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General Game Rules and the World

I just finished a very interesting discussion about Beasts of the Earth and their place in game world.

One poster seemed to be to be arguing that the in-game beasts originated from the stat block, whereas I would say that the stat block is a simplified representation of an in-game element.

Now I'm curious how other players and DM see and interpret the interplay between the rules and the fiction.
 

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Saelorn

Hero
The rules of the game reflect the reality of the game world. If you want to represent a different sort of reality, then those differences would be reflected with different rules.

Rules, alone, are meaningless. The only point of rules is to describe something that exists within the game world. If you start with the rules, and try to extrapolate a reality based on that, then you're very likely to get it wrong.
 

To understand Primal Beasts, you must first understand the design of the beastmaster. There are some interviews about it that you should look at. When the beastmaster was first designed, the designers where worried that all beasts where not equal - some players might hit upon extremely powerful options (such as armed and armoured apes, or beast that where not in the game at launch). Thus, they deliberately made the beastmaster weak to compensate for the potentially unknowable strength of the animal companion.

In order to strengthen the beastmaster, it is necessary that the companion's stats be known - I.e. fixed. Hence the Primal Beast, which is based on, and follows similar rules to the Battle Smith's Steel Protector. In order for this to function there has to be a degree of suspension of disbelief to allow for the game mechanics. The steel protector simply appears out of thin air when the artificer hits level 3. Whist usually depicted as a robo-dog it could be humanoid, which means you could hypothetically put it in armour. However, it's AC is always 15 using 5e's parallel AC calculation rules.
 

To understand Primal Beasts, you must first understand the design of the beastmaster. There are some interviews about it that you should look at. When the beastmaster was first designed, the designers where worried that all beasts where not equal - some players might hit upon extremely powerful options (such as armed and armoured apes, or beast that where not in the game at launch). Thus, they deliberately made the beastmaster weak to compensate for the potentially unknowable strength of the animal companion.

In order to strengthen the beastmaster, it is necessary that the companion's stats be known - I.e. fixed. Hence the Primal Beast, which is based on, and follows similar rules to the Battle Smith's Steel Protector. In order for this to function there has to be a degree of suspension of disbelief to allow for the game mechanics. The steel protector simply appears out of thin air when the artificer hits level 3. Whist usually depicted as a robo-dog it could be humanoid, which means you could hypothetically put it in armour. However, it's AC is always 15 using 5e's parallel AC calculation rules.
I'm not the beast master or beast .of the earth specifically, which is why I started a new thread. I find your perspective of rule => game world interesting.

I have always seen the game rules as an approximation of the world, made simpler by necessity. The rules cannot, of course, full simulate the world, which is where the GM comes in. It is the GMs job to make rulings and minor rules changes to ensure the rules conform to the game world and the fiction.

You seem to take the opposite approach, and prefer the game world to reflect the rules. As a player, I would this very frustrating, but it seems to work for you.

Now I'm curious to see how other players & DM interpret the interplay between the rules and the world. I'm sure there are multitudes of perspectives.
 



dave2008

Legend
One poster seemed to be to be arguing that the in-game beasts originated from the stat block, whereas I would say that the stat block is a simplified representation of an in-game element.
I agree with the bold part in general. Stat blocks for monsters and NPCs are generalized descriptions of an in-game element. Therefore, a monster can do more than just what is in the stat block.

However, that gets a a bit muddy when you consider magic and all the recent summing / conjuring spells. I would have to look at each spell carefully, buy many are just magicked creatures similar to real creatures. I which case they are much more limited. Magic does what it says it does in the spell description. Nothing more or less. If a stat block is included in that description, I think its ability outside that magicked stat block is fairly limited.
 
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I agree with the bold part in general. Stat blocks for monsters and NPCs a generalized descriptions of an in-game element. Therefore, a monster can do more than just what is in the stat block.

However, that gets a a bit muddy when you consider magic and all the recent summing / conjuring spells. I would have to look at each spell carefully, buy many are just magicked creatures similar to real creatures. I which case they are much more limited. Magic does what it says it does in the spell description. Nothing more or less. If a stat block is included in that description, I think its ability outside that magicked stat block is fairly limited.
what do you mean by this?

That I can't summon an angel to negotiate with another on my behalf (why I hide around the corner)? Things like that?
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
As I see it, the game rules are the interface through which the players (including the GM) interact with the game world. They are not the "physics" or even a truly accurate representation of the game world. They are simply there for a game of adventure.

Assuming that those rules apply to the world as a whole leads to some very odd assumptions IMO, such as everyone in the world being able to shake off grievous life-threatening injuries with only a night of rest, like an action hero. I'm not suggesting badwrongfun if that's how anyone prefers to play, but to me it makes far more sense that those rules apply primarily to the action heroes of the game (the player characters). IMO, the recovery of non-action-hero NPCs is not covered by the rules and is left to the DM, which makes far more sense to me than assuming a world where everyone recovers from injuries like an action hero.
 

dave2008

Legend
what do you mean by this?

That I can't summon an angel to negotiate with another on my behalf (why I hide around the corner)? Things like that?
No, an angel is a thing outside the spell. The stat block is not part of the spell. However, many of the recent spells describe a "spirit" (or something similar) in the shape of x,y,z. and provide a stat block. In that case, IMO, the magicked spirit is much more limited. Spells have defined parameters contained within the description of the spell. If a stat block is part of the spell, that magicked creature is limited to description. IMO, it can't learn new things (it can't learn at all), but it could still do things one could reasonable infer from the stat block, like improvised actions - but it wouldn't be proficient. However, what is reasonable is up to the DM. So, you could ask a spirit to negotiate for you, but unless it is in the stat block it has no particular skill to do so.
 


Weiley31

Adventurer
what do you mean by this?

