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View Full Version : What exactly would levels represent in a "real world"



Stille_Nacht
2012-02-01, 11:53 PM
Seeing redcloak's terrifying power (i always knew what implosion did, but man does it look more threatening when drawn) got me thinking, and i was wondering if someone could elucidate how levels reflect one's position in society:

EG- lv 1: most of the population, bankers, merchants, farmers, etc.
lv 2-5: Guards, Trained Fighters, Soldiers
lv 5-10: Experts in their field, looked up to as teachers
lv 10-15: Relatively famous persons, renowned for their skill
lv 16-20: Famous figures, able to bring kingdom's to their knees

lv20+: Legends that are spoken of everywhere, almost more myth than real

is it along those lines?

Vodnuth
2012-02-02, 12:02 AM
I don't know but in my opinion the real world version of draining a level would be draining energy from someone, making them slow, tired, weak and easier for spells to fail.

ORione
2012-02-02, 12:09 AM
is it along those lines?

No. This (http://www.thealexandrian.net/creations/misc/d&d-calibrating.html) analyzes real life in D&D terms. It's pretty interesting.

If you don't have the time to read it, it concludes that real life's levels go something like this:
1st Level: Most of the planet.
2nd and 3rd Level: People who are exceptionally good at whatever they do.
4th Level: Professional athletes, rocket scientists, and other people who are the best of the best.
5th Level: Legendary people. Einstein, Galileo, Picasso, olympic gold medalists, etc.
6th Level and Above: Does not occur in real life.

kaiguy
2012-02-02, 12:34 AM
That's a terrific analysis, but it really convinced me that D&D has set the curve too short. Most campaigns I've played level five feels like you're just getting started, and that's where you're surpassing human achievement. This probably just boils down to a flavor issue, but I feel like the real world peak should be right around level 10. A 1 - 20 campaign spends half the progression achieving mortal mastery, and half surpassing it. If there's no real world, fictional, or mythological analog for a level 20 character, it feels a little broken to me.

But maybe that's just me.

Chronos
2012-02-02, 12:44 AM
Actually, it's a terrible analysis. It says that Einstein was level 5, because that's the level where it becomes possible to learn something nobody else has ever known. But we actually have a word for someone who's done that: It's "doctor". By the standards of that page, pretty much every college professor ever is at least level 5. Which actually sounds about right, to me.

Continuing the example further, a tenure-track professor would be around level 6, a head of a research group maybe around 7 or 8, someone well-regarded in their subfield around 9, and someone who everyone who studies the subject has heard of would be around 11. Which matches what the rulebooks tell us: "legendary" status kicks in at level 11.

Of course, there are levels beyond "legendary", too. All physicists have heard of, say, de Broglie, but he's still well below the level of, for instance, Dirac. Who in turn is below the level of Heisenberg or Schrödinger, who are below the level of Maxwell, who is below the level of Newton or Einstein. Those last two would be 20th-level physicists (i.e., Experts whose class skills include Knowledge (Physics) and related subjects), and are probably the only physicists who have ever lived who've reached that level.

Sith_Happens
2012-02-02, 12:54 AM
Newton or Einstein... would be 20th-level physicists... and are probably the only physicists who have ever lived who've reached that level.

Of all the times for my sig to be full...

tyckspoon
2012-02-02, 12:54 AM
If there's no real world, fictional, or mythological analog for a level 20 character, it feels a little broken to me.

But maybe that's just me.

Oh, fictional and mythical analogues are fairly easy to come by, because they share D&D's trait of being about bigger-and-or-better-than-reality characters. D&D level 20 does tend to occupy the higher end of that space, but if you poke around you can find myths with characters performing similarly scaled feats and of course modern fiction is all over the power graph.

The main thing is really getting an accurate idea of what D&D is. It's not about simulating reality or gritty heroes fighting to scrape out a win, although those are things a number of people try to force on it (and if you restrict yourself to low levels and squint the right way, it sort of works.) It's about fighting men who go toe to toe with creatures twice their size... and win. It's about spellcasters who rearrange the world to their personal desires, and there's not really anything the world can say back about it. It's about halfling rogues who can use daggers to deal mortal wounds to things an order of magnitude larger than themselves. It's about enlightened ascetics that step so lightly they can be supported by the clouds. And its about these things from pretty low levels... D&D, at least 3.5 D&D, isn't really 'medieval low fantasy'; that's just a popular veneer. The core of the game is a lot closer to Greek epics, stuff like the Labors of Hercules or Perseus taking on three different monsters... heroic figures doing stuff the common man could never attempt.

LudiDrizzt
2012-02-02, 01:14 AM
Actually, it's a terrible analysis. It says that Einstein was level 5, because that's the level where it becomes possible to learn something nobody else has ever known. But we actually have a word for someone who's done that: It's "doctor". By the standards of that page, pretty much every college professor ever is at least level 5. Which actually sounds about right, to me.

Continuing the example further, a tenure-track professor would be around level 6, a head of a research group maybe around 7 or 8, someone well-regarded in their subfield around 9, and someone who everyone who studies the subject has heard of would be around 11. Which matches what the rulebooks tell us: "legendary" status kicks in at level 11.

Of course, there are levels beyond "legendary", too. All physicists have heard of, say, de Broglie, but he's still well below the level of, for instance, Dirac. Who in turn is below the level of Heisenberg or Schrödinger, who are below the level of Maxwell, who is below the level of Newton or Einstein. Those last two would be 20th-level physicists (i.e., Experts whose class skills include Knowledge (Physics) and related subjects), and are probably the only physicists who have ever lived who've reached that level.



...No. You've completely missed that ENTIRE analysis, which provides far more substantial evidence to back up its claim than anything you're spouting now.

Redgoblin
2012-02-02, 01:26 AM
Actually, it's a terrible analysis. It says that Einstein was level 5, because that's the level where it becomes possible to learn something nobody else has ever known. But we actually have a word for someone who's done that: It's "doctor". By the standards of that page, pretty much every college professor ever is at least level 5. Which actually sounds about right, to me.

Continuing the example further, a tenure-track professor would be around level 6, a head of a research group maybe around 7 or 8, someone well-regarded in their subfield around 9, and someone who everyone who studies the subject has heard of would be around 11. Which matches what the rulebooks tell us: "legendary" status kicks in at level 11.

Of course, there are levels beyond "legendary", too. All physicists have heard of, say, de Broglie, but he's still well below the level of, for instance, Dirac. Who in turn is below the level of Heisenberg or Schrödinger, who are below the level of Maxwell, who is below the level of Newton or Einstein. Those last two would be 20th-level physicists (i.e., Experts whose class skills include Knowledge (Physics) and related subjects), and are probably the only physicists who have ever lived who've reached that level.

Except it doesn't actually work like that. Most research performed, either in college laboratories, or in industry, is simply applying well known techniques to a new system. In addition, entirely new systems or questions are often studied by dozens of professors, each contributing their own piece to the puzzle, leaving no one person to claim full credit.

The person who actually studies unheard of, an totally unanswered questions (the DC 39+ described) is actually very rare, leaving the small number of level 5 characters described in the article.

edit: and ninja'd, should not have taken so long to formulate this reply.

Exediron
2012-02-02, 05:07 AM
...No. You've completely missed that ENTIRE analysis, which provides far more substantial evidence to back up its claim than anything you're spouting now.

