The Death of Simulation

loseth

First Post
apoptosis said:
There are definitely times where they can be exclusive.

I agree (as I stated in my two earlier posts).

apoptosis said:
Simulationism many times is exclusive of either gamism or narrativism.

Again, I agree. I just think that the number of actual instances of mutual exclusivity is much lower than the perceived number of instances, and also that degree of mutual exclusivity is also often perceived as being higher than it really is (this is especially evident in the inappropriate use of the naval 'ship design triangle' to conceptualise GNS).

apoptosis said:
XP is not simulationism in most peoples ideas of a fantasy world. You would get better at skills that you practiced though the system is such that you can get better at skills you didnt practive based on you having more XP.

This is another good example of a perceived mismatch that isn't really three. To accurately simulate the great effect that experience has on one's profession performance, it is often difficult to individually quantify all the factors that improve one's performance. In fact, many of these factors are quite amorphous or not fully understood even by experts and are thus inherently resistant to quantification in the first place. You'll often get a more accurate simulation of a person’s professional abilities by just focussing on a few important (and easily measurable) factors and assigning a level to account for the performance in general.

D&D does this, with the profession in question being 'adventurer.' Now, in D&D terms, being an adventurer mostly means being someone who excels at exploring the places where enemies are present, interacting with people to find such enemies and then killing the enemies in combat. So, the most logical way of simulating the way experience causes an increase in one's overall ability as a D&D-style adventurer? Use a system based on combat experience (since being a D&D adventurer is mostly about combat), with some room for including relevant non-combat elements (like achieving important adventuring goals) in the mix. In other words, use the D&D XP/level system.

Could more be done to marry-up the excellent simulationist and gamist potential of the level/XP system? Definitely. One option that I have used many times myself, for example, is to reduce the skill list to only the most important adventuring skills, so that it's logical that all adventurers should get better at them (thanks to the SWSE half-level bonus) as they become more experienced adventurers. The rest of one’s ‘skills/abilities’ can then be handled by a much simpler system that won’t interfere with the main (combat-oriented) game mechanics, but still provides the verisimilitude of fully-fleshed-out characters. I'm sure there are many other things that could also be done to make the XP/level system more consistent and fit better with most people's sense of verisimilitude, but the fact that more needs to be done doesn't change the excellent potential that's there.

However, if a designer adopts the mistaken attitude that 'XP is a gamist concept, dammit, so trying to make it work in terms of immersion and setting/story consistency must be badwrongdesign,' then he or she will needlessly end up with a design that is suboptimal.

apoptosis said:
This doesnt mean that you cant ad hoc all sorts of explanations to make your ideas seem consistent or part of the physics of the world, but that is irrelevant to the original intent of the design decision.

Adopting a policy of making the game numbers work as the first priority and then modifying game elements, on an ad-hoc basis, to be more successful at simluation whenever the need arises is a clear design intent and, IMHO, one that is likely to produce a good game.
 

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Kesh

First Post
Lanefan said:
Then I am *completely* misunderstanding the term.

"Narrativist" to me implies the presence of a *narrator*, who serves the essential function of telling the story or at least keeping it moving. Sounds like a DM to me.

Lanefan
… and, as I pointed out earlier, this is why GNS fails. The terms have no solid definition and use names that have other meanings.

But, yes, my understanding is:

Gamist = "Random fun regardless of the rules" aka "Where are the Cheetos™?"
Narritavist = "Collaborative story building over the rules" aka "Okay, you swing from the chandelier, as the necromancer proclaims his power over all life…"
Simulationist = "Using the rules precisely for the fun" aka "If you move to this position, you can gain a tactical advantage from the terrain…"

And I'm sure someone will pick apart my off-the-cuff definitions, as well. This is why any thread that brings up GNS devolves into a debate over GNS itself.

/threadjack
 

Imban

First Post
Kesh said:
… and, as I pointed out earlier, this is why GNS fails. The terms have no solid definition and use names that have other meanings.

