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The Death of Simulation

Lord Sessadore

Explorer
apoptosis said:
This goes back to simulationism is not realism.

The world is already fantastical, this we know almost by definition of the game.

The next question is what is the impact of fantastical elements.

WIth some it is straightforward...wizards use magic (not real)....

Otherways it could be less straightforward such as...heroes are more indestructible than non-heroes

If this is part of the "physics" of the world then it is still "real" based on the mechanics that shape that imaginary world.

That is why the use of simulationism is used vs realism. The game is not real. Many many things in the game do not resemble reality in any way, shape or form.

There is a drive for internal consistency though given that fantastical elements (whatever they are) exist.

This goes back to the falling issue. People want falling say 1000' to be lethal no matter the character level (not doing hp damage just killing the poor guy).

But being hit by an object in combat that is equivalent to falling 1000' they dont want to necessarily be lethal (just do hp damage).

Given that in both cases the guy got hit with the same amount of force, whiy should one be lethal and the other not.

Or if someone is dropped in lave (some think they should basically die instantly regardless of hp because being dropped in lava is deadly for anyone) but if a wizard creates a spell that is equivalent to being dropped in lava, very few think that instant death should be the result (regardless of hp).
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
 
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Cbas_10

First Post
ThirdWizard said:
It isn't really about explaining things, though. Anything can be explained. The questions "from where does this rule originate" is probably more accurate.

Larger creatures having -1 to AC is probably simulationist. People thought about big monsters and said "hitting bigger things is easier." And so they added a rule that makes it so.

Having to be higher level to craft a higher plus into a weapon is gamist, on the other hand. A developer decided that PCs shouldn't be able to make +4 weapons at 5th level because it would be unbalancing. Then later, fluff can be added to the rule for in-character explanation.

An RPG is not going to be purely simulationist or gamist. You'll always have things like both of these examples. And that's fine. Both simulationist and gamist philosophies, I think, must be in any roleplaying game for it to work. The question is the degree to which each is going to be held in importance by the developers. When will gamism trump simulationism and vice versa become important questions that must be answered. It looks like in 4e's case, gamism is taking the forefront, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

NOTE: I didn't mean to start up the Ring thing in this thread. I think it exemplifies the clash, and if we look at it dispassionately, then we can more easily come to an understanding between groups. I don't think that simulationists and gamists need be at odds, as I don't think anyone is just one or just the other. (Well, maybe somebody ;)).

I'm not sure if I really fit within the "Simulationist" group, or if a third group exists: Storytellers.

In essence, if some random rule exists that works or does not work with other rules....I'm not here to call out its realism or its importance as a game balance and game play factor. I want to be able to explain it in the sense of a story.

From my perspective....I am not running a D&D adventure that has a common theme that becomes a chronicle. Instead, I have a storyline in mind that just happens to be told and interacted with by the players in the medium of the D&D rules.

Fire-breathing dragons that defy physics via thier mass, wingspan, and aerodynamics.....who cares? This is fantasy....it is a story....Dragons are magical creatures that fly by the use of thier wings assisted by some sort of magic that neither needs to be detailed, nor really matters. The point is that they almost could fly on their own, but have that little bit of fantasy edge in the form of magic. It is not realistic, but relatively sensible. But Rings that don't function until some arbitrary point in a person's life after they have performed a number of travels, fended off a number of creatures, and successfully socially interacted with enough people? I'm open to suggestions of explinations.....but until then....

I'm not pulling the rings argument to the fore to debate rings. I'm just demonstrating where I am coming from, and WotC happened to provide perfect ammunition for my "Too gamist is not always best for the story" stance.

To be fair, 3.x has an aspect that I wholly dropped/changed because it made little or no sense to me in the sense of telling a story: charging XP for spellcasting or item creation. Instead, the "Power Component" optional rule is a standard requirement.
 

apoptosis

First Post
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

Agree very much...your point was more succinctly made..i am guilty of long-windedness.
 

Khur

Sympathy for the Devil
apoptosis said:
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.
I don't think that most of those bemoaning a lack of simulation could agree that what you say here is their definition of simulation. I'd have to question if that's what the OP meant by simulation, admitting that I don’t know. By your definition, which is a fine one, D&D has always been reasonably simulationist.

I agree that my definition isn't the same, and as you rightly point out, not having the same definition is a point of confusion. If we had agreed beforehand that simulation means, "simulating a genre," then I should have/would have used "realism" in my posts instead of "simulation."