Believe me, I certainly have actually read the whole thing, and it has large holes in it.

Firstly, it focuses almost entirely on skills, ability checks and ability based limits (namely carrying limit). It focuses on these because they support its point, but one can easily find real-world evidence which does not support the point just as easily by turning to the combat side of things. And since D&D is a combat system first and foremost, it makes the most sense to base any analysis of D&D on combat instead of arbitrary comparisons to scientists.


Target shooting: Hitting a 5" bullseye (Fine size) at 100 yards with a longbow is a an AC of 24. Olympic archers typically hit the bullseye about half the time (I did some quick research, but I don't know a precise number). That would mean that the average Olympic-level archer has an attack bonus of about +14. Assuming +5 for base attack, +3 for dexterity,+1 for a masterwork bow and +1 for Weapon Focus, that still leaves 4 points short. And since he's classifying the average Olympic competitor as only level 3-4, the gap is a bit bigger.
Getting into the range of modern weapons (which strict D&D does not support, so you have to look to the inherently flawed D20 rules) the longest confirmed kill is 8,120 feet with an L115A3 (an AWM, basically). The range increment for an AWM is given as 110 feet, so even assuming he had Far Shot and a scope the sniper was operating at a penalty of -40. Now you might say 'Natural 20!', but he then proceeded to shoot a second target at the same distance. Also, luck really isn't taken into account in the original essay.

Also, there's the question of XP: How can a hypothetical 5th level character remain 5th level after killing a sufficient number of opponents? Let's take for example the legendary World War II sniper Simo Häyhä, credited with 505 confirmed kills during the Winter War. Assuming he was already 5th level when he made the first kill and his opponents were exclusively 1st level, Häyhä would have earned 151,500 XP for those kills (300 XP/kill). Even assuming he only got 1/10 XP, that's more than enough to level him up past 5th level right there. If he was 1st level to begin with, as the essay would postulate a fresh soldier would be, he'd get even more XP.

Now, I'm not saying that all of my points are perfect. But what I am saying is that you can easily find arguments against the original document which hold just as much statistical water.

And lastly, the section on the Lord of the Rings is clearly inaccurate; it's not relevant to the point I'm making here, I'm just addressing it because it bugs me. In claiming that no character in Middle-Earth has done anything that a well-built 10th level couldn't do, the author clearly reveals his own ignorance of the material in question, particularly the Silmarillion. How many 10th level characters can:


Survive several rounds of combat with a creature who is basically a god, injuring said creature several times?
Kill multiple Balrogs in combat (at least as powerful as a major demon each)?
Kill 70 trolls without taking significant injury?
Craft an item which the resident gods of the world can't equal (i.e creating an Artifact, an achievement explicitly stated to be impossible at normal levels)?

The only valid point which the author makes about the Lord of the Rings is that yes, the heroes of the Third Age have fallen far from the First Age.

In conclusion, my point is that yes, the author did find some real-world numbers to back up his point. But he did it by focusing on the examples which supported his position and ignoring those which didn't; focusing on different (I think more relevant) examples yields a different result. All I've really proven is that D&D isn't a consistent simulator of reality, which we already knew, so I guess the joke is on me :smallsmile:

Actually, I agree with the premise that the majority of people are very low level; what I don't agree with is the claim that there are no documented individuals who greatly exceed that low-level range. The skill system of D&D isn't perfect and everyone knows it, so why focus on it as a benchmark?

Just to be clear, this post is in no way intended to be insulting to people who prefer to play the game only up to level 6. That's a preference, which everyone is free to have. However, claiming that you have statistical proof that there are no real world figures over level 5 is a statement of supposed fact, and can be disputed as such.

Bit Fiend
2012-02-02, 06:00 AM
Believe me, I certainly have actually read the whole thing, and it has large holes in it.

Firstly, it focuses almost entirely on skills, ability checks and ability based limits (namely carrying limit). It focuses on these because they support its point, but one can easily find real-world evidence which does not support the point just as easily by turning to the combat side of things. And since D&D is a combat system first and foremost, it makes the most sense to base any analysis of D&D on combat instead of arbitrary comparisons to scientists.


Target shooting: Hitting a 5" bullseye (Fine size) at 100 yards with a longbow is a an AC of 24. Olympic archers typically hit the bullseye about half the time (I did some quick research, but I don't know a precise number). That would mean that the average Olympic-level archer has an attack bonus of about +14. Assuming +5 for base attack, +3 for dexterity,+1 for a masterwork bow and +1 for Weapon Focus, that still leaves 4 points short. And since he's classifying the average Olympic competitor as only level 3-4, the gap is a bit bigger.
Getting into the range of modern weapons (which strict D&D does not support, so you have to look to the inherently flawed D20 rules) the longest confirmed kill is 8,120 feet with an L115A3 (an AWM, basically). The range increment for an AWM is given as 110 feet, so even assuming he had Far Shot and a scope the sniper was operating at a penalty of -40. Now you might say 'Natural 20!', but he then proceeded to shoot a second target at the same distance. Also, luck really isn't taken into account in the original essay.

Also, there's the question of XP: How can a hypothetical 5th level character remain 5th level after killing a sufficient number of opponents? Let's take for example the legendary World War II sniper Simo Häyhä, credited with 505 confirmed kills during the Winter War. Assuming he was already 5th level when he made the first kill and his opponents were exclusively 1st level, Häyhä would have earned 151,500 XP for those kills (300 XP/kill). Even assuming he only got 1/10 XP, that's more than enough to level him up past 5th level right there. If he was 1st level to begin with, as the essay would postulate a fresh soldier would be, he'd get even more XP.

Now, I'm not saying that all of my points are perfect. But what I am saying is that you can easily find arguments against the original document which hold just as much statistical water.

And lastly, the section on the Lord of the Rings is clearly inaccurate; it's not relevant to the point I'm making here, I'm just addressing it because it bugs me. In claiming that no character in Middle-Earth has done anything that a well-built 10th level couldn't do, the author clearly reveals his own ignorance of the material in question, particularly the Silmarillion. How many 10th level characters can:


Survive several rounds of combat with a creature who is basically a god, injuring said creature several times?
Kill multiple Balrogs in combat (at least as powerful as a major demon each)?
Kill 70 trolls without taking significant injury?
Craft an item which the resident gods of the world can't equal (i.e creating an Artifact, an achievement explicitly stated to be impossible at normal levels)?

The only valid point which the author makes about the Lord of the Rings is that yes, the heroes of the Third Age have fallen far from the First Age.

In conclusion, my point is that yes, the author did find some real-world numbers to back up his point. But he did it by focusing on the examples which supported his position and ignoring those which didn't; focusing on different (I think more relevant) examples yields a different result. All I've really proven is that D&D isn't a consistent simulator of reality, which we already knew, so I guess the joke is on me :smallsmile:

Actually, I agree with the premise that the majority of people are very low level; what I don't agree with is the claim that there are no documented individuals who greatly exceed that low-level range. The skill system of D&D isn't perfect and everyone knows it, so why focus on it as a benchmark?

Just to be clear, this post is in no way intended to be insulting to people who prefer to play the game only up to level 6. That's a preference, which everyone is free to have. However, claiming that you have statistical proof that there are no real world figures over level 5 is a statement of supposed fact, and can be disputed as such.

