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How important is "realism"?


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In game world logic can be because of magical nexus that allow his rituals to work better... need not be explicit or known to anyone else either. Think of it as a mystery. I like a bit of mystery involved AND characters are not omniscient.

Yes, that’s a corollary of my subsequent paragraph, that you omitted. Maybe I chose a bad example, but I think any veteran gamer knows that RPGs can be rife with instances where NPCs make blindingly poor decisions simply because that’s what’s needed to move the plot along. And you can only handwave it away so many times telling yourself that there must be a deeper, unknown reason.
 

How important is it that your games reflect reality?
There needs to be sufficient "reality" that I can use my experiences to pilot my character. While the fantasitical elements can certainly "change the rules", I need to be able to figure out odds based on the setting and what my character can reasonably accomplish. If I'm chasing a thief across the rooftops during a storm, I would expect that the thief is very agile and that I would need to be so as well. If I met this person before and know them to be clumsy as a drunk hippo, then that should be a clue that something isn't right; they may have magic, I'm chasing a shapeshifter, or whatever. But, the situation requires a certain expected and explicable quality based on what we can observe around us.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Yes, that’s a corollary of my subsequent paragraph, that you omitted. Maybe I chose a bad example, but I think any veteran gamer knows that RPGs can be rife with instances where NPCs make blindingly poor decisions simply because that’s what’s needed to move the plot along. And you can only handwave it away so many times telling yourself that there must be a deeper, unknown reason.
The Ta'Veren factor mentioned in the Wheel of Time books. For instance normal villager being inspired to defend themselves against really nasty enemies by the strange hero who seems able to manipulate the story itself (for them its history) and it working ridiculously well is even called out in the books.
 
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Tom B1

Explorer
"Dissociated Mechanics": a consistently crap argument used against 4e due to one of the worst articles by the Alexandrian, often with unironic amounts special pleading invovled, including by the Alexandrian.

Ultimately, I've played D&D since the days where the DMG hadn't come out yet. I've never found such a boring, flavourless version than 4E. Everyone had at wills, per encounter, and per day powers and most of the modules boiled down to grinding through encounters as tactical puzzles. The group I played with had played through a whole gamut of different iterations of D&D, of more other games than I can count, and we waded through a full 20 levels in Eberron in 3.5. And 5E now too. We all felt that though 4E was easier for the GM, it was just not engaging like the other versions have been.

And that is surely an opinion, just the same as yours about the notion of a dissociated mechanic. And as that boils down to an opinion, it isn't something worth arguing about.
 


Aldarc

Legend
Ultimately, I've played D&D since the days where the DMG hadn't come out yet. I've never found such a boring, flavourless version than 4E. Everyone had at wills, per encounter, and per day powers and most of the modules boiled down to grinding through encounters as tactical puzzles. The group I played with had played through a whole gamut of different iterations of D&D, of more other games than I can count, and we waded through a full 20 levels in Eberron in 3.5. And 5E now too. We all felt that though 4E was easier for the GM, it was just not engaging like the other versions have been.

And that is surely an opinion, just the same as yours about the notion of a dissociated mechanic. And as that boils down to an opinion, it isn't something worth arguing about.
Go Edition War somewhere else.
 


Tom B1

Explorer
Realism is overrated and people are too finicky about when it matters or how to apply it.
You realize that's as much a person opinion and thus not really arguable usefully than any claims that there isn't enough realism?

The only argument can really be made around what more or less attempts to realism facilitate within the game and that usually revolves around constancy and expectation - the constancy of logic across various rules and GM decisions and the expectation that most things should behave in a vaguely familiar way unless they've been expressedly way previously.

To be silly, if I jump off the roof of a building chasing someone, I would think that I would fall due to gravity if nobody had told me gravity worked differently.

That seems trivial, but the important part is that a player can make decisions based on reasonable logic which they expect to be consistent. If the player, for instance, thinks he's a mythic hero and tries to leap bulding to building and the GM's understanding of the world is one where realistic jump distances are in play, then the player's expectation and the GM's are out of sync.

In order to not have to explain every little aspect of a world, borrowing from the real world implicitly (e.g. people are still motivated by intentions to improve their lot, gravity still pulls you down at the normal rate, I can only carry 40-60 pounds all day through wilds without getting absolutely spent) is just sensible. To that extent, there is a function for realsim and that's leveraging the common knowledge we have of the world when we come to the table.

That does not preclude more fantastic aspects making the game a fantasy game, but it does mean that those things need called out, the rules need internal logic and consistency, and that anything really fantastic and separate from our expectations needs to be discussed with players.

And if the world is so unpredictable because of inconsistent GM rulings, muddled rules, or rules that were not well enough thought out in the context of other rules, then players get very frustrated because the world seems arbitrary.

To that extent, borrowing from reality and from what we cone to the table with as understandings, is helpful to the game.
 

Tom B1

Explorer
Go Edition War somewhere else.
I wasn't intending to Edition War but by that argument, you can't really discuss any mechanic out of any version of the game because they all have a home in some edition.

