D&D General FKR: How Fewer Rules Can Make D&D Better

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
This is an interesting perspective that gives me a little more insight into why this might be desirable. I really don't like the idea of trying to play a game that I don't know the rules to. In fact, I'd argue constraining the world down to a system of rules that every actually follows is the primary appeal of games as an activity for me. Most descriptions of FKR I've run across do read quite a lot like "I really wish my players didn't know the rules and would stop asking me about them," which honestly sounds less like a fun time and more like a No Exit style of hell purpose built for me. "Play the world, not the rules" is less a freeing motto, and more a reminder that the actual world is a frustrating place.

What I find interesting though is that I generally want to solve the same problems that I think FKR is aimed at. I'd like players to achieve, as @EzekielRaiden is putting it, "Groundedness & Simulation" where the events of the game more or less make naturalistic (or perhaps more precisely "mechanical") sense, follow from causes, and results are determined procedurally. The difference is that I've always viewed resolving that as a design question, something that should sit inside the rules, and from which failures should be hunted down and pruned away. What interests me is how much that ultimately seems to rely on design by accumulation; I'd rather like to see a bunch of rules documents worked up over years of playing games as starting places.
Incidentally, I was thinking of exactly what you describe in your second paragraph when I said, "sometimes even just one subtype" of G&S and "superior at delivering a specific kind of G&S-based play." (Edit: That is, thinking of the fact that there are these two distinct styles of G&S, lite vs crunchy.) I don't think I thought of you by name, but given our interactions over the years, I'd be lying if I said you had had no influence on that.

Because this really is an unusual dichotomy, where it seems like both sides fully agree on the reason for the action, yet there are two modes and most folks get pushed toward one or the other, ne'er the twain shall meet. Either extensive structure, iterated upon so it becomes ever more precise and correct, or minimalistic structure, reduced as much as possible so error becomes merely a matter of incorrect decisions. As you say, it's a matter of whether one treats the difficult spots as "this is a design problem, to be addressed by doing more design," or as "this is an evaluation problem, to be addressed by giving better evaluations." Ultimately, both require something to grow in complexity and intricacy; it's just whether that complexity is formal procedure or informal intuition.
 
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clearstream

(He, Him)
A lot of the time, I fail my own wisdom saving throw. I sometimes will refer to FKR with the assumption that people will know what I'm talking about, given that I've written about it in the past. However, as @Micah Sweet recently reminded me, that is not the case. So, since it has been a while since I've gone into this, I thought I'd post some collected thoughts on the subject, and end with a conclusion as to how, even if you do not choose to play FKR games, some of the concepts can be used in your own D&D game.


1. What is FKR?
Despite being the stuff of nightmares, Santa is the world’s most popular home intruder.

To start with, there isn't a single answer to even the most basic of questions. The "FK" part is easy- Free Kriegsspiel. As for the R? Well, it is usually used to refer to Revolution, although it's also Revival as well as Roleplaying. But before even getting into the debate over RRR (hat tip, BOLLYWOOD!) let's look back at the history to remember what Free Kriegsspiel is!



So FKR, whatever the R might be, is really an attempt to recapture that original roleplaying spirit- to make do with less, not more. To have players engage with the world without worrying about the rules. To play, as much as possible, in that "Arneson-ian" model. But if you just read that long excerpt, you're probably still confused ... what is FKR?

I've previously had multiple threads on the subject, as well as trying to answer questions, but in the end, my advice is always the same- it's better to just do it than to ask a lot of questions, because many people struggle conceptually with it, and it's much easier to learn by doing.

It was ages ago, but I still remember the first time I encountered a diceless roleplaying game. And it took me nearly a year to be able to run it! I just ... couldn't grasp it. As simple as the concepts seem to me now, I just didn't know what to do. Honestly, if it wasn't for the fact that I really really really wanted to play Amber, I might have given up. But why ... why was it so hard for me to understand? A big part of it was that I spent a year trying to understand instead of just doing it- reading and re-reading and trying to make sense of it in terms of having spend more than a decade playing dice-based games with heavy rulesets.

