"Gamist" vs "Simulationist"... FIGHT!


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Liberty's Edge

Lord Fyre wrote:
Heathansson wrote:
Eberron, and BO9S promised the same intense action movie rollercoaster ride, IIRC. Where's dead horse?
But, I think that was crosswiredmind's point about Eberron. D&D 4th Edition will allow the setting to make good on its "intense action movie rollercoaster ride" promise. :)

The Jehovah's Witnesses gave up predicting the end of the world after it didn't happen numerous times during WW I and WW II, and everybody became hip to their shenanigans. Just sayin...


Crosswiremind wrote:
I think 4e is the first edition to say - D&D is a gamist rules system and darn proud of it!

I totally agree with you... I always see DnD as pure gamist RPG... Is there any other RPG system that reward XP for killing monster? Is there other RPG build around the idea of a dungeoncrawl (kill monsters, get XP to level and take the treasure)? How could you explain that a level 10 fighter with 90 hp could jump from a 100 feet without having any fear of dying or even be wounded? I'm very amuse when people try to argue that 3e is more 'realistict or Simulationist' than 4E... Let`s face it, there is nothing realistic about any edition of DnD... 4E simply embrace this concept completly... and there is nothing wrong with that... I play DnD to fight Runelords, Dracolichs, Beholders, a army of Fire giants, to travel to a demonic plane and fight Demogorgon and his army, to kills 10 level 18 villains inside a dungeon under a volcano in irruption or why not, kill a god who try to unleash the age of worm on greyhawk... And all of this from level 1 to 20 (from zero to half-god) in less than a few weeks of campaign time... If simulationist mean to you the use of Craft and Profession Skills, I guess you forget a lot of gamist elements from you game to support this idea...

When I want to play a 'simulationist' RPG, I play Call of Cthulhu or Warhammer or Dark Heresy. There is some narrative or cinematic elements in those two game if you consider the use of Fate Points but nothing compare to the over the top of DnD: In Warhammer, your experience character could die from fighting a bunch of goblins as a lot of ennemies vs a single hero have real impact on a fight - one critical and splash! you just lose you left arm and you bleed to death... That`s not something that could ever happen in DnD...


etrigan wrote:
In Warhammer, your experience character could die from fighting a bunch of goblins as a lot of ennemies vs a single hero have real impact on a fight - one critical and splash! you just lose you left arm and you bleed to death... That`s not something that could ever happen in DnD.

To me, it sounds like a much more enjoyable game. Unfortunately, though, Nick Logue and Rich Pett don't write adventures to support Warhammer. They do for 3.X. So 3.X it is, despite its obvious shortcomings!

The Exchange

Kirth Gersen wrote:
crosswiredmind wrote:
I gravitate to 4e because I love cinematic/anime/comic book/video game pace and action.
Wow! You've sold me on NOT buying the 4e books... I personally can't stand any of that kind of stuff. Looks like Pathfinder it will be, for me! I owe you one, CWM; you've saved me a small fortune with one small post.

Cool. Glad I could help.

The Exchange

Kirth Gersen wrote:
etrigan wrote:
In Warhammer, your experience character could die from fighting a bunch of goblins as a lot of ennemies vs a single hero have real impact on a fight - one critical and splash! you just lose you left arm and you bleed to death... That`s not something that could ever happen in DnD.
To me, it sounds like a much more enjoyable game. Unfortunately, though, Nick Logue and Rich Pett don't write adventures to support Warhammer. They do for 3.X. So 3.X it is, despite its obvious shortcomings!

Personally I think Warhammer has some of the best adventures out there. The Paths of the Dammed series is awesome.

The Exchange

Lord Fyre wrote:
Heathansson wrote:
Eberron, and BO9S promised the same intense action movie rollercoaster ride, IIRC. Where's dead horse?
But, I think that was crosswiredmind's point about Eberron. D&D 4th Edition will allow the setting to make good on its "intense action movie rollercoaster ride" promise. :)

I have not tried Eberron with 4e rules. I am waiting til the official books hit the shelves. While reading through 4e that setting came to mind over and over. When they previewed the artificer i knew that Eberron was ahead of its time. I make no promises but i think 4e will fit Eberron better that 3e.

The Exchange

etrigan wrote:
In Warhammer, your experience character could die from fighting a bunch of goblins as a lot of ennemies vs a single hero have real impact on a fight - one critical and splash! you just lose you left arm and you bleed to death...

To me this is one of the hallmarks of a simulationist game. In Warhammer if you are out-numbered 3:1 each of your opponents gets +20% to hit. Suddenly those skaven with a weapon skill of 40% are up to 60% while you can only parry one of them with your paltry 50%.

RuneQuest is similar in that even the most powerful character is one critical to the head away from dropping dead. Suddenly the dozen Trollkin with slings looks like a real challenge.

Simulationist games need to be played smart because the realistic combat can get you dead quick.


crosswiredmind wrote:
D&D has always been pure gamist to me because armor makes you harder to hit and hit points spiral to ginormous proportions. D&D is all about unreality.

I think you have an issue of scale. (In addition to the whole "reality" has nothing to do with simulation thing)

Compared to other games, it is quite reasonable to call all versions of D&D gamist. That doesn't remotely make them all equal.

Compared to knitting, golf is a very athletic event. That does not make the claim that golf is as athletic as a triathalon accurate.

Dark Archive

What is important to remember is that Gamist/Simulationist/Narrativeist is that they're not mutually exclusive. You could have rules meant to help enable play(gamist) and be internally consistent and within the "reality"/fluff of the setting. Of course, there will be times where what is best according to gamist and simulationist thought will collide and be on opposite sides, but its not impossible to overcome such impasses, just extremely difficult. Also, a game will always be called by its most defining attribute even if it has qualities of the other 2.(This may explain why D&D is quite hard to nail down, as it always struck me as D&D tries to balance all 3 of these elements together. What may be the defining trait to one may not to another.)

My definations:

Gamist: Rules/Game Design that favors things that improve gameplay and playability.

Narrativeist: Rules/Game Design that favors a specific type(s) of story or outcome, such as the PCs beat the BBEG.

Simulationist: Rules/Game Design that is meant to make the game internally consistent and meant to model the "reality" of the setting/fluff.

These may or may not work together. For example

Having rules for wizards blowing up other peoples' heads with their mind may not be realistic, but if it happens in setting where people can do so then it Simulationist to do so. If those rules are quick, easy, and fun to use, then its also gamist to do so. On the other hand, such a power may be difficult to balance then gamist(balance) and simulationist(Why can't I do that?) concerns may be against each other.

Also, I read someone say all games are Narrativeist, which is also not true. Like I said above, Narrativeist favors a specific types of stories or outcomes, which isn't all the case for all RPGs. A RPG could very much so can favor no type of outcome at all. In a free-form RPG the game makes no assumptions about how the outcome the game will be (or even what type of story will be told), and will not include any rules/game design that favor certain types of play. A Narrativeist RPG where the PCs beat the BBEG might include rules/Game Design that favor the Players to better enable the outcome of PCs win where a Free-Form RPG will not, leaving the outcome of the game to the player's luck and skill.

Jon Brazer Enterprises

crosswiredmind wrote:
I think DMcCoy hit the nail on the head - 3e seems to be about fantasy literature and 4e is about fantasy cinema.

WOW! I didn't realize that I made such a good point that anyone would remember it all these months later. High Praise indeed. Thank you.

crosswiredmind wrote:
Life long D&D players have told me that it is a simulationist game. I see it as a gamist system that tries be a simulation, but it never lives up to that goal. I think 4e is the first edition to say - D&D is a gamist rules system and darn proud of it!

