D&D 5E Wandering Monsters: You Got Science in My Fantasy!


But there is a difference between a thought and its content. The content of your thought "There is a door" is the same whether you are looking at a door (and so engaging the perceptual component of your overall cognitive system) or are imagining a door (and so engaging the imaginative component of your overall cognitive system). In the first case, assuming that there is a door, the word "door" in your thought "There is a door" refers to it. In the second case, in at least one sense of "refers" the word "door" in your (imaginative) though "There is a door" refers to nothing.

In particular, while the occurence of the word "door" in your imaginative thought is itself a consequence of the state of your brain, the word does not itself refer to any part of your brain.
Similar distinctions could be made upon the running of processed software. The software may run on multiple varieties of hardware and even "lower" level software designs (like neuron brains and resulting sentiences). Software processing might be said to change the behavior of all different underlying components, while also being a result of them. The underlying hardware, or neurons in the case of the brain, wouldn't need to be considered free willed, but it's a difficult relationship to distinguish. When experiencing the liquidity and buoyancy of water at every moment we are also inextricably engaged with H2O particles. The two don't separate easily, but we can allow ourselves the separateness of our current comprehensions of them, even if they are ultimately unified.

Fictionalism is the theory of the semantics of these non-referring terms - although they are not really referring, we can treat them as if they were referring, by way of stipulation or supposition. This then underpins what is described as "truth relative to a fiction". For instance, if you imagine a door, and start telling someone (say the players you are GMing) "There is an oaken door" it is now true in the fiction that there is a door, made of wood, and not made of beech..

Analysing the semantics of such utterances is technically challenging - as I said, my preferred account is Barker's - but for the purposes of this thread we don't need to go into that. All we need to do is to distinguish between the thought as a psychological entity - this is supervenient upon the state of the thinker's brain - and the content of the thought which yields its semantic properties. The drawing of this distinction goes back to Frege and Bolzano, and although I am not a thorough-going Fregean (in light of Barker's powerful criticisms) I still think we need to draw this distinction between psychological event and content. Otherwise we end up committed to absurdities such as that the word "door" sometimes refers to doors (when you use it to describe a real door) and sometimes refers to parts of people's brains, or at least to states of affairs that supervene upon such parts (when you use it to describe an imaginary door).
As I was saying above, I don't think allowing separate understandings requires we hold absurd or contradictory understandings. On the face of each, when compared to what we know for each as a particular, absurdity and contradiction might hold. I'm not suggesting we deny these experiences. But we can still accept that there is a unity between thought and psyche just as there is between liquidity and H2O molecules.

And that is obviously wrong - apart from anything else, it would entail that we could never truly imagine a real state of affairs because as soon as we tried to imagine it the meaning of our words would change to refer to something else (namely, a part of our head or something supervening thereupon).
That is a widely understood state of existence in Existentialism. That we aren't imagining the world around us, but instead referring constantly to our own mentally created state of affairs, and referring to those as "real". The way we might refer to a non-fiction map as as real even if we were its maker. We assert reality to escape solipsism. So this non-fiction map is our personal experience of a world beyond our imagining (you could read that a couple different ways).

Because the "code", to the extent that there is a code, is known to the players - the action resolution rules are all out in the open, for instance, unlike early D&D - and the GM in adjudicating non-codified aspects of the system is clearly meant to adhere to the real world as a guide for much of it.

In Traveller (prior to High Guard) this is taken to the extreme of laying out vectors to calculate starship manoeuvres during combat.
Neither game includes private systems to define roles for players to role play. Traveller is a simulation game with some elements of a wargame, some elements of space flight games, and includes components for character creation for players to create their playing piece, so to speak. I don't know Miller's intentions for how it was to be played, but I imagine it came out of the confusion of the late 70s in trying to figure out what D&D was. Traveller's world generation and character generation systems are both interesting and could modified into codes for a space exploration RPG, but ultimately, yes, as it stands Traveller is something of what I called a Type B game. Runequest is too, but it's following in the footsteps of most of the skill game designs of its time. (Designs vehemently said not to be role playing games at the time. Ultimately leading to the conflict with GURPS I believe.) Runequest's setting and adventures could be converted, maybe some other interesting mechanical options, but its play and design are largely irrelevant to role playing.

billd91 said:
Not really. Use of the term social contract in theorizing about RPGs may have been relatively novel but it mainly serves as a rhetorical device to describe what we used to call "table etiquette" back in the day - the, often but not always unwritten, rules that a particular group followed at their own game table that weren't explicitly part of the gameplay rules themselves and served to set expectations and limitations for how the game played, style, focus, (in)appropriate subject matter, and so on.
If you go up thread, you'll see I agree. What is being purposefully removed by the Forge's redefinition of it is when Social Contract is explicitly not a game rule, but a table rule (most of what you mention) or the result of strategic negotiations by players playing a game - and therefore not required to be followed at all when playing the game. Negotiations between D&D Players is of major importance to its cooperative design rather than some "game collaboratively" rule. Suggested play styles or strategies are in the early Player sections of many TSR products. A big for instance includes possible ways of dividing up treasure. These are neither game rules nor table rules. Players wouldn't be breaking the game rules by not following them. These particular contracts are the results of cooperative play between players, or deceitful play perhaps. I don't know. As referees we aren't there to judge or guess at player strategies, but only to provide them a game so they can play it. So it isn't helpful when these strategies are blindly cast as "just another instance of game rules" under the Forge's misplaced, yet popularized definition.
Last edited:

log in or register to remove this ad

Voidrunner's Codex

Remove ads