And I think that the issue FKR proponents have (from their perspective) is similar- how do you explain to someone who is used to rolling abilities, that they don't need to? How do you explain to someone who is used to checking their skills, that they don't need worry about those skills? How do you explain to someone who has spent years engaging in rules mastery ... that rules don't matter? Fundamentally, the questions that get asked end up being completely orthogonal to the issue, and are usually best resolved by doing.

And that's why we see this as a relatively formless and amorphous thing. What is FKR? What are the real and salient features? The real reason I think it's hard to pin down is because it's not based in a working theory, so much as aspiration. Play the world, not the rules. Get the rules out of the way.

What is FKR? First, it's the description of a movement, of people advocating for a type of play. Second, it's about the reduction of rules. It's about reducing the rules to the absolute minimum, and then reducing them even more.

Rules-lite. This is an FKR game-
View attachment 285269

That's not the cover. That's the game.


2. Understanding Why FKR Matters
Why are you the one crying when it’s the onion that is getting hurt?

Does FKR matter? I mean, in a certain way ... nothing matters. But having already gone through that awkward phase involving way too much black eyeliner, let me assure you- nihilism is exhausting. It takes a extraordinary amount of energy to not care. Anyway, FKR is a necessary piece of a large puzzle. You can see this by looking at the way that "FKR" approaches different games.

For example, a lot of the early proponents of FKR were drawn from the OSR community, and were people that were attracted to the idea of getting "back" to the concept of play that existed before the rules cruft of 1e- to, in effect, try and capture the early Arnesonian model of play. An example of this would the Landshut Rules. Others have noted that Any Planet is Earth draws inspiration from how Marc Miller actually ran Traveller. You can see it tackle off-beat ideas, such as magic in the time of Napoleon with Dark Empires. Then again, maybe you're a Blades in the Dark fan ... FKR has you covered too with Mersserspiel!

Or, perhaps, you've seen me post something stupid.
YOU ARE A DISCO PARTY ANIMAL. YOU ARE A PROFESSIONAL ATHLETE. You are navigating a complicated world of fans, drugs, and disco. The dancing lights, the blinding lights …

You don’t want trouble. You and your fellow sports-friends just want a good time after a hard day of playing your sport for fame and money. And yet … trouble always seems to find you. Aliens, animal/hybrid athletes, undead worshippers of yacht rock, robot narcs with bad blow, living nightmares summoned by cursed relics, that guy 'Chad' who only nods his head to the music, and worse … they all stand between you and your bliss- partying on the dance floor and busting out your insanely superior dancing styles. You might not have a “badge” or “official authority,” but you’re a famous person with impeccable dance moves. People know who you are. THEY KNOW WHO YOU ARE. They are looking to you to keep the party going.

You have three abilities:
FAME How recognizable you are to the commoners you sometimes have to associate with. This is not your brain, just the flame, it puts you in charge to keep you sane.
MONEY How many of your millions are left after your agent, your family, your agent’s family, your drug dealer, your dealer’s family and your entourage have taken their cut. The best things in life are free, but you can give them to the birds and bees- you have to pay to play.
DANCE You can dance, you can jive, having the time of your life. Let the music take control, let the rhythm move you- everybody dance now! Just ... not as good as you.
You have-a 1, and-a 2, and-a 3. Assign one number to each ability.

WHY ARE YOU FAMOUS? (d6)
1. On the field legend. It’s just about the rings.
2. In commercials for brands. What brands? All of them.
3. Social media superstar. More people watch you on TikTok than watch the World Cup.
4. Tabloid wreck. You’re shambolic, and people love to root for you falling (to get back up again).
5. You’re famous for partying with all the famous people. Every rose its thorn, and every ‘gram has its you.
6. Your golden-honeyed voice powers a singing career that has eclipsed both your on-field exploits and your off-field dancing.

