Sensitivity in Dungeons & Dragons

I’m becoming more frustrated by the day at the way #5EDnD fans are reacting to #OSR and vice versa. The edition of a RPG should not be a divisive factor in our everyday lives. Can we all just go a day without someone treating others like shit?


I’ve noticed some members of the RolePlaying Game Community have become a bit toxic. <cringe>

I know we’re in the midst of the Twitpocalype with Elon, Lord of the Bots, so I’ll try to discount some of what I see on Twitter. I’ve also noticed the same disgusting effects on YouTube and even a little on Instagram. As I’ve said before, I’m not here to name and shame anyone. Everyone’s opinion is valid whether we agree or not. You can be authentic and voice strong opinions without being a complete asshat.

Someone on YouTube recently described being a 5E Dungeon Master as, “having to be a reference book, epic storyteller, event coordinator and life coach.” This led to the inevitable conclusion of just play Old School Renaissance because it’s easier. Apparently being a 5E DM is so much harder than OSR, etc. I took the part about being a life coach as a dig on using Safety Tools, Session Zero, and so on.

The video in question was in response to a Hellgate New York article found HERE. The Hellgate article talks about a shortage of DMs in New York, the high cost of professional DMs and the increase in demand since 2020. I disagree with the article. I disagree with the YouTubers disagreeing with the article and quoting one another in agreement of “just play OSR.”

It’s really sad knowing that so many OSR pundits are anti-LGBTQIA, in some cases anti-BIPOC, and often just plain rude. That’s okay, though. The OSR is supposedly widespread and there’s no real leadership. They sure are easy to find when you call them out on their crap, however.

Then we come to the Barbarian/Druid/Paladin debate.

(*I’m probably going to be writing an entire article on this topic later.) Much like “Race” vs “Species” the whole battle becomes a matter of players and some DMs barking, “You can’t tell me how to play at my table. I’ll call stuff whatever I want.” Which is true, I suppose.

But I’ve seen many occasions on social media where people can’t politely say, “I prefer to do it this way.”

It rapidly becomes an all-or-nothing, knockdown, drag-out battle of I’m right and you’re wrong. “You’re stupid just do it my way,” they cry.

Inevitably this too leads to yet another comment about how the OSR is so much better and (loud fart) we should just do it (longer loud fart) the way they did it back in the day (smelly loud fart) like Gary Gygax intended it. I’ll be honest. I’m so tired of hearing about how bad 5E is and how terrible One D&D will be from people who openly state that they hate it and will never go near either one.

Great. Call the character class Barbarian when you’re playing OSR. Call it Applesauce or whatever name they decide on when you’re playing One D&D someday. Call it whatever your 5E group comes to consensus on during Session Zero. Do what works best for you and your group.

“OMG! He mentioned Session Zero. Stupid wokie libtard brarrgh!”

This is usually followed once again by, “You can’t tell me how to play at my table.” I’ve said this before. Here we go again. No one, but no one is going to come to your home (private) game and tell you what you can and can’t do. Further, what happens in your house is up to you and your group.

Safety Tools, Session Zero, and choosing to be considerate of people’s feelings isn’t DM-turned-life-coach or DM therapist. It’s just a good policy to have at your gaming table. If your game takes place in a public area and/or is open to anyone, then it should literally be open to anyone. (*Within the bounds of reasonable group size, time constraints, obvious belligerence, etc.)

At that point, yeah- Safety Tools, being polite, being considerate, stowing hate speech, politics and religion at the game table all good ideas. That’s not DM acting as counselor or therapist. That’s called, “Don’t be an asshat.”

Calling me “woke” is not an insult. It’s Awakened, not “woke.” Having a greater understanding of oneself and the greater world as a spiritual whole isn’t a bad thing. If “woke” culture offends, maybe other people are a reflection of oneself.

Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate you. Please be kind to one another. Kindness is not religion, politics, gender or sexual orientation. Kindness is one human playing nice with other humans and animals. You don’t have to be a saint. Just don’t treat others like sh🦆t.

Author: Jeff Craigmile

I'm a tabletop role-playing game writer and designer from Des Moines, Iowa. I'm the father of four boys and human to three cats.

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