I'd agree with this. D&D is, always has been, and always will be a gamist game.

Personally I'm a narrativist. I started my adult gaming on Vampire and Exalted. Now I prefer games with a plot and build my characters less them "optimal" but have great role playing potential.

My definitions:

Gamist: The busyist player are the one that munchkins out their characters.
Simulationists: The busyist player is the one that understand the way the setting operates.
Narrativist: The busyist player is the one with the most creative backstory/ingame activities.


DMcCoy1693 wrote:

Gamist: The busiest player are the one that munchkins out their characters.

Simulationists: The busiest player is the one that understands the way the setting operates.
Narrativist: The busiest player is the one with the most creative backstory/ingame activities.

I'd agree with those, and with BM's as well. Two sets of exceptionally clear definitions. By those, I'd certainly be a simulationist first, a narrativist second, and a gamist third -- I like a good story, but not if it doesn't hold up to scrutiny, and has more holes than cheese cloth. If play is a but clunky, that sucks, but it sucks more to have a bad story or an uninteresting setting.

Liberty's Edge

CourtFool wrote:
Can it be 'improved' when people obviously want to take it in different directions?

Yes.

Very easily.
But it might have to become two divergent game systems.


Samuel Weiss wrote:
But it might have to become two divergent game systems.

Unfortunately, I'd just come to that same conclusion.

Liberty's Edge

Pangur Bàn wrote:

I don't get it. What about being based on similar mechanics as the PCs makes a monster not "just another monster", and what about not being based on the same mechanics as the PCs makes a villain not "really special"?

Furthermore, how are NPCs and monsters based on the same mechanics as the PCs in 3E given the existence of NPC classes and monstrous abilities? Cut to the bone, it's all numbers. How you get to these numbers may affect the qualification of a game as discussed in this thread, but from a player's POV that's irrelevant.

The mechanics for monster "classes" are inherently limited. Look at the CR modifiers for adding hit dice of various monster types. The best are equal to perpetual non-associated class levels. This is am implicit acknowledgement that monster "levels" are less useful than character levels.

This carries forward into 4E where adding a character template to a monster just makes it elite, something still far short of a PC.

By having monsters dependent on the same system of gaining skills and feats as characters, they are based on the same mechanics.
Likewise when you create an NPC it is both limited by and gains full access to all of the abilities of a PC of the same class and level.
This contrasts with 4E where those are always separated by the mechanical gulf between PCs and everything else.

Liberty's Edge

Heathansson wrote:
The Jehovah's Witnesses gave up predicting the end of the world after it didn't happen numerous times during WW I and WW II, and everybody became hip to their shenanigans. Just sayin...

*COUGH*

And:

"Indeed"

about your reply to the capitalism quip.

;)


The "Minions!" thread just got me thinking: is there room in Pathfinder for "simulationists"? The whole minions thing (see threads calling for their inclusion in 3.PF) is perfect "gamism" -- streamlining play at the expense of internal setting consistency -- and that seems to be a majority preference. The unfortunate discussion regarding the CotCC assassination scene ended with James Jacobs coming down hard on the "narritivist" side, when any conflict with "simulationism" might arise -- and that was also clearly a majority preference as well.

The thing is, in some cases, a bit more of one of these things can have a disporoportionately large negative effect on another. I'd actually prefer a balance that can support all three types of gamers be the norm, but we'll see how it goes. I am a bit concerned at being in such a small minority, however.

Liberty's Edge

crosswiredmind wrote:
I think DMcCoy hit the nail on the head - 3e seems to be about fantasy literature and 4e is about fantasy cinema. They both have gamist abstractions that emulate heroic fantasy but they look towards different media for inspiration. Geyhawk is a great 3e setting. Eberron, though released for 3e is a far better setting for 4e.

I would generally agree with that, although I think both still have related issues.

I think that from AD&D to 3E there was a shift from from the more classic heroic fantasy literature to a more modern approach that stressed the ensemble cast over the solo or duo. I think that is a key concept that is often overlooked, as most literary archetypes cited are simply not suitable for play when you have five or six people at the table.

crosswiredmind wrote:
Life long D&D players have told me that it is a simulationist game. I see it as a gamist system that tries be a simulation, but it never lives up to that goal. I think 4e is the first edition to say - D&D is a gamist rules system and darn proud of it!

Again, yes and no.

I think to a degree that stresses a conflict between simulation and game, leading into what Heathenson said about predictions.

Liberty's Edge

Samuel Weiss wrote:
Heathansson wrote:
The Jehovah's Witnesses gave up predicting the end of the world after it didn't happen numerous times during WW I and WW II, and everybody became hip to their shenanigans. Just sayin...

*COUGH*

And:

"Indeed"

about your reply to the capitalism quip.

;)

heh heh...


crosswiredmind wrote:
Kirth Gersen wrote:
etrigan wrote:
In Warhammer, your experience character could die from fighting a bunch of goblins as a lot of ennemies vs a single hero have real impact on a fight - one critical and splash! you just lose you left arm and you bleed to death... That`s not something that could ever happen in DnD.
To me, it sounds like a much more enjoyable game. Unfortunately, though, Nick Logue and Rich Pett don't write adventures to support Warhammer. They do for 3.X. So 3.X it is, despite its obvious shortcomings!
Personally I think Warhammer has some of the best adventures out there. The Paths of the Dammed series is awesome.

You guys may have just sold a copy of warhammer.


All you guys and your fancy book learning. Why not just say what you mean? Roleplayers vs. Rollplayers!


Nicolas Logue wrote:


Isn't "narrativist" in that list? Forge theory. Interesting stuff. Ripped off by so many people with no credit given (I'm looking at you 4E DMG!). ;-)

I'm a link to Forge Theory.

Dark Archive

Kirth Gersen wrote:

The "Minions!" thread just got me thinking: is there room in Pathfinder for "simulationists"? The whole minions thing (see threads calling for their inclusion in 3.PF) is perfect "gamism" -- streamlining play at the expense of internal setting consistency -- and that seems to be a majority preference. The unfortunate discussion regarding the CotCC assassination scene ended with James Jacobs coming down hard on the "narritivist" side, when any conflict with "simulationism" might arise -- and that was also clearly a majority preference as well.

The thing is, in some cases, a bit more of one of these things can have a disporoportionately large negative effect on another. I'd actually prefer a balance that can support all three types of gamers be the norm, but we'll see how it goes. I am a bit concerned at being in such a small minority, however.

You are not alone. I'm a simulationist first and foremost (followed by free-form and gamist respectively), and somewhat annoyed at just the concept of minions. It along with other things is what turned me off 4e, and why I took interest in PFRPG. PFRPG doesn't have the elements that turned me off to 4e. Namely, 1) The PC vs NPC/Monster gap, 2) The PC come first/are best/are Heroes tint to the game, 3) The rules are for the PCs and only for the PCs element to the game, and 4)All the little nagging bits that by themselves not bad, but when all piled up annoying and a turn off, such as minions and the 20% resale rate.

Why they annoy me?

1)Strikes me as absolute gamism in the worse possible way. 4e's monster design system is just the worst enemy of a simulationist. Add in I like as many options as possible, and my opinion that PCs/NPCs/Monsters should be built the same way, with monsters not having powers the PCs can't have themselves, and you can see why I feel this way.

