A GMing telling the players about the gameworld is not like real life

Sadras

Explorer
Agree BitD is more realistic? Nope. It doesn't have to do any of the above -- it's just possible to do without adding any new mechanics.

There's a dufference between process and resultant fictions. "Realism," to me, can only be judged at the fiction, not the process. However, all of your arguments so far about adding "realism" have been about adding additional processes. I'm pointing out that process is not required for "realism."
Okay then there is something I'm not understanding about BitD. How does one arrive at results of broken or damaged weapons, sucking chest wounds, minor scratches, and many other interesting and "realistic" outcomes of a fight with deadly weapons?

I don't know what "realism" means in En5ider ad copy, because, as this thread shows, it's highly situational. En5ider also seems to favor 'new processes' to increase randomly applied negative consequences (in the specific case weapon and armor damage?). I do not agree this necessarily fits my definition of "realism" although it appears to fit yours. Hence the argument.
Is it not more internally consistent, more coherent, more believable that negative consequences can/may arise in weapons and armour damage particularly when in use?
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
@Maxperson, you have said that no mechanic yields 100% unrealistic, whereas some mechanic yields a step towards realism however minute the step. I believe you also mentioned the mechanic needs to be designed with some competency and honesty (integrity).
Out of interest how do you view the fumble on a 1? Is this a step towards realism?
Yep. In combats, people slip, swords break or get dropped, etc. So fumbles are a step forward, even if they happen too often at 5%. At 5% though, the chances to fumble are still too unrealistic, so at my table we have instituted a system where as you level, the chances to fumble go down. Even at low levels, a simple dex check at DC 10 stops the fumble and it becomes just a miss, so starting at level one fumbles are much lower than 5%. At level 6 they become even lower as the dex check drops to 5. At level 11 you only miss on a fumble, not fall down or anything else. At level 16 you can no longer even fumble as your skill has just become so great that the odds cannot be handled by d20 rolls.

I'm not concerned with any math behind the realism increases, because it's not about trying to mirror reality. Only make things a bit more realistic. Too much realism just isn't fun, so as long as the new rule increases realism and is fun, we keep it. Otherwise we ditch it or don't engage it all.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I don't agree because this seems like a binary viewpoint of combat defense that evaluates realism in terms of whether a system has an AC mechanic or not. It's overly simplistic, lacking scope of how other games perform a similar function with different mechanics. Some games use counter combat rolls. The DM rolls (defense/combat) and the player rolls (defense/combat), and the success of the attack is in the difference. Is that more or less realistic than AC? Other games have the player roll defense, whether using dice polls or defeating a static difficulty number. Is that more realistic than AC? Many systems use armor as damage absorption/reduction. Is that more or less realistic than AC? I can't say for certain, because this does not fundamentally strike me as a debate on realism, but, rather, a debate on gaming preferences and aesthetics rather than some silly, vacuous notion of realism being on a scale, which unsurprisingly seems to having moving goalposts and arbitrary standards. The "realism scale" has as much "meat" as talking about the invisible hand of the market, the leviathan of the state, the state of nature, or the social contract of governance.
This and the response from [MENTION=16814]Ovinomancer[/MENTION] are Red Herrings.

It's irrelevant which one is more realistic. You can't point to a different system that adds realism to combat and ask "Which is more realistic?" as a reason to answer that 5e's system is not realistic. It's just a deflection. Even though Blades in the Dark has a different system that adds realism to its game, 5e's combat system still adds realism to the game. Which system is more realistic is irrelevant.

IMHO, "Realism" has more to do with the game fiction than the mechanics, though the mechanics may attempt to support and reinforce that fiction.
Realism has to do with both the game fiction AND the mechanics. Where there are mechanics and those mechanics interact with the game fiction, those mechanics must match the game fiction or you get nonsense. If you have a bow in the game fiction and use it, the mechanics must allow for ranged attacks and shooting.

I think that cultural tradition has largely given the AC mechanic a post hoc justification with fiction. It's "normal" because it's what most are used to experiencing in D&D. D&D often gets a free pass when it comes to how its mechanics and fiction are conjoined (e.g., hit points, saving throws, ability scores, etc.). Moreover, I don't think that it's necessarily about more or less realism. In fact, I have heard many YouTube personalities (who argue about historical combat and the like) get in a heated huff about how D&D does combat and AC, perceiving it to be unrealistic.

This is why I don't necessarily find the "realistic" vs. "unrealistic" debate particularly useful. Generally the more helpful debate pertains to those other gaming preferences/intent, particularly when evaluating, designing, or selecting an RPG for play. What genre are you trying to simulate? How would you like your combat to feel? What choices do you want your players to make? Etc.
Unrealistic, though, does not mean that there is no realism there at all. When people get into a huff about how combat is unrealistic, they are just saying, "Combat in D&D doesn't have as much realism as I like."
 

Sepulchrave II

Adventurer
Notions of realism are inapplicable in TTRPGs, the modi of which pertain to shared imaginary spaces. I’m not prepared to casually absolve someone of using the term realism just because “we understand what they mean by it.” It’s still an inappropriate word.

