I know what you mean by laws.Hmm... for me, as I'm thinking about the imagined inhabitants, laws is right. In the sense of laws of nature, laws of physics, and so on.
But causation and law are not the same thing. I know how I can (typically) cause a person to say hello, namely, by greeting them cheerfully myself. But no one knows what laws (if any) govern human behaviour. Only in certain special domains (primarily physics and some aspects of chemistry) is causation fully subsumed under laws.
I strongly differ in relation to this idea of "perfection".For me, it's valuable to have in mind the perfect simulation, because the games we call simulationist are believed to be imperfect simulations or approximations (as you explain above). That forces reflection on the matter of degrees of granularity: all are imperfect, none have 1:1 fidelity to the reference cosmos*. [EDIT When it comes to what they dictate, none are comprehensive and all are representative.] We can only be placing games and their mechanics along a scale, where none are perfect.
What makes RM less than "perfect" as a simulationist RPG is not that its crit tables aren't fully comprehensive of all the injury that might follow from injury during swordplay. It is that its system of OB/DB split permits the player to inject a metagame agenda - their sense of the significance of a situation - that does not necessarily correspond to any reasoning their PC would be undertaking in the fiction. To put it another way, it permits author over actor stance at certain key moments of play.
And this goes back to the point that the goal of simulationist RPGing is not to achieve an engineer's or scientist's model, but is to eliminate the metagame and have the fiction unfold on a causal trajectory that is generated by the mechanics. And RM's attack tables achieve this even if they are not complete as a model.
Here I find myself not knowing what it means for imagined people to have experiences, expectations and behaviours compatible with a RPG mechanic. That seems to be positing that the content of the clouds may or may not be compatible with the occurrence of the boxes - which seems to be a category error.Laws in turn provide me with a wonderful filter for simulationist mechanics. I can ask - could the imagined inhabitants of the cosmos have experiences, expectations and behaviours that are compatible with the mechanics? If not, then my supposedly simulationist mechanic deserves further scrutiny... perhaps rejection.
We exclude on the grounds of being fortune in the middle, of prompting and constraining but not dictating narration, or inviting metagame intervention.That doesn't make all games and mechanics necessarily simulationist, but it does mean we can't exclude on grounds of being approximate or representative.
We can't tell whether a D&D PC on 1 hp or 0 hp is about to die, or is about to recover, until after we learn which happens to them. In other words, being on 1 hp or 0 hp is not revealing the imagined cosmos in action. It is consistent with contradictory imaginings!, and we don't know which one to imagine until after the event. As I have already posted, it is no different from Robin Laws remarks about narrating the ebb and flow of action points in HeroWars.
Are there examples of simulationist mechanics and processes, or of simulationist play, that you think Ron Edwards has mischaracterised? Do you disagree with his repeated contrast of RuneQuest and HeroWars/Quest?