Wow... love it... was discouraged since the analysis in question would indicate that E6 is indeed the way to go for the closest thing to realism, but this gave me new hope... it's too long for a sig, insn't it? :smallamused:

Bastian Weaver
2012-02-02, 06:19 AM
I dunno, Aragorn sounds pretty badass to me. And there are some characters that have been there since First Age, like Galadriel, or have returned, like Glorfindale. Needless to say, they're quite awesome.

Tryfan
2012-02-02, 07:43 AM
[LIST]
Target shooting: Hitting a 5" bullseye (Fine size) at 100 yards with a longbow is a an AC of 24. Olympic archers typically hit the bullseye about half the time (I did some quick research, but I don't know a precise number). That would mean that the average Olympic-level archer has an attack bonus of about +14. Assuming +5 for base attack, +3 for dexterity,+1 for a masterwork bow and +1 for Weapon Focus, that still leaves 4 points short. And since he's classifying the average Olympic competitor as only level 3-4, the gap is a bit bigger.


Taking this as an example doesn't take into account the differences between D and D archery and Olympic archery.

Firstly the archer in the Olympics are aiming at a stationary target which I'm not sure is taken into account in this analysis (correct me if I'm wrong on this).

However in the Olympics the archers have 40 second per shot (so 4 rounds in D and D, somewhat longer than most longbow shots in D and D take). They have sights that are set up for 100yrds exactly and they get several arrows before the competition starts to set their sights to take account for wind, slight changes in atmospheric conditions etc. If you suddenly moved the target to 95yrds, for example, without telling them I'm sure their first few shots would go high.

All in all I'd say a hit rate of 25% ish would actually be pretty good if you took away the advantages listed above.

edit: I don't suppose you could do the calc using the D20 system for a bolt action rifle firing at a 4.5 inch target 50m away? I know you said that system was broken but it might be interesting: top biathletes manage a 80-90% hit rate and they're firing under conditions more similar to D and D combat, eg. with a time pressure and during exertion.

hobo386
2012-02-02, 11:25 AM
One thing you guys are forgetting about is circumstance bonuses and feats.

Most PhDs have access to a large database of knowledge through journals, scientific instruments, and more. I'd give this at least a +4 circumstance bonus, if not more. Then they have other colleagues that are aiding them in their knowledge check.

Similarly, an Olympic archer would at least have a Masterwork equivalent weapon, Weapon Focus in bows, and probably the Far Shot feat. This would make things a bit easier. (Okay, didn't notice you accounted for that, but they might have another feat or bonus hidden somewhere in there).

As far as stats goes, if we assume 3d6 roll, everyone has a one in 220 chance of starting with an 18 in any given stat. Those who are at the peak of their fields probably ended up with 17 or 18, and they put another point in their primary stat at 4th level.

Though to be honest, constant stats are probably the least accurate part of D&D. It is hard to go from Str 17 to 18, but most people could build up from 8 to 12 in a matter of months, given a diet and exercise plan. Same thing with intelligence, and to a lesser extent dexterity and constitution.

WalkingTarget
2012-02-02, 12:19 PM
And lastly, the section on the Lord of the Rings is clearly inaccurate; it's not relevant to the point I'm making here, I'm just addressing it because it bugs me. In claiming that no character in Middle-Earth has done anything that a well-built 10th level couldn't do, the author clearly reveals his own ignorance of the material in question, particularly the Silmarillion. How many 10th level characters can:


Survive several rounds of combat with a creature who is basically a god, injuring said creature several times?
Kill multiple Balrogs in combat (at least as powerful as a major demon each)?
Kill 70 trolls without taking significant injury?
Craft an item which the resident gods of the world can't equal (i.e creating an Artifact, an achievement explicitly stated to be impossible at normal levels)?

The only valid point which the author makes about the Lord of the Rings is that yes, the heroes of the Third Age have fallen far from the First Age.


Emphasis on the important bit. Elder Days-era characters operate on a larger scale than the more "realistic" Lord of the Rings characters, so using examples from there against his overall thesis is disingenuous at best.

Anyway, you're also making the mistake of assuming that the "deities" in Tolkien's writing follow the same rules as D&D deities regarding the Artifact creation. D&D doesn't allow for elves outdoing gods, Tolkien's cosmology does. This is more likely proof that D&D doesn't model fiction perfectly than our interpretation of the fiction being wrong.

Also, nitpick on the Balrog bit, there are only 3 "canonical" Balrog killers (taken from LotR and the published Silmarillion), Ecthelion, Glorfindel, and Gandalf - each of whom died in the process. Reports of characters killing many of them dated from early versions of the stories when Balrogs were "less terrible and certainly more destructible." Again, making the assumption that Balrogs are "at least as powerful as major demons" without showing why.

Demonicbunny
2012-02-02, 01:37 PM
Also, nitpick on the Balrog bit, there are only 3 "canonical" Balrog killers (taken from LotR and the published Silmarillion), Ecthelion, Glorfindel, and Gandalf - each of whom died in the process. Reports of characters killing many of them dated from early versions of the stories when Balrogs were "less terrible and certainly more destructible." Again, making the assumption that Balrogs are "at least as powerful as major demons" without showing why.

There are only 3 balrog kills that we were explicitly told happened.
There are plenty of cases where the balrogs are defeated or driven back.

Of these 3 Ecthelion kills the Captain of Gothmogs Balrogs (the ultimate Balrog badass) and Gandalf kills a very ancient and strong one.
Only Glorfindels kill would be considered average (still pretty pimp for a lone elf).

Also, on top of that the great dragons are usually described as more terrible foes, but history is pretty much littered with dragonslayers.

Ancalagon
2012-02-02, 02:04 PM
Gandalf and Sauron are either gods or archangels, depending where you put Maiar. As such, they are on the same level as Balrogs (who are fallen Maiar, making them fallen lower gods or archdemons).

Given that both Gandalf were exceptional Maiar they probably had class levels as well (even if Gandalf's Human form was probably weaker than his real one9 and should probably not show up in an examination how the D&D-rules apply for humans. I just want to drop this out.

The same goes for the Pre-First-Age and First-Age heroes that fight. They were so badass that they even could fight Sauron's Boss (who could not be defeated by the gods themselves).

This all leaves literary change between the early stories and the later ones about the Third Age aside. If you want to do D&D comparisions, stick to TA, the stuff from (Pre)First Age is the stuff of high-epic legends.

WalkingTarget
2012-02-02, 02:07 PM
There are only 3 balrog kills that we were explicitly told happened.
There are plenty of cases where the balrogs are defeated or driven back.

Yup, still different from the "kill multiple balrogs in combat" that I was responding to.


Gandalf kills a very ancient and strong one.

Ancient, yes (well, being a Maiar, at least as ancient as Gandalf himself, although "incarnate" for longer). Strong, we have no data. It's one that managed to run and hide from the Valar's Wrath, but relative potency (other than being "beyond any of [the Fellowship other than Gandalf]") isn't available. Could be the strongest other than Gothmog and fought his way free of the Valar, could just be the most cowardly and it ran away before the fight really got going (or anywhere in between who got lucky). We have no way of knowing.

Exediron
2012-02-02, 04:04 PM
Emphasis on the important bit. Elder Days-era characters operate on a larger scale than the more "realistic" Lord of the Rings characters, so using examples from there against his overall thesis is disingenuous at best.

