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How important is "realism"?

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 but then other powers show almost the opposite... so where's the consistency?
BTW All the way back to AD&D it was well established that Divine magic was good at differentiating and being ally friendly and wizard magic rather wasnt... it was an implicit characterization difference.
 

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Tom B1

Explorer
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?)

Agree with what you said on all counts. And particularly that hard science games are hard to make realistic even with a few mcguffins because any form of spaceflight is complex and issues like fuel and how two bodies struggle to meet one another in space within the limits of fuel and momentum and many other aspects of that gaming environment are a challenge. It's probably harder than most other genres to make 'gritty' yet fun to play in.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
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.
The 5e fighters attacks have next to no descriptions of how they are attacking its boring ... bet you like that right?
I suppose you could argue that the rules say what you can do and the how is irrelevant.
how to me is relevant because having control over the details of that flavor lets me tell the story of my characters abilities it is player empowering.
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.
AD&D had almost no descriptions of what an attack did beyond reduce enemy hit points. In a way one could be expected to make that attack vivid or not... depending on the table I suppose.

Mechanics are very limited as to what will work in a functioning game. Flavor and the how (which is a really also a description beyond the effect) it is accomplished is utterly open ended.
 

Galandris

Foggy Bottom Campaign Setting Fan
Especially since there is no description of what HP are exactly.

One could argue that there is no rule for swashbuckling action like cutting a curtain so it falls on the head of your enemy. There is: it's called making a standard attack. It doesn't matter if you describe it as that or as an attack that leaves a nasty gash on the opponent's forearm, or nothing except an inconclusive exchange of attacks and parries resulting in one side being a little more exhausted than the other. It can be sad for people who want mechanical differentiation for different actions but never did the games rules (who encourage players to describe what they do with flourish to gain inspiration) actively preclude these actions from occuring.
 

Garthanos

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

Heroes turning into massive Dragons do not belong to the same category of the guy who needs to call troops to help him fight.

That said, being your preference while it isn't the person who is inspired by Cu Cuhlaine and Gilgamesh and Beowulf but it is rather like those inspired by Alexander the Great,and Bellesaurius they are different heroic archetype, in 4e there are even different classes and selectable Epic Destinies appropriate.
 
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Argyle King

Legend
I'll also add that sometimes the small details can matter more than the big ones.

For example, I'm (usually) willing to ignore the bio-mechanics of how exactly a dragon can fly or exhale flames. I'll likely accept some vague answers such as "...special gland in the throat" or whatever.

However, I expect that the exhaled flames have an in-game effect somewhat like how real-world fire works.

Giant Mythological Creature Exhaling Flames?👍

Exhaled-Flames Are Incapable of Burning Gasoline-Soaked Bath Tissue Because Game Mechanics? 👎
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Especially since there is no description of what HP are exactly.

One could argue that there is no rule for swashbuckling action like cutting a curtain so it falls on the head of your enemy. There is: it's called making a standard attack.
AD&D
It doesn't matter if you describe it as that or as an attack that leaves a nasty gash on the opponent's forearm, or nothing except an inconclusive exchange of attacks and parries resulting in one side being a little more exhausted than the other. It can be sad for people who want mechanical differentiation for different actions
I like tactically distinct differentiation.
but never did the games rules (who encourage players to describe what they do with flourish to gain inspiration) actively preclude these actions from occuring.
its not going to get inspiration when it is the standard and happens all the time :)

That said I approve of the inspiration mechanic.
 
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Argyle King

Legend
Heroes turning into massive Dragons do not belong to the same category of the guy who needs to call troups to help him fight.

That said, being your preference while it isnt the person who is inspired by Cu Cuhlaine and Gilgamesh and Beowulf but it is rather like those inspired by Alexander the Great,and Bellesaurius they are different heroic archetype, in 4e there are even different classes and selectable Epic Destinies appropriate.

I played 4E. I had fun with 4E.

I would agree that it is a good fit for superheroes or mythic fantasy.

Where I occasionally struggled against 4E was that the PCs were sometimes so far above the world around them (rather than being part of it) and so much better than most of the (supposedly) legendary creatures that it became difficult to take a lot of things seriously.
 

Argyle King

Legend
Tell me do you have mechanics for bath tissue in your game inquiring minds want to know? LOL

I think it's mostly reasonable to assume it would catch fire.

In some games, it would (as per the rules) be impossible to catch fire because it didn't match a particular keyword -and thus doesn't work because 🤷‍♂️ reasons.

My example is meant to be somewhat hyperbolic, but it's not entirely divorced from how some games I've played work.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
I played 4E. I had fun with 4E.

I would agree that it is a good fit for superheroes or mythic fantasy.

Where I occasionally struggled against 4E was that the PCs were sometimes so far above the world around them (rather than being part of it) and so much better than most of the (supposedly) legendary creatures that it became difficult to take a lot of things seriously.
Not until high level really, and High level casters are and always have been that way that turning into a Dragon was on their AD&D list too. The reasonable stunts one can allow a high level 5e fighter of Strength maxed at 20 can perform are utterly mundane small and petty in comparison.

I picked characters that mostly were mentioned as inspiration for the fighter in 2e by the way. Those weren't something out of genre.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
I think it's mostly reasonable to assume it would catch fire.
well that is how you treat things that do not have mechanics :)

An attack with the fire key word implies it will interact with environmental elements in a way appropriate to that. Not every element of the environment will have worked up its features shrug.
 
