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Thread: Gygax on Realism in Game Design
Friday, 7th September, 2012, 02:39 AM #51
Myrmidon (Lvl 10)
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Friday, 7th September, 2012, 02:42 AM #52
Grandfather of Assassins (Lvl 19)
First, I think hit points might be a special case, where the default can support either meat or metagame (but then some other things that push one way or another, like "death's door" rules or martial healing, might have to be flagged as optional).
Second, I think there is a limit to how flexible the system can be and still be a good system. Some design choices have to be made and their consequences worn, I think.
I play 4e as a light narrativist ("story now") game. @Campbell and @Manbearcat seem to play similarly. @Ratskinner seems to have a different take on narrativist play from mine, but I think can play in that style using 4e. @Balesir plays it as light gamist ("step on up") game - mostly about showing off build + skill with that build. @LostSoul plays a houseruled 4e as a somewhat more Gygaxian gamist system (eg strategic resource management is important in LostSoul's game). @S'mon plays a more simulationist 4e. Then there are other 4e players on these boards like @Hussar, @Neonchameleon, @AbdulAlhazred and others whose style seems a little different again (maybe high concept sim? If I've mischaracterised anyone's style I apologise, but I'm trying my best to work from my memory of posts and threads).
Even within my play group, there is one player - of the paladin - who plays almost the whole time in 1st person and actor stance, while another - the player of the wizard-invoker - who has said that one thing he likes about 4e is that it makes it easy for him to play his character rather than be his character. So the game can be played from mulitple player approaches too.
None of that contradicts your claim that you couldn't make 4e fit your style. But there is more than one style that is not yours!
Friday, 7th September, 2012, 02:59 AM #53
Thaumaturgist (Lvl 9)
Well first, I'd like to point out that Gary always strongly discouraged people from houseruling D&D heavily. And second, most people play AD&D 2E.
And Advance Dungeons and Dragons Second Edition was not under the control of Gygax. Gygax parted ways with TSR in a fairly hostile and combative blowup, the details of which don't really have to be gotten into, but suffice to say he later published another gaming system that TSR bought out and buried, simply to keep Gygax from publishing anything.
Gygax may have been the father of D&D, but by the time AD&D was truly hitting its stride he had nothing to do with it anymore.
Friday, 7th September, 2012, 03:46 AM #54
Thaumaturgist (Lvl 9)
Still, I believe that his distinctive style and singular approach was vital in helping D&D become a social phenomenon. People were inspired to challenge him, thus resulting in a plethora of houseruled games. I doubt that D&D would have survived if players had stuck to Gary's way instead of striving to find their own way. He may have wanted to bring D&D to a point of stability, but his real legacy was to inspire the gaming community to keep it in flux, and therefore, alive.
Friday, 7th September, 2012, 04:07 AM #55
Guide (Lvl 11)
A few things on my (and my groups) playstyle:
- Your depiction is accurate of my own tastes and therefore my games and that of my group. Because of this, I am certain that "light narrativist" play is fully supported by 4e.
- Our game drifts toward "light narrativist married to gamist" off and again. So I'm certain it supports that playstyle.
- I've run dozens of combat sims on my own in order to master the tactical interface of the system (in order to provide the fastest, climactic and most dynamic and interesting combat possible for my players) so I'm certain that strident gamist "step on up" is supported. "Encounters" obviously bears this out as well.
- I've run long term "Appalachian Trail" strategic-resource-attrition, extended Skill Challenges by way of leveraging Disease Track mechanics...so I'm certain that this portion of Gygaxian play is supported.
Regarding my players' interests:
My players (3 primary) are all over the map. They love Call of Cthulu, Classic Traveler, Rolemaster, GURPS, Flashing Blades, All prior iterations of D&D. I would say that two of the three are first and foremost ardent "Right to Dream"-ers...but we've made 4e work...and we've had our best experience to date. And they certainly have enjoyed 4e's mechanics that let them actualize their favored archetypes and their PC-build resources that allow them to enter Author and Director stance and express their favored archetype within the fiction. The 3rd player is new to gaming. She is a Chemist by formal training and career. Her everyday life is grounded in hard, physical science. Her mind is very much organized in a "left brain" fashion (logical, sequential, analytical, looks at parts rather than whole). One would think that she might potentially be turned off by 4e if it is so utterly threatening to a Simulationist agenda. The opposite is true. She loves the system and leverages each of its moving parts to bring her character to life within the fiction.
I can understand that some folks may not be able to reproduce their playstyles toward the end of "the most fun possible." However, in light of the above, I just cannot accept the premise that 4e allows only the most narrow form of play and excludes all others.</snip></snip>
Friday, 7th September, 2012, 05:01 AM #56
The Grand Druid (Lvl 20)
Friday, 7th September, 2012, 05:14 AM #57
Lama (Lvl 13)
Friday, 7th September, 2012, 05:24 AM #58
Defender (Lvl 8)
I think that anti-realism rants tend to miss the most important parts of why realism can be important to people. D&D is a decision making game, you need to know what framework you are working in, in order to make the appropriate decisions.
Every game needs a baseline that says "this is how you can expect things to work". Take for instance a Hong Kong action movie setting, those experienced with the genre would know what to expect their characters can and cannot do and what the consequences would be. The problem here is, that not everybody knows those expectations, or holds them to be exactly the same.
This is where realism is useful, everybody knows the basics of how the real world works. It is a useful baseline to say "if I do this, then I can expect that to be the result".
Realsim is not the enemy of immersion and roleplaying, jarring uncertainty is.
Lets take a few examples:
1) The bad guy has a crossbow pointed at my chest, he has the drop on me and plans to take me prisoner. I need to make a choice as to what I should do. In a realistic genre game, I better do what he says or I am a dead man. In Gygax's games, I just go "bah, he will only hit for 1d8+3, that is barely a scratch, who needs a plan!".
For all of Gary's ranting about the evils of realism, it clearly leads to a more engaging, story driving moment here.
2) I wish to make a hastey retreat, or chase a villian. There is a 50' cliff I must get down in order to do so. In a realistic genre, I try to scale the cliff as quickly and safely as possible, fearing grim death if I fail.
In a Gygax game, I just look at my HP, compare them to the damage I will take from a fall and decide to jump.
In this instance, it is not reality that is the enemy of fun here.
3) My fellow player is crashing to the ground as his fly spell is disrupted. Do I grab a rope and dive off the cliff hoping to catch him and save the day? I'm playing a realistic game, it is obvious the physics of that won't work, so I just stand by and watch him plummet to his death.
In a Gygax game I grab a rope in one hand and swing down Erol Flynn style and scoop him up.
In this instance, reality is indeed the enemy of fun. Even more so though, uncertainly is. As I stand at the top of that cliff, I need to know what I can expect from the world. I need to understand cause and effect. I need to know what the DM expects of me. If the realistic option has been taken in the previous 2 examples, a DM should not be too shocked to find the PC just letting thier companion fall in this example.
So as you can see, I'm not pushing a pro-reality agenda here. Realism is just a useful tool to set the groundwork for decision making. The solution really seems to be communication built up over time between the DM and group.
In my games, I would like to think that the PCs can tell the effects of their actions by considering "what will this do to the story being told?" generally they will take the realistic options, but they seem to sense the difference between gameist-stupidity and the time for heroic action.
Friday, 7th September, 2012, 05:53 AM #59
Grandmaster of Flowers (Lvl 18)
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Friday, 7th September, 2012, 05:58 AM #60
Thaumaturgist (Lvl 9)
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