Anyway, you're also making the mistake of assuming that the "deities" in Tolkien's writing follow the same rules as D&D deities regarding the Artifact creation. D&D doesn't allow for elves outdoing gods, Tolkien's cosmology does. This is more likely proof that D&D doesn't model fiction perfectly than our interpretation of the fiction being wrong.

Also, nitpick on the Balrog bit, there are only 3 "canonical" Balrog killers (taken from LotR and the published Silmarillion), Ecthelion, Glorfindel, and Gandalf - each of whom died in the process. Reports of characters killing many of them dated from early versions of the stories when Balrogs were "less terrible and certainly more destructible." Again, making the assumption that Balrogs are "at least as powerful as major demons" without showing why.

You're right about the Balrog part; that was an error of memory on my part. I thought Fëanor's sons actually explicitly killed Balrogs when they fought off Gothmog and his minions during the initial assault, but after re-reading the passage this is not the case.

And no, I'm not assuming that Tolkien's Valar are anything like deities; I used the word because I felt that it would be more easily understood by more people. However, aside from the Silmarils what other creations of mortals or elves equal or surpass the abilities of a Vala?

Also, although there is no outright proof of the power level of a Balrog compared to a Balor, the amount of destruction a Balrog is capable of causing (and its status as a being roughly analogous to a lesser fallen angel) seems to me to place it in a similar or higher category. The same argument of 'Middle-Earth X is not equivalent to D&D X' can be applied to anything, and undermines the basic claim that an equivalence can be drawn between the two.

And First Age comparisons are relevant to the original essay, as the author states 'Even the most exceptional of the immortal elves are most likely no more than 8th level or so (and that’s pushing it)'. This in particular is the statement I was answering to originally - the most exceptional of the immortal elves are the same people who were around in the First Age, so if they aren't 8th level now they weren't when they did all of these epic things.

Also, I would politely point people to the part of my post where I said 'it's not relevant to the point I'm making here, I'm just addressing it because it bugs me'; clearly, I'm not using this part to challenge the overall thesis. The first part of my post is to challenge the thesis, the Middle-Earth part is just an addendum.

Lastly, Tryfan: I'll look into it later. It certainly can be modeled.

Gray Mage
2012-02-02, 04:22 PM
Believe me, I certainly have actually read the whole thing, and it has large holes in it.

Firstly, it focuses almost entirely on skills, ability checks and ability based limits (namely carrying limit). It focuses on these because they support its point, but one can easily find real-world evidence which does not support the point just as easily by turning to the combat side of things. And since D&D is a combat system first and foremost, it makes the most sense to base any analysis of D&D on combat instead of arbitrary comparisons to scientists.


Target shooting: Hitting a 5" bullseye (Fine size) at 100 yards with a longbow is a an AC of 24. Olympic archers typically hit the bullseye about half the time (I did some quick research, but I don't know a precise number). That would mean that the average Olympic-level archer has an attack bonus of about +14. Assuming +5 for base attack, +3 for dexterity,+1 for a masterwork bow and +1 for Weapon Focus, that still leaves 4 points short. And since he's classifying the average Olympic competitor as only level 3-4, the gap is a bit bigger.

From where did you get this AC? Because I'm getting a very different number. :smallconfused:

Also, don't forget the +5 from taking a full round action, of course, which covers quite nicely th 3-4 gap.

Redgoblin
2012-02-02, 05:41 PM
Also, although there is no outright proof of the power level of a Balrog compared to a Balor, the amount of destruction a Balrog is capable of causing (and its status as a being roughly analogous to a lesser fallen angel) seems to me to place it in a similar or higher category.

Except that Balrogs in Middle Earth (unless I am really forgetting something) are never shown to have any of the abilities balor posses. Between implosion, telekinesis, blasphamy, and other balor powers, a balor could have wiped the floor with the fellowship in the mines of Moria (blasphemy alone would have killed the hobbits instantly).

The only way Gandalf could have soloed a balor would be if he was an epic wizard (needs to be able to survive a level 20 implosion). However, since Gandalf never demonstrates that level of power throughout the series (consider the effect of Redcloak on the siege of Azure city, then consider what Gandalf did during Minas Tirith. Redcloak demonstrated much greater power in that one scene then Gandalf, and Redcloak is not epic [or was not at the time]) we can probably conclude that Gandalf is not an epic wizard (in D&D terms).

Therefore, I think it is safe to say that a balor is much stronger than a balrog.

Math_Mage
2012-02-02, 06:24 PM
A Balor is what happened when gamers looked at Tolkien's Balrogs and said "I want that in my game, only dialed up to 11." It's not fair to measure LotR power levels based on Balor/Balrog equivalence because that equivalence never existed.

A Fine target has an AC of 18. A composite longbow (range increment 110') firing 100 yards has a distance penalty of -4; taking a full-round action to line up the shot gives a +5 bonus. An Olympic archer needs a ranged attack bonus of +7 to hit that shot half the time. Masterwork gives a +1 bonus, 16 Dexterity gives a +3 bonus, level 3 gives a +3 bonus. So a 3rd-level Olympic athlete with 16 Dex is well within the bounds of possibility, using an attack roll argument.

Gray Mage
2012-02-02, 06:45 PM
A Fine target has an AC of 18. A composite longbow (range increment 110') firing 100 yards has a distance penalty of -4; taking a full-round action to line up the shot gives a +5 bonus. An Olympic archer needs a ranged attack bonus of +7 to hit that shot half the time. Masterwork gives a +1 bonus, 16 Dexterity gives a +3 bonus, level 3 gives a +3 bonus. So a 3rd-level Olympic athlete with 16 Dex is well within the bounds of possibility, using an attack roll argument.

Isn't the target also inanimate? That decreases the AC by a fair amount (by 7, to a total of AC 11, by my calculations).

Math_Mage
2012-02-02, 06:56 PM
Isn't the target also inanimate? That decreases the AC by a fair amount (by 7, to a total of AC 11, by my calculations).

Really? Crap. I haven't seen that in the SRD. :smallfrown: That makes this a useless model, then, since we can't assume the average bow-proficient person has a 50% chance of hitting a 5" target at 100 yards.

King of Nowere
2012-02-02, 07:52 PM
I knew about that analysis on E6, though I never read it completely before.
IIt has some good points, but it is flawed in others. That because D&D rules are good, but far from perfect. I'm not going to complain, I would never be able to make them better, and given their simplicity, they are pretty consistent.

One big problem with D&D is that there is a big difference between a roll of 1 and a roll of 20. Real people tend to be more consistent. You can say that a 5th level guy could do some impressive feat with a 20, but real world impressive guys can do so on a regular base.

Take, for example, the aforementioned einstein. That article showed how einstein could effectively make cd 40 checks by being 5th level. that would mean that once every 20 times he would research something completely new.
Problem is, almost everytime he researched something he discovered something new. It's just that it takes years to research anything of value in the current world. So einstein did not broke a cd 40 check with a 20. He did it with a 10, or maybe even a 5. By that count, he was well over level 10.

Similar for a jumper. A 5th level jumper with a 20 could match the world record. However, with a 1, they would jump 3 or 4 meters. Have you ever seen an olimpic jumper jump 4 meters? Never. I'm no expert, but I think one who make 9 meters on his best jump makes at least 6 on his worst. So we could conclude that he should be able to jump that far by rolling a 1, and that gives much more than level 5.