Whether something possesses verismilitude or even plausibility is subjective and arbitrary. Verisimilitude does not require adding mechanics for weapon degradation, tracking PTSD or taking a sh*t in the morning. Yet, for all the talk of “realism” I’ve still to see any suggestions for implementation, beside adding more mechanical subsystens to track and consider.

And I’ve yet to see any suggestions of how this “realism” is measured. What is the metric by which we gauge whether something is more “real” or not?

Who determines whether a “weapon degradation” mechanic is more important than a “taking a sh*t in the morning” mechanic? Why? What criteria do they use to judge whether a given mechanic sufficiently increases “realism” or is overly burdensome for the small increase in “realism” which it affords? How do they make this determination?

Finally: this exchange is nonsense. All talk of “realism” in D&D is risible in the face of core action, AC, hit point, recovery and spell mechanics. They are so fundamentally gamist that any efforts to improve “realism” outside of them is doomed to appear contrived, subjective and arbitrary. Which it is. If you try to French polish a cracked, rustic table it remains a cracked, rustic table. Plus, it now looks absurd.
 

Aldarc

Adventurer
This and the response from [MENTION=16814]Ovinomancer[/MENTION] are Red Herrings.
It isn't a red herring in the context of Sadras's inquiry, Max, which is what both Ovinomancer and I are specifically replying to. We were asked whether we agreed with their position and then asked a follow-up question to explain ourselves if we disagreed. Please stop trying to argue from informal logic buzzwords.

Realism has to do with both the game fiction AND the mechanics. Where there are mechanics and those mechanics interact with the game fiction, those mechanics must match the game fiction or you get nonsense. If you have a bow in the game fiction and use it, the mechanics must allow for ranged attacks and shooting.
Please note Max that I said that "'Realism' has more to do with the game fiction than the mechanics" and not "'Realism only has to do with the game fiction and nothing to do with the mechanics." I am aware that both are involved.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
This and the response from [MENTION=16814]Ovinomancer[/MENTION] are Red Herrings.

It's irrelevant which one is more realistic. You can't point to a different system that adds realism to combat and ask "Which is more realistic?" as a reason to answer that 5e's system is not realistic. It's just a deflection. Even though Blades in the Dark has a different system that adds realism to its game, 5e's combat system still adds realism to the game. Which system is more realistic is irrelevant.



Realism has to do with both the game fiction AND the mechanics. Where there are mechanics and those mechanics interact with the game fiction, those mechanics must match the game fiction or you get nonsense. If you have a bow in the game fiction and use it, the mechanics must allow for ranged attacks and shooting.



Unrealistic, though, does not mean that there is no realism there at all. When people get into a huff about how combat is unrealistic, they are just saying, "Combat in D&D doesn't have as much realism as I like."
Apparently, Max's term for an argument he doesn't understand is "Red Herring."

Max, my BitD example showcases that there are things you've defined as more "realistic" that can occur with no mechanical system added to do so. The point is that these "realistic" things come to be in the game fiction, not that there's more or less realism than in other systems. I mean, my argument all along is that "realism" is really just a cover for arbitrary preference, so why would I ever argue some system has more arbitrary preference than others? That would be entirely up to specific participants if it did or not.

Nope, instead my point was to showcase a game that adds these "realistic" outcomes solely based on a "GM decides" model. You fail a desperate Wreck attempt on a trio of higher tier cutthroats and I'm well wirhin my GM rights to assign a level 3 Harm described as a 'sucking chest wound.' Future efforts will require that this fiction be acknowledged (you'll have to burn Stress just to act, for instance, and anything you do that would ve affected by a sucking chest wound would have additional complications). I could also assign this as a result of a failed check to make a long leap between buildings over a spiked fence, with the added bit of maybe you're also impaled on the fence. The mechanics involved are the same. Just as they would be for armor damage or weapon damage.

Your focus has been on adding new mechanical systems or modifying existing ones to achieve "realism". That's not the only way, which goes toward "realism" being more of a subjective preference rather than an objective state. And, to rehome in on the OP, GM decides is no more realistic a method than using a mechanical subsystem. I've just flipped it from the OP so that now you're arguing using a nechanic and I'm arguing using GM decides. Funny, that.
 

estar

Explorer
My search for the right party, to run or to play with, continues...
A little late to the party :D

At this point I refereed campaigns in a variety of circumstances, with friend fact to face and online. At game store where anybody can drop in from week to week, at conventions with total strangers. One off sessions like the one described by BrendanBedrock and so on.

To make what I do apply across all these groups equally well, I roleplaying and ask my player to roleplay in first person. if somebody says "I have Rurik the fighter go and talk to the shopkeeper and buy a sword." I would look the player in the eye (or with VOIP) say in first person "How can I help you?" And cox the player into responding in first person.

Now to be crystal clear this is not the same as acting or doing the funny voice. It sufficient to be just yourself with the abilities and knowledge of the character.

