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The Death of Simulation

apoptosis

First Post
FourthBear said:
If simulationism has as its central conceit using the game rules strictly to model the worlds "physics", then I think that computer aided systems will be increasingly the way to go, where the calculations can be offloaded onto a system that never gets tired, judges constantly and won't allow cheating.

Except for most cRPGs are really gamist, because that is what people like in cRPGs. They are not trying to simulate a world at all but are pretty much trying to make a game where the players overcome challenges.

I just reread what you wrote and you didnt really talk about cRPGs so i pretty much discussed a non-existent statement.
 

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tomBitonti

Adventurer
Straw!

I'm gonna have to disagree with much of the presentation in this thread. I'm finding the arguments to be strawmen. They are trivializing a point of view which has merit. I don't think that narrow "simulationism" or "realism" are the issues that folks who want these features in their game are really talking about.

Roleplaying, generally speaking, is <b>all</b> about conveying a scenario based on real-world mechanics. The details vary, but the basic mechanics say that you can stick someone with a sword, they'll get hurt. The rules still convey that basic mechanic, and if it failed to do so players would not buy into the game. D&D, as a role playing game, still tries to describe scenarios which, vaguely, make sense from a real-world point of view.

There are issues where the mechanics stretch far from what is possible using known physics. 100' falls should be fatal in nearly 100% cases for a human doing the falling. Falling 30' and not breaking any bones is not very realistic. So the game takes away those details. But the underlying idea of "causing harm" is still there, and is still generally realistic.
 

I still play old rolemaster. Its a terrible system. It may be more realistic, but after one solid blow from a goblin with a club, you are out of combat. And 2 weeks later you can go on with your adventure, if you want to fight again.
And a fight takes forever. I rather have a simple combat system with most obvious hazards like drowning and suffocation supported by the rules, so that i actually have time to roleplay. That said: if no rules for suffocation and getting drunk etc are in, i am very displeased... although making some up is not that difficult.
BTW: rules for drowning and marching more than eight hours are bad in 3.5... i prefered to ignore them and made up my own... atually I would be glad if there were just one rule: DM should make const checks as he seems fit... written somewhere in the Players handbook...
 

Reynard

Legend
FourthBear said:
If simulationism has as its central conceit using the game rules strictly to model the worlds "physics", then I think that computer aided systems will be increasingly the way to go, where the calculations can be offloaded onto a system that never gets tired, judges constantly and won't allow cheating.

Simulation doesn't necessarily imply complexity -- it implies consistency and an attempt model some other thing. I think most people who are suggesting that D&D has never supprted sim play don't actually know what the term means.
 

tomBitonti said:
There are issues where the mechanics stretch far from what is possible using known physics. 100' falls should be fatal in nearly 100% cases for a human doing the falling. Falling 30' and not breaking any bones is not very realistic. So the game takes away those details. But the underlying idea of "causing harm" is still there, and is still generally realistic.

what about: the DM can break legs after a fall as desired? (an attack vs fortitude defense at +1/10ft)
 

Nail, meet hammer, heheh... ;)

I agree that 4E is going to upset a lot of closet simulationists this spring.

The design architecture for 4E clearly a vision of gamist flexibility and power, and supports narrative play mainly through the abstraction provided by that architecture. That same level of abstraction is what drives some simulation fans nutty.

D&D has never been particularly simulationist, but I agree with the OP that 3E gave the most support for sim-style D&D compared to previous editions. Have you seen the Rules of the Game web articles that dig into the rules at an excruciating level of detail? Try the flying movement rules (part 3 of 7 on movement!); that level of simulation was never attempted by previous editions. So I think there will be 3E fans who are disappointed that 4E is "moving backward" in that regard.

However, I do think there is room for 'sandbox' style simulation. There may not be 'support' from the rules, but there are layers of gameplay above the rules layer (the so-called 'meta-game') that is free to be shaped in any way the GM and players choose. Grand Theft Auto is hardly realistic from a nitty-gritty POV, but it's a classic example of sandbox gameplay, and still has a consistent (if very silly) framework of cause and effect.

