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

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Interesting... Don't you guys (I mean you, [MENTION=29398]Lanefan[/MENTION], and there have been a couple others) often discuss things in terms of playing a game in which the PCs are NOT picked out by fate. Where in fact they are simply nobody special, unless perhaps they actual manage to forcefully inject themselves into the wheels of fate (and I would assume this to be a difficult process which rarely succeeds). So, I wouldn't think you would advocate for the use of encounter tables which would require such an interpretation.

I mean, even in a 'you are nobody' type of game maybe PCs draw a little attention, make a few enemies, etc. and see more action than Joe Farmer, and I doubt you'd find that objectionable to a certain degree. Still, I am just curious what your take is on this Gygaxian/Anesian design element which was particularly prominent in AD&D.
While I have a similar playstyle to [MENTION=29398]Lanefan[/MENTION] and some others, we do have our differences. I like that the PCs are heroes of destiny. What I don't do is have only people of destiny allowed to be members of a character class. You might have a dozen fighters in the competition, but the PC fighter is probably the only one fate is following closely.
 

Sadras

Explorer
Okay due to the number of responses I have only responded to @Aldarc's comment so far, other points I either agree with or haven't really gotten around to them or do not form part of the conversation topic I'm interested in. I also provided a short synopsis of many of the responses below as it makes it easier for me to gather my thoughts. Feel free to correct.

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.
Okay, in that instance I can agree with you when one attempts to measure up differing mechanics which are attempting to do the same thing (AC versus Absorption for instance). it does come down to subjectivity.

Would you agree though, for the sake of the argument, if we look at D&D solely and said the next edition of D&D will either have an AC mechanic (as it does now) or every attack will be considered successful, no die roll required. If you have to compare those two scenarios - is one more realistic/authentic than the other or do you feel that still comes down to preferences: those that wish to role dice and those that don't.
Personally I feel at this point it cannot be just preferences and that there is a case for insert preferred buzzword, either wearing armour protects your character in some way, however abstract, or it is just cosmetic.

SYNOPSIS

My conversation starter was AC vs No AC which is more real.

@Aldarc suggested its preferences as you cannot measure what is more real between AC vs Absorption mechanic. Mostly dealt with above.

@Ovinomancer said he would measure more realism at the fiction level not via processes and described a 'GM decides' game which inputs realistic results via GM narration. Have to give this more thought.

@hawkeyefan is ok with the terminology more realism except when measuring system vs system, a little similar to Aldarc as he follows the line of preferences which I understand, but probably no surprise to him, I disagree with the BitD example he used - it is TOTALLY gamist and we probably won't agree. In this specific instance I would probably side with Max.

@AbdulAlhazred returns to the semantic debate and prefers the term more authentic giving his reasons for the use of either term as he views it. I may not agree entirely, but my interest does not lie in the semantic debate. I'm ok with the term more authentic as I've said many times, I was using the more realism term as a shorthand for a great many things.

@pemerton reiterates everyone else's point in his first two replies (which is where I am). Where I feel I need to point out, the mechanics giving rise to more realism were always acknowledged as very abstract in design and overly simplistic. i.e. If we fall from a distance in RL we take damage, similarly in the gaming fiction. Are they same or even close in design or outcome, of course not. @Maxperson has made this point numerous times, but posters still feel the need to mention how poorly mechanics imitate RL.
 
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pemerton

Legend
Would you agree though, for the sake of the argument, if we look at D&D solely and said the next edition of D&D will either have an AC mechanic (as it does now) or every attack will be considered successful, no die roll required. If you have to compare those two scenarios - is one more realistic/authentic than the other or do you feel that still comes down to preferences: those that wish to role dice and those that don't.
To be clear - are you positing a system in which neither armour nor level/HD makes any difference in combat, and combat is essentially the attrition of damage dice?

As [MENTION=82106]AbdulAlhazred[/MENTION] already posted, the bit about armour not mattering takes us close to 4e, where armour is mostly a cosmetic thing except for a handful of classes (by default wizards and sorcerers have a bit less than anyone else, while paladins have a bit more). The bit about level/HD not mattering would be a big change for D&D but not inherently unrealistic.

