Fallacious Follies: Oberoni, Stormwind, and Fallacies OH MY!

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
I occasionally discuss my dislike of internet conversations that derail into people arguing about arguing, as opposed to discussing the issue at hand. So, instead of having yet another interjection regarding it, I thought I'd go into detail in a thread about two things that I always find particularly pernicious in conversations about RPGs; first, of course, is when someone brings out the dreaded "informal logical fallacy" into a discussion. Second is the choice to create new logical fallacies in order to pwn one's opponents; which is an issue closely related to the misuse of jargon (something I may, um, have discussed in the past). With all of that in mind, let's dive into the topic!


A. What Are Informal Logical Fallacies?
Frosties are just cornflakes for people who can't face reality.

Let's start by doing a brief refresher; all of those terms (strawman, ad hominem, strawman, appeal to authority, strawman etc.) that you hear on the internet so often? They are not, strictly, so-called "logical fallacies" in the sense that they are fallacies of formal logic. Instead, they are fallacies in informal logic. Which ... well, it matters, as we are about to see. Now, a brief refresher on formal logical fallacies. Formal logical fallacies are failures in formal deductive reasoning, which is to say that they are necessarily non sequiturs. All formal logical fallacies can be expressed in a standard logic system, which some of you may recognize from Philosophy 101 (or whatever your similar class was).

If A is true, then B is true. (If I am a cat, I am an animal.)
A is false. (I am not a cat.)
Therefore, B is false. (Therefore, I am not an animal.)

This is denying the antecedent. There are a number of formal logical fallacies, and, of course, it is always possible that the conclusion can be true. It's just not the case that the conclusion must be true even if the premises or true. Formal logic doesn't determine the truth-value of the argument (conclusion), but only whether the argument itself is valid. For example-

If you respond to my email, that means you read my email.
You didn't respond to me email.
Therefore, you didn't read my email.

The form of this argument is invalid, but it's entirely possible that the other person didn't, in fact, read the email. Logical fallacies can only tell you about the validity of the form of the argument, but cannot tell you anything about the truth of the conclusion.

With that refresher out of the way, what is an informal logical fallacy? Well, that's ... more complicated, despite what you might think, given that there are schools of thought that informal fallacies are not necessarily fallacies. But generally, informal fallacies are considered to be incorrect or improper arguments in natural language. While there are numerous examples of informal fallacies, all of them can generally can be considered one of three types- fallacies of relevance (probably the most common), fallacies of ambiguity, and fallacies of presumption.

Let's take everyone's favorite (or second favorite... ahem, I'm looking at you, ad hominem) fallacy on the internet. The STRAWMAN. The strawman is a fallacy of relevance. Fallacies of relevance involve a premise that is not relevant to the conclusion. So how would this look?

Zeno: I do enjoy listening to music. Music is soothing.

Achilles: You like music, eh? So you enjoy playing Bards, do you? You bard-lover. Every person here knows that Bards are the single worst thing to happen to D&D, and no one can possibly agree with you that Bards should exist for anything other than as ammunition for trebuchets.

There, Achilles is arguing against a position that is similar, but not the same, as the one asserted by Zeno. Achilles is refuting an easier argument (technically, the easiest!); he is attacking a strawman. But his conclusion (Bards are bad) is not relevant to Zeno's proposition (music is soothing).

So that's the overly-simplified refresher on a topic that normally takes a lot more to cover. But I'm not paid by the word ... despite appearances.


B. Why Not Use Informal Logical Fallacies In Discussions?
I'm just a normal, functioning member of the human race and no one can prove otherwise.

The next time you are about to use "strawman" (or any other informal fallacy) in a conversation on EnWorld .... just ... don't. Don't use it. See what happens instead!

Here's the thing- understanding logic and understanding rhetoric can help you understand argument and discussion. It helps when you are reading what other people are saying in order to respond to them and to discuss issues with them. But it doesn't help when you use those terms in the discussion. In fact, it almost always hurts. Even when you happen to use it correctly.

Let's use three classic examples- the strawman, ad hominem, and circular reasoning ('begging the question'):

A: 5e should have more advanced martial options.

B: Oh, so you want 5e to be exactly like 4e, eh? We all know what happened with 4e! Why do you want to kill D&D?

I am using an extreme example here so the point isn't missed. You have two choices- either you can reply by shouting back "strawman" .... or .... you don't. Here's the thing- what is the value-add of actually saying strawman? If you go down that route, if you start saying "strawman," it is most likely that you will end up arguing over what, exactly, is a strawman, whether it's a strawman or not, etc. You're not engaging in a conversation about whether or not 5e should have more advanced options....

