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

Status
Not open for further replies.
Okay, but like...I'm not talking about how people use it. I'm talking about what it looks like it should mean based on the etymology of the word, not based on its usage.
But that's not how language works. A word's etymology is not its meaning. Meanings shift over time as a matter of course. All words are arbitrary, so saying that a word "should" mean something doesn't hold water. We can use words to mean whatever we like. Ideally we will make clear what we mean, to maximize communication, but that's not the same as prescribing a meaning for a word that's different from how it's actually used.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Do keep in mind that the original presentation of "dissociated" mechanics specifically goes with this--to the point that it treats any such flavorful description of this sort of thing as "house-ruling," which I personally find patently ridiculous. (Anything which purports to conflate description of situation with altering the game's rules deeply, deeply confuses me.)
Yes indeed. My post was intended to point out how trivial it is to explain something like that in-game, like we do for so many other things already that the Alexandrian has zero problem with.
 


So, Alertness(1) is dissociated. Second Wind(2) is dissociated. Using a hit die during a rest(3) is dissociated. Hitpoints(4) are dissociated. Extra attack(5) is dissociated. Sneak attack(6) is dissociated. All of these are dissociated. Is it useful to you to appreciate this, and what steps might you take to address your dislike of these mechanics?

1. you cannot be surprised. No one wants to be surprise. The PC isn't choosing to not be surprised. Actual fiction doesn't matter here at all, either.
It is passive. Neither the player of PC is choosing to do anything, so there is no disassociation. The character has the spider sense or something.

2. what is the PC doing here that grants hp back? Why can't the do it whenever? Why is this only a fighter ability?
I don't know. Seems indeed somewhat disassociated. Or weakly associated at best. I would describe it as the character consciously drawing on some reserve vigour. And why only fighters can do it? Presumably for the same reason Usain Bolt can run really fast and I can't. Some people simply can do stuff other people cant, most likely due being gifted and practicing really hard.

3. What is the PC doing here that grants HP? Why can't they do that anytime they want without limit?
Resting. But yes, the use of hit die is disassociated. It would be more associated if the healing was passive. I use healing kit dependency, so there at least the use of hit die is associated to actual first aid, though the decision of how many hit die are used is still disassociated.

4. I mean, hitpoints, right? The easiest here is that the PC isn't attacking the enemy to remove some ablative plot armor, but to injure, maim, or kill. The result of "no fictional change" doesn't really track.
I describe any hit point loss being at least somewhat hurt. How badly you're hurt is associated to the proportion of hit points you've lost. I liked 4e healing surges for this reason, as they allowed healing to be proportional too, and I wish 5e had kept that.

5. The PC choosing to go all out looks different at certain only mechanical breakpoints. The reasons that classes other than fighter never get more than one of these, or even none of these (most common) has no fictional basis that makes sense. It's a purely mechanic differentiation to allow fighters to not completely suck due to no magic.
No. This is not disassociated. Like Usain Bolt can run a lot faster than me, some people can learn to punch much more rapidly than others.

6. Sneak attack has the same problems extra attack does -- why not let everyone do this?
Why doesn't everyone do brain surgery? Because it is actually hard. This is not disassociated.
 
Last edited:

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
It is passive. Neither the player of PC is choosing to do anything, so there is no disassociation. The character has the spider sense or something.
This is exactly the kind of post facto explanation that hallmarks the claim of dissociation! Why is the character not surprised? Mechanically, we know it's because the player chose Alertness as a feat. The player made a choice. Fictionally, we have no idea, it's spider sense or something. It's unexplained, or forced to be explained ad hoc in the moment if it's not just (as usual) ignored as okay.
I don't know. Seems indeed somewhat disassociated. or weakly associated at best. I would describe it as the character consciously drawing on some reserve vigour. And why only fighters can do it? Presumably for the same reason Usain Bolt can run really fast and I can't. Some people simply can do stuff other people cant, most likely due being gifted and practicing really hard.


Resting. But yes, the use of hit die is disassociated. It would be more associated if the healing was passive. I use healing kit dependency, so there at least use of hit die is associated to actual first aid, though decision of how many hit die are used is still disassociated.


I describe any hit point loss being at least somewhat hurt. How badly you're hurt is associated to the proportion of hit points you've lost. I liked 4e healing surges for this reason, as they allowed healing to be proportional too, and I wish 5e had kept that.
Okay, you've made a change, but one that seems hard to do. What the descriptive effect of losing 1 hitpoint if you have 10 vs if you have 100? It can't be just wounds, because the same blow can do the same damage against both opponents, but the descriptions has to change. This isn't about following PC wishes but about having to rationalize a mechanic.
No. This is not disassociated. Like Usain Bolt can run a lot faster than me, some people can learn to punch much more rapidly than others.
Only fighters? Rogues can't be quick? What explains the speed of attack, here -- is it even speed? I mean, if I have a 20 STR 20 DEX rogue, why do I only get one attack a round but the 10 STR 10 DEX fighter gets multiples? It isn't strength. It isn't speed. It isn't skill (we both have the same proficiency bonus to attack). It's just because one is a fighter and the other a rogue? Okay, sure, fighters might be just that much more preternaturally skilled, but now we have to explain sneak attack in the same paradigm -- rogues are the only ones capable of such precision and overwhelming blows?

