Of Mooks, Plot Armor, and ttRPGs


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Thomas Shey

Legend
Just as an aside, I think there are absolutely games that are trying to simulate a world within the limits of practicality. GURPS used to hit this pretty hard when it started out (though over time it introduced more at least optional genre elements into the mechanics (I make this distinction because I still maintain there's a difference in level in which genre and world emulation elements operate on, even though they can be entwined--and these are kind of easily separated when you ask which ones a normal and sane member of the setting could at least theoretically be aware of without breaking the genre), as does its nephew EABA. There can be failures to do this of course, but those usually have more to do with failures on the designer's part to actually understand what they're emulating.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
Just as an aside, I think there are absolutely games that are trying to simulate a world within the limits of practicality. GURPS used to hit this pretty hard when it started out (though over time it introduced more at least optional genre elements into the mechanics (I make this distinction because I still maintain there's a difference in level in which genre and world emulation elements operate on, even though they can be entwined--and these are kind of easily separated when you ask which ones a normal and sane member of the setting could at least theoretically be aware of without breaking the genre), as does its nephew EABA. There can be failures to do this of course, but those usually have more to do with failures on the designer's part to actually understand what they're emulating.

All simulations are within the limits of practicality, right? And also within what the immediate needs are?

"Now it would be very remarkable if any system existing in the real world could be exactly represented by any simple model. However, cunningly chosen parsimonious models often do provide remarkably useful approximations. For example, the law PV=nRT relating pressure P, volume V and temperature T of an "ideal" gas via a constant R is not exactly true for any real gas, but it frequently provides a useful approximation and furthermore its structure is informative since it springs from a physical view of the behavior of gas molecules. For such a model there is no need to ask the question "Is the model true?". If "truth" is to be the "whole truth" the answer must be "No". The only question of interest is "Is the model illuminating and useful?".". - George Box
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
All simulations are within the limits of practicality, right? And also within what the immediate needs are?

Well, note the two examples I gave are general-purpose RPGs, so "immediate needs" is somewhat expansive there. And of course there can be "needs" where "simulations" aren't really relevant to what is at hand.

But yes, the fact a model can be in some sense "wrong" and still an effective simulation is part of the issue I take with the position that "world sim" is impossible; its entirely possible within the limitation of needs and scope.
 

pemerton

Legend
the fact a model can be in some sense "wrong" and still an effective simulation is part of the issue I take with the position that "world sim" is impossible; its entirely possible within the limitation of needs and scope.
I think @AbdulAlhazred, in saying that "world sim" is impossible, is taking the word "world" more-or-less literally. If in fact it is being used non-literally, to refer to some little fragment of the world, then maybe his claim becomes less plausible.

Although even consider, say, a simulation of what happens when a character heaves a boulder over a cliff. What/who is at the bottom of the cliff that is in danger of getting squashed? Even in Rolemaster, one of the most purist of purist-for-system RPGs, the GM basically has to just make that up. There is no system for modelling what is at the bottom of a cliff.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
I think @AbdulAlhazred, in saying that "world sim" is impossible, is taking the word "world" more-or-less literally. If in fact it is being used non-literally, to refer to some little fragment of the world, then maybe his claim becomes less plausible.

I'm not talking about a "little fragment"; I'm talking about depth and scale. When doing a model of anything, you don't need to emulate everything down to the subatomic level, because for the most part that is just background noise to the parts you're looking at. Similarly, you can bake in things that are below or outside the level of what you're looking at in a world simulation for the rules about the parts you are looking at. That doesn't mean your bake-ins are going to be right or at least look right to people; that's a question of your success in what you're doing. But you're still simulating the world here, even if its zoomed out beyond certain things.

Although even consider, say, a simulation of what happens when a character heaves a boulder over a cliff. What/who is at the bottom of the cliff that is in danger of getting squashed? Even in Rolemaster, one of the most purist of purist-for-system RPGs, the GM basically has to just make that up. There is no system for modelling what is at the bottom of a cliff.

I'd argue that's because to the degree its liable to be significant, its normally assumed to be baked in to the set-up; in other words, if anyone is liable to care what gets squashed, the GM will have considered it when setting up the situation.

(And to be clear up-front, I don't consider the GM having to do that an indication of an incomplete system so much as it not being something having system for seems a good use of resources).
 

Why does gravity work in D&D but guns don't (yes we can vary these but in general). We need some sort of basic agreed nature of the fiction or else play becomes impossible. This is the basic function of genre. In D&D's genre/setting assumptions goblin is a weak low-level monster. Subverting that is fine, but usually it's best to signal it somehow.
Well I'm not sure why anyone would "agree to" an idea like a random player can "just say" a monster or anything is weak because they want it that way. It's just an alien concept.

Yes, gotcha! Haha. I can see it as an amusing incident. But if you simply deny everyone any way to rely on knowledge and experience of the world/genre the typical result is turtling and pixel bitching behavior.
Well, if you play in my game with some sort of pre-made conception of a way the game must be, you will find that very wrong.
 



Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I think @AbdulAlhazred, in saying that "world sim" is impossible, is taking the word "world" more-or-less literally. If in fact it is being used non-literally, to refer to some little fragment of the world, then maybe his claim becomes less plausible.

Although even consider, say, a simulation of what happens when a character heaves a boulder over a cliff. What/who is at the bottom of the cliff that is in danger of getting squashed? Even in Rolemaster, one of the most purist of purist-for-system RPGs, the GM basically has to just make that up.
Indeed; though if the world is already thought through enough (or even if the area around the cliff has been narrated and described well enough) that the GM knows the vague likelihood of there being anyone or anything down there, "making it up" becomes a bit - or even a lot - more informed.

There's also the question of intent, often if not always arising from previous play and narration: is the character heaving the boulder over the side just for kicks, or in hopes of hitting someone or something previously known to be down there, or in hopes of attracting attention, or ... ?
There is no system for modelling what is at the bottom of a cliff.
Hard-coded numerical modelling, no...or at least, not yet; give it a few years and I'm sure there'll be an open-ended digital RPG setting released in which the programming will take minutae like this into account. :)
 

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