2)I'm not a Narrativeist (Not that I don't like good stories, but I rather have the story be about the PCs' actions, not some premade or pre-laidout story.) but rather a Free-Form/Sandbox style gamer so this bit of "Forced" fluff isn't my cup of tea. I like to have as many options on the table when making my character, including things like being average, cowardly, and even less then heroic. It would be ignorable if WotC wasn't seemingly hellbent on making this the explanation for most of the rules. Its here and there all over the place, such as healing surges (which from my understanding, meant to represent your heroic resolve or some such).

3) The rules and stats don't make alot of sense once you remove the PCs. Anyone care to explain how minions work in a setting that doesn't involve changing their stats? Or how fights between 2 monsters work out? Alot of rules and stats are just there for the PCs, and turns off the simulationist in me.

These types of things bother me, and pushed me away from 4e. Now, 3e has its share of problems, but I'm comfortable with them. PFRPG will also likely have its share of problems. But I can live them. What attracts me to D&D is that when you get right down to it, it is generic fantasy. This is not a insult. By being Generic Fantasy, you're able to convert the game into whatever type of fantasy setting you want, with only some slight changes to the rules. This gives the game great flexibility in the settings you can do, while not having to learn new rules. I was even able to come up with a (unplayed sadly) Final Fantasy-sqe setting by mixing Core and elements of BESM d20 together, with minimal fuss. 3e always struck me as trying to balance Gamist/Narrativeist/Simulationist concerns giving it flexibility and I always appreciated that.

As for Paizo, it shouldn't be much of a surprise they lean into the narrativeist side. They have made a point between a good story and rules, they favor the story. They're adventure writers first and foremost. They always have talked about Pathfinder is about the types of stories that they want to tell, and they make or changes rules to tell the story that they want to. In fact, that why (or the biggest reason they have given) they have decided to make PFRPG, then it should be very clear that rules to them are secondary to the story.

Of course, I don't care for APs, and the things that I do like, such as the PFCS/Golarion book and PFRPG are the least likely to be affected by Paizo's Narrativeist approach to gaming, so I don't mind buying their stuff. But I can understand if people who consider themselves simulationist caught in the middle of WotC gamist approach and Paizo's Narrative approach.

Come to think of it, what are some good RPGs for the Simulationist crowd? I know about GURPS, And I would advise Shadowrun for a cyberpunk setting(I'm surprised it wasn't counted a simulationist game myself, though I admit I have very limited experience with it), but what else is there?

Note: Preemptive cut-off, My post isn't attempt to bash 4e but the list of my complaints about 4e spun off when I started talking about minions and some of the other complaints I had with 4e, and figured someone would take question to them. I then added more detailed explanations to clarify my position/opinion. That is all. If you have a problem with them, please take them to another thread. Do not threadjack this thread. Thank you.

BM, concerned the internet, being the internet, will find someone to threadjack the topic into a 4e thread over a small part of his post.


Samuel Weiss wrote:


And yet on a fundamental level 4E does not have such different rules, at least not any more than 3E did, for PCs vs. Monsters. It does for PCs vs. NPCs, and any NPC level advanced Monsters, but the essential design of Monsters is just as different from that of PCs in 3E as it is in 4E. Only the number of factors absolutely set by charts is different.

And while that may apply to a simulationist point of view, in a narrativist portrayal you will have very stark differences between those intended as protagonists, those intended as antagonists, and those intended as mere fluff. You will likewise have significant differences between those antagonists intended as complete "unheroes" (anti-hero is not really a proper term for them), and those intended as merely "big monsters".

Oddly enough, up to here I totally agree with you.

Samuel Weiss wrote:


This is where it is key to distinguish what you are simulating, and where 4E experiences a design failure. In service to a pure gamist approach they destroy a simulationist element that is key to narrativist immersion. Yes, it is super easy to make an NPC to be killed now. Said NPC has all the depth of any wandering monster, and thus loses a massive amount of the satisfaction defeating it should produce, something that appears regularly in 3E.

Or, without the jargon:
If it is just another monster, what is the big deal about killing it? How do I make a really special villain in 4E?
You cannot. And that is the problem.

But here you completely loose me. My major villain is my major villain because of all the elements I give to him or her. One of the aspects I like about 4E is that the rules often just get the hell out of my way when I'm crafting a story.

When I think of RotRLs I have to say I have a bit of an issue with the final BBEG. He's an excellent example of the rules being internally consistent and applying to both the characters and the villains - he's a high level wizard. But I'm less happy with him as a major villain. He's an ancient lord of Greed - a master of eldritch powers lost to the dusts of time - but he really just kind of seems like a high level wizard to me. If I were telling that story in 4E, when it came to this guy, it would be all about the ancient eldritch magic.

Hence I tend to really like 4E monster design since it seems keyed to allow me to concentrate less on those characters that do not need to be explored in depth but allows me to take a character that really needs a lot more work devoted to it and design something thats made specifically to tell the story I want to tell.


Heathansson wrote:
Eberron, and BO9S promised the same intense action movie rollercoaster ride, IIRC. Where's dead horse?

I can't speak for Bo9S but I think they did a pretty good job with Eberron.


crosswiredmind wrote:


I gravitate to 4e because I love cinematic/anime/comic book/video game pace and action. Among my favorite games are 7th Sea, d6 Star Wars, and Paranoia. They all stress fast paced, rules lite role playing.

Life long D&D players have told me that it is a simulationist game. I see it as a gamist system that tries be a simulation, but it never lives up to that goal. I think 4e is the first edition to say - D&D is a gamist rules system and darn proud of it!

Well my video games are usually wargames (lots of PBEM Operational Art of War) and I don't care for comic books or Anime - but I really agree with you that its cinematic, though I tend to think of it more in terms of a movie - hopefully a good movie like The Bourne Identity.


DMcCoy1693 wrote:


My definitions:

Gamist: The busyist player are the one that munchkins out their characters.
Simulationists: The busyist player is the one that understand the way the setting operates.
Narrativist: The busyist player is the one with the most creative backstory/ingame activities.

I can't say I agree with this. I think 4E is pretty gamist and yet, by this definition it would seem that 3.5 is more gamist since I'm much more capable of munchkinizing my character if I so choose. The clear emphasis on play balance in 4E makes it much more difficult and far less rewarding to focus on being a munchkin.

Another aspect to consider is - is it munchkining when your concentrating on feats like Skill Focus in order to advance the plot. We lost 2 of 3 Skill Challanges on Monday night and this caused a bit of a rift among the players with some of the players accusing others of "munchkinizing to the point of being detrimental to party success".

This actually brings us to a lightly unusual place. Because significant sums of our XP now come for being able to successfully navigate varous Skill Challenges is one a 'Munchkin' if they avoid concentrating to much on combat enhancements in order to be better in out of combat situations?

Does the answer change if this was not about the XP and was simply because we did not want to feel like failures? In the argument that took place I was probably the only player at the table that understood that we were loosing XP. The rest of the players did not own the DMG and hence did not realize that there was XP tied up in this mechanic.

Liberty's Edge

Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
But here you completely loose me. My major villain is my major villain because of all the elements I give to him or her. One of the aspects I like about 4E is that the rules often just get the hell out of my way when I'm crafting a story.

While that is certainly a nice marketing sound bite, I find it impossible to accept as true in practice given the structure of the 4E rules.

You will not, without actively ignoring the rules, be able to craft a villain outside a specific range of monster levels relative to the party.
You will not, without actively ignoring the rules, be able to craft support for that villain outside a specific range of total encounter xp.
You will not, without actively ignoring the rules, be able to assign a role to the villain.
You will not, without ignoring the rules, be able to set up extensive non-combat abilities for the villain.
You will not, without actively subverting the rules, be able to equip the villain with an extensive range of tools.

