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Author Topic: Games: Dungeons and Dragons  (Read 1480 times)

ehbowen

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons
« Reply #15 on: September 08, 2018, 12:11:46 am »
Noted.

I can't say it surprises me. You've stated many times that you hold the position of universal salvation. It's one of the things we have in common.

I've had some (mostly) friendly disputes with my own pastor over this question, but the Games forum is not the place to go into them in detail. I'll just say that one of the things I believe Jessica...actually, all her family...is looking for if my courtship blossoms into a relationship is the freedom to not be "on stage" and "perfect" all the time. I get the feeling that she really wants to be able to say "Uh-oh" and "Oops!" from time to time without some kind of judgmental hammer falling between us.

My pastor is looking at the eternal judgment passages as akin to an unchangeable contract. I agree that God did say it and mean it...but that it was said largely out of frustration and inability to state a better way forward in practical terms at the time the revelations were given. What, pray tell, is the practical difference between "eternity" and a quadruple precision 128 bit integer to a first-century Apostle John?
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Uneryx

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons
« Reply #16 on: September 08, 2018, 04:14:50 am »
This Judeo-Christian would agree with you.

Thirding. I... pretty much ignore alignment, or treat it as flavor. Groups aren't monoliths, especially when you're dealing mainly with elves/faeries as the central focus of your game. Heck, especially with elves, everything about the drow kinda skirts into this really nationalistic/racist worldview with the whole "Lolth dragged them down into the Underdark and now their WHOLE CULTURE is focused on EVIL and LOLTH'S EVIL WILL and they're SUPER INTO their GOTH SPIDER AESTHETIC"

Like... even if a deity is as involved in a culture as Lolth is with the Drow, having direct action on their society, not everyone is gonna be EEEEEEVIL. They might not culturally stand up to a tyrant goddess, but they'll have things they care about beyond themselves, reasons for doing how they do, reasons to do and be good.

I'm actually working drow into the game I'm doing now (which is why they're on my mind, I just binged a lot of LORE™), and I definitely want to portray them as more morally grey than the whole ALWAYS EVIL WORSHIP THE SPIDER GODDESS people they're shown as in the material. Maybe some of that direct involvement with Lolth (although I'm also merging Lolth and the Queen of Air and Darkness), but not wholly evil. Even the main villain of the story will have motivations and reasons for doing their objectionably evil (because a lot of people will die if their plans are carried out) beyond just being evil.

Nuance and grey areas are so much more fun, especially when it's just a pretendy funtime game.

Jabberwocky

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons
« Reply #17 on: September 08, 2018, 05:56:08 am »
I hate it's alignment system. "Always X Evil" doesn't compute with my own religious philosophy. In my RL religious system, even *demons* wouldn't fall under that classification. I believe that *anything* with sapience also has, by definition, free will and control over it's actions. Nobody and no thing is too far gone to change.

A myth that illustrates this, from India (more common in Buddhism than Hinduism) is the story of the Asura Hariti who became a Bodhisattva. The Asura are primordial beings of chaos and selfishness who are known for being the closest thing to pure evil Hinduism has. Yet, according to this myth, one of them was converted willingly to Buddhism and totally reformed herself into a benevolent being.

D&D applies immutable moral alignments no only to demons, which at least is understandable given it's Judaeo-Christian writers, but also to mortal beings like Drow, Orcs, and Giants. This notion just doesn't jive with me at all, on a deep philosophical level.

Whether D&D has always had immutable moral alignments is an interesting question and one the game has evolved on over time.

It's arguably true with the oldest editions (original and 1e).  They don't explictly state it's immutable, but non humans have an alignment listed with no suggestion it can be varied. I suspect that's because of the earliest games being mostly dungeon crawls.  Having evil "monsters" made sense in a game that was all about killing them and nicking their stuff.

By 2e however, that had already been moved away from. In particular, the Book of Humanoids explicitly stated that race alignments were tendencies, not set in stone. (Partly because they wanted to allow orc and goblin PCs in non evil campaigns).

By this stage, the only set in stone alignments were either the spiritual beings (demons, angels etc.) or those of animal intelligence (which were made neutral by default).

Your non evil drow come from a fine tradition as well. The Forgotten Realms setting introduced an entire subculture of them, Drizzt being the most famous.