You are arguing about arguing.

On the other hand, you can just not use the term strawman at all. In which case, you have two choices:

1. Disengage. If the person is truly intentionally misrepresenting you, then why discuss anything with them?

2. Try to de-escalate. "Hey, I appreciate that feedback, but that wasn't my point. I was thinking about some advanced martial options within the framework of 5e- not a comment about 4e one way or the other. Do you have any thoughts on that? Thanks!"

It's the same thing with ad hominem. If the person is directly insulting you, just tell them. "I don't think that the issue of whether of not "yo mama plays bards" is really relevant. Moving back to Greyhawk ..." If it's really that bad, you can always report them, or ignore them. Saying "ad hominem," even if it's true, adds nothing to the conversation.

And it's the same with circular reasoning as well. "5e is the best ever edition, because they surveyed people about the best things to put into 5e, and then they only put the best things into 5e." I mean .... great! Putting only the best things ever into something tends to make it pretty pretty pretty good. So, cool? But instead of yelling at the poster that they are supporting a claim with a premise that is the claim, maybe just inquire what they are really doing? "I am a little confused about this thread- is this for fans of 5e to talk about how great it is?"

Discussion is supposed to fun, and arguing about arguing? That's usually the antithesis of fun. And if someone does derive fun from arguing about arguing, well ... that's probably not someone you want to discuss issues with.


C. Okay, But What If I Really, Really Want To Sprinkle My Posts With Cool Terms, Sometimes in Latin?
She is attractive, but brown rice and pop tarts, chamomile tea and economy vodka? That’s a car crash of a shopping basket.
Well, there's some problems with that as well. First, most people just don't use the terms correctly; remember, these aren't formal logical fallacies, but fallacies in natural language. Which means that, given the different parameters of natural language, one person's informal fallacy is another person's proper argument. Next, a lot of people tend to confuse terms ... a lot of what people toss around as informal fallacies are actually cognitive biases or paradoxes (which are different). The base rate fallacy (and the related false positive paradox) are fallacious (in the sense of false) but they aren't informal logical fallacies.

Finally, and most importantly, informal logical fallacies are not necessarily improper argument. This is always a difficult concept for some people to understand. Informal fallacies may be important to pay attention to, but are not necessarily incorrect in argument (ethos, logos, pathos) and are often useful as heuristics. For example, the appeal to motive is ad hominem or ad verecundiam, but it is common and accepted to both weaken an argument ("Of course she's providing an alibi- she's the wife!") as well as strengthen an argument ("He's a stalwart company man that has worked at the plant for 30 years, but he admitted BigChemCo poisoned the river.") as it can go to issues of credibility or bias.

There are numerous classic examples of this- if you have ever been in a courtroom, or watched a courtroom drama, you know that informal fallacies of relevance (such as ad hominem) can be completely proper arguments. For example, if someone is shown to be a liar, then you can discount what they are saying.

Or to put it more simply- most of us have learned the story of the little boy who cried wolf. Right? Now, what is moral of the story? The real moral? Is it A, or B?

A. Every time that the boy cried wolf, the villagers should have come, because he was arguing "There was a wolf there," and to not come would be to accept an ad hominem against the child. INFORMAL FALLCY FTW!!!!

B. Credibility and honesty matter, because people don't believe liars.

And you see this play out all the time. Take the argument ad verecundiam (appeal to authority). What you often see on the internet is people neglect that this isn't just an appeal to authority, it's an appeal to a false authority. Authority ... expertise in a field ... matters! It is perfectly acceptable to appeal to the authority of people who have knowledge about that subject. And so on; you will see people that wrongly dismiss, say, the fact that Barbie was a smash hit as an appeal to popularity; that's not an appeal to popularity, that's a statement regarding the fact that the movie did really well. To bring this back to gaming, it is common to see people dismiss the actual sales of 5e as an "appeal to popularity," which is true if someone is saying that 5e is good because it's popular; but has no relevance when people are discussing ... the actual sales of figures of 5e.

For a variety of reasons, then, the use of informal logical fallacies in conversations is almost never going to be productive- you're likely going to use it incorrectly, many uses are perfectly acceptable in terms of informal discussion (or even more formal argument, such as in a courtroom, which tends to have more formal rules than internet forums), and, at best, you'll end up arguing over arguing.

