D&D General On simulating things: what, why, and how?

Hussar

Legend
I have no idea what you issue is. I have not talked about 4E explicitly or implicitly, because I literally do not care about 4E one way or the other. I never really played it, and I don't have the first clue about how it did or did not handle the kinds of sim elements I am talking about.

And just to be clear, in case I am being too subtle: I am not talking about misty stepping eladrin or fire breathing dragons or skeletons walking around without muscles or heroic warriors surviving long falls. I am talking about having to freaking eat, sleep in a bed, maybe light a fire during the winter.
But, intentionally or not, you are using EXACTLY the same language that was used about 4e. As in virtually word for word. Add in nice touches (you didn't but others did) like anime references, kids these days references and various other goodies and you've got the whole Edition War Bingo card covered.

So, you might understand why I'm pushing back here.
 

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Well, my ideas on shields landed like a wet towel. What if we go a little broader, to armor? Why does armor affect to-hit instead of being a damage reducer? It doesn't seem very realistic. That's a bigger change, but there are systems that do it. Unlike hit points, which permeate the game rules, armor class seems like it could be redone. Certain things would have more effect, or less, but the goal is more simulation, yes?

So armor of different types could aborb different amounts of damage, particular weapons and spells could have an "armor piercing" quality the bypasses some of that. Or blasts and bolts and such might ignore armor unless the armor specifically offers full-body protetction, and the like.

I've actually cribbed most of that from Torg Eternity. It seems to handle armor in a more simulationy way than D&D while still being fairly simple in the rules. (Unlike other, far more central, parts of the Torg ruleset!)

Oh and for what it's worth, I totally think fantasy PCs with advanced physical training and/or strength should be able to jump ridiculously high and leap ridiculously far, whether in combat or not. Else your fighters and barbarians will at best be giving that dragon a bad pedicure.
This is just basic system design. So, in HoML armor actually acts as a damage absorber (this does away with 4e's AC defense, which has various benefits). It works, BUT its a 'knife edge' design. So, with damage outputs for the low levels being in the range of, say 5-12 points, a single point of DR is moderately significant, but 3 or 4 points is BIG. It will pretty much wipe out a lot of the typical 4e 'incidental' damage values, and render anything that does small amounts of damage over time pretty much worthless. Even 1 point has a significant impact there. So, you really CANNOT have a very big range of values for DR. If higher values are factored into the game, then a PC with low or no DR will be hosed. Any unusually high value above what is anticipated would equally cause many problems.

The upshot of this is, the entirety of range of all possible armors has to fit into a 5 or so point range, and you better put some downsides on the top end of that range, because its going to be VERY tempting for characters otherwise! Being deprived of your armor is also QUITE nasty! Honestly, since I've mostly only got a chance to really run much at low levels in my game I am not entirely sure what the best scaling there is either. I don't feel like it should be all that steep! OTOH it could be a way to distinguish different tiers without as much need for things like increased hit points, though increased damage would certainly be required! (IE if say the 2nd tier, Legendary in HoML, was based on 10 to 20 DR, then you'd definitely need most damage expressions to reasonably dish out up to 20+ damage a good bit of the time).

Anyway, in a 4e-like engine Armor as DR does work, to at least some fair degree.
 

Which would be an issue if I compared them in size to an elephant. I didn't. I compared them to a 9 ton crocodile, which is EXACTLY the size they are - 40 feet long.
How does this 40 feet lizard fit in a ten foot square? Even if we assume that neck and tail overhang a bit to account for the extra reach it has, this doesn't make sense.

And, here, you are again wrong. Gargatuan ranges in mass from 16-125 tons. I just took the middle range. Which makes them the size of the largest therapod.
Where are these numbers coming from? In any case, I don't find it impossible that humans armed with late medieval weaponry could kill even an argentinosaurus. Though personally I wouldn't try it!
 

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
Curious about that "Obviously I want the world to resemble the real one excepting those areas where it explicitly doesn't".

