Systems That Model The World Rather Than The Story


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Oligopsony

Explorer
That's not really what I mean by modeling the world in this context. I mean sim based rules, as opposed to drama or genre based rules. Stuff like "you can carry 37.4 pounds of gear, make sure to write it all down" versus "roll 1d6 whenever you light a torch; if you roll a 1 it is your last torch".
I feel like you’re eliding between simulationism and granularity here. In the latter example, torches aren’t modeled in detail, but the principle is that using torches dwindles your supply, and the answer to why you ran out of torches is that you used one too many.

By contrast consider a system where players can invoke extra good luck to empower cool coincidences, but every time they do so they have to grant the GM an Oh, naughty word token that she can use to invoke an oh naughty word moment like torches going out at an inopportune time. There, the reason the torches went out is that the GM thought it would make a neat story beat. Note that a system like this can also be very bookkeepy and granular.
 

Reynard

Legend
Any simulation of fictional has to make some assumptions. It's not like we have a perfect god-mind super computer who can tell us what "really would happen." Also, in the Boys a big source of the dystopian elements is that the source of the superpowers is an evil megacorporation. With different initial assumptions we get different end results. Though I have do doubt that any remotely realistic scenario would be somewhat bleak, because the real life is bleak.
I think the point of using a "sim" system is that you set the peramters and then play and see what happens. Ideally, you would present the backstory of The Boys using, say, GURPS Supers, and then just run the campaign from there. The "physics" of how GURPS deals with normals versus supers is going to be a powerful informative part of how that turns out, and that's exactly what ayou are looking for if you take this route. As opposed to deciding you want to play a game like The Boys and building a bespoke The Boys system that includes trope and narrative tools to make sure it remains like The Boys throughout (in flavor, i mean, not necessarily in events).
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
Of course, no game system can serve as a physics engine for the whole universe so i think it is best when folks can assume things work like our world, except where they explicitly don't. Your character can carry X weight because of their strength score, but it is still reasonable for the GM to make you buy a backpack or so you can't move that really unwieldy thing even if you are strong enough. Similarly, there might be rules for specific magical diseases in the game, but that doesn't mean your character can't get a cold, dysentery or gangrene.

Of course the usual problems with this is, bluntly, people's understanding of how things work in our world can be more than a little limited the minute it gets outside their day to day experience (and honestly, even within that). As an example that doesn't come up too often because its something most games that aren't super light tend to address, ask random people how long it'll take to climb a cliff face that's 50' high. You'll get answers all over the map. It gets even worse if you ask how likely a skilled person is to slip.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
Well, if it is a simulation of what would "really" happen, you don't get much choice in the matter. If you instead set a level on how bleak it is, then that becomes a genre conceit.

Its always possible to think that a given media's expression of the situation is bleaker than it would actually be in reality. Its not like there isn't room for people's perception of society and psychology to vary here.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
I think the point of using a "sim" system is that you set the peramters and then play and see what happens. Ideally, you would present the backstory of The Boys using, say, GURPS Supers, and then just run the campaign from there.

Even GURPS or the equivalent is probably going to give you limited tools to see how governments and the public respond to things, and that's going to be a big element in how things play out. In addition, exactly how powers are going to work is not going to be subject to purely similationist decisions because they're a counterfactual; as you note you're going to have to decide those parameters yourself, and the question isn't whether that's going to be a setting conceit isn't there; its just a question of what that conceit is.

The "physics" of how GURPS deals with normals versus supers is going to be a powerful informative part of how that turns out, and that's exactly what ayou are looking for if you take this route. As opposed to deciding you want to play a game like The Boys and building a bespoke The Boys system that includes trope and narrative tools to make sure it remains like The Boys throughout (in flavor, i mean, not necessarily in events).

But again, the physical parts are still going to be decided anyway, because there's no clear-cut analogy to a lot of what goes on. And big parts aren't even in the physical sphere.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
With different initial assumptions we get different end results.

The setting of The Boys is not the result of a simulation. It is 100% authored fiction. The initial assumptions are not written down, and processed forward in time with some well-considered modelling.

Dystopias are not, in general, simulations - they are commentaries on the present, in which some negative aspects of the present are writ large or amplified to make a point.

I don't think there's any RPGs out there with well-considered sociological models to tell us how the cultures of the world move forward in time. Someone can correct me if I am wrong.
 

Reynard

Legend
Even GURPS or the equivalent is probably going to give you limited tools to see how governments and the public respond to things, and that's going to be a big element in how things play out. In addition, exactly how powers are going to work is not going to be subject to purely similationist decisions because they're a counterfactual; as you note you're going to have to decide those parameters yourself, and the question isn't whether that's going to be a setting conceit isn't there; its just a question of what that conceit is.



But again, the physical parts are still going to be decided anyway, because there's no clear-cut analogy to a lot of what goes on. And big parts aren't even in the physical sphere.
I'm not sure we are talking about the same thing here. I am not talking about realism. I am talking about game rules that don't concern themselves with genre tropes or narrative beats, just things in the world. No system, not even the crunchy and granular GURPS, is going to do do everything. That's what GMs are for. But what I am explicitly excluding are rules like "Because Bob is a Super Hero, he can take twice as many hits as a normal person." Rather, "Bob can take twice as many hits as a normal person because Bob's Toughness score is double that of a normal person." I know that seems like a distinction without a difference in that particular example, and it may be, but I am applying that ideal to the entirety of the thing.

I really wanted to avoid talking about "simulationist" because I am not interested in that theory. Little-s "sim" was just less clunky than repeating "models the world not the story" all the time.
 

Reynard

Legend
The setting of The Boys is not the result of a simulation. It is 100% authored fiction. The initial assumptions are not written down, and processed forward in time with some well-considered modelling.

Dystopias are not, in general, simulations - they are commentaries on the present, in which some negative aspects of the present are writ large or amplified to make a point.

I don't think there's any RPGs out there with well-considered sociological models to tell us how the cultures of the world move forward in time. Someone can correct me if I am wrong.
I wouldn't make too much of "simulation" here in the "computer model" sense. That isn't really what we are talking about.
 

Of course the usual problems with this is, bluntly, people's understanding of how things work in our world can be more than a little limited the minute it gets outside their day to day experience (and honestly, even within that).
This is why I like to play TTRPGs with people who have relevant real-life experience. That's not available for overt magic or super-powers, but I was just discussing damning a river to create a flood with a DM who's a civil engineer. The occult WWII campaign has two people who been in armies (one British, one Swedish), and several people who've dug into real-world occultism a fair way. We have a retired partner in a Big Four accountancy firm doing the administration for the Kingmaker campaign.

Modelling the world is a lot harder than dealing only with a story, but I find it far more satisfying.
 

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