In short, if you wouldn't use it in a conversation in person, why do it in a discussion here? I find that to be the best test- if you can't imagine saying it at a cocktail party when you're talking to friends, why whip it out here?


D. Why Creating New "Fallacies" Is A Bad Idea in TTRPGs
Justice is done. Not actual justice, but what I wanted to happen, which is basically the same thing.

We've all been there. People keep making the same argument that we don't like. And that argument ... it's not just misguided. It's not just stupid. It's not just wrong. It is so wrong, and so stupid, and so misguided ... that the people who have those beliefs are irrational. So, let's just create a term for it, so that we can make sure that every time we see that argument, they will know just how stupid and illogical they are!

And that's where we get to the creation of so-called "new fallacies" in the TTRPG sphere. Now, if you read the above and you think that this actually sounds like a good idea and is likely to persuade anyone other than those who already agree with you ... I'm not sure I can explain it any better. That said, I want to make sure I differentiate two things-

First, there is a long history on the internet of naming things and creating adages. Because it's funny and sometimes useful. Poe's Law. Godwin's Law. Betteridge's Law of Headlines. Here, I've seen a few ... Ancalagon's Apothegm, Gorice's Gospel*.

*1. Ancalagon's Apothegm: If you ever write something about how awesome people are, they will immediately prove you wrong.
2. Gorice's Gospel: All conversations about TTRPG theory on enworld inevitably become arguments about the Forge.

But these are are just internet sayings. There's a colorable difference between those sayings, and creating your own fallacies for purposes of internet argument. And it's always for internet argument, isn't it?

Which brings us to the Stormwind Fallacy and the Oberoni Fallacy. I bring these up only because you will occasionally see them tossed around as if they were settled law; although no person I am aware of has settled these particular issues. Let's look at each of them-

The Stormwind Fallacy- Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa.

So what's the problem with this? The Stormwind fallacy is, itself, a fallacy. There are multiple ways to characterize it, but I prefer to think it goes to irnoratio elenchi (ignoring refutation), or colloquially, missing the point. Obviously, I have neither the desire nor the time to kickoff a "roll v. role" debate, so I will make the point as quickly as possible ... um... for me at least. I don't think that anyone would ever argue that there are players that optimize and also roleplay. I also don't think that there are players that would ever argue that there are players that are both terrible at the rules, and also terrible at roleplaying ... but they are good at drinking ... DEREK. So this trite saying doesn't actually address any of the actual discussions people have about the interplay of optimization and roleplaying, either in general, or in their experience. It ignores the issues discussed and presents a refutation that doesn't actually address anything substantive; if someone said, "Kids are drowning in the pool that doesn't have a fence," you could reply with, "Water is wet," which is a true statement, but doesn't actually address the issues raised.

The Oberoni Fallacy- There is no inconsistency/loophole/mechanics issue with Rule X, because you can always Rule 0 the inconsistency/loophole/mechanics issue.

This one is more difficult, and requires a little more unpacking. Let's start by simplifying it and rewording it. There is no PROBLEM with Rule X, because you can always FIX the PROBLEM.
All I've done is simplify the language regarding issues to "PROBLEM" and change Rule 0 to "FIX." Should be pretty uncontroversial. When you've done that, it becomes easier to see the actual issues with this so-called fallacy. First, people would have to agree that there is a problem- this is often the crux of most conversations, which is ignored. One person's problem isn't another person's. But let's assume there is agreement that there is a problem! So you can take the statement literally- "There was never any problem, because you can always fix the problem." Well, that's an absurd statement! "My car's bumper doesn't have a problem, because I duct taped it into place," doesn't mean that there was never a problem with bumper.

But let's turn this around a little; RPGs are, by their very nature, incomplete systems. To the extent that there is a Rule 0 (or similar mechanism for adjudication or modification), that is part of the rules, and changes made pursuant to it are also part of the rules. There will always be room for adjudication. And the norms and expectations in RPGs assume that people will continue to "make games their own," through modification, use of 3PP, and homebrew, or even the creation of their own systems. More simply, RPGs are not cars. When people are having a discussion, they are saying, quite simply, "I don't have an issue with Rule X, because I do this." So to tell them that there is a problem, one that they do not have, is also incorrect.

In more concrete terms for RPGs, we can look at how it applies in two different contexts-
A. Defining the problem. Take the martial/caster debate. PLEASE. Ahem. So, person A says that the martial/caster divide is a problem with 5e. However, that isn't something that is universally agreed-upon. Just because one person believes something to be "a problem" in the rules, doesn't make it so. If person B suggests a way to fix it for person A, then that still doesn't mean that this is "A PROBLEM," it just means that someone is suggesting a fix for person A.

