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3E/3.5 4E Simulationism: Did 3.5E Really Do That Good of a Job?

People complain about 4E crapping on simulationist style games. Did 3.5E really do that good of a job at this? IMHO the game really isn't suited for it, and just kind of paid lip service to it. The simulationist aspects even tended to get in the way of things a lot of the time.

Is 3.5E really that good of a simulationist game, or were people just trudging along with it because they couldn't find people to play Rolemaster, Gurps or HERO?
 

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PHGraves

First Post
The question should be: "Is 4E better than 3.5E for simulationists?"

Until 4E comes out, I doubt this question can be answered.
 

Psion

Adventurer
thecasualoblivion said:
People complain about 4E crapping on simulationist style games. Did 3.5E really do that good of a job at this? IMHO the game really isn't suited for it, and just kind of paid lip service to it. The simulationist aspects even tended to get in the way of things a lot of the time.

Is 3.5E really that good of a simulationist game, or were people just trudging along with it because they couldn't find people to play Rolemaster, Gurps or HERO?

Well, I don't subscribe to the forge notion that you can't mix styles or there aren't middle grounds.

I also don't subscribe to the all too common net notion that if there is anything a game doesn't simulate, it fails as a simulationist game. It's more important that topic of interest are simulated than playability be sacrificed in the name of simulating crap nobody cares about but net grousers (casts rueful looks at all the people who complain that D&D economics.)

Finally, don't fall into the trap of thinking that simulationism = simulation of reality.

But let's put it this way: the simulationist aspects that 3.5 addresses that 4e omits are telling in my lack of acceptance of the game. I have a certain minimum standard for simulation that 4e falls afoul. When things like the diagonal rule are waved off as acceptable sacrifices I have to say: yeah, 3.5 really does pay more attention to issues I find meaningful when it comes to simulationism.
 

FourthBear

First Post
I believe that in the development of 4e, the designers clearly had a vision of fantasy adventure to start with that they were interested in simulating with rules. Third Edition in its magic structure, more or less followed closely to the power progression found in the previous editions of D&D. When it comes to the power changes overall in level, I think 3e followed closely with 1e and 2e, with flight, invisibility, teleportation and similar abilities appearing roughly at the same levels where they did before. While changes in class structures, feats and skills and many other important changes in 3e made large differences in gameplay, I don't think they overall affected the implied worldview of a D&D world in the same way that, say, the existence of low level Detect Alignment spells do.

During 4e development, I think it's clear that the designers started with a vision of a world of sword and sorcery genre and then reworked the rules and specific examples to better match that. Or, at least, stretch the level zone where that kind of game is plausible out as far as possible. I suspect that Epic play will indeed involve things such as multiple flying PCs, straightforward resurrection and the frequent use of powers to avoid non-magical challenges, but I suspect the designers wanted to push that off.
 

hong

WotC's bitch
Psion said:
But let's put it this way: the simulationist aspects that 3.5 addresses that 4e omits are telling in my lack of acceptance of the game. I have a certain minimum standard for simulation that 4e falls afoul. When things like the diagonal rule are waved off as acceptable sacrifices I have to say: yeah, 3.5 really does pay more attention to issues I find meaningful when it comes to simulationism.

See, the trick is to shift from using seamless map transitions, to separate map scales for overland travel and combat.

Either that, or concentrate on the pressing issue of whether dragonborn females have breasts.
 

Roman

First Post
thecasualoblivion said:
People complain about 4E crapping on simulationist style games. Did 3.5E really do that good of a job at this? ]

3.5E may not have been a perfect game for simulationism, but it was good enough for me. Besides, I don't really want to DM fantasy PnP games other than D&D, because I like D&D tropes. Most of the departures from simulationism in 3.5E were at least relatively well-grounded in long D&D tradition and were thus easier to accept on inertia alone. 4E moves away from simulationism and does not seem to make even a token effort to support the playstyle, though the jury is still out on that one to some extent - for example, one of my main simulationist gripes about per encounter powers appears to have been addressed. The new edition is not only less simulationist, but also departs from simulationism in different ways that are less rooted in D&D past and thus more difficult to accept. And of course, 4E is ostensibly also abandoning many of those D&D tropes that make me want to DM D&D despite its simulationist shortcomings in the first place...

I should say I still remain undecided about whether to move to 4E (there are certainly aspects of the new edition that I do like, for example the lack of dead levels for all classes).
 

Derren

Hero
PHGraves said:
The question should be: "Is 4E better than 3.5E for simulationists?"

Until 4E comes out, I doubt this question can be answered.

Most of us "grognards" would be perfectly happy with 4E being "only" as good as 3.5 for simulationist gameplay. But with all the previews many get the impression that 4E will support this style of gaming less than 3E which means that we are forced to either change the definition of what we enjoy or look for another system which might be too simulationist or simply not the D&D we grew up with.
 