I recently became aware of Ben Robbin's West Marches D&D campaign articles, which I think are brilliant. I believe this is a classic example of a low-narrative, sandbox-style D&D sim campaign that would work with any edition, including 4th.
 

apoptosis

First Post
tomBitonti said:
I'm gonna have to disagree with much of the presentation in this thread. I'm finding the arguments to be strawmen. They are trivializing a point of view which has merit. I don't think that narrow "simulationism" or "realism" are the issues that folks who want these features in their game are really talking about.

Roleplaying, generally speaking, is <b>all</b> about conveying a scenario based on real-world mechanics. The details vary, but the basic mechanics say that you can stick someone with a sword, they'll get hurt. The rules still convey that basic mechanic, and if it failed to do so players would not buy into the game. D&D, as a role playing game, still tries to describe scenarios which, vaguely, make sense from a real-world point of view.

There are issues where the mechanics stretch far from what is possible using known physics. 100' falls should be fatal in nearly 100% cases for a human doing the falling. Falling 30' and not breaking any bones is not very realistic. So the game takes away those details. But the underlying idea of "causing harm" is still there, and is still generally realistic.


Most games are generally realistic but that is not what simuilationist is about. It is about making choices in game design.

What is more important that someone who gets stabbed several times will be severely wounded or killed or that they just lose some hp so that they can keep contributing to the fight.

One of those options are more simulationist - the rules are trying to simulate the gritty effects of combat (in a game that is say trying to simulate a true fantasy adventure...eg George RR Martin)

The second option is to provide the players with ways to enjoy the challenge and to contribute to the encounter and not have to sit out a large portion of the encounter because their character is busy being in shock and trying to stuff their innards back in.

We see a lot of options that D&D made to really improve gamism. The entire balance between spellcasters and warriors is pretty much about this and you see the battle that rages on.

Some people believe that wizards should be capable of things beyond the scope of non-magicusers as that what occurs in many types of novels (say wheel of time). The retort is that no player should have to play a characters that is weaker than another character.

If a game was trying to simulate Lord of the Rings, all of the characters would be WAY different in power levels. If a gamist version of Lord of the Rings came out, all the charactesr would have similar effectiveness.

I am simplifying the matter quite a bit. But it is really all about decisions during game design and what is being focused on.

The thief's backstab not working against say undead is an example. It didnt work against creature without 'vulnerable' parts because of a simulationist perspective. Some people, though, didnt like the fact that thieves might have to be involved in a combat where they are ineffectual so they wanted this rule changed so that backstab works against all creatures.

If they decided the thieve's backstab shouldnt work against undead to balance out the damage it does that would then be more of a gamist decision.

These decisions are the types that define sim vs gamism. It is why is this decision being made...to improve the simulation of that particular genre or setting, or is it to improve the ability of the participants to deal with a challenge.
 
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apoptosis

First Post
UngeheuerLich said:
I still play old rolemaster. Its a terrible system. It may be more realistic, but after one solid blow from a goblin with a club, you are out of combat. And 2 weeks later you can go on with your adventure, if you want to fight again.
And a fight takes forever. I rather have a simple combat system with most obvious hazards like drowning and suffocation supported by the rules, so that i actually have time to roleplay. That said: if no rules for suffocation and getting drunk etc are in, i am very displeased... although making some up is not that difficult.
BTW: rules for drowning and marching more than eight hours are bad in 3.5... i prefered to ignore them and made up my own... atually I would be glad if there were just one rule: DM should make const checks as he seems fit... written somewhere in the Players handbook...

I love Rolemaster..but not sure I could DM easily again, too much crunch for me....but some of the best games I played were in RM.

The criticals are what turned me onto the game. But you definitely cant approach it like you do D&D or the players will be a bit unhappy that they are stunned, bleeding and possibly missing some limbs.
 

