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


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There have been quite a few posts about certain RPGs being "gamist" or "simulationist". I think it's fair to say that neither is better than the other, but I'd like to know what makes a game one or the other.

In my opinion:

-Mostly Gamist
4th Edition D&D
1st and 2nd Edition D&D

-Mostly Simulationist
GURPS (I could be wrong)

-Somewhere in between
3rd Edition D&D
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay
Shadowrun

-Something else entirely
Vampire, Werewolf, etc...

Contributor

veector wrote:

There have been quite a few posts about certain RPGs being "gamist" or "simulationist". I think it's fair to say that neither is better than the other, but I'd like to know what makes a game one or the other.

In my opinion:

-Mostly Gamist
4th Edition D&D
1st and 2nd Edition D&D

-Mostly Simulationist
GURPS (I could be wrong)

-Somewhere in between
3rd Edition D&D
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay
Shadowrun

-Something else entirely
Vampire, Werewolf, etc...

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!). ;-)


Wow -- I've played a zillion RPGs, and the ones I like best (GURPS, James Bond 007) seem to fall in the "simulationist" section of your list. If that's what that makes me, so be it. I will say that I like a fictional world to be internally consistent, rather than arbitrary (unless it's a Plane of Chaos or something).

The Spider-Man movies ticked me off because there seemed to be absolutely no consistency in super-powers: sometimes he's invulnerable to harm, sometimes not, depending on the scene; sometimes he can pick up whole subways, sometimes not; sometimes he can sort of forget about web spinning and just fly around, sometimes not. It was all about what seemed visually "cool" or happened to fit the story in that particular scene, without regard to any other scene. I really strive to avoid that in my games.

Contributor

Kirth Gersen wrote:

Wow -- I've played a zillion RPGs, and the ones I like best (GURPS, James Bond 007) seem to fall in the "simulationist" section of your list. If that's what that makes me, so be it. I will say that I like a fictional world to be internally consistent, rather than arbitrary (unless it's a Plane of Chaos or something).

The Spider-Man movies ticked me off because there seemed to be absolutely no consistency in super-powers: sometimes he's invulnerable to harm, sometimes not, depending on the scene; sometimes he can pick up whole subways, sometimes not; sometimes he can sort of forget about web spinning and just fly around, sometimes not. I strive to avoid that in my games.

I'm a Narra-Simi myself. :-)

I'm a big fan of a Narrativism spiced up with Simulationism really. Story first! But consistency also important.

This is a fun thread.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Nicolas Logue wrote:

I'm a Narra-Simi myself. :-)

I'm a big fan of a Narrativism spiced up with Simulationism really. Story first! But consistency also important.

This is a fun thread.

Ditto.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

and for those that like to lurk PbP: voyeurism

Contributor

DitheringFool wrote:
and for those that like to lurk PbP: voyeurism

Ha! LOL!

That's great!

The Exchange

I would not categorize any version of D&D as simulationist. Class, level, and HP are pure gamist mechanics and they are the very core of D&D.


Per above comments...

-Mostly Gamist
4th Edition D&D
1st and 2nd Edition D&D

-Mostly Simulationist
GURPS (I could be wrong)

-Somewhere in between
3rd Edition D&D
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay
Shadowrun

-Narrativist
Vampire, Werewolf, etc...

Please post opinions on these or any others.


crosswiredmind wrote:
I would not categorize any version of D&D as simulationist. Class, level, and HP are pure gamist mechanics and they are the very core of D&D.

Thanks CWM, I'd really like to hear opinions on what makes a game simulationist or not. The aspects you cite above are definitely valid.

So, to try and guess what "simulationism" is, would an RPG that did not have anything except "Skill Name" - "% chance" be the epitome of simulationism?

Trying to lead an intellectual discussion.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

crosswiredmind wrote:
I would not categorize any version of D&D as simulationist. Class, level, and HP are pure gamist mechanics and they are the very core of D&D.

I disagree. It just depends on what you feel they are simulating.

Contributor

crosswiredmind wrote:
I would not categorize any version of D&D as simulationist. Class, level, and HP are pure gamist mechanics and they are the very core of D&D.

True. As written is a hardcore gamist engine.

However in action with a little house-ruling it can be incredibly narrativist or simultionist. You should see how I run it. XP (and even HP sometimes) are forgotten by the wayside.


As I understand it, Simulationist puts simulating the target genre above everything else. The target genre is not always reality.