Steely Dan

First Post
Derren said:
Most of us "grognards" would be perfectly happy with 4E being "only" as good as 3.5 for simulationist gameplay. But with all the previews many get the impression that 4E will support this style of gaming less than 3E which means that we are forced to either change the definition of what we enjoy or look for another system which might be too simulationist or simply not the D&D we grew up with.

I've said it before; just play with whatever game/system/edition etc floats your boat.

I never thought I would say this, but after DMing 3.5 consistently for over 2 years, I would rather play, well certainly DM, any other edition of the game at this point.

…Fighting Man here I come!
 

thecasualoblivion said:
People complain about 4E crapping on simulationist style games. Did 3.5E really do that good of a job at this? IMHO the game really isn't suited for it, and just kind of paid lip service to it. The simulationist aspects even tended to get in the way of things a lot of the time.
...and that is why 3E is more simulationist: 4E kicks simulationism curb in favor of fun. Math is hard so wacha gonna do? 3E chose 1,2,1,2 diagnals, 4E chose fun. It's not a gamebreaker but there are lots of instances where the simulation or fun choice has to be made and from what I've heard, 4E chooses fun every time. Which is cool for all the fun lovers, not so cool for people who miss the simulationism.

Is 3.5E really that good of a simulationist game, or were people just trudging along with it because they couldn't find people to play Rolemaster, Gurps or HERO?
It's not a great but at least it tries. I'm happy to play games without super simulationism but Im aprehensive about how 4E is shunting it for fun in every case. I've played in such games before and I don't personaly enjoy the tyrany of fun.
 

hong

WotC's bitch
"The Tyranny of Fun" would make a pissy name for a rock band, but is perhaps not too bad for a student politician manifesto.
 

Mustrum_Ridcully

Adventurer
Malleus Arianorum said:
...and that is why 3E is more simulationist: 4E kicks simulationism curb in favor of fun. Math is hard so wacha gonna do? 3E chose 1,2,1,2 diagnals, 4E chose fun. It's not a gamebreaker but there are lots of instances where the simulation or fun choice has to be made and from what I've heard, 4E chooses fun every time. Which is cool for all the fun lovers, not so cool for people who miss the simulationism.
You mean you don't like fun?

Off course you don't. You find fun in simulationismn (at least in amounts that are not going too far).
Question is: Can the fun derived from the "game fun" of D&D 4 be so high that the loss in "simulationismn fun" is worth it?
Answer is: How the hell am I supposed to know? ;-) Everyone has to judge for himself. Possibly only by actually using the system.

---

The moment a game system
- Uses ablative hit points
- or lacks a skill system
It turns into something less well suited for the simulation of a game world. Abstract hit points don't tell you what they simulate in any kind of details important for simulating the world (Am I bleeding already? Did I dodge this blow?). Without a skill system, how do you model people being good/bad or becoming better at a task?
 

BryonD

Hero
Malleus Arianorum said:
...and that is why 3E is more simulationist: 4E kicks simulationism curb in favor of fun. Math is hard so wacha gonna do? 3E chose 1,2,1,2 diagnals, 4E chose fun. It's not a gamebreaker but there are lots of instances where the simulation or fun choice has to be made and from what I've heard, 4E chooses fun every time. Which is cool for all the fun lovers, not so cool for people who miss the simulationism.

It's not a great but at least it tries. I'm happy to play games without super simulationism but Im aprehensive about how 4E is shunting it for fun in every case. I've played in such games before and I don't personaly enjoy the tyrany of fun.
I know what you mean, but I'm on the 4e side. I want fun.
I've seen other people playing 3E and they appear to be having fun, but I know they can't be. That hard math you talked about rings so true to me. I think I'm pretty smart, but 3E just requires to much thinking for me. I kinda suspect that those other guys are just pretending to have fun.
 

Walking Dad

First Post
Malleus Arianorum said:
...and that is why 3E is more simulationist: 4E kicks simulationism curb in favor of fun. Math is hard so wacha gonna do? 3E chose 1,2,1,2 diagnals, 4E chose fun. It's not a gamebreaker but there are lots of instances where the simulation or fun choice has to be made and from what I've heard, 4E chooses fun every time. Which is cool for all the fun lovers, not so cool for people who miss the simulationism.

It's not a great but at least it tries. I'm happy to play games without super simulationism but Im aprehensive about how 4E is shunting it for fun in every case. I've played in such games before and I don't personaly enjoy the tyrany of fun.


just don't use squares. use:


;)


BTW Reach in 3.5 didn't use 1-2-1. Is inconsitensy more simulationist?
 