This is a first crucial step because what it does for most is engage their natural social instinct as people. A point that crystallized for me in observing how people play in LARPS. In a LARP with its emphasis on live action everything is first person.

Once the player's social instincts are engaged, it adds clarity for the players over what to do in whatever situation they find themselves.

Second, is that I am only human as a referee. I only have so much bandwidth physically and verbally. Out of all the myriad possibilities inherent to the entire world of a setting, I can only focus on a few things at a time. But what things? Well the things that a) players are interested in focusing on. b) things that could impact the players positively or negatively and finally c) things that are of potential interest.

The problem is that the experience as a referee and as a person has an outsized impact on doing the above. Because you have to pay attention to players, understand what they like, and what things you could come up that would work with that yet remain consistent with the setting.

And the it often naunced. For example you can't just always tailor things all the time. Most players pick up on that and as a result the the world of the setting starts to feel artificial. But you can't just use random tables and random ideas all the time as most will feel they are in a funhouse all the time and their choices have little meaning as nothing makes sense.

The path lies in balancing all these elements and juggling ideas which can only be learned through repeated trial and error with a variety of individuals.

Back in the early 80s when I started doing all this, I certainly didn't get right. But what got me to where i am now, is the willingness to do go with whatever the players wanted to do as long as it made sense in terms of the setting and character (which is pretty broad). And recognizing that I had to try different things with different people.

So my first campaigns could have been better but still a fun time was had by all.

Earlier in the thread there was discussion about the how real thing actually are. I can tell you that it varies from player to player. What immersive for one players is not always the same as the next players. It not a huge range but enough that you need to learn a variety of technique so it works with your group.


Wrapping it up

To recap it about having everybody roleplay in first person, paying attention to what they like, and having a toolkit of experience and technique to rely on to figure out what works. While keeping an open mind as to what the players want to do as their characters but also willing to mix things up to make it feel more organic.

Finally a example.

Let take the worse case people often paint for sandbox campaigns or campaigns with a rich background. We have a group that has not interested in character backgrounds. Their roleplaying can be summing as "themselves with the abilities of their character." Primarily they are focused on being THE badasses and they optimize a lot.

So for this group, I will insist on first person roleplaying even when it themselves with the abilities of the character. I will do it passively through example and coaching but if it doesn't sink, explicitly. Otherwise I am not interested in continue to referee this campaign.

I rarely have an issue with this except for very shy players. In which case I will accommodate.

So the group starts the campaign with no history and no past. Which is fine as prior to the start I would have developed a sense of what they are interested in. Which is often NOT being murder hobos which is the typical stereotype. The last group that was like this, liked how I detailed the magic item economy so their first adventures were about working for magic item collectors and finding magic items. All the while acting like badassess about it.

The problem that most have with this how would this work in a setting. Luckily for me, I played enough LARPS, and MMORPGs to see how this plays out with groups interacting with other groups. It not unlike the interaction of urban or biker gangs. Or going back into history how warbands and nomadic clans dealt with one another.

So despite the lack of a prior history, the group will become enmeshed in their own slice of the setting with rivals, and allies, with complications born of the hooks and leads they do or don't follow. With consequences born of the choices they made or not made. Because I interacted with these type of players more than a few times, I know what they find fun and what they don't. Thus make sure for every complications I introduce, that there something else that is of interest.

And done right it doesn't feel artificial. Because in life we deal with the unexpected and seek out and focus on that which interest us. Sometime our live is dominated by what we focus on. Other time it feels like it all about the unexpected.

So that my couple of cents on the subject.

Rob Conley
Bat in the Attic Games
http://batintheattic.blogspot.com/
 
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lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
Notions of realism are inapplicable in TTRPGs, the modi of which pertain to shared imaginary spaces. I’m not prepared to casually absolve someone of using the term realism just because “we understand what they mean by it.” It’s still an inappropriate word.
Wow! Okay, you must be fun at parties. What, do you normally expect that people crave your absolution?

Look, there is a desire to have some needed room for discussion, and this ain't it. It's roughly akin to someone quoting Drax from Avengers:IW ("I've mastered the ability of standing so incredibly still, that I become invisible to the eye") then someone else immediately goes into a long diatribe about how they aren't still, and can't be, because they are actually moving because they are on the Earth, which is moving, and in the solar system, which is moving, and in the Galaxy, which is moving, and there is no such thing as ever being still AND I WILL NOT ABSOLVE YOU OF USING AN INAPPROPRIATE WORD.

Yeah, don't ever be that guy.

On this realism thing, it's not like this is a new debate, it's just the same old tired discussion with new language; no one is re-inventing the wheel, here. I mean, c'mon- the 1e DMG, in the very opening, discusses "realism-simulation school" v. "game school" (and D&D falls in the latter camp). To quote EGG: "For fun, excitement, and captivating fantasy, AD&D is unsurpassed. As a realistic simulation of things from the
realm of make-believe, or even as a reflection of medieval or ancient warfare or culture or society, it can be deemed only a dismal failure." DM's Guide, p. 9.