But then, what does “realism” mean in this context. To me, it can only mean, “simulating real-world physics to the extent possible in a setting where magic and the fantastic coexist with some real-world situations.” I say this mostly because it’s not worth discussing how magic and fantastic elements are unrealistic when trying to discuss realism with regards to certain aspects of a fantasy RPG.
 

Xethreau

Josh Gentry - Author, Minister in Training
Mostly thankful

I am mostly glad that simulation is a secondary priority in 4e design. It will allow for easier, more intuitive, easier to balance, faster game play to all be priorities, which is something I agree with strongly. I do like a degree of "simulation," but I would really hate for D&D to become Elder Scrolls.
 

apoptosis

First Post
Cbas_10 said:
I'm not sure if I really fit within the "Simulationist" group, or if a third group exists: Storytellers.

That would be narrativist based games. Definitions vary a lot. I usually define them as having rules that help the group create a story in a cooperative manner. Other definitions are more abstract (about exploring a certain theme etc.).

A nice example of this is the characters who want to break into a house to break into a safe to steal something.

In simulationist perspective whether there is something cool in the safe is based off of some logic based on the NPC. Success could mean finding something cool or finding nothing. Failure could just mean they dont successfully find the safe or break into the house.

In narrativist perspective if they succeed they DO find something interesting and cool. If they fail something bad happens. Nothing happening is not a result.

The DM might have to change the consistency of the world (it might have been that he didnt envision the NPC having anythign intersesting...that is ok in a simulaitonist approach, but that is not ok in a narrativist approach).

Though this is kind of mixing up simulationist/narrative vs task/conflict resolution but it does help think of what the game is trying to do.

Another approach is somethign like bonus dice. In a simulationst game if you sneak past the guard to assasinate the king, a great roll to sneak past the guard doesn't help you assasinate the king it just helps you get undetected past the guard.

In a more narrativist approach, a great roll on sneaking past the guard could roll over into bonus dice to help assasinate the king.

In reality there is no reason for success on one of those challenges should help you with the other, it lacks a certain consistency (probably not the correct word); you could try and expalin it in a ad-hoc manner. In the other perspective, you actually dont care that they two are not realistically connected it is an abstraction for the game.
 
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apoptosis

First Post
Khur said:
But then, what does “realism” mean in this context. To me, it can only mean, “simulating real-world physics to the extent possible in a setting where magic and the fantastic coexist with some real-world situations.” I say this mostly because it’s not worth discussing how magic and fantastic elements are unrealistic when trying to discuss realism with regards to certain aspects of a fantasy RPG.

And many times that is what people are meaning as the genre they think of is "our pseudo medieval world" + independent magic elements.

A game that is based on that though would be very different than D&D.

High-level fighters would not be nearly as fearsome as their hp would not be much different than a first-level fighter (this is another can of worms as the HP system is an pseudo-toughness + abstract feel).

People could probably come up with many more reasons.

This is not a fault of the game or a benefit, just that the game would be very different than the D&D we play.

D&D is a mishmash, it had a gamist/simulationist perspective that was probably not designed in coherent fashion to either perspective but kind of picked and choosed which ones would be most fun for players given what they thought at the time.
 

Alnag said:
D&D is pretty simulationist game and it always was. It is a simulation of specific genre indeed. Not real world physics. It simulates sword & sorcery fantasy. Heroic one. It do a great job. It works. And I see no big change in this paradigm...

D&D has a great element of gamism. Indeed. It has XPs and challenges... but it might not be used solely that way. And if it is not, the other part of it - the simulation one is stronger than.

There is not much of a drama, although one might speculate about this one as well, and I have heard pretty good specualtion about it too.

But please, spare us bitching about how the game is no longer simulationist. In your definition of that it never was in the first place. In mine it still is and will be.

Exactly, D&D was always designed to simulate mid/high magic heroic fantasy, things like rituals, the new skill system and the move towards making monsters more evocative of their roots moves the game closer to that ideal, not further away.
 

Anthtriel

First Post
skeptic said:
I agree if I can rephrase it to : "ensure everyone has a fair share of the spotlight".

I could agree that "opponent" may be too simple to describe what a DM is in a gamist play.

However, storyteller is far more troublesome.
Why? How is storytelling at all related to the gamist approach?

