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


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Liberty's Edge

P1NBACK wrote:

I just want to chime in on this post.

I played 2nd Edition and earlier editions and found that because of the lack of rules on many things, our DM could arbitrarily disallow a lot of actions that we wanted to take. In fact, many times our DM stunted our imaginations.

With newer editions, 4E and 3.x included, I find that having a core set of rules, that both players and DMs can reference, puts everyone on the same page, allows for a better consistency in how the world and characters interact with each other, and allow the players to accomplish anything they want.

I generally encourage my players to think about what they WANT to do, and then figure out HOW to accomplish that with the rules. I have a mantra in my game that sometimes comes...

just wanted to say i had the exact opposite experience with 1e (kinda skipped 2e for the most part, just cherry picked some stuff). maybe i just had a better dm when i was young, and was a more flexible dm when i finally started running games than you had, but the lack of rules for everything in 1e stimulated our imaginations even more than i've found 3x or 4e to do.

and, there is nothing RAW in 3x or 4e that i can find that wouldn't keep your unimaginitve dm from setting the dc too high to succeed in the first place, if he thought there was "no way someone could do that".

point: it isn't the rules, its the person interpreting them...

(edit: and i just wanted to say, i like all the different editions, some more than others, sure, but i'm not picking on any edition, just saying the rules are less important than the personalities...)

Dark Archive

Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:


Odd. I'd have sworn I heard the opposite in an episode of Theory from the Closet. The system was developed to define what kind of a game an indie RPG was (and this was very often contrasted with the 500 pound Gorilla that is D&D) and it later morphed to how we define play styles. However I certainly could be wrong.

I'm not sure but Wikipedia agrees with me, and without question the earlier theory that GNS is build on, the threefold model, only focused on the type of play, or the goal that the players/DM is seeking.


houstonderek wrote:
Bleach wrote:

Hmm?

How can the monster guidelines by level be seen as a straightjacket?

Unless one knows what the "typical" monster does, how can one make a monster different but effective?

[joke]wow. how did we ever survive the dark ages of 1e, with all of the uncertainty of monster balance against a party?[/joke] ;)

From what I've often heard, you didn't usually. :)

Liberty's Edge

pres man wrote:
houstonderek wrote:
Bleach wrote:

Hmm?

How can the monster guidelines by level be seen as a straightjacket?

Unless one knows what the "typical" monster does, how can one make a monster different but effective?

[joke]wow. how did we ever survive the dark ages of 1e, with all of the uncertainty of monster balance against a party?[/joke] ;)
From what I've often heard, you didn't usually. :)

yeah, i had to roll three characters before i had one last more than two rooms into a dungeon. then he died in the fourth...

we figured it out eventually, though...

of course, i started playing when i was nine (79) and i don't think we really had a clue until we were in 6th grade...

killer dm's and "monty haul". seems quaint now...


pres man wrote:
houstonderek wrote:
Bleach wrote:

Hmm?

How can the monster guidelines by level be seen as a straightjacket?

Unless one knows what the "typical" monster does, how can one make a monster different but effective?

[joke]wow. how did we ever survive the dark ages of 1e, with all of the uncertainty of monster balance against a party?[/joke] ;)
From what I've often heard, you didn't usually. :)

Lol. Now thats funny - and partly because it could be true.

Paizo Employee Chief Creative Officer, Publisher

Given the origin of these terms, I vote for "narcissist".

Liberty's Edge

Bleach wrote:

Hmm?

How can the monster guidelines by level be seen as a straightjacket?

Unless one knows what the "typical" monster does, how can one make a monster different but effective?

It depends on the degree to which it is taken.

In 1st ed and 2nd ed there were this gloriously vague guidelines, with monsters only divided into 10 general levels based on how much xp they were worth. Building encounters with them was ludicrously open ended.
3E and now 4E have not merely expanded the number of level categories, but gone further and declared them representative of just how many monsters are "balanced" to be encountered at each level. That immediately creates a conflict between encounter design and rules. The more gamist a system, the more going outside those level assignments and encounter building "guidelines" becomes destructive to the game system and to player interaction with the game system, both perceived and actual.
Metagame analysis of monster CR was common in 3E, it will inevitably occur in 4E as well, with consequent reactions based on perceived "fairness" of using creatures of a particular level. Indeed, I have already seen such comments, the ones on KotS being very common.

Liberty's Edge

houstonderek wrote:
[joke]wow. how did we ever survive the dark ages of 1e, with all of the uncertainty of monster balance against a party?[/joke] ;)

And there it is. We did survive.

Sure there were the occasional false start, but for the most part the CR/EL system and now the Encounter Budget System are a fix for a barely existent problem that creates its own set of difficulties. Something that should just a bunch of extra advice for new DMs instead becomes a hardwired system with synergistic consequences through the entire game play.
Of course at this point, I doubt PFRPG will be able to get away from it, but perhaps Jason can open the system up a bunch.

Liberty's Edge

Erik Mona wrote:

Given the origin of these terms, I vote for "narcissist".

Ouch! Given how much hassle this bogus theory has caused your company in the past year I don't blame you at all for lashing back a bit.

Remember guys, GNS/Big Model did contribute to WotC's decision to create a D&D that only appealed to half its players.

Sam


Samuel Weiss wrote:


And yet a prime selling point of 4E is how much advice it gives on how to run games.
Are you catching the trend there?

Not really no. Theres lots of good advice in the DMG. Advice on how to DM is not rules nor should it be. Nor is it a straight jacket because there can be compelling reasons to ignore it. Furthermore experience plays a large role in utilizing the advice. I have no doubt that a rookie DM that had a flair for DMing and who followed the DMGs advice would do really pretty well and run a very fun game. More experienced DMs already know and probably follow most of this advice but also, hopefully, know when its worth while to ignore it.

Samuel Weiss wrote:


The core gamist principles of the rules being the most important thing to make play enjoyable.

I'll get more to this later but its becoming increasingly clear that you and I do not define gamism the same way. Specifically here I don't feel that its a hallmark of gamism that the rules are the most important thing to make play enjoyable.

Samuel Weiss wrote:


Yes and no.
They have a very directly stated limiting range, and such a limiting range is very much a design intent. That is in fact their problem, as it was a problem with 3E.

There is not much to say - we are going back and forth here and would appear to likely do so for the indefinite future. I simply don't see balancing mechanics as inherently detrimental to a system. Generally I feel they are actually a good - if gamist - convention. A DM that ignores them should generally at least know why and a rookie DM should be especially careful in this regards.

Samuel Weiss wrote:


It eventually matters because of how much that can affect the overall balance you mentioned. If your master villain needs to be super awesome at everything for one reason or another, he suddenly winds up with abilities well beyond anything even vaguely comparable for a PC, or he winds up with handwaved modifiers to allow him to do "everything". While it can be kept hidden, it does in fact disrupt the game balance you were looking for.

