D&D 5E Realism and Simulationism in 5e: Is D&D Supposed to be Realistic?

Status
Not open for further replies.

log in or register to remove this ad

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
In 5e you prepare a certain selection of spells but it's completely unconnected to how many spells you can actually cast.
I don't have much to say in response to the other things (and I have already said far too much elsewhere), so I'll focus here.

How do you know what number of spells a spellcaster should be able to cast? How do you know that the character wouldn't be taught about these things by whomever taught them, or couldn't have figured out these things by doing (e.g. a Sorcerer experimenting with their abilities). How do you know that a spellcasting character definitely doesn't have knowledge of how many spells they can cast each day?

If the game explicitly said that's how it worked, you might have a point, but it doesn't. That's the sticking point: there's no given reason a character couldn't know that they can cast three level 3 spells once they're experienced enough. And there's no IRL comparison to make, so we can't do an analogue of "One Handed Catch" where we can bring intuitions in.

"Dissociation" when coupled with physical-world intuitions creates unfair limitations. We have no intuitions about magic because magic isn't real. You have to have the game tell what the limits of magic are. Not so with non-magic. Non-magic is, implicitly, limited by what can be achieved in our world--even though we know people can and do do things that can't actually be done in our world. That albatross hanging around the neck of characters that don't use "magic" proper can be dealt with...but doing so in a way that never ever not even once invokes ANY form of "dissociated" mechanics is extremely difficult and (as you noted) may be impossible.

Magic gets a free pass on "dissociated" mechanics because it has nothing to "dissociate" from. Which is, as I've said, part of why the whole concept of "dissociated" mechanics is flawed. "Dissociated" mechanics + intuitions about activities that resemble IRL ones is the same thing as "it's not realistic," it just obfuscates the call for realism behind the unspoken intuitions.
 
Last edited:

pemerton

Legend
I don't have much to say in response to the other things (and I have already said far too much elsewhere), so I'll focus here.

How do you know what number of spells a spellcaster should be able to cast?

<snip>

there's no given reason a character couldn't know that they can cast three level 3 spells once they're experienced enough.
I tend to incline to the view that 5e's spell slot rules are "dissociated" - or, rather, are basically metagame - for the reasons @Mordhau has given, namely, that it's too absurd to think that the character's work with a notion of "spell slots" where they can use X amounts of 1st level ones, and once those are used can only use the more powerful ones. What would this be like, in the fiction?

"Dissociation" when coupled with physical-world intuitions creates unfair limitations.

<snip>

Non-magic is, implicitly, limited by what can be achieved in our world
My general view of rationed "martial" powers is that they represent trying hard. The metagame aspect consists in the player getting to decide exactly when and how that trying manifests.

I don't really see how 5e spell slots are very different. What else would they represent but conjuring and releasing a certain amount of magic energy - which requires effort, and hence can't be done whenever one cares to.
 

Oofta

Legend
I was responding to those posters who did say it: @Maxperson, @Lanefan, @p_johnston (at least in relation to gravity), and maybe @Oofta (though I'm not 100% sure what Oofta includes in the "macro level").
I assume the world works that same as the real world unless there is magic involved. I don't think it matters what happens at the atomic or quantum layer. Magic taps into the dark energy (aether) that permeates everything, surrounding us like a sea that we cannot detect.

It doesn't really matter in game though, a PC can't invent gunpowder because the player googled the recipe. Magic alters the world in small ways that people simply accept as normal but if you see a waterfall flowing uphill I want it to be fantastic and magical. As far as reverse gravity, it's similar to an anti-magic zone. The area just has the gravitational pull of the planet reversed temporarily, the rest of the laws of physics are unaffected.
 

I tend to incline to the view that 5e's spell slot rules are "dissociated" - or, rather, are basically metagame - for the reasons @Mordhau has given, namely, that it's too absurd to think that the character's work with a notion of "spell slots" where they can use X amounts of 1st level ones, and once those are used can only use the more powerful ones. What would this be like, in the fiction?
I think they are usually treated as pretty disassociated, yes. I don't like disassociated mechanics, so at least in my setting 'the eight circles of magic'* and associated spells and magical energy levels are metaphysical concepts that exist in the setting. We don't need to understand how it exactly works though, like we don't need to exactly understand how the warp drive works to play an engineer in a Star Trek game (but having the general idea and some overall concepts defined sure helps.)