The way I see it, the gamist DM considers it all a game, and therefore tries to make the decisions that will be most "fun" for the players, whereas the simulationist DM tries to make the decisions that will seem most like "what should happen" by the rules of the campaign world.

The way I see it, the advantage of gamism is that "unfun" and frustrating situations are mostly avoided. No one needs to make a roll to see if a robber comes along and kills the party in their sleep.
But taking it too far ruins the suspension of disbelief.

The advantage of simulatism are more difficult to define in my opinion. I once ran a completely simulationist homebrewed game that had about two or three pages of rules and relied on realism for everything else. The game had all sorts of problems of course. It had combats, and nearly all of them were fairly anticlimatic, as the players would find very creative, and overpowered ways to kill off their enemies. However, coming up with clever ways to use their abilities ended up incredibly satisfying for the players. I wouldn't run a totally simulationist game to often, and it is hard to get attached to characters if they can die on a moment's notice. But it is a very nice breath of fresh air.
 

ThirdWizard

First Post
Cbas_10 said:
I'm not sure if I really fit within the "Simulationist" group, or if a third group exists: Storytellers.

In essence, if some random rule exists that works or does not work with other rules....I'm not here to call out its realism or its importance as a game balance and game play factor. I want to be able to explain it in the sense of a story.

You know, those might not have been the best example, because it throws "realism" in with things, that was a mistake. Dwarves make a good example, because they aren't real.

Simulationist: Dwarves are belligerent so they get -2 Charisma.
Gamist: We don't want to over penalize dwaven sorcerers, even if it is against type. No Charisma penalty.

I have no idea where Narativists fit in with this example, though... I've never really understood Narativism.
 

apoptosis

First Post
Anthtriel said:
Why? How is storytelling at all related to the gamist approach?

The way I see it, the gamist DM considers it all a game, and therefore tries to make the decisions that will be most "fun" for the players, whereas the simulationist DM tries to make the decisions that will seem most like "what should happen" by the rules of the campaign world.

The way I see it, the advantage of gamism is that "unfun" and frustrating situations are mostly avoided. No one needs to make a roll to see if a robber comes along and kills the party in their sleep.
But taking it too far ruins the suspension of disbelief.

The advantage of simulatism are more difficult to define in my opinion. I once ran a completely simulationist homebrewed game that had about two or three pages of rules and relied on realism for everything else. The game had all sorts of problems of course. It had combats, and nearly all of them were fairly anticlimatic, as the players would find very creative, and overpowered ways to kill off their enemies. However, coming up with clever ways to use their abilities ended up incredibly satisfying for the players. I wouldn't run a totally simulationist game to often, and it is hard to get attached to characters if they can die on a moment's notice. But it is a very nice breath of fresh air.

My own personal opinion but i generally dont think DMs run games in a gamist fashion. I think DMs might enjoy games with gamist types of rulesets though.

Just a general perception and could be convinced otherwise.
 
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rounser

First Post
I"ve never really understood Narativism.
At a guess:

Sacrifice gamist fun and fairness, and simulationist verisimilitude and suspension of disbelief, so long as it makes a good yarn? There's a lot to be said for that, too, because a good yarn grabs the emotions. Ideally you want a balance of all three, I'd suppose, but good storytellers and stories are few and far between so it's easier to shoot for gamey fun and worldbuilding verisimilitude cool factor.

Come to think of it, that's sort of what the sacrifice WOTC is making with regard to putting gamist over simulationist comes down to; making a fun and fair game, but not a believable one. And if you can't believe in a fantasy world, what's the point of it at all?

Fantasy has to be careful with verisimilitude, because it's living on the edge of suspension of disbelief anyway. WOTC is going a bridge too far with this one IMO (e.g. a 4E "warlord" is nothing except a bunch of abilities just slapped together because they're fun, but there's no fun to be had in a broader sense if your imagination doesn't buy what the heck this anachronistic archetypeless "class" is doing there in the first place).
 
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apoptosis

First Post
ThirdWizard said:
You know, those might not have been the best example, because it throws "realism" in with things, that was a mistake. Dwarves make a good example, because they aren't real.

Simulationist: Dwarves are belligerent so they get -2 Charisma.
Gamist: We don't want to over penalize dwaven sorcerers, even if it is against type. No Charisma penalty.

I have no idea where Narativists fit in with this example, though... I've never really understood Narativism.

