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I listen to the popular podcast The Adventure Zone, which consists of a D&D (5th Edition) campaign played by the McElroy brothers from My Brother, My Brother, and Me, and their father, but I have never played D&D before.

The Dungeon Master on this podcast, Griffin, stated once that he has made minor modifications to some of the rules/gameplay of D&D to make the game more palatable to podcast listeners, as well as more fun.

Have they ever described the changes that they have made? Is there any "'official' Adventure Zone D&D" ruleset?

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    \$\begingroup\$ I have edited this question to require statements from the Adventure Zone crew; that's a valid question here. I don't know if it's answerable, but it's valid. Asking for speculation based on what we hear in the podcast is not. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jan 17 '15 at 20:50
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No, there is no official "Adventure Zone D&D Ruleset"

They haven't described the changes they've made to the rules, because that would be boring to most people.

I have listened to every episode, some multiple times (it's my favorite podcast). Griffin has never mentioned a specific set of rules, nor are they listed anywhere on their Maximum Fun page or their Tumblr.

The reason for this is that they want the show to be entertaining for people who don't play RPG's, it's a comedy podcast first, a D&D podcast second. They don't want to be bound to any rules, even of their own making, because don't want rules to get in the way of a fun show.

There are a few rules that they seem to have decided beforehand to ignore, like XP (they generally level up their characters after they complete a story arc) and inventory management (they don't worry about encumbrance or buying uninteresting things like trail rations, bedrolls, etc.) Keeping track of these sorts of things would be very boring for most people. Also, Griffin has made up most of their magic items to fit the setting and to be interesting.

Other than that, Griffin makes rule decisions on the fly based on what would make the most entertaining show. They rarely refer to the rule book (except when Merl or Taako cast a spell they've never used before) because that would be boring for most people.

Keep in mind a significant portion of the listeners of the show don't care about rules, they listen to the show because they are fans of the McElroy brothers.

That being said, apart from the things I listed above, I haven't noticed many significant changes to the rules. I'm sure someone more familiar with 5e could point out a few more differences, but as far as I can tell the game they play isn't hugely different from RAW.

Update: In the episode The The Adventure Zone Zone the cast discusses the show and answers some listener questions, much of their discussion is relevant to this topic. They do not spell out a set of rules, but they talk about how they decide what rules to follow and why they do it that way.

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NO there is not

I have heard most of the AZ podcasts and I've never found an "official" Adventure Zone ruleset. Griffin, like many a DM, did it on the fly. He toned down some of the game mechanics that can confuse new players and relied more heavily on storytelling. Things like exhaustion, hunger and thirst, resource replenishment, strict time framing, etc. are practically non existent in their game.

I, and many other DMs, do that as well. It all depends on what kind of players and how experienced your players are and the general tone you want to set for your adventure. You can clearly see (or hear) that Griffin just changes things as he goes along as to not encumber his players with calculations and additional worries.

Some tips I can give you if you are DMing (and you will recognize that Griffin puts these to practice in the podcast too), are:

  1. Understand your players. Talk to them so you can understand what they expect from the game and adjust your accordingly.
  2. Don't be afraid to just wing it. It's more important to keep the game FUN than to go all Rules Lawyer and spend several minutes looking up a certain RAW, or even to actually use a rule. However, if you are declaring that a rule is X, do not change it to Y later on.
  3. Fumble! If you think the characters/players effort was worthy, why should a low roll ruin a glorious dragon decapitation?
  4. Let the players have fun!! This is why Adventure Zone is so much fun to listen to. Griffin just openly asks the players what happened in X situation, or gives them great cues so they can lead the story themselves. Instead of saying "cool, the gerblin dies", ask the player that killed it HOW the goblin dies. Think Mortal Kombat's Fatalities!

TL;DR

There is no written AZ ruleset because most of it was done on the fly and to increase the level of fun.

As Gary Gygax once said: "A DM only rolls the dice because of the noise they make." and "The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don't need any rules."

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  • \$\begingroup\$ -1: While it would be nice to see this question answered, you haven't provided any backup for your answer whatsoever, and most of your answer is fairly irrelevant to the actual question. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Jun 26 '15 at 13:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ I did answer. There is no official AZ ruleset. Then I added my personal opinion. But I respect your decision. \$\endgroup\$ – Ricardo Giro Jun 26 '15 at 14:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ Your basis for your answer is pretty weak, though: you have listened to most of the podcasts, which means those you have not listened to might mentioned it, or there may have been other venues (website, blog, forum, whatever) where they described it. Adding addenda after answering the question, particularly when the answer itself isn’t very useful, is generally fine, but right now this reads like an excuse to share your opinions on DMing, only barely related to the question itself. Your addendum would be much more appreciated if you solidly answered (as in, backed up) the question, first. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jun 26 '15 at 14:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ Gygax also said (DMG1e p.37) "YOU CAN NOT HAVE A MEANINGFUL CAMPAIGN IF STRICT TIME RECORDS ARE NOT KEPT." (Keep in mind that bold was used for headers and defined terms, so all-caps was the strongest emphasis he had available.) If you're going to quote him in support of AZ-style, you should also point out where he loudly disagrees with the style. \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Mar 17 '16 at 22:34

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