101 Days of D&D: a slight return

Okay, I thought I was through with the D&D stuff, but I found my list of notes for posts I wanted to write (but didn’t get around to writing), and there are a couple of little things I wanted to mention.

It’s interesting to look at the various rpg communities online. I’ve observed some tendencies in those consituencies. RPGnet has a LOT of D&D coverage (including its share of d20 haterz), ENworld is practically ALL d20 all the time, the Forge is focused on indie games, etc. Amongst the people who profess to play a lot of indie games, they’ve played a LOT of games in general and nearly all of them (especially the older guys who started playing in the 70s or 80s) started with D&D.

D&D is often referenced — not always kindly — by players discussion other rpgs, be they indie or the other popular “mainstream” rpgs (World of Darkness, Exalted, Shadowrun, Savage Worlds, etc.). Among the D&D-only crowds, though, there is rarely — if ever — any mention of other rpgs. And that is a phenomenon I find very interesting. For a lot of D&D players, D&D is the ONLY RPG IN EXISTENCE. And those players have a huge world that caters just to them: Dragon and Dungeon magazines, the whole of the Wizards.com website (with their extensive forums and resources), 3rd-party supplements and accessories, etc. It’s one of the things that was very attractive to me about D&D (in addition to the not-to-be-discounted nostalgia factor).

Of course, there are great communities built up around other games, too, but almost none have the “industry” behind them like D&D, but that CAN be a good thing at times. For example, The Burning Wheel is one of my favorite of the “indie” rpgs. In fact, it’ll probably be what I run next. Burning Wheel has a GREAT community in the forums at The Forge and at burningwheel.org (and it’s getting more popular at RPGnet, too), but the game itself consists of two smallish (by RPG standards) and one bigger books plus some PDF supplements (and some very short-run print supplements). Luke even says in the BW book that there’s no supplied setting in BW because he couldn’t come up with anything as cool as your group can. Of course, BW has a pretty powerful implied setting embodied by the rules, but there’s not literally thousands upon thousands of pages of supplements of varying quality out there like there is for D&D. Luke doesn’t have to depend on selling BW supplements to support himself, much less a legion of employees and facilities like WOTC. NOT having an industry “supporting” a game can be good for a game, and I think BW is an excellent example of that.

It sounds like I’m bagging on the D&D market, and that’s only partially true. There are a lot of excellent WOTC-produced supplements (Eberron, for example), and there are good 3rd-party products, too (like Monte Cook’s stuff). And Dungeon is the best it’s EVER been these days, thanks to the steady hand ands sharp eye of editor Erik Mona and his crew.

So, was there a point to all this? Not really, which is why I never got around to writing this post during the actual 101 Days of D&D. Still, I wanted to make the observation(s).