I dont think in all cases there are 3 options (nar, sim or gam). The above is a situation where there might not be a narrativist approach to a design decision.

I dont generally consider gamist, simulationist or narrativist design decisions to include fun as an objective as it all depends on whether gamism, simulation or narrative is what you are considering fun in a specific case.
 

Blackwind

Explorer
Well, I'm just going to say something that seems really obvious to me, and I can't believe no one has come out and said it already...

This whole discussion is a confused mess because certain posters have failed to define their terms. Half of us are talking in Forgespeak (not necessarily a bad thing) and half of us are assuming that 'simulationism' means realism, which is a common-sense thing to assume if you're not familiar with Forgist game design theory.

So, just to clear things up: in the game design jargon used on the Forge, which is a website about (mostly) indie RPG design, the term 'simulationist' has a specific meaning. If you want to know what that meaning is, these articles will help.

http://www.indie-rpgs.com/_articles/system_does_matter.html "System Does Matter," a brief article that defines Gamism, Narrativism, and Simulationism.

http://www.indie-rpgs.com/articles/15/ "The Right to Dream", an essay exploring Simulationism.

http://www.indie-rpgs.com/articles/20/ "A Hard Look At Dungeons and Dragons," an essay looking at D&D from the perspective of Forgist game design theory.

For those of you with no interest in delving into this stuff, and who just want a succinct summation of what Simulationism means in Forgespeak:

"Simulationist. This player is satisfied if the system "creates" a little pocket universe without fudging. Simulationists include the well-known subtype of the Realist. Good games for Simulationists include GURPS and Pendragon." --Ron Edwards

Hope this helps.
 

Cbas_10

First Post
ThirdWizard said:
I have no idea where Narativists fit in with this example, though... I've never really understood Narativism.

Simulationist: Dwarves are belligerent so they get -2 Charisma.
Gamist: We don't want to over penalize dwaven sorcerers, even if it is against type. No Charisma penalty.

Again...not sure which label I should apply to myself, so here is my entry to the take on dwarves:

Me: The book says Dwarves get a -2 charisma. It is pretty interesting to say that dwarves are surly, sometimes belligerent, and generally just not the friendliest lot. -2 Charisma makes sense....so there we go. I might have something more interesting to add to dwarves, but, as I don't want to spend time and effort on more rules, I'll just include more of the intricate aspects of dwarven life in the game's storyline instead of mucking around with MORE numbers and rules.

or the short version: Book says they get -2 charisma, and book says they "tend to be gruff and reserved." No problem...lets move on to playing with information as presented.

The real kicker is.....how to justify the ring deal in the same manner?
 

apoptosis

First Post
Blackwind said:
Well, I'm just going to say something that seems really obvious to me, and I can't believe no one has come out and said it already...

This whole discussion is a confused mess because certain posters have failed to define their terms. Half of us are talking in Forgespeak (not necessarily a bad thing) and half of us are assuming that 'simulationism' means realism, which is a common-sense thing to assume if you're not familiar with Forgist game design theory.

So, just to clear things up: in the game design jargon used on the Forge, which is a website about (mostly) indie RPG design, the term 'simulationist' has a specific meaning. If you want to know what that meaning is, these articles will help.

http://www.indie-rpgs.com/_articles/system_does_matter.html "System Does Matter," a brief article that defines Gamism, Narrativism, and Simulationism.

http://www.indie-rpgs.com/articles/15/ "The Right to Dream", an essay exploring Simulationism.

http://www.indie-rpgs.com/articles/20/ "A Hard Look At Dungeons and Dragons," an essay looking at D&D from the perspective of Forgist game design theory.

For those of you with no interest in delving into this stuff, and who just want a succinct summation of what Simulationism means in Forgespeak:

"Simulationist. This player is satisfied if the system "creates" a little pocket universe without fudging. Simulationists include the well-known subtype of the Realist. Good games for Simulationists include GURPS and Pendragon." --Ron Edwards

Hope this helps.

I shied away from Forge definitions (love the Forge) only because there is so much discussion their as to the meanings of the terms.