Same for the archer. they'll always hit the target, so you don't have to calculate someone who can hit a 10 cm target with a 20. You have to take someone who can hit a 50 cm target with a 2.

I went through a good high school, a good university, am now taking a phd, and am still level 1 accordiong to that idea. I studied chemistry. If you assume that my bonus is something like +8, even +10, that would mean that an untrained men would beat my score a significant number of times. But i talked with several people, and there's no way anyone who has not studied chemistry can know something that I don't. Unless it's some obscure and extremely specific trivia they might have heard somewhere, but that should not count. If we reason that way I should have a +20 modifier at least. I am the first to call that irrealistic.

Also with that system, if I have a +10 and am level 1, my professor (a very renown guy, could be even level 3 according to that paper) would probably have a +12/+13. Which mean that 40% times I'll know something he would not know. That's wrong. It just don't give justice to the great gulf there is between his knowledge and mine. It's not totally impossible for me to come up with better ideas than him, but I would give him a bonus of 10 over me.
In general, if we assume the best in the world are level 5, it follows that we must train for years and years to MAYBE gain a +1. And then someone who did not train for all those years would still best us 45% of times. It don't work like that. Years of experience gives you a significant improving, so they should give at least a +3/+4 bonus.

Maybe a more realistic system would be obtained if instead of rolling a d20, you roll a d10+10. that removes some of the variability.

HP also can be deceiving. if we assume the average commoner to have 1d4 hp, they should die for a knife wound most of the times. In reality, most knife wounds are nonletal. A crossbow bolt would deal 1d10, a bullet 1d12, but those are also nonletal most of the times. but life is just too difficult to model. a common man can survive a dozen stabs, if he is never hit on a vital place or a major blood vessel, and a professional boxer may die for falling from the chair and hitting the head in the wrong place.

In the end my solution has been just rebalancing the system. I assumed that most people who would not die young would become at least level 2, and many would make it to level 3. Only a small fraction of the population makes it to level 4, and about 1 in a thousand reaches level 5.
I used that progression because it makes for an intuitive stratification of the population. The blacksmith who just completed his apprenticeship is level 1. After ten years of working and practicing, he's level 2. After 30 years of working and practicing, he's level 3. If he was also particularly gifted, he could be level 4. The best blacksmith of a regular city has been working 30 years and is also very giffted, making him level 5 or 6. Exceptional individual who are famous on a national scale are higher than that.
At this point, I just gave a 5th level blacksmith the skill I would expect from the best blacksmith of a city.
I houseruled that poeple who don't have combat training don't really get to use all their fancy attack bonus and hit dice. they won't get attack bonus if they never touched a weapon, and would probably faint from pain and shock even when they lost just a fraction of their hp. They are likely to panic just at the sigth of the enemy. I never got precise numbers for that, just the idea that being a level 6 expert don't give particular fighting skill if you didn't practiced. I appplied that principle also to clerics who serviced in temples and never fougth, or academic wizards.
It may seem needlessly complicated compared to assume that the best blacksmith would just be level 2 with a good int modifier, but for me it works better. Lets me think of a clear distinction between the best blacksmith in the city, the second best, the third best, a good one, a normal one, a bad one.

Math_Mage
2012-02-02, 08:18 PM
Pursuant to the above remarks on randomness, I vote we rescale everything around 3d3. 3-9 is a realistic range of variation, crit/fumble chance is about the same, and everything else can be made to fit. :smalltongue:

But yeah, the inevitable result of analyzing how D&D relates to the real world only serves to show us how and why it doesn't. Making things too realistic and predictable takes the fun out of it.

WalkingTarget
2012-02-02, 11:02 PM
And no, I'm not assuming that Tolkien's Valar are anything like deities; I used the word because I felt that it would be more easily understood by more people. However, aside from the Silmarils what other creations of mortals or elves equal or surpass the abilities of a Vala?

Your question was: what 10th level character can "Craft an item which the resident gods of the world can't equal (i.e creating an Artifact, an achievement explicitly stated to be impossible at normal levels)?"

Which is making the assumption that the same rules that dictate the possible for D&D characters (of level 10 or other "normal" level) would apply in Middle-earth (or at least that's the implicit comparison in the statement).

Elves in Middle-earth make things. That's their gift. Feanor made things that would be qualified as Artifacts, sure. That doesn't mean that the same limits on PCs in a game apply to one of the major heavy-hitters of mythic fiction.


Also, although there is no outright proof of the power level of a Balrog compared to a Balor, the amount of destruction a Balrog is capable of causing (and its status as a being roughly analogous to a lesser fallen angel) seems to me to place it in a similar or higher category.

Others have addressed this a bit, but the thing that strikes me, again, is that, yes, they are similar kinds of being (demon, fallen "angel", what have you) but there's no real reason to assume that a demon in one setting has any direct comparison/analog to those in unrelated settings.


The same argument of 'Middle-Earth X is not equivalent to D&D X' can be applied to anything, and undermines the basic claim that an equivalence can be drawn between the two.

That's more or less my basic point. I've never felt that Tolkien's writing and D&D rules were particularly well suited to each other (having arrived at D&D years after becoming familiar with Tolkien and noticing the discrepancy). They aren't equivalent. I thought that the article's author managed a fairly good attempt at showing how the more-or-less "realistic" feats performed by the approximately "normal" Aragorn are modeled at a fairly low D&D level, as an extension of his real-life-is-low-level-D&D premise.


And First Age comparisons are relevant to the original essay, as the author states 'Even the most exceptional of the immortal elves are most likely no more than 8th level or so (and that’s pushing it)'. This in particular is the statement I was answering to originally - the most exceptional of the immortal elves are the same people who were around in the First Age, so if they aren't 8th level now they weren't when they did all of these epic things.

And I'll give you that against his argument to the extent that he doesn't show his work on that 8th level claim. Named Elves around in 3rd Age who were around in 1st Age (that I can think of off the top of my head): Galadriel, Cirdan, and a (returned) Glorfindel (and Elrond briefly - as far as I can tell, he was ~60 at the end of the 1st Age and probably Celeborn, although his origins are murky as Tolkien hadn't gotten that figured out exactly). Glorfindel has some 1st Age cred (and Elrond originally wanted him to be part of the Fellowship), but the others are known primarily for their wisdom (and/or craftsmanship in the case of Cirdan).

Which "epic things" are you thinking of?


Also, I would politely point people to the part of my post where I said 'it's not relevant to the point I'm making here, I'm just addressing it because it bugs me'; clearly, I'm not using this part to challenge the overall thesis. The first part of my post is to challenge the thesis, the Middle-Earth part is just an addendum.

Noted. Tolkien is what I can comment on and so that's what I'm addressing, allowing others to respond to the other points as they're able. :smallsmile:

Chronos
2012-02-02, 11:23 PM
Oh, and I did once go into more detail about my rebuttal of that article-- It turned into a pretty long thread (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=73839).

WalkingTarget
2012-02-03, 01:33 AM
Oh, and I did once go into more detail about my rebuttal of that article-- It turned into a pretty long thread (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=73839).

Ooo, I missed that one back then. Glancing through things quickly, this post (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=4009120&postcount=48) by Blanks on page two catches my real takeaway from the linked article.