B. Actual rules problems. In AD&D, the PHB stated that Monks attack as thieves. The DMG has them attack as Clerics. This is an actual rule problem- an inconsistency. While there is a "correct" answer (clerics, Sage Advice #31), saying that you could Rule 0 the correct answer doesn't actually get rid of the fact that there was a written issue in the rules.

Generally, though, the problem with this so-called fallacy is that people aren't discussing actual rules inconsistencies, so much as trying to shut down people who are offering their advice with dealing with specific issues. On a higher level, the Oberoni Fallacy isn't a fallacy, it's simply a statement as to the philosophical approach one takes to gaming; one might as well say, to coin a phrase, "Rules, not rulings."


E. Okay, But Why Should I Care About All of This?
I guess the only good thing is that my life is so boring it feels like it might go on forever ... like Snarf's posts.

Well, the short answer is no one can make you care about anything! The long answer is that the two issues discussed (using informal logical fallacies, and creating new "fallacies") are anathema to discussion. Weirdly, they suffer from different defects- going into informal logical fallacies will often derail conversations. Instead of discussing the topic at issue, you end up arguing about arguing. The use of "created RPG fallacies" is different, because they were created to shut down conversations. Both the ones I have cited, as well as the ones you see created here on a semi-regular basis (trying to make fetch happen) are used not to clarify issues, but to articulate a particular point of view in a conversation.

Specifically, that your point of view is correct, and that any who disagree with you are ... irrational. Fallacious. Incorrect. And that's not a productive way to have a conversation.
 
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payn

He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
Specifically, that your point of view is correct, and that any who disagree with you are ... irrational. Fallacious. Incorrect. And that's not a productive way to have a conversation.
Pretty much this. I think often these newly invented fallacies are kneejerk reactions to the above being applied to them. Just an attempt to sound smarter than the average bear.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
On the other hand, you can just not use the term strawman at all. In which case, you have two choices:

1. Disengage. If the person is truly intentionally misrepresenting you, then why discuss anything with them?

2. Try to de-escalate. "Hey, I appreciate that feedback, but that wasn't my point. I was thinking about some advanced martial options within the framework of 5e- not a comment about 4e one way or the other. Do you have any thoughts on that? Thanks!"

Gonna push back a little bit on this.

I agree with you that, in the middle of a discussion on what pies orcs prefer, an argument about the definition of some logical fallacy is at best off-topic. And folks should always feel free to disengage from any discussion.

We are still left with an issue - a boycott doesn't improve anything if the target doesn't know why you are boycotting. And, your interaction with a person does not occur in a vacuum.

Whether you literally use the word "strawman" or not isn't going to be material - "I'm sorry, that's a strawman, and I'm not going to engage with it," and "I'm sorry, that's not an accurate representation of what I said, and I'm not going to engage with it," will in the long run do about the same thing - so long as you actually don't engage with it in the thread.

As a matter of improving culture, clearly stating what you're not engaging with, and why, helps normalize better approach to discussion. It may not improve the particular interaction, but it speaks to everyone else in the discussion, some of whom may get the point.

Also, if you make that clear statement, you don't leave folks wondering if you are being passive-aggressive, expecting something to change when you haven't been clear about what.
 

The thing is though that sometimes people are genuinely misrepresenting what you said and arguing against that misrepresentation.

But what should happen when its pointed out, though, is that questions must be asked, and they need to demonstrate they're actually trying to follow what was actually said.

This becomes a problem when people for whatever reason refuse to go back and reread a topic. I personally do this all the time precisely because internet discussions and debates quickly get unwieldy and its good to go back and refresh on what exactly is even being talked about.

But not everyone does that, and I'd argue the ones that absolutely should be doing so, but don't, are often the ones that get people piping up with strawman accusations. It isn't fair to the speaker to expect them to constantly reiterate an entire conversation for any random person who interjects when said random refuses to read the topic for its context, and then goes on to just keep arguing rather than asking questions.

And re: Oberoni, this one tends to get thrown around inappropriately because a lot of people don't seem to know the difference between seeking help and complaining.

Ie, someone will post a "question" regarding some issue and how they post it will set up an expectation that they want an answer that will resolve that issue.

So people come along and in many cases, Rule Zero is often an efficient fix to resolve the issue, and get you back into the game.