WHAT IS YOUR UNIQUE DANCE MOVE? (2D10, COMBINE)
1. Moon
2. Booty
3. Natural
4. Void
5. Shadow
6. Running
7. Cha-cha
8. Drunken
9. Crazy-legged
10. Robotic
+
1. Chicken
2. Hammer
3. Slideriffic
4. Rabbit
5. Faceplant
6. Sidelick
7. Elephant Trunk
8. Elevation
9. Vertigo
10. Shakeyshakeys

WHAT TYPE OF ATHLETE ARE YOU? (d6)
1. Path of the Racket
2. Way of the Track
3. Keeper of the Eighteen Holes
4. Baller of the Baskets
5. Oath of the Footballer
6. Art of the Rink

HOW DO?
Narrate your actions. If you’re in doubt of the result because it’s something that will solve a major problem or provide you an advantage over an NPC, roll d6x(ability number), so an ability score of 2 lets you roll 2d6. Roll for most applicable ability; if you’re trying to score or bribe someone, roll MONEY, but if you need to intimidate the Erudite GOAT with your amazing dance moves, roll DANCE. In addition, you can trade party favors for additional dice.

DC
4= standard
5=risky stuff
6=woah now!

If the highest dice roll>DC, you have succeeded and you get to describe what happens. If it’s the same, you succeed, you get a pooper, and the GM describes something bad that happens as well. If it’s lower, you fail, get a pooper, get a favor, and the GM describes something bad.

When you fail, if your pooper>highest dice, YOU ARE THE PARTY POOPER. You need to take a break to boot & rally, and reset your poopers and favors to zero.

GAMEMASTER SECTION
Set up the first domino for the players and let them start knocking things over. If a situation can’t be resolved by dancing, partying, or the player asking the NPC, “Do you know who I am?” ask yourself, “Could I make this situation solvable by dancing, partying, or unthinking privilege exercised by someone famous and/or rich?”

WHAT KIND OF DANCE PLACE DOES THIS RESEMBLE? (d6)
1. Studio 54, but more gaudy and less restrained.
2. The Hacienda nightclub, but more psychedelic.
3. The Limelight, but less feel-good.
4. Le Clique, but more acrobats and less clothes.
5. Mudd Club, themed for Mother’s Day.
6. It’s a warehouse. Somewhere. Don’t tell anyone.

WHAT’S HAPPENING AT THE DISCOTHEQUE? (Roll 2d6 twice, nest the problems within each other)
2. A cursed dreamcatcher inside the disco ball is manifesting the nightmares of the guest into reality!
3. It’s a non-stop party, and no one can leave or stop dancing while the dancing lights play over the dance floor!
4. The kinky dungeon (INVITE ONLY) is being run by ravenous vampires!
5. The paintings in the unfinished rooms of the building begin to animate!
6. Killer robots? Killer robots!
7. Zombie rock lovers want to turn the beat around and bring the club to the soothing sounds of Michael McDonald. So smooth!
8. Aliens are taking over the bodies of the dancers and replacing them one ... at ... a time.
9. A truckload of tourists infected with a terrible plague breaks in and start line-dancing.
10. A mad scientist is going to use the disco ball as a power source for his laser to melt the polar ice caps, but first ... he must clear the dance floor.
11. The spirits and wraiths of those who have partied before begin to appear throughout the club.
12. The Fire Department has been alerted to code violations, except the Fire Department is a cult that worships a dark demon lord.

WHO IS TRYING TO STOP THE PARTY? (Roll 2d6 twice)
2. The Erudite GOAT. The mutated hybrid clone of Tom Brady and Albert Einstein is going to bore you to death explaining the scientific basis for great athletic performance.
3. The Destitute Dragon. The head of the Klan hates how disco music is bringing marginalized people together, and is going to destroy the dance and take your money.
4. The Thin White Dude. This cadaverous figure is going station to station and want to kill you and take your drugs.
5. Le Freak. A monstrous abomination that wishes it was chic.
6. The Woodknocker. A scary monster, but not a super creep.
7. Boogie Oogie Oogie. A ghoul with scent of carrion, the look of death, but the taste … of golden honey.
8. Sheena the Punk Rocker. She's going to carry all the kids away from the Discotheque.
9. The Chief of Police. The very very sexy Chief of Police.
10. The Unappreciated Bouncer, resentful of the party people.
11. The hot avatar of a hot god who'd rather spend quality time with you.
12. The uncaring abyss that is the over-forward march of time, and to which we all must, in the end, admit defeat.