That said, the amount of effort and energy spent fighting over generally-recognized terms is beyond bizarre; there are few, if any, people who can misunderstand what @Maxperson and @Sadras are discussing, unless they only wish to argue about arguing and are fighting definitions that are commonly understood (YOU CAN NEVER STAND STILL!). Sure, we can go all Gusdorf or Wittgenstein on this, but why?

I mean, I think I know why; because somehow, the idea of "realism" is one that people naturally fight against; it is not enough to simply say, as was written forty (40!) years ago- yeah, I know what realism is, and I'm just not doing it. Now people have to turn themselves into pretzels by arguing against commonly-understood words. "Yes, I know you said that the fire engine is 'red,' but communication is imperfect. My mental image of red and your can never be exactly the same, and red itself is a concept that covers all sorts of colors, from mahogany to crimson, and since language is imprecise, you cannot possibly call the fire engine red."

But yes, most people understand the following when someone says, within the context of a typical TTRPG, that something is "more realistic" :

That it allows for {something} that more closely mirrors {real life or the period in which the TTRPG is occurring}. And that the absence of this allowance (rule, subsystem, etc.) would mean that this TTRPG less closely mirrors {real life or the period in which the TTRPG is occurring}.

So, for example, in AD&D (1e), the inclusion of item saving throws (p. 80) makes the game slightly more realistic, as it would make the game more closely mirror something that happens in real life (the possible destruction of items from effects).

This shouldn't be a difficult concept. Most people who aren't fighting it understand it instinctively. That said, there are a number of common issues with realism in TTRPGs which mean that realism is not a "good thing" in and of itself*:

1. Realism isn't perfection. Let's look at that saving thrown table on p. 80 again; is it accurate? No. Of course not. It is an approximation of effects, that (TBH) are numbers that are completely pulled out of EGG's posterior. However, and this is the key factor, does it make the game more closely mirror reality than the absence would? Yes, it does. I think this example was raised by @Aldarc with the Disease axample (DMG, pp. 13-14). Do the disease chances and tables mimic real life spread of diseases? No. Of course not. But do they make the game slight more "realistic" (in terms of having some provision for disease that is otherwise absent) than without them? Yes. The idea that perfect is the enemy of more realistic is a bizarre one, as the only perfectly realistic system is the one you are in right now- and AFAIK, it's not a game (although people debate that, maybe this is just a really good simulation).

2. Realism isn't always good. So, this should go without saying (although, again, this has been said and repeated for more than 40 years), but it here it goes. When I go and see Star Wars (for example), do you know what I like? PEW PEW PEW battles in space. Is that realistic? NO. Of course not (and I hope I don't need to explain why on this website). But it's fun and awesome, and I don't Neil DeGrasse Tyson telling harshing on it. It's the same with games- you know that disease table I mentioned above? More realistic? Sure, why not. Have I ever used in in decades of playing? No, of course not. It's stupid and unnecessarily complicated, without adding much to the game experience (IMO). To use a common example- no one cares about tracking the bowel movements of the PCs (I hope?). Could you make the game more realistic by accounting for that? Sure. But why? Different games, and different levels of "realism" within a game, appeal to different people; to use D&D as an example, some people enjoy resource management, tracking water and food and encumbrance, while others just write down "water skin, two weeks iron rations" when they first create a character and that's it until the character dies.

3. Realism is context-dependent. Most TTRPGs (but not all) do not take place in our world. Some are fantasy (magic), some are science fiction (Arthur C. Clarke, sufficiently high technology is indistinguishable from magic), and so on. Which is why the issues of realism are necessarily going to be dependent on the context of that particular TTRPG. And this is where it gets the most tricky, because once you move past the issues that are relatable (those issues in which the game world and our world are similar) it gets tricky. I mean, how realistic are the Vampires, or the Faster-than-light drive? What does it mean to even ask that question? That's where issues of internal consistency within the gameworld itself are usually a substitute for normal questions of realism.

Anyway, I'm just throwing this out there because I was reading through these conversations (most not quite as dismissive as the one I replied to) and I tend to be baffled when people can't agree on terms; arguing about arguing tend to detract from substantive discussions.

After all, I think that most people here can grok when something is more or less realistic; the interesting discussion is whether or not that is a good thing. (FWIW, I tend to fall on the "more realism tends to detract from the TTRPG experience", but that's me.) ;)




*Which is where I think the issue arises; in other words, people believe that if they acknowledge that there can be a generally shared understanding of what realism is, then someone would say, "HA. REALISM IS ALWAYS BETTER. I WIN." Which is not the case.
 
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estar

Explorer
[MENTION=5636]estar[/MENTION] Man, I do love walls of text :) gonna take some time to read, digest it and reply, though.
One additional thing, I am the Rob Conley that Brendan mentioned. I just realized my handle on Enworld doesn't make that connection clear.
 

hawkeyefan

Explorer
Thank you! At least someone is willing to accept the plain word, without requiring people to jump through hoops and thereby allowing the conversation to reach the next plateau.