Dark Archive

It's an interesting set of breakdowns. My favorites from the above listing include 2nd and 3rd editions of D&D, GURPS and Vampire, which, between them, pretty much cover the whole spectrum!

Mutants & Masterminds - gamist

Amber - narrativist

Settings seem to lean in some directions as well. Eberron, for all it's crunchy Gamist PrCs, also had some Feats like Investigative or whatever that seemed pure Narrativist.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

CourtFool wrote:
As I understand it, Simulationist puts simulating the target genre above everything else. The target genre is not always reality.

I am forced to agree with the poodle that frightens children.


I guess the way I see it is that the story or genre is trying to have an internal logic and the rules aim to fit that into the consistency of the real world.

For example: The driving rules in d20 Modern just plain suck, IMO. To rectify them and make them more exciting, you have to adapt them slightly to the Car Wars style of game turns, which is VERY simulationist.

This doesn't mean you can't have cars with "frickin' laser beams" because it's simulationist.

*edited for incorrectly replying to CourtFool*


CourtFool's rating, very subjective, likely to change

Game (G%/N%S%)
BESM (20/30/50)
D&D 3.5 (50/25/25)
D&D 4e (40/20/40)
G.U.R.P.S. (40/20/40)
Hero (40/20/40)
M&M (40/20/40)
PDQ (10/60/30)
Spirit of the Century (20/40/40)


veector wrote:
I guess the way I see it is that the story or genre is trying to have an internal logic and the rules aim to fit that into the consistency of the real world.

I would argue that 'internal logic and rules' define Gamist.


Victory Games 007 is a great "simulationist" system, to my mind; the forward even spells it out, along the lines of "this game is meant to simulate the world of the James Bond movies." Characters don't gain "hit points" or whatever; they advance by getting better at various skills, and/or learning new skills. Being shot usually leads to a serious wound requiring medical attention, and is often fatal; James Bond is able to shoot faster and more accurately than the bad guys, by virtue of his greater skill, but a bullet can still kill him.

None of this interferes with narrative or storytelling; indeed, most of the mechanics, like intentionally ramping difficulties during chases, or using hero points to "just happen" to have a cigarette lighter in your pocket, are exceptionally good for storytelling. But the system as a whole is clear-cut, internally-consistent, and sets definite limitations on physical events -- even if those limitations are a bit more extreme than they are in "real life."


CourtFool wrote:
I would argue that 'internal logic and rules' define Gamist.

"Gamist" systems have no internal logic in terms of matching the fluff to the rules. This leads to things like the "giants jumping off of mountains" discussion elsewhere on the boards: the game world expects that falling is lethal, but the rules say it's 20d6 damage max. So, in theory, giants can jump off of mountains instead of climbing down -- but somehow they never do, because it doesn't fit the world-view. The rules don't really support the world. There's a disconnect.


I do not think any system is 100% any one category. I think it would even be difficult to define a system as mostly any one category. To make matters worse, personal preferences will be applied as well. So a GM may largely ignore certain parts of a system pushing it into an entirely different category. A player may dislike one particular rule so much that, for that player, the system is in an entirely different category.

To give examples, everyone knows I hate classes. For me, they ruin immersion and are a constant reminder I am playing a game. They clash with any concept I have for my character and make it difficult for me to get into any kind of role. For a lot of people, classes are perfectly fine. In fact, they aid in helping people define how they fit into the game world.

PDQ does not have any sort of Hit Points. Damage is subtracted for your qualities. You can, in effect, get punched in the ‘Girlfriend’. This is taking abstraction to the extreme and yet is very Gamist. It obviously shares no consistency with reality, but can explain why Peter Parker has so many problems with Mary Jane. Does that make it Simulationist?


Kirth Gersen wrote:
Gamist" systems have no internal logic in terms of matching the fluff to the rules.

Right. Simulationist is concerned with matching rules to fluff. Gamist is concerned with internal consistency and play balance.

Liberty's Edge

CourtFool wrote:
As I understand it, Simulationist puts simulating the target genre above everything else. The target genre is not always reality.

Exactly.

That is why I consider the distinction between Simulationist and Gamist to be nothing more than an attempt to establish superiority via jargon. I can points to dozens of simulationist elements in 4E and just as many gamist elements in 3E (although crosswiredmind already started on that).

Any game by its definition contains game elements.
Any game with a genre by its nature contains simulationist elements.

