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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 158 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: D&D for Dummies  (Read 8601 times)
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« on: April 29, 2005, 05:15:04 AM »

Actually has nothing to do with Moose's game, and is just what it sounds like: http://www.dummies.com/WileyCDA/DummiesTitle/productCd-0764584596.html

So, will this product have any impact? Does it attempt to mainstream D&D (and possibly roleplaying overall as a result)? Will anyone buy it?

Other thoughts?

Mike
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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2005, 05:26:34 AM »

Nah, that's just a logical step in product development. It won't do anything interesting culturally. Rather, I find it a sad state of affairs when a game cannot teach you to play without publishing another book about how to play... That really drives home the nature of D&D rule books as game implements, not guidebooks!

The book obviously sells the idea of mainstream applicability, but it's a lie; D&D doesn't become any more mainstream through another book, because it's anti-mainstream features are in the structures, not in the representation. You could explain and re-explain D&D until stars grew cold, and it wouldn't become any more entertaining by that.

... unless the book drifts D&D! That'd be one interesting idea, if the book went against the game and taught a massively drifted, mainstream-palatable storytelling version of the game. Pretty unlikely, of course...

The most interesting thing to garner from the product is the idea that WotC would be interested in mainstream attention. As I remember it, TSR had that dream at some point, too, and wasted much effort in popularizing D&D. I imagine that this particular product doesn't waste too much resources, but if and when the popularity of rpgs (D&D-type) continues to drop, Wizards will surely hazard even more desperate methods.

In summation: nothing to see here, move along.
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2005, 05:38:29 AM »

I'm wondering if it's a WotC product at all. Yeah, the authors are guys like Kim Mohan and one of the guys who wrote a lot of FR stuff, but...well first, would they even need a liscence? When folks write "Windows for Dummies" do they need Microsoft to sign off? I'm pretty sure they don't. As long as they don't reproduce the text of the original, I'm not sure that they would need a liscence from WotC.

And even if they did, perhaps they just got the rights to do it. This could just be the work of some individuals. Anybody have any idea how to check?

I may have to peruse the excerpts to see what's likely.

Mike
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Andrew Morris
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« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2005, 05:58:17 AM »

Quote from: Eero Tuovinen
... unless the book drifts D&D! That'd be one interesting idea, if the book went against the game and taught a massively drifted, mainstream-palatable storytelling version of the game. Pretty unlikely, of course...

Since one of the chapters is "Finding a D&D Game to Join," I'm thinking they stuck with the main D&D rules.

[edited to add...]
An interesting thing, to me, at least, is that the section on the DM has absolutely no trace of the Impossible Thing. It states that the DM is the coordinator and referee, supporting and adding to the story created by the players. I haven't read a D&D rulebook lately, but that's a change from how the DM is described in the main books, isn't it?
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pete_darby
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« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2005, 06:09:29 AM »

I don't know if it's WotC approved, but they're certainly not far from it: D&D commisioned art on the front, line developer writing it...

And check the recommended resources in the top 10's. Someone please correct me if they're not all WotC...

Of course, thanks to the OGL, pretty much anyone could write a fairly intensive "for Dummies". Ironic, then, that the dummies book has no non-WotC D20 stuff referenced in it.

I think it's aimed at those folks who are honestly curious about this D&D thing, but understandly put off by the wieght of material. Now, how many of those are out there, I don't know (and how many will read the dummies book, play it through and go "Yeecch! I wanted (fill in Jones here that another game utterly satisfies)" and be put off all RPG's for life, I don't know.

But it's no more an effort to "mainstream" D&D than Chess for Dummies is an effort to "mainstream" chess, or Linux for dummies to do the same for Linux.

Anyoen taking bets for the impossible thing featuring?

edit - cross post with Andrew. Notice how we get a ref to the players helping the DM tell his story? And abuse of the term "protagonist" in this context?
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Pete Darby
Andrew Morris
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« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2005, 06:34:55 AM »

Quote from: The book
This player, the Dungeon Master (or DM), controls the pace of the story and referees the action along the way. ... The cool thing about Dungeon Masters is that they allow the game to be totally interactive and open-ended. Players can have their characters attempt anything they can imagine because there's a real, live person sitting in the DM's chair, coordinating the action and determining how every event adds to the story.