IceFractal

First Post
As mentioned, falling 100' and walking away from it doesn't mean the system isn't simulationist.
Simulationist: You fall 100', so you die. Because falls that long will kill you.
Also Simulationist: You fall 100', take 10d6 damage, but you survived, as was expected. In this world, people who can fight dragons and win are known to be able to survive long falls.
Still Simulationist: You fall 100', and recieve 10d6 gold pieces. In this world, the god Zeppo personally rewards people who fall long distances.
Not Simulationist: Long falls are known to be deadly, and will kill most things. But when a PC, BBEG, or important NPC falls, they only take 10d6 damage, because otherwise pushing people off cliffs is unbalanced.
Not Simulationist: You fall 100', so you suffer whatever effects the DM and/or players deem best for the story.


Side note:
UngeheuerLich said:
mage hand limitation is measured in [lbs] this is a mass unit. weight is measured in newton (kg*m/s^2) so the loss of gravity doesn´t put anything into the mage hand's limit.
You, know, that's right. But in my defense, Mage Hand uses it incorrectly as well - "Target: One nonmagical, unattended object weighing up to 5 lb.", so whether they really meant mass or weight is arguable.
 
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epochrpg

Explorer
Dudes, 4th Edition is TOTALLY Simulationist... 4th Edition GURPS that is. I cannot imagine people were playing D&D-- a class & level based system where you magically got better at everything simultaneously-- thinking it was simulationist. Simulationists play GURPS-- where you can get killed in one shot to the eyeball, armor reduces damage, and every round of combat covers one second of time.
 

apoptosis

First Post
IceFractal said:
As mentioned, falling 100' and walking away from it doesn't mean the system isn't simulationist.
Simulationist: You fall 100', so you die. Because falls that long will kill you.
Also Simulationist: You fall 100', take 10d6 damage, but you survived, as was expected. In this world, people who can fight dragons and win are known to be able to survive long falls.
Still Simulationist: You fall 100', and recieve 10d6 gold pieces. In this world, the god Zeppo personally rewards people who fall long distances.
Not Simulationist: Long falls are known to be deadly, and will kill most things. But when a PC, BBEG, or important NPC falls, they only take 10d6 damage, because otherwise pushing people off cliffs is unbalanced.
Not Simulationist: You fall 100', so you suffer whatever effects the DM and/or players deem best for the story.


Side note:
You, know, that's right. But in my defense, Mage Hand uses it incorrectly as well - "Target: One nonmagical, unattended object weighing up to 5 lb.", so whether they really meant mass or weight is arguable.

Nice post.

If the genre is that heroes are really tough to kill then the way D&D did falling damage isnt a problem. The problem was always how people percieved this.

They wanted something that should ensure certain death to result in certain death. The problem was most things in a fight ensured certain death (a fireball) but nobody wanted people to die so abrubtly.


What i found to not be simulation (given the premise that heroes can take incredible amounts of damage as a genre convention) were any rules that resulted in immediate death regardless of hp such as coup de gras rules. I felt rules like that were the problem.

The crossbow to the throat/hero as hostage types of situations that caused issues.

Apop
 

mmadsen

First Post
Charwoman Gene said:
Simulation has been eliminated as a design goal in 4e.
Arguably, as others have pointed out, simulation has never been a top priority in D&D -- but that is missing a very important point about simulation: the more free-form the game, the less spelled-out the rules can be, and the more we need to rely on over-arching meta-rules.

The most obvious meta-rule to fall back on is That isn't what would happen. We almost always want to resort to how the real world works -- with the exception that our fantasy world is full of wizards, dragons, etc.

In a game where the rules don't actively contradict reality -- except where we really want them to, with wizards, etc. -- we can use our own judgment to augment the narrow rules. When the rules do actively contradict reality, we get lots of arguments.
 

Khur

Sympathy for the Devil
I guess we should've defined "simulation" before beginning the discussion. I generally take the word, in this context, to mean, "realism," "modeling real world physics," or something similar. I don’t take it to mean, and have never seen it regularly, if ever, used to mean, “modeling an internally consistent alternate reality." Especially not an internally consistent alternate reality, such as one where you always receive an average of 35 gp for a 100-foot fall, because of the god Zeppo—or any other such absurdities.

I think it’s safe to assume that most people mean “realistic” when they say “simulationist.” And I mean “realistic” in the sense that falling 10 stories and crossbow bolts through the head kill you. The “internally consistent alternate reality” model isn’t wrong, and it’s even entertaining to discuss, but it isn’t helpful in a simulationist = realistic discussion.

