In this post I will try to show you the differences between D&D and TDE - but not in a hard, crunchy way. Instead of comparing how many dice you roll, how spells work or how you defend yourself against a sword blow, I want to talk about how it feels to play the game, how the world of Aventuria works and why D&D is in some cases better than TDE - and in some cases worse.
Before I start, let me say that while I know Aventuria - the continent where The Dark Eye (TDE) is set - better than most real life geography, my experiences with Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) is pretty limited. It's mostly fuelled by popular culture, memes and some pretty old PC games like Neverwinter Nights. On the other hand, any game experience in general, and especially playing Role Playing Games (RPGs), is extremely subjective, even for players in the same group. So if you have more insights, lets me know in the comments!
First things first. What is similar in D&D and TDE? Both are pen and paper RPGS (PnP RPGs), use 20-sided dice, and are best played with a group of 4-6 friends and a game master (GM). Both use a pretty general medieval-like fantasy setting... and that's where the differences start and the similarities end.
Because - the last doesn't really hold true for D&D to begin with. Sure, the basic idea was a medieval-fantasy style dungeon crawler, but right now there are many different modules and rule sets, that this doesn't really hold true any more. Wanna play some pirate setting? There's a module for that. Want to play space adventure? There is a module for that, too. Steampunk? Gothic Horror? Urban fantasy? For almost anything you can find (fanmade) settings and modules out there.
TDE on the other hand is very heavily centred around the setting of Aventuria - you can see a part of the map of the continent in the title picture of our blog here. It's a very detailed setting, with a living history, that is continuously written and changed by fans and authors alike. Although some other settings in the TDE universe exist, they don't play that much of a role (Aventuria itself consists of different settings, if we want to be very exact, but that's beyond this article). When playing TDE, your characters act and live in this world - and the characters of all other players act and live in this world, too.
D&D is, in my eyes, way less about the world you're playing in. The connecting element between fans are the rules, not so much the stories and universe they share. Yes, there are some official adventures and settings, but for most (or at least, most more experienced) players and GMs, they just serve as an inspiration rather than being played as they are. It's much more accepted, or even expected, for people to make up their own worlds, their own settings and towns, non-player-characters (NPCs) and so on. When meeting other players, the joy is to talk about what you have created, what cool and unique, quirky or just interesting stuff you and your friends have come up with, and how that was presented.
The connecting element in TDE is Aventuria and its living history. It's not uncommon for fans when meeting to talk about the latest politics, the newest articles in the Aventurian Herald (the in game gazette that is released every two months) or to share stories how their group has solved a specific adventure.
Which one is "better" then? Well... none. They're different. The focus of the settings lie on different things. In D&D, since it is not so closely tied to a world, you can let your creativity run free. On the other hand, shared experiences are rather limited and happen on a more broader, "meta" level.
In TDE, the shared world creates more touch points for the characters of the players. You can have your knight have an affiliation to a noble house and meet another player, who has the same. On the other hand, you're restricted by this world, too - that is if your group doesn't mind some changes.