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

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
But you proceeded all this by appealing to how these weapons would work in real life - your own subjective sense of what is "realistic" - and that assertion could be disputed by people who actually know better than you about the subject matter. You are just ignoring reality when it's inconvenient for your game while also appealing to your sense of reality about that same matter.
What I have been saying, and I think you know it, is that we look at real life for the connection and idea of how they work, not exactly how they would work real life. When I look at swords in real life having edges, that's not a subjective interpretation. When I look at swords having hilts in real life, that's not a subjective interpretations. When I look at them being primarily made out of metal in real life, that's not a subjective interpretation. When I look at them getting dinged up when used or the blade dulling, that's not a subjective interpretation. When I look at them breaking during use, more often when not maintained, that's not a subjective interpretation.

After I look at those things when I say that swords in D&D being primarily being made out of metal, and having edges and hilts is realism, that's not a subjective interpretation, either. If I were to then implement a system of weapon degradation and breakage, even if that system did not mirror real life AND if I didn't consult an expert on swords, that would also be a realism increase that is not based on subjective interpretation. Those are examples of realism that are based on facts, not subjectiveness.
 

pemerton

Legend
I don't think you are missing it. You twist things I say in my posts too consistently for them to be accidents. You know what I mean and do this deliberately.
You are wrong. I don't know what you're defending.

As I already posted, I GMed Rolemaster continuously for about 19 years. As you may know, the slogan for RM is "Get Real, Get Rolemaster". I own and have read dozens of RM rulebooks, containing dozens and dozens of mechanical subsystems. I'm familiar with the concept of "realism" in RPGing.

But I can't make sense of what you're arguing for. For instance, you seem to be saying that RPGs are more realistic than they might otherwise be because they contain such real-world phenomena as objects falling to earth when dropped, or people wielding swords that hurt others when struck by them. That seems to be using, as a criterion of "realism", the presence of real-world phenomena in the fiction.

But you appear to deny that introducing content such as disease, or damaged weaons, as an element of narration increases the realism of the fiction. I don't know why. My sense is that when you deny that GM narration of such things as diseases, maimed limbs, notched weapons, etc is a way of introducing realism you are using a different criterion - one which emphasises mechanical system. (This is what Rolemaster means when it talks about realism. RM eschews GM narration as a way to establish fictional elements.)

You also appear to have asserted that a system for generating RPG content that is triggered by extraneous events - like clocks chiming or feline flatulance - is not a realistic one. And that also seems to be using, as a criterion of "realism", the process whereby the fiction is established.

I don't know how to reconcile what seems to me to be an oscillation between two different criteria for realism. And I don't know how to reconcile either candidate criterion with what seems to be a further claim you're making, nmaley, that any well-intentioned mechanical/dice-oriented system for introducing content is per se an increase in realism, regardless of whether that system and the outcomes it produces correlates in any genuine fashion to reality.

I'm sure you have something in mind that makes sense of all of the above. But I don't know what it is.

One thing I do know is that, despite invitations by me and many other posters to draw distinctinos like the ones I'm drawing - say, between the content of the fiction and the method for generating that content - you have not done so. I don't know why you don't. And the fact that you don't only makes it harder for me to work out what you have in mind.

If I were to then implement a system of weapon degradation and breakage, even if that system did not mirror real life AND if I didn't consult an expert on swords, that would also be a realism increase that is not based on subjective interpretation.
See, the olnly person I know who uses the word "realism" like this is you. Everyone else I know would say that if the system you implement produces unrealistic incidences of swords breaking, then it in fact has not increased realism and may have decreased it.

In your usage, a player who says The game was more realistic without that silly subsystem is literally engaged in self-contradiction. Whereas it strikes me as obvious that a player who says such a thing not only is not engaged in self-contradictio, but might be saying something true!

One of your more recent comments has only confused me all the more, namely, your suggestion that the system of damage dice in D&D is an instance of realism. Because that's not even pointing to a real-world phenomenon. Swords are longer than daggers, and hence give better reach; I suspect they may be better for parrying (for similar reasons). But is a sword twice as "stabby" as a dagger (4.5 vs 2.5 average damage)? What does that question even mean? Damage dice perform a clear function in the game, but the notion that they map "realism" in any serious way is something that I can't even make sense of. And that's before we even get onto the relationship between hit points as a damage mechanic and "realism".

When RM advocates talk about increasing realism I know what they have in mind: more systems that (i) will produce in-fiction events that roughly correlate (in character and frequency) to real-world events, and (ii) involve a granularity of process that more-or-less reflects what happens in the real world, especially as far as key decision-points are concerned. Mere narration doesn't cut it. And it would never occur to them to point to equipement lists with metal longswords on them as evidence of realism: even Tunnels & Trolls has that!