The rules define what constitutes encounters, and because of this presumed gamist nature, you will, however much it is repeated that the rules get out of your way, ultimately restricted to them at the risk of catastrophic disruption of the basic probabilities expected in combat. The rules force on you a mathematical formula for encounters that you must abide by or risk the failure of your story when it collides with their (the designers) game matrix.

Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
When I think of RotRLs I have to say I have a bit of an issue with the final BBEG. He's an excellent example of the rules being internally consistent and applying to both the characters and the villains - he's a high level wizard. But I'm less happy with him as a major villain. He's an ancient lord of Greed - a master of eldritch powers lost to the dusts of time - but he really just kind of seems like a high level wizard to me. If I were telling that story in 4E, when it came to this guy, it would be all about the ancient eldritch magic.

Except that ancient eldritch magic would be defined by six powers, eight if we assume that RotRL really ends at epic level instead of paragon level. Eight. At most. And maybe some off camera rituals whose effects are never actually seen. Theoretically, as an extreme excerise, you could design an entire "Runelord (Greed) power set", similar to the warlock pact power sets.

This contrasts with the background given in RotRL, where a variant of specialization defines each rune path, thus limiting and supporting spell selection, as well as presenting motives. Combined with a prestige class, a variety of unique magic items, and a few special abilities, it can include a lot more than eight specially designed "surprise" powers.

In 4E, a monster is limited to the mathematical definitions of monsters always, with almost no leeway beyond constantly creating new fluff to go with powers designed within other mathematical definitions.
In 3E, those limitations are more open ended as defined by the sheer variety of character building combinations. It is still constrained by a number of mathematical definitions, too constrained perhaps, but that involves a comparison to 1st ed, but still much less so than 4E.

Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
Hence I tend to really like 4E monster design since it seems keyed to allow me to concentrate less on those characters that do not need to be explored in depth but allows me to take a character that really needs a lot more work devoted to it and design something thats made specifically to tell the story I want to tell.

I am currently creating a slew of NPCs for my online game. I am in no way required to concetrate excessively on the supporting ones except in terms of equipment, which is significant. Everything else requires pretty much the same amount of calculating as it would in 4E for all the assorted values, with a bit of decision to be made about what feats support the intended role. And for even gruntier grunts and not-so-random encounters, that is what "See MM XXX" is for.

If 3E had one really annoying flaw, it was the "Reams O' Tables" Campaign/Adventure/Encounter design approach. If it could be turned into a table it was, and then some. While 1st ed featured the ever-classic Wandering Whore Table, as well as numerous random tables for a slew of things under the sun (and 1st level of the dungeon), 3E took it too far, and took too much freedom away from design based on the core rules.
Rather than back down from that and truly free DMs from the "tyranny" of tables, 4E embraced this to a level previously unattained, and made what should have been a more fast and loose system as in 1st ed even more subjected to those tables, and forced all stories to always consider the rules. Indeed, that is the nature of it being gamist. It is a game, with absolute rules.
And that makes the assertion of 4E being the gamist system that gets the rules out of the way of creating your narrative that simulates a particular style a harsh oxymoron. A gamist system can never have rules that get out of your way. If it did, it would be simulationist or narrativist.

Note:
"You" above is intended as a generic impersonal pronoun. Any individual person will manage any individual task in their own manner, even when such contradicts how whatever task is "supposed" to be done.
This is why I take such issue with all the 4E advertising of "You cannot do this with 3E." I very much can. If the 4E designers cannot, that is their problem.
Likewise I am sure people can design outside the bounds of the 4E tables. Past a certain point, that puts the design outside the intended design parameters of the system, and into house rules that are unlikely to be respresentative of the game as written.

Liberty's Edge

Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
This actually brings us to a lightly unusual place. Because significant sums of our XP now come for being able to successfully navigate varous Skill Challenges is one a 'Munchkin' if they avoid concentrating to much on combat enhancements in order to be better in out of combat situations?

Have you ever seen a barshal face? (A multiclass bard/marshal with Diplomacy and Gather Information.)

"Munchkin" is way too mild a term for such characters.


Samuel Weiss wrote:
Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
But here you completely loose me. My major villain is my major villain because of all the elements I give to him or her. One of the aspects I like about 4E is that the rules often just get the hell out of my way when I'm crafting a story.

While that is certainly a nice marketing sound bite, I find it impossible to accept as true in practice given the structure of the 4E rules.

You will not, without actively ignoring the rules, be able to craft a villain outside a specific range of monster levels relative to the party.

Yes and No. Yes - if you PCs plan to fight the villain and are expected to triumph. No - if the Villain is just going to appear on the scene and the plot is really about the players trying to escape and not fight.

We are told that creatures that are far above the level of the party are likely to kill them and this is generally a bad thing but nothing in the book is meant to imply that we can't up the level of a villian if, for example, the PCs have found the lost weapon of power and thats going to significantly even the odds.

Samuel Weiss wrote:


You will not, without actively ignoring the rules, be able to craft support for that villain outside a specific range of total encounter xp.

Essentially the same answer as above. Almost always yes but circumstances can effect this and I don't believe anything in the 4E DMG says otherwise. Nor do I believe that WotC is going to be rejecting Dungeon submissions that face the PCs with hard challenges that they can overcome due to the things they have gained or knowledge they have leaned within the plot.

Samuel Weiss wrote:


You will not, without actively ignoring the rules, be able to assign a role to the villain.

Actually they would all get a role pretty much but it'd be a monster role. That said the roles actually pair off fairly closely.

Samuel Weiss wrote:


You will not, without ignoring the rules, be able to set up extensive non-combat abilities for the villain.

The villain will have whatever non combat encounters he needs for the plot line. Dark Necromatic types will have skeletal minions because they are Dark Necromatic types. He will clearly have the ability to raise the dead and make them serve him - it may well be that he has no powers in his stat block that explicitly gives him this ability - he has it because teh story calls for it.

Nothing in teh 4E DMG says that evil cultists can't perform profane rituals to summon horrible demons.

Samuel Weiss wrote:


You will not, without actively subverting the rules, be able to equip the villain with an extensive range of tools.

The DMG gives us a table that allows us to mostly skip over the tools but nothing limits us from handing them out. Its clear from some of the encounters in the modules that handing out such tools is encouraged if they are going to become treasure for the PCs. Essentially this is the smae answer as above - the villian has whatever tools are needed for the plot. If he is a cat burgler then he has cat burgler tools. If he is a sword smith then he probably has sword smith tools.

Samuel Weiss wrote:


The rules define what constitutes encounters, and because of this presumed gamist nature, you will, however much it is repeated that the rules get out of your way, ultimately restricted to them at the risk of catastrophic disruption of the basic probabilities expected in combat. The rules force on you a mathematical formula for encounters that you must abide by or risk the failure of your story when it collides with their (the designers) game matrix.

Yes - absolutely. The system is gamist and the rules are designed to help me not screw up and create an encounter that does not fit my needs - which almost always means some level of challenging but beatable unless I'm actively designing an encounter thats not meant to be at all fair, presumably for story reasons.

I see these elements as being part and parcel of the 'rules getting out of my way.' I'm given clear tools that tell me what ranges I need to keep my encounters in on key stats in order to get the effect I am looking for. Their fairly straightforward and allow me to quickly move past this aspect of encounter design and focus more on the fluff elements of my encounter. Its essentially a promise (we'll see if its one they keep but their actively nerfing power synergies that damage game balance keeps me hopeful) taht so long as I don't stray to far from these parameters and it will all be good.


