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

Personally I'm happy if the action handling part of the game simply reads like an Indiana Jones movie, or a DC Comic, basically. In my interactions with game design people in the 21st Century (at least) I don't think 'simulation' is a word any of the more prominent ones ever use or even consider. I know it isn't how I think!

You can have other discussions about the 'campaign aspects' or whatever you want to call it (world 'simulation') and there's a somewhat different set of things to be said. In the end though its fundamentally the same. All that is needed or really practical in a game is to have a depiction of things such that the players can apply simple logic and get comprehensible results. If you besiege the town, then food won't be available in the market, or it will be really expensive. We don't need to simulate a market for this, nor is simply saying this in and of itself meaningfully a simulation. Its just how we expect that the world will work. If for some reason Greaso has plenty of flour to sell, then we know to ask questions about that!
 

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Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I fully recognise that how D&D assigns rules to fluff is rather haphazard. I don't think there isn't any simulationist intent at all, there clearly is. Frost giant has way higher strength score than a drow priestess of Lolth even though they're same challenge rating. That is simulating giants being big and strong and the drow not.
That is an incredibly low and weak bar for simulation. The difference between a Frost Giant's strength and that of a drow priestess is less than the possible range of human strength on a scale that is completely linear. So there is less difference between the drow's strength and the giant's strength than between a weakling human and a very strong human.

A betting point might be that carrying capacity increases by size category, but that's pretty weak as well.
But when I say that I wish D&D was a tad more simulationist., I merely mean that I wish that the consistency of how the numbers and rules correspond to the concepts they're supposed to be representing was given a higher priority. I don't mean creating seven thousand needlessly detailed charts to cover myriad interactions. Basically, clearly decide what the fiction you're representing is (for example is a 15 level fighter a Navy Seal or a Mythic Hero with superhuman prowess) and then assign the rules that represent these concept consistently across the whole game. If a bear has Str 19, then it also means that a person with Str 20 is stronger than a bear in the fiction! If you don't want that fiction, then change the numbers!
This requires a lot of changes to D&D. The result would look a lot more like 4e than anything else.
 

Oofta

Legend
I fully recognise that how D&D assigns rules to fluff is rather haphazard. I don't think there isn't any simulationist intent at all, there clearly is. Frost giant has way higher strength score than a drow priestess of Lolth even though they're same challenge rating. That is simulating giants being big and strong and the drow not.

But when I say that I wish D&D was a tad more simulationist., I merely mean that I wish that the consistency of how the numbers and rules correspond to the concepts they're supposed to be representing was given a higher priority. I don't mean creating seven thousand needlessly detailed charts to cover myriad interactions. Basically, clearly decide what the fiction you're representing is (for example is a 15 level fighter a Navy Seal or a Mythic Hero with superhuman prowess) and then assign the rules that represent these concept consistently across the whole game. If a bear has Str 19, then it also means that a person with Str 20 is stronger than a bear in the fiction! If you don't want that fiction, then change the numbers!
Strength and larger creatures is wonky. A large creature doubles carrying capacity but that's it. They should at least get advantage on any strength/athletics checks they make, I've considered giving them proficiency bonus (or expertise if already proficient) as well. Some of the issue is, of course that there's not really a simple way to model damage from a creature like a bear. Yes, they're immensely strong, but regular people, aka commoners do survive bear attacks. So in game you can't just give them a 30 strength because any commoner they hit automatically dies. I'm not sure how you would model it better with something as simple as a D20 system.

But a simulation that isn't accurate in some scenarios, especially scenarios that are difficult to model, does not stop it from being a simulation.
 

Strength and larger creatures is wonky. A large creature doubles carrying capacity but that's it. They should at least get advantage on any strength/athletics checks they make, I've considered giving them proficiency bonus (or expertise if already proficient) as well. Some of the issue is, of course that there's not really a simple way to model damage from a creature like a bear. Yes, they're immensely strong, but regular people, aka commoners do survive bear attacks. So in game you can't just give them a 30 strength because any commoner they hit automatically dies. I'm not sure how you would model it better with something as simple as a D20 system.

But a simulation that isn't accurate in some scenarios, especially scenarios that are difficult to model, does not stop it from being a simulation.
Well, MOSTLY people survive bear attacks because the bear isn't super motivated to kill people. Bears normally don't eat humans and don't hunt them. So, if they DO attack you it is more because you are seen as a threat. Once you're bleeding on the ground, they USUALLY just walk away.

The root of the 'strength problem' is just that the progression is broken. You have 18 STR as the nominal human maximum, but that's already HIGH up the curve of giving bonuses to damage and attack in modern D&D (and even in 1e it granted some pretty good bonuses of +1/+2). So, if you wanted to be fairly realistic about it, huge creatures would have really massive attack and damage bonuses (damage at least). In actuality they're substantial but with 18 being +4, even 24 is only +6, not that big a difference. Now if bears were STR 30, which isn't all that crazy sounding when you look at how big and strong they REALLY are vs what the bonuses do for you, then giants and such would need to be like STR 40.

D&D just didn't pick a very good way of extending ability scores beyond human human limits at the very start, and even when 3e somewhat rationalized that, it didn't really FIX the problem. Things like GoOP don't help!
 




Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
As far as the skills go, or are you including the power structure?
Abilities would likely have to rotate and be replaced, similar to how powers worked. Otherwise a 1st level ability, well situated in that tier, becomes non-useful a tier or two later, when everything is superpowered rather than mundane.

But, no, not specifically AEDU.
 


As far as the skills go, or are you including the power structure?
So, I reinterpreted skills as 'knacks' or 'approaches' to problem solving where in my game every situation has a 'governing approach' to dealing with whatever the obstacle is. You can also say "well, wait a minute, I have another way to deal with this" and assuming you either have something mechanical that says so, or the table says "yeah, that's a better idea" then you can use your approach instead.

Powers can obviously come in at the "mechanics say I can do X instead" point, usually. If I have to get to the top of a cliff, then I can climb, or maybe I can levitate! In the later case I'm switching to a magical solution (Arcane).

By making checks deal with intent and skills/powers deal with approach, then things seem to work out in a pretty cool way. If you need to do something completely crazy, you probably invoke some kind of power. They're not on an AEDU schedule, but you won't always get the chance to use what you've got, and extraordinary results can require spending power points (which also double as healing surges, so it requires some care).
 

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