I have a hard time seeing how. If the leader of my ruthless mercenary band is a fighter and I give him a higher then normal charisma to explain why he is the leader of these ruthless mercinary band that does not actually come up – Charisma does not impact how good he is as a fighter and the ruthless mercenary band about to fight my PCs are probably play balanced by methods that don't revolve around Charisma. If my ruthless Mercenary leader is a class that already has high Charisma I don't bother raising it because it already is good enough to explain how this guy is the leader.

Beyond that villains with great abilities do not damage play balance in their roles outside of combat because this role is essentially plot driven. Many villains appear in an AP. All of them are usually too powerful for the PCs when they first make their presence felt through lackeys and plot lines. D&D conventions essentially presume the PCs work their way up to the point where the villain is now a balanced encounter.

Samuel Weiss wrote:


That is fine, but that is in complete opposition to the basic premise of a gamist system where the rules define everything possible.

OK now we have a total disconnect between my beliefs on what gamism is and yours. I don't see 'defining everything possible' as a particularly defining trait of a gamist RPG. In fact that strikes me more as a trend one might find in simulationism. Lack of rules is a trend more likely found in narrativism. That said I'd argue that all styles of play are more defined by what the rules do. Simulationism usually has more rules – but it'd not want a balancing mechanic because worlds are rarely truly balanced. Narrativism usually has less rules but it could have a lot if those rules are very good at supporting the narrative. Gamism has rules that support the fact that one is playing a game and look to try and make that game more fun. Its not neccisary that the rules define everything possible in a gamist system its just that when they do define something its clear that their design intent is meant to support the running of a game.

Samuel Weiss wrote:


If you need balanced encounters then you strict rules for building them. If you then break those rules, what was the point of having them?
No, what is needed are fun encounters. That means ignoring balance more often than not and just going with the flow.

Disagree. The point of having them was to use as a guideline because they are, in fact, valid the vast majority of the time. In D&D, in particular, the balance mechanic has a wide range that tells us whether an encounter is expected to be really easy right through to an encounter is expected to be very, very hard. The balance system gives us a pretty wide range of options.

An example of its utility is in dealing with creatures that are so weak that they fall outside of this balanced mechanic. In this case there needs to be a compelling reason to be having such an encounter because such combats are so trivial that they are essentially a waste of game time. Essentially there had best be an interesting plot point here.

In fact the balance mechanic has enough of a range that I expect that an experienced DM just randomly making encounters without resorting to the mechanic only rarely leaves it unless the DMs PCs are also far outside of the assumptions of the mechanic.

Samuel Weiss wrote:


That is because the play balance they offer is an illusion. There are so many glaring holes in 4E encounter design you do not have to go outside of them to create horrifically unbalanced encounters.
More, despite the effort to build such a system, even the people who made it find themselves constantly going outside it in an effort to build encounters. If they cannot stick within the bounds of their own system, what does it say about the overall utility of the system?

So far I have not encountered this issue but I suspect your essentially contending that the rules fail to define some things that should otherwise fall under the category of common sense.

Beyond this the utility of the encounter design system is not useless if the designers go outside of it. Its not meant to define every possible reason why one might utilize more or less powerful creatures then are suggested. Now if one notices that the designers are routinely going outside of the suggestions for no good reason at all and that this is not having a detrimental impact on the game then its possible to come to the conclusion that the mechanic is overly restrictive. If one finds that moving outside of the mechanic is the norm and it improves the game then the mechanic at least failed to live up to its potential and, in the worst case, could be stifling.


Samuel Leming wrote:
Erik Mona wrote:

Given the origin of these terms, I vote for "narcissist".

Ouch! Given how much hassle this bogus theory has caused your company in the past year I don't blame you at all for lashing back a bit.

Remember guys, GNS/Big Model did contribute to WotC's decision to create a D&D that only appealed to half its players.

Sam

Well thats an interesting contention. Care to elaborate? Might want to take it to the 4E forum as its probably more a 4E topic in any case.

Actually I think this whole thread is really just a slightly disguised 4E topic. Simulationism vs. Gamism is currently mainly relevant due to the perceived differences in it between 3.5 and 4E.


I've never really grasped the idea of this encounter rating business. Now I'm coming at this from the unfashionable point of view of AD&D, but I could ever see the appeal of it.

In my opinion sometimes the PC's should be able to clean house - easily. They've worked hard to get where they are. The stronger they become the more likely they should be able to deal with common threats.

And in the same way, the mightiest champions of evil should be out and abroad, even if the PC's can't cope with them, right from the outset. And the potential for encounters with such foes should always exist. As long as the means of escape, negotiation or downright kissing butt exist as alternatives to a hopeless fight.

I've sometimes lost players while DMing such a world view, but usually only through stupidity. Never total party kills, as yet (theres always tomorrow!)

A set of challenges keenly balanced for the party doesn't really appeal to me. I'm convinced my players enjoy crushing some over-confident foes, developing emnity with enemies they must play ball with for now, and having the chance to sometimes just pull off that incredible roll/tactic that defeats something way above their station, just as much as others may enjoy tackling challenges designed to stretch and develop them time after time.

More madness from the dust...

Liberty's Edge

Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
Well thats an interesting contention.

Which one? That GNS is a pseudo science? That it's been damaging? That several of the 4e designers have considered GNS in their designs? Or maybe that only half the D&D players approve of the latest edition? OK, that last one is hyperbole, but the other ones... Where have you been? Hiding in a bomb shelter?

Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
Care to elaborate?

Well, I would, but I'm not really one for online pissing contests. My post count would be much higher if I was. Plus I'm a bit lazy. I don't want to google for all those posts where WotC designers used Big Model terminology. I will point you to one of the first posts in this thread where Mr. Logue points out what he feels is Forge influence.

Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
Might want to take it to the 4E forum as its probably more a 4E topic in any case.

It's a wider topic than that, since it also has to do with how Pathfinder should be designed.

Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
Actually I think this whole thread is really just a slightly disguised 4E topic. Simulationism vs. Gamism is currently mainly relevant due to the perceived differences in it between 3.5 and 4E.

D&D has always been a swiss army knife of a game in all its previous editions. I think this has contributed to its success, not hindered it. GNS theory disagrees. D&D has now been optimized for certain playstyles, making it more of a hammer. That's fine until you need a screwdriver or a pair of pliers... You'd be better off with the army knife.

Sam


Gamist. Simulationist. I'm the guy with the gun.


Samuel Leming wrote:
D&D has always been a swiss army knife of a game in all its previous editions.

I do not agree with you there. I can agree that 4e is more cinematic.


Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:

Well thats an interesting contention. Care to elaborate? Might want to take it to the 4E forum as its probably more a 4E topic in any case.

Actually I think this whole thread is really just a slightly disguised 4E topic. Simulationism vs. Gamism is currently mainly relevant due to the perceived differences in it between 3.5 and 4E.

I wasn't trying to say anything specific about 4e. I just wanted to pose the question because, hopefully, the more people analyze their own tastes in gaming, the less likely they are to lash out at other equally valid ways of gaming.