But the important thing to notice is this- other than the paucity of written rules, there can be a lot of variation in exactly what constitutes an FKR game. So instead of focusing on the specifics of the games (which can vary) I think it's more important to look at the philosophy and the approach and to examine why it matters, and what it can bring to our games.

I often think that disparate approaches can be useful analytical lenses with which to view games. One constant tension we see in RPGs is the distinction between first-order design and second-order design. While the game designer can exert direct control over the rules of the game, the actual gameplay depends on the processes that emerge at the table. This gameplay, this "second-order design" can be glimpsed through extensive playtesting, and can be addressed through the rules (the first order), but will always be, to some extent, beyond the ability of the game designer to dictate.

Thinking about this issue, you can see that there might be two disparate ways to approach a problem. Imagine that you have a table playing a game (say, D&D 3e). You're enjoying it, but you keep finding that the game itself, the rules, they aren't conducive to the type of game you want! From there, you could then think of two possible solutions-
1. Focus on the rules, and change them to match the style of play you're looking for. If the rules are the problem, and the rules .... matter ... then the solution is new rules.
2. If the rules are the problem, get rid of the rules. The difference between a board game and a TTRPG is you are not constrained by the rules since you have a human that can adjudicate.

Same problem, different solutions. One is design-centric, one is table-centric. One focuses on the first-order design issue, and one focuses on the second-order design by, for all practical purposes, punting on first-order design. That's not to say that FKR proponents have no thoughts on issues like preferences for opposed dice rolls, or dice pools, or even the high-falutin' topics like the "division of authority" between the players and the DM- but that these issues are subsumed under the more general gestalt of looking to make the rules minimal and subservient to the fiction.

The goal of FKR proponents is to shrink the size of the rules to the point where you can drown the stragglers in a bathtub.


3. Some General Questions About FKR, Answered
Why do we need police? Because one in twenty people have been the victim of crime, which means that nineteen out of twenty people are criminals.

A. That's a lot of words, Snarf. I still don't get it. What is FKR?
sigh
When in doubt, substitute "rules-lite." That said, I will quote Jim Parkin-


B. Is FKR for everyone?
HA HA! No. People like what they like. For example, if you are the type of person who gets into fiddly bits and loves chargen and min/max, FKR probably isn't going to be your bag. If you love massed combats on tables with minis, FKR doesn't offer a lot. If you've got a great group playing PbTA variants and enjoying deep character complexity, I don't think that FKR games will give you anything in particular that you are seeking. Finally, because FKR is so resolutely anti-commercial, it's just not going to have a lot of products. FKR is, and will likely remain, a rounding error even when it comes to the indie games for TTRPGs.

C. Is FKR just OSR with different letters?
Absolutely not. While some FKR proponents certainly came from the OSR crowd, OSR is concerned with recreating the rules of early D&D versions as well as the styles of play (see, e.g., OSE, OSIRIC, etc.). FKR is focused on removing rules, and the games encompass an infinite variety of genres ... from the profound to the profoundly stupid.

D. Some of the links you have below talk about "high trust." Is this just the "big con" for DMs to do whatever they want?
Nope. "High trust" means that everyone at the table trusts each other- the players trust the referee to make fair rulings, the referee and players trust each other to engage in the fiction in good faith, and so on. If you looked at the various games I've linked to (or even looked at Perfected ....) you will notice that FKR games don't have a unified view of authority. A great example of this is Cthulhu Dark. This is how the issue of authority is addressed:
Who decides when to roll Insanity? Who decides when it’s interesting to know how well you do something? Who decides when something disturbs your PC? Who decides whether you might fail? Decide the answers with your group. Make reasonable assumptions. For example, some groups will let the Keeper decide everything. Others will share the decisions. These rules are designed to play prewritten scenarios, run by a Keeper. If you try improvising scenarios or playing without a Keeper, let me know.