Yeah, I don't find that style of conversation helpful or sincere.
Yeah, I'm all for trying to understand and discuss intent rather than get caught up in semantics, but there are times when precise language can certainly matter.

I think that when it comes to people describing mechanics they've added to their games as being added in order to be "more realistic", that's fine....I get what they mean. When they make such a comment, I'm not going to correct their use of the word realistic.

But when they try to compare their system to another and claim "more realism" because of said mechanic, I don't think that's at all accurate.

Apologies, I haven't been following your entire post run with Max, could you please provide me some reasons or an example why you think said statement is untrue.

EDIT: I believe I have thought of one - if the mechanic was badly designed, then sure it might prove that exclusion of such mechanic would make more sense (be more real), given its terrible design. For instance the old fumbles on a 1, which means a fighter with more attacks in a round is prone to more fumbles than one with fewer. Is this what you had in mind?
Not really what I had in mind, but it can serve as an example.

I don't think that adding a base 5% chance for anyone at all to have some kind of critical fumble to really be all that realistic. A master swordsman and an untrained child have the same chance of simply dropping their sword? Now, if there's no other way to replicate such a mishap in the chosen game, then sure, go for it if that's what you want to do, and it makes things "more realistic" for the GM and players.

But compared to something like difficult terrain requiring a skill check to avoid falling and similar game mechanics that can be used to replicate a mishap, I don't see the fumble on a 1 approach as being any more realistic. Especially when we can say that all the rolls that go into abdicating combat in D&D (or any game, really) are an abstraction of combat, and that such abstraction would probably allow for the occasional dropped weapon and the like. Now, I would imagine that most DM's don't tend to narrate combat in that way, but that doesn't change the fact that they could. It's all abstract, right? So we can allow for all manner of things if we like.

So really, adding a specific mechanic to me is more of a preference on how to have combat play out. If a group wants to have their characters dropping their weapons with such frequency, then have at it. To me, it makes folks who are supposed to be trained combatants look inept, which doesn't seem all that realistic.

************

So another example, which I think I mentioned upthread but maybe not....is how gear is tracked in D&D versus Blades in the Dark. I think having two specific systems and methods to compare will help demonstrate the issue.

In most versions of D&D you have some kind of carrying capacity, and then you pre-select your gear before leaving town to go on an adventure, and you can carry gear that weighs a certain total. This pre-selection seems to very important to many, and they claim it is realistic because that's how things work in real life; you have to pack your bag before you leave.

Blades in the Dark, by contrast, requires that a PC select a load size before going on a score (light, normal, or heavy) and that choice indicates how many inventory slots they have available to them for the score. Each playbook (class) has a list of available gear and each item takes up 1 or 2 inventory slots.

These items need not be pre-selected before the score, though.....they can be selected as the PC needs them during the score. The character runs into a wall that needs to be scaled? He marks off his climbing gear, which uses 1 inventory slot, and then the character uses the climbing gear. He's left with 4 more inventory slots to which he can assign more gear as needed during the score.

Some would argue that this is less realistic because it's decided during play. Obviously, it doesn't mirror how such things work in real life. But the flexibility is designed to replicate the PC's ability to accurately predict the kind of items that he'll need on a score.

Isn't it more realistic to expect a hardened criminal who exists in a shadowy fantasy world to better be able to predict the items he'll need on a job than it would be for Average Joe from the 21st century Earth to predict that?

I can see the argument either way. They are each appealing to different sensibilities. This is what makes it a matter of opinion, and therefore a matter of preference. Neither game has a "more realistic" method of dealing with character gear.

I hope that helps clarify things a bit.
 

Numidius

Explorer
[MENTION=5636]estar[/MENTION]
Thanks for your advice, here's my thoughts in case you're interested.
Lately I've been trying to go the opposite way, regarding RP in first person, so fostering a third person approach by players. The purpose is to take a step back from focusing on the Pc as Self, and broadening the horizon of play. As Gm I don't want to have to understand the interests and intimate feelings of players at the table, or being in charge of bringing the fun, so to speak, nonetheless I have by nature that kind of sensibility and I want to have fun playing, so I use all I have in my arsenal to convey an intense gaming experience: the goal is to let all the players convey that, to the collective enjoyment.

As player I've been in many immersive style groups, but I have found too many Gms that don't share your concerns and attention to the game that you show in your post. As you say it's ok to start a game without background or starting connections for the Pc, but, again as you point out, the Gm should provide stuff to do and interact with in a way to develop the game and characters "as you go"; instead quite the opposite is the playstyle of these Gms I played with: in two words, loose clueless sandboxy game on one side, or constrictive/closed environment situations enforced by super Npcs, on the other.

Anyway, I complained well enough about it in previous posts, I say that only for clarification in response to you.