CourtFool wrote:
Samuel Leming wrote:
D&D has always been a swiss army knife of a game in all its previous editions.
I do not agree with you there. I can agree that 4e is more cinematic.

According to one of your previous posts, for you the word "cinematic" means "simulating cinema and literature". What's an example of a piece of cinema and/or literature that you think would be well represented by 4th edition as opposed to 3.5 edition? Frankly, I don't think either of them are very good at simulating cinema or literature compared to James Bond 007 or Call of Cthulhu (say).


Healing Surges certainly seem to simulate the way an action actor can shake off all of the punishment from a scene.

I could name a handful of games that I think better simulate cinema and literature than 3.5 or 4e. I am just trying to refrain from going on and on about all the 'better' games that are out there.

Sovereign Court

CourtFool - Could you name your top two Cinematic games? The reason I ask, is, as you know 3.5/OGL/Pathfinder RPG is my drink of choice, and I am returning to some of my DMing roots with the flare for the dramatic and cinematic.

I am contstantly trying to perfect my DMing style, evolving it in subtle and sometimes overt ways for the best gaming experience possible. I currently have a mixed bag of players (AGES 18-50), with GNS preferences all over the map. Further complicating things, is they're mostly quiet engineering types, rather than flamboyant Nick Logues (if you get my meaning), but 1/2 prefer N, 1/4 prefer S, and 1/4 prefer G.

So, again, if I had an idea of what the very best cinematic experiences were, I could determine whether I am already delivering that, or if I have some opportunities in that area.

Liberty's Edge

Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
Not really no. Theres lots of good advice in the DMG. Advice on how to DM is not rules nor should it be. Nor is it a straight jacket because there can be compelling reasons to ignore it. Furthermore experience plays a large role in utilizing the advice. I have no doubt that a rookie DM that had a flair for DMing and who followed the DMGs advice would do really pretty well and run a very fun game. More experienced DMs already know and probably follow most of this advice but also, hopefully, know when its worth while to ignore it.

Yes, it should.

Within the structure of a game like 4E, and the execution of it by WotC, the rules dominate over said experience.

Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
I'll get more to this later but its becoming increasingly clear that you and I do not define gamism the same way. Specifically here I don't feel that its a hallmark of gamism that the rules are the most important thing to make play enjoyable.

As above, it is in how WotC has presented 4E.

Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
There is not much to say - we are going back and forth here and would appear to likely do so for the indefinite future. I simply don't see balancing mechanics as inherently detrimental to a system. Generally I feel they are actually a good - if gamist - convention. A DM that ignores them should generally at least know why and a rookie DM should be especially careful in this regards.

Inherently, no.

In specific cases, yes.

Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
I have a hard time seeing how.

(With much snippage.)

The odd thing is, I had a very related discussion to this previously in another forum.
The short version is, when you have a hardwired system, it will eventually clash with such conception.

Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
OK now we have a total disconnect between my beliefs on what gamism is and yours. I don't see 'defining everything possible' as a particularly defining trait of a gamist RPG. In fact that strikes me more as a trend one might find in simulationism. Lack of rules is a trend more likely found in narrativism. That said I'd argue that all styles of play are more defined by what the rules do. Simulationism usually has more rules – but it'd not want a balancing mechanic because worlds are rarely truly balanced. Narrativism usually has less rules but it could have a lot if those rules are very good at supporting the narrative. Gamism has rules that support the fact that one is playing a game and look to try and make that game more fun. Its not neccisary that the rules define everything possible in a gamist system its just that when they do define something its clear that their design intent is meant to support the running of a game.

Perhaps. Yet that disconnect is a prime factor in the presentation of 4E.

Yes, that is a single example, but it has been made the critical factor in why people are even considering the concept. That is yet another reason why I have issues with that particular expression. WotC has made 4E a poster child of a clash between gamism and simulationism. It enhances why I think 4E has a lot of great ideas but an absolute horrible execution of them. Almost every rule in 4E could be really great if done another way. Likewise the promotion of 4E and the GNS system could be significantly better if done another way.
Do I think gamism is bad? No.
Do I think WotC's concept and presentation of gamism is bad? An overwhelming yes.

Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
Disagree. The point of having them was to use as a guideline because they are, in fact, valid the vast majority of the time. In D&D, in particular, the balance mechanic has a wide range that tells us whether an encounter is expected to be really easy right through to an encounter is expected to be very, very hard. The balance system gives us a pretty wide range of options.

If they were really valid the majority of the time they would have worked fine in 3E. They did not.

Likewise if they were really valid the majority of the time you would see a super-majority of encounters published by WotC with encounters of the party's level and creatures of the party's level. They are not. When half of the encounters are above a party's level, and the ones that are of the party's level invariably contain monsters above their level, it makes the concept seem rather poorly developed.

Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
So far I have not encountered this issue but I suspect your essentially contending that the rules fail to define some things that should otherwise fall under the category of common sense.

No, I am saying that when the rules go out of their way to specifically tell people that something is acceptable, they create a very basic short-circuit of common sense.

"But the rules say that is balanced!"
Once the rules are proven wrong on one such point it opens the entire basis of them to examination and consideration for whether they are balanced in the first place.

Liberty's Edge

Samuel Weiss wrote:
houstonderek wrote:
[joke]wow. how did we ever survive the dark ages of 1e, with all of the uncertainty of monster balance against a party?[/joke] ;)

And there it is. We did survive.

Sure there were the occasional false start, but for the most part the CR/EL system and now the Encounter Budget System are a fix for a barely existent problem that creates its own set of difficulties. Something that should just a bunch of extra advice for new DMs instead becomes a hardwired system with synergistic consequences through the entire game play.
Of course at this point, I doubt PFRPG will be able to get away from it, but perhaps Jason can open the system up a bunch.

i've never used the 3x CR/ECL thing. never saw the need. i figured if i couldn't plan an adventure that was challenging without a chart, i shouldn't be the dm anyway. but then, i've never been one for a book telling me how to do stuff (unless im fixing a car, that is...)

i haven't used experience points since the early 80's (the players just kinda leveled up when it was "time" to). i've only ever paid minor lip service to alignments, and pretty much completely houseruled them out of the homebrew.

come to think of it, i pretty much run all my d&d games like they're 1e games, even the 3x games. (i've only played 4e, never run it, so i don't know how well that would work with the new edition...)

i'll wind up playing pathfinder the same way, im sure.

i think this is why rules lawyers have never lasted long in any of my games, i strip out far too many rules for the lawyers to present a brief...

i guess im saying, i wish the game would go back to being an art, and the rules writers stop trying ot make it a mathematical formula...


houstonderek wrote:
i guess im saying, i wish the game would go back to being an art, and the rules writers stop trying ot make it a mathematical formula...

My sentiments exactly. I think you learn how to be a great DM through experience. Your own experience AND the experience of your players.

Dark Archive

As I understand it, GNS Theory refers to a games mechanics. So with that in mind,

crosswiredmind wrote:
All RPGs attempt to simulate some kind of genre.