I was going off this, but on further investigation, I can see traces of the Impossible Thing. One section even talks about "moving up the hierarchy to become a DM" or something like that. And I think somewhere it says the DM "creates the story."
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jdagna
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« Reply #6 on: April 29, 2005, 08:38:20 AM »

I certainly think that something like this can't hurt.  There are people out there who will get a Dummies manual for just about anything they do or are thinking about doing.  It's not going to be some huge cultural movement, though... at this point, most people know what D&D is and they've already decided whether it's the kind of thing that would interest them or not.  I would look more to the Baldur's Gate and NWN video games that use the D&D system as a mainstreaming effect, but we haven't really seen that happen.

I think most of these will sell to gamers who keep having their PCs die and who feel intimidated by plotting out 20 levels of character advancement before they even pick a name for the guy.  (Honestly, selecting from this massive web of feats is intimidating enough to me that it's a major reason why I haven't done more than read D&D 3/3.5 and I'm pretty hard to scare off).  If anything it's a sign of the problems in many RPGs - catering too heavily for the small market segment that enjoys character optimization and memorization of long lists.

Anyway, I definitely won't buy it, but I'll probably skim through it if I see it in a bookstore.
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Justin Dagna
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komradebob
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« Reply #7 on: April 29, 2005, 09:04:57 AM »

Actually, I see tons of "for dummies" (and similar booklines) books on the bargain rack of bnasically every bookstore I enter. I suspect that this book will soon join them.

OTOH, that may be actually what aids in mainstreaming D&D. Curiosity + $3 price tag on the bargain rack = more exposure to rpgs = more exposure for non-D&D rpgs.

Robert
who is keeping his fingers crossed...
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Robert Earley-Clark

currently developing:The Village Game:Family storytelling with toys
Andrew Morris
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« Reply #8 on: April 29, 2005, 09:55:05 AM »

Bob, that's a heck of a leap -- exposure to D&D leads to more exposure for non-D&D RPGs. Christ, I played D&D for years without even knowing that other games existed.

I'm not saying it's not possible, just that it wasn't my experience.
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komradebob
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« Reply #9 on: April 29, 2005, 11:01:27 AM »

Andrew:
Weirdly, I had the opposite experience. I think I actually owned Gangbusters before I acquired a copy of D&D (athough I played D&D first for a couple of months at that point). I think my experience represents a strange combination of factors, though, and I'm not sure that people being exposed to D&D for Dummies now would have that same opportunity to be exposed to other rpgs.

In any case, that's the "fingers crossed" part coming in to play...
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Robert Earley-Clark

currently developing:The Village Game:Family storytelling with toys
Andrew Morris
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« Reply #10 on: April 29, 2005, 11:24:37 AM »

I just think we can't make an assumption like that, since we have nothing but our own experiences or the personal experiences of others to go on. But I've got my fingers crossed, too.
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #11 on: April 29, 2005, 12:38:59 PM »

I won't speculate on how people start playing most. But if they do start with something other than D&D, and have decided to move on to D&D, then we're not talking about somebody new to RPGs anyhow. The whole idea of "mainstreaming" would be that the person has played nothing, sees the D&D for Dummies, and decides to take the dip based on this, presumably easier, method of entry.

Or did you guys imagine some other scenario?

Mike
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pete_darby
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« Reply #12 on: April 29, 2005, 01:27:39 PM »

One thig to repeat, with the drift of this thread in mind: the book does not seem to mention any other RPG's. Not non-D20, not OGL, not D20 Star Wars or D20 Modern... nothing. The headings for the going further chapters are about getting more D&D.

I'm not suggesting that it's been designed to specifically exclude but... asking whether this will get more folks into our area of the hobby is like the fols on boardgamegeek wondering whether Chess for Dummies will get more folks buying Settlers of Catan and Memoir '44. It'll certainly do some good for the D&D hobby, and as someone peripherally interested in that hobby I can wish it well, but the RPG hobby, maybe not so much.

In terms of Forge games... move along, nothing to see.

Except....

Narrativist role play for dummies anyone?

Whaddya mean you already bought Primetime Adventures?
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Pete Darby
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