This would be a big change in resolution compared to standard D&D, but I'm missing the bit where it's unrealistic. Of course if you write in some fiction heavier armour makes people more robust in combat and then the mechanics contradict that you'll get some weirdness - but (eg) 4e avoids such weirdness by writing into the fiction that there are multiple ways to be robust in combat: armour, quick reflexes, quick thinking, etc.
 

Sadras

Explorer
To be clear - are you positing a system in which neither armour nor level/HD makes any difference in combat, and combat is essentially the attrition of damage dice?
No it was strictly an AC or no AC mechanic, I wasn't even touching level/HD.

As [MENTION=82106]AbdulAlhazred[/MENTION] already posted, the bit about armour not mattering takes us close to 4e, where armour is mostly a cosmetic thing except for a handful of classes (by default wizards and sorcerers have a bit less than anyone else, while paladins have a bit more).
That is fair.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
@Ovinomancer said he would measure more realism at the fiction level not via processes and described a 'GM decides' game which inputs realistic results via GM narration. Have to give this more thought.
It's a tad stronger than that. I'm saying you can only evaluate it in the fiction. The process cannot be realistic. This leads into...

@hawkeyefan is ok with the terminology more realism except when measuring system vs system, a little similar to Aldarc as he follows the line of preferences which I understand, but probably no surprise to him, I disagree with the BitD example he used - it is TOTALLY gamist and we probably won't agree. In this specific instance I would probably side with Max.
This is a good example. If we consider how the BitD example works vs "traditional" play, then, in the fiction, both have detailed planning, both have encumberance factors for gear brought, and both have these two things pay off when the right equipment for the situation is deployed. They are indistinguishable from within the fiction.

The difference is what is played out at the table. In Blades, the planning part is, at most, montaged and happens offscreen. It's assumed that good planning occurred so the game jumps straight into tge execution. As someone that's been through more than one full session planning spree, I immensely appreciate this.

But, not everyone does, so there's still lots of enjoyment in actually doing the planning. That's cool, but it doesn't affect the "realism", just the focus of play.
 

hawkeyefan

Explorer
To some extent I'll disagree with this, not so much from the system-v-realism point of view but from the system-v-immersion point of view.

Part of the goal of having one's game world be authentic and-or realistic is, I think, to help the players immerse themselves in the world and in the characters they play within it. Given that, having the players track their gear and expenses adds to the immersion factor in that the players are doing what the characters would be doing. Realistically, a character - particularly a poor one - is going to know how much money it has at any given time; and any adventuring character worth its salt is going to know what's in its backpack and what amount of remaining supplies it has on hand. Player knowledge matching character knowledge where it can is highly beneficial for immersion, and thus just as the character knows what's in its pack at any given time, so should the player.

Hand-waving all this makes the game easier and more efficient to play, to be sure, but note there's this trade-off to consider. Some might think the ease-efficiency is worth it, others might not.
I agree with you that it's a matter of opinion, and that what helps immersion or a feeling of authenticity will vary from person to person.

In this case, what makes Blades in the Dark so immersive is that the character feels more like a person that actually exists in the world the game is portraying. The character is capable and has the ability to plan correctly. This is a trait of the character that the mechanics help portray.

To me, as a quality of the character, it feels more fundamentally important to immersion than do the contents of their backpack.

Look at films or other forms of fiction.....does it break immersion to see a character pull something from their backpack or utility belt that helps them in a given situation? There could be extreme examples we could cite ("Robin, get me the Bat-shark repellent!" comes to mind), but for the most part, we simply accept what we see. The character is prepared for what they're facing.

Other times, we'll get a montage showing what the character is bringing, and that can work as well because it makes us wonder how each item will come into play. I like this approach in fiction because it builds anticipation, but I don't find that the typical RPG character inventory evokes the same sense of anticipation. I don't look at it and wonder "Wow, when will Ragnar need to use one of these torches!"

So for me, a mechanic that replicates how a scoundrel in Doskvol will prepare for a score is going to feel more immersive than me as a player simply making choices about what to bring.

Where realism (and other less pleasant considerations that at their extreme go all the way to cheating) comes into it is if a player can determine a character's gear-on-hand on the fly, is it realistic/authentic/believable for that PC to always just happen to have some particular piece of exotic gear available just at the moment it happens to be needed? Again, some might not care; but I sure do. :)

Maybe or maybe not more realistic, but I'd argue that on the whole these mechanics* push the game towards being more immersive.

