Systems That Model The World Rather Than The Story

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
I really like the resource die mechanic in Forbidden Lands. Instead of tracking how many things you have the die marks your supply. A D10 roll of 1-2 at check time reduces it to a D8 and so fourth until you are out. Player is informed on the supply and they get to decide when its time to re-up. I knwo this is more abstract than a strict weight and consumption model, but it also allows for a lot of factors. Maybe the PC rations their food and water well. Maybe they get lucky and the supply last longer than expected. However, they could also lose supply, it could go bad, etc.. Adds in a luck factor and makes it simplified for simulation purposes without bogging down play in minutia. YMMV.
This is exactly the opposite of the kind of system I am talking about. :D
 

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Thomas Shey

Legend
I like games that simulate-- emulate, if you prefer-- the feel of the worlds of different (sub)genres of fiction, but not the tropes and narrative beats of those stories. I want games that model the Hyborian Age and the Mushroom Kingdom and Eternia, but not the formula and structures of Conan stories and Mario stories and He-Man stories.

Though I have to say that only works up to the point you get to certain sorts of genre stylization. As an example, most superhero worlds kind of have to bake that sort of thing in for them to look like that kind of world (and also require that those things are not entirely visible down on the character level, or again, the world doesn't look the same).

This only applies to very strong convention driven genres, however (the ones that come to mind are conventional superheroes and horror).
 

pemerton

Legend
The two that I know best are Rolemaster (I've GMed thousands of hours) and RuneQuest (my experience is considerably less than RM, but not trivial).

They differ in a couple of significant ways:

*In melee combat, in RM a player can allocate their skill bonus between attack and defence, thus choosing how much risk to take. In RQ attack and defence are separate skills, rolled separately. So RM melee combat is amenable to a player injecting their sense of "stakes" in a way that RQ is not.

*If you use a fairly standard option for spellcasting in RM, namely, overcasting and thus generating an ESF (Extraordinary Spell Failure) roll, then again players have an opportunity to inject their sense of "stakes" by deciding how much to risk when casting a spell.

*If you use Adrenal Moves in RM, then martial characters have a spell-like ability that can be rolled for. And if you use the option for sustaining Adrenal Moves with an increasingly harder roll, then again players can inject their sense of "stakes" by deciding how hard to push their luck.​

There is no analogue of the above in RM missile combat, which is much closer to RQ.

A second difference is that, in RM, a player can choose the direction of their PC's development (by allocating Development Points), whereas in RQ this is harder (you can seek out training, but that has a strong in-fiction dimension to it).

RQ is thus more "austere" than RM.
 

aramis erak

Legend
In ye olde days, many RPG systems were constructed as the "physics engines" of the worlds of the game. That is to say, they were designed to describe the physical rules that governed the worlds, even if those rules were necessarily fantastic because the worlds they modeled were fantastic. In many cases, these systems became "universal" because, as physics engines, they could model many different worlds in different milieus because squishiness of flesh under duress (for example) was considered to be essentially the same between those worlds.

Those kinds of rules systems are less common now, with other concerns such as modeling genre tropes or story beats etc... have become popular. And those kinds of games are great for their purposes, but they don't quite scratch that "modeled physics" itch some of us have when we are pretending to be an elf.
They generally do not exist.

At least, every game I've seen try has failed to be generic as in universal; they all have been best for a few specific genera. GURPS is passable for moderns, but really is built to emulate middle ages, and so car and modern rifle combats feel like poor fits to me.

Phoenix Command - took too long to resolve combats. It's probably the closest to your goal. I felt it sucked, badly.

Hârnmaster tries, but gives in to fiction right quick - all the caster types are grounded in the Hârn setting and its tropes.

CORPS also claims to be generic, but is really a genre engine. One for skilled elites doing things and having success a lot.

I'll note as well: I like the rules to be a framework to understand the setting well. I find that it doesn't work well if the setting is trying to be a physics engine; I prefer my genre baked in.
 


Alzrius

The EN World kitten
In regard to modeling the world, one thing that I haven't seen very much of (though instances of it are out there) is methods of generating relatively large-scale events in order to portray a dynamic world, i.e. things are happening even if the PCs don't interact with them.

You mostly get this as "random events" at domain-level play, where the GM will roll on a table for something to happen, either as part of the PCs' fief or abroad. But it applies to a lot of other things, such as random weather tables (which can be a lot of fun if used correctly, albeit more so in low-level/magic games), or even an economic fluctuation system I once saw. In those cases, I think that rather than rolling them at the table and letting things unfold in the moment, it works better if the GM makes those determinations ahead of time, and extrapolates where necessary to help tie things together, creating backdrops that the PCs can subsequently react to if they so choose.

Now, that requires a lot more work by the GM, work that needs to be done prior to game, but it can result in a very immersive play experience, and it's one aspect of "generating the world" that I think gets overlooked a lot.
 

The-Magic-Sword

Small Ball Archmage
I'm really partial to games like this, to the extent where as I mentioned in the other thread, I write the world around the implications of the rules to make it happen, generally going even further than the official setting for a game to make it the case. Take Lancer, Lancer uses asymmetrical rules for enemies and players and was built around that (player mechs are terrible to fight), I actually wrote a comprehensive explanation of what the difference actually is for our iteration of the setting, that involves negative license levels below the player LLs that restrict soldiers who aren't themselves 'lancers' (like, aces) to a more limited piloting experience that use automated pilot macros which make them better than they would be otherwise, but would hold back a lancer. Less skilled soldiers also get fragile mass-production variants of the mechs (which works well, the templates for tougher foes are durability increases.)
 

Though I have to say that only works up to the point you get to certain sorts of genre stylization. As an example, most superhero worlds kind of have to bake that sort of thing in for them to look like that kind of world (and also require that those things are not entirely visible down on the character level, or again, the world doesn't look the same).

This only applies to very strong convention driven genres, however (the ones that come to mind are conventional superheroes and horror).
True.

I've said this before, but I find the idea of "simulationistic superheroes" rather appealing. What would really happen if people had such powers and how would they really function when we do away with genre conventions and plot contrivances and model the physics and the society realistically?
I guess the Boys is one answer to this, although I'm not sure results necessarily need to be quite that bleak.
 

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
True.

I've said this before, but I find the idea of "simulationistic superheroes" rather appealing. What would really happen if people had such powers and how would they really function when we do away with genre conventions and plot contrivances and model the physics and the society realistically?
I guess the Boys is one answer to this, although I'm not sure results necessarily need to be quite that bleak.
The original Aberrant was in this vein, and even bleaker than The Boys.
 

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