That I can't summon an angel to negotiate with another on my behalf (why I hide around the corner)? Things like that?
Sure you can, but the recent price hike the angel charges dropped its five star rating down to four stars.

On a serious note, if you want it to be a negotiator, just add the appropriate ability/feat in its stat blocks.
 
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Weiley31

Adventurer
To understand Primal Beasts, you must first understand the design of the beastmaster. There are some interviews about it that you should look at. When the beastmaster was first designed, the designers where worried that all beasts where not equal - some players might hit upon extremely powerful options (such as armed and armoured apes, or beast that where not in the game at launch). Thus, they deliberately made the beastmaster weak to compensate for the potentially unknowable strength of the animal companion.

In order to strengthen the beastmaster, it is necessary that the companion's stats be known - I.e. fixed. Hence the Primal Beast, which is based on, and follows similar rules to the Battle Smith's Steel Protector. In order for this to function there has to be a degree of suspension of disbelief to allow for the game mechanics. The steel protector simply appears out of thin air when the artificer hits level 3. Whist usually depicted as a robo-dog it could be humanoid, which means you could hypothetically put it in armour. However, it's AC is always 15 using 5e's parallel AC calculation rules.
I see the steel defender as a Roomba personally.

Also the Steel Defender just doesn't appear outta thin air. Your Artificer Battle Smith has probably been working on it for a while off camera and during commercial breaks.
 

The world is the world; the DM simply uses rules to resolve aspects of the game that are unclear. This is not a board game, where everything has to be spelled out, but the DM has final say on any rules and results. If a player is attempting to game the system in order to gain an unfair advantage, the DM is well within their right to shut it down. They don't even need to give a logical reason, as I've simply looked at said player and said "really? No." If, however, a player is attempting to do something creative that doesn't necessarily provide an unfair advantage, the DM can allow it (either permanently or as a single instance).

The obvious question that lies with the DM is "what's fair and what's not?" Can't help you there, as it's taken me decades to find that line for me. The only thing I can offer is to determine what kind of game do you want to run: anime epic, high fantasy, low fantasy, or gritty realism, then base your opinions around that.
 

DMMike

Game Masticator
You seem to take the opposite approach, and prefer the game world to reflect the rules. As a player, I would this very frustrating, but it seems to work for you.

Now I'm curious to see how other players & DM interpret the interplay between the rules and the world. I'm sure there are multitudes of perspectives.
It's pretty hard to separate D&D's rules from the game world. The classes tend to dictate the professions of the NPCs. You're not very likely to see a spell that isn't in the magic chapter. When a character does something cool, you gain information about what her level might be. You can chop some monster up continuously, but it won't die until it runs out of hit points (and you get to announce how many of those it loses when you roll your damage).

I like the rules to take a backseat to the story, whenever possible.

As I see it, the game rules are the interface through which the players (including the GM) interact with the game world. They are not the "physics" or even a truly accurate representation of the game world. They are simply there for a game of adventure.
Agreed, but the rules still seem to make an attempt at being physics. Movement rates are dictated. Rounds are about 6 seconds. Bigger weapons have more inertia (do more damage). Heavier armor is more likely to stop weapons. Not accurate, no, and I think 5e took positive steps away from 3e's attempts at simulation.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
Rules are a vague approximation of the world used merely to give the players something to "play" and do not reflect the reality the characters exist in.

If the rules actually reflected the in-game reality, you wouldn't have every single Medium sized creature move 30' with their movement, especially with no adjustment between someone unarmored and another person wearing a full suit of platemail.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
Agreed, but the rules still seem to make an attempt at being physics. Movement rates are dictated. Rounds are about 6 seconds. Bigger weapons have more inertia (do more damage). Heavier armor is more likely to stop weapons. Not accurate, no, and I think 5e took positive steps away from 3e's attempts at simulation.
I think I see what you are getting at but I disagree that they are really an attempt at physics. I think the D&D rules are an attempt at creating a heroic adventure game (not necessarily heroic as in everyone is a hero, but rather heroic as opposed to gritty like WFRPG). Heroic adventure typically entails some combat, so you need to know how to resolve that. Ideally, the rules will create the experience that the game is attempting to achieve.

For example, a high level fighter with full HP isn't going to get taken out by a random arrow from some no name mook. As that wouldn't model heroic adventure very well. Some people take this to mean that D&D characters are superhuman and can take inhuman levels of punishment, like being stabbed in the liver thrice in a day and walking it off. I don't much care for that explanation. I much prefer the explanation (as happens in much heroic adventure fiction) that the character narrowly avoided serious injury.

Similarly, you have damage by weapon size. A greatsword deals more damage than a dagger. Which is a fine abstraction for this sort of game, which doesn't try to model the relative reach advantage of most weapons, but realistically a dagger can kill you just a effectively as a claymore in the real world. In certain, less common situations, such as having a weapon to a helpless individual's throat, the dagger would actually be a better weapon in the real world. (To be clear, I mean that circumstance where someone is standing behind a hostage with a weapon to their throat, in which case a claymore would be quite awkward.) However, the rules don't really attempt to cover such a situation for the most part. I think it would be odd to extrapolate from such rules that in this world everyone prefers to hold a great sword to someone's throat, rather than a dagger. IMO, the more reasonable conclusion is that the weapon rules weren't designed with that scenario in mind, but rather for more straight forward combat scenarios, and that a DM who wants to have such a scene will need to use something else (likely of their own devising).

In other words, they're only physics insofar as they are trying to recreate a reality within the imaginations of the players, and even then I think they're generally a far too gross oversimplification to be considered actual "physics". Simulation might be more accurate, though even here I think it's important to make the distinction that what is being simulated is the fiction of the game, rather than the game world itself.
 


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