* - and note this doesn't necessarily have to be done using hard-wired mechanics; the point is that it's paid close attention to at all rather than just hand-waved.
Well it's not quite that perfect. Each playbook/class has a specific list to choose from based on their specialty. Some items appear on the list for each playbook/class, others are unique to a specific playbook/class or two. Exotic gear is pretty limited, and beyond a few exceptions, requires that the player spend downtime actions for a long term project to add such an item to their list of available gear, or that they use a downtime action to acquire an asset for one time use.

I wouldn't describe the method in Blades in the Dark as being "hand-waved" because there are specific mechanics involved. It's just that the mechanics work differently than what we'd consider standard. In fact, I find the selection and use of gear in Blades in the Dark to be far more important to the game than what is typical for D&D.
 

hawkeyefan

Explorer
To touch on the actual topic for a moment, "realism" however defined, cannot be a trait of game mechanics. These do not exist in the fiction and are, in fact, means of establishing fiction. It's the fiction that's "realistic" or not, not the mechanic. There's zero "realism" in rolling a die to determine a cause or effect.
It really doesn't matter, since many things you are adding to the fiction need associated mechanics. Talking about mechanics is the same as talking about the fiction, since the mechanic as you note will result in the fiction being more realistic. Your argument here is semantics.
I don't think that it's semantics at all. If you roll a die or play a card or spend a hero point or whatever other mechanic you may use in a game for a character to make an attack, the fictional result is that the character makes an attack.

In other words, there are different types of mechanics that can be connected to the same type of fictional action, and none of those mechanics is "more realistic" than the other. Which is the entire point of the discussion, I believe; i.e. a GM making an informed decision, a GM making a die roll, a GM asking the player to make a die roll.....whatever mechanic is used it's the end result that we would determine as realistic or not, authentic or not, believable or not.
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
I was unclear I guess. I don't think you guys are bullying me or attacking me, though some of you are being rude with your posts. I do think you ignored his post and then argued just to argue, though. He's right in his assessment of his post and in characterizing your responses to them is what I am saying.

...

Your argument here is semantics.
It can be frustrating when you go through the whole process of trying to explain something, and get a one sentence non-response, and a followup that indicates that further argument about argument is ahead - however, given that that my viewpoints on this issue (re: arguing about arguing) were already well-known, I am just making my relief against banging my head permanent this time. I appreciate that you recognize that. :)

Anyway, I apologize if you thought I was indicating that people were bullying you; I really was using that as an analogy in that prior post, and you have shown you are more than capable of standing up for yourself (as shown in this thread!). I do think that there is something distasteful with a group of people that have an insular and (not necessarily) widely-shared opinion taking turns being, at times, rude and dismissive* to a fellow forum member and then bolstering each other with XP; that's what I meant when I wrote that "the majority of people looking at this thread will just see a circular firing squad of people high-fiving each other without cause."

But perhaps I am more attuned to that given that I both think that this amazing hobby provided a respite for so many people that didn't necessarily fit in when they were younger, and, in addition, I am painfully aware from DMing for teens that this type of behavior still exists- and I hate to see any echoes of it on this website. But that's a topic for another thread!

Anyway, whether it's called "more realistic" or "more authentic" or "more asdwfnksaedjk," I have always preferred a level of abstraction in my games and favored fast gameplay over simulation/realism; that's why I played a stripped-down 1e and pretty much checked out when they published the DSG and WSG. I personally think it would be helpful to, instead of concentrating on this sole issue, to discuss how different goals in TTRPGs have to balanced against each other, and different goals have different costs; something which is familiar in almost every endeavor.

For example, in the justice system (to use an example) you might want to have the goals of truth, fairness, finality, and efficiency (to pick four) and you will usually find that increasing the emphasis on some values will often decrease the your ability to maximize the other values.**

It's similar here; the more you import realism or authenticity into a game system (the more simulation it becomes), the more you decrease concomitant values like ease-of-use (lack of complexity). This was a debate that was already tired when EGG wrote the forward as it had been rehashed repeatedly in wargaming; it can only be viewed as both funny and serendipitous that The Campaign for North Africa was published just before the 1e DMG. ;)

It might be interesting to even ask whether the weighting of realism/simulation has changed in TTRPGs, given the advent of amazing computer games; it seems unlikely (IMO) that there will ever be a mass-market for a truly complex and time-consuming TTRPG, and that the main value of these games in today's age may lie in the more social aspects as well as the creativity (which, unlike computers for now, remains unbounded). But that is probably a topic for a different thread! :)

*Not always, of course! Some of the discussions have been enlightening and productive. I was just responding to the particular post, with the particular high fives, in light of the past many, many pages. As I've written, "Before I say something negative, I try to put myself in someone else's shoes. ... OTOH, I also remember that I don't always practice what I preach, so there's that."

