Why do RPGs have rules?

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
...and? I didn't even imply it's a better approach.

Regardless. OK, some people enjoy optimizing trivial problems (hm, I wonder, what is better, running into the battle with your hairy chest on display or wearing a ballistic vest?), so? I don't care. I'm not among them.

I don't need to say that all music is valid every time I talk about my love for jazz, why would I need to do the same when it comes to games?
It's true that you didn't say or imply it in that post. The reason I put that last part in there is that you have a very long history of saying straight out and implying just that. Your way is the best.
 

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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Here's a story fragment:

Once upon a time there lived a bear. One morning it woke up and, feeling thirsty, picked up its bucket and walked off to the well, to collect some water.​

Is someone really going to tell me that that's a simulation of Goldilocks?
No, but in an RPG context, "You set up camp near the river. Shortly before dusk you see a large brown bear head to the middle of the river. After about 10 minutes it catches a large fish and carries it off to eat."

That's plenty enough to be a simulation of what a bear might do in the woods. There is another thing that bears do in the woods, but this site doesn't allow us to say such things. :p

In an RPG context you don't need to create a scientific model that takes all kinds of things into account in order to be a simulation.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I'm just excited about the sentient bear.
download (4).jpg
 

There really isn't an inherent conflict between the two. There are only different approaches to the same end point. In your second example if what happens can logically come from whatever events have been established, then it's still a simulation of one possible set of logical circumstances.

You don't need to come up with all possible circumstances and then figure things out for it to be a simulation of something or even be as in depth as your first example, though it can be.
But ZERO about #1 has the slightest thing to do with simulation whatsoever. These are simply fictional arrangements of plot. If you think this is a simulation then every novel ever written is a transcript of a simulation! Lord of the Rings, yup! Foundation, yup again! A Wizard of Earthsea, sure thing! You see the problem here? There's no model (mathematical or logical formulation/system of equations which calculates current state from prior state) and no good initial system state to run a model against. Its just some completely arbitrary statements about a very few of the people in this world coupled with some explication of one or two of their motives which happen to be salient to the topic at hand, and a few fairly vague statements about what "will happen" (not calculated, simply stated as truths).

Obviously a non-toy example probably contains maps and keys which establish additional details, a few more (mostly very minor) NPCs, etc. That isn't going to materially change the situation. The GM in this example could decree that almost anything happens, and easily justify it with additional facts, suppositions about the mental state of the characters, additional ideas about their resources, motives, the existence and motives/resources of additional persons, or entirely other factors (a drought has been ongoing, causing a huge wildfire which burns half the local farmlands, driving a vast number of people to the temple, forcing Viktor to change his plans). This is exactly what I'm driving at, the world descriptions are too thin to constrain the possibilities, and actual simulation is simply not possible, or even desired.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
But ZERO about #1 has the slightest thing to do with simulation whatsoever.
Yes it does. RPG simulation =/= need for a highly complex scientific model. Just like the level of "informed" in an RPG needed to open a door =/= the level of "informed" you need to decided if you are going to take chemotherapy at 67 with brain cancer.

You keep trying to raise the bar on these things waaaaaaaaaaay beyond what is needed and used for an RPG.
You see the problem here?
No.
There's no model (mathematical or logical formulation/system of equations which calculates current state from prior state) and no good initial system state to run a model against. Its just some completely arbitrary statements about a very few of the people in this world coupled with some explication of one or two of their motives which happen to be salient to the topic at hand, and a few fairly vague statements about what "will happen" (not calculated, simply stated as truths).
You don't need such a model for an RPG to be a simulation. You can have different levels of standards for different aspects of something. A jury in a criminal trial needs to find someone guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt," but a jury in a civil trial just needs to find that there is a preponderance of evidence(more likely than not) to find someone liable. It's a much lower standard.

It's the same with RPGs and the concepts of "informed" and "simulation." The bar is much, much lower than here in the real world.
 


Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Aside III: on "fun"

"Fun" is not the goal of playing a game, it's a bare minimum requirement. A game being fun is like your meal being edible. The lowest possible bar to clear.

If the game isn't fun, then it utterly miserably spectacularly failed. "You do everything right as long as you didn't fail so badly you can feel liquid excrement flowing down your thighs" is an asinine idea.
What is beyond fun then?
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
This is only true if you mean "fun" in a very broad sense such that being miserable is "fun" sometimes.

Is losing or even TPKing fun? I hope not! Players should try to avoid it! But they should avoid it by taking better actions in future games, not by failing to show up at the game table next session.
I've been in situations where the party has been in an epic fight and lost. We died, but dang it was a fantastically fun adventure and end fight. Yes, we had fun TPKing! Usually it's not so fun, but sometimes it is. Same with losing. Losing is more often fun than TPKing because it leads to other challenges such as escape, revenge, etc. that are very fun.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Aside V: on skill

To be frank, I don't believe in "player skill" in RPGs, at least those which pride itself on it (like OSR), as there's no real way to measure even an approximation of it.

Even outside of all the high-level competitions with prizes and stuff, when someone says, "I've beaten Dark Souls" (or Sekiro, or Battle Toads, or Spongebob: Battle for Bikini Bottom), there's a shared understanding of what it took. I get what they say.

If someone says "I've beaten Tomb of Horrors" I have no damn clue what it means, because their Tomb of Horrors was unquestionably from the one I've played.

And, like, anecdotally, I've never met any good players in RPGs. I've met hot people with mesmerizing voices, awesome storytellers, people who can come up with cool evocative descriptions, people I enjoy playing with, but not once I've thought "damn, she is a top tier".

Conversely, I've never met any bad players in RPGs. I've met jerks, people who don't know the rules, people who don't understand the concept of a shower, and, worst of all, boring people, but not once I've thought "damn, this guy is a filthy, filthy n00b".

If there's a skill gap between a n00b and a god-tier capital G gamer in, say, dnd, I'm not convinced it's wider than the thickness of a PHB.
Player skill is a thing. Even with longtime players, there are players that I am just plain better than when it comes to game skill. Figuring things out, thinking on my feet, interacting with the environment, etc.

You don't need to set up an identical run of Tomb of horrors to tell which group is more skilled. You can tell by how they go through it. What they do. The level of care each group takes. And so on.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
Yes it does. RPG simulation =/= need for a highly complex scientific model. Just like the level of "informed" in an RPG needed to open a door =/= the level of "informed" you need to decided if you are going to take chemotherapy at 67 with brain cancer.
Perhaps one could see the authoring itself as reliant on simulation, the product of which is of course static... not a simulation. Under this view, Tolkien would be described as having a model of Middle Earth in mind and drawn conclusions from that model.

Above I argued that consent to such conclusions is their means of validation, and of course each reader largely and implicitly consents with Tolkien's "predictions" about Middle Earth.
 

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