I could be wrong but I kinda feel like most of these new players are just running adventure paths/modules and that's about it.

The relevance of "settings" and their implicit conceits seems to matter less - at least with D&D. And I suspect since it's really catering to noobs and older players/GM's that run it from brand loyalty. The influx of the freak-factor seems to be newer players, probably skewing much younger. I don't argue that these elements existed in older editions - they absolutely did. But they were also made contextual to specific settings.


Eric Diaz

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Re: Just How WEIRD is D&D?
« Reply #23 on: January 11, 2022, 03:38:48 PM »
Well that's kinda why I ask -

I don't feel there is any presumed "world" in 5e anymore.

All the freakshow aspects of the game have the barest of context. But I'm not sure outside of old-school gamers, how much actual home-brew worldbuilding is going on. I could be wrong but I kinda feel like most of these new players are just running adventure paths/modules and that's about it.

The relevance of "settings" and their implicit conceits seems to matter less - at least with D&D. And I suspect since it's really catering to noobs and older players/GM's that run it from brand loyalty. The influx of the freak-factor seems to be newer players, probably skewing much younger. I don't argue that these elements existed in older editions - they absolutely did. But they were also made contextual to specific settings.

Well, the original D&D implied setting was already very weird - and there was advice on playing any character you wanted.

However, I do agree with your assessment of current D&D. There is really not "no Halfling in this setting" idea. Although (IIRC) the original 5e PHB made some races less common (e.g., dragonborn wouldn't exist in all settings), the current feeling seems to be "all types of PCs in all settings".

The DM is supposed to limit optional RULES (feats, options not from the PHB), but not because of setting concerns, AFAICT.
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HappyDaze

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Re: Just How WEIRD is D&D?
« Reply #24 on: January 11, 2022, 03:40:15 PM »
One of the observations I have about 5e, which has been talked about at LEAST since 3e, but possibly earlier is the freakshow factor of D&D. Snowflake races/classes always existed, and it's a tried-and-true baby GM right of passage to learn how to reject such characters at the table.

But now? 5e games I see online, generally resemble *nothing* of what I run. Tieflings, Aasimar, and other non-contextual or setting specific weird shit all mished mashed up and running around with Warlocks and Paladins whee!

Obviously not all games are like that, but there certainly seems to be... "more" of the freakshow. So this gets me to eyeballing people of my vintage that play in the OSR...

Do others look at D&D as being as weird? I spent decades running Spelljammer - so weird shit is par for the course for me, but context is context - Spelljammer (and Planescape) is SUPPOSED to be weird. Are their OSR games that do contextually weird stuff? And if 5e collapsed - could the OSR reclaim these young players that play this way?

The only problem with the D&D freakshow is that when you say that anything goes in the game, it is like playing tennis without a net. It isn't the same game.

You can say that anime does this a lot and I agree, but the truly strange characters are not just blandly accepted by people. They are distrusted or stereotyped and held at arms length until plot happens (sometimes even after plot happens).

Lets take Tieflings. You cannot have Tieflings in a setting unless you also have (or have had) a demon/devil incursion into that realm because Tieflings are hybrids. It is similar to the half-orc problem. Any kind of demon/devil incursion large enough to create a population of Tiefling hybrids will also be a major event in that realm's history which does affect the setting. Same with half-orcs.
Sure you can. Tieflings can just as easily arise from a curse, perhaps one that skips generations too if you want Tieflings to arise occasionally from human parents.

Wulfhelm

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Re: Just How WEIRD is D&D?
« Reply #25 on: January 11, 2022, 04:23:51 PM »
Answer: So weird it came around all the way to being completely mundane again.

Not a 5e thing though. As noted, it started with 2e (the earliest edition I have any familiarity with) and intensified with 3.x+. The reason, IMHO: Business. Tons of character options are a good way to fill books of the type the player base is likely to buy. New edition, bloat to death with weird character options, rinse and repeat. That is the business model.

VisionStorm

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Re: Just How WEIRD is D&D?
« Reply #26 on: January 11, 2022, 04:52:48 PM »
I didn't like Planescape at all--setting, art, anything about it.