For me it's the opposite - I'd rather have a single emulation of a genre so that I have a consistant way to evaluate and view everything, instead of having two quite different yardsticks and times where it's not obvious which I should be using, and can perhaps switch between the two in the same action. "Well, can I jump 15' across the chasm? And if I fail and fall 30' what does that mean."

Reminds me of the movie "The Last Action Hero", where things have very different internal logic inside the movie and outside. I'd I know real world and I know high fantasy genre, but only one of them can cover everything in game. I personally would rather only one consistent way.
That is a matter of taste, of course. I'd rather i don't want a consistent way to view everything, if that way is whatever i like in high fantasy. People like different stuff.
 

This is just basic system design. So, in HoML armor actually acts as a damage absorber (this does away with 4e's AC defense, which has various benefits).
How is the hit established? Is there some sort of parry/dodge defence value?

It works, BUT its a 'knife edge' design. So, with damage outputs for the low levels being in the range of, say 5-12 points, a single point of DR is moderately significant, but 3 or 4 points is BIG. It will pretty much wipe out a lot of the typical 4e 'incidental' damage values, and render anything that does small amounts of damage over time pretty much worthless. Even 1 point has a significant impact there. So, you really CANNOT have a very big range of values for DR. If higher values are factored into the game, then a PC with low or no DR will be hosed. Any unusually high value above what is anticipated would equally cause many problems.

The upshot of this is, the entirety of range of all possible armors has to fit into a 5 or so point range, and you better put some downsides on the top end of that range, because its going to be VERY tempting for characters otherwise! Being deprived of your armor is also QUITE nasty! Honestly, since I've mostly only got a chance to really run much at low levels in my game I am not entirely sure what the best scaling there is either. I don't feel like it should be all that steep! OTOH it could be a way to distinguish different tiers without as much need for things like increased hit points, though increased damage would certainly be required! (IE if say the 2nd tier, Legendary in HoML, was based on 10 to 20 DR, then you'd definitely need most damage expressions to reasonably dish out up to 20+ damage a good bit of the time).

Anyway, in a 4e-like engine Armor as DR does work, to at least some fair degree.
One think I have considered for a "D&Dish" game with armour as a DR is to make the protection the armour offers a die. So a leather armour might have a DR of d4, a mail armour d8 and so forth. (Magic armour could be a static plus on top of that.) It would have the benefit of not making the heavily armoured folks automatically completely immune to low damage effects, and would aesthetically pleasingly mirror the different weapons using different sized dice too.
 

Oh, no. I disagree here.

Go back to 2007/8. You'll see these EXACT same discussions happening. Virtually word for word. Then, skip forward to 2012 with the D&D Next development and you'll see the same conversations yet again. These aren't new arguments. This is edition warring 101. Lay the groundwork for being able to claim how WotC doesn't care about fans and is changing the "soul" of the game to something different. It's 100% edition warring.
Well, since I was the one that brought up the hoary 'fey step' debate, yes I am of course fully aware it was, at the time, the rankest edition warring possible. I just was trying, poorly, to use it to make a slightly different point, myself. I mean, I thought that the people stating that Fey Step might change the whole nature of towns might have been right! Its just one tiny example of all the small things that D&Ds assume that would EACH totally change the world in ways we cannot imagine.

Your point about the rhetorical nature of the whole discussion about simulation, and its relationship to stated preferences for mechanics which are strictly and explicitly tied to specific fictions (so called 'associated' mechanics as opposed to 'disassociated' ones) is indeed related to the simulation topic. I don't want to draw any specific inferences about anyone's aims in constructing this particular thread though. I think its possible to create a thread in which you simply talk about fairly neutral topics like "should I use an encumbrance system in my game, and how, why, and when?" or something like that. Frankly, going back and rereading the OP makes me fairly certain that was the sort of spirit in which the discussion was started. Remember, while @Reynard may well have been around in the 4e days, it has been most of 10 years now since that stuff all burned out here. Many, perhaps most, posters are likely not even aware of the actual issues around both community preferences and rhetorical methods that arose back then.
 

hawkeyefan

Legend
But I am not talking about what NOT to try and apply a sim mechanic to. I am explicitly talking about things that I personally do like having some sim elements to, and not saying anything about other people's preferences except insofar as people that think you CAN'T have sim elements in a fantasy game are just plain wrong.

