log in or register to remove this ad

 

The Death of Simulation

HeinorNY

First Post
Simulationist: Your horses travel X miles per day, the mountains are Z miles away, and you will have to travel through the hill, it will cost you some time, so the travel to the mountains is gonna take you Y days.
Gamist: Roll 1d6 days and you got there (SWSE style)
Storytelling/narrativism: The exact time of travel is irrelevant, none of the players care and the DM will decide the how much time is good for the story with a minimum of good sense.

Simulationist: The power have a duration of 1 minute per level.
Gamist: The power ends when combat ends.
Narrativism: The power ends when the scene ends.

Simulationist: If you use tap the dark side of the force, you'll gain an extra dice in your roll.
Gamist: You make a Will save and fails, your fear made you tap the dark side of the force.
Narrativism: I think tapping the dark side of the force is a nice choice for my character, based on his personality and recent story, so I'll buy the Power of the dark side talent. (SWSE style)

Simulationist: All characters, PCs and NPCs, are created using the same rules. They roll X hd at first level, gain one feat, gain skills etc.
Gamist: Different rules for different charcters, PCs are fully fleshed out, NPCs only have numbers depending on what they'll do in the game (only social skill bonus in a social encounter, only AC, BAB damage HP in a combat encounter.
Narrativism: Different types of characters may use the same rules to be created, but PCs are the protagonist and heroes so they'll have special benefits that will assure that status in the game, as extra HD, access to action points, more powerful classes. (SWSE style)

Simulationist: It works this way because it makes sense in the fantasy context of the world.
Gamist: Its works this way because it's balanced and makes the important parts of the game as fun as it can be.
Narrativism: It works this way because it's good for the narrative and creates a nice and memorable story.
 
Last edited:

log in or register to remove this ad

Cbas_10

First Post
Remathilis said:
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...

After some searching and sifting through an older thread heated up over the Christmas Tree & Ring Reqs....

I don't know. Maybe there are new mechanics in 4E that would make the ring-deal more sensible. Still....level-based seems to gamey and arbitrary. I prefer some sort of limit or requirement that is represented by something a character does or achieves (levels is purely a game mechanic....). Scrolls require a character to have skill in spellcasting. That can be explained "in the game world" without the use of rules' terms...and then later backed up by mechanics. But for rings.....Experience with what (in a character's perspective)? Stamina has never been represented by level?

Sorry....I'm beating a dead horse which will absolutely be ignored if I switch to 4E. I was just surprised to see this sort of arbitrary computer-gamey thing slip into D&D.
 


Remathilis

Legend
ainatan said:
Simulationist:
Gamist:
Storytelling/narrativism:

By those terms, I'm a Narrativist first, gamist second, simulationist third. I used to be more of simulationist, but my game time is short and I'd rather get to the good stuff (story, action, dialog, drama) with the minimum amount of rules to get in my way.
 

pemerton

Legend
apoptosis said:
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.
It would be RQ, I think.

apoptosis said:
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.
I think 1st ed AD&D was primarily gamist, but with the nature of the challenge (surviving and propsering in dungeon exploration) and the scale over which success or failure was determined (timescale: the campaign; character scale: not the single PC, but a whole suit of PCs, henchmen, hirelings etc per player, and with party success probably more important also than in later playstyles) being very different from subsequent approaches to play. In the 1st ed AD&D, Gygax has a discussion of time which Ron Edwards cites as an example of simulationism, but read closely it really seems to be a gamist device, intended to make time in the campaign another useful resource that players can exploit more or less well.

I think that 2nd ed really was the peak of incoherence in D&D, with a game promising gamist (or perhaps narrativist) fun delivering (at least in the official modules and gameworlds) simulationist-heavy exploration of someone else's world (either the designers' or the GM's). In light of this, I don't think that it's a coincidence that 2nd ed produced so many spin-offs and supplements - each of them can be seen as an attempt to render the game more coherent for some set of play preferences or other.

