topline: maybe we indie #ttrpg folks should escalatorize dnd for our hobby/market/branch of the industry/whatever and i am only sort of kidding

I’ll come back to that.

What is the 100 meter dash? It is a track & field sport where individuals race a set distance.

What is pole vault? It is a track & field sport where individuals take turns using a pole to propel themselves up into the air, and over a horizontal stick which they try not to knock to the ground.

What is baseball? It is a sport where teams take turns hitting a ball away from the other team & running a circuit consisting of four fixed points. There are additional rules for how this happens, and for how to deal with unusual situations. There are variants for, among other things: social and competitive play, and variants for different ages, and for professional play.

What is hockey? It is a team sport where the competition is to put a rubber disk into net defended by the other team. The field surface is ice, and players get around on skates. The rules define technical terms, and cover required safety equipment. There is a variant played on a grass field.

What is Dungeons & Dragons? It is a dnd where players create and control fictional characters in a high fantasy fiction. It has a lot of rules to cover many specific outcomes of character action in the fiction. These usually require rolling dice. It is played primarily in the imagination, though in some situations models are placed on a table to help players visualize more complex fictional environments. D&D’s high fantasy can be adjusted to accommodate many other kinds of fiction such as steam punk or various horror subgenre. D&D has several editions which facilitate various play styles.

As a moniker for the hobby, dnd does not actually mean anything, even though maybe it sounds like it does. Inevitably, alas, it will call to mind a certain market-dominant dnd. This is similar to going out to buy kleenex, and coming home with Puffs Plus Lotion instead of Kleenex.

Our hobby needs an easy moniker. It does not have to make sense (pole vault). It can be a word which really only means itself (hockey).

I do not know that dnd is a good idea for a moniker for table top role playing games. I do not think it is a bad thing, necessarily. I am probably wrong. I often am. I am not going to put a lot of effort into trying to make it a thing. But…

A lot of people out there see D&D as the game. Because, yaknow, it is. Dungeons sound fun. Dragons sound fun. Table top role playing games sound like … a mouthful of sounds that mean something, but do not get you anywhere.

I tend not to be a prescriptivist about English. People already use D&D to stand in for all ttrpgs. I think it’s ok to roll along with that without apology. Not, “it’s like D&D, but…” Just, “my game is a dnd like this.”

Anyway. What is Traveller? A dnd where players control space-bound adventurers. The rules look complex, but boil down to a few die rolls depending on your chosen degree of simulation.

What is Paranoia? A dnd where players control six versions of the same character, serially, because it is a highly lethal game. The rules are geared around supporting comic play in a dystopic, computer-controlled dome city.

And so on. Indie ttrpg designers can elevator pitch their own dnd games. I’ll close with one of mine.

What is Forest Outlaws? A dnd where players control outlaw characters bringing justice to a small community. The guidance presupposes play strongly inspired by Robin Hood, but could easily support gameplay inspired by other scenarios such as The Dukes of Hazzard.

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