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Argyle King

Legend
Not until high level really, and High level casters are and always have been that way that turning into a Dragon was on their AD&D list too. The reasonable stunts one can allow a high level 5e fighter of Strength maxed at 20 can perform are utterly mundane small and petty in comparison.

I picked characters that mostly were mentioned as inspiration for the fighter in 2e by the way. Those weren't something out of genre.

For me, I found that started to happen around level 12 of 4E. With some of the later feat and power options, it could happen earlier.

I can't offer much opinion on 2E because my exposure to it was very limited. My perception is that adventures from older adventures more-easily convert to other games I play without causing issues.

Non-D&D games I play tend to handle things in a way which are better suited to my preferences.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Internal consistency = important.

Realism = important.

Finding a way of factoring magic in to the setting's physics such that fantastic things can be consistently explained = important.

So, a dragon can breathe fire as a result of its being a magic-based creature. It can get off the ground using the same inexplicable physics that allow a real-world bumblebee to get off the ground, also theoretically impossible but somehow up they go anyway. :)

And sure, there's many places where realism simply has to be sacrificed in order to give a playable game. But it's those places where there's a clear choice between realistic and not that can make all the difference. Falling damage is one such - the game designers chose non-realistic, I choose realistic and thus falling more than about 20 feet is very dangerous in my game.

Hit points, healing and health recovery is another place where the post-3e designers have chosen simplicity, albeit with ridiculous outcomes, over realistic. The only hope here IMO is a wound-vitality or body-fatigue system where vp/fp are easy to recover but wp/bp take significant time to heal; and that's merely an incremental improvement rather than a complete fix.

But the biggest single thing that can be done to make a setting seem realistic is to acknowledge - both narratively and mechanically - that the PCs are an integral part of their own populations rather than somehow distinct from them. This means PCs and (levelled) NPCs use the same mechanical framework.

Internal consistency also demands that a creature - be it PC, NPC, monster, whatever - is what it is no matter the situation or who/what it is currently dealikng with and is defined by its stats. 4e's design blows this to pieces and in so doing makes itself unplayable for me.
 


Smackpixi

Explorer
Minor Illusion is a cantrip In 5e. People in any normal city would have seen so many that they just couldn’t trust their senses any more. People living in such a society would be so fried and burnt out on what’s real or not as to have thoughts on existential philosophy so very dire. They wouldn’t want to live Any more given the unreliability of reality. Even with gods being real unless those gods were intervening on the problem of the unreliability of reality in support of commoners against even jus one jackass among 10000 walking through town and ruining people’s lives, suicide would be epidemic.

So realism, deal with that. Logical consistency, internal consistency, etc. just that one creates so many problems. Magic destroys realism of any stripe and consistency as well, it’s really only pretentions to and versimillaritudes of reality that remain. Which is nothing.

edit. That said, I make it seem normal and that issue not one for my players so whatever, just saying, it’s best to just not look at it.
 
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Ixal

Adventurer
Another thing about realism, although a very subjective one, when you steal countries and cultures shamelesly from history, then I want you to get them right.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
How important is it that your games reflect reality?

It's absolutely critical. It's at best a low priority "nice to have". It gets in the way.

All of those are completely true for me. And no, they don't contradict ... if you ask them in the context of "when running type of game X". Outside that context the question it's meaningless - the only people who can honestly give a single answer are those who have experienced one type of game. No one can honestly claim they want the same level of realism in everything from Toon through Marvel Heroic Roleplay superheroes through Warhammer through Cthulhu through heroic fantasy through Mechwarrior through James Bond 007 through Victorian Steampunk through Space opera to Paranoia to Weird West to Gamma World.
 


Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Internal consistency also demands that a creature - be it PC, NPC, monster, whatever - is what it is no matter the situation or who/what it is currently dealikng with and is defined by its stats.
I think enemies using or often even attempting the same moves when they are completely outclassed is less realistic and less genre supported and I prefer simplifications like minion to the complexity of adding desperation moves for outclassed enemies (which leave them taking much more damage).

Outclassed Enemy : Desperation Template.
A monster/npcs facing enemies who are 5 levels higher are always treated as bloodied for effects. Most are being influenced to even fight this adversary
While a few overconfident outclassed enemies are not treated as bloodied till they miss with what they see as their most assured attack.

Aggressive Desperation Stance
effect till the end of your next turn increase your attacks to hit by +5,
however but you may only perform your most basic attack powers. Attacks against you will delivered 2x the normal damage.

Desperation Defense Stance till the end of your next turn increase your defenses by +5, but if you are hit anyway the enemy doubles the damage they deal.

Special: Both stances may and usually are used in unison and attacks against the creature deliver 4 times the normal damage.

One might need or want more rules like restrictions on some other special abilities making them more complicated mechanically and but basically they would be more likely to just fail scaled outright on adversary competence.

Yeh I would rather skip that and use that premade ogre minion when he is fighting high level characters and an ogre standard at medium levels and an ogre elite at low levels.

Or for the Epic case make them a Squadron of Conscripted Ogres when the individuals are truly outclassed but able to fight in a team fashion with some form of powerful influence making them fight and a leader coordinating there fighting. Basically giving them effectively joint hit point pool.

It really is just abstraction....
 
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