3rd ed is pretty clearly gamist in overall intent, with a strong simulationist chassis helping it get there - where it goes wrong is with marginal aspects of the rules (like drowning, weather etc) which weren't properly thought through, and more importantly where legacies of previous editions were not thoroughly revisited through the lens of coherence. 4e is now doing that.
 


apoptosis

First Post
skeptic said:
Bad definitions, specialy the Narrativism one.


I used this definition in the other thread:

It goes to WHY are you playing this RPG and what is important to you.

Gamist - It is a game and i enjoy overcoming challenges

Simulationist - It is a way to immerse yourself in a fictional world through your character

Narrativist - It is a way to tell an exciting story about the characters (or your character)
 

pemerton

Legend
ThirdWizard said:
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.
rounser said:
At a guess:

Sacrifice gamist fun and fairness, and simulationist verisimilitude and suspension of disbelief, so long as it makes a good yarn?
With respect, that's a poor definition of narrativism, if you are trying to capture the Forge sense of the term.

The point of narrativist play is not to enjoy a good yarn, but to produce a yarn. This yarn typically won't be especialy good, given that most RPG players - and I certainly include myself here - are not especially good writers of literature. But it will be the play group's own, and because of this authenticity it has a certain interest for that group.

With this in mind, we can see that play in which the players sit back and let the GM's world and story wash over them is not narrativist play, but rather a particular style of simulationism (in which what the players are exploring is the GM's creative vision). This is why alignment in D&D is best characterised as a simulationist mechanic - what it does is tell a story about morality (whether or not it is a good story is one on which opinions differ!), which the players then get to experience during play. Getting rid of mechanical alignment is (IMO) one of the more signficant departures from simulationism that 4e is making.

Returning to the Dwarves: if being a Dwarf makes a difference in play, then it is important (for narrativist play) that a player gets to choose whether or not they play a Dwarf - so that they can choose whether or not to make that sort of difference in play. It is conceivable that the relevant difference might be the perceived gruffness of Dwarves. A player choosing to play a Dwarf is thereby signalling that they want their PC to undergo a certain sort of adversity (namely, being perceived as gruff) in order to develop whatever theme is of interest to them in the game. A CHA penalty might be one mechancial way to implement this choice.

Most narrativist play would also want the PC's personality to be dynamic (to an extent, at least) and under the control of the player, so you would also want mechanics which allow the player (in circumstances that s/he judges appropriate) to be able to buy off the penalty. It is a little hard to see how this would work in traditional D&D, but you could envisage APs being used here - if the player sets as her Dwarf's goal "succeed despite gruffness" then a bunle of APs might be available to be spent in social challenges to turn what otherwise would be failures into successes.

Problems for narrativism will arise if the gameworld already tries to dictate the implications of that gruffness for the player, as opposed to allowing the player to work them out in the course of play. This could be both (i) the issue never coming up, or (ii) the issue coming up only by the GM telling the player how his/her PC's gruffness is being perceived by NPCs, with the player having no meaningful control over that, and those reactions having no meaningful impact on the game.

In my view, a non-simulationist game that is not interested in exploring these issues of racial identity is either better off just having all PCs default to human, or else better be ready for racial choice to be simply a (gamist) min-maxing exercise. In 4e, I envisage the latter to be the main determinant of racial choice, with simulationist concerns about flavour (what sort of fantasy being do I want to explore while playing this game?) being a secondary factor.
 


ThirdWizard

First Post
Interesting. By most of these definitions I fall mostly into a Narrativist mindset, as it seems Narrativist fits best with a DMing style that puts creating an entertaining game above all other factors.

Cbas_10 said:
I don't know. Maybe there are new mechanics in 4E that would make the ring-deal more sensible. Still....level-based seems to gamey and arbitrary.

But, see we go back to the style thing. It's not arbitrary from a gamist perspective. Everyone pays so much attention to the 11th level get one ring thing they notice the, probably more important, 21st level get two rings. This means you can give a 15th level party of six PCs 10 rings and it is no more of a power increase than giving them 6.

This is probably a very important balancing factor for Rings. It means they don't have to worry about mixing and matching rings until the Epic tier, when things like that might not be as much of a problem because of the Epic power scale.