But then comes the reply, and suddenly thats not what the poster wanted. What they actually wanted was to just complain. They already know theres no non-Rule Zero solution, and they for whatever reason decided to frame their complaint as if they didn't already know this, while simultaneously asking people to give solutions. And now we've got an argument.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
I occasionally discuss my dislike of internet conversations that derail into people arguing about arguing, as opposed to discussing the issue at hand. So, instead of having yet another interjection regarding it, I thought I'd go into detail in a thread about two things that I always find particularly pernicious in conversations about RPGs; first, of course, is when someone brings out the dreaded "informal logical fallacy" into a discussion. Second is the choice to create new logical fallacies in order to pwn one's opponents; which is an issue closely related to the misuse of jargon (something I may, um, have discussed in the past). With all of that in mind, let's dive into the topic!


A. What Are Informal Logical Fallacies?
Frosties are just cornflakes for people who can't face reality.

Let's start by doing a brief refresher; all of those terms (strawman, ad hominem, strawman, appeal to authority, strawman etc.) that you hear on the internet so often? They are not, strictly, so-called "logical fallacies" in the sense that they are fallacies of formal logic. Instead, they are fallacies in informal logic. Which ... well, it matters, as we are about to see. Now, a brief refresher on formal logical fallacies. Formal logical fallacies are failures in formal deductive reasoning, which is to say that they are necessarily non sequiturs. All formal logical fallacies can be expressed in a standard logic system, which some of you may recognize from Philosophy 101 (or whatever your similar class was).

If A is true, then B is true. (If I am a cat, I am an animal.)
A is false. (I am not a cat.)
Therefore, B is false. (Therefore, I am not an animal.)

This is denying the antecedent. There are a number of formal logical fallacies, and, of course, it is always possible that the conclusion can be true. It's just not the case that the conclusion must be true even if the premises or true. Formal logic doesn't determine the truth-value of the argument (conclusion), but only whether the argument itself is valid. For example-

If you respond to my email, that means you read my email.
You didn't respond to me email.
Therefore, you didn't read my email.

The form of this argument is invalid, but it's entirely possible that the other person didn't, in fact, read the email. Logical fallacies can only tell you about the validity of the form of the argument, but cannot tell you anything about the truth of the conclusion.

With that refresher out of the way, what is an informal logical fallacy? Well, that's ... more complicated, despite what you might think, given that there are schools of thought that informal fallacies are not necessarily fallacies. But generally, informal fallacies are considered to be incorrect or improper arguments in natural language. While there are numerous examples of informal fallacies, all of them can generally can be considered one of three types- fallacies of relevance (probably the most common), fallacies of ambiguity, and fallacies of presumption.

Let's take everyone's favorite (or second favorite... ahem, I'm looking at you, ad hominem) fallacy on the internet. The STRAWMAN. The strawman is a fallacy of relevance. Fallacies of relevance involve a premise that is not relevant to the conclusion. So how would this look?

Zeno: I do enjoy listening to music. Music is soothing.

Achilles: You like music, eh? So you enjoy playing Bards, do you? You bard-lover. Every person here knows that Bards are the single worst thing to happen to D&D, and no one can possibly agree with you that Bards should exist for anything other than as ammunition for trebuchets.

There, Achilles is arguing against a position that is similar, but not the same, as the one asserted by Zeno. Achilles is refuting an easier argument (technically, the easiest!); he is attacking a strawman. But his conclusion (Bards are bad) is not relevant to Zeno's proposition (music is soothing).

So that's the overly-simplified refresher on a topic that normally takes a lot more to cover. But I'm not paid by the word ... despite appearances.


B. Why Not Use Informal Logical Fallacies In Discussions?
I'm just a normal, functioning member of the human race and no one can prove otherwise.

The next time you are about to use "strawman" (or any other informal fallacy) in a conversation on EnWorld .... just ... don't. Don't use it. See what happens instead!

Here's the thing- understanding logic and understanding rhetoric can help you understand argument and discussion. It helps when you are reading what other people are saying in order to respond to them and to discuss issues with them. But it doesn't help when you use those terms in the discussion. In fact, it almost always hurts. Even when you happen to use it correctly.

Let's use three classic examples- the strawman, ad hominem, and circular reasoning ('begging the question'):

A: 5e should have more advanced martial options.

B: Oh, so you want 5e to be exactly like 4e, eh? We all know what happened with 4e! Why do you want to kill D&D?