But not all of them have mechanics for it. A setting is not mechanics.

crosswiredmind wrote:
BTW - I think every RPG can be narrative, in fact every RPG must be narrative, so I don't really see that as a category.

Narrating the outcome of a roll, stating your characters action or talking as your character in the first person are not narrativist mechanics.

Gamist mechanics tend to be more generic in nature. They could be used for any type of genre or setting. D20 or Savage Worlds are good examples, IMO, of systems with a high percentage of gamist mechanics.

Simulationist mechanics try to simulate popular thropes of a given genre. Unknown Armies madness meters as well as 2ed Ravenlofts Horror & Madness check rules are all examples of fear/horror simulationist mechanics.

Narrativist mechanics is when narration rights are taken away from the GM or there isn't a GM in the first place. In Inspectres who gets to narrate the outcome of a characters action (between the player rolling and GM), depends on how well or poorly the player rolls. In Spirit of the Century, players can spend there fate tokens to make a declaration and introduce something to the story. In GM-less games narration passes around the table based on the rules.

Since the DM, RAW, always keeps narration rights, D&D has very few narrativist elements in it. White Wolf games as well for that matter, which is why I'm always baffled by the fact that people pick Vampire as an example of a "narrativist" game (in quotes since games usually include elements of all three- GNS)

Liberty's Edge

CourtFool wrote:
Samuel Leming wrote:
D&D has always been a swiss army knife of a game in all its previous editions.
I do not agree with you there. I can agree that 4e is more cinematic.

You don't agree that previous editions of D&D could be spindled and mashed into fitting just about any playstyle? Or is it that you don't agree that doing so would be more difficult in it's current edition?

Sam

Liberty's Edge

Pax Veritas wrote:
I currently have a mixed bag of players (AGES 18-50), with GNS preferences all over the map. Further complicating things, is they're mostly quiet engineering types, rather than flamboyant Nick Logues (if you get my meaning), but 1/2 prefer N, 1/4 prefer S, and 1/4 prefer G.

Half of your players are Narrativists? Really?

Do they modify the behavior of your NPCs to control the flow of the story? Do they lobby for adding or deleting elements from the setting for thematic reason? Do they force their own characters to fail at some tasks even though those characters would be trying their hardest to succeed because that would make for a better story? This last one is practically the hallmark of the GNS Narrativist. If your guys aren't playing the story as much or more than they're playing their characters then they're not really GNS Narrativists.

The reason why I ask is that in over thrity years of playing RPGs I've only met one of these guys, and if you're not talking about these GNS guys then I don't know what you mean by Narrativst.

I'm all for you redefining the term though.

Sam

Liberty's Edge

Samuel Weiss wrote:

Perhaps. Yet that disconnect is a prime factor in the presentation of 4E.

Yes, that is a single example, but it has been made the critical factor in why people are even considering the concept. That is yet another reason why I have issues with that particular expression. WotC has made 4E a poster child of a clash between gamism and simulationism. It enhances why I think 4E has a lot of great ideas but an absolute horrible execution of them. Almost every rule in 4E could be really great if done another way. Likewise the promotion of 4E and the GNS system could be significantly better if done another way.
Do I think gamism is bad? No.
Do I think WotC's concept and presentation of gamism is bad? An overwhelming yes.

D&D 4e IS a fun game. With the right group of players and the right frame of mind I could really enjoy it. I really intend to... every once in a while.

WotC's concept of gamism appears to be exactly what GNS puts forward. I think their mistake was buying into the theory, not how they implemented it. You're right that the game is full of lots of slick ideas that would be great if unfettered by balance and fettered by imagination.

So, yes, gamism is bad... in a way. In that style you're playing the game system as much or more than you're playing your character(otherwise you're not really a GNS Gamist.) Maybe your character is nothing more than a game piece. If you're in a group with a bunch of traditional RPGers there's going to be problems.

A game that's designed to be primarily gamist should call itself something different than a RPG... and that would be good.

[Edit]
Ok, I realize that what most of you guys are calling Gamism isn't much like the Gamism of GNS and your Simulationism is completely off their map(In GNS, Simulationists are basically just standard roleplayers). This is a good thing. The more people redefine these terms and reuse them the sooner GNS will head down the toilet.

Sam

Scarab Sages

I've always enjoyed the blend of simulationism and gamism in 3rd Edition. I've played some way out their games (FASERIP comes to mind) but that sort of enjoyment has its own place.

When I play D&D I want to forget that I am playing/DMing a game and get lost in the imaginary world. For me, that is helped by the two things being discussed in this thread:

1) Internal consistency for the sake of creating a logical fantasy world (Simulationist).

2) Some elements of game balance so that certain options are not blatantly inferior and thus would not exist (Gamist).

For me, the difference between Simulationist and Gamist is in the intent: A simulationist is attempting to create/run/play a game that first and foremost allows its players to explore the games reality with minimal questioning. A gamist is attempting to create an experience that is first and foremost a fun game to play for everyone.

Here is my thought process (and this is arguable, of course):

Axis and Allies is a simulationist game. Everybody follows the same rules, but the start of the game is not balanced for all players, and the decisions and chance involved in the game radically depart from any guaranteed success.

Monopoly is partly a simulationist game, because with some lucky rolls and good player decisions, the game is over without any input from the other players. It is quite the opposite of balanced, but it is an attempt to simulate an economic environment, their is balance at the start of the game.

Chess is a gamist game, it is designed so that each player has an equal chance of victory with the same rules, and relies entirely on player action to determine the outcome of the game.

Notice that each type require player input to be an important factor in outcome. It is the resolution of actions that is important:

In Axis and Allies, the player makes strategic decisions that affect their position, but chance and the actions of others determine the outcome.

In Monopoly, chance determine what options a player has, but once the decision must be made, the player is the controlling part of their destiny.

In Chess, the player chooses their actions influenced by the actions of others, and the outcome is set and predictable.

So I find myself arriving at a sort of conclusion:

Simulationist: Chance resolves action.

Middle: Chance plays some part in action/resolution.

Gamist: Chance plays no part in action or resolution.

Thoughts?


Jal Dorak wrote:
Simulationist: Chance resolves action.

It might be more accurate to say that in a simulationist-heavy game, chance resolves action IF things are left to chance. My players have learned to "hedge their bets" and minimize the effects of chance, because they know that I won't bail them out if they're stupid. Also, they've learned that sometimes, long odds aren't good enough to rely on -- if they attack an ancient dragon when they're 1st level, I let it eat them. That's not really chance, though, but rather poor planning -- but it's still very consistent with a simulationist approach.

On the other hand, sometimes the dice just go cold for them, and random encounters that aren't even part of the adventure threaten to derail the whole game. If I were all simulationist, I suppose I'd let it happen, but personally I let a bit of narritivism creep in and keep the game going instead.

Scarab Sages

Kirth Gersen wrote:
Jal Dorak wrote:
Simulationist: Chance resolves action.