Then there's the slot increases over time to scale power. I can't remember how many slots PCs have, but they'll have X slots at Heroic, X+1 slots at Paragon, and X+2 slots at Epic, another possible balancing factor. Heck, the whole +1 slot might have even been thought up as a "reward" of sorts for achieving Paragon.

So, its all about one one approaches the rules that determine if one sees them as arbitrary, or good, or bad, or pointless, or smart, or sexy, or whatever. A Gamist probably won't give an explanation much inspection before accepting it. "Oh, I'm not strong enough to call out the true power of the ring yet? I'll try again later." And that's that.

We're seeing the exact same thing with the Pit Fiend, by the way. Simulationists want to know how the Pit Fiend survives in the Nine Hells, how they weave their intrigue, how they can set up their fortifications, and all that good stuff. Because it isn't in the description/stat block, by their play style, the stat block is a definition for the creature. I think this is yet another clash between the Simulationist approach and, in this case according to definitions in this thread, a Narritivist approach. Actually, I think a whole lot of these arguments could break down into this very topic itself.

It's not good or bad, but it obviously clashes with a lot of people's preferred play style.
 


pemerton

Legend
apoptosis said:
Your analysis..way better explanation thine mine
Our posts crossed in the aether - but I think yours captures the gist, of it being about facilitating group story-telling (and not just by the GM).

ainatan said:
[Storytelling/narrativism: The exact time of travel is irrelevant, none of the players care and the DM will decide the how much time is good for the story with a minimum of good sense.

<snip>

Narrativism: The power ends when the scene ends.

<snip>

Narrativism: I think tapping the dark side of the force is a nice choice for my character, based on his personality and recent story, so I'll buy the Power of the dark side talent. (SWSE style)

<snip>

Narrativism: Different types of characters may use the same rules to be created, but PCs are the protagonist and heroes so they'll have special benefits that will assure that status in the game, as extra HD, access to action points, more powerful classes. (SWSE style)

<snip>

Narrativism: It works this way because it's good for the narrative and creates a nice and memorable story.
With respect, your examples do not capture what Ron Edwards and other Forge-ites mean by "narrativism", and don't capture what I, and (if I may speak for them) Apoptosis and Third Wizard are trying to get at with that term.

Your first example is one of GM authorship - absent more information it looks like low-detail simulationism. What narrativist play cares about is that (if the passage of time matters) the players can affect it, or conversely if the passage of time is not under the players' control then it doesn't matter to the game. 4e does a bit of both: per-encounter powers mean that the GM's control over the passage of in-game time doesn't affect the PC's utility as vehicles for play; PoL as safehavens means that the players can allow time to pass in the gameworld without the GM interrupting this by suddenly triggering an encounter.

Your second is underdeveloped, but I don't see the difference between "scene" and "encounter". In 4e, at least, it seems that the encounter is the scene. I agree that simulationism would tend not to like this approach to the duration of powers.

Your third example seems backwards: in narrativist play I don't buy powers because they reflect what I've done. I buy them because of what they promise for future play. Thus, I would buy a Dark Side power because I want, in the immediate future, to roleplay out some thematic issue to which that choice will give rise in the course of the game. (Thus, narrativist play is inevitably and inherently metagaming.)

Choosing powers to reflect what has happened to my character in fact looks like a type of simulationist play that has to accomodate itself to a non-simulationist ruleset. This is very commonly seen in a certain type of D&D play (eg one frequently sees posts deriding the idea that a player whose PC is a Fighter could suddenly pick up Wizard as a class). In pure simulationist games like RQ or classic Traveller it doesn't come up, because players do not get to make these sorts of power choices (and thus can't be tempted to metagame).

Your fourth example is also a little odd. Most narrativist games will use different rules for PC build as NPC build, I think, simply because NPCs don't need rules associated with them that open the door to narrative control - the GM has other devices for exercising that control independent of the NPCs under his or her control. Access to APs (and also, in D&D, hit points, which are the default currency of protagonism) does support narrativist play, however - Chris Sims discusses this in the recent Healing thread.