I am using an extreme example here so the point isn't missed. You have two choices- either you can reply by shouting back "strawman" .... or .... you don't. Here's the thing- what is the value-add of actually saying strawman? If you go down that route, if you start saying "strawman," it is most likely that you will end up arguing over what, exactly, is a strawman, whether it's a strawman or not, etc. You're not engaging in a conversation about whether or not 5e should have more advanced options....

You are arguing about arguing.

On the other hand, you can just not use the term strawman at all. In which case, you have two choices:

1. Disengage. If the person is truly intentionally misrepresenting you, then why discuss anything with them?

2. Try to de-escalate. "Hey, I appreciate that feedback, but that wasn't my point. I was thinking about some advanced martial options within the framework of 5e- not a comment about 4e one way or the other. Do you have any thoughts on that? Thanks!"

It's the same thing with ad hominem. If the person is directly insulting you, just tell them. "I don't think that the issue of whether of not "yo mama plays bards" is really relevant. Moving back to Greyhawk ..." If it's really that bad, you can always report them, or ignore them. Saying "ad hominem," even if it's true, adds nothing to the conversation.

And it's the same with circular reasoning as well. "5e is the best ever edition, because they surveyed people about the best things to put into 5e, and then they only put the best things into 5e." I mean .... great! Putting only the best things ever into something tends to make it pretty pretty pretty good. So, cool? But instead of yelling at the poster that they are supporting a claim with a premise that is the claim, maybe just inquire what they are really doing? "I am a little confused about this thread- is this for fans of 5e to talk about how great it is?"

Discussion is supposed to fun, and arguing about arguing? That's usually the antithesis of fun. And if someone does derive fun from arguing about arguing, well ... that's probably not someone you want to discuss issues with.


C. Okay, But What If I Really, Really Want To Sprinkle My Posts With Cool Terms, Sometimes in Latin?
She is attractive, but brown rice and pop tarts, chamomile tea and economy vodka? That’s a car crash of a shopping basket.
Well, there's some problems with that as well. First, most people just don't use the terms correctly; remember, these aren't formal logical fallacies, but fallacies in natural language. Which means that, given the different parameters of natural language, one person's informal fallacy is another person's proper argument. Next, a lot of people tend to confuse terms ... a lot of what people toss around as informal fallacies are actually cognitive biases or paradoxes (which are different). The base rate fallacy (and the related false positive paradox) are fallacious (in the sense of false) but they aren't informal logical fallacies.

Finally, and most importantly, informal logical fallacies are not necessarily improper argument. This is always a difficult concept for some people to understand. Informal fallacies may be important to pay attention to, but are not necessarily incorrect in argument (ethos, logos, pathos) and are often useful as heuristics. For example, the appeal to motive is ad hominem or ad verecundiam, but it is common and accepted to both weaken an argument ("Of course she's providing an alibi- she's the wife!") as well as strengthen an argument ("He's a stalwart company man that has worked at the plant for 30 years, but he admitted BigChemCo poisoned the river.") as it can go to issues of credibility or bias.

There are numerous classic examples of this- if you have ever been in a courtroom, or watched a courtroom drama, you know that informal fallacies of relevance (such as ad hominem) can be completely proper arguments. For example, if someone is shown to be a liar, then you can discount what they are saying.

Or to put it more simply- most of us have learned the story of the little boy who cried wolf. Right? Now, what is moral of the story? The real moral? Is it A, or B?

A. Every time that the boy cried wolf, the villagers should have come, because he was arguing "There was a wolf there," and to not come would be to accept an ad hominem against the child. INFORMAL FALLCY FTW!!!!

B. Credibility and honesty matter, because people don't believe liars.

And you see this play out all the time. Take the argument ad verecundiam (appeal to authority). What you often see on the internet is people neglect that this isn't just an appeal to authority, it's an appeal to a false authority. Authority ... expertise in a field ... matters! It is perfectly acceptable to appeal to the authority of people who have knowledge about that subject. And so on; you will see people that wrongly dismiss, say, the fact that Barbie was a smash hit as an appeal to popularity; that's not an appeal to popularity, that's a statement regarding the fact that the movie did really well. To bring this back to gaming, it is common to see people dismiss the actual sales of 5e as an "appeal to popularity," which is true if someone is saying that 5e is good because it's popular; but has no relevance when people are discussing ... the actual sales of figures of 5e.

For a variety of reasons, then, the use of informal logical fallacies in conversations is almost never going to be productive- you're likely going to use it incorrectly, many uses are perfectly acceptable in terms of informal discussion (or even more formal argument, such as in a courtroom, which tends to have more formal rules than internet forums), and, at best, you'll end up arguing over arguing.