All that said, it still has never been that nuanced.  D&D does take a pretty Manichean view of the subject.  It's not really what I look for now, although it's no more of a cliche than everyone playing grim gritty antiheroes in the nineties.
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ehbowen

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons
« Reply #18 on: September 08, 2018, 08:21:07 am »
Like... even if a deity is as involved in a culture as Lolth is with the Drow, having direct action on their society, not everyone is gonna be EEEEEEVIL. They might not culturally stand up to a tyrant goddess, but they'll have things they care about beyond themselves, reasons for doing how they do, reasons to do and be good.

Exactly. And a lot of those reasons are purely practical. Let's say that you are this EEEEVIL uber-tyrant in a spiritual thugocracy. Whom do you select as your chief lieutenant, your right-had man (sorry, girls!)? Is it some personality as twisted, vindictive, and prone to backstab (YOU!) as yourself? Or would you try to find some spirit with a real sense of honor and loyalty, whose word can be depended upon?

Of course, we are shaped by our environment and upbringing, so it's quite possible this honorable demon has some "war crimes" somewhere on his record. Still and all...whom would you rather have guarding your own back?

Edit To Add: In Real Life, with all the circle of Nazis to choose from...whom did Hitler select to replace him at the very end?
« Last Edit: September 08, 2018, 08:24:15 am by ehbowen »
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EnderDragonFire

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons
« Reply #19 on: September 08, 2018, 11:14:24 am »
All that said, it still has never been that nuanced.  D&D does take a pretty Manichean view of the subject.  It's not really what I look for now, although it's no more of a cliche than everyone playing grim gritty antiheroes in the nineties.

Yeah, but 4E and 5E brought it back in a major way. Hell, even R.A. Salvatore wrote it into his books, with Drizzt's exception to normal Drow evil being due to divine intervention. Orcs and Goblins being always evil is a major plot point in his recent "Companions Codex" trilogy. D&D has recently embraced a lot of old-school concepts, and hard alignment is back in fashion right now.
"The worshippers of the gods go to them; to the manes go the ancestor-worshippers; to the Deities who preside over the elements go their worshippers; My devotees come to Me." ... "Whichever devotee desires to adore whatever such Deity with faith, in all such votaries I make that particular faith unshakable. Endowed with that faith, a votary performs the worship of that particular deity and obtains the fruits thereof, these being granted by Me alone." - Sri Krishna

Jabberwocky

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons
« Reply #20 on: September 08, 2018, 12:37:10 pm »
Yeah, but 4E and 5E brought it back in a major way. Hell, even R.A. Salvatore wrote it into his books, with Drizzt's exception to normal Drow evil being due to divine intervention. Orcs and Goblins being always evil is a major plot point in his recent "Companions Codex" trilogy. D&D has recently embraced a lot of old-school concepts, and hard alignment is back in fashion right now.

Ah fair, I haven't played since 2e so my information is outdated.

I think that might be more of a D&D thing than an old school thing though.  Runequest always steered away from hard good and evil in its sestting and Tunnels and Trolls pretty much ignores the issue entirely.
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EnderDragonFire

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons
« Reply #21 on: September 08, 2018, 12:54:20 pm »
I think that might be more of a D&D thing than an old school thing though.  Runequest always steered away from hard good and evil in its sestting and Tunnels and Trolls pretty much ignores the issue entirely.

I meant an old-school D&D thing, specifically, not just an old-school RPG thing.

3E and 3.5E were very popular. They brought in tons of new players to the game, and probably saved it from dying out completely. However, there were lots of complaints by older players about the new formula:

A) It was considered casual. Older players thought the lack of complex, convoluted and rules made it too easy.

B) They said it was toned down to be more mainstream. Pretty much anything sexual, as well as the more graphic elements of Hell and the Abyss, were cut out of the rule books (no nudity in the MM, for example).

C) People said it was promoting a liberal agenda; the lack of strict racial limitations, as well as the lasses faire attitude towards race, sex, class, and alignment combos, bothered some people. They didn't want to see a good aligned male Drow priest, or a Lawful Neutral female Orc paladin, etc.

A lot of this was just alt-right politicizing of D&D, but there was also genuine malice among some players that Orcs were as likely to be the heroes of an adventure as the villains. It just didn't sit right with their nostalgia for classic D&D murder hoboing; you aren't supposed to feel bad about wiping out a Goblin settlement, but in 3E, that could easily cost your paladin his God's favor.