Cheers, Alex
 
Isn't the shorthand for this realism. Will you be happy with more authentic? more immersive? more RL illusionary? more dramatic? I mean looking for a better description/buzz-word is just playing silly buggers...
It may seem like that if you are sure what you mean when you say something, but I'm not at all sure what is meant when I read something. Max in particular seems to just assume that there is this default set of assumptions that everyone knows to be true, and we have no idea what those actually ARE. So he says something is 'more realistic', but then refuses to define that and acts like we are daft when we don't understand.

In other words I introduced the term 'authenticity' to represent my understanding of something which, in the terms I have been describing, is different from 'realism'. Since the other side merely seemed to define realism as something like "you know it when you see it" or something, I can't really know if it actually corresponds to my definition of 'authenticity'.

I do consider the two things different. Realism in my mind is a measure of how close outcomes and processes are to modeling real things in the real world. A necessary component of that is that the results are analogous to the results of 'similar experiments' in the real world. That is, the range of outcomes of sword fights between human opponents in a realistic combat system would correlate with those which would be produced by real world sword fights. 'More Realistic' in this terminology means "this correlation is better." I did also consider some other aspects of realism, which had to do with the effects of outcomes, as well as the general 'structure' of the game world, though I found those to be much more speculative, since they cannot easily be measured.

Authenticity, in my mind, is more a measure of how things 'feel' within the game experience. Does a particular outcome have an appearance of being logically, dramatically, and physically appropriate, given genre conventions and other assumptions about the game world which differentiates it from the real world. There probably isn't a very good objective measure for this, it is a subjective quality of an episode of game play, and probably won't even be identical for all participants in that episode.

Different conversation and I'm not saying I do not agree with you but that is a separate issue.
Sure, there are plenty of different aspects of play which can be looked at.
 
Cool. I'm not trying to mirror reality, so this does not apply to me. To improve realism you don't have to hit exactly like reality. That's a False Dichotomy. Realism is a scale, not all or nothing. You may not have mirrored reality with those 500 variables, but it was closer to reality to some degree than no program at all. Even it was only closer by .00001%.
Then your use of the word 'realism' seems to have no purpose. Of course you are trying to MORE CLOSELY 'mirror' or 'emulate' reality. So there is no 'false dichotomy' or whatever you are trying to say. Nobody ever claimed, in fact I have stated it directly in either the post you quote or one written in the same hour, that a 'scale' is the only logical possibility. The problem is trying to actually put specific things on that scale. What I am trying to convey with my example is not something about the scale, except that any sort of simplistic attempt to model anything is so far down on any reasonable scale as to be indistinguishable from zero.

I have to question most such gains. As I've said in my last few posts, I think 'authenticity', which is a more subjective kind of goal and isn't IMHO the same as realism is more interesting and useful.


It doesn't have to be. It only has to be more realistic than no system at all, which it is.
I don't agree. I think it is quite likely LESS realistic than no system at all!

That's awesome, but I don't need things to be that accurate for my game.
My point is more that the existing default AD&D system for weapon wear/tear/breakage may well be the most realistic, that is it never happens at all. I'm sure it isn't the most authentic in some sense, and in theory it probably IS possible to get more realistic as well, but then you're into high order math, and big data, to achieve anything meaningful at all there. Mostly you won't even ever know. You can slap some ad-hoc system in place, but since you are pretty unlikely to survey a large number of actual sword fights to see what happens to real weapons under realistic conditions, whatever you implement is pure speculation.

As a fundamentally scientifically-minded person I pretty much dismiss the validity of sheer speculation almost out of hand.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
A bunch of good stuff in a post.
Man! It's times like this that I wish I could give multiple XP awards for a post. That was very, very well said. Hmm. I CAN give multiple XP awards. If you should happen to get some XP for your votes in the other thread, they are NOT because I agree with your voting. ;)

while others just write down "water skin, two weeks iron rations" when they first create a character and that's it until the character dies.
In about 4 weeks if they can get water. :p
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I have to question most such gains. As I've said in my last few posts, I think 'authenticity', which is a more subjective kind of goal and isn't IMHO the same as realism is more interesting and useful.
For you perhaps. For me it's realism all the way.

I don't agree. I think it is quite likely LESS realistic than no system at all!
That's quite literally impossible. No system = 0 realism and you can't go below 0 realism. If you include ANY system of breakage at all, even cow farts cause breakage, you are adding some realism as breakage exists in reality and now it exists in the game. It may be a very, very, VERY amount of realism, but it's there. Some realism is greater than no realism.

My point is more that the existing default AD&D system for weapon wear/tear/breakage may well be the most realistic, that is it never happens at all.
Everything wears down and eventually breaks in real life. Even mountains. Never having a weapon wear down = 0 realism, which is less realistic than some realism, which any system of breakage will have.

but then you're into high order math, and big data, to achieve anything meaningful at all there.
This is not true. Many of us find meaning in the realism that we add to the game. Just because YOU can't find any meaning without incredible amounts of math, doesn't make that a requirement for realism to have meaning. It just doesn't satisfy you, which is fine. You don't have to add additional realism to your game.
 
Agreed: almost nobody's ever going to hard-prep all this, and "just make stuff up" works fine.