**To use a reductio ad absurdum example, if litigation was decided by coin flips, it would definitely increase efficiency. If there were no appeals, it would increase finality and efficiency. But those provisions would decrease the values of truth and fairness in a justice system. Everything is a balancing act.
 

hawkeyefan

Explorer
@hawkeyefan is ok with the terminology more realism except when measuring system vs system, a little similar to Aldarc as he follows the line of preferences which I understand, but probably no surprise to him, I disagree with the BitD example he used - it is TOTALLY gamist and we probably won't agree. In this specific instance I would probably side with Max.
I think Ovinomancer explained it well, but I do want to address the description of how Blades handles gear being "totally gamist"; that's really not the case. There is game consideration given to the mechanic, yes, but it's also rooted in character. The freedom to choose gear as needed in play is meant to mirror the character's knowledge of the world and their specialty as a professional criminal.

In one instance, the character's ability is what's being portrayed, in the other, the player's ability is what matters. Which you may prefer is a matter of opinion, of course, but I don't think the BitD method is purely a gamist approach.
 

Sadras

Explorer
It's a tad stronger than that. I'm saying you can only evaluate it in the fiction. The process cannot be realistic. This leads into...

This is a good example. If we consider how the BitD example works vs "traditional" play, then, in the fiction, both have detailed planning, both have encumberance factors for gear brought, and both have these two things pay off when the right equipment for the situation is deployed. They are indistinguishable from within the fiction.

The difference is what is played out at the table. In Blades, the planning part is, at most, montaged and happens offscreen. It's assumed that good planning occurred so the game jumps straight into tge execution. As someone that's been through more than one full session planning spree, I immensely appreciate this.

But, not everyone does, so there's still lots of enjoyment in actually doing the planning. That's cool, but it doesn't affect the "realism", just the focus of play.
I hear what you are saying but it comes down to this:
In reality, we plan what to take before the trip/adventure, hard choices have to be made at planning level which will affect encumbrance depending on what we pack, it might affect how we travel depending on what is carried, it might affect how stealthy we are able to move, the choices are made on the intelligence gathered at time of departure, it will affect what the next person in the group decides to bring, our gear might affect the decisions/reactions of NPCs, it might affect what might get broken or damaged during the trip....

Much of this is circumvented via the BitD system which allocates slots based on when it is required.

The one is clearly gamist, it is not even a question.

And just to be clear I'm not knocking it. I'm just stating the mechanic is less like how it happens in real. I would love to go overseas and not pack anything except a luggage bag with x slots and a generic weight and just replicate clothing depending on the weather. My wife would have loved that on our last trip to Europe.

EDIT: Bolded part added for clarity.
 
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hawkeyefan

Explorer
I hear what you are saying but it comes down to this:
In reality, we plan what to take before the trip/adventure, hard choices have to be made at planning level which will affect encumbrance depending on what we pack, it might affect how we travel depending on what is carried, it might affect how stealthy we are able to move, the choices are made on the intelligence gathered at time of departure, it will affect what the next person in the group decides to bring, our gear might affect the decisions/reactions of NPCs, it might affect what might get broken or damaged during the trip....

Much of this is circumvented via the BitD system which allocates slots based on when it is required.

The one is clearly gamist, it is not even a question.

And just to be clear I'm not knocking it. I'm just stating the mechanic is less like how it happens in real. I would love to go overseas and not pack anything and just replicate clothing depending on the weather. My wife would have loved that on our last trip to Europe.
Not exactly.....there is the matter of selecting Load size ahead of the score. You have to pick Light, Normal, or Heavy Load.....which would mean you had 3, 5, or 7 inventory slots available, and that chocie alone will affect your speed and stealth and even how obvious it is that the character is up to some kind of job.

So there is still consideration given to the situation ahead of time, and still risk in picking the wrong load size (i.e. you choose Heavy Load, and then only wind up needing 4 slots, or you go with Light Load and wind up needing more than 3). It's just a question of what specific items you've brought that is to be decided during play.