So, despite the fact that old players were a minority, and that 3E had saved the game by bringing in new players, 4E and 5E were totally geared toward nostalgia. Pretty much ALL the changes were rolled back, and now it feels more like 1E with modern rules and language than it does 2E or 3E.
"The worshippers of the gods go to them; to the manes go the ancestor-worshippers; to the Deities who preside over the elements go their worshippers; My devotees come to Me." ... "Whichever devotee desires to adore whatever such Deity with faith, in all such votaries I make that particular faith unshakable. Endowed with that faith, a votary performs the worship of that particular deity and obtains the fruits thereof, these being granted by Me alone." - Sri Krishna

Uneryx

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons
« Reply #22 on: September 08, 2018, 04:37:01 pm »
It just didn't sit right with their nostalgia for classic D&D murder hoboing; you aren't supposed to feel bad about wiping out a Goblin settlement, but in 3E, that could easily cost your paladin his God's favor.

So, despite the fact that old players were a minority, and that 3E had saved the game by bringing in new players, 4E and 5E were totally geared toward nostalgia. Pretty much ALL the changes were rolled back, and now it feels more like 1E with modern rules and language than it does 2E or 3E.

And yet DND is thriving, especially with all the podcasts out there now. I'd say in practice a lot of people treat a lot of the rules as polite suggestions or flavor text. I sure do.

Which, I mean, really, I find all the by-the-book rules a tad stifling. It ruins my suspension of disbelief if I have to go shopping for a bunch of shit like a mote of snow and silver bullets and twigs and all the crap you need for material components of a spell, to give one example. I guess its there for the people who like being anal about stuff but I pretty much ignore the spell components because "hang on I can't do this cool fireball spell because I don't have enough bat poop" just ruins the fun for me.

Rules are made to be broken and being an anal rules-monger is boring to me. We're here to pretend to be elves and have epic fantasy quests, not argue about rules.

Uneryx

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons
« Reply #23 on: September 08, 2018, 04:39:14 pm »
A) It was considered casual. Older players thought the lack of complex, convoluted and rules made it too easy.

Also this kind of attitude in any fandom just pisses me off. The whole "filthy casuals" thing is crap. Games are designed for people to have fun. If you wanna make it more complex, do so. Or play a different version.

Accessibility and simplicity and easiness are awesome and make for a wider range of people able to have fun. Whether it's dnd or video games or nostalgia for old cartoons, gatekeeping sucks and I tend to HEAVILY roll my eyes when I see it.

EnderDragonFire

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons
« Reply #24 on: September 08, 2018, 09:12:44 pm »
And yet DND is thriving, especially with all the podcasts out there now. I'd say in practice a lot of people treat a lot of the rules as polite suggestions or flavor text. I sure do.

Perhaps. That doesn't change the fact that since 4.0 launched, Pathfinder has slowly eclipsed D&D in popularity. Many, if not most, of the new players who got pulled in by 3.0 and 3.5 left after 4.0 dropped, and statistically Pathfinder (which is *very* close to what 3E D&D was) now has more product sales. D&D's core books tend to sell better, but since most of Pathfinder's books can be obtained legally for free, that doesn't matter so much.

It also seems to have a similar number of players to D&D. Wizards shot themselves in the foot when they brought in new players and then dumped the things that attracted those players in the next edition. 

I know I don't play D&D anymore. The rules, as written, are really terrible, and depict a setting that is more Grimdark than High Fantasy. Gameplay does follow from the rules, and if you write rules that cast entire races as pure evil, it does effect gameplay, even if a particular DM or group tries to play around those rules.

In 3E I played a Lawful Good Duregar Paladin of Helm who was also an Archlich.

In 5E, only wizards can become Liches, Archliches (good aligned Liches) don't exist anymore, Duregar can't be good aligned, and generally everything about my character breaks the rules of the game.
"The worshippers of the gods go to them; to the manes go the ancestor-worshippers; to the Deities who preside over the elements go their worshippers; My devotees come to Me." ... "Whichever devotee desires to adore whatever such Deity with faith, in all such votaries I make that particular faith unshakable. Endowed with that faith, a votary performs the worship of that particular deity and obtains the fruits thereof, these being granted by Me alone." - Sri Krishna

SunflowerP

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons
« Reply #25 on: September 09, 2018, 11:33:10 am »
... and statistically Pathfinder (which is *very* close to what 3E D&D was)....