But within what we make up we have to be consistent or the whole house of cards comes down. If the party hear of a village that's known for its fine sword-making then logic would strongly suggest there's going to be one or two (or more!) top-notch smithies there or thereabouts when the party visit. Conversely, if the party arrive there and find these top-notch smithies they might be justified in asking why they hadn't heard of this place before when previously inquiring where good weaponry may be found.
Right, so in my scene framing type of process I reveal some information which says "Boyleston has a reputation for fine swordsmiths" then of course if the PCs end up in Boyleston, guess what they will find? This is hardly difficult. Likewise if the party is in Trenton and nobody has ever suggested that Trenton has top-notch smithies, then probably when the desire to find one comes up, the answer will be "gosh, you should have gone to Boyleston!" This doesn't seem harder in my game than in others.

I would also observe that it is quite possible to happen to show up in Boyleston without knowing much about the town and then learn from observation that it is a swordsmithing center. Depending on the characters and circumstances that might be more or less plausible. If it seems implausible then 'zero myth' certainly makes it trivial to remove that implausibility by simply not making it so. In that case it might later be established that the swordsmiths are all in Trenton.

If the party visit a town ruled by Baron Farengard logic would strongly suggest that the locals will at least know of said Baron when the party six months later return there seeking him, even if he's died in the meantime. Conversely, if the party have previously asked for the names of which nobles rule which areas/regions/towns and been told this town doesn't have a noble ruler they'd be justified in asking wtf on arriving at the town and being expected to present themselves before long-time local ruler Baron Farengard.

And so on. :)
Sure, these are all simply matters of basic consistency. Of course the locals will know of the baron if he did/does rule them. Likewise if it has been established that no one rules the town, then said fact will (or should) remain consistently true, or else some justification should exist for why it changed or why the PCs were deceived.

My earlier point was merely that since most things aren't really established in either technique, that the variance in plausibility caused by some sort of 'missing foreshadowing' is pretty likely to be minimal. GMs, in either technique, normally only establish facts that are going to be actually salient in play, unless perhaps the setting has been heavily developed in past games. In that case either GM would have that information available, presumably, regardless of how or why it came into being established.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Wow! Okay, you must be fun at parties. What, do you normally expect that people crave your absolution?

Look, there is a desire to have some needed room for discussion, and this ain't it. It's roughly akin to someone quoting Drax from Avengers:IW ("I've mastered the ability of standing so incredibly still, that I become invisible to the eye") then someone else immediately goes into a long diatribe about how they aren't still, and can't be, because they are actually moving because they are on the Earth, which is moving, and in the solar system, which is moving, and in the Galaxy, which is moving, and there is no such thing as ever being still AND I WILL NOT ABSOLVE YOU OF USING AN INAPPROPRIATE WORD.

Yeah, don't ever be that guy.

On this realism thing, it's not like this is a new debate, it's just the same old tired discussion with new language; no one is re-inventing the wheel, here. I mean, c'mon- the 1e DMG, in the very opening, discusses "realism-simulation school" v. "game school" (and D&D falls in the latter camp). To quote EGG: "For fun, excitement, and captivating fantasy, AD&D is unsurpassed. As a realistic simulation of things from the
realm of make-believe, or even as a reflection of medieval or ancient warfare or culture or society, it can be deemed only a dismal failure." DM's Guide, p. 9.

That said, the amount of effort and energy spent fighting over generally-recognized terms is beyond bizarre; there are few, if any, people who can misunderstand what @Maxperson and @Sadras are discussing, unless they only wish to argue about arguing and are fighting definitions that are commonly understood (YOU CAN NEVER STAND STILL!). Sure, we can go all Gusdorf or Wittgenstein on this, but why?

I mean, I think I know why; because somehow, the idea of "realism" is one that people naturally fight against; it is not enough to simply say, as was written forty (40!) years ago- yeah, I know what realism is, and I'm just not doing it. Now people have to turn themselves into pretzels by arguing against commonly-understood words. "Yes, I know you said that the fire engine is 'red,' but communication is imperfect. My mental image of red and your can never be exactly the same, and red itself is a concept that covers all sorts of colors, from mahogany to crimson, and since language is imprecise, you cannot possibly call the fire engine red."

But yes, most people understand the following when someone says, within the context of a typical TTRPG, that something is "more realistic" :

That it allows for {something} that more closely mirrors {real life or the period in which the TTRPG is occurring}. And that the absence of this allowance (rule, subsystem, etc.) would mean that this TTRPG less closely mirrors {real life or the period in which the TTRPG is occurring}.

So, for example, in AD&D (1e), the inclusion of item saving throws (p. 80) makes the game slightly more realistic, as it would make the game more closely mirror something that happens in real life (the possible destruction of items from effects).