That said, there are a fair number of games that will default to the Arnesonian model (which is more referee-centric). This is an example from Dark Empires-
Action, Risk and consequences...
The game master clearly describes the situation and environment to the players. The players use common sense and what they already know about the world to decide upon and then clearly describe their characters actions.
The gm will then decide if their suggested action is feasible and then apply the consequences.
If the outcome of the situation is unclear, is very risky or has a poor chance of success the player and gm both roll 2d6. If the player rolls higher than the gm they succeed! If the gm rolls higher, the player fails in some way or the action succeeds but at some cost.
The difference in the results indicates the degree of success or failure.


The one theme going through is that there is trust at the table; this is what I often refer to as the assumption that everyone is playing in good faith, but has also been stated, more colorfully by Mike Mornard, as The Rules can't fix stupid, and they can't fix a*h**.

E. So What is FKR Good At?

Fun. FKR is FUN! I don't want oversell it, but if I want to do a one-shot, or do an limited-time adventure, this is exactly perfect. And the best thing is ... there are no limits in terms of genres or subjects. Any thing that tickles my fancy ... I can do. I don't have to wait for BigRPG to publish a sourcebook. I don't have to worry about balance. I don't have to get all concerned about whether my synergistic character options for my 5th level MC character are actually a TRAP at 10th level.

And these experiences carry over, too. FKR makes me a better and more agile DM in other games, and it make my players better and more interesting players in other games as well. If you've been playing rules-heavy games for a while (and compared to FKR, they are all rules-heavy), it can do wonders to actually play games where there is no real focus on the rules, the mechanics ... the game ... and the focus is entirely on the fiction. It can refresh and reinvigorate your approach to other games.

F. Uh huh. So, again, if FKR is so magical, is it bad at anything?
In my opinion? Yes. First, it is harder to run long campaigns. This is a personal opinion- if you go around on-line, you'll find FKR people that will swear up and down that they've run FKR campaigns for years. And, of course, the original Arnesonian model was a campaign as well. But my honest opinion is that without scaffolding it becomes harder. And that scaffolding for advancement ... well, that's usually going to be rules. It's not impossible to run FKR campaigns for a long time, and people certainly do it, but it will take additional effort (IMO).

The other issue is slightly more abstract, and is what led to my series of posts (which I will finish any month now) on dice- FKR, much like PbTA games, can lack a certain "gaminess" feeling. It's not that it isn't fun, and rewarding, but it does less to tickle that part of the brain that is there for the joy of playing a game. Or, put another way, say what you will about the slog that is D&D combat, but there is something about seeing a 20 pop up when you're fighting for your life.


4. Conclusion- What Can I Use From FKR in my D&D Game?
Some of Churchill’s words were immortal. If he was alive today, imagine how good his tweets would’ve been.

I think that there are a few things that I have learned. The first is that FKR is an amazing palate cleanser. The versatility and lightness of the rules means that it's not intimidating for players, and I can run an FKR game on those nights when everyone doesn't show up, or just as a break. It reinvigorates and recharges.

Next, it gets the referee and players thinking more about the fiction in D&D. I believe this to be important- far too often, players are looking at their character sheets for solutions, and DMs are thinking about the rules in order to say no. When people are engaged with the fiction in D&D, it provides for a better experience. D&D will always have a ton of rules, but remembering that the rules are supposed to be the servant of the fiction, not the master ... that makes the game better for my table.

Finally, and this may not be for everyone, my main gaming table simply incorporates certain FKR concepts into D&D. Even though 5e is simplified (compared to other editions), the basic concepts of FKR allow for even further simplification. Imagine the following-

Your player says she does something.
You disagree.
You both roll dice.
If your player rolls high, her view of reality prevails.
If you roll high, your view prevails.
If you roll within 3 of each other, you negotiate.

I mean ... why not, right?



I do not agree with everything that is stated by these other sites, but they all provide additional and interesting information if you wish to look further.