In short, if you wouldn't use it in a conversation in person, why do it in a discussion here? I find that to be the best test- if you can't imagine saying it at a cocktail party when you're talking to friends, why whip it out here?


D. Why Creating New "Fallacies" Is A Bad Idea in TTRPGs
Justice is done. Not actual justice, but what I wanted to happen, which is basically the same thing.

We've all been there. People keep making the same argument that we don't like. And that argument ... it's not just misguided. It's not just stupid. It's not just wrong. It is so wrong, and so stupid, and so misguided ... that the people who have those beliefs are irrational. So, let's just create a term for it, so that we can make sure that every time we see that argument, they will know just how stupid and illogical they are!

And that's where we get to the creation of so-called "new fallacies" in the TTRPG sphere. Now, if you read the above and you think that this actually sounds like a good idea and is likely to persuade anyone other than those who already agree with you ... I'm not sure I can explain it any better. That said, I want to make sure I differentiate two things-

First, there is a long history on the internet of naming things and creating adages. Because it's funny and sometimes useful. Poe's Law. Godwin's Law. Betteridge's Law of Headlines. Here, I've seen a few ... Ancalagon's Apothegm, Gorice's Gospel*.

*1. Ancalagon's Apothegm: If you ever write something about how awesome people are, they will immediately prove you wrong.
2. Gorice's Gospel: All conversations about TTRPG theory on enworld inevitably become arguments about the Forge.

But these are are just internet sayings. There's a colorable difference between those sayings, and creating your own fallacies for purposes of internet argument. And it's always for internet argument, isn't it?

Which brings us to the Stormwind Fallacy and the Oberoni Fallacy. I bring these up only because you will occasionally see them tossed around as if they were settled law; although no person I am aware of has settled these particular issues. Let's look at each of them-

The Stormwind Fallacy- Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa.

So what's the problem with this? The Stormwind fallacy is, itself, a fallacy. There are multiple ways to characterize it, but I prefer to think it goes to irnoratio elenchi (ignoring refutation), or colloquially, missing the point. Obviously, I have neither the desire nor the time to kickoff a "roll v. role" debate, so I will make the point as quickly as possible ... um... for me at least. I don't think that anyone would ever argue that there are players that optimize and also roleplay. I also don't think that there are players that would ever argue that there are players that are both terrible at the rules, and also terrible at roleplaying ... but they are good at drinking ... DEREK. So this trite saying doesn't actually address any of the actual discussions people have about the interplay of optimization and roleplaying, either in general, or in their experience. It ignores the issues discussed and presents a refutation that doesn't actually address anything substantive; if someone said, "Kids are drowning in the pool that doesn't have a fence," you could reply with, "Water is wet," which is a true statement, but doesn't actually address the issues raised.

The Oberoni Fallacy- There is no inconsistency/loophole/mechanics issue with Rule X, because you can always Rule 0 the inconsistency/loophole/mechanics issue.

This one is more difficult, and requires a little more unpacking. Let's start by simplifying it and rewording it. There is no PROBLEM with Rule X, because you can always FIX the PROBLEM.
All I've done is simplify the language regarding issues to "PROBLEM" and change Rule 0 to "FIX." Should be pretty uncontroversial. When you've done that, it becomes easier to see the actual issues with this so-called fallacy. First, people would have to agree that there is a problem- this is often the crux of most conversations, which is ignored. One person's problem isn't another person's. But let's assume there is agreement that there is a problem! So you can take the statement literally- "There was never any problem, because you can always fix the problem." Well, that's an absurd statement! "My car's bumper doesn't have a problem, because I duct taped it into place," doesn't mean that there was never a problem with bumper.

But let's turn this around a little; RPGs are, by their very nature, incomplete systems. To the extent that there is a Rule 0 (or similar mechanism for adjudication or modification), that is part of the rules, and changes made pursuant to it are also part of the rules. There will always be room for adjudication. And the norms and expectations in RPGs assume that people will continue to "make games their own," through modification, use of 3PP, and homebrew, or even the creation of their own systems. More simply, RPGs are not cars. When people are having a discussion, they are saying, quite simply, "I don't have an issue with Rule X, because I do this." So to tell them that there is a problem, one that they do not have, is also incorrect.