The 3e rules certainly never even suggest that they're modeling an internally consistent alternate reality of any type. Even if they did, they'd be a failure, because the rules themselves aren't internally consistent in effects even in similar in-game circumstances. It’s largely the same (or worse) with any other version of the D&D game.
 

pemerton

Legend
tomBitonti said:
Roleplaying, generally speaking, is <b>all</b> about conveying a scenario based on real-world mechanics. The details vary, but the basic mechanics say that you can stick someone with a sword, they'll get hurt.
Right here, you're assuming something controversial. For example, TRoS is fantasy (low fantasy, perhaps) RPGing, but in that game (under the right conditions) PCs survive sword blows. As is the case with D&D.

Silent Cartographer said:
I agree that 4E is going to upset a lot of closet simulationists this spring.

The design architecture for 4E clearly a vision of gamist flexibility and power, and supports narrative play mainly through the abstraction provided by that architecture. That same level of abstraction is what drives some simulation fans nutty.
QFT. The rest of the post is good too.

UngeheuerLich said:
I still play old rolemaster. Its a terrible system.
I GM a lot of RM. Most of your complaints are legitimate, but it does have two features that I like very much: (i) in its pursuit of simulationist perfection, it makes the character sheet a total model of the PC - and this can then form the basis of thematically complex roleplaying; (ii) it's OB/parry rules give the players a lot of control over how they deal with adversity (in some respects not unlike 4e will) which can somewhat blunten the otherwise devastatingly anti-narrativist implications of the RM combat system.
 


ThirdWizard

First Post
The ring thing is part and parcel for the simulationist/gamist divide.

The Simulationist sees that you can't wear Rings until 11th level and asks "Why is the character able to put on a Ring and nothing happen at 10th, but at 11th level the ring functions?" And from that starting point, the question is answered.

The Gamist sees that you can't wear Rings until 11th level and asks "What powers does a Ring have that make it inappropriate for a character of 10th level, but appropriate for a character of 11th level?" And from that starting point, the question is answered.

This is the true difference between the simulationist and the gamist. And, this is why I think, as far as the 4e rules are concerned, the designers are putting gamist questions ahead of the simulationist.
 

apoptosis

First Post
Khur said:
I guess we should've defined "simulation" before beginning the discussion. I generally take the word, in this context, to mean, "realism," "modeling real world physics," or something similar. I don’t take it to mean, and have never seen it regularly, if ever, used to mean, “modeling an internally consistent alternate reality." Especially not an internally consistent alternate reality, such as one where you always receive an average of 35 gp for a 100-foot fall, because of the god Zeppo—or any other such absurdities.

I think it’s safe to assume that most people mean “realistic” when they say “simulationist.” And I mean “realistic” in the sense that falling 10 stories and crossbow bolts through the head kill you. The “internally consistent alternate reality” model isn’t wrong, and it’s even entertaining to discuss, but it isn’t helpful in a simulationist = realistic discussion.

The 3e rules certainly never even suggest that they're modeling an internally consistent alternate reality of any type. Even if they did, they'd be a failure, because the rules themselves aren't internally consistent in effects even in similar in-game circumstances. It’s largely the same (or worse) with any other version of the D&D game.

Simulationism has a pretty (well kinda) specific meaning in terms of game design and play, though it is harder to adequately define compared to narrativism and gamism.

But simulationism is basically "simulating a genre" and it only approaches realism as the genre approaches realism. Simulating a genre is meaning having rules that model a genre and are consistent in their approach to it. Many times it invokes realism as most genres are still founded in realistic aspects.

You can use simulationism to mean realism but then you will not be using a word in the way that Peryton, Skeptic, IceFractal or others are using it and much confusion could result.

Edit...didnt mean to sound like I was the guardian of meaning of these terms...just several of us in the conversation are using it to avoid some issues with talking about realism in a game that is by definition unrealistic.
 
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Cbas_10

First Post
Charwoman Gene said:
Simulation has been eliminated as a design goal in 4e.

This is a fact.

D&D 4e is not ideally suited to sandbox play or rules-emergent world building.