<doublechecks, to ensure sie isn't about to make an ass of hirself. Determines that sie isn't.>

More than just 'very close', it is 3/3.5 in all but name, or anyway is the real 4e. Which doesn't undermine your main point at all; if anything, it makes it even stronger.

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EnderDragonFire

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons
« Reply #26 on: September 09, 2018, 01:26:00 pm »
More than just 'very close', it is 3/3.5 in all but name, or anyway is the real 4e. Which doesn't undermine your main point at all; if anything, it makes it even stronger.

The reason I say it's a bit different is because the actual content is different. The rule-set is basically identical, thanks to D&D 3.x being released in the public domain (gotta give Wizards kudos for that). However, Pathfinder has it's own settings and as a result, has slightly different monsters and classes as a result.

I mean, you can still create your own setting, which is what a ton of DM's do for D&D and Pathfinder anyway, but if you use a blue dragon from a Pathfinder manual, it's going to be different than a blue dragon from a D&D rule-book, simply because the official lore of the main Pathfinder setting is different from the official lore of the man D&D setting (currently, Forgotten Realms).

...but yes, from a rules and mechanics standpoint, it's identical. It just has different default fluff because it can't copy D&D's monsters and setting identically.
"The worshippers of the gods go to them; to the manes go the ancestor-worshippers; to the Deities who preside over the elements go their worshippers; My devotees come to Me." ... "Whichever devotee desires to adore whatever such Deity with faith, in all such votaries I make that particular faith unshakable. Endowed with that faith, a votary performs the worship of that particular deity and obtains the fruits thereof, these being granted by Me alone." - Sri Krishna

RandallS

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons
« Reply #27 on: September 10, 2018, 02:44:09 pm »
I mean, you can still create your own setting, which is what a ton of DM's do for D&D and Pathfinder anyway, but if you use a blue dragon from a Pathfinder manual, it's going to be different than a blue dragon from a D&D rule-book, simply because the official lore of the main Pathfinder setting is different from the official lore of the man D&D setting (currently, Forgotten Realms).

I've been playing/running D&D since 1975 and I've never given a damn about the "official lore" of any setting. I normally run in my own settings, but if I use a published setting or adventure, I will change it as I feel needed. I have less tolerance for canon lawyers than I do for rules lawyers and I don't allow rules lawyers in my games.  I have little use for rules as written or setting as written. People who want either just have to find another GM. :)

Of course, I also don't have much interest in the rules-heavy versions of D&D that WOTC has published. Any D&D that greatly benefits from "system mastery" is not a version I'm likely to want to play often, let alone run.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons
« Reply #28 on: September 10, 2018, 08:56:39 pm »
... thanks to D&D 3.x being released in the public domain....

Nitpick: the OGL (and other open-culture licenses) aren't 'public domain'.

That said - I was thinking more generally than that (game'feel', the flavor of the experience), but also am not up on the specifics of where Pathfinder has gone with it. You make a good point, because while I don't think the details you mention would significantly affect the flavor of the experience for me (certainly less than my experience is affected by one DM's style compared to another's), for some folks those details would be a critical difference.

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EnderDragonFire

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons
« Reply #29 on: September 10, 2018, 10:05:29 pm »
for some folks those details would be a critical difference.

Well, I'll admit that I used to be a "lore lawyer." I ran a few campaigns with fellow Forgotten Realms buffs back in 3.5, and we tried to stick as close to the lore of that setting as possible.

I read a lot of D&D literature, particularly R.A. Salvatore's work, and so I'm almost as familiar with the narrative intricacies of the Forgotten Realms setting as many other people are with the lore of StarWars or Tolkien. So for me the default lore written in the source books does make a difference in how the game feels for me to play, because I know the FR setting so well.

I could always adapt Pathfinder's rules to the world of Forgotten Realms, of course, but it's not as easy as cracking open a MM or DMG that was written with that setting in mind.
"The worshippers of the gods go to them; to the manes go the ancestor-worshippers; to the Deities who preside over the elements go their worshippers; My devotees come to Me." ... "Whichever devotee desires to adore whatever such Deity with faith, in all such votaries I make that particular faith unshakable. Endowed with that faith, a votary performs the worship of that particular deity and obtains the fruits thereof, these being granted by Me alone." - Sri Krishna

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