In more concrete terms for RPGs, we can look at how it applies in two different contexts-
A. Defining the problem. Take the martial/caster debate. PLEASE. Ahem. So, person A says that the martial/caster divide is a problem with 5e. However, that isn't something that is universally agreed-upon. Just because one person believes something to be "a problem" in the rules, doesn't make it so. If person B suggests a way to fix it for person A, then that still doesn't mean that this is "A PROBLEM," it just means that someone is suggesting a fix for person A.

B. Actual rules problems. In AD&D, the PHB stated that Monks attack as thieves. The DMG has them attack as Clerics. This is an actual rule problem- an inconsistency. While there is a "correct" answer (clerics, Sage Advice #31), saying that you could Rule 0 the correct answer doesn't actually get rid of the fact that there was a written issue in the rules.

Generally, though, the problem with this so-called fallacy is that people aren't discussing actual rules inconsistencies, so much as trying to shut down people who are offering their advice with dealing with specific issues. On a higher level, the Oberoni Fallacy isn't a fallacy, it's simply a statement as to the philosophical approach one takes to gaming; one might as well say, to coin a phrase, "Rules, not rulings."


E. Okay, But Why Should I Care About All of This?
I guess the only good thing is that my life is so boring it feels like it might go on forever ... like Snarf's posts.

Well, the short answer is no one can make you care about anything! The long answer is that the two issues discussed (using informal logical fallacies, and creating new "fallacies") are anathema to discussion. Weirdly, they suffer from different defects- going into informal logical fallacies will often derail conversations. Instead of discussing the topic at issue, you end up arguing about arguing. The use of "created RPG fallacies" is different, because they were created to shut down conversations. Both the ones I have cited, as well as the ones you see created here on a semi-regular basis (trying to make fetch happen) are used not to clarify issues, but to articulate a particular point of view in a conversation.

Specifically, that your point of view is correct, and that any who disagree with you are ... irrational. Fallacious. Incorrect. And that's not a productive way to have a conversation.
The Snarfian Fallacy
Even though it is helpful to understand common forms of argument raised in connection with what one says, it is faulty to label those forms as such in subsequent responses.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
The problem with the Oberoni fallacy is that it’s often misused. People tend to assume a problem or rule for them is a universal problem for everyone. Game rules will never please everyone, and one feature for one person may be a bug for another.

For example, if a person says they have a problem with a particular rule that the vast majority don’t, it’s not really an Oberoni fallacy to say a solution is to houserule or change the rule. Most of us houserule something or other, especially with a game with so many rules like an rpg.

It’s important to recognize how a person is having a legit problem for them, and it’s a problem for them, but it’s also important to realize that because you (general you) have a problem with a rule, that doesn’t mean the rule is a broken rule in general.
 

Apropos of the "Oberoni" construct, specifically, I would say that there are, broadly speaking, two circumstances where it can be brought to bear:

First, when the gameplay that actually shakes out from a game's rules and mechanics is at odds with the gameplay the designers intended, in a way that is "bad" (by which I mean easily causes players to become bored, frustrated, disengaged, or otherwise stop enjoying the game) - to the extent that we can discern such intent explicitly or implicitly from the rules or from designer commentary. For instance, if a cyberpunk-style game is meant to encourage thrilling heists and chases with occasional outbursts of violence, but in practice play tends to revolve around avoiding missions entirely (because they're too dangerous) or devolving into constant shoot-em-ups, there is something wrong with the mechanics that maybe you can fix with a Rule Zero, but shouldn't have to.

The second is when a game just isn't that well designed - e.g. even when gameplay is shaking out as intended, it produces "bad" play as defined above. I would suggest classic Monopoly or Risk play as being examples here, especially in comparison with, say, Monopoly Deal. In this case, again, maybe you can fix such issues with a Rule Zero, but should you really have to?

The fly in the ointment of course is that there's unlikely to be any kind of consensus on these matters or even a plurality of agreement: For instance, is the martial/caster divide in D&D 5e intended by the designers? Whether it is or isn't, does it actually result in "bad" gameplay for a large enough portion of the game's intended player base to constitute a design problem as opposed to simply not being to the tastes of some player constituency or another? (*) And, if the designers aren't especially clear on their intent - or even if they are - who gets to decide? One could ask the same questions about any other common arguments that arise about D&D.

(*) D&D in particular isn't very good at articulating who it thinks its "intended player base" is, not least since it still seems to heart-on-sleeve expect that to be "everyone who plays RPGs". That only exacerbates these issues, since D&D therefore has many "player constituencies" that often have incompatible visions for what D&D play "ought to" be like.
 


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