Samuel Weiss wrote:
Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:


When I think of RotRLs I have to say I have a bit of an issue with the final BBEG. He's an excellent example of the rules being internally consistent and applying to both the characters and the villains - he's a high level wizard. But I'm less happy with him as a major villain. He's an ancient lord of Greed - a master of eldritch powers lost to the dusts of time - but he really just kind of seems like a high level wizard to me. If I were telling that story in 4E, when it came to this guy, it would be all about the ancient eldritch magic.

Except that ancient eldritch magic would be defined by six powers, eight if we assume that RotRL really ends at epic level instead of paragon level. Eight. At most. And maybe some off camera rituals whose effects are never actually seen.

Yes - absolutely.

Samuel Weiss wrote:


Theoretically, as an extreme excerise, you could design an entire "Runelord (Greed) power set", similar to the warlock pact power sets.
This contrasts with the background given in RotRL, where a variant of specialization defines each rune path, thus limiting and supporting spell selection, as well as presenting motives. Combined with a prestige class, a variety of unique magic items, and a few special abilities, it can include a lot more than eight specially designed "surprise" powers.

You could do this but it defeats the whole point of monster design in 4E in the first place.

The whole idea is to write whatever your villian needs for the background of the adventure into the plot line - if he is an evil prince he needs to have men at arms that follow his command is presumed to have as much gold as he needs to pay for whatever it is the DM has decided. Can he hire a band of assasins? If the DM says so then of course. All true in 3.5 as well of course.

However when it comes to an actual showdown with the villain he is defined by the powers he will use in that show down and those powers are tailored to his character concept. I don't need to design a whole class to make a Rune Lord of Greed - I just need to give him six or eight powers that will make it clear that he is a master of ancient eldritch magic of a certain flavour.

Now we can say that part of the flavour is a lack of certain styles of magic and I'd certianly be on board with the idea that I don't want to include powers that simulate verbotten styles of magic. That said beyond avoiding that style of magic I'd probably not focus to much on this aspect on the assumption that its very difficult to convey flavour through such a negative. Generally I want my Rune Lord of Greed to be actively showing the PCs why he is, well, The Rune Lord of Greed.

Liberty's Edge

Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
Yes and No. Yes - if you PCs plan to fight the villain and are expected to triumph. No - if the Villain is just going to appear on the scene and the plot is really about the players trying to escape and not fight.

Deus ex machina encounters go both ways, and both are rather thoroughly unsatisfying.

Such a plot structure results in you either having to hardwire in a specific power for said escape, along with hardwiring in automatic success for using it, or hardwire in gratuitous handwaving. The first is an example of how the rules get in your way no matter what. For the second, if a villain can just escape "because the plot says he has to", then it takes away a considerable amount of interaction and control of the flow of the story from the players. That almost always winds up as exceptionally bad design.

Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
We are told that creatures that are far above the level of the party are likely to kill them and this is generally a bad thing but nothing in the book is meant to imply that we can't up the level of a villian if, for example, the PCs have found the lost weapon of power and thats going to significantly even the odds.

When macguffin fights handwavium, you lose your gamist structure almost completely.

Yes, you most certainly can do it, you just invalidate the principle at hand.

Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
Essentially the same answer as above. Almost always yes but circumstances can effect this and I don't believe anything in the 4E DMG says otherwise. Nor do I believe that WotC is going to be rejecting Dungeon submissions that face the PCs with hard challenges that they can overcome due to the things they have gained or knowledge they have leaned within the plot.

Actually I am certain of that. Indeed, given the level 8 monster in the first part of the adventure path, I am rather certain they already realize some critical issues with the straightjackets of their rules.

And as above, when you reject the gamist rules, it essentially concedes the point that the rules are in fact getting in the way of design and you must start ignoring them, defeating the whole purpose of having them.

Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
Actually they would all get a role pretty much but it'd be a monster role. That said the roles actually pair off fairly closely.

They do, but that might not be what is desired.

Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:

The villain will have whatever non combat encounters he needs for the plot line. Dark Necromatic types will have skeletal minions because they are Dark Necromatic types. He will clearly have the ability to raise the dead and make them serve him - it may well be that he has no powers in his stat block that explicitly gives him this ability - he has it because teh story calls for it.

Nothing in teh 4E DMG says that evil cultists can't perform profane rituals to summon horrible demons.

Not directly, no. But there is an implied rules structure of needing ritual casting to perform rituals. By stepping outside that with the handwaving of the requirement because they are villains, you step away from a structure.

Similarly if you have the ultimate commander of swarms of fanatical lackeys have a Charisma of 8, or equivalent thereof.
Sure you can do it, and yes the gamist structure already concedes any semblance to internal consistency, but the result ultimately defies the gamist nature when the players ask "How within the rules?" and the only answer is "The rules let the monsters cheat." In the long run that is rarely satisfying.

Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
The DMG gives us a table that allows us to mostly skip over the tools but nothing limits us from handing them out. Its clear from some of the encounters in the modules that handing out such tools is encouraged if they are going to become treasure for the PCs. Essentially this is the smae answer as above - the villian has whatever tools are needed for the plot. If he is a cat burgler then he has cat burgler tools. If he is a sword smith then he probably has sword smith tools.

I meant an array of magic items. And there is in fact a rule to cover such.

Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
Yes - absolutely. The system is gamist and the rules are designed to help me not screw up and create an encounter that does not fit my needs - which almost always means some level of challenging but beatable unless I'm actively designing an encounter thats not meant to be at all fair, presumably for story reasons.

No, the rules are designed to help you not screw up and create an encounter that does not fit the math that the system can handle. Your needs are secondary to the inherent balance of the system. That is the credo of 4E, and by its assertion that of a gamist rules structure. Game balance first, then . . . whatever.

Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
I see these elements as being part and parcel of the 'rules getting out of my way.' I'm given clear tools that tell me what ranges I need to keep my encounters in on key stats in order to get the effect I am looking for. Their fairly straightforward and allow me to quickly move past this aspect of encounter design and focus more on the fluff elements of my encounter. Its essentially a promise (we'll see if its one they keep but their actively nerfing power synergies that damage game balance keeps me hopeful) taht so long as I don't stray to far from these parameters and it will all be good.

Except they are not out of the way. That is the very definition of omnipresent. You know that to go beyond those parameters is to risk the game not functioning.

To some degree that is essential in any game system.
Past that point it inhibits the potential of the narrative.
I do agree, they do appear to be cutting off the heads of any wheat stalks that dare to lift above their fellows. That is yet another symptom of putting game balance before everything. There are too many reductio ad absurdams that follow from that, most of which are unappealing.

Liberty's Edge

Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
Yes - absolutely.

And to me that would be significantly less satisfying than what exists.

You could do this but it defeats the whole point of monster design in 4E in the first place.

Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:

The whole idea is to write whatever your villian needs for the background of the adventure into the plot line - if he is an evil prince he needs to have men at arms that follow his command is presumed to have as much gold as he needs to pay for whatever it is the DM has decided. Can he hire a band of assasins? If the DM says so then of course. All true in 3.5 as well of course.

However when it comes to an actual showdown with the villain he is defined by the powers he will use in that show down and those powers are tailored to his character concept. I don't need to design a whole class to make a Rune Lord of Greed - I just need to give him six or eight powers that will make it clear that he is a master of ancient eldritch magic of a certain flavour.

Yes and no.

If you use an NPC template, you would inevitably have to create such a path. Indeed you might want to if you used similar NPCs in the future.
If however you just create him as a simple monster you still inevitably come to the point of selecting powers. When you do, the default is to create them, essentially bringing you right back to the first option. The only difference is in what you name it. And indeed using the whole "shifty is a goblin power, but if your goblin has too many powers you could just drop it and it would still be a goblin" concept they espoused in another article, you likely could just create a Rune Lord of Greed trait that all such cultists possess unless it is not needed.
Use as many different terms for the same function as you like, eventually someone will realize what is going on and ask who the emperor's new clothes designer is.

Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
Now we can say that part of the flavour is a lack of certain styles of magic and I'd certianly be on board with the idea that I don't want to include powers that simulate verbotten styles of magic. That said beyond avoiding that style of magic I'd probably not focus to much on this aspect on the assumption that its very difficult to convey flavour through such a negative. Generally I want my Rune Lord of Greed to be actively showing the PCs why he is, well, The Rune Lord of Greed.

Theoretically, sure.

It essentially resolves to my issues with 4E being utterly horrible implementations of really great base concepts. Which inevitably affects how I view its claims of being gamist and thus different, and implied superior.

(Side Note: I am so glad I got in the habit of copying all replies before sending them. Another timeout loss prevented. ;))


Samuel Weiss wrote:


If 3E had one really annoying flaw, it was the "Reams O' Tables" Campaign/Adventure/Encounter design approach. If it could be turned into a table it was, and then some. While 1st ed featured the ever-classic Wandering Whore Table, as well as numerous random tables for a slew of things under the sun (and 1st level of the dungeon), 3E took it too far, and took too much freedom away from design based on the core rules.
Rather than back down from that and truly free DMs from the "tyranny" of tables, 4E embraced this to a level previously unattained, and made what should have been a more fast and loose system as in 1st ed even more subjected to those tables, and forced all stories to always consider the rules. Indeed, that is the nature of it being gamist. It is a game, with absolute rules.
And that makes the assertion of 4E being the gamist system that gets the rules out of the way of creating your narrative that simulates a particular style a harsh oxymoron.

You seem to be asserting that a gamist system can't be rules lite. I disagree. Even beyond this I'm not really sure what 'number of tables per page of rules' really has to do with whether or not the rules are getting in my way. Ultimately it really comes down to what is on those tables and how they are intended to be used. In particular 4E gives one meta-level, gamist, tables meant to tell us what stats are needed for a balanced encounter. 3.5 gives us, well its not really a table so much as a system, a system meant to tell us what an abberation is like at varous levels of power.

I can decide to steal the Aliens from the Aliens Trilogy using both 3.5 and 4E but they probably play out very differently in each edition. In 4E I am concentrating on the roles in the story of the varous aliens - face huggers are minions the Queen is a Solo. Other Aliens are probably Lurkers. They are all designed to be balanced with my parties level in mind.

In 3.5 I presumably have abberations of varous HD. I can balance them for my parties level but I'm spending a lot of time trying to get face huggers to be weak in HD but still a dangerous threat while making the Queen an effective encounter even all alone against a full party of PCs.

I can do this adventure in both editions but the monster type abberation, did very little for me in terms of making effective encounters. For that I'm going to probably be relying on an extensive list of feats and other abilities meant to heavily boost my face huggers BAB or give my Queen some staying power.

This is part of where I have difficulty with your contention that making creatures for 4E is as complex or more so then 3.5. In the above example I need three creatures to fulfil certain roles in my adventure based on some movie material that I am totally ripping off. I get there very quickly by simply looking at what level I need these monsters to be, giving them some roles or templates and then its off to the stage where I'm thinking 'what are some cool powers for a Queen based on her blood being acid?'.

In 3.5 I suspect that my first order of business is realizing that 3 HD Face Huggers don't have enough feats for me to use feats as a way of pumping up the BAB. If feats are not going to do it, and I know I'm going to need a good BAB to even touch most of the party, then I'm going to have to go with either a BAB boosting exceptional ability or I'll need a way to bypass AC. Once I do give the face hugger some of these exceptional abilities we are back to the stage of deciding what CR they are now that I have made a 3 HD monster that can reasonably hit, say AC 28. Now I obvously can't speak to your experience with 3.5 but I've done a lot of encounters myself and it is very common for me to be swapping feats and such just to insure that the adventures encounter will be a reasonable challange for my players. In 4E I move very quickly past this stage (I consulted a table - it gave me the answer) and am soon concentrating on whats interesting about my creatures and what I should use as supporting fluff.

Essentially this is what I mean by the rules getting out of my way. They gave me an answer and I quickly moved on to adventure design. In 3.5 I'm spending a lot more time swapping out feats, designing special abilities or buying equipment meant to simply keep my baddies operating against my players. Its for this reason that, as a 3.5 DM, I'll state that I love the Magic Item Compendium. Its chalk full of cheap items I can give my Bad guys that will allow them to not be completely shut down by my players potent baddie nerfing abilities. third eye freedom is an excellent way to overcome grappling and to move through a solid fog, boots of leaping can get you back on your feet if your being tripped by the half giant etc. In my 3.5 game I don't make a humanoid enemy without including a stage where I go through the tables at the back of that book and pick out some items to help the Bad Guy challange my players. In 4E I skip this stage completely unless I have a compelling story reason why I want my bad guy to have a certain magic item.

Samuel Weiss wrote:


A gamist system can never have rules that get out of your way. If it did, it would be simulationist or narrativist.

narrativist sure but simulationist systems are usually rules heavy. Its generally the entire point of a simulationist system to be rules heavy so that the game system can realistically reflect whatever is being simulated.


Um, since when did "Minions" become a gamist concept/action movie concept.

I've read BOTH LotR and Conan and they both CLEARLY have minions...


I'm going to regret wading in on this - I just know it...

For me, personally:

A simulation is the taste, the flavour, the emotion of the situation. When the players imagination can feel the sand around their feet, or respond with real emotion to a story event - it's something like a simulation. For me that's more of a simulation than being able to calculate the exact effect of a shotgun wound to a knee.

A gamist situation would be one where the players are looking more at their character sheets than at the movie in their minds. Where statistical might is a more overiding objective than avenging the temple murders.

And as for system? The more familiar everyone is with rules/house rules, the easier it is avoid ooc discussion and to create an imaginative simulationist situation.

Just the mad old rantings of someone who still runs AD&D for exactly the reason described above.


DMcCoy1693 wrote:

Gamist: The busyist player are the one that munchkins out their characters.

Simulationists: The busyist player is the one that understand the way the setting operates.
Narrativist: The busyist player is the one with the most creative backstory/ingame activities.

I like this quote a lot.


Samuel Weiss wrote:

Have you ever seen a barshal face? (A multiclass bard/marshal with Diplomacy and Gather Information.)

"Munchkin" is way too mild a term for such characters.

Sounds like the prestige class "Director of Marketing".

*Looks around cautiously*

Dark Archive

Bleach wrote:

Um, since when did "Minions" become a gamist concept/action movie concept.

I've read BOTH LotR and Conan and they both CLEARLY have minions...

When you get into game design. 4e and the current favorite line of thought implements minions by giving them binary HP (1 and 0, or Alive and Dead) with otherwise normal stats. This has internal consistency problems, as Kobold #1042 can get killed by a stiff breeze, while Kobold #5 can take 30 stabs to the chest but otherwise be identical. Further, minions are only minions in comparison to PCs. When Kobold #1042 gos and threatens a commoner, he is no longer a minion, but rather something else. That is a gamist convention, that violates internal consistency making it anti-simulationist.

Sovereign Court

etrigan wrote:
Crosswiremind wrote:
I think 4e is the first edition to say - D&D is a gamist rules system and darn proud of it!