Just wanted to clarify that.
 

Sadras

Explorer
Not exactly.....there is the matter of selecting Load size ahead of the score. You have to pick Light, Normal, or Heavy Load.....which would mean you had 3, 5, or 7 inventory slots available, and that chocie alone will affect your speed and stealth and even how obvious it is that the character is up to some kind of job.

So there is still consideration given to the situation ahead of time, and still risk in picking the wrong load size (i.e. you choose Heavy Load, and then only wind up needing 4 slots, or you go with Light Load and wind up needing more than 3). It's just a question of what specific items you've brought that is to be decided during play.

Just wanted to clarify that.
LOL. We cross posted - I edited my original post as I knew this was going to come up as you had mentioned it previously. ;)

I love the BitD system for this, especially for themes I may be unfamiliar with. Your general D&D spelunking I have been doing for quite some time so you get to know your gear.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I hear what you are saying but it comes down to this:
In reality, we plan what to take before the trip/adventure, hard choices have to be made at planning level which will affect encumbrance depending on what we pack, it might affect how we travel depending on what is carried, it might affect how stealthy we are able to move, the choices are made on the intelligence gathered at time of departure, it will affect what the next person in the group decides to bring, our gear might affect the decisions/reactions of NPCs, it might affect what might get broken or damaged during the trip....

Much of this is circumvented via the BitD system which allocates slots based on when it is required.

The one is clearly gamist, it is not even a question.

And just to be clear I'm not knocking it. I'm just stating the mechanic is less like how it happens in real. I would love to go overseas and not pack anything except a luggage bag with x slots and a generic weight and just replicate clothing depending on the weather. My wife would have loved that on our last trip to Europe.

EDIT: Bolded part added for clarity.
But, it's kinda not. The gear mechanic is very tightly tied into all the other mechanics such that, while it may appear super loose, it generates many hard choices as well and isn't nearly as loose in play as it looks in isolation.

But, that aside, your objection isn't one of "realism" but rather play focus. You may prefer the detailed planning and gearing and detailed encumberance, but in the fiction generated in play there's no realism difference. This is an argument about where we prefer to spend our game time.
 

Numidius

Explorer
[MENTION=6688277]Sadras[/MENTION] Players that choose gear all by themselves before approaching a challenge, without a sort of linkage to how their characters would do it in their fictional world, looks pretty gamist to me.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Interesting... Don't you guys (I mean you, [MENTION=29398]Lanefan[/MENTION], and there have been a couple others) often discuss things in terms of playing a game in which the PCs are NOT picked out by fate.
Not to start with, anyway. Most of the time they're just neophyte adventurers walking out into the wilds by their own choice, to maybe get rich and more likely die trying. :)

Where in fact they are simply nobody special, unless perhaps they actual manage to forcefully inject themselves into the wheels of fate (and I would assume this to be a difficult process which rarely succeeds).
Later on as the campaign develops and the wheat rises above the chaff in terms of successful PCs, fate might stop by for a word. Or not. :)

That, and some of the adventure/story hooks along the way will certainly provide them opportunities to inject themselves into the wheels of fate if followed up on - whether they a) recognize these opportunities for what they are when they arise and then b) do anything with them is largely up to them.

So, I wouldn't think you would advocate for the use of encounter tables which would require such an interpretation.
Perhaps not, but from a let's-get-on-with-the-game perspective I can at least see a rationale for looking at it that way.

I mean, even in a 'you are nobody' type of game maybe PCs draw a little attention, make a few enemies, etc. and see more action than Joe Farmer, and I doubt you'd find that objectionable to a certain degree.
Of course not. The PCs don't operate in a vacuum, and it's almost unavoidable that once they start adventuring they're sooner or later going to attract attention; be it in good (e.g. the Queen rewards them for their heroism), bad (e.g. they killed some people during their last adventure and said people have powerful and vengeful friends), or neutral (e.g. people start coming to them with adventuring tasks) ways.

It would, in fact, be inauthentic/unrealistic if these things didn't occur.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I would be the last to argue that you're wrong, in the sense that what is immersive for different players is likely different, and you've always been quite consistent and articulated your position on this kind of thing in a way that feels genuine.