The key to a good game is one that merges these in an esthetically pleasing manner that encourages a narrativist engagement with the game.
The key to a lousy game is one that allows these to compete producing an aesthetically displeasing result that reduces any element of narrativist interaction.

At least that is my experience.


Samuel Weiss wrote:
That is why I consider the distinction between Simulationist and Gamist to be nothing more than an attempt to establish superiority via jargon.

Why is one better than another? I still fail to understand why Gamist is the new gaming slur.

Dark Archive

Kirth Gersen wrote:
"Gamist" systems have no internal logic in terms of matching the fluff to the rules. This leads to things like the "giants jumping off of mountains" discussion elsewhere on the boards: the game world expects that falling is lethal, but the rules say it's 20d6 damage max. So, in theory, giants can jump off of mountains instead of climbing down -- but somehow they never do, because it doesn't fit the world-view. The rules don't really support the world. There's a disconnect.

Where 'gamist' gets on my nerves is when it's a sign of lazy design.

"The innkeeper staggers to the ground, handing you the note, blood leaking from his mouth, gives a short speech, then dies."

"I give him a dose of Keoghtum's Ointment while he's talking and we ask him where he got the note."

"Uh, no, he dies. It was poison."

"K's Ointment cures poison."

"It was a curse..."

"A poisonous curse that makes you die for no reason, despite having full hit points, but not until you hand over the villain's plans to the heroes who are there to stop him? That's kinda specific, and, also useless, since it didn't stop the innkeeper from spilling the beans anyway..."

"I hate you. Shut up."

Far too many game-writers, IMO, hide behind 'gamist' or 'advance the plot' to excuse not even bothering to consider the game world they are writing for. It's a magical world, and telling the players of magical characters that their magical powers just plum don't work because it 'messes with the narrative' is just a bald-faced admission that the person who wrote the narrative didn't bother to think about it. (Not in all cases, obviously. If the plot of the story is 'magic goes awry!' then there is a valid in-story reason why magic isn't working the way the game presents it.)

This sort of thing was rife in 1st and 2nd edition, with various adventures having arbitrary rulings like 'divinations don't work here!' and 'you can't read these beasties minds, and you'll be *punished* if you do' and 'no teleporting' and 'no summoning' and various other lame cop-outs.

Narrativist, gamist, simulationist, I really don't have a preference, only that it's *consistent.* The rules can be silly and obviously 'gamist' (like any online game, where your character 'dies' and then reappears a minute later, ready to play again), so long as they are consistently applied and the plotlines don't revolve around blatant holes in that 'fantasy logic.'

Sovereign Court

In my experience since 1983, an rpg story can be created as an output of any creative agenda, whether its gamist, narrativist or simulationist.

The dark reality, in my humble opinion, is that the rules lawyers and the munchkins who play the world's most inherently creative game - seem to need specifications on exactly how to be creative. This leads to lots of business for publishers and more recently resulted in fourth edition, which, SEEMS TO HAVE the rules contain specified creativity mechanics for the players. In my opinion, that's the progression we've seen from d&d in its original form to its so-called current version.

Now, 3.5 and PRPG seems to lend itself to the very best of all worlds (in my humble opinion) because one can manifest a story through a gamist, narrativist or simulationist agenda - and iteratively at various points of the game. In my opinion its the most intelligent, sophisticated d&d version that can lend itself articulately to any of these three agendas (GN or S).

But I accept views to the contrary.

In the final analysis, I belive as a community we don't really use the right words to describe what we mean when we "lump" the dramatic story output into something called roleplay. Roleplay how? Tactically? With a simulationist ruleset? Roleplay as a narrative, so much so that you can "throw away" the tedium of HP as Nick points out?

In every case, I agree this is a great thread. I've been thinking a lot about these philosophies as I've been, Quixotically, in search of the perfect game recently.


CourtFool wrote:
Kirth Gersen wrote:
Gamist" systems have no internal logic in terms of matching the fluff to the rules.
Right. Simulationist is concerned with matching rules to fluff. Gamist is concerned with internal consistency and play balance.

Actually, I see it the other way around because I see the consistency aspect as being simulationist. The assumption being the real world or the system you are trying to immitate is consistent.

Are we talking in circles?

Sovereign Court

crosswiredmind wrote:
I would not categorize any version of D&D as simulationist. Class, level, and HP are pure gamist mechanics and they are the very core of D&D.