Your last example also I would quibble with. Narrativist mechanics aren't designed to create memorable stories, they're designed to empower players to play a creative role in the game.

Afterall, if you wanted good stories the best mechanic would be something like: all of your group go to the bookshop and buy a copy of The Power and The Glory, then start reading at page 1. But that wouldn't be a game, narrativist or otherwise.
 

apoptosis

First Post
pemerton said:
Your last example also I would quibble with. Narrativist mechanics aren't designed to create memorable stories, they're designed to empower players to play a creative role in the game.

That is a good point.

There might be (maybe there are) narrativist mechanics to aid the story, but most all of the ones I know generally are about enhancing the story by enhancing the characters role in the story (which involves giving the players the ability to enhance the characters role in the story)

I think maybe some of the mechanics for "story now" but that is really about focusing the game on things that matter to the character, so that probably is subsumed in what you said.

Because the story is about the characters, I think the entanglement of characters (as an extension of the player) ability to impact the narrative cannot be extracted from the narrative itself. This is probably why "story" and "character/players narrative control" tend to be used interchangeably when they probably shouldnt be.
 

pemerton

Legend
ThirdWizard said:
Interesting. By most of these definitions I fall mostly into a Narrativist mindset, as it seems Narrativist fits best with a DMing style that puts creating an entertaining game above all other factors.
Without knowing more, this could equally be simulationist, or even gamist (depending on what your players find entertaining).

To link the idea of entertainment to the idea of narrativism, consider the reward mechanism for The Dying Earth RPG. Each player, at the start of a session, is given three taglines (witty and/or biting Vancisms, like "Before you speak, know that I am a powerful wizard!"). The player earns from 0 to 3 XPs every time his or her PC speaks one of those taglines in play - the amount being determined by the GM based on an estimate of the amount of cleverness and wit displayed (how funny and impressed the fellow players are is an important measure of this).

What this does is give each player an incentive to drive the game in a direction in which s/he will be able to have his or her PC speak those taglines to great mirthful and dramatic effect. The action-resolution mechanics of the game (effectively, opposed rolls with very sophisticated re-roll options) give the player a reasonable degree of control over whether or not to try to win a conflict, or to go with the flow of what the GM has set up - depending on what s/he thinks will optimise tagline delivery. The setting - a lightly-sketched PoL approach - allows the GM to follow his or her players' whims without having to call a halt because they've come to the edge of the detailed gameworld.

This is a fairly light-hearted example of a narrativist game. The mechanics empower the players to pursue a fun (if fairly low-brow) creative agenda. The GM sets the stage, but (due to the reroll mechanics) is not the sole determinant of how adversity is resolved, and is far from the sole judge of what counts as fun in the game.
 

pemerton

Legend
ThirdWizard said:
Simulationists want to know how the Pit Fiend survives in the Nine Hells, how they weave their intrigue, how they can set up their fortifications, and all that good stuff. Because it isn't in the description/stat block, by their play style, the stat block is a definition for the creature. I think this is yet another clash between the Simulationist approach and, in this case according to definitions in this thread, a Narritivist approach.

I agree that it is a certain type of simulationism (what Ron Edwards calls "purist for system") that wants the stat block to be a total specification of the creature's abilities in the gameworld: nothing should be outside the mechanics.

ThirdWizard said:
Actually, I think a whole lot of these arguments could break down into this very topic itself.
Agreed. I've been pushing that line since about the time we got our first glimpses of 4e mechanics.
 

pemerton

Legend
apoptosis said:
There might be (maybe there are) narrativist mechanics to aid the story, but most all of the ones I know generally are about enhancing the story by enhancing the characters role in the story (which involves giving the players the ability to enhance the characters role in the story)

I think maybe some of the mechanics for "story now" but that is really about focusing the game on things that matter to the character, so that probably is subsumed in what you said.
I think so - at least, they are about focusing the game on things that matter to the player.