For me, it is a bit different. See, we were playing AD&D, and we were playing it for a LONG time, like 10 years at least, and what we discovered was that you'd create a new PC (the 493rd one probably by now) and cursorily write down your 'stuff' (after rolling for gold) from an equipment table we'd utterly memorized (boots, high hard 5sp...). Now, 22 months later, your character is 8th level and his sheet has been transferred 3 times (because a hole got worn where you write your hit points).
Heh. For just this reason we track our hit points on a different scrap of paper, or on the chalkboard. :)

His gear is now stuffed on some back corner written in dull pencil (dull because this was the last thing you moved from the old sheet). Maybe now and then someone remembered to scratch out something that got broken or used up, but mostly the last 14 times you were in town you just mumbled something about 'gearing up' and probably didn't bother to reduce your 14,904 gp by 136sp for replacement stuff (nobody is quite sure, was it 5 or 7 iron spikes).
The main reason I have to re-do character sheets is that the possessions lists (both magical and mundane) get so messed up that I can't find anything any more.

That said, at high level when we're rolling in money, with the DM's approval I'll just knock off a generous amount (considerably more than the book costs would add up to) and re-load the mundane gear; the extra money goes as tips and gratuities to the smiths/vendors/etc. If my character happens to be short of funds I'll pull out the book and track it much more closely.

Frankly, my character is an almost-name-level bad-assed dungeon crawler. I'm much more immersed in the character when I think "yeah, he's geared up, of course I've got flint and steel in my small belt pouch (3cp)." We invented, more informally than anything else, something like the kind of system DitV uses. It was just more immersive. When you got to the sloping rotating trick room/corridor thingy then of course Doug the Delver had 10 iron spikes and a 3' piece of chain in his backpack to use to bugger up the mechanism. There might not have been an exact number of times you could narrate this sort of preparedness, but don't overdo it and things are good.

If the DM was a bit dubious about a specific instance, maybe Douggy had to make a WIS check to see if he actually thought of having 3 colors of chalk or not. TO US, this much better emulated the sort of super prepared and vastly experienced types we imagined playing.
We're pretty strict in saying "if it's not on your character sheet, you don't have it", largely because we've had issues with certain players in the past who either a) gamed the system a bit too much or b) would never otherwise bother to record anything and then just shrug when asked whether they had some specific piece of gear on hand (usually, for some reason, this always seemed to arise when the party needed a grappling hook).

Side story: tracking mundane equipment did directly lead to one of our long-standing gaming memes, that being "never carry a collapsible shovel".

This came about because in a long-ago game (1988-ish?) some player/character decides that having a collapsible shovel in the backpack is a fine idea, and so buys one while in town...and in the next adventure that PC dies at the first possible opportunity. Party loots the corpse, someone finds the shovel and says "Hey, I'll take this!". Then that PC gets killed in the very next combat. Loot the corpse, someone else takes the shovel and...you can see this coming, can't ya?...that PC doesn't live out the day either, butchered by some monster or other.

Then someone realizes that the only common denominator is the shovel. "It's cursed! It's cursed!" they cry, and ritually bury the thing. And wouldn't you know it, no more PC deaths for the rest of the trip!

All of this was due, of course, to sheer luck of the dice...the shovel was never anything more than a bland boring collapsible shovel with no enchantment or curse of any kind on it...but it made for some great entertainment!
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I agree with you that it's a matter of opinion, and that what helps immersion or a feeling of authenticity will vary from person to person.

In this case, what makes Blades in the Dark so immersive is that the character feels more like a person that actually exists in the world the game is portraying. The character is capable and has the ability to plan correctly. This is a trait of the character that the mechanics help portray.
Question here: does the character have - or it is allowed to have - the ability to plan incorrectly? Can a player intentionally make sub-optimal decisions if so desired, or can the game handle a character who is simply scatterbrained or forgetful or who fills his backpack with romance novels instead of adventuring gear? If yes, good; the follow-up question then being how does the game deal with this either mechanically or otherwise?

To me, as a quality of the character, it feels more fundamentally important to immersion than do the contents of their backpack.

Look at films or other forms of fiction.....does it break immersion to see a character pull something from their backpack or utility belt that helps them in a given situation?
If it otherwise makes no sense that the character would be carrying such a thing, then yes it does.

There could be extreme examples we could cite ("Robin, get me the Bat-shark repellent!" comes to mind), but for the most part, we simply accept what we see. The character is prepared for what they're facing.

