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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 158 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: d20 Social Issues  (Read 1349 times)
xiombarg
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« on: December 06, 2002, 08:08:40 AM »

Okay, this is sort of spun off from this thread: http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=4482

Anyhoo, in this thread I want to talk about the thing we're afraid to discuss regarding d20: D&D 3E's popularity, and the advantages and disadvantages thereof.

Let's face it, kids. While it might not be "mainstream" in the sense Ron means it, if you want to find warm bodies, you can't beat D&D.

Now, you can complain all you want about the "typical" D&D gamer, but in my experience, most people don't match the sterotype. Perhaps I've been lucky, or maybe my game pitches scare away the hardcore dysfunctional gamers. Regardless, I've found (as mentioned at the start of my other d20 thread) that D&D 3E is a solid enough design for "drift" of all sorts -- you can see GNS priorities in play, see when people balk at the worst elements of D&D 3E's Gamism (from a Sim/Narr perspective), and figure out stuff that players might not want to -- or be able to -- discuss about their play priorities, GNS or no. It's watching my group play D&D that's given me insights as to what indie games they'd enjoy. Under AD&D, you couldn't do this -- the system was too screwed up for drift withou a lot more work, and it wasn't as natural.

Also, the popularity can cover for otherwise unfortunate design decisions. As discussed in my other d20 thread, there's a lot of prep time to create proper NPCs. Now, I don't consider this a design flaw; it was a trade-off for the path-based options given to players. But for GMs without time, the popularity of D&D means that this design prority, which might otherwise bite them in the ass, is mitigated by the fact that you can find all sorts of pre-statted NPCs with very little work. Modify them a little, and et voila, you're good to go in a fraction of the time. The popularity, combined with some solid (if uninspired) design decisions for the basic engine, allow you to have your cake and eat it too.

These are the advantages as I see them. I'm sure some of you can come up with more, or with some of the disadvantages of D&D's "fame"...

(As a quick aside, I would like to note that I don't think d20 is the best thing since sliced bread. I think it's a good design, but highly limited by its highly ideosyncratic design goals. I would still rather use Paladin for a Star Wars game and Donjon for a straight-up dungeon crawl game (Donjon Xcrawl, anyone?) and I'd rather use the Deadlands house system or something like Big Eyes, Small Mouth for Deadlands and Silver Age Sentinels for superheroes than anything d20... The list goes on. While I think popularity alone is not a reason for taking anything seriously, I think if you combine it with the solid design of D&D 3E (especially compared to AD&D) it's worth taking seriously. If I seem generally positive, I think it's because it's the knee-jerk tendency in any place that is willing to go outside the "D&D only" mentality some gamers have to bash D&D -- even here at the Forge (tho it's not like the White Wolf forums or anything), and I'm reacting to that.)
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2002, 08:34:14 AM »

What's the point for discussion?

Mike
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xiombarg
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« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2002, 09:05:47 AM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
What's the point for discussion?
I guess I want people's thoughts. It seems that people have some definate opinions about d20 as a social phenomena -- many of them negative. I wanted to create a thread for airing 'em, since they've been off-topic in other threads. I'd kinda like to see people's reasoning on this, since my perspective seems different.

If no one's interested in that, well, never mind. :)
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love * Eris * RPGs  * Anime * Magick * Carroll * techno * hats * cats * Dada
Kirt "Loki" Dankmyer -- Dance, damn you, dance! -- UNSUNG IS OUT
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