It might be more accurate to say that in a simulationist-heavy game, chance resolves action IF things are left to chance. My players have learned to "hedge their bets" and minimize the effects of chance, because they know that I won't bail them out if they're stupid -- if they attack an ancient dragon when they're 1st level, I let it eat them. That's not chance, though, but rather poor planning -- but it's still very consistent with a simulationist approach.

On the other hand, sometimes the dice just go cold for them, and random encounters that aren't even part of the adventure threaten to derail the whole game. If I were all simulationist, I suppose I'd let it happen, but personally I let a bit of narritivism creep in and keep the game going instead.

This is the biggest problem with GNS - it tends to lump games wholly into one style, or at the most places games on a spectrum or line, with Sims at one end and Games at the other. Really, games are more like cooking a sauce, adding a pinch of this, a dash of that, and then changing things even more each time you serve it to keep things interesting.

That said, I tend to actively dislike intentional/wide-spread gamist elements in design. My biggest problem is not acknowledging the various ways people play the game, it is the active attempt to design a game to meet certain needs instead of just making a game that you think would be interesting to play (itself a gamist [intentional design] versus simulationist [end product] question).

An anecdote comes to mind, recently playing the ToEE video game I started getting frustrated as my 7th level Paladin/5th level Cleric kept consistently missing with Smite Evil on the Guardian Balor. "This isn't fair!" I exclaimed, expecting from a gamist perspective that the Co* mod I was running would treat me fairly. But I never get upset at bad rolling in D&D, I expect my characters to fail, heck I WANT them to fail every once and awhile.

The Exchange

Acev wrote:

As I understand it, GNS Theory refers to a games mechanics. So with that in mind,

crosswiredmind wrote:
All RPGs attempt to simulate some kind of genre.
But not all of them have mechanics for it. A setting is not mechanics.

... and a setting is not a game. All RPGs have mechanics, and all mechanics attempt to create the framework to simulate some kind of genre.

Acev wrote:
crosswiredmind wrote:
BTW - I think every RPG can be narrative, in fact every RPG must be narrative, so I don't really see that as a category.
Narrating the outcome of a roll, stating your characters action or talking as your character in the first person are not narrativist mechanics.

Roleplaying is narration. GM descriptions of the world, the situation, and the NPCs is narration. RPGs are all narrative as they all describe the ebbs and flows of a story in an imaginary world.

Acev wrote:

Gamist mechanics tend to be more generic in nature. They could be used for any type of genre or setting. D20 or Savage Worlds are good examples, IMO, of systems with a high percentage of gamist mechanics.

Simulationist mechanics try to simulate popular thropes of a given genre. Unknown Armies madness meters as well as 2ed Ravenlofts Horror & Madness check rules are all examples of fear/horror simulationist mechanics.

Neither of those make sense to me. The base mechanics of any game can be reduced to generic mechanisms then built into specifically purposed mechanisms. This distinction seems very arbitrary.

Acev wrote:
Narrativist mechanics is when narration rights are taken away from the GM or there isn't a GM in the first place. In Inspectres who gets to narrate the outcome of a characters action (between the player rolling and GM), depends on how well or poorly the player rolls. In Spirit of the Century, players can spend there fate tokens to make a declaration and introduce something to the story. In GM-less games narration passes around the table based on the rules.

When the narration takes place and who narrates the game have little impact on my original contention that all RPGs are narrative games. The presence or absence of a GM makes no real difference.

Acev wrote:
Since the DM, RAW, always keeps narration rights, D&D has very few narrativist elements in it. White Wolf games as well for that matter, which is why I'm always baffled by the fact that people pick Vampire as an example of a "narrativist" game (in quotes since games usually include elements of all three- GNS)

Roleplaying and setting the scene are narratives. Every RPG without exception contains the same narrative elements so the distinction you are making is lost on me.

Dark Archive

Again, all based on how I understand GNS theory.

crosswiredmind wrote:


... and a setting is not a game. All RPGs have mechanics, and all mechanics attempt to create the framework to simulate some kind of genre.

No they don't. D20 is used in D&D which is fantasy, Mutants & Masterminds which is super-heroes, Star Wars which is space opera, T20 which is sci-fi, etc, etc, etc. There are very few mechanics in D20 which simulate any particular genre.

crosswiredmind wrote:


Roleplaying is narration. GM descriptions of the world, the situation, and the NPCs is narration. RPGs are all narrative as they all describe the ebbs and flows of a story in an imaginary world.

When the narration takes place and who narrates the game have little impact on my original contention that all RPGs are narrative games. The presence or absence of a GM makes no real difference.

Roleplaying and setting the scene are narratives. Every RPG without exception contains the same narrative elements so the distinction you are making is lost on me.

Narration in and of itself is not a narrativist mechanic. Having the DM describing the kings reaction to your social faux pas, does NOT make the game narrativist. The rules saying that the DM narrates a scene, the player reacts and rolls dice and then the DM narrates the result is a narrativist mechanic.

In games which tend towards narrativism, the dice (if dice are used) do not determine if your character succeeds at a task, they determine who gets to narrate. Lets say I, the player, roll and win narration rights; I may now choose whether my character succeeds at what he was doing or if he fails. I choose the path I feel will lead to a better story and more interesting conflicts.

crosswiredmind wrote:
Neither of those make sense to me. The base mechanics of any game can be reduced to generic mechanisms then built into specifically purposed mechanisms. This distinction seems very arbitrary.

This is a matter of opinion (like many things about GNS Theory). An opinion I disagree with.

The Exchange

Acev wrote:
D20 is used in D&D which is fantasy, Mutants & Masterminds which is super-heroes, Star Wars which is space opera, T20 which is sci-fi, etc, etc, etc. There are very few mechanics in D20 which simulate any particular genre.

In each of those cases the core mechanic may be the same or similar but each is a unique instance of the d20 SRD. Each is tailored to simulate a particular genre. There isn't a game out there that uses just the barebones core of d20.

Acev wrote:
Narration in and of itself is not a narrativist mechanic. Having the DM describing the kings reaction to your social faux pas, does NOT make the game narrativist. The rules saying that the DM narrates a scene, the player reacts and rolls dice and then the DM narrates the result is a narrativist mechanic.

In D&D the narration is more than just the description between rolls. The players can roleplay right through a challenge without a die ever being touched. There is no rule that all situations must play out as you have described.

Acev wrote:
In games which tend towards narrativism, the dice (if dice are used) do not determine if your character succeeds at a task, they determine who gets to narrate. Lets say I, the player, roll and win narration rights; I may now choose whether my character succeeds at what he was doing or if he fails. I choose the path I feel will lead to a better story and more interesting conflicts.

Narration is not the mechanic. Success or failure at a task are simply assumed based on the dramatic context of the story. In fact what you are describing is not a game at all - it is simply collaborative story telling. I would not even classify it as a role playing game.

crosswiredmind wrote:
Neither of those make sense to me. The base mechanics of any game can be reduced to generic mechanisms then built into specifically purposed mechanisms. This distinction seems very arbitrary.
This is a matter of opinion (like many things about GNS Theory). An opinion I disagree with.

Actually its not opinion. Classification is objective, not subjective. If the categories of GNS breakdown under examination then they are meaningless.


Samuel Weiss wrote:
”Jeremy Mac Donald” wrote:


Not really no. Theres lots of good advice in the DMG. Advice on how to DM is not rules nor should it be. Nor is it a straight jacket because there can be compelling reasons to ignore it. Furthermore experience plays a large role in utilizing the advice. I have no doubt that a rookie DM that had a flair for DMing and who followed the DMGs advice would do really pretty well and run a very fun game. More experienced DMs already know and probably follow most of this advice but also, hopefully, know when its worth while to ignore it.
Samuel Weiss wrote:


Yes, it should.
Within the structure of a game like 4E, and the execution of it by WotC, the rules dominate over said experience.

I'm no longer following you.

What should?

Do you mean that the advice given in the DMG should be treated as a straight jacket?

Samuel Weiss wrote:


(With much snippage.)
The odd thing is, I had a very related discussion to this previously in another forum.
The short version is, when you have a hardwired system, it will eventually clash with such conception.

I've not seen the example you are thinking of. Hence I have no real idea what your talking about. Since I have nothing else to go on but your statement “this is so and I once wrote about it in a thread ” I simply doubt your conclusion.

”Jeremy Mac Donald” wrote:


OK now we have a total disconnect between my beliefs on what gamism is and yours. I don't see 'defining everything possible' as a particularly defining trait of a gamist RPG. In fact that strikes me more as a trend one might find in simulationism. Lack of rules is a trend more likely found in narrativism. That said I'd argue that all styles of play are more defined by what the rules do. Simulationism usually has more rules – but it'd not want a balancing mechanic because worlds are rarely truly balanced. Narrativism usually has less rules but it could have a lot if those rules are very good at supporting the narrative. Gamism has rules that support the fact that one is playing a game and look to try and make that game more fun. Its not neccisary that the rules define everything possible in a gamist system its just that when they do define something its clear that their design intent is meant to support the running of a game.
Samuel Weiss wrote:


Perhaps. Yet that disconnect is a prime factor in the presentation of 4E.
Yes, that is a single example, but it has been made the critical factor in why people are even considering the concept. That is yet another reason why I have issues with that particular expression. WotC has made 4E a poster child of a clash between gamism and simulationism. It enhances why I think 4E has a lot of great ideas but an absolute horrible execution of them. Almost every rule in 4E could be really great if done another way. Likewise the promotion of 4E and the GNS system could be significantly better if done another way.
Do I think gamism is bad? No.
Do I think WotC's concept and presentation of gamism is bad? An overwhelming yes.

This is all very vague.

"Yet that disconnect is a prime factor in the presentation of 4E." What disconnect? The one between what I believe gamism means and what you believe it means? How is our subjective differing beliefs on the term gamism in anyway reflective of 4E?

'WotC has made 4E a poster child in a clash between gamism and simulationism?' Really? How have they done so?

'WotCs concept and presentation of gamism is overwhelmingly bad?' Why and how is that so?

”Jeremy Mac Donald” wrote:


Disagree. The point of having them was to use as a guideline because they are, in fact, valid the vast majority of the time. In D&D, in particular, the balance mechanic has a wide range that tells us whether an encounter is expected to be really easy right through to an encounter is expected to be very, very hard. The balance system gives us a pretty wide range of options.
Samuel Weiss wrote:


If they were really valid the majority of the time they would have worked fine in 3E. They did not.

I don't see how a balancing mechanic in in the various editions of D&D can be invalidated because it did not work well in 3E. That might show that it was not great in 3E but says nothing to how well it will work in 4E or in editions that have yet to be made (presuming they include a balancing mechanic).

In any case the problem, more then anything else, was that things got unbalanced as more splat books were added and that no one made characters with 25 point buy, 32 is probably the current norm in 3.5. The mechanic was probably very close to accurate the vast majority of the time if one played core only with 25 point buy.

Samuel Weiss wrote:


Likewise if they were really valid the majority of the time you would see a super-majority of encounters published by WotC with encounters of the party's level and creatures of the party's level. They are not. When half of the encounters are above a party's level, and the ones that are of the party's level invariably contain monsters above their level, it makes the concept seem rather poorly developed.

What? The mechanic is flawed because it does not do something it was never intended to do? This makes no sense.

Jeremy Mac Donald” wrote:


So far I have not encountered this issue but I suspect your essentially contending that the rules fail to define some things that should otherwise fall under the category of common sense.
Samuel Weiss wrote:


No, I am saying that when the rules go out of their way to specifically tell people that something is acceptable, they create a very basic short-circuit of common sense.
"But the rules say that is balanced!"
Once the rules are proven wrong on one such point it opens the entire basis of them to examination and consideration for whether they are balanced in the first place.

...OK...?

Let me see if I understand what your saying here:
Once the rules are proven wrong on one such point of balance (i.e. I find a monster in one of the monster books which is not an accurate reflection of its CR or XP (Roper for example)) then that opens up for consideration whether or not the mechanism is truly giving us balanced encounters in all cases.
I suppose that this true – one could come away with the suspicion that the balancing mechanic is not 100% accurate each and every time – in fact I'd agree with the contention that it is in fact not 100% perfect. However I'm not otherwise sure what your point is.

Liberty's Edge

Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:

I'm no longer following you.

What should?

Do you mean that the advice given in the DMG should be treated as a straight jacket?

No, I mean as you said, the advice in the DMG should be advice. Unfortunately in the 4E rules, the vast majority of that advice is locked into set tables making it a straightjacket instead of advice.

Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
I've not seen the example you are thinking of. Hence I have no real idea what your talking about. Since I have nothing else to go on but your statement “this is so and I once wrote about it in a thread ” I simply doubt your conclusion.

It was an extended discussion on the LG Writers list about using the default arrays for NPC stat blocks. A number of people became exceptionally belligerent, claiming the array was useless for making up "proper" NPCs that could do what they want, in particular because of the forced dumped stat. They either had to give their great leader's an 8 Charisma, or give them an 8 Constitution allowing the PCs to kill them too easily.

In any situation where you establish a default rule and set it up as a hardwired element of the game balance, as the default arrays are in 3E, you will inevitably have them come into a design conflict with the desires of some DMs and writers.

Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:

This is all very vague.

"Yet that disconnect is a prime factor in the presentation of 4E." What disconnect? The one between what I believe gamism means and what you believe it means? How is our subjective differing beliefs on the term gamism in anyway reflective of 4E?

I am presenting gamism in the context of WotC's marketing for 4E. If that is different from your view of it, the proper people to take that up with would be them.

Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
'WotC has made 4E a poster child in a clash between gamism and simulationism?' Really? How have they done so?

By their marketing hype.

Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
'WotCs concept and presentation of gamism is overwhelmingly bad?' Why and how is that so?