Other times, we'll get a montage showing what the character is bringing, and that can work as well because it makes us wonder how each item will come into play. I like this approach in fiction because it builds anticipation, but I don't find that the typical RPG character inventory evokes the same sense of anticipation. I don't look at it and wonder "Wow, when will Ragnar need to use one of these torches!"

So for me, a mechanic that replicates how a scoundrel in Doskvol will prepare for a score is going to feel more immersive than me as a player simply making choices about what to bring.
The problem with using movies or TV shows as a comparison is this: time. A movie or TV show only has a limited time in which to tell its story and thus skipping details is a necessary and constant evil; and any significant prop is expected to come into use at some point. The gadgets Q gives James Bond always turn out to be exactly what he needs, which has always over-stretched my credulity. But an RPG has no such time limits and no such expectations for the mandated use of significant props, and thus is open to going into far more detail and-or trial and error.

Your score-in-Doskvol example is excellent for this. If I'm the player immersed in my character I'll know that every piece of gear I have access to might mean the difference between life and death, never mind the difference between pulling off the score or not; and so in-character I want to carefully choose (and-or procure) that gear based on what my research/casing/scouting has told me I'm likely getting into. By the same token, every piece of gear I don't carry makes me lighter and more nimble, which might also make the difference between life and death etc. as above...and so I also have to consider that trade-off. And I might unintentionally make wrong choices, which could come back to bite me.

Having a mechanic do all this for you is nice and convenient, but it doesn't seem to allow for wrong choices except as a post-hoc explanation for a failure (effect dictates cause; something I really don't like at all); where I'd rather see things done sequentially such that the gear choices - right or wrong - are made first, followed by playing out the actual score attempt (cause dictates effect).

Well it's not quite that perfect. Each playbook/class has a specific list to choose from based on their specialty. Some items appear on the list for each playbook/class, others are unique to a specific playbook/class or two. Exotic gear is pretty limited, and beyond a few exceptions, requires that the player spend downtime actions for a long term project to add such an item to their list of available gear, or that they use a downtime action to acquire an asset for one time use.

I wouldn't describe the method in Blades in the Dark as being "hand-waved" because there are specific mechanics involved. It's just that the mechanics work differently than what we'd consider standard. In fact, I find the selection and use of gear in Blades in the Dark to be far more important to the game than what is typical for D&D.
Cool! :)
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I don't think that it's semantics at all. If you roll a die or play a card or spend a hero point or whatever other mechanic you may use in a game for a character to make an attack, the fictional result is that the character makes an attack.
This does nothing to change what I said. All of that is mechanics being tied to the attack. One is effectively the other. An attack without a mechanic does nothing. A mechanic without being in the fiction does nothing. Saying "But realism is only the fiction and not mechanics!" is playing a semantical game.

In other words, there are different types of mechanics that can be connected to the same type of fictional action, and none of those mechanics is "more realistic" than the other.
This is untrue. A mechanic in which an attack only happens when my cat farts is a lot less realistic than one in which an attack happens when a player declares his PC attacks with a sword and uses 5e attack mechanics.
 

darkbard

Explorer
Having a mechanic do all this for you is nice and convenient, but it doesn't seem to allow for wrong choices except as a post-hoc explanation for a failure (effect dictates cause; something I really don't like at all); where I'd rather see things done sequentially such that the gear choices - right or wrong - are made first, followed by playing out the actual score attempt (cause dictates effect).
Why? Considering all that has been written here, why do you insist this somehow adds to your sense of realism in the game?
 
While I have a similar playstyle to @Lanefan and some others, we do have our differences. I like that the PCs are heroes of destiny. What I don't do is have only people of destiny allowed to be members of a character class. You might have a dozen fighters in the competition, but the PC fighter is probably the only one fate is following closely.
Cool. I would say that, in AD&D, it made sense to have NPCs with character classes. The classes were reasonably simple, especially fighters and rogues and such, and not much would be gained by using a monster stat block. Spell casters are a bit different, frankly I would just sort of hack them to have whatever was immediately needed and not get into crazy things like spell books and lists of known/not known spells and all that complexity. Still, back in those days, I would often list an NPC as '4th level Magic User'. OTOH I did also often just create stat blocks, or 'power lists' for specific NPCs that didn't match up with any specific PC class.
 

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