I have a certain fondness for the RM aesthetic. I don't play RM anymore, but two systems that I do play - Burning Wheel and Classic Traveller - have aspects that resemble RM quite closely.

But you aren't advocating for the RM aesthetic. You oscilllate between fictional content and content-generating processes as your criterion for realism. And you seem to deny that realism in any way depends on the relationshiop between the frequency of ingame events and the frequency of their real-world correlates. And you point to stuff that has virtually no meaning outside of its mechanical context - like weapon damage dice - as instances of realism.

When I say that I don't understand what the position is that you're defending, I'm quite sincere.
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
That is one [em]huge[/em] rabbit hole. I think it is more like a dragon's den! Who wants to march into that thing??!

I was a wargamer before I was an RPG gamer. I don't think there is a different definition of realistic. There may be some differences in the two genre of game, not surprisingly, but the same considerations faced Gygax in designing D&D as faced Gygax in designing Chain Mail. In either case you need relatively succinct mechanics which can provide a range of outcomes which would occur in the thing you are simulating.

In the case of Chain Mail, the designer probably hoped that the mechanics of combat also produced results which were reasonably true to life. If a Roman cohort in good order stood on an even piece of ground facing off against some Celtic irregular warriors, guess what would happen about 99.9% of the time? You can produce this sort of outcome pretty reasonably in Chain Mail, and it can be run in a fair amount of time.

Note, however, that Chain Mail does recommend (I don't think they demand it as a necessity) that there be a referee, who would likely adjudicate things not explicitly covered in the rules (IE decide what the effects of heavy rain might be on some archers).

D&D obviously evolved from this, as we know, but the areas which it covers are much more diverse and this is probably why Gygax puts 'realism' in quotes when talking about D&D. Not because he is using a different definition, but because he simply has different goals and depicting heroic fantasy adventure doesn't need to be realistic in the same way that Chain Mail does.
So, I mostly agree with this, which is why I have brought this up several times (and why I can't understand [MENTION=42582]pemerton[/MENTION] 's reference to playing rolemaster since 1990).

But let's really unpack this. I mean, we start with the classic Brownstone (Braunstein)/Blackmoor/Greyhawk (heh, colors are awesome!). I won't presume to lecture you on the history I am sure you already know, but suffice to say that we start with a background of actual wargaming that kinda/sorta morphed into TTRPGS (Wesley as the first referee/DM and Brownstone) to a player then taking it and morphing it even more, using adapted chainmail rules (Arneson to Blackmoor) to it then being morphed even more and codified into OD&D by Gygax (and Arneson) (Greyhawk).

OKAY ... but going back, what happened with Wesley? Well, he thought all of this fireballs and dragons and what-not was total BS; he was a WARGAMER and wargamers believed in things that are REAL; you know, learning about and recreating history! REALISM. None of this namby-pamby hobbits and balrogs and faeries stuff. C'mon, as if a self-respecting Kriegsspiel player would have ever played D&D! ;)

So this is the background for Gygax, a wargamer's wargamer prior to D&D. Even Chainmail (taken from NEWA's publication of Patt's Battle of Pellennor Fields- because good artists borrow, great artists steal) was an attempt at making an orderly "real" fantasy combat system.

This idea, of (usually historical) verisimilitude is key to the concept of the realism-simulation school that Gygax is referencing (without quotes) on p. 9 of the DM's guide; the school of wargaming thought that reached it apotheosis (if you can call it that!) with The Campaign for North Africa that was published the same year as the DMG.

So when he was writing the forward, Gygax had two audiences in mind- the Wesleys and Wargamers who thought that RPGs were a frivolity- he was saying, in effect- yes. It is fun. That's the point. It's a game. Not history. Heck, I remember this war quite well.

But that wasn't the only audience- at the same time, remember that Gygax HATED competitors; and while the Tunnels and Trolls brigade annoyed him a little of course, he really didn't like the Chivalry & Sorcery attacks (roleplaying is fine, but *sniff* D&D isn't realistic enough).

Again, though, it's also a case of protesting too much- on the one hand, EGG is correctly acknowledging that there is a necessary balance between "realism" (simulation, authenticity, whatever you want to call it) and other factors- here, he would say, "fun, excitement, and captivating fantasy," but on the other hand, he can't help but bring in his wargaming routes- aka, a need to make things more complicated, to create systems for resolution, and to try and make things, to some extent, realistic. Still, it was a tired debate then (yes, there are tradeoffs to everything), and it is no less tired now.


