Don’t Dragon Talk down to me

Counterbalance (Invocations) MtG Art by Joseph Meehan

I really don’t like it when folks start to imply that D&D or other RPGs can be simplified down to one particular play style or motivation to play. This happens with Dragon Talk quite a bit, where the hosts will explicitly say that the game is really just about social interactions. They’ll talk a little bit about combat, but it feels like lip service and they ignore other things like the exploration pillar. Other play styles get patronized, possibly because the hosts themselves have theater backgrounds.

Now, as I’ve previously written, I am not down on folks who prefer those theater and improv aspects of D&D. Those are fun, and I like them too! Even if I didn’t, it’s okay for folks to like different things! The fact that I play Dungeon World should illustrate quite well that I like so-called “storygames” and what that represents as a play style.

But RPGs are games too, in addition to mechanisms for roleplaying. Tactical elements and puzzle-solving and resource management all remain in the game because people like them. We can have fun with our friends in lots of different ways, whether that’s character acting or exploring a map or treating D&D as something like a miniatures wargame.

To reiterate: if D&D works best for you as a theater game with some dice once in a while to introduce randomness, I’m so glad you’re having fun! You keep playing exactly the way that you enjoy! But when Greg Tito and Shelly Mazzanoble imply, or sometimes even state openly, that that IS the game, the corollary is that others are having “badwrongfun.” And that isn’t cool.

As an example, see the exchange that starts at about 4:05 into their interview with James D’Amato.

Now, James specifically works in improv and theater, and I don’t begrudge him his point of view (even if I disagree with it). He represents a podcast network, but Dragon Talk as a podcast represents Wizards of the Coast and D&D specifically. At this point, that attitude permeates their podcast so much that I’ve preferred to listen to podcasts like Table Top Babble that have more expansive views of the hobby, or just get the Lore You Should Know segments directly on YouTube.

Don’t fall into their trap. Enjoy things the way you like them, but please don’t talk down about other styles as well. We can all have fun in our own ways and even branch out to explore additional ways without making anyone feel bad about their own preferences.

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