Yeah, it's entirely dissociated from explanation.
Why doesn't everyone do brain surgery? Because it is actually hard. This is not disassociated.
Sure, but we aren't talking about that, are we? Every character in 5e is just as proficient at a given level of landing a blow with a weapon -- the proficiency bonus (that skill and training bit, per description) is the same. A Wizard is as good at swinging a dagger as a Fighter at the same level and with the same stats. Clearly both the Wizard and Fighter can try to stick someone in the tender bits from hiding just as well as the rogue can, right? Same same same. But, the Wizard, with the same prof bonus, gets 1 attack at d4, the Fighter gets multiple attacks at d4, and the rogue gets one attack at d4 plus a bunch of d6s. Does the rogue know something about fighting that the Fighter does not? Kick the Wizard to the curb, maybe (oh wait, he has the criminal background, or the solider background, so grew up with that training!).

Yeah, the entire structure of class abilities is dissociated. It's not effected based on what the characters choose to do, but what the player selects as the arbitrary bin of powers that the character has. A Fighter in a fight is choosing to go all out to survive and win, just like the Rogue, but the effects are not based on these choices but rather some arbitrary player-side choice and design choice. Totally dissociated. It is, however, what we're used to, so it doesn't get noticed and, if it does, usually gets excused away.
 

@Ovinomancer no one really cares much if character build choices are not associated to character decisions. Obviously the character doesn't decide to be an elf, the player does. What we wish to be associated are the decisions made during the gameplay.

And different people being good at different things is not disassociated at all, and it is bizarre to even bring that to this. Yes, fighters learn to how to punch rapidly and rogues learn how to hit the enemy where it hurts. These are different competences and would be understood to be such in the setting too.

As for hit points, there is not really change, merely interpreting the hit points being skill, luck and meat holistically. It is not that some hit points are skill and some are meat, it is that every hit point is all of these things. So a skilled warrior hit by a ten point hit is still hurt, but their skill allows them to be less hurt than a lower level character would.

And also, a thing being somewhat abstract, doesn't mean it can't be associated all. We don't need to track the hit point/hurt ratio so that we can perfectly calculate the exact severity of wounds based on this. It is an approximation that is good enough for giving rough descriptions in an action adventure game. But it is associated in the sense that the characters actually know that they're hurt, and thus can make decisions based on that in-character. Like if instead, say, the first half your hit points was luck and you would seem equally fine if you had full or half hit points, how could the character asses risks in-character? That would create a disassociation.

And that's basically the whole point of this association business. To avoid the situations where the players constantly keep making decisions as players on some meta level, instead of making decisions in-character. Because to me the former is not roleplaying but the latter is, and when I play an RPG I want it to contain a lot of roleplaying.
 
Last edited:

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
The light spell mentions molecules as well.

"Explanation/Description: This spell causes excitation of molecules so as to make them brightly luminous."

As does heat metal.

"Explanation/Description: By means of the heat metal spell, the druid is able to excite the molecules of ferrous metal (iron, iron alloys, steel) and thus cause the affected metal to become hot."
The bigger irony here being that actual metals don't form molecules at all. They form crystals--a huge part of why metals behave so differently vs non-metals.

But that's not how language works. A word's etymology is not its meaning. Meanings shift over time as a matter of course. All words are arbitrary, so saying that a word "should" mean something doesn't hold water. We can use words to mean whatever we like. Ideally we will make clear what we mean, to maximize communication, but that's not the same as prescribing a meaning for a word that's different from how it's actually used.
I know that etymology doesn't directly generate meaning. Yet, with that said, it matters for people trying, on their own, to figure out what it does mean. Hence why I say it is not a good word to use. People attempt to use context clues and the structure of the word to figure out what it means, and thus assume "realism" must mean "being like reality."

Hence, I advocate not using "realism," because its superficial meaning ("styled to look like stuff that happens IRL") is a stumbling block and a distraction from its actual meaning ("styled to take consequences seriously and give a feeling of continuity and intuitive predictability.")
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
@Ovinomancer no one really cares much if character build choices are not associated to character decisions. Obviously the character doesn't decide to be an elf, the player does. What we wish to be associated are the decisions made during the gameplay.
This is a dodge -- we aren't talking about being an elf. We're talking about how build choices provide suites of player side buttons that don't engage character side logic. There's no reason a skilled fighter, trained well in the arts of war and how to hurt things, cannot get into hiding and attack an unaware target with ruthless effectiveness. From the PC side, this makes perfect sense. But it doesn't translate into the mechanics because the outcome of this is just the same as if the attack was not from hiding (advantage aside). But if you picked the Rogue buttons, then this does do something -- your training in martial skill and how to hurt things does pay massive dividends here over the fighter! The PC choices are the same, the training for the fighter is actually likely more intensive for harming things, but the rogue has the right build choice button.