But, yes, my understanding is:

Gamist = "Random fun regardless of the rules" aka "Where are the Cheetos™?"
Narritavist = "Collaborative story building over the rules" aka "Okay, you swing from the chandelier, as the necromancer proclaims his power over all life…"
Simulationist = "Using the rules precisely for the fun" aka "If you move to this position, you can gain a tactical advantage from the terrain…"

And I'm sure someone will pick apart my off-the-cuff definitions, as well. This is why any thread that brings up GNS devolves into a debate over GNS itself.

/threadjack

Absolutely none of those are "correct", no, but I've pretty much dropped out of this thread since it turned from a discussion of 4e's position on the scale of world emulation to GNS discussion.

The Forge has always had a terminal problem with term definitions, and given the tendency of RPG debates to devolve into arguments over the words we're using, this creates an unbeatable combination of fail and lose.

I'll just say that, to the best of my knowledge, what you described as "gamism" doesn't fall into any of the three Forge-recognized creative agendas (but is occasionally referred to in various places as "cheetoism"), what you described as "narrativism" seems to just be the act of roleplay, and what you described as "simulationism" is more along the lines of the Gamist creative agenda. In my opinion, at least, you'd be best off not trying too hard to learn the terms unless you actually care about debating RPG theory on some of the sites and boards where it's discussed - most of the people you'll find bringing those terms into discussion outside of those places knows just enough theory to start the debate into the spiral of semantic lose I mentioned earlier.
 

apoptosis

First Post
loseth said:
I agree (as I stated in my two earlier posts).


This is another good example of a perceived mismatch that isn't really three. To accurately simulate the great effect that experience has on one's profession performance, it is often difficult to individually quantify all the factors that improve one's performance. In fact, many of these factors are quite amorphous or not fully understood even by experts and are thus inherently resistant to quantification in the first place. You'll often get a more accurate simulation of a person’s professional abilities by just focussing on a few important (and easily measurable) factors and assigning a level to account for the performance in general.

D&D does this, with the profession in question being 'adventurer.' Now, in D&D terms, being an adventurer mostly means being someone who excels at exploring the places where enemies are present, interacting with people to find such enemies and then killing the enemies in combat. So, the most logical way of simulating the way experience causes an increase in one's overall ability as a D&D-style adventurer? Use a system based on combat experience (since being a D&D adventurer is mostly about combat), with some room for including relevant non-combat elements (like achieving important adventuring goals) in the mix. In other words, use the D&D XP/level system.
.

You make a good point. I should probably rephrase it to. In strong simulationism where skills are very individual and granular then skills that are not used should not be advanced with XP.

In you idea..a broad skill "Adventuring" would make sense that is was raised during "adventuring". That makes sense.

My argument goes more to why is the decision made vs how well can you incorporate other elements to make the design decision result in an overall good rule design.

The difference between starting with:

"we want all characters balanced" and finding interesting simulationism elements so that it is interesting and has verisimilitude to the world

vs.

I want wizards to have the ability to do things of a greater magnitude vs non-magic guys as that is my idea of how the fantasy genre should work; now finding some game rule design so that the wizard character is not overshadowing all the other characters during conflicts.

My point was not that the exclusivity is in the end result but more that about the primary reason of the design decision.

I dont think decisions are made in a vacuum and a gamist decision that is then explained adhoc for continuity might lead to a simulationism decision that then needs to be designed to fit allow for game balanace.
 

apoptosis

First Post
LostSoul said:
Narrativist play is about answering moral questions. It's important that these answers are not front-loaded into the game or the setting; they have to be the personal beliefs of the players.

I think "Thematic" is a better name.

My only point of disagreement with this is that several narrativist games specifically look at very particular themes/moral questions.

DiTV looks at certain moral choices while Sorcerer is really about will you sacrifice your humanity for power.

Now there is a bit of leeway, in Sorcerer for instance they dont actually define humanity as that is what the group should do, but there is a bit of front-loading into the system.
 

painandgreed

First Post
After reading this and the other threads on 4E, I would have to agree that I think design decisions have been made that are taking D&D in a direction with regard to play style that I do not wish to go. I find this a shame, because I have always believed that a good game can and should support multiple styles of play. Sure the game rules might favor certain directions as that is what makes different games different. Different people, just as different groups have different styles of play. Even the same group may favor different styles of play from session to session in the same game depending on how they feel. A good GM is one that can switch between the play styles by reading his players in a way that is fun for them and himself. A good game allows and supports these shifts in styles of play and caters to the largest number of players because of it. To cut out one style of play means making a niche game that has limited the number of people that it will make happy as well as the average length that it can make a group happy.