Yeah, I agree. I wish there was a better, more simulationsist way to represent how much punishement or near misses your character can take. Maybe vitality points from UA are the way to go? A certain amount of gamism is necessary or the game bogs down in complexity. I think the best approach in an RPG is to have only as much gamism as is necessary to keep the game moving. I think above all else, a system, especially an RPG, should strive for internal consistancy. One pet peeve I have with 4th edition is that it seems to have kicked internal consistancy to the curb.

Liberty's Edge

CourtFool wrote:
Why is one better than another? I still fail to understand why Gamist is the new gaming slur.

It is not. That is my point. It is just tagging a bunch of labels on stuff, and then trying to use them to establish quality in and of themselves. Which is likely very unfair to the basic theory which just wanted to describe the various elements.

In the long run, any game is gamist, simulationist, and narrativist to particular degrees, including not at all, and the particular amounts of each determine what kind of game it is and how much fun it is.
Saying 4E is more gamist and 3E is more simulationist is completely meaningless without deeper context.


I believe striving for the rules to be internally consistent is Gamist. I believe striving for the rules to consistently mimic the genre is Simulationist. Obviously, there can be overlap. A game striving to mimic real life may be equally Gamist and Simulationist.

My argument that 4e is no less Simulationist is based on my perception that 4e strives to be more cinematic. I am not sure what 3.5 was every trying to be. I suppose at high levels it was cinematic. At low levels, it certainly was not. So it was never consistent in its simulation. However, 3.5 certainly has more internally consistent rules than say 2.0.

Dark Archive

WotC's Nightmare wrote:
I wish there was a better, more simulationsist way to represent how much punishement or near misses your character can take. Myabe vitality points from UA are the way to go? A certain amount of gamism is necessary or the game bogs down in complexity. I think the best approach in an RPG is to have only as much gamism as is necessary to keep the game moving.

Book of Experimental Might's 'Grace' and 'Health' options seem like one way to go. Health points are equal to Con or whatever and the hit points you gain with class levels are Grace points that don't represent actual physical injury. Monte describes it as being like an action movie, where the hero gets punched, blown up, etc. for the first half of the movie, and doesn't really get hurt, but by the end he's 'used up his grace points' and starts taking actual physical wounds that bleed and make him limp (and would require magical curing / long-term rest).

I'm also fond of the idea of incorporating some sort of penalties that only appear when the character has hit a wounded state (Mutants & Masterminds and True20 use this, and I think 4E also has a 'Bloodied' condition that might be similar as well), to further differentiate between the wearing down of a character (grace 'damage') and an actual physically injured condition (real 'hit point damage').


WotC's Nightmare wrote:
One pet peeve I have with 4th edition is that it seems to have kicked internal consistancy to the curb.

(laughing) I would say 3.5 started it. It was a huge step towards consistency compared to 2.0, but still a far way off compared to other games.


CourtFool wrote:
My argument that 4e is no less Simulationist is based on my perception that 4e strives to be more cinematic.

Yes, I would agree.

CourtFool wrote:
However, 3.5 certainly has more internally consistent rules than say 2.0.

Again, I agree.

A friend of mine told me a story about how he and his group tried to make D&D (2nd ed) more simulationist. In a nutshell, they broke down combat and hit points into blow-by-blow vs vitality, wounds, etc. The result: combats took forever but were very detailed and exciting to them.

The gamist approach would look at the same thing and try to abstract as much as possible and thereby lose the detail and flavor (in my opinion) of the combat.

Unless the guidebook gives you something to go by with each mechanic, as in a description of what a mechanic is supposed to simulate, you will lose the flavor.

For my money, D&D 2nd edition was very bad at simulation. 3rd edition made some improvements, but some sacred-cow gamist concepts had to be retained for sake of speed of play.

I do not think the changes in 4th to speed up the game were necessary. Does that mean I always prefer a more "simulationist" approach? Definitely not. For some games it just doesn't work.

The Exchange

CourtFool wrote:
As I understand it, Simulationist puts simulating the target genre above everything else. The target genre is not always reality.

Then the term is relative which makes the categorization subjective and somewhat arbitrary. All RPGs attempt to simulate some kind of genre. By your definition BESM is an anime simulator. $e could be called simulationist because it seek to simulate the free form cinematic high fantasy found in many pop-culture fantasy outlets like Harry Potter films, anime, and comic books.

If this distinction is to be meaningful then objective criteria are required for "simulationist" and "gamist". 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.

