System Matters

Online, there’s often a real negativity to D&D. And, well, everything. But especially from D&D by people who are upset it’s popular and their personal favourite artisanal niche indie RPG system isn’t more popular.

(Which I understand. I’d love if more people were talking about Shadows of Esteren.)

Whenever people ask how to run something non-standard in D&D—like a heist—someone will inevitably pop up and inform the chat that D&D isn’t the best system for that kind of story and that the GM would be better off using Game X which is designed for heists. Or spy thrillers. Or supernatural weird west stories. Or vampiric horror.

But the advantage of D&D is players generally know how to play D&D and you have the books. Any new system has a learning curve and half the one-shot will be spent learning the rules and making poor mechanical choices. Players will focus on trying to learn the rules rather than engage with the plot: the mechanics get in the way of the story. While D&D may not have the best mechanics for a particular genre, as people already know them they can be inoffensive enough to allow players to focus on the story. And it’s the story the matters.