It seems to me that 4E is favoring certain styles of directly at the cost of others. This is sad because I think that with good design it could support various styles of play without noticable cost to any. 3E did a pretty good job, but I felt it fell down in a few places I would have liked to seen worked on. 4E seems to be working on some of those issues while making others worse. I won't say I'm not going to play 4E because I'll end up playing whatever me and my friends end up playing as a group. I won't say that the game will suck for our play, because a good GM is capable of making a game fun despite the rules. Still, I am not excited about it, nor will I be the first to buy it among my peers. I will still be watching and hoping till the day it comes out that I am wrong.
 

takasi

First Post
pemerton said:
It doesn't. But it does free up space for narrativist or gamist play.

You phrase it as though space is taken away from simulationism. DMs can still develop NPCs using the rules for building PCs but now they can also use a more streamlined system too. I fail to see how they are taking anything away from simulationism.

pemerton said:
Yes, because it limits both the players and the GM's capacity to introduce game elements that suit their purposes, by requiring those elements to be build via a process that models the ingame process of personal development.

Please explain the 'ingame process of personal development' in more detail please. I fail to follow your logic, but I believe I could if your defined specific examples.

pemerton said:
I think there are quite a few specifics. I won't rehash my argument here, but it's running on the DM-proofing thread - my initial argument is at post 122 and it drags on from there (if you're not persuaded by my initial argument, I don't know that there is much else in my later posts that will persuade you - they are clarifications, not really additions).

I will review these now:

pemerton said:
*making Demons, Devils and other monsters more immediately recognisable to the players, and gives them distinctive tacics (thus allowing the players to recognise a monster and take account of its known and distinctive tactics in their play choices);

Again, this is an additional option. It does not prevent the DM in any way of changing the Color of these elements. Game design should provide options; the DM should decide which options to select when deciding the style of his game.

pemerton said:
*rebalancing magic items and encounter build rules (to make players less vulnerable to accidentally unbalanced GMing);

Again, for DMs who wish to be gamist. Simulationist DMs can easily make status quo encounters. A variance in economic prices is necessary for any simulationist DM, and I don't know of any core books in D&D that have provided a detailed level of economic variance, do you?

pemerton said:
*introducing Second Wind rules and making APs core;

I agree with this one. We'll see how easy it is to strip out, or add to NPCs for simulationism.

pemerton said:
*giving all PCs per-encounter abilities (which mean that players are no longer hostage to the GM's decisions about the overall passage of time in the gameworld);

In every system the PCs have per-encounter abilities. However, I think this allows the DM to be more simulationist, not less, as I believe per-day spells are an arbitrary gamist mechanic.

pemerton said:
*introducing the PoL assumption that PoLs are safehavens until the players choose to trigger adversity (see sidebar, p 20, W&M);

That's a very broad guidelines, and not something built into the rules IMO.

pemerton said:
This is true to an extent, but greatly complicated by the presence of the ECL rules. At least in principle the game seems to aspire to every creature being PCable.

The majority of monsters had no ECL, and we've yet to see anything concrete about playing as monsters at this time. ECL was also in general an arbitrary metagame assignment that has no simulationist effect on the actual game world.

pemerton said:
I guess I was indicating that the abandoning of simulationist design goals for NPCs (ie once they are no longer built in the same fashion as PCs, we are basically precluded from supposing that the PC build rules model an ingame process) is a paradigmatic example of the anti-simulationist trend of 4e.

That premise is false, as there is nothing stating we cannot use PC build rules to create NPCs populating the world.
 

Imban

First Post
takasi said:
You phrase it as though space is taken away from simulationism. DMs can still develop NPCs using the rules for building PCs but now they can also use a more streamlined system too. I fail to see how they are taking anything away from simulationism.