I think people are being unfair to the Alexandrian. The way i read his article wasn't that people couldn't rise above 5th level, just that it wasn't necessary to assume that everyone who did something awesome was 20th level.
[snip]
Anyways, i think the Alexandrian article should be seen as a warning against assuming that everyone must be highlevel, more than a strict rule that nobody is.

Chronos
2012-02-03, 01:55 AM
Certainly, most people are low level. I always assume that it's an exponential decay: Everyone is at least 1st level, x% of those people are at least 2nd level, x% of the 2nd-or-higher crowd is at least 3rd level, and so on. What exactly the value of x is depends on the setting (it's obviously pretty high in Faerun, where the bartenders are all retired 20th-level adventurers), but for most reasonable values, you end up with characters of Redcloak's or the Order's level being very, very rare.

Sith_Happens
2012-02-03, 02:09 AM
As for the target shooting comparison, I'm pretty sure that a real-world archer or sharpshooter trying to hit a target would be considered to be taking 10 most of the time. d20 system rules don't cover the possibility of taking 10 on an attack roll, probably because it assumes that if you're making an attack roll in the first place you're doing it in a combat situation, which prohibits taking 10 on anything anyways (barring Skill Mastery or similar class features).

Ancalagon
2012-02-03, 03:03 AM
The core problem when you try to match RL with roleplay rules is linearity. RL does not work linear, that means getting a result twice as good as someone else's requires more than twice the work or time dedicated.

D&D is highly linear. You roll on a d20 (the 20 and 1 blow that linearity a bit but in general, a 18 is as likely as a 5). The offset (skillranks) is a fixed modifier that scales these linear results.

If you really want to get a somewhat realistic view, you need to use more dice than one and modify that then. For example, your base roll is 6d6 - 10 (capped at 0).

The 6d6 create a curve where it is possible to do something "mediocre" and impressive success and impressive failure are rare. The offset (-10 here) for an example make it very unlikely to impossible that someone untrained hits a massive success and makes it more likely that someone untrained fails.

If you start to scale this base with a second offset, your ranks, abilities or whatever you want to call it you get somewhere. Someone who is trained a lot could have a +12, thus having 6d6 - 10 + 12, therefore he would likely not fail often and could have a much higher chance to get someone exceptional and his mediocre results are much higher than those of an untrained person.

The DCs for legendary things must of course be beyond 6 * 6 (-10) so untrained people have no chance with a lucky shot to create a new theory of physics. If you set the DC for "something very exceptional" to 46, someone with 10 points in that skill will hit it in 0,0002% (and he would get a lot of mediocre to good rolls on a general basis but very few real failures).

If you throw a third offset which represents "good eq" and circumstance (good position, being drunk etc) on top of this you can increase or decrease the chance of failure or success even more and also shift the chance for mediocre results around (a -5 for being drunk would make your result in general to come out much less likely as good). Basically, bad factors simply decrease your skill ("no tools at all") while good ones ("no wind at all for this shot") increase it.

Note: I just throw the 6d6 and the proposed offsets out there. I bet you had to put some math and thinking into it to make it playable but the basic idea is that a linear dieroll is a very bad way to model RL success rates on skillchecks or attack rolls.

Tryfan
2012-02-03, 05:25 AM
Similar for a jumper. A 5th level jumper with a 20 could match the world record. However, with a 1, they would jump 3 or 4 meters. Have you ever seen an olimpic jumper jump 4 meters? Never. I'm no expert, but I think one who make 9 meters on his best jump makes at least 6 on his worst. So we could conclude that he should be able to jump that far by rolling a 1, and that gives much more than level 5.

Same for the archer. they'll always hit the target, so you don't have to calculate someone who can hit a 10 cm target with a 20. You have to take someone who can hit a 50 cm target with a 2.



I'd argue the worst an Olympic jumper gets is 0m, when they no jump so in fact 4m could be too far. I know I'm exaggerating here but the point stands that even with marking their run up carefully they get it wrong relatively often, and in D&D you can't just run through and try again. Rolling a low number represents when you misjudge the run up, find out that the rock you take off on is very slippy etc. When jumping across gaps with a large drop in real life even a 2m jump means that I'll take time to check take off and landing points carefully.

In a similar way in archery the low numbers could represent the sudden gust of wind (which will effect D&D arrows far more than modern carbon fibres ones as modern ones fly faster, have smaller surface area...), a badly made arrow, snatching at the shot.

All in all I'd say taking the best case is better than the worst as it shows what is possible under the D&D system, the worst case (particually rolling a 1) could be viewed as a freak event that in fact has a probability of much less than 5%, but needs to be put into the system somewhere and 5% is the lowest probability possible with a single D20.

King of Nowere
2012-02-03, 11:12 AM
I'd argue the worst an Olympic jumper gets is 0m, when they no jump so in fact 4m could be too far. I know I'm exaggerating here but the point stands that even with marking their run up carefully they get it wrong relatively often, and in D&D you can't just run through and try again. Rolling a low number represents when you misjudge the run up, find out that the rock you take off on is very slippy etc. When jumping across gaps with a large drop in real life even a 2m jump means that I'll take time to check take off and landing points carefully.

In a similar way in archery the low numbers could represent the sudden gust of wind (which will effect D&D arrows far more than modern carbon fibres ones as modern ones fly faster, have smaller surface area...), a badly made arrow, snatching at the shot.

All in all I'd say taking the best case is better than the worst as it shows what is possible under the D&D system, the worst case (particually rolling a 1) could be viewed as a freak event that in fact has a probability of much less than 5%, but needs to be put into the system somewhere and 5% is the lowest probability possible with a single D20.

I agree with the point, but the "slipped on a rock" or "gust of wind when firing" are covered by the natural one. The natural one is the freak event, and in fact I'm not taking it into account. I agree that a professional archer may put one arrow in 20 completely out of the target. No more than that, probably even less than that. Which means they are still capable of hitting the big target with a 2 or a 3.
In general you have 25% chance of rolling 5 or lower, so if the archer or jumper or whatever can do better 3 times out of 4, that should be their result with a natural 5.

In the end, i don't think that article on level demographic is bad. it contains several good ideas and it is a perfectly reasonable approximation of the real world. What I don't like is the way some people treat it like gospel, as there are several different other possible interpretations.

If you think "what would take to match world records by rolling 20", then you end up concluding the best in the real world are level 5.

However, if you think "what is the difference between a common men (+0) and someone who is good in his field? and the difference between one who is good and one who is very good? And ... and up to the best in the world?", then the idea that common men are level 1-3 and the best are around 20 makes for the best fit.

I have an even best example for a large level range: chess.
In chess there is an elo rating to measure the skill of the player. A difference of 350 points mean that the stronger player can expect a 90% score agaisnt the weaker. How would such a difference translate into D&D? +10? +5 if we assume a game is made of multiple checks?
The world champions are around 2800 elo. amateur chess club players are often around 1400. And they still have years opf experience and are extremely good compared to someone who just know the rules. for tournament practice the ranking stops at some point, but in playchess (the biggest online chess community, at least by the time I made my research) the rating ranged from 3000 to 0. That's, like, 8 orders of magnitude. Which means that if we assume the worst player on that server to have a -5, the world champion would be somewhere with a +35 bonus. No circumastance bonus, no masterwork chessboard, you don't get those kind of bonus in chess. That would require the world chess champion to be actually above level 20.