I simply identified a mechanic I found in play in 4E that did not make sense to me and which the explanation for it was pretty much unstated making it feel very out of place without sufficient explanation.
 

Tom B1

Explorer
"4E -> Dissociated mechanics like the cleric attacking and it healing everyone around him/her. What? Why? (Why was 'we want the cleric to do more with his encounter than heal,heal,heal,heal,heal!) The meta-game concern was a valid one for Clerics, but the mechanic provided was not really much good for in-universe logic."

First its bloody divine magic use your imagination .. and bleeding the life force out of your enemies into your allies is great and flavorful. Second an attack so awesome it inspires and invigorates your allies nearby wouldn't even have to be magic, but you know then we get this hit points are meat argument.... sigh
And the lawful good cleric wants to be sucking the life force out of others?

It's not that one cannot use their imagination, but if I use mine, the GM uses his, the other players use theirs, and none of us are on the same page because the rules themselves don't do a sufficient job, there's a disconnect.

By itself, any mechanic that lets AoEs be picky about friend or foe invites all sorts of questioning (I do it in an area with my team, the bad guys, and innocent folks.... how does the attack figure that out when the characters can't even figure out who is who sometimes?). 'It's magic!' isn't a solution. It's a cop out. And going with that without a decent explanation simply leaves players not knowing how magic works because it obviously has a certain omniscience but then other powers show almost the opposite... so where's the consistency?
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Really I just saw someone go on a diatribe about the game being boring apparently it didnt hold their hand enough and feed them explanations after telling you something was divine magic even.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
By the way for the Lawful good flavor, It could also be the divine providing rewards to the heros for working at its direction ie lawful behavior being rewarded.. You know what is boring to me a game telling me exactly how you must visualize your power working and mingling it so tight with the mechanics I have very few options.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
By itself, any mechanic that lets AoEs be picky about friend or foe invites all sorts of questioning (I do it in an area with my team, the bad guys, and innocent folks.... how does the attack figure that out when the characters can't even figure out who is who sometimes?). 'It's magic!' isn't a solution. It's a cop out. And going with that without a decent explanation simply leaves players not knowing how magic works because it obviously has a certain omniscience
divine magic having omniscience... ooh ah how terrible.
but then other powers show almost the opposite... so where's the consistency?
or being governed by the heroes own mind set.... ooh gosh my imagination just borked on that.
 


Realism is also a genre, and if your table values realism, it's just important to know at what point is the suspension of disbelief broken. I don't think it's necessarily the point where what happens differs from, say, the physics of real world earth, because the sense of what counts as "realistic" is actually itself informed by genre and particular aesthetics.

Historical Realism: You might be picky in wanting coins to weigh what they would've weighed in England circa 1100CE, but are you as picky on most of the economy being based on barter? Historical realism in fantasy worlds is always complicated because there is the question of what histories are being made available and why, and almost always our sense of what that history looked like is romanticized, skewed, or otherwise inaccurate in a bunch of ways. The point here might be to emphasize the "grittiness" of the world such that the monstrous and the magical truly appear as such.

Speculative realism: 'Hard' science fiction falls into this category, but also worldbuilding that tries to think through the implications of magic (5e strikes me as not having thought through these implications, given that cantrips, 1st level spells, and common magic items could solve many real world problems while undoubtedly creating others). Science fiction games strike me as potentially problematic because there are going to be a variety of expectations regarding how 'real' the universe has to be (i.e. do you want to play science fiction or science fantasy?)

It's easy for game mechanics to break suspension of disbelief because they are all to one degree or another artificial, but at the same time I do thing that some mechanics might seem more disassociated compared to others, even if that determination is made idiosyncratically (and whether or not that actually bothers anyone).
 

Tom B1

Explorer
By the way for the Lawful good flavor, It could also be the divine providing rewards to the heros for working at its direction ie lawful flavor being rewarded.. You know what is boring to me a game telling me exactly how you must visualize your power working and mingling it so tight with the mechanics I have very few options.
But you obviously recognize that this is your personal preference? That is neither better or worse than mine.

I think it benefits the game to have the GM and the players understanding the same things about sources of power and effects in the game. It promotes common understandings of how things will play out and supports informed decision making for players. I suppose you could argue that the rules say what you can do and the how is irrelevant. But that, to me, would be putting the horse in behind the cart - the rules should derive from the realities of the setting/environment and not the setting/environment being painted on to game mechanics.
 

Argyle King

Legend
I believe that touches of realism can enhance (rather than detract from) fantasy.

I do not expect a perfect representation of "realism," but I prefer enough verisimilitude that a player can make choices based upon details of the situation moreso than details of the game.

For example, in a hostage scenario, there's a big difference between "as you rush forward, the hostage takes a bullet to the head and dies" versus "as you rush forward, the hostage takes a bullet to the head and is now at 75 out of 137 hp."

Likewise, I usually prefer epic heroes to be leading armies rather than single-handedly fighting them.
 

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