Because they present it as a quantum evolution in game design (it is not), that is mechanically superior to all previous editions (highly subjective), while constantly contradicting themselves in its application (by saying gamism is about consistent rules then suggesting you can ignore any of the rules at whim).

They want to have their hype and ignore it too.

Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
I don't see how a balancing mechanic in in the various editions of D&D can be invalidated because it did not work well in 3E. That might show that it was not great in 3E but says nothing to how well it will work in 4E or in editions that have yet to be made (presuming they include a balancing mechanic).

Differences in base rules require different points of balance.

Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
In any case the problem, more then anything else, was that things got unbalanced as more splat books were added and that no one made characters with 25 point buy, 32 is probably the current norm in 3.5. The mechanic was probably very close to accurate the vast majority of the time if one played core only with 25 point buy.

See above for an example of how that creates a straightjacket in the rules with the default stat arrays.

When you change rules you change the balance points, requiring old balance mechanics to change or become drags on the function of the system.

Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
What? The mechanic is flawed because it does not do something it was never intended to do? This makes no sense.

Why would you never intend to create a system where all monsters and encounters have levels just like the characters then never focus on using them at the identical levels?

Why not just shift all monsters down 1 level at that rate?
No, this is a clear failure of a balance mechanic, caused by improperly carrying it forward without accounting for changes in the system.

Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:

...OK...?

Let me see if I understand what your saying here:
Once the rules are proven wrong on one such point of balance (i.e. I find a monster in one of the monster books which is not an accurate reflection of its CR or XP (Roper for example)) then that opens up for consideration whether or not the mechanism is truly giving us balanced encounters in all cases.
I suppose that this true – one could come away with the suspicion that the balancing mechanic is not 100% accurate each and every time – in fact I'd agree with the contention that it is in fact not 100% perfect. However I'm not otherwise sure what your point is.

What "guarantee" do you have that the system is balanced?

The assertion of the designers.
How many times, upon examining individual pieces of the rules and discovering that they are in fact rather thoroughly unbalanced, does it take before you doubt, as a whole, that assertion that the system is balanced to any degree?

The hype for 4E went above and beyond in assuring us there was an absolute mathematical balance to the entire system, unlike anything ever before. In any mathematical equation, once you add one little error, every function derived from it becomes incorrect. Add multiple errors and the deviation quickly mounts as the synergy between the errors makes the effect exponential rather than just additive until the entire system collapses.

That is why a balancing factor in a game is not always a good thing. It may be balanced in and of itself, but if any other factor relating to it is off then what it seeks to balance is off and the mechanic itself becomes an unbalancing factor instead.


Pax Veritas wrote:
CourtFool - Could you name your top two Cinematic games?

My top two cinematic games would be Atomic Sock Monkey Press’ Prose Descriptive Qualities (PDQ) and Evil Hat’s Spirit of the Century. Note, neither of these are my current favorite nor have I had much experience playing or running either game.

Both systems are rules light. These systems leave a lot to be adjudicated by the GM. In my experience, this speeds up play as the GM says “yes” or “no” and the game precedes. Again, in my experience, rule heavy games tend to cause a lot of page turning in the middle of a climatic battle. In a rules light system, a lot depends on the GM.

Both systems include mechanics for the players to take some of the narrative control from the GM. In a good group with trust between the GM and players, this means characters get some control over when they can step into the limelight and do ‘cool’ things. In a bad group, this could be an utter nightmare.

Both systems largely avoid trying to define characters in strict mechanical terms and allow much more freedom. The players are much more free to define their characters instead of trying to aligning their concept with precepts allowed for in a specific system.


Samuel Leming wrote:
You don't agree that previous editions of D&D could be spindled and mashed into fitting just about any playstyle? Or is it that you don't agree that doing so would be more difficult in it's current edition?

I do not believe that any version of D&D can handle any setting equally well. D&D’s mechanics drive it into its own meta-genre. 3.5 was more flexible than previous editions, however, things like classes and the way magic works largely molds the world instead of the other way around.

Depending on the group, you could use any play style you wanted with any version of D&D. Of course the same could be said of any game. In my opinion, all versions of D&D encourages too much meta-game thinking. I know a lot of people think 4e has taken this to an extreme, however, in my opinion from the very beginning D&D has had a ‘kill things and take their stuff’ mentality which clashes with my immersion. Some argue that giving non-spell casting classes powers with very specific mechanics kill their immersion, but how is that different than listening to McStabbing flail away with his +5 Sword of Things Slaying?

I concede that rules are necessary otherwise we are just playing pretend on the playground. For me, the fewer the rules, the more internally consistent those rule are and the more freedom they allow players the easier it is for me to immerse myself into the game world. Maybe that makes me a gamist. I never thought about it from that direction.

The Exchange

Samuel Weiss wrote:
Unfortunately in the 4E rules, the vast majority of that advice is locked into set tables making it a straightjacket instead of advice.

Pretty amazing that by configuring content into the form of a table it suddenly becomes so authoritative that it cannot be altered or ignored :)


Samuel Weiss wrote:

Because they present it as a quantum evolution in game design (it is not), that is mechanically superior to all previous editions (highly subjective), while constantly contradicting themselves in its application (by saying gamism is about consistent rules then suggesting you can ignore any of the rules at whim).

They want to have their hype and ignore it too.

This strikes me funny when I hear it. The post from crosswiredmind above mine suggests a similar tactic, that if I don't care for the rules mechanical changes, I should just not use them. (Same logic I would get from diehard Realms fans when I would state that some of the uberNPCs bugged me. 'Don't use them!')

This logic, to me, leads to an inescapable conclusion;

If I'm not supposed to use it, why should I pay for it?


crosswiredmind wrote:
Pretty amazing that by configuring content into the form of a table it suddenly becomes so authoritative that it cannot be altered or ignored :)

No kidding. Damn you Periodic table!

The Exchange

kickedoffagain wrote:

This strikes me funny when I hear it. The post from crosswiredmind above mine suggests a similar tactic, that if I don't care for the rules mechanical changes, I should just not use them. (Same logic I would get from diehard Realms fans when I would state that some of the uberNPCs bugged me. 'Don't use them!')

This logic, to me, leads to an inescapable conclusion;

If I'm not supposed to use it, why should I pay for it?

I love my Prius except for the stereo which only holds one disc and has no native iPod support. Should I not drive my car? Of course I will keep it - it gets 48MPG average per tank of gas.

So the question is this - does D&D or any other game provide enough of a benefit to look past the few things that you do not like? If the answer is no, then don't buy it. If the answer is yes then buy it and change/ignore the parts that bother you.


just for the record, the problem of knowing which creatures are a appropiate challenge (read survivable but still challenging) is not a minor or nonexistant problem but probably the biggest barrier to entry that I have observed for new Dm's .

For instances at level 6 our new Dm thought an appropiate challenge was several hill giants and reading the fluff in the monster manual, their Red Dragon Allies.