IMO "simulationist" games try to emulate the real world with the addition of fantastic elements. They take a "if magic was real then how would it work" kind of approach. RunQuest is a prime example of a simulationist fantasy game.

To me "gamist" rules bend reality to allow for heroic and supernatural exploits. 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.

Granted - some games reflect certain unrealities better that others, and some games simulate better than others but I think this duality has some fairly objective criteria for categorization.


CourtFool wrote:
As I understand it, Simulationist puts simulating the target genre above everything else. The target genre is not always reality.

So would that make Call of Cthulhu a simulationist game then?


If speeding up combat was done to simulate reality, then yes, 4e moved away from Simulationist. If speeding up combat was done to simulate cinematics, then 4e moved toward Simulationist.

If you want a more 'realistic' game, may I suggest G.U.R.P.S. or Role Master?

Dark Archive

Lensman wrote:
CourtFool wrote:
As I understand it, Simulationist puts simulating the target genre above everything else. The target genre is not always reality.
So would that make Call of Cthulhu a simulationist game then?

The insanity rules are definitely simulationist, since that's their entire purpose, to simulate the genre. :)


crosswiredmind wrote:
If this distinction is to be meaningful then objective criteria are required for "simulationist" and "gamist".

I think you're right. Which makes this discussion more difficult.

crosswiredmind wrote:

IMO "simulationist" games try to emulate the real world with the addition of fantastic elements. They take a "if magic was real then how would it work" kind of approach. RunQuest is a prime example of a simulationist fantasy game.

To me "gamist" rules bend reality to allow for heroic and supernatural exploits. 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.

Then on what basis do you distinguish the changes between 4th and 3rd. Is one more "gamist"? I don't imply that that's bad.


CourtFool wrote:

If speeding up combat was done to simulate reality, then yes, 4e moved away from Simulationist. If speeding up combat was done to simulate cinematics, then 4e moved toward Simulationist.

If you want a more 'realistic' game, may I suggest G.U.R.P.S. or Role Master?

Or Phoenix Command/Living Steel ;)


Nicolas Logue wrote:
You should see how I run it. XP (and even HP sometimes) are forgotten by the wayside.

I'll take this as an invitation to join your game. When is it? It's NYC right? :P


I see "cinematic" used a lot, and wonder if we all agree on that term as well?

To me, it means "I don't care if there are rules or consistency; events will go however I say they do because when I imagine them it seems cool to me."


”crosswiredmind” wrote:
All RPGs attempt to simulate some kind of genre. By your definition BESM is an anime simulator.

Yes, exactly.

”crosswiredmind” wrote:
If this distinction is to be meaningful then objective criteria are required for "simulationist" and "gamist".

How is the distinction not meaningful? You were able to provide an example of my definition.

”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.

I agree. As I said before, all RPGs are a mixture of the three elements. However, just as one game may have more Gamist elements, I believe they can also have more Narrative elements. Therefore, I believe it is a valid category.

”crosswiredmind” wrote:
IMO "simulationist" games try to emulate the real world with the addition of fantastic elements.

I disagree with your definition, but I understand it.

”crosswiredmind” wrote:
Granted - some games reflect certain unrealities better that others, and some games simulate better than others but I think this duality has some fairly objective criteria for categorization.

I would argue your objective criteria is just as subjective as mine. Please do not take this as an attack. Your point is valid, I simply disagree with it.

Liberty's Edge

Set wrote:

Where 'gamist' gets on my nerves is when it's a sign of lazy design. (followed by an example i fully agree with)

this sort of thing was rife in 1st and 2nd edition, with various adventures having arbitrary rulings like 'divinations don't work here!' and 'you can't read these beasties minds, and you'll be *punished* if you do' and 'no teleporting'...

while there are times when it makes sense for "no teleport" or "no divination" if the antagonist is sufficiently powerful to have magical "privacy" spells and the like, i agree that the arbitrairy application for "plot purposes" is completely bogus. i don't know how many times parties i've run for have blown my story out of the water with actions i hadn't accounted for and the nemesis didn't have a contingency for. such is life, and most of the time, such "plot busters" led to amazing role playing and story developments...


houstonderek wrote:
i don't know how many times parties i've run for have blown my story out of the water with actions i hadn't accounted for and the nemesis didn't have a contingency for. such is life, and most of the time, such "plot busters" led to amazing role playing and story developments...

Agreed! I had one player who consistently short-circuited my scanarios with his unexpected shenanigans... but we ended up with the best game experiences we've ever played that way.


