I think I can safely say that I could remove all ability modifiers, alignment & its languages, magic-users, clerics, elfs, dwarfs and hobbits, the spells found in men & magic, and the treasure tables, and still be playing D&D. But then what if some of the house rules are also found in games that don't call themselves D&D?
I apologize in advance if this is a dumb question, it's just some strange musing that caught my head in a careless moment of sleepy lurking.
Last Edit: Mar 11, 2019 17:43:37 GMT -6 by raisin: weird formatting issue
Post by sixdemonbag on Mar 11, 2019 20:38:21 GMT -6
Not a dumb question at all. I think about this question quite often actually.
My personal take on the bare minimum needed to still be playing "D&D" (assuming all PCs are human fighters with average stats) is:
1. Attack Matrix I 2. Save Matrix 3. Map
Monsters and magic items can easily be made up on-the-fly. That's honestly all you need in actual play. The game at it's core is dead simple. Anything not covered above is just a base 2 in 6 check, adjusted for the situation.
That said, when I think about D&D, it's hard to not associate the game with all the classic monsters, spells, and magic items even though they aren't central to actually playing the game.
Hmm. Here is my bare minimum for making sure it feels like D&D:
1. The six ability scores (for its iconic value - I'm sure other systems would work just fine. It just wouldn't "feel" like D&D to me) 2. Classes differentiate rolls within the party 3. Advancement by XP 4. Monster, and to a certain degree character power correlates to HD 5. (Someone, maybe just the ref behind a screen) Roll(s) a d20 to attack and save
Here is the bare minimum for making sure it feels like Old School D&D:
a. XP for gold d. players play a game by means of their characters (vs. play-acting a character) e. the referee makes rulings b. play involves exploring an open and unknown world that requires mapping c. monster stuff, e.g.: no encounter balance, fighting isn't the only way, remember reaction and morale checks, etc.
Last Edit: Mar 31, 2019 16:53:01 GMT -6 by tetramorph
He who knows, games not. He who games, knows not. -- Lao Tzu
Post by countingwizard on Jul 17, 2019 10:55:24 GMT -6
I believe you can compromise on many of the mechanics of D&D and still come out with a game that is basically just a preferred or house ruled version. But I believe a compromise on any of the following points disqualifies a game from being D&D:
It must have "dungeons" and "dragons". If you have one without the other, it isn't D&D. The "dungeon" must be any unsafe place, be it an underworld, a building, or an unknown wilderness to be explored. The "dragon" must be any obstacle that needs to be overcome to obtain a reward. Those obstacles can be monsters, dungeon design, wilderness hazards, physical barriers, etc; and the reward can be safety, gold, experience, or some mechanical benefit for the character
The success of every meaningful action must be randomly determined.
There must be a form of character progression, where the more time a character has been played, the better they get (in some sort of mechanical way). A level-less and skill-less rulesystem would need to rely on characters getting better items to use as they play.
At least one person must take on the role of a referee (or DM), and not have a player character in the game they are running.
The players in the game must have a cooperative goal.
The ref/dm must determine (or create) the content of the game and make rulings.
Players must not have any control over the content of game outside of character actions.
You could change a few or several mechanics and it would still basically be the same game. But if you change enough of the rules, it stops being what the player signed up for or expected to play when you said you were going to run a game of D&D.
edit: After giving it a bit more thought, if I had to quickly summarize what makes a game D&D; I would have to say this: