My Recent Feelings on D&D

It came to a head this Tuesday.

Last Tuesday, my main game ended in the midst of combat with the players locking away the solo monster in an impossible situation. Then they wanted to whittle her down and kill her but that would have taken about 50 rounds in-game so… a whole session if we ran it quickly. To solve this, two of the programmers in my group decided to write software to simulate a million runs of this to get a probability of how long it’ll actually take to bring her to 0, and that’s without taking into account the various defenses and backups a vampire, and especially her, has to protect themselves.

I know that programming interesting thing could be really fun but let me say that again: two people who like to play the game decided to invest several hours of their lives to avoid playing one part of the game.

This very much resonated with something Matt Colville has been saying they want to step away from in MCDM’s own game, the fact that in D&D combat, characters go all out at the start of combat and the more it lasts, the more of an unfun slog it becomes. Which is stupid for a game about a high-magic, superhero-esque fantasy of fighting monsters for cool shit and maybe saving the world. Combat should get more fun the more time it takes and it should usually end in a few short rounds.

So, this Tuesday, after simulations wouldn’t give a definite yes/no answer, I decided I’m not going to allow this combat to continue and forced my players to find a more creative and fun way to end the conflict immediately. They did, but it highlighted exactly what I’m really starting (or maybe not really starting) to hate about this system: Non-choices, obvious brokenness, making the guide’s job harder for no reason; things that now that I’m reading PF2e (because we started a new game) and seeing some implementations there make me think, ‘Well, obviously…’. It feels like the new 1D&D being worked on is going to solve some of these but it’s probably too late, not doing enough, and breaking some other things in the process.

I’ve even discussed it with my players, who just wrapped up Floor 18 out of 23 of the dungeon, that I’ll just cut some of the few next floors that are not interesting or thin them down for speed so I can end this game with haste and some form of a high note.

My next game either be in the Level Up system or, more likely, in the system that I am writing right now. I am not working from first principles like MCDM, but I am taking inspirations from more sources which I think will be more attractive to a modern audience. It’s still at a very early phase but when I have a basic mechanic up and running and the document doesn’t look like trash, I’ll release it as an Early Access product. I hope someone will like it.

I don’t know what to do with some current projects like the Sacred Hoard and reading the Dark Matter setting if I don’t intend to engage with D&D in the future. Does anyone have any idea?

Because I’m probably not going back to D&D after this.

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