Needless to say we barely survived the carpet fire bombings (handled improvisedly once the dm realized just how much damage those 20 dice breaths do ) and then came the much more reasonable hill giants...

Needless to say, the party died

It wasn't fun, it wasn't storyful, It wasn't what the dm wanted this whole magical monsterdar that many people assume dm's have inbred is a learned skill.

My Wife won't run DnD3.x because she doesn't get the CR system (past say one monster ) and she finds it frustrating, not because of some magical experience that it is preventing, but because it doesn't seem to do what it says it ought to be able to do (easily provide the basis of a challenging but doable encounter). and for the record this is more than a yaer before 4th's announcement.

But hey, whatever I mean really this all comes down to annecdote lol it was good in the past, the old way thats how i did it it was good enough for me, dun know why people need new stuff, its their fault for needing new stuff anyway

Logos

Scarab Sages

Logos wrote:
For instances at level 6 our new Dm thought an appropiate challenge was several hill giants and reading the fluff in the monster manual, their Red Dragon Allies.

To be fair, thats a mistake by your DM rather than a fault of the rules themselves. A single Hill Giant is CR 7, which is a good challenge for a level 6 party. Assuming a single Wyrmling dragon, CR 4, you get an Encounter Level around 8, which is 2 higher than the party and starts getting deadly. Adding in multiples of each, no wonder you got a TPK.

Liberty's Edge

crosswiredmind wrote:
Pretty amazing that by configuring content into the form of a table it suddenly becomes so authoritative that it cannot be altered or ignored :)

As I said previously, barring the Game Police suddenly manifesting, you can do whatever you like.

As I also noted previously, when the commentary on those rules by the designers assures of us a precise mathematical balance to the entire rules system, altering or ignoring the material causes direct and immediate upset to that balance.

If you have a house of cards, indeed, nothing prevents you from pulling a card out at random, or tossing another one on in any old place. Said house of cards will still collapse into a heap if you do despite the lack of said prohibition.

Liberty's Edge

crosswiredmind wrote:

I love my Prius except for the stereo which only holds one disc and has no native iPod support. Should I not drive my car? Of course I will keep it - it gets 48MPG average per tank of gas.

So the question is this - does D&D or any other game provide enough of a benefit to look past the few things that you do not like? If the answer is no, then don't buy it. If the answer is yes then buy it and change/ignore the parts that bother you.

Will you casually swap out the batteries for an off the shelf battery of random type?

Will you operate the vehicle outside of the recommended parameters?

Are there tables showing just how the vehicle can perform?

If the answer is yes then you have another example of how putting things in a table makes them a straight jacket that cannot be altered or ignored.

The Exchange

Samuel Weiss wrote:
crosswiredmind wrote:
Pretty amazing that by configuring content into the form of a table it suddenly becomes so authoritative that it cannot be altered or ignored :)

As I said previously, barring the Game Police suddenly manifesting, you can do whatever you like.

As I also noted previously, when the commentary on those rules by the designers assures of us a precise mathematical balance to the entire rules system, altering or ignoring the material causes direct and immediate upset to that balance.

If you have a house of cards, indeed, nothing prevents you from pulling a card out at random, or tossing another one on in any old place. Said house of cards will still collapse into a heap if you do despite the lack of said prohibition.

I agree Sam. That sentence I quoted just sounded funny, hence the :) at the end of my post.

The Exchange

Samuel Weiss wrote:
Will you casually swap out the batteries for an off the shelf battery of random type?

Random? Nope. Well researched alternative - maybe.

"Samuel Weiss wrote:
Will you operate the vehicle outside of the recommended parameters?

Yep. There are folks out there called hyper-milers that have figured out way to tweak the operation of the car to get like 75 to 100 MPG. They are not following the driving advice from the owners manual.

"Samuel Weiss wrote:
Are there tables showing just how the vehicle can perform?

Actually there are. The Prius has energy consumption and flow screens that show you how well the car performs. In the owners manual are charts that show how much gas is consumed when the car is in different states. By understanding these I can tweak the way I drive to get the right balance of performance and mileage.

"Samuel Weiss wrote:
If the answer is yes then you have another example of how putting things in a table makes them a straight jacket that cannot be altered or ignored.

... or not. The only constant is the speed of light in a vacuum - everything else can be tweaked, altered, changed, or modified.

Dark Archive

crosswiredmind wrote:


In each of those cases the core mechanic may be the same or similar but each is a unique instance of the d20 SRD. Each is tailored to simulate a particular genre. There isn't a game out there that uses just the barebones core of d20.

*Emphasis mine*

Exactly what I'm saying. You have to add simulationist mechanics in order to simulate a genre. So not all mechanics simulate genre. That's the difference between Gamist and Simulationist. You have to remember that all RPGs are a mix of all three types of mechanics. When that game is called Gamist or this one Simulationist, they are referering to the prevalent element, but all are still present.

crosswiredmind wrote:


In D&D the narration is more than just the description between rolls. The players can roleplay right through a challenge without a die ever being touched. There is no rule that all situations must play out as you have described.

Never said it was the only narrativist rule in the book either. It was just an example.

crosswiredmind wrote:


Narration is not the mechanic. Success or failure at a task are simply assumed based on the dramatic context of the story. In fact what you are describing is not a game at all - it is simply collaborative story telling. I would not even classify it as a role playing game.

That's a very narrow definition of role playing game. One liable to start a flame war on certain forums. Not by me though, I'm very much a trad role player. :)

crosswiredmind wrote:

Neither of those make sense to me. The base mechanics of any game can be reduced to generic mechanisms then built into specifically purposed mechanisms. This distinction seems very arbitrary.

Actually its not opinion. Classification is objective, not subjective. If the categories of GNS breakdown under examination then they are meaningless.

There are gray areas with lots debate (or heated arguments) in regards to were some things fall within GNS. The presence of all three elements in every rpg confuses things and clasification is not as easy as you make it sound. Where do you draw a line on a spectrum?

Keep in mind also that GNS theory's primary goal, is to help rpg designers in their creation process. To help them identify mechanics which help the design or complicate it needlessly. In the end, it's their decision. Rigid classifications are not really necessary.

Liberty's Edge

crosswiredmind wrote:
By understanding these I can tweak the way I drive to get the right balance of performance and mileage.

sir, i have read many a post from you, agreed some, disagreed some, but have always found you to be reasonable and intelligent.

however: i have driven a prius. please refrain from ever using the words "performance" and "prius" in the same sentence again ;)

Dark Archive

crosswiredmind wrote:
- it is simply collaborative story telling.

BTW, that's how I describ roleplaying when asked what D&D is.

The Exchange

houstonderek wrote:
however: i have driven a prius. please refrain from ever using the words "performance" and "prius" in the same sentence again ;)

Yeah, well ... by performance I do mean staying under 70 cause it doesn't like going any faster, and uh ... well ... it does corner pretty good - for a brick.

HEY - bad performance is still performance ... I REALLY want a Tesla.

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