Reddit Thread - Brief Introduction to FKR (this has additional links in it as well)

Free Kriegsspeil: Worlds, Not Rules (d66 Kobolds)

How I Run an Ultralight Game (d66 Kobolds)

Free Kriegsspiel Roleplaying (Underground Adventures)

In Praise of Rulings, Not Rules (Revenant's Quill)

Rules, Laws, and Worlds (Dreaming Dragon Slayer)

Table-Centric Design (Yak-Hack)

Invisible Rulebooks (Rolltop Indigo)

Finally, this is an interesting mini-essay where someone considered, and eventually rejected, the idea that they should move toward FKR-
Is My Trajectory FKR? (Roleplay Rescue)

That's just scraping the surface- there are innumerable blog posts, youtube videos, and other resources if you want to look further into these issues, as well as discord communities and so on.
There is a question I have been working on in relation to FKR,

Q. Can FKR be played in a "simulationist" mode?

As a brief definition, characteristics I would equate with "simulationist" include - immersion, persistent world external to characters, causes, coherence, consistency.

What do you think?
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
There is a question I have been working on in relation to FKR,

Q. Can FKR be played in a "simulationist" mode?

As a brief definition, characteristics I would equate with "simulationist" include - immersion, persistent world external to characters, causes, coherence, consistency.

What do you think?

Arguably, this is the primary mode.

Assuming we are looking at the GDS model (because I honestly don't want to get into that), most FKR will often sacrifice the "G" heavily, and the "D" may or may not be a concern (and many FKR proponents eschew the D ... oh, that's unfortunate phrasing).

But if you look at the basic concepts of "play the world," the whole idea is simulating a world- a fiction. I think a lot of people get confused because FKR allows you to simulate any fiction- and is often used to simulate genres tropes and other fictional fictional, which is also completely within the purview of FKR games.

Heck, look at the entry I put in above that I tossed off for the Iron DM contest; I would say that it was an FKR contest, and it was a "simulation" (certainly not overly G, and definitely not D!) of certain common tropes and conventions.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
Arguably, this is the primary mode.

Assuming we are looking at the GDS model (because I honestly don't want to get into that), most FKR will often sacrifice the "G" heavily, and the "D" may or may not be a concern (and many FKR proponents eschew the D ... oh, that's unfortunate phrasing).

But if you look at the basic concepts of "play the world," the whole idea is simulating a world- a fiction. I think a lot of people get confused because FKR allows you to simulate any fiction- and is often used to simulate genres tropes and other fictional fictional, which is also completely within the purview of FKR games.

Heck, look at the entry I put in above that I tossed off for the Iron DM contest; I would say that it was an FKR contest, and it was a "simulation" (certainly not overly G, and definitely not D!) of certain common tropes and conventions.
The subsidiary question that puts in mind is how does FKR achieve simulation, if we exclude diving into detailed game mechanisms in game texts? (Or does one exclude that?)
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
The subsidiary question that puts in mind is how does FKR achieve simulation, if we exclude diving into detailed game mechanisms in game texts? (Or does one exclude that?)

I'm not entirely sure I fully understand the question- I feel like there is an unstated premise I am missing?

Detailed game mechanics may, or may not, be used to achieve simulation. This is one of those age-old debates; sure, you could play Phoenix Command and get a more detailed simulation of the ballistics, but ... is that what you want if you want to play a game that mirrors the movie tropes of a Jason Statham film?

I think that people often mistake complexity for simulation. And somewhat related, people often assume that simulation must be perfect and all-encompassing; but that was never the point of the S in GDS. People that enjoy simulation (and immersion) are not demanding reality; after all, by definition a simulation that is part of a game will be a subset.

FKR achieves simulation by an agreed-upon fiction.
 

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
The subsidiary question that puts in mind is how does FKR achieve simulation, if we exclude diving into detailed game mechanisms in game texts? (Or does one exclude that?)
This gets at what I referred to earlier. Essentially, you have conceived of simulation as achieved through only one over-arching method: detailed mechanical structures which, collectively, create a sufficiently-fine mesh to catch whatever you care about. Thus, something which eschews rules (almost) entirely, or which has a completely cavalier attitude about the amount or specificity of rules, must somehow be in conflict with the concept of "simulation," defined as such.