I tend to hedge a bit with their definition of narratavism and am a little more broad consider it is a design decision in developing rules that help craft a more compelling story for the participants and give more narrative control to the GM and/or players at the expense of gamism or simulation.
 

apoptosis

First Post
Cbas_10 said:
Again...not sure which label I should apply to myself, so here is my entry to the take on dwarves:

Me: The book says Dwarves get a -2 charisma. It is pretty interesting to say that dwarves are surly, sometimes belligerent, and generally just not the friendliest lot. -2 Charisma makes sense....so there we go. I might have something more interesting to add to dwarves, but, as I don't want to spend time and effort on more rules, I'll just include more of the intricate aspects of dwarven life in the game's storyline instead of mucking around with MORE numbers and rules.

or the short version: Book says they get -2 charisma, and book says they "tend to be gruff and reserved." No problem...lets move on to playing with information as presented.

The real kicker is.....how to justify the ring deal in the same manner?

It is a little trickier if instead of dwarves you use the entire debate about gender modifiers. They are simulation, but generally dont hold to a gamist perspective.

Once again narrativist I would consider uncaring in this regard.
 

Kraydak

First Post
It is important to realize that Simulationism and Gamism are not mutually exclusive. For example, if the level of Simulationism is too low, suspension of disbelief is lost, and Gamism goes down the tubes. I, for one, am perfectly happy with non-RL rules of physics (falling damage). Its a magical world, it doesn't work like ours.

On the other hand, I require that NPCs behave sanely (if they are sane, of course, but thats the norm). To pick a recent example, the 4e Pit Fiend does not behave sanely. A creature of his powerlevel would accumulate wealth and magic items. He should choose a strong weapon that complement his abilities and provide offensive flexibility rather than a weak one which is helpless against people who defend themselves against his other attacks (100% fire damage, 100% of the time leaves you vulnerable to fire resistance).

I hate effects that differentiate between PCs and NPCs (such as NPCs with PC class levels getting bonuses for free to make up for not wearing gear, but not getting those bonuses for free if they have gear). Note that action points differentiate between *heroes* and *non-heroes* and, as such, merely mean that the universe considers some people more important than other.

It should be obvious, now, that I fear for my suspension of disbelief, come 4e.
 

Remathilis

Legend
Cbas_10 said:
The real kicker is.....how to justify the ring deal in the same manner?

DM: You open the chest. There is a scroll of Delayed Blast Fireball* and a Ring of Lesser Awesomeness.
PC1: Awww. I can't use either of them. I'm not competent enough of a wizard to learn to cast that level spell, nor do I possess the inner fortitude to unlock the magic of the ring. Perhaps next when I gain more experience and stamina, I can use both items, but right now they're going into the Bag of Holding...
 

IceFractal

First Post
Or handwave it with an Eldritch Machine and get on with the damn story?
Well that's the crux right there. If you're a fan of emergent gameplay and inventing within the system, there's nothing to "get on with". What you're doing right there, figuring out how to make the starship move - that's the fun part! Not that slaying foes and seeing the story come together can't be fun too, but poking the system to see what happens is as imporant as any of them.
[sblock=On that subject]An alternate propulsion method, not as efficient as Mage Hand but less wording-dependent and easier to port between systems, is using Energy Push as your base spell, the target being a construct chained to the ship, with sufficient energy resistance/DR to avoid any damage from the spell.

The amount of force exerted on the ship depends on how dense you can make your construct, while keeping it within a size category larger than the propulsion components. Since we're dealing with actual force rather than raw velocity now, smaller ships will speed up faster.

Of course if you were to make the entire ship an intelligent item, and thus a creature, all kinds of options become available.[/sblock]
Thinking about the whole simulationist/gamist/narrativist thing, I guess what I'm personally after with simulation is the emergent properties aspect. I'm not sure that it's inherently linked to simulation, but it does seem to flourish better there.

The problem is that often, from a gamist standpoint, emergent properties seem to be looked at as bugs to be fixed; "That 'knock over enemies' power can be used to move heavy things uphill? Errata it, that's not what it's supposed to do." And to be fair, quite a few emergent properties are on the order of finding that you can kill people really easily with what was designed as a minor utility spell.

A narrative standpoint isn't necessarily hostile to emergence, but it doesn't provide any either. If you just handwave the propulsion as an eldritch machine, there's no emergence involved - you haven't discovered anything, and it wasn't a surprise how it worked because you decided how it worked.


But honestly, isn't it fun when you get something out of a system that you didn't put into it directly, and the rules didn't say was there? Maybe not everyone's cup of tea, but I hope it's not sacrificed entirely.
 

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