This shouldn't be a difficult concept. Most people who aren't fighting it understand it instinctively. That said, there are a number of common issues with realism in TTRPGs which mean that realism is not a "good thing" in and of itself*:

1. Realism isn't perfection. Let's look at that saving thrown table on p. 80 again; is it accurate? No. Of course not. It is an approximation of effects, that (TBH) are numbers that are completely pulled out of EGG's posterior. However, and this is the key factor, does it make the game more closely mirror reality than the absence would? Yes, it does. I think this example was raised by @Aldarc with the Disease axample (DMG, pp. 13-14). Do the disease chances and tables mimic real life spread of diseases? No. Of course not. But do they make the game slight more "realistic" (in terms of having some provision for disease that is otherwise absent) than without them? Yes. The idea that perfect is the enemy of more realistic is a bizarre one, as the only perfectly realistic system is the one you are in right now- and AFAIK, it's not a game (although people debate that, maybe this is just a really good simulation).

2. Realism isn't always good. So, this should go without saying (although, again, this has been said and repeated for more than 40 years), but it here it goes. When I go and see Star Wars (for example), do you know what I like? PEW PEW PEW battles in space. Is that realistic? NO. Of course not (and I hope I don't need to explain why on this website). But it's fun and awesome, and I don't Neil DeGrasse Tyson telling harshing on it. It's the same with games- you know that disease table I mentioned above? More realistic? Sure, why not. Have I ever used in in decades of playing? No, of course not. It's stupid and unnecessarily complicated, without adding much to the game experience (IMO). To use a common example- no one cares about tracking the bowel movements of the PCs (I hope?). Could you make the game more realistic by accounting for that? Sure. But why? Different games, and different levels of "realism" within a game, appeal to different people; to use D&D as an example, some people enjoy resource management, tracking water and food and encumbrance, while others just write down "water skin, two weeks iron rations" when they first create a character and that's it until the character dies.

3. Realism is context-dependent. Most TTRPGs (but not all) do not take place in our world. Some are fantasy (magic), some are science fiction (Arthur C. Clarke, sufficiently high technology is indistinguishable from magic), and so on. Which is why the issues of realism are necessarily going to be dependent on the context of that particular TTRPG. And this is where it gets the most tricky, because once you move past the issues that are relatable (those issues in which the game world and our world are similar) it gets tricky. I mean, how realistic are the Vampires, or the Faster-than-light drive? What does it mean to even ask that question? That's where issues of internal consistency within the gameworld itself are usually a substitute for normal questions of realism.

Anyway, I'm just throwing this out there because I was reading through these conversations (most not quite as dismissive as the one I replied to) and I tend to be baffled when people can't agree on terms; arguing about arguing tend to detract from substantive discussions.

After all, I think that most people here can grok when something is more or less realistic; the interesting discussion is whether or not that is a good thing. (FWIW, I tend to fall on the "more realism tends to detract from the TTRPG experience", but that's me.) ;)




*Which is where I think the issue arises; in other words, people believe that if they acknowledge that there can be a generally shared understanding of what realism is, then someone would say, "HA. REALISM IS ALWAYS BETTER. I WIN." Which is not the case.
That's a lot of words without an actual definition of realism, or how to measure it, what with it being so easily and commonly understood.
 

hawkeyefan

Explorer
That's quite literally impossible. No system = 0 realism and you can't go below 0 realism. If you include ANY system of breakage at all, even cow farts cause breakage, you are adding some realism as breakage exists in reality and now it exists in the game. It may be a very, very, VERY amount of realism, but it's there. Some realism is greater than no realism.
I think you need to stop and give it some thought, Max.

You just said that having cow farts break swords is more realistic than swords not breaking.

You know some swords don’t break, right?

Everything wears down and eventually breaks in real life. Even mountains. Never having a weapon wear down = 0 realism, which is less realistic than some realism, which any system of breakage will have.
Sure, everything wears down eventually. But most RPG campaigns have a beginning and an end. So within the scope of an RPG campaign, it’s perfectly reasonable to not have any swords break.

Is it more or less reasonable than some kind of weapon degradation system? It’s impossible to say.
 

pemerton

Legend
Armour in RL depreciates due to wear and tear for whatever reasons.
A system that includes a mechanic (abstract as it is) for accounting for the depreciation of armour is attempting to mirror RL more so than a game that does not account for the depreciation of armour, for that specific category. Do you agree or not? If not, why?
In the abstract I can't tell. See this post from AbdulAlhazred about disease rules:

For example: is the 1e DMG disease system going to 'increase realism' if you use it? I am not at all certain it will. I don't really know how to approach quantifying the realism it is claimed it will add. Is a highly unrealistic model of disease 'more realistic' than no model at all? Is a model of disease which undermines and distorts a number of already established concepts related to injury and death making the game, overall, more realistic or not? Anyone who claims it does and then insists this is self-evident is pretty much off the reservation IMHO. I can't even really critique that, it is like trying to grade a paper that is in an unknown language, at best.

Is the model of armour degradation realistic?

Does it integrate with the way other items of equipement are treated in the system, or does it make armour strangely ad hoc?

Without knowing these things, I can't say whether or not a system of the sort you posit would in any serious way mirror real life.
 

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