Think of it, if you will, as an analog vs digital thing. You are coming from the digital world, where every state is precisely known but there are no curves, continuity does not exist, etc. In that world, you must either stand sufficiently far away or specify a host of precise formulae which allow you to very closely approximate continuous curves, but you have immense control over all the microstates that resolve into something almost smooth. The FKR approach is coming from the analog world. The idea that you could have perfect, precise control over each micro-step in the process is untenable, even meaningless. All that exist are smooth curves, defined by simple equations. You can get truly, perfectly exact answers...but you have to let go of control first, have to accept that there are things you simply can't specify to the perfect, precise degree you want. You accept that it's ambiguity-tolerant fuzzy logic, because you don't have "yes" and "no," you have a smooth curve that touches absolutely every real number between 0 and 1.

If 3e-style is the obverse side of simulation, FKR is the reverse: simulation not by formal procedure, but by intuitive understanding. "Of course owlbears are monotremes, they're highly similar to platypuses." What rule makes this true? No rule! There is no rule involved--it is simply an intuitive connection between things.

As I mentioned above, something must grow in depth and complexity in order to achieve rich simulation. The 3e style grows the rules-mesh so it becomes finer, more comprehensive, more specific. The FKR style grows the intuition of the participants, and since it also emphasizes centralized, unilateral authority, the growth is specifically the GM's intuition.

To play 3e-style sim, you must presuppose that the rules are well-written, effective, and productive, and be willing to improve upon them, should they fall short. To play FKR-style sim, you must presuppose that the GM is well-versed, consistent, and unbiased.

Note the use of "presuppose." "Trust" has the implication of believing in someone's virtue or integrity. I find that that all too often acts as a screen, preventing us from looking at the real underlying concern. I do not think the issue in most cases is that GMs lack for integrity, though that is a valid concern that only applies to GMs and not to prewritten rules. (Conversely, prewritten rules have the problem of intent--you can't be sure the person who made them had the purpose you have in mind. A human? You can just ask them.) Instead, I think the concern is rooted in the other things. Most FKR boosters speak of rules by saying...well, bluntly, by saying they just plain suck. Not in so many words, but that's the idea. That rules will give you up, let you down, run around, and desert you. Cut 'em loose; you don't need 'em. Conversely, critics (like myself) tend to think human GMs are limited and flawed. That being well-versed is rare, that consistency is rarer still, and bias is utterly unavoidable. Why place absolute trust in something you KNOW will be biased and are very confident will fail to be consistent?

There's a grain of truth in both things. Rules are almost always going to be imperfect, when their goal is to simulate all of reality with a fine mesh. But humans are pretty dang imperfect too, and often end up causing as much harm as they fix with their unstructured, unsystematic futzing about. How do we address (not necessarily fix) rules imperfections? By having humans who can bring wit and wisdom that mere procedure cannot bring. But the exact same thing applies in reverse: how do we address (not necessarily fix) human imperfections? By having rules that are free of human ignorance, inconsistency, and bias. Even strident FKR advocates tend to recognize that a truly standardized, consistent, repeated evaluation is a rule in all but name. Even strident rules advocates tend to recognize that the very best systems have weaknesses that a real human has to adjust around.
 
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Voadam

Legend
The subsidiary question that puts in mind is how does FKR achieve simulation, if we exclude diving into detailed game mechanisms in game texts? (Or does one exclude that?)
The referee describing/adjudicating results to best fit their view of what would happen in the fiction.

If the fiction being simulated was detailed realism they would focus on that, if it was action movie cinematics they would focus their descriptions and adjudications differently.
 

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
The referee describing/adjudicating results to best fit their view of what would happen in the fiction.

