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- Thread starter GMMichael
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As a kid of 11-12 years old when I discovered RPG's and one who was NEVER excited about (and on some level was afraid of) math? RPG's helped me get over my fear of it. So much so that once I became comfortable with adding and subtracting relatively quickly in my head, multiplying and dividing were next. I played Basic then Advanced (1st then 2nd ed) D&D, Star Frontiers, Top Secret and Marvel Super Heroes (FASERIP). We graduated on to DC HEROES, Traveller, TMNT & Other Strangeness and Champions 4th Edition.How much math skill can an RPG expect from its players?

At no point did any one who I played with ever complain or had issues with math. Complaining about the fact that there was "too much", or that it interfered with role playing or any of the things that people are complaining about now. I think that we understood that these were role-playing GAMES and the math and the role-playing went hand in hand.

Admittedly not everyone had the mind set to deal with building mecha in R. Talsorian's MEKTON II or MEKTON ZETA, but griping about adding and subtracting modifiers? adding and subtracting hit points? Using hyperbole to deride games like Pathfinder (MATHFINDER? REALLY?), saying that D&D 5E is math heavy or crunchy? Really?

For me it's not how much math skill can I expect from it's players, it's the players that I want at the table to understand that math is part of the game, especially games that are combat heavy/focused like D&D and Pathfinder. We didnt have smartphones back when I started playing, we used scrap paper and sometimes our calculators (if we had them). Today, if you have a smartphone you have a very powerful mini computer IN YOUR POCKET.

You can LITERALLY (VERBALLY) ASK your phone (if you have siri) to do a calculation for you and it will GIVE you the answer.

No one is asking any of the players to draft a masters thesis on whether 0 is a number or not. It's addition, subtraction and at most division or multiplication. If you cant handle that? Then I dont know what to tell you.

And frequency isnt as big as a factor either. There are a MILLION other things that slow down things at a gaming table. The problem is that people aren't willing to do simple things like if they know they have a modifier to swing a sword? Just add together whatever those base modifiers in advance and just add that to your die roll. Know what your character ACTUALLY DOES before hand instead of waiting until it's your turn to figure it out. A lot of the complaints that I see have more to do with being unable to manage a character sheet than the math itself.

The one thing that might be valid are adding a bunch of dice together from dice pool games and massive D6 damage dice. But that's where help from your teammates or fellow players come in.

And in the case of those who are legitimately scared of or have issues with math? Calculator. Or seek assistance from a player who is less afraid of math. We're all here to help each other and have fun anyway right? I used to BE that kid who wasn't good at and to an extent was afraid of math so I GET IT.

I also think that VTT's have helped mitigate a lot of the math issues on some of the crunchier games.

In short, maybe I'm a bit of a snob, but if adding and subtracting numbers together at a 3rd or 4th grade level is a daunting task for you? AND you have a powerful computer in your pocket but for some reason dont want to use it? I'm not sure I want you at any table I'm running a game at. The first thing I have some empathy for, I REALLY DO so as a GM I'll work with you. The second? It seems that you just want to make things harder for yourself to have something to complain about.

Really? Wikipedia describes arithmetic as "an elementary branch of mathematics": Arithmetic - Wikipedia. And Oxford Languages vis Google says that arithmetic is "the branch of mathematics dealing with the properties and manipulation of numbers."arithmetic is not mathematics. Not in any sense of the word whatsoever.

Wikipedia, where lies go to become the truth.Wikipedia

And Oxford Languages is lying too?Wikipedia, where lies go to become the truth.

You may regard arithmetic as elementary. But it manifestly falls within an everyday usage of the word "mathematics".

I use math as most most people do as general terminology because I figure most people here understand what I'm saying BUT if we're going to be accurate, Arithmetic IS a subset of the overall discipline of Mathematics. It just deals with exactly the type of basic calculations that I'm talking about, like addition, subtraction, division and multiplication.arithmetic is not mathematics. Not in any sense of the word whatsoever.

I think I understand what you might be saying about the relationship between the two? Like Arithmetic is not the ENTIRETY of what Math is? It's like saying SuperHero comics is not comics? There are more genres involved than JUST superhero comics. Correct me if I'm misundertanding or misinterpreting you though.

I've always thought of it as Plusfinder.Using hyperbole to deride games like Pathfinder (MATHFINDER? REALLY?) . . .

Thanks for clarifying your "literally." I will take a little issue with the above point, since I am concerned about people using devices at the gaming table. A calculator, capable of only mathematics (and Tetris), would make me feel better. It's great for a player to be looking at a character sheet on the device, or bringing up inspirational artwork to increase immersion, but the player across the table just sees the swiper as someone on Zuckbook or TikTok.You can LITERALLY (VERBALLY) ASK your phone (if you have siri) to do a calculation for you and it will GIVE you the answer.

I can get behind a multi-d6 fireball. Hollywood rightfully treats fireballs as epic events.* They should take a little time but hopefully not effort. I'm not as concerned with the math and helping of the math occurring as the effect that it has on immersion. Yes, it's an RPG and yes, people have varying degrees of afantasia (taking a stab at what a fellow ENWorlder has, not being able to imagine things). But time spent doing math, talking to a fellow player instead of PC, checking rule books for bonuses or rules, etc. is not something that becomes part of the cool story (bro) that you tell people afterward.The one thing that might be valid are adding a bunch of dice together from dice pool games and massive D6 damage dice. But that's where help from your teammates or fellow players come in.

. . . And in the case of those who are legitimately scared of or have issues with math? Calculator. Or seek assistance from a player who is less afraid of math. We're all here to help each other and have fun anyway right? I used to BE that kid who wasn't good at and to an extent was afraid of math so I GET IT.

Well, in one sense of the word, it is. But why the clarification?arithmetic is not mathematics. Not in any sense of the word whatsoever.

Wisdom here. Although it seems like a digression, a point can be made about minimizing math usage if a game would just not use numbers as an indicator of progress. What if being higher level meant you used your combat roll against a giant instead of against the goblin? Smashing the goblin doesn't require a roll when you're sufficiently advanced. Character advancement can mean taking on greater challenges, not greater math problems.Well, it more depends on what you mean by the "for nothing" part. Take D&D as an example. In both 4E and 5E the leveling math, the bonuses you get, skills you gain, stat bonuses, etc, are all for nothing in the sense that the monsters advance atexactlythe same pace as the PCs, so you're not gaining a thing.

Robert and Virginia Heinlein once spent a weekend working out an orbital trajectory (on a sheet of butcher's block the size of a tabletop) just to inform a single sentence inBut time spent doing math, talking to a fellow player instead of PC, checking rule books for bonuses or rules, etc. is not something that becomes part of the cool story (bro) that you tell people afterward.

Wisdom here. Although it seems like a digression, a point can be made about minimizing math usage if a game would just not use numbers as an indicator of progress. What if being higher level meant you used your combat roll against a giant instead of against the goblin? Smashing the goblin doesn't require a roll when you're sufficiently advanced. Character advancement can mean taking on greater challenges, not greater math problems.

There are games that take that approach, in part. Storypath comes to mind that has what's called "scale". Once you're operating at a different scale in a field of endeavor, you're rolling the same dice you would have been, but the result is very different (part of the purpose of how this is done is to provide some of the same benefits that I gather bounded accuracy is supposed to have in D&D5e).

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A competitive card game for 2-5 players