We don't need 40 Threads that amount to whining about this fact. Butt-kicking and story building, it's got them covered although details there can be argued, but the only way to salvage simulation is to SCRAP 4e as it exists. That's not happening. I am really tired of people slagging on every detail that is run over by the non-simulation train.

I feel bad for simulation players and DMs, it reflects the sandbox experience I wish I could find others to enjoy with me. 3e was kind of a heyday for you. But its done, if you want to protest, speak with your wallet and voices, but let the criticism focus on what can be fixed.

If 4E forces any of us into a particular style of playing as much as this statement seems to look down at any particular player's individual desire for gaming how they want...then 4E will really be a dog of a boring game. Let's put all these lables (simulationist, gamist, blah blah blah) aside for a bit. Who needs 'em?

We all have various types of imaginations and different threshholds for suspension of disbelief. Even among groups of friends who have been gaming together for ten years or more, we have various feelings and opinions about what is cool, lame, interesting, or "too out-there to give a crap about." Granted, in a solid group of players, we tend to either have more similar feelings than others....or we are tolerant and more willing to comprimise. But when we get out of our play groups and see others, talk to others, and even experience others' role-playing games, it is a simple fact of life that different games will be very different experiences. Much like there are vast differences betweed reading Tolkien, Jordan, and Wies&Hickman. We are not playing Monopoly or Chess, here. Certain rules exist in D&D in order to create a "level playing field," while others exist to facilitate a new player's experience, while even other rules exist as optional uses in order to facilitate the telling of a story. In the end, the "rules" of 3.x were malleable enough to support a great number of gaming styles and preferences (yes....some things needed to be fixed....not jumping into an argument about that). THAT is the number-one reason that I enjoy 3.x and am hesitant about 4E until I can actually see the finished product.

I don't want any person, group, or game company to tell me how to play or to try to limit my options with how I want to run my game. I want to find and buy the game that is the best balance between Point One: Provided/printed gaming ideas for me to spawn my ideas from ...and... Point Two: Customization of the game itself for my purposes of telling a story vs. staying with a consistent set of rules that is fair to players (players should be surprised by plot twists...not wierdo houserules they were not told about).

Take the Exalted game as an example. Great game, written well....but the anime influence is far too entwined in the game for my tastes. I don't like anime, so I tried to look at the game and remove the anime influence and feel from it (since I liked other aspects of the game's system and certain bits of character types). It did not work out. It was far too much work to remove the elements that I did not want.

With D&D 3.x, however, it was far easier to customize things to work how I felt the most comfortable and enjoyed the most. Various settings to choose from, a number of classes that still allowed for player choice if a handful were excluded, and more. In the end, D&D was D&D in my game.....but it was greatly personalized and uniquely "ours" with only 2 pages of houserules and setting exceptions. Very little work on the structure of the game allowed us to spend a lot more time on the storyline, the action, the characterization, and other bits of fun.

So, if 4E strives to "stomp out" simulationism by formatting the game in a manner that makes it difficult or time consuming to customize or personalize....that will be thier mistake - not my loss.
 

IceFractal said:
Side note:
You, know, that's right. But in my defense, Mage Hand uses it incorrectly as well - "Target: One nonmagical, unattended object weighing up to 5 lb.", so whether they really meant mass or weight is arguable.

jep, but there is only one verb which is used for both^^ and lb is still a mass unit ;)

another problem is, that you can´t use enchanted mage hand things to propell your ship, because at least the magehand thingy is magical... so it doesn´t work even then.

But maybe you could try using a magic/antimagic drive and use the free energy... ;)
 

marune

First Post
ThirdWizard said:
This is the true difference between the simulationist and the gamist. And, this is why I think, as far as the 4e rules are concerned, the designers are putting gamist questions ahead of the simulationist.

Yeah, problem is that Bill Slavicsek said to the designers in the early stages (it's written in Races & Classes) : the DM is not a opponent, but a storyteller.

In a clearly gamist RPG, the DM is a opponent, not a storyteller.

That's why in my first post I said I was waiting for the DMG before saying that D&D is freed from its incoherent simulationist tendencies.
 

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