I totally agree with you... I always see DnD as pure gamist RPG... Is there any other RPG system that reward XP for killing monster? Is there other RPG build around the idea of a dungeoncrawl (kill monsters, get XP to level and take the treasure)? How could you explain that a level 10 fighter with 90 hp could jump from a 100 feet without having any fear of dying or even be wounded? I'm very amuse when people try to argue that 3e is more 'realistict or Simulationist' than 4E... Let`s face it, there is nothing realistic about any edition of DnD... 4E simply embrace this concept completly... and there is nothing wrong with that... I play DnD to fight Runelords, Dracolichs, Beholders, a army of Fire giants, to travel to a demonic plane and fight Demogorgon and his army, to kills 10 level 18 villains inside a dungeon under a volcano in irruption or why not, kill a god who try to unleash the age of worm on greyhawk... And all of this from level 1 to 20 (from zero to half-god) in less than a few weeks of campaign time... If simulationist mean to you the use of Craft and Profession Skills, I guess you forget a lot of gamist elements from you game to support this idea...

When I want to play a 'simulationist' RPG, I play Call of Cthulhu or Warhammer or Dark Heresy. There is some narrative or cinematic elements in those two game if you consider the use of Fate Points but nothing compare to the over the top of DnD: In Warhammer, your experience character could die from fighting a bunch of goblins as a lot of ennemies vs a single hero have real impact on a fight - one critical and splash! you just lose you left arm and you bleed to death... That`s not something that could ever happen in DnD...

No one is saying that D&D doesn't have a lot of gamist elements to it, but they've been around long enough for us to be comfortable with. 4E has introduced a lot of even more gamist elements that are really difficult for many gamers to get on board with. 4E has regeneration (healing surges) for everyone, you take damge and become "bloodied" and "dying" from low morale and fatigue instead of actual, pysical damage, and you have class abilities that make no sense in the context of the game world which are extremely unrealistic even in D&D (paladin's divine challenge) that exist just to help the class fill a certain combat "role".

Sovereign Court

Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
Samuel Weiss wrote:


And yet on a fundamental level 4E does not have such different rules, at least not any more than 3E did, for PCs vs. Monsters. It does for PCs vs. NPCs, and any NPC level advanced Monsters, but the essential design of Monsters is just as different from that of PCs in 3E as it is in 4E. Only the number of factors absolutely set by charts is different.

And while that may apply to a simulationist point of view, in a narrativist portrayal you will have very stark differences between those intended as protagonists, those intended as antagonists, and those intended as mere fluff. You will likewise have significant differences between those antagonists intended as complete "unheroes" (anti-hero is not really a proper term for them), and those intended as merely "big monsters".

Oddly enough, up to here I totally agree with you.

Samuel Weiss wrote:


This is where it is key to distinguish what you are simulating, and where 4E experiences a design failure. In service to a pure gamist approach they destroy a simulationist element that is key to narrativist immersion. Yes, it is super easy to make an NPC to be killed now. Said NPC has all the depth of any wandering monster, and thus loses a massive amount of the satisfaction defeating it should produce, something that appears regularly in 3E.

Or, without the jargon:
If it is just another monster, what is the big deal about killing it? How do I make a really special villain in 4E?
You cannot. And that is the problem.

But here you completely loose me. My major villain is my major villain because of all the elements I give to him or her. One of the aspects I like about 4E is that the rules often just get the hell out of my way when I'm crafting a story.

When I think of RotRLs I have to say I have a bit of an issue with the final BBEG. He's an excellent example of the rules being internally consistent and applying to both the characters and the villains - he's a high level wizard. But I'm less happy with him as a...

I understand where you are coming from, but would this guy really feel like a lord of ancient, eldritch magic in 4E? He'd basically be a huge pile of hit points with 2 or 3 (maybe 4) different magical attacks that would be pretty subpar compared to the PCs abilities. He'd also be pretty vulnerable without a bunch of minions, brutes ,or sodliers to keep the PC's off of him while he hits them with with his "spells". At least in 3.5, barrring surprisingly good luck on the PC's part, he could be quite formidable and have enough magical defenses up to keep him in the fight for a while.

Sovereign Court

Bleach wrote:

Um, since when did "Minions" become a gamist concept/action movie concept.

I've read BOTH LotR and Conan and they both CLEARLY have minions...

They could just as easily be 3.5 1st level orc warriors as 4E minions.

The Exchange

Arcane Joe wrote:
A simulation is the taste, the flavour, the emotion of the situation. When the players imagination can feel the sand around their feet, or respond with real emotion to a story event - it's something like a simulation. For me that's more of a simulation than being able to calculate the exact effect of a shotgun wound to a knee.

I like that. However, my experience has been that players get pulled out of the immersion of the game when the mechanics get wonky. The first time the rules create a situation that breaks the willing suspension of disbelief then the simulation (using your definition) crashes and the game drops back into rule play. Sure, you can ignore the rules or house rule the situation but some of these kinds of problems are systemic and cannot simply be waved off.

The most immersive role playing I have ever experienced occurred while using simulationist rules. By simulationist I mean rules that made every effort to have the mechanics reflect reality. There were very few moments where the "simulation", in the immersive sense, broke down to reveal the rules behind the curtain.

I think gamist rules systems can also provide for immersive play so long as the rules themselves work smoothly and the fantastical elements can be accepted. As long as the rules do not force the players to pause and question them then the immersion can continue. I just do not see that as a simulation.

The Exchange

WotC's Nightmare wrote:
No one is saying that D&D doesn't have a lot of gamist elements to it, but they've been around long enough for us to be comfortable with.

Well, there is the rub. When I read the reviews of 4e from folks that have not played much D&D they do not seem to be bothered by any of the elements you mentioned. They see the current definition of HP as being equally as odd as the old system for HP. 4e is no more gamist than 3e but the gamist elements of 3e do not distract you from the immersive nature of the game. For me - I can accept the new "gamism" of 4e because I see it as allowing for immersion in the kind of play style that suits my tastes.


crosswiredmind wrote:
The most immersive role playing I have ever experienced occurred while using simulationist rules. By simulationist I mean rules that made every effort to have the mechanics reflect reality. There were very few moments where the "simulation", in the immersive sense, broke down to reveal the rules behind the curtain.

That's why I hate sped-up film and excessive CGI; it's like a giant poster on screen saying "HEY! YOU'RE WATCHING A MOVIE!" Monkey Grip does the same thing for my game; we've unanimously agreed to ban it. Mechanics that contradict the way the "reality" of how the game world works, rather than supporting it, are the bane of simulationst games. Shotgun to the knee: depends on your setting. If you play "A-Team: The RPG," then all bullets should always miss, and this should be reflected in the rules, because that's the "reality" of the A-Team. But if you're playing in some sort of really gritty blood 'n' guts setting, then rules for crippling and massive blood loss are probably called for.


BM wrote:
Bleach wrote:

Um, since when did "Minions" become a gamist concept/action movie concept.

I've read BOTH LotR and Conan and they both CLEARLY have minions...

When you get into game design. 4e and the current favorite line of thought implements minions by giving them binary HP (1 and 0, or Alive and Dead) with otherwise normal stats. This has internal consistency problems, as Kobold #1042 can get killed by a stiff breeze, while Kobold #5 can take 30 stabs to the chest but otherwise be identical. Further, minions are only minions in comparison to PCs. When Kobold #1042 gos and threatens a commoner, he is no longer a minion, but rather something else. That is a gamist convention, that violates internal consistency making it anti-simulationist.

No it isn't.

I think you're mixing terms up. Check out the FORGE (oh how I hate using that..but they did define the term).

By your argument, the TOON rpg is gamist, but that's regularly lauded as a prime example of a simulationist RPG.

Simulationist != What happens off-screen.

It has NOTHING to do with that at all.