So, since I know chess, I took the elo rating distribution and applied it to my D&D setting. I put world champions at level 20. There are then areound 500 players with a difference less than 350 from the world champions, and about 15000 players within 350 points from those.
So I decided in my world there would be 500 people over level 15, and 15000 between 10 and 14.
I suppose as interpretation it makes as much sense as anything else.

Chronos
2012-02-03, 03:20 PM
Oh, and since someone mentioned Simo Häyhä, another interesting tidbit: He's obviously a high-level (whatever "high" means) full-BAB type, right? Probably a ranger, or maybe a ranger-fighter mix. Well, that means that he should have a whole slew of HP, too, right? And guess what: He did in fact manage to survive a critical hit from a rifle. Huh, I guess hitpoints have some validity to them after all.

Ancalagon
2012-02-03, 03:29 PM
I might be mistaken but... skillchecks do not have automatic misses and critical successes? They do not work like attack rolls and saving throws.

tyckspoon
2012-02-04, 12:03 AM
I might be mistaken but... skillchecks do not have automatic misses and critical successes? They do not work like attack rolls and saving throws.

They don't. The main problem is really just that the d20 presents an absurd range of possibilities. To keep running with Jump, for example: Take a standard Human (so his stats give him no modifiers, and we will assume he has no ranks in the skill.) Have him Jump as far as he can repeatedly. Thanks to the variance of the d20, the distance he will cover will swing anywhere from zero (rolled a one, failed to cover distance of 1 foot because DCs are doubled if you don't have a running start) to a good 10 feet. No actual human being will have a difference that big between their best and worst jumps... or you could use the Take 10 rules. Which gives you equally silly results, because it means your test specimen will cover *exactly* the same distance every single jump- you could use the distance he jumps as the basis for a system of measurement, it will be so predictable and exact. Neither of these are good results if you're trying to map D&D onto reality, where people are generally pretty consistent within a small range, but you can't predict exactly what they'll do every time.

Ancalagon
2012-02-04, 11:39 AM
While we are at it, I'd also like to point out something that does not work in RL as it does in the rules: Attributes.

Attributes are relatively easy to change in RL but very hard in the game. Int is very hard to change, but possible. Everyone can train some and get a better Int. Wisdom might be impossible to change in purpose.
You can relatively easily change Charisma within a certain degree (wash yourself, go to some rhetorics seminar, stop screaming around and you'll see a very immediate boost). Dex might be a bit harder but Constitution (in regard to running) an Str are very easy to change a great deal with a few weeks and months of training (or neglecting).

I do like the initial article but I think that RL and D&D rules do not go well together in regard to HPs, Attack Bonus, or Level. What goes relatively well (relatively!) are skills (but even those have a problem).

Actually RL does not have anything remotely coresponding to Hitpoints or XP. As for hitpoints, some GURPS edition pointed it out nicely that Constitution does not increase them (paraphrased): A battle axe will split a disabled person the same as it will split a trained athelte.
You cannot really argue with that, I think.

El_Dictator
2012-02-04, 12:20 PM
I think academia is getting a little too much credit here.

I've been through many doctoral dissertations. Technically, a Ph.D. dissertation "adds new knowledge." Most are useless and contribute to the growing entropy of knowledge that is much of the content of academic journals. Of course, I'm still going to publish because there's a CV arms race, and I try to make it useful/meaningful, but you can't turn down offers for collaborations just because they don't interest you (until you're tenured perhaps).

When the author defending DnD's system of knowledge spoke of adding something that no one has understood before, I took that to mean Special Relativity, General Relativity, etc. Put inflation a step lower, with specific models (e.g. Linde's chaotic model) at lower positions still. Most dissertations are minimal in what they add, if anything. Harry Harlow gave an analogy of "gold angel research" and "silver angel research" to describe scientific contributions. GAR makes people think about a topic in a completely novel way. Think of SRT and absolute simultaneity, or Big Bang Theory and the age/size of the universe. Each field has its own much smaller examples too. SAR, on the other hand, provides finely-tuned modifications to the findings of GAR. Most doctoral dissertations are bottom-level SAR at best, and many are...well, great intellectual accomplishments on the absolute scale compared to the average, but not substantial good SAR contributions. A prominent and well-funded principal investigator (a Ph.D. who runs a lab) does useful, consistent SAR research. Some Science and Nature articles represent GAR research, but most don't.

How many knowledge checks did Einstein make? How much GAR did he produce with those? And regarding knowing things one's professor doesn't, although that should be difficult initially, it should not be difficult for very long. After even just a year of research on a project, a Ph.D. student should know a fair number of details that the faculty advisor doesn't, even if the advisor would wallop the student on overall knowledge on the topic. And an average person shouldn't be allowed to make a knowledge check in an area without studying it. High school? Not enough. College courses? I'd call that a circumstance bonus actually, unless one gets a degree in the field.

Regarding increasing stats, it is off a bit, but not terribly so. Charisma is mostly a personality trait. You can get circumstance modifiers with hygiene (poorly groomed=penalty unless it's actually fashionable somehow). Taking courses on speaking? Another circumstance bonus, as there are many charisma-related checks with which they will not help...unless one is already naturally extraverted. The best use of those is probably erasing circumstance penalties from clinical or subclinical anxiety. Constitution? Regular fitness exercise (not health exercise, which is a lower [but VERY WORTHWHILE ANYWAY] standard) should be a temporary bonus that you can keep reactivating. Ability scores are supposed to be mostly innate. A high constitution person is someone who can get off the couch and run for miles without injury, despite not training.

I think the best point, and the thing that's always stood out to me, is the earlier point about the distribution of rolls. Rolling a d20 provides a uniform distribution, and that often does not work out. But you do have to be consistent when criticizing unlikely-seeming results with a d20. Is it weird that someone should jump for 0 feet one out of every 20 tries? I don't think so--count tripping, stopping partway and having to restart, not paying enough attention, etc. If the person is concentrating, then the odds do decrease, but then they are taking 10 (or, more realistically, 5 or something).

TL;DR: Most professors should be level 2/3; dissertations are not the kind of never before undersood knowledge that Einstein could hit with a 40 check. Many things (some college courses, regular exercise, speaking classes) should be considered temporary effects since they are either not stable over long periods or are limited in effect. It's easy to jump 0 feet now and then if you aren't concentrating.

El_Dictator
2012-02-04, 12:32 PM
While we are at it, I'd also like to point out something that does not work in RL as it does in the rules: Attributes.
...[snip]...Str [is] very easy to change a great deal with a few weeks and months of training (or neglecting)...
[snip]...A battle axe will split a disabled person the same as it will split a trained athelte.
You cannot really argue with that, I think.

I would call lifting a progressive temporary bonus that may increase a point or two (or should not lifting be a penalty?). Muscle atrophy becomes an issue about 72 hours after the last workout. There are huge natural differences, though. The best I can think of is muscle fiber count. Most exercise physiologists agree that you can't change it; you're born with it. Fiber type (i.e. Type 1 for endurance vs. various Type II for strength) can change a bit, but is also heavily influenced by genetics. I'm not saying you're wrong, just that the system can be understood in a way that works fairly well. I will never forget how Willis McGahee, an NFL runningback and I believe 1st round draft pick, talked about how he started lifting weights seriously about 4 or so years into his NFL career. He never took it seriously (actually he referred to just not doing it, which would mean he heavily slacked off during team workouts) and was strong enough to play NFL runningback? Almost no one can get to that point no matter how hard they try, let alone by coasting off of genetics.