This is the kind of special pleading that gets deployed to defend existing disassociation so as to protect it's use for new against new ideas.
And different people being good at different things is not disassociated at all, and it is bizarre to even bring that to this. Yes, fighters learn to how to punch rapidly and rogues learn how to hit the enemy where it hurts. These are different competences and would be understood to be such in the setting too.

As for hit points, there is not really change, merely interpreting the hit points being skill, luck and meat holistically. It is not that some hit points are skill and some are meat, it is that every hit point is all of these things. So a skilled warrior hit by a ten point hit is still hurt, but their skill allows them to be less hurt than a lower level character would.
You're deploying 'abstraction' but that's not the thrust of the argument. It was multi-tiered, alongside hit dice and second wind. The nature of a hitpoint means that the same hitpoint of damage has it's fiction changed depending on what's being applied to it. It has to change to match the mechanic, not the fiction, so there's nothing to hitpoints that aligns at all with PC awareness in the fiction.

Here's a good example -- the player looks at their PC's hp total and determines they can take 2 more hits from the ogre's club safely, so they declare that they're going to hold the ogre back while the badly injured members of the party escape. What does this look like from the PC side? Do they have any ability say that they can take two near grazes, or glancing blows, or whatever, knowing that this is the most the ogre can possibly due to them? That's entirely dissociated -- hitpoints are the basis for a host of player side decisions that make no sense PC side.
And also, a thing being somewhat abstract, doesn't mean it can't be associated all. We don't need to track the hit point/hurt ratio so that we can perfectly calculate the exact severity of wounds based on this. It is an approximation that is good enough for giving rough descriptions in an action adventure game. But it is associated in the sense that the characters actually know that they're hurt, and thus can make decisions based on that in-character. Like if instead, say, the first half your hit points was luck and you would seem equally fine if you had full or half hit points, how could the character asses risks in-character? That would create a disassociation.

And that's basically the whole point of this association business. To avoid the situations where the players constantly keep making decisions as players on some meta level, instead of making decisions in-character. Because to me the former is not roleplaying but the latter is, and when I play an RPG I want it to contain a lot of roleplaying.
5e is fully of this meta channel play! You're just denying it because you're used to it, or have ready justifications why this particular instance doesn't matter. D&D is chock full of meta play.
 

I'm personally willing to forgo "association" in the name of fun/convenience/ease of use/etc.

I could propose things to increase association, but then people would complain about how hard they are to use.
 

This is a dodge -- we aren't talking about being an elf. We're talking about how build choices provide suites of player side buttons that don't engage character side logic. There's no reason a skilled fighter, trained well in the arts of war and how to hurt things, cannot get into hiding and attack an unaware target with ruthless effectiveness. From the PC side, this makes perfect sense. But it doesn't translate into the mechanics because the outcome of this is just the same as if the attack was not from hiding (advantage aside). But if you picked the Rogue buttons, then this does do something -- your training in martial skill and how to hurt things does pay massive dividends here over the fighter! The PC choices are the same, the training for the fighter is actually likely more intensive for harming things, but the rogue has the right build choice button.

This is the kind of special pleading that gets deployed to defend existing disassociation so as to protect it's use for new against new ideas.
None of this made much sense. You can in fact multiclass rogue/fighter. Both in the rules and in the setting being able to hit weak points accurately and being to attack rapidly are two different skill sets. And this is not particularly weird at all nor is there disassociation.

You're deploying 'abstraction' but that's not the thrust of the argument. It was multi-tiered, alongside hit dice and second wind. The nature of a hitpoint means that the same hitpoint of damage has it's fiction changed depending on what's being applied to it. It has to change to match the mechanic, not the fiction, so there's nothing to hitpoints that aligns at all with PC awareness in the fiction.
Because it is the proportion that is associated, not the flat hit point total. This doesn't make it disassociated.

Here's a good example -- the player looks at their PC's hp total and determines they can take 2 more hits from the ogre's club safely, so they declare that they're going to hold the ogre back while the badly injured members of the party escape. What does this look like from the PC side? Do they have any ability say that they can take two near grazes, or glancing blows, or whatever, knowing that this is the most the ogre can possibly due to them? That's entirely dissociated -- hitpoints are the basis for a host of player side decisions that make no sense PC side.
They roughly know badly the ogres previous hits have hurt them and can surmise that it is likely that they could still take couple of more. Of course the dice are random, and there are criticals etc, so it is unlikely that the the player could asses such things with 100% confidence. (Average damage of a stock ogre is 13 per hit, but the max is 36. There's a lot of variance.)

5e is fully of this meta channel play! You're just denying it because you're used to it, or have ready justifications why this particular instance doesn't matter. D&D is chock full of meta play.
Sure, it is. I already said that 5e is on the edge of my disassociation comfort zone. And this is not a binary. Some of such meta play is always present, and even a necessity. Doesn't mean that it cannot become distracting if it becomes excessive. From experience I know that 4e felt to me more like a tactical board game rather than a RPG. Which is fine if that's what you want, but I don't. Or I don't want that from an RPG.
 

Status
Not open for further replies.

Voidrunner's Codex

Remove ads

Top