I’m not doing that. I don’t know why you keep bringing it up in replies to me. I’m not saying any of that.

What I’m doing is trying to have a discussion as you requested in your OP.

But overall, let's have a friendly discussion about when and how to use simulation in D&D, and also why.

So my question is: when you would not use simulation in D&D and why?

If you have thoughts about when you would and why, then I’d imagine you’ve had to consider when not to and why.

No?
 

Well, makes much more sense than you concluding from game stats (somehow!) that dragons are super resilient (unlike real animals) and then complaining it is unrealistic that people can kill them by the rules of that very same game! o_O
I think it is VERY VERY plain from both description and detailed rules elements that a dragon is intended to, and DOES greatly exceed the might of an elephant in 5e D&D! The stat block for Elephant doesn't even fall into the main part of the monster assortment, it is found in a sort of 'afterthought' section for natural creatures. Its a reasonably tough creature with AC 12 and 76 hit points, rated at CR4. Honestly it can dish out some fairly nasty damage and seems like a fairly honest attempt to realistically portray a large and potentially violent animal that has some decent natural weaponry. Even so, it is easy to hit and should be fairly simple to dispatch using correct tactics. If it charges out of the bush at you, well, it might kinda hurt, though higher level PCs will still prevail of course. Interestingly the allosaurus is considerably weaker than the elephant! T-Rex OTOH is a good bit tougher.

An adult 5e Red Dragon is CR17, so it is in an ENTIRELY different league! It has over 3x more hit points than an elephant, is larger, has 7 more points of AC, legendary resistance, advanced senses, intelligence, and a laundry list of special abilities (not even counting things like spell casting) legendary actions, lair actions, etc. Even 20th level PCs will need to tread carefully around this beast! It could literally kill and eat an elephant with one attack routine.

So, it isn't @Ovinomancer who is responsible for the portrayal of dragons, D&D has ALWAYS stated them up as very tough higher level monsters. You better be an incredible bad-ass to take one of these things on, and it is doubtful that a single PC, even the very strongest ones in the game, will want to tangle with an ADULT red dragon. For a PC to tangle with an ANCIENT red dragon would be total suicide. So, actually, if you can beat one, you are very very definitely far outside any natural ability that humans can attain, the adult could probably kill even 1000's of heavily armed normal humans! (they might be able to reach a temporary stand-off under ideal tactical conditions). Still, that 20th level fighter will at least give one a very good run for its money.
 

Which would be an issue if I compared them in size to an elephant. I didn't. I compared them to a 9 ton crocodile, which is EXACTLY the size they are - 40 feet long.


And, here, you are again wrong. Gargatuan ranges in mass from 16-125 tons. I just took the middle range. Which makes them the size of the largest therapod.
Adults, which might be considered your 'average dragon' perhaps, are ONLY Huge ;). They are listed as being '15 by 15 ft.' but that's probably an approximation. Elephants are actually listed as 'huge' (20x20 ft). A real elephant is in the range of 15 ft long, 10 ft tall, and can mass up to around 7 tons, so I think they are kind of overspeccing it, frankly. Lets assume that 7 tons is 'huge', then an adult red dragon might 'only' weigh in at several tons. Given that it is on the order of 15x15 it is hard to see it being much less massive than that, unless dragons are built like pterosaurs or something. The MM does not indicate this, though, describing them as massive and powerful beasts.

Anyway, none of that was meant to undermine your argument. EVEN AT WORST a 'mere' adult red dragon is quite large, like the size of a small delivery truck or real-world elephant, and MUCH MUCH MUCH tougher by the rules!
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
I keep reading that the high level fighters are less athletic than real world people and so that's unrealistic. But is that just the body type? Slow and can't jump far. But a 20 STR one is noticeably stronger than a gorilla (16 str) and athletic enough to go about their day carrying 300 pounds of gear (not only on long marches, but also while climbing, swimming, and jumping). Uhm... so, uhm, realism?
 

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