Kirth Gersen wrote:
To me, it means "I don't care if there are rules or consistency; events will go however I say they do because when I imagine them it seems cool to me."

That is certainly not how I meant it.

For me, 'cinematic' means simulating cinema and literature where things are not necessarily realistic. Obviously, there is a huge range of 'cinematic'. I do not want a game [u]Shoot Em Up[/u] 'cinematic' but [u]Die Hard[/u] 'cinematic' is fine.

Liberty's Edge

CourtFool wrote:

I believe striving for the rules to be internally consistent is Gamist. I believe striving for the rules to consistently mimic the genre is Simulationist. Obviously, there can be overlap. A game striving to mimic real life may be equally Gamist and Simulationist.

My argument that 4e is no less Simulationist is based on my perception that 4e strives to be more cinematic. I am not sure what 3.5 was every trying to be. I suppose at high levels it was cinematic. At low levels, it certainly was not. So it was never consistent in its simulation. However, 3.5 certainly has more internally consistent rules than say 2.0.

i think that's the crux of the argument. what the gamer wants "simulated". myself, i prefer a game that attempts to "simulate" the fantasy lit i grew up on, which i believe 1e through 3x does better than 4e.

i do play 4e at the FLGS on occasion, since there are times when i DO want to play in a simulation of the fantasy movies i love, which i believe 4e accomplishes much better than 1e through 3x.

i will say, though, that i think 3x is caught between the two (literature and cinema) which may be the problem some on both sides (the people still playing 1e/2e, and those who prefer 4e) of the "i don't like 3x" camp have with the system.


houstonderek wrote:
i will say, though, that i think 3x is caught between the two (literature and cinema) which may be the problem some on both sides (the people still playing 1e/2e, and those who prefer 4e) of the "i don't like 3x" camp have with the system.

That is an excellent point. Quite possibly why CWM and I do not see eye to eye.

Liberty's Edge

Kirth Gersen wrote:
houstonderek wrote:
i don't know how many times parties i've run for have blown my story out of the water with actions i hadn't accounted for and the nemesis didn't have a contingency for. such is life, and most of the time, such "plot busters" led to amazing role playing and story developments...
Agreed! I had one player who consistently short-circuited my scanarios with his unexpected shenanigans... but we ended up with the best game experiences we've ever played that way.

i had one player, who ran a rogue named Knox, who would kill more plots than any other player i've ever had. it was worse after he dies and was reincarnated as a pixie. i still have nightmares...

(i wish there was a "pm" feature here: kirth, the storm was a bit of a let down, huh?)

Sovereign Court

I think that's where the problem is. You define simulationist as stimulating a genre, while others, me included, mean simualting how something would happen in the real world. 3.5 is pretty internally consistant. Magic works basically the same for everyone, whether it is spell-like abilities or the magic of a spellcasting classs. Every creature follows the same rules for hit dice, skills, feats, saving throws, etc. There are a lot of exceptions, but there are reasonable explanations for them given the assumptions of the way the 3.5 D&D universe works. You can't say the same for 4th edition.

Sovereign Court

There's also been a crisis with saying the word, YES.

In the past, the players were expected to use their imagination, to immerse themselves in their character and take what the DM said at face value to be instantly true, and run with it. Ostensibly, saying YES to the DM regardless of circumstance, reason, etc. Once YES was said, quietly, internally; the player imagination picked up and asked, "what will my character do next?"

Over time, as more and more rules got piled higher and higher, the players began to reference information previously only accessible to DMs. That is, players were (and are) remarkably familiar with all the rules in the PHB, DMG and even the MMs. At this point - the shift, in my opinion was to demand that the DM say YES. It seems the reason the joy of DMing has been strained is the insistant pressing of the players to reference even the most obscure rule and hold the DM accountable (which isn't bad) coupled with MIN/MAXing, or munchkining, both their characters and manipulating the scenario in that way.

Its simply not fluid for the DM to keep discussing rules, and rule options to help the player identify what is the ultimate best option for their character each and every round. Man, that's a drag.

So, in my opinion, the exloration of how we can integrate gamist, simulationist, and narrativist creative approaches for awesome outcomes is the next frontier. At the end of the day, the goal is to have fun, but for those thrill-seeking junkies such as myself - I tend to want it all. I want things to have all of the best of every world, and I want games to be the highest quality they can be, each and every session. I keep tweaking my style to appeal to all types of players, using all types of creative "ist" approaches.

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