To sum up - the more I think about it, I can only think that individuals who enjoy playing with lighter rule sets (for example) believe that their system are realistic; and that's fair. I think that there is just a natural and disconnect going on between how people use terms, and their connotations, that causes a defensiveness - similar to the discussions between wargamers and RPGers more than 40 years ago. When the proper response is simply, "I like what I like, and there are no free lunches. Now, why don't you get back to me with your theories about how more realism is always good after you finish The Campaign for North Africa?" ;)
 

pemerton

Legend
I can't understand [MENTION=42582]pemerton[/MENTION] 's reference to playing rolemaster since 1990
Because Rolemaster players feel that being lectured by a D&D player about what realism in RPGing means is like an Australian lecturing a Canadian about what cold and snow are all about.

Or to put it another way: I've done 100s and 100s of hours of process sim RPGing - far more than [MENTION=23751]Maxperson[/MENTION] has. Maxperson has, as far as I know, never played RM, never played RQ, never played C&S, and maybe has played some GURPS or HERO (I can't remember on these last two).

I've been part of a play culture that has a very robust sense of what realism in RPGing means, and that is very conscious of the difference between and relationships between mechanical process and fictional content. And I can't make sense of what Maxperson is saying.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Because Rolemaster players feel that being lectured by a D&D player about what realism in RPGing means is like an Australian lecturing a Canadian about what cold and snow are all about.

Or to put it another way: I've done 100s and 100s of hours of process sim RPGing - far more than [MENTION=23751]Maxperson[/MENTION] has. Maxperson has, as far as I know, never played RM, never played RQ, never played C&S, and maybe has played some GURPS or HERO (I can't remember on these last two).

I've been part of a play culture that has a very robust sense of what realism in RPGing means, and that is very conscious of the difference between and relationships between mechanical process and fictional content. And I can't make sense of what Maxperson is saying.
I've played Rolemaster, GURPS(a very small amount) and HERO, but not in a very long time.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
But I can't make sense of what you're arguing for. For instance, you seem to be saying that RPGs are more realistic than they might otherwise be because they contain such real-world phenomena as objects falling to earth when dropped, or people wielding swords that hurt others when struck by them. That seems to be using, as a criterion of "realism", the presence of real-world phenomena in the fiction.
That's where realism starts, yes. Those are attempts attempts to model real life happenings.

But you appear to deny that introducing content such as disease, or damaged weaons, as an element of narration increases the realism of the fiction. I don't know why.
I didn't say that. What I said is that you should have mechanics for them. Otherwise they lack sufficient realism(in my opinion) to even bother with. There's no point in telling someone his weapon is dinged up, bent, dull or whatever, if there's no mechanical difference between that weapon and a brand new sharp one.

You also appear to have asserted that a system for generating RPG content that is triggered by extraneous events - like clocks chiming or feline flatulance - is not a realistic one. And that also seems to be using, as a criterion of "realism", the process whereby the fiction is established.
Cat farts and clocks chiming don't cause weapons to break down. Cat farts coming out of the rears of cats and clocks chiming when they hit the hour or half hour would be realism.

In your usage, a player who says The game was more realistic without that silly subsystem is literally engaged in self-contradiction. Whereas it strikes me as obvious that a player who says such a thing not only is not engaged in self-contradictio, but might be saying something true!
Misperception. A player who thinks the game was more realistic without the silly subsystem is misperceiving realism in the game. With no system at all, there is 0 realism involved with that topic. With a system, there is realism involved with that topic. That's an objective increase in realism. Where the misperception is likely coming from is that when there is no system, players often ignore the topic, but when a silly subsystem is used, it brings that topic to the forefront and smacks the players in the face. They're suddenly paying far more attention to that topic, so it SEEMS less realistic when it's really not.

One of your more recent comments has only confused me all the more, namely, your suggestion that the system of damage dice in D&D is an instance of realism.
That isn't what I said. What I said is that D&D making larger and/or heavier weapons do more damage was realistic. They use damage dice as the system to model that, so in the context of the system D&D uses, a d8 for a longsword is more realistic than a d10, because a longsword isn't as large or heavy as the other weapons in the d10 range.

Because that's not even pointing to a real-world phenomenon. Swords are longer than daggers, and hence give better reach; I suspect they may be better for parrying (for similar reasons). But is a sword twice as "stabby" as a dagger (4.5 vs 2.5 average damage)?
It doesn't matter. Can the D&D system be made more realistic by getting into those issues and resolving them close to how real life daggers and swords are? Sure. It's not necessary for the current D&D system to involve realism, though.