If the fiction being simulated was detailed realism they would focus on that, if it was action movie cinematics they would focus their descriptions and adjudications differently.
Point of order: "action movie cinematics" would not be considered something you can "simulate" to most fans of simulation. You're adhering to, in some sense, in-universe artificial rules. All game rules are artificial to us, as players, but the idea for most "simulation" fans is that those rules, which are artificial to us, are in fact genuinely natural, real, and observable to the characters within the imagined space. "Action movie cinematics" are no such thing, because those are about choreography and dramatic timing and telling a thrilling story.

For folks who like GNS, these two things are often lumped together and then only separated by calling them "process sim" for the "all rules are natural within the imagined space" type, and "genre sim" for the "some rules can be genre conventions that don't physically exist, that's okay."

For my part, I separate them, because there is a HUGE gulf between people who are gung-ho supporters of "detailed realism" and gung-ho supporters of "action movie cinematics." My term for design intended to support "detailed realism" simulation is Groundedness & Simulation. My term for design intended to support things like "action movie cinematics" (or any other genre-convention-based gameplay experience) is "Conceit & Emulation."

To simulate, as I use the term, is to try to model the fictional world as accurately as possible, so that you can find out what its future state will be. To emulate, as I use the term, is to play out a particular thematic premise or genre concept, exploring the values, meanings, and impact of that premise/concept. The two usually don't play nicely together, though you can still have a dash of one of them while being heavily focused on the other. It will just get overridden if it conflicts with the primary focus.
 

Pedantic

Legend
To simulate, as I use the term, is to try to model the fictional world as accurately as possible, so that you can find out what its future state will be. To emulate, as I use the term, is to play out a particular thematic premise or genre concept, exploring the values, meanings, and impact of that premise/concept. The two usually don't play nicely together, though you can still have a dash of one of them while being heavily focused on the other. It will just get overridden if it conflicts with the primary focus.
One mixing point here is to internalize a genre convention as a truism about the fictional reality, which doesn't work great for dramatic structures, but does work great for causally constrained tropes. The classic example is bonking someone on the head to safely/quickly knock them unconscious, an utterly unrealistic genre convention that you can pretty easily just say works, consistently, as a normative rule of combat. You can get those by working backwards from rules to setting in more involved systems, like high HP totals in D&D leading to fighters wading through lava.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
I'm not entirely sure I fully understand the question- I feel like there is an unstated premise I am missing?
Less a premise and more a question. If I thought that simulation depended on structured referents and relationships (i.e. models), and I believed that those were not internalizable, then it would seem I should not think that FKR can achieve simulation. Going from the other direction, if I think that FKR can achieve simulation, and I think that simulation depends on models, then it would seem that I ought to think models can be internalized.

Another way might be to put it in terms of the analytic/synthetic division. If simulation is synthetic, then it would seem that it should depend on knowledge of worldly things. (As an aside, it seems to me that the narrativist/simulationist distinction might be drawn along the lines of the anaylytic/synthetic. I feel it's possible to grasp narrativism as postmodernist - no myth, the conversation is the content.)

I don't rule out other explanatory frameworks of course, although I am disinterested in those that land at any form of dualistic inscrutability.

Detailed game mechanics may, or may not, be used to achieve simulation. This is one of those age-old debates; sure, you could play Phoenix Command and get a more detailed simulation of the ballistics, but ... is that what you want if you want to play a game that mirrors the movie tropes of a Jason Statham film?
Some might call that genre emulation rather than simulation, but I still think it's a good point. I might put it more that - what are the proper referents for simulation, and what counts as sufficiently well simulated?

I think that people often mistake complexity for simulation. And somewhat related, people often assume that simulation must be perfect and all-encompassing; but that was never the point of the S in GDS. People that enjoy simulation (and immersion) are not demanding reality; after all, by definition a simulation that is part of a game will be a subset.
+100

FKR achieves simulation by an agreed-upon fiction.
I'd articulate that further as selecting its reference domains or agreeing on which models are to be drawn upon. For example, I will not draw upon some sketched out model of a world of superheroes to play simulationist FKR in my gritty world of bronze age city states. (Unless of course, my FKR is to be about bronze age superheroes!)
 

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