In D&D I think the character build mechanics play an important role in this respect. The player, by choosing powers, gets to choose how s/he interacts with the gameworld (3E had this to an extent with feats and PrC, but 4e seems to be ramping it up). Given the importance of mechanics to the D&D play experience, this is a non-trivial choice (and like in a superhero comic, different combat mechanics can be understood as having, or used to explore, different thematic notions).

Other signals can be sent as well (eg a group who build an all-Dwarf party presumably want to do a bit of Orc- or Giant-bashing) but in the absence of rules players are relying on GM common-sense to deliver the desired gameworld elements.

apoptosis said:
Because the story is about the characters, I think the entanglement of characters (as an extension of the player) ability to impact the narrative cannot be extracted from the narrative itself.
In D&D I think it will always be the case that it is via the PC that a player gets to affect the gameworld. Other RPGs might have mechanics that allow non-PC mediated control of the gameworld by non-GM players.

apoptosis said:
This is probably why "story" and "character/players narrative control" tend to be used interchangeably when they probably shouldnt be.
Agreed. "Story" tends to be used to describe a type of simulationist game in which traditional (dice-based) mechanics are frequently ignored or overruled by GM decision-making about the direction of the adventure (ie loosely-structure "drama" mechanics, to use the Forge's terminology). It is one of my least-favourite sorts of roleplaying, to which (IME) 2nd ed AD&D was especially prone.
 

apoptosis

First Post
pemerton said:
I think so - at least, they are about focusing the game on things that matter to the player.

In D&D I think the character build mechanics play an important role in this respect. The player, by choosing powers, gets to choose how s/he interacts with the gameworld (3E had this to an extent with feats and PrC, but 4e seems to be ramping it up). Given the importance of mechanics to the D&D play experience, this is a non-trivial choice (and like in a superhero comic, different combat mechanics can be understood as having, or used to explore, different thematic notions).

.


Unfortunately it seems most all the powers that can be chosen are combat based and balanced around combat making the choice more trivial than I hoped it would be. Now I have seen the rules so maybe that might not be the case and I could be very wrong.

It is probably my dislike of roles, as it pretty much put everything into the context of combat.

Of course that has some advantages in that you can sculpt a story that will be based on a series of combats and not worried about PC balance.

I would hope they redo some of the old modules like White Plume Mountain and Against the Giants as 4E would be perfect for them.

I am pretty rocked on Shadow of Yesterday right now if i do a fantasy campaign. It has a really interesting way to deal with conflict and it allows you to integrate social, mental and physical damage and they can play off of each other. It borrowed the feats ideas from 3E.
 

LostSoul

Adventurer
Here's a post I made on the whole GNS thing some time ago:

I see Creative Agenda (one of GNS) as whatever you get high-fives for over some length of play time. I'm not sure how long that time is, though. Anyway.

Situation: The party comes to this dragon, the guardian of Dragon Pass, the only thing standing between the peaceful valleys below and the waiting Orc Horde. The guy who just acted is a wizard, a Knight of the Scale (an in-game organization dedicated to eliminating draconic threats), has just unleashed some killer spell combo on a dragon and totally kicked its ass. This wizard became a Knight of the Scale because his family was killed by the dragon.

Gamist: Dude, you totally kicked that dragon's ass using that wicked spell combo! You rock! High-five!

Showing off your ability to kick ass, as you would in Chess or something like that, and having the other people take notice and respect it.

Narrativist: Dude, you decided to kill that dragon even though you know that it was the only thing protecting Dragon Pass from the Orc Horde! I guess the lives of all the people in Dragon Pass mean less to you than your desire for revenge! You are hard-core, man. Sweet, high-five!

Showing other people how you made a moral choice in some murky situation, and having other people pick up on it and learn something about you.

Simulationist: Sweet man, that's totally what the Knights of the Scale would do - they would totally kick that dragon's ass, even knowing that the Orc Horde would invade Dragon Pass! High-five!

Showing other people that you get the source material and can add and build to it without destroying it, and having other people recognize that you can do that ("You can do Tolkein better than Tolkein!", "That's totally what an Italian peasant from the 14th century would do!", "Your guy is more James Bond than James Bond!", etc.).
 



An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top