But you aren't advocating for the RM aesthetic. You oscilllate between fictional content and content-generating processes as your criterion for realism. And you seem to deny that realism in any way depends on the relationshiop between the frequency of ingame events and the frequency of their real-world correlates. And you point to stuff that has virtually no meaning outside of its mechanical context - like weapon damage dice - as instances of realism.
Rolemaster was fun, but took things too far with regard to realism. I don't D&D to turn into Rolemaster. I don't need a chart for each weapon, dealing with armor from skin to plate and the various hit point damage and crit types depending on what you roll. What's with the number 66 anyway? Why was that number so deadly on the crit charts?
 
I just showed you with multiple examples pulled from just the first few pages of the PHB that he uses my definition. What's certain is that when he said realism doesn't belong in D&D, is that he meant mirroring reality. The alternative is that he's a hypocrite that said realism doesn't belong in D&D, and then spent page after page after page putting realism into D&D. I don't think he was a hypocrite.
Not sure how you are disagreeing with me. D&D is NOT realistic, both Gary and I agree on that!
 
To sum up - the more I think about it, I can only think that individuals who enjoy playing with lighter rule sets (for example) believe that their system are realistic; and that's fair. I think that there is just a natural and disconnect going on between how people use terms, and their connotations, that causes a defensiveness - similar to the discussions between wargamers and RPGers more than 40 years ago. When the proper response is simply, "I like what I like, and there are no free lunches. Now, why don't you get back to me with your theories about how more realism is always good after you finish The Campaign for North Africa?" ;)
Just to be amusing, since I have really nothing I want to expand on or disagree with, I actually belonged to a club which played The Campaign for North Africa. They then went on to play a full integrated run of War in the East, War in the West, and War in the Pacific. Ever seen the Earth at 30 miles per hex? She be big.

That same group was bursting with D&D and other RPG players. We happily did all of these things and nobody cared. I had micro-armor, Sea Power, 15mm fantasy armies, etc. We just friggin' loved to ROLL SOME DICE!

Now, there were those Napoleonics guys, they weren't really all that fun... ;)
 
But it does have a good amount of realism, which he was deeply into based on the rules and statements he makes all throughout the editions he wrote.
I think Gygax, as most game designers of that time and in some respects to this day, believed that there had to be a certain degree of authenticity. He was creating a fantasy RPG with heroes, swords, dragons, dungeons, wizards, etc. It had to reflect an understanding of the genre, and be relatable to real life in some degree, of course. Just like a fantasy novel must. So it is understood that the situations which happen in D&D are 'true to life' in some degree, which does mean realistic. That realism is in the service of play. It makes things comprehensible and relatable. He was uninterested in whether something was realistic per-se. As am I also.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Actually, I think the entirety of D&D is a refutation of this argument. A rather thorough one in fact! The game was instantly, at its initial inception, trapped by the structure of its mechanics, the places where it is abstract, and others where it is concrete, and the way it structures participant roles, etc.
All true, yet even there within that framework one can, if one wants, hew closer to or farther from the realistic.

It has never escaped ANY of this, and the one time it got close/arguably did, you all utterly rejected the result!
If you're referring to 4e (and if not, to what are you referring) and thus trying to imply 4e was less abstract than the other D&Ds, you're off the mark all round. One of the main reasons 4e was rejected was because it was too abstract.

I would argue that game designers find it necessary to implement some sorts of mechanics, lest there be no game at all. Yet, to a large degree, the choices they make at the start are unlikely to be overcome later, or incrementally improved. Instead, whole new game systems are usually constructed.
The mechanics give a framework, within which a DM can decide whether to - and how to - make her game seem to her players a) more or less realism-based and-or b) more or less authentic within itself. Both a) and b) are choices a DM has to make, even if she doesn't realize she's doing so.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
But weapon size is not necessarily an indicator of damage. ... Why does a mace deal 1d6 damage when a longsword deals 1d8 damage?
Good question. In 1e a mace did d6+1 to non-large foes where a longsword did d8 - exactly the same average but the mace didn't have the option of doing 1 or 8.

One could argue there's in fact some realism behind this: a longsword hit could just nick you (1 pt damage) but any hit from a mace is more likely to pack some punch (thus starts at 2 pts damage). At the other end a longsword, being a stabbing weapon, could carve through more vital bits on a good strike (thus 8 pts maximum) where a mace is only ever going to hurt you on the outside, though sometimes painfully (so max 7 pts damage).
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I've been part of a play culture that has a very robust sense of what realism in RPGing means, and that is very conscious of the difference between and relationships between mechanical process and fictional content.
This difference is worth noting.