Liberty's Edge

I think the rule system is moot.
Every once in a while, the dm, the players, are f~*&ing ON IT.
The rules get chucked, or not.
The cinematic muses have been invoked, and for a brief fleeting moment you're there.
Nothing in a rules system is going to deliver that every time.
It's fleeting. Nothing about a particular gaming theory is going to invoke that. Like Musashi said, don't favor any one weapon. If narrativism invokes it, so be it. If a gamist approach initiates the ride, go for it.
Hell--if following a literary bent makes it happen, more power to ya.
There's no magic bullet to make it happen, man.
When it happens, you grab for all the glory, all the mana, and enjoy the ride. Squeeze the juice, baybee, and throw away the rind, cos we're going back to Eden.


Nicolas Logue wrote:


Isn't "narrativist" in that list? Forge theory. Interesting stuff. Ripped off by so many people with no credit given (I'm looking at you 4E DMG!). ;-)

Are you referring to these articles? Probably required reading for this topic.

Liberty's Edge

Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
You seem to be asserting that a gamist system can't be rules lite. I disagree.

Not at all. Perhaps the perfect example of that is chess. You would have to work very hard to get more gamist or more rules light than that. You would have to work even harder to find something less closed to play outside the rules than in.

Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
Even beyond this I'm not really sure what 'number of tables per page of rules' really has to do with whether or not the rules are getting in my way. Ultimately it really comes down to what is on those tables and how they are intended to be used. In particular 4E gives one meta-level, gamist, tables meant to tell us what stats are needed for a balanced encounter. 3.5 gives us, well its not really a table so much as a system, a system meant to tell us what an abberation is like at varous levels of power.

That is intended as a take on an old KoDT strip which featured the "Buckets O' Dice Combat Resolution System", mocking the distinction between roleplay and rollplay.

Very simply and redundantly, the more rules you have the more rules you have. And so establishing a claim that a gamist system, particularly one as rules heavy as 4E, supports play outside the rules as an oxymoron. Either the system is gamist and the rules are Rule 0 or they are not.

Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
This is part of where I have difficulty with your contention that making creatures for 4E is as complex or more so then 3.5. In the above example I need three creatures to fulfil certain roles in my adventure based on some movie material that I am totally ripping off. I get there very quickly by simply looking at what level I need these monsters to be, giving them some roles or templates and then its off to the stage where I'm thinking 'what are some cool powers for a Queen based on her blood being acid?'.

You also have tables to tell you exactly what their hit points, defenses, and more must be. There is no leeway there. If they are Level X, they have Hit Points Y.

Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
In 3.5 I suspect that my first order of business is realizing that 3 HD Face Huggers don't have enough feats for me to use feats as a way of pumping up the BAB. If feats are not going to do it, and I know I'm going to need a good BAB to even touch most of the party, then I'm going to have to go with either a BAB boosting exceptional ability or I'll need a way to bypass AC. Once I do give the face hugger some of these exceptional abilities we are back to the stage of deciding what CR they are now that I have made a 3 HD monster that can reasonably hit, say AC 28. Now I obvously can't speak to your experience with 3.5 but I've done a lot of encounters myself and it is very common for me to be swapping feats and such just to insure that the adventures encounter will be a reasonable challange for my players. In 4E I move very quickly past this stage (I consulted a table - it gave me the answer) and am soon concentrating on whats interesting about my creatures and what I should use as supporting fluff.

You consulted a table that forced an integrated answer. If your face hugger has a particular attack bonus, it must be a particular level, and have a particular amount of hit points. You have no leeway.

Conversely in 3E, I can simply handwave at it and either throw bonus feats on it, or just declare it is using a touch attack. Just as easy as 4E, if not more so, because I can now create a very low HD creature with a disproportionaly high initial attack value but lower continuing threat value. You know, a stirge. 4E forces that design into a particular range you may well not want.

Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
Essentially this is what I mean by the rules getting out of my way. They gave me an answer and I quickly moved on to adventure design. In 3.5 I'm spending a lot more time swapping out feats, designing special abilities or buying equipment meant to simply keep my baddies operating against my players. Its for this reason that, as a 3.5 DM, I'll state that I love the Magic Item Compendium. Its chalk full of cheap items I can give my Bad guys that will allow them to not be completely shut down by my players potent baddie nerfing abilities. third eye freedom is an excellent way to overcome grappling and to move through a solid fog, boots of leaping can get you back on your feet if your being tripped by the half giant etc. In my 3.5 game I don't make a humanoid enemy without including a stage where I go through the tables at the back of that book and pick out some items to help the Bad Guy challange my players. In 4E I skip this stage completely unless I have a compelling story reason why I want my bad guy to have a certain magic item.

I spend almost no time in 3.5 looking for abilities to keep bad guys operating. I spend the vast majority of my time simply picking funky cool equipment to provide fun options during the encounter. (I love the MIC too.) That the PCs can shut them down with this power or that is not irrelevant, it is expected. That is what the PCs are supposed to do - shut them down, and shut them down hard. It is the D&D puzzle, figuring how to neutralize the monsters special ability, whether it be innate or external, and so win.

Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
narrativist sure but simulationist systems are usually rules heavy. Its generally the entire point of a simulationist system to be rules heavy so that the game system can realistically reflect whatever is being simulated.

But simulationist are rules heavy to the end of supporting a type of game play. This contrasts with a gamist system that would be rules heavy to support the rules.

Rule 0 of Simulationist is indeed Obey the Setting.
Rule 0 of Gamist is Obey the Rules.
Rule 0 of Narrativist is Have Fun.
Yet again, that supports my position that Simulationism and Gamism must work together to engage Narrativism, and not get turned into competitors, which seems to be the marketing call and design focus of 4E.

Note: "The marketing call of 4E." Again, subject to individuals going beyond that in spite of the systems flaws.

Liberty's Edge

Heathansson wrote:

I think the rule system is moot.

Every once in a while, the dm, the players, are f!~%ing ON IT.
The rules get chucked, or not.
The cinematic muses have been invoked, and for a brief fleeting moment you're there.
Nothing in a rules system is going to deliver that every time.
It's fleeting. Nothing about a particular gaming theory is going to invoke that. Like Musashi said, don't favor any one weapon. If narrativism invokes it, so be it. If a gamist approach initiates the ride, go for it.
Hell--if following a literary bent makes it happen, more power to ya.
There's no magic bullet to make it happen, man.
When it happens, you grab for all the glory, all the mana, and enjoy the ride. Squeeze the juice, baybee, and throw away the rind, cos we're going back to Eden.

From yet another direction, I agree.

And why I dislike the hype and attempt to force conflict between the elements.

The Exchange

Bleach wrote:
By your argument, the TOON rpg is gamist, but that's regularly lauded as a prime example of a simulationist RPG.

Then we are back to simulationist and gamist being completely useless terms.

I think the term confusion comes from simulation. A simulation tends to be closely related to the recreation of reality used to test or model an interaction or system. To say that TOON is a cartoon simulator starts us off in an impossible bind - how can you set up rules to simulate something which has none.

I think the actual continuum is not simulatist < -- > gamist. I think the real continuum is simulation < -- > emulation. Emulation is more about setting up a system to replecate the experience of a different system. Toon tries to emulate the feel of Saturday morning cartoon action. D&D tries to emulate heroic combat. RuneQuest tries to simulate medieval combat. Phoenix Command tries to simulate a modern firefight.

It all comes down to the level of abstraction. Toon does not need detailed rules. It embraces abstraction in order to emulate a system where the rules are very loose to begin with. I cannot see abstraction and simulation working well together.

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