* It is said that the the most powerful archmages are capable of casting spells of all the eight circles of magic. Some magical philosophers have theorised that a ninth circle could exist, and there are legends of some ancient magicians having been able to to cast such spells.
 

I assume the world works that same as the real world unless there is magic involved. I don't think it matters what happens at the atomic or quantum layer. Magic taps into the dark energy (aether) that permeates everything, surrounding us like a sea that we cannot detect.

It doesn't really matter in game though, a PC can't invent gunpowder because the player googled the recipe. Magic alters the world in small ways that people simply accept as normal but if you see a waterfall flowing uphill I want it to be fantastic and magical. As far as reverse gravity, it's similar to an anti-magic zone. The area just has the gravitational pull of the planet reversed temporarily, the rest of the laws of physics are unaffected.
How I see is that the normal everyday reality works roughly like in the real world, to match the players' intuitive expectations. The underlying unobservable reality on the level of atoms or celestial bodies don't necessarily need to work the same, nor it really matters one bit whether it does or does not. The characters simply would never know anyway.

Overall, I really hate 'it is fantasy, so nothing needs to make sense' credo. No, fantasy can make sense and probably also should! This doesn't necessarily mean matching the real world, it means internal consistency. But some baseline connection to the real world is required for the things to be relatable to the players, and to not constantly bog down the game by having to explain how the characters who are strawberry-flavoured five dimensional sentient hypercubes who have a hivemind but do not experience the time linearly would perceive the reality mostly (but not solely!) composed of oscillating mnemonic neon filaments.
 

(4) How can it possibly be an analysis tool if understood as merely a matter of taste?
I'm not going to respond to the rest of it. Y'all seem to really want me to edition war, and I just can't. I didn't play 4e. I've played PF twice -- the "We Be Goblins" one-shots. I really don't know or care how mean Justin Alexander was to 4e back in the war. I will say that, while I don't believe the term "dissociated" was used, these discussions were happening back on .advocacy in the 90s. So I get why it's become all about Justin Alexander and 4e, but I'm just not interested.

The quoted bit, though, seemed worth a comment because I find it so bizarre. I mean, it helps to know what you like and don't like, what sorts of things support your playstyle preferences and what sorts of things don't. Like, the amount of "crunch" in a game is a matter of preference, but you can still define what you mean by "crunch" and use that to evaluate whether certain mechanics will work for you or not. The whole bit is so strange I feel like I'm taking crazy pills.

I think I've said it before, and it seems like it's getting through, but I'll say it again: My preference is to avoid dissociated mechanics. I find this easier when I know what dissociated mechanics are, how they differ from abstracted mechanics, and why they push back against my preferred playstyle. I'm not trying to prove objectively that "dissociated mechanics are bad," whatever in the world that might actually mean. Others will have different preferences. Dissociated mechanics clearly don't bother some players at all. In the context of non-magic-users specifically, some players really want a robust selection of class abilities and resources to manage, and they don't care if the resulting mechanics are dissociated. I get that. That's valid. Find your happiness. :)
 

So, from this bit alone, the rules are not "realistic" in any edition of D&D ever, because "realistic" doesn't mean what people think it means based on the shape of the word.
The only thing I can pull you up on is this - words don't mean anything by themselves. A word's meaning is determined entirely by how it is used. So if people use it to mean a thing, it means that thing, the "shape of the word" notwithstanding.

The rest of your post is, as far as I can tell, absolutely spot-on.
 

It implicitly does in how he constructed his argument, which discusses an American football player forgetting a special move or maneuver that they perform X number of times per day before forgetting it. He uses this to target the idea of the At-Will/Encounter/Daily powers of Martial characters in 4e D&D. It is not levied against classes of other power sources. Only Martials.
The player doesn't "forget" an encounter maneuver after using it, of course - the defence has just seen it before and won't fall for it a second time.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Out of curiosity, where did you see these explicitly ?
Psionics. Molecular Agitation, Molecular Manipulation and Molecular Rearangement. Mentions molecules, which don't happen without atoms. Heck, Body Weaponry in the 1e PHB mentions altering molecules as well.
 

Status
Not open for further replies.

Voidrunner's Codex

Remove ads

Top