And this is what decent folk call BLASPHEMY! HERESY!

Lets take Tieflings. You cannot have Tieflings in a setting unless you also have (or have had) a demon/devil incursion into that realm because Tieflings are hybrids. It is similar to the half-orc problem. Any kind of demon/devil incursion large enough to create a population of Tiefling hybrids will also be a major event in that realm's history which does affect the setting. Same with half-orcs.

This is what I hate most about Tieflings. I hate Dragonborn with a passion, cuz they're made up D&D fanservice, but at least there's demon-hybrids in folklore. But unless there's an invasion of rapy infernal beings leaving a bunch of demon-hybrids on its wake as part of the setting backstory, Tieflings have next to NO place in a regular campaign. Otherwise I'd have no problem with them.

Wrath of God

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Re: Just How WEIRD is D&D?
« Reply #27 on: January 11, 2022, 05:04:28 PM »
Quote
You cannot have Tieflings in a setting unless you also have (or have had) a demon/devil incursion into that realm because Tieflings are hybrids. It is similar to the half-orc problem. Any kind of demon/devil incursion large enough to create a population of Tiefling hybrids will also be a major event in that realm's history which does affect the setting. Same with half-orcs.

Depends. I think 4E tieflings were true race, born from one blood pact of some human population and then breeding true, that's why they were mostly same looking.
In terms of older editions there are other ways to infuse your blood with planar energies sans actual fucking a demon (and half-demons were usually separate being - tieflings were mortal with awakened smaller bloodstrain). Of course with orcs you can also make it less gross if orcs are bit more neutral in your setting, then half-orcs gonna be like half-elves.

Quote
I don't feel there is any presumed "world" in 5e anymore.

Indeed. But then in terms of D&D I played mostly 3.5 Forgotten Realms, and there still were visible amounts of people with weird heritage, considering long insane history of continent... really no wonder.

Quote
(I like weird in proper places. Ravnica, Eberron? Sure. Middle earth? Not, you are not playing a warforged).

Sane assumption, but then I do not think D&D are any good for simulating ME vibe even without weirdos.

Quote
All the freakshow aspects of the game have the barest of context. But I'm not sure outside of old-school gamers, how much actual home-brew worldbuilding is going on. I could be wrong but I kinda feel like most of these new players are just running adventure paths/modules and that's about it.

I think so. Casuals probably were always, or at least since 80's-90's be dominant group of players, but now it looks very much like utter hegemony.

Quote
Sure you can. Tieflings can just as easily arise from a curse, perhaps one that skips generations too if you want Tieflings to arise occasionally from human parents.

Yup.

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Shasarak

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Re: Just How WEIRD is D&D?
« Reply #28 on: January 11, 2022, 05:36:48 PM »
One of the observations I have about 5e, which has been talked about at LEAST since 3e, but possibly earlier is the freakshow factor of D&D. Snowflake races/classes always existed, and it's a tried-and-true baby GM right of passage to learn how to reject such characters at the table.

I remember when Gygax allowed Balrog and Vampire player characters.

But yeah every other DM has to reject such characters.  ::)
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Vidgrip

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Re: Just How WEIRD is D&D?
« Reply #29 on: January 11, 2022, 05:41:54 PM »
The first few 5e games I sat in on were only strange in the sense that any game set in an official D&D setting must be strange. Gygax and Arneson started by throwing lots of great themes from Appendix N into the blender and smashed the "Liquify" button. Sensible coherence only comes to D&D when a DM makes the heroic effort to impose it upon the game (and often the players). That has always been true.

More recently (last five years) every 5e game I've encountered has featured characters that more properly belong in a monster manual. DM's now make no effort to suggest the world make sense. They have either given up or are young enough not to have ever read a fantasy novel and have no concept of setting or verisimilitude. My impression is that 5e play has shifted from exploration of fantasy worlds to exploration of fantasy characters. The setting is only needed as a blank canvas that cannot be allowed to interfere with players' weird character concepts.

I laugh when old-school gamers describe their gonzo DCC stuff or LotFP books as "weird". Current play with the latest edition is far beyond that on the weirdometer.
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