Systems That Model The World Rather Than The Story

Thomas Shey

Legend
I actually preferred Greg Porter's original TimeLords (not to be confused with EABA TImeLords) and SpaceTime to EABA (1e or 2e). IMHO, SpaceTime had the best damage modelling of any game I have seen. Sadly, he doesn't make those editions available in PDF. The above two system even predate his CORPS system (the predecessor to EABA). Only the EABA based Timelords is available as a PDF now.

I used to be too, until I did more research over time and concluded that death spiral damage systems are actually a poor representation of reality. In practice, impairment during a given combat exchange is really rare for a number of reasons, and that damage system was pretty thoroughly wrapped around that. The vast majority of combat effects can be summarized as you shock out (either mentally or physically), you bleed out (either within or outside of the combat time frame), or nothing particularly short term meaningful. A very small number of injuries are sufficiently coarse that they either kill you outright or prevent you from doing certain things, but the vast majority of the rest get (temporarily) papered over by adrenaline (or are lost in the impairment the adrenaline surge itself has caused when it started. Or both).

Part of the reason I got into martial arts when I was younger and took fencing in college, was I wanted to know the answer to the age old TTRPG'er (and HEMA/SCA) question "who would win in a fight, a Samurai or a 17th century european fencer" (short answer, much to the chagrin of Samurai/Kendo/Bokken/Iaido fans is; don't underestimate a fencer either with a rapier or a sabre)? As for the concern that "reality" is just something players agree upon, that's only a workable compromise when no one in the group knows otherwise. Imagine for example, a GM rules that while adventuring underwater, you can use a bluetooth earphones to communicate with your scuba diving buddies. Except...you cant, because the water will block the signal. If no one in the group realizes that fact, fine, move along. But what if a player knows that's impossible and challenges the GM's ruling? I actually have deep concerns about "reality as a consensus".

Yeah, I've commented that even when a set of rules are wrong, they at least give people playing a consistent set of expectations that on-the-fly ruling really can't unless everyone's understanding of the situation is the same.
 

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rmcoen

Adventurer
This recent conversation - and another I read recently, very similar - is more about combat than world, but still on the topic of "model the physics, not the story". What was I saying? Oh, right: I love this level of thought and detail; damn, modeling down to the number of grains of powder in the bullet, and its weight vs. the barrel length??? Or, from the other thread (Quora Answer, I think), the level of detailed "the arm has leather, the should has mail, the neck has a gorget, the helm is either open and vulnerable or the solid metal faceplate is down and restricts vision; your movement is 13.6% slower because of your armor weight. You ignore slashing damage of up to 7 points if it hits your torso, or 5 bludgeoning; only 1 from armor piercing, but your silk padding underneath will convert 5 piercing damage to bruising..." etc. etc. etc.

I love this. This is what I want from a combat system. I choose my warhammer vs. my sword for these situations, but I carry this warpick just in case I run into a knight or clockwerk golem...

BUT... I acknowledge that this pretty much requires a computer to handle the combats; too real, too many variables, too many bits and points and if/thens and modifiers to keep track of quickly at the table in a fun way. Incorporating what Thomas Shey just said, lots of attacks that don't hit, or don't inflict meaningful effects, then sudden death/impairment is more "real", whether it's blocking and dodging swords, or hiding and taking cover from bullets, until you don't, and the battle is over. How do you take a detailed realistic (and to me interesting) level of armor or weapon realism... and play a fast meaningful combat? D&D simplifies this into AC and HP (some editions include DR); other TTRPGs have Wound Levels or Stamina, with armor downgrading "hits". But if "reality" is "all those light wounds mean nothing until after the fight"... that's a lot of effort and tracking and modifiers that ultimately detract from the fun of the evening of getting together with friends for a TTRPG. Right?
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
You can get part way there, though, even on systems that aren't in general all that heavy-world sim in orientation; Fantasy Hero (the Hero System fantasy subset) at least broke down armor to general locations, and had weapons that had actual tradeoffs (a bludgeon usually caused more Stun, hammers/picks were armor piercing, swords were handier (and thus a bit more accurate). You just have to find the overhead worth it.
 

pemerton

Legend
Of contemporary RPGs, Torchbearer has armour-piercing; and Burning Wheel has RQ-esque hit locations, with weapons have varying degrees of bonus "versus armour". It's not hard to find a playable FRPG which approaches these things with less abstraction than does 5e D&D.
 

rmcoen

Adventurer
Of contemporary RPGs, Torchbearer has armour-piercing; and Burning Wheel has RQ-esque hit locations, with weapons have varying degrees of bonus "versus armour". It's not hard to find a playable FRPG which approaches these things with less abstraction than does 5e D&D.
I know there are systems - but do they play well and quickly? [Sadly, I know that while I love the complexity, my gaming crew might have one other person in it that would enjoy it.]
 

aramis erak

Legend
I used to be too, until I did more research over time and concluded that death spiral damage systems are actually a poor representation of reality. In practice, impairment during a given combat exchange is really rare for a number of reasons, and that damage system was pretty thoroughly wrapped around that. The vast majority of combat effects can be summarized as you shock out (either mentally or physically), you bleed out (either within or outside of the combat time frame), or nothing particularly short term meaningful. A very small number of injuries are sufficiently coarse that they either kill you outright or prevent you from doing certain things, but the vast majority of the rest get (temporarily) papered over by adrenaline (or are lost in the impairment the adrenaline surge itself has caused when it started. Or both).
you left out the most well documented: left you with a minor wound, which killed you days later from infection.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
you left out the most well documented: left you with a minor wound, which killed you days later from infection.

Fair, but in most game contexts that's unlikely to happen for any number of reasons (though to be fair, so is slow bleed-out). And in any case its in the category of non-tactical effects which I do reference in passing.
 
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pemerton

Legend
I know there are systems - but do they play well and quickly?
To an extent, "well" is a matter of opinion. My view is yes - they're two of my go-to games. (I have a Torchbearer actual play thread: https://www.enworld.org/threads/torchbearer-2e-actual-play-of-this-awesome-system.691233/.)

The full BW combat system is not especially quick. A system which tracks individual blow, parrying, hit location, armour, injury etc is inevitably going to take a bit of time in search-and-handling.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
To an extent, "well" is a matter of opinion. My view is yes - they're two of my go-to games. (I have a Torchbearer actual play thread: https://www.enworld.org/threads/torchbearer-2e-actual-play-of-this-awesome-system.691233/.)

The full BW combat system is not especially quick. A system which tracks individual blow, parrying, hit location, armour, injury etc is inevitably going to take a bit of time in search-and-handling.

This summarizes my feeling about the FH games I participated in years ago. It wasn't excessively high-overhead by my standards, but then, I've never been a guy for whom speed trumps all other concerns.
 

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