Majoru Oakheart

Adventurer
I know that I found the simulationist aspects of 3e to get in the way all the time. I couldn't craft a story because there was always some rule that said it couldn't be done that way. It always ended up making one player way too powerful but it HAD to be that way, it was the only way it made "sense".

Had to make sure everyone packed enough food for their journey and made them roll their saving throws against the effects of the heat of the desert every hour for the 3 week journey. If they took damage, I needed to carefully track the damage they took and the spells expended to heal it. And at which hour of the day it happened in to make sure the spells were cast at the right time in case they came across a random encounter later in the day.

And really, I wanted the focus of my adventure to be exploring the tomb of the ancient Lich who lived in the center of the desert and dealing with his traps and minions.

4th Edition has taught me to focus my game on what I want to focus it on and not to worry about the small details of simulation.
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
As usual, Psion says it best:

Psion said:
But let's put it this way: the simulationist aspects that 3.5 addresses that 4e omits are telling in my lack of acceptance of the game. I have a certain minimum standard for simulation that 4e falls afoul. When things like the diagonal rule are waved off as acceptable sacrifices I have to say: yeah, 3.5 really does pay more attention to issues I find meaningful when it comes to simulationism.

I'll add to it that I want to suspend disbelief, but 4e's explanations leave me hollow.

You make something too simple and too abstract or too unrelated to some sort of reality, and you do have one of the problems of videogames, without any of the sweet graphics.
 

Lizard

First Post
thecasualoblivion said:
People complain about 4E crapping on simulationist style games. Did 3.5E really do that good of a job at this? IMHO the game really isn't suited for it, and just kind of paid lip service to it. The simulationist aspects even tended to get in the way of things a lot of the time.

Is 3.5E really that good of a simulationist game, or were people just trudging along with it because they couldn't find people to play Rolemaster, Gurps or HERO?

It did a *better* job than 4e seems likely to do.

This is not the same as saying it did a *good* job.

Also, because so many people played 3x, there was a lot more time spent coming up with fanwank simulationist explanations for game-balance rules, allowing it to seem more simulationist than it actually was.
 

mmu1

First Post
I really think it bears repeating because of how often it's misrepresented: No one on the 3E side really claims that 3.5 was the ultimate in simulationist gaming, or that they necessarily enjoy playing a purely simulationist system best.

I just want a little simulationism in my high fantasy gaming - enough that if I see something happen, I can make sense of it within the "physics" of the world. (unless it's something extremely alien or unusual) I want the characters and their abilities to make at least some sense outside of a combat encounter. And I don't want gamist class balance if it's to be achieved by making all classes more similar and neutering magic so that it feels no more powerful than any other tool. (even though I only rarely play casters)
 

JahellTheBard

First Post
I know what you mean, but I'm on the 4e side. I want fun.
I've seen other people playing 3E and they appear to be having fun, but I know they can't be. That hard math you talked about rings so true to me. I think I'm pretty smart, but 3E just requires to much thinking for me. I kinda suspect that those other guys are just pretending to have fun.

Just pretending to have fun??? :eek:
Hope you are joking .... why someone should 'pretend to have fun?

I do not say that someone can say '3E just requires to much thinking for me' , so will be happy for something that is not requiring this terrible effort ... but some other people can have fun thinking at what they do, not just throwing dices ... is a matter of taste ... anyone will chose the flavour he preferes .. surelly i'm not for a D&D edition where thinking is out ...
 

mmu1

First Post
JahellTheBard said:
Just pretending to have fun??? :eek:
Hope you are joking .... why someone should 'pretend to have fun?

I do not say that someone can say '3E just requires to much thinking for me' , so will be happy for something that is not requiring this terrible effort ... but some other people can have fun thinking at what they do, not just throwing dices ... is a matter of taste ... anyone will chose the flavour he preferes .. surelly i'm not for a D&D edition where thinking is out ...


...yeah, I'm pretty sure he's being satirical. ;)
 

BryonD

Hero
mmu1 said:
I really think it bears repeating because of how often it's misrepresented: No one on the 3E side really claims that 3.5 was the ultimate in simulationist gaming, or that they necessarily enjoy playing a purely simulationist system best.

I just want a little simulationism in my high fantasy gaming - enough that if I see something happen, I can make sense of it within the "physics" of the world. (unless it's something extremely alien or unusual) I want the characters and their abilities to make at least some sense outside of a combat encounter. And I don't want gamist class balance if it's to be achieved by making all classes more similar and neutering magic so that it feels no more powerful than any other tool. (even though I only rarely play casters)
Thanks. It is good to have this repeated.

It isn't a matter of perfection. It is a matter of picking the game that is simply closer to the goal.
 

Halloween Horror For 5E

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