Why do y’all hate tabletop RPGs?

Pouring a big ol’ cup of Amazon vitriol and sipping away.

Why do y’all hate tabletop RPGs?
Photo by Henry Hustava / Unsplash

I woke up interested in purchasing a tabletop roleplaying game (sometimes called “trots” by famous authors) and navigated over to The Devil’s Website to peruse the most popular offerings. As a well informed and critical buyer, I scoped the 1-star reviews for any red flags, such as too many dice or not enough cool art I can admire in the six-month gap between receiving the book and actually using it at the table.

Imagine my surprise to find that y’all really hate these games. Not all of you, obviously, but there are some real sickos out there standing on Dungeon & Dragons’ lawn, banging pots and pans over perceived slights. You’re calling Pathfinder’s house at midnight, muttering vague threats through stockings stuffed in a toilet paper tube. 

Like someone with nothing better to do, I rummaged through the heap of comments left by folks with nothing better to do and selected some of the best (read: most baffling) to share with you lot on Easter Monday. Jesus would say turn the other cheek, but the Pharisees weren’t posting literal diatribes underneath a digital storefront product entry in his era. What if God was a terminal poster? In that sense, this is my church. Everyone, take a seat and turn to Amazon dot com, forward slash, etc. etc.

Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition

Amazon user review for Dungeons & Dragons 5E, titled "Terrible".
Credit: Amazon

Let’s start with a classic, shall we? Decant a vintage 2015 blend of regressive politics and hyperbolic accusations. Our dude here claims that D&D 5E contained both “vapid anime porn” and “quasi-medieval superhero nonsense” but hates the result. We’ll whizz quickly by the assertion that Wizards of the Coast’s big books ever vacated the realm of high fantasy pastiche and ponder what they mean by “all the culture and history”?

Earlier editions reveled in bikini armor and player-focused eye candy, portraying femme creatures and heroes in poses that would make both a media scholar and orthopedic surgeon roll their eyes, while masculine figures could choose between grizzled action star and sub-human threat. If the universe is kind, D&D 2024 will bring this person out of the woodwork for a sequel review tilting at new windmills.

Amazon user review for Dungeons & Dragons 5E, titled "Demonic stuff".
Credit: Amazon

Speaking of grinding old battle axes, this reviewer uncorked some satanic panic in 2023 over what might be the most palatable and accommodating version of D&D yet. I genuinely love this comment. It reminds me of visiting old, rural grandparents whose bigotry has been somewhat blunted by time and aged body. This person is referencing some fascinating history that's well worth an afternoon rabbit hole dive, but concerns over summoning literal demons out of the pages of a sourcebook just don’t kick 40 years after society's initial cultural hysteria. 

Amazon user review for Dungeons & Dragons 5E, titled "THE DM LITERALLY SOLD US OUT"
Credit: Amazon

Reader, I’ll be very honest–I don’t know what the hell is going on here. Who is Fausto, and how did they ruin both this reviewer’s friendship and life? What damage did they wrought that would have our poor user reaching for a piece of 40 grit sandpaper? This was the best 1-star review amongst hundreds on the Amazon listing for the Player’s Handbook because it might as well be a quest prompt for all the intrigue it inspires. 

Pathfinder 2nd Edition

Amazon user review for Pathfinder 2E, titled "Not fun/Politics included."
Credit: Amazon

Sixty two people found “Not fun/Politics included” helpful, huh? You’ll never fend off Golarion’s hordes of lib-pilled adventurers with a reedy spine like that. Pathfinder 2E is supposed to be the more pure, true-to-form version of D&D’s deadly combat heyday–a shame its fans don’t measure up.

Amazon user review for Pathfinder 2E, titled "Mathfinder 2e: Almost a Parody of Itself."
Credit: Amazon

I have a confession: this review passed muster on the pun alone. Mathfinder 2e is a great joke, anonymized reviewer, zero notes. I hope you found your preferred level of crunch, but seeing as your first suggestion was D&D 5E excuse me if I don’t hold my breath.

Amazon User review for Pathfinder 2E, titled, "After all the reading, I guess 2e is for extreme masochistic type of combat oriented players".
This is only 1/5th of the review, which is glorious to behold in full. Credit: Amazon

Ah, effort posting. This vast collection of edits and addendums showcases one reviewer’s conversation with themself, a twitter thread lost in Amazon’s pipes. Homie missed out on Pathfinder 2E's playtesting phase but is keeping the spirit alive by nitpicking a litany of mechanical balance quibbles with everything from animal companions and skill feats to premade characters and challenge ratings. If only all criticism could be this meticulous yet ultimately harmless.

Alice is Missing

Amazon user review for Alice is Missing, titled, "I was triggered by all of the safeguards and ways to protect my fragile psyche."
Credit: Amazon

Alice is Missing must be this reviewer’s first encounter with safety tools in tabletop RPGs because they’ve reacted like they just found a snarl of hair in their appetizer. The bit about “real trauma” is disappointing, but I’m truly vexed by someone who decides to purchase a cult hit game like this without any exposure to some fundamental design that’s existed in the small press space for more than a decade. Sorry, y’all–this one’s less funny and more of an fascinating oddity.

Amazon user review for Alice is Missing, titled, "Unbelievably bad."
Credit: Amazon

[Hooting and hollering] Yeah, now we’re talking! Gimme more of this! Empty calorie hate directly in my cup [loud slurping noises].

Alternate joke: This is hardly a negative Amazon product review. It's hardly a review at all.

Traveller RPG

Amazon user review for Traveller RPG titled, "Vargs are Wolves, NOT Dogs."
Credit: Amazon

Marvel here at a reviewer who viewed Traveller’s most recent update to its rulebook not as an invasion of “woke PC cancel culture” ideas but instead… “Britishisms infecting a role playing game”. Astounding, beautiful, thank you for this refreshing change of pace. There’s a small hurt in these paragraphs that doesn’t quite win me over but does tug a pinch of sympathy out of my heart. Perhaps its the writer’s naked grudge over the lack of time travel support, or their staunch, aesthetic aversion to spacecraft (not starship) greebling. They get extra points for a self-appointed “zing” at designer Marc Miller, though it feels like 

The Witcher RPG

Amazon user review for The Witcher RPG, titled "Bad Game Design"
Credit: Amazon

The first sentence of this review for R. Talsorian Games’ The Witcher RPG could be lifted and applied to virtually any other book in the industry. They’ve created a platonic complaint that would pass muster in the Federal Bureau of Control from the titular 2019 video game. It’s nearly perfect.

Kudos where they’re due: it’s legitimately funny to imagine Geralt of Rivia showing up for a Witcher performance review and being placed on a probationary period for not slicing down ever Nekker or not fully sussing out why Jenny o' the Woods haunted that hamlet prior to ramming a silver sword through its head. Perhaps The Witcher RPG should have mechanics for workforce attrition and career coaching.