We'll see - judging by the Hobgoblins in MMV, these may return entirely different results. They may not. I hope you can see how the streamlined system returning results that you can't even come close to with the "full" system takes space away from simulationism, however.

In every system the PCs have per-encounter abilities. However, I think this allows the DM to be more simulationist, not less, as I believe per-day spells are an arbitrary gamist mechanic.

They're both arbitrary to some extent, but it's difficult to rationalize "encounters" and "scenes" in the context of a world, especially if it's written in a way wherein the same power used by the same character at the same level can last 6 seconds or 20 minutes depending on when it's used. Per-day spells were an arbitrary mechanic, but were consistent in the context of a world.

The majority of monsters had no ECL, and we've yet to see anything concrete about playing as monsters at this time. ECL was also in general an arbitrary metagame assignment that has no simulationist effect on the actual game world.

The specifics were an arbitrary metagame assignment for balance reasons, but the goal they were designed to achieve - allowing monster statblocks to be used as bases for player characters and NPCs - had the effect of allowing monster races to be real races too, and not just single, streamlined combat templates.

That premise is false, as there is nothing stating we cannot use PC build rules to create NPCs populating the world.

As far as we know. I've actually seen an RPG that disallowed this (or rather, warned quite accurately that the game would become unfun if PCs were used as NPCs), and it's quite possible that the separation of the two systems in 4e means that that choice would be accompanied by all of the non-PHB monster races losing their racial flavor, if they were even possible to create under the PC build rules at all.

I'm just saying, we've heard assurances that some monsters will be playable as PCs, but WotC has essentially never given this idea the rules quantity and quality it deserves.
 

Wolfwood2

Explorer
Lord Sessadore said:
Yes, I was trying to make a similar point. If you play in a game where "humans" can withstand a meteor swarm, or a 100' long dragon's bite, or the impact of a 50 lb. mace swung by a giant 20 feet tall, don't complain because falling 20 storeys or being dropped in lava won't kill you. I agree that rules governing these things should be attempted to be written with consistency, but if they are consistent, having a level 20 character fall 200 feet won't kill him.

~LS

But the rules only apply if the PCs are involved. If an NPC archmage needs to die for the sake of the story, it's okay to have him fall off a 20 foot tall ladder and break his neck. Nobody in the the game world is going to protest, 'He's an archmage! No archmage would ever die from a 20 foot fall!"

A simulationist game would assume that hitpoints have a reality within the game world.
 

takasi

First Post
Imban said:
We'll see - judging by the Hobgoblins in MMV, these may return entirely different results. They may not. I hope you can see how the streamlined system returning results that you can't even come close to with the "full" system takes space away from simulationism, however.

A few minor differences for combat perhaps, which again only makes up a very small fraction of world design and simulationism. Whether goblins get 5 imaginary hit points if they are an NPC or 10 imaginary hit points as a PC is nearly insignificant to me in terms of campaign style. I can see how if you use a streamlined system you're sacrificing detail for time, but these details come down to such a small resolution: who wins in combat. There are so many other resolutions to take into account that determine simulationism, and I've seen nothing new in 4E so far that would impact this.

Imban said:
They're both arbitrary to some extent, but it's difficult to rationalize "encounters" and "scenes" in the context of a world, especially if it's written in a way wherein the same power used by the same character at the same level can last 6 seconds or 20 minutes depending on when it's used. Per-day spells were an arbitrary mechanic, but were consistent in the context of a world.

The light from a flashlight can last 6 seconds or 20 minutes depending on how it's used. I think this is is a clear area where the argument has no leg to stand on yet.

Imban said:
The specifics were an arbitrary metagame assignment for balance reasons, but the goal they were designed to achieve - allowing monster statblocks to be used as bases for player characters and NPCs - had the effect of allowing monster races to be real races too, and not just single, streamlined combat templates.

'Real' races? IMO even the stat blocks in 3.5 only reflected streamlined combat templates, whether they were to be used as PCs or NPCs. You had to use much more than a stat block to simulate their society and non-combat behavior.
 

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