For my part I'm mostly concerned with realism (or authenticity) in the content of the fiction - the ends - rather than so much the mechanical processes used to get there - the means.

That said, there's means that make it easier* to achieve these desired ends and means that make it more difficult; and not all of these means are necessarily hard-coded rules. All I want is to avoid those means that make it more difficult, and call them out when I see them.

* - though often more time-consuming; a spectrum along wich everyone eventually finds his-her acceptable trade-off point.

Maxperson said:
I didn't say that. What I said is that you should have mechanics for them. Otherwise they lack sufficient realism(in my opinion) to even bother with. There's no point in telling someone his weapon is dinged up, bent, dull or whatever, if there's no mechanical difference between that weapon and a brand new sharp one.
Here I disagree to some extent, as I'm not that much a part of the "rule-for-everything" crowd.

Telling someone a weapon is beat-up or dull or bent should, if the player is immersed in playing her role, cause her to have her PC tend to said weapon reasonably soon (or replace it) whether there's mechanical ramifications involved or not.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I think Gygax, as most game designers of that time and in some respects to this day, believed that there had to be a certain degree of authenticity. He was creating a fantasy RPG with heroes, swords, dragons, dungeons, wizards, etc. It had to reflect an understanding of the genre, and be relatable to real life in some degree, of course. Just like a fantasy novel must. So it is understood that the situations which happen in D&D are 'true to life' in some degree, which does mean realistic. That realism is in the service of play. It makes things comprehensible and relatable. He was uninterested in whether something was realistic per-se. As am I also.
I don't see how he could be interested in making the game relatable to real life via realism, and be interested in making things in D&D true to life to some degree via realism, and be uninterested in realism. I can see how he might be uninterested in excessive realism, though.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Just to be amusing, since I have really nothing I want to expand on or disagree with, I actually belonged to a club which played The Campaign for North Africa. They then went on to play a full integrated run of War in the East, War in the West, and War in the Pacific. Ever seen the Earth at 30 miles per hex? She be big.
Dare I ask, how big?

Was your map laid out on the floor of an aircraft hangar? :)
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Here I disagree to some extent, as I'm not that much a part of the "rule-for-everything" crowd.

Telling someone a weapon is beat-up or dull or bent should, if the player is immersed in playing her role, cause her to have her PC tend to said weapon reasonably soon (or replace it) whether there's mechanical ramifications involved or not.
That works for many things, but not for this. If I'm immersed in my role and I have this beat up sword, but the other fighter in the party has a gleaming new sword, and both weapons are functioning identically, that's going to be jarring for me. The role of a beat up sword is to function less well than a brand new one, and if you try to model that role, it's either going to be modeled though a mechanical rule or via DM fiat. While I am a fan of DM fiat, in this case the DM just announcing periodically that the PC misses due to the sword being dull or does half damage this time for the same reason, or the weapon snaps now, is not going to go over all that well.
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
Because Rolemaster players feel that being lectured by a D&D player about what realism in RPGing means is like an Australian lecturing a Canadian about what cold and snow are all about.
Ah, I see! ;)

I was confused because it seemed to be a response to the issue of Gygax's quotes and the wargaming/TTRPG issue.
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
Just to be amusing, since I have really nothing I want to expand on or disagree with, I actually belonged to a club which played The Campaign for North Africa. They then went on to play a full integrated run of War in the East, War in the West, and War in the Pacific. Ever seen the Earth at 30 miles per hex? She be big.
I don't know if I am envious or scared. Terrified or amazed.

Scenvious? Terrimazed?

Hmmmm.... only portmanteaus will do! I may have mentioned this before, but I remember some grizzled wargamers who preferred naval combat (with a table that was, oh, I want to say 30' on one side with long push sticks for the boats). What I truly remember, though, is that they killed time between turns by calculating artillery distances between various landmarks in town.

You know .... as people do. It was a different time. :)
 

pemerton

Legend
Cat farts and clocks chiming don't cause weapons to break down.
Nor does rolling a certain result on a die cause weapons to break down. We're talking about systems for deciding what happens in the fiction.

What's with the number 66 anyway? Why was that number so deadly on the crit charts?
Having a deadly result somewhere in the middle of the charts doesn't affect the odds of rolling an unmodified deadly result, but does change the odds of getting a deadly result if Ambush skill is used to modify a crit.
 

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