Constitution could be understood as affecting HP. Think of clotting success, the body's ability to shunt blood away from the skin when faced with sympathetic autonomic nervous system arousal (i.e. fight or flight), bone density, etc. A person's disability may or may not affect constitution. Nonfunctional legs? That's an AC penalty, etc. But what about a skinny but very good runner being hit with an axe? That's actually a pretty good point. Perhaps higher blood volume (which a very good runner would have), better oxygen efficiency, and better clotting = lessened effect of blood loss? Denser bones as well.

Ancalagon
2012-02-04, 01:26 PM
I do not buy your reasoning:

Take a trained man and hit him along the spine with a battle axe (critical hit)
Take an old woman and do the same.

Who of the two survices? Both are very probably very dead. Constituation does not apply to hitpoints because RL does not have Hitpoints. There is no limb-damage, no critical, instantly killing damage (do a 5 HP stab in the lung and you will die). There is no permanent effect of broken bones (take 10 HP to the knee and your adventuring career is over, take a blow in the ribs and they will go on puncutring your liver).
Hitpoints are abstract, RL is not.

Also, you are telling me I cannot work out and increase my Str beyond one or two points? Or my con? Seriously? What is with all the fat people who started to run and do a marathon after three or so years of training? What is with all the athletes that got weak after their career?

With your claimed science background you should also know that your single, anecdotical "evidence" is worth nothing (I'd not say this, but you claimed to be able to argue on phd-level, so you are measured with that).

As for your charisma-argument: When does some circumstance bonus become permanent? Actually, it is silly to assume someone has a Cha of 6 but accumulated, permanent circumstance boni of +5. Would it not be easier and more appropiate to assume a Cha of 10+ instead (as the boni are always there).
This leaves the fact aside that the rules gives a person a fixed charisma value, no matter if they currently are wearing their crown or lie in the gutter.

Also, interpeting disability as "broken legs = AC malus" is a trick to get around what I wanted to say. So let's use the less twistable example. The healthy man as well as the old woman are tied to a pole. Both get hit by the axe. Both die, as both do not have hitpoints. And please, do not start with "Ah, this is a coup-de-grace" situation. Hitpoints do not translate into RL and Constitution does not help against piercing and slashing damage. You might be able to withstand trauma (blunt) better but a warhammer to the chest is a warhammer to the chest.
You simply cannot argue with a full hit from warhammer to the chest, no matter your Con or Str.

King of Nowere
2012-02-04, 01:29 PM
my way of treating trainging excercices for attributes states that the attribute is partly innate and partly determined during childhood. Training can modify it, but also lack of training can. Sedentary people (like most of us westerner nerdish-type) would have a cirmcumstance penalty to their physical stats for lack of training, and will probably carry it all life long.
If you take excercices, you can get rid of that penalty in a relatively short time. Then you can reach your attribute, which refers to the str or con you would get if you kept training regularly. So you're not increasing it, you're just getting rid of the penalty. If you train more than that, you do more damage than good. Anyway, you don't progress much, and it takes a very long time to have very minor effect; basically, you reached your limit.
That works pretty well for maximum strength. For constitution, i assume that if you excercise a lot in endurance, you're just improving your fortitude saving throw.

El_Dictator
2012-02-04, 03:54 PM
I do not buy your reasoning:

That's fine; my point was that there are fairly plausible interpretations that can work decently well, not that it's correct and complete.



Who of the two survices? Both are very probably very dead. Constituation does not apply to hitpoints because RL does not have Hitpoints. There is no limb-damage, no critical, instantly killing damage (do a 5 HP stab in the lung and you will die). There is no permanent effect of broken bones (take 10 HP to the knee and your adventuring career is over, take a blow in the ribs and they will go on puncutring your liver).
Hitpoints are abstract, RL is not."
This is simply us talking past each other. My point actually was if you did use some level of abstraction as a simplified way of representing the ability of a person to live through physical assault. RL does have injury severity, and people differ in their abilities to survive the same assault. Most differences may be minor, but there are people who have survived assaults/circumstances that would have killed almost anyone. They are rare, and that was the author's point, and it's the point I was addressing. If your point is that said simplified metric of survivability will miss many details (as your examples demonstrate), I think that most reasonable people will agree, and I agree as well (whether I am reasonable or not). I mean, I can talk about blood clotting and immune system strength all I want, but HP doesn't even address that many, many wounds can be lethal if just left hanging (e.g. no pressure, cauterization, etc.), yet you aren't concerned with wounds in DnD unless dying.



Also, you are telling me I cannot work out and increase my Str beyond one or two points? Or my con? Seriously? What is with all the fat people who started to run and do a marathon after three or so years of training? What is with all the athletes that got weak after their career?
Nope, I said or meant to communicate that one could easily interpret attributes such that most people cannot increase their innate score more than a point or two, but can receive temporary bonuses or penalties. The end result (the total attribute score) is the same no matter the interpretation.

So let's say you have an average male at 155lbs with a bench press one-rep max of 140lbs; maybe that is a strength of 10. By my interpretation, one would assume he is physically active but not a weightlifter. What if he gets his 1RM to 200 over the course of a year? I actually don't know what to call that strength (11 maybe? 12?). Is it an innate bonus or a circumstantial bonus? One could argue both, which was my point. For example, initial strength gains come from nervous system changes; it's widely believed that the muscle fibers don't start to grow for 6-8 weeks, and atrophy becomes an issue after 72 hours. One could perhaps treat nervous system adjustments as innate increases and fiber thickness as temporary. Does one have to? No, there's room for interpretation, but it's reasonable. Athletes getting weak after their career is consistent with both interpretations. I would view being overweight as a temporary constitution penalty (the word temporary is strained here and simply means due to ongoing circumstances) that is eventually removed and then replaced by a bonus from exercise. What about a person who makes the transition more quickly and becomes fairly competitive at marathons? Higher innate con, bigger temporary penalty (as they need a higher degree of inactivity/unhealthy living to get to that point) replaced ultimately by a smaller bonus when simply able to complete one (or perhaps none, as it took less work to get there). Someone who makes it slowly and is not competitive (though simply completing is VERY impressive and laudable!--I certainly have not been close)? Lower innate con, less of a circumstance penalty initially (it took less unhealthy living to get there), and more of a circumstance bonus for being able to complete a marathon (as it took more work and will go away more quickly without it).

Anecdotal evidence is not worthless. It is worth less than systematic, empirical evidence for many purposes. Qualitative research is often done and published in peer-reviewed journals; it is used as a stepping stone for more systematic work and for hypothesis generation. In this case its difficult either way because quantifying scientific importance or impact is very difficult. This is compounded by differences in how people interpret "something that no one has understood before". Simply put a lower bar on that than I did, and you can toss out everything else I said regarding professors and knowledge skills.



When does some circumstance bonus become permanent? Actually, it is silly to assume someone has a Cha of 6 but accumulated, permanent circumstance boni of +5. Would it not be easier and more appropiate to assume a Cha of 10+ instead (as the boni are always there).
This leaves the fact aside that the rules gives a person a fixed charisma value, no matter if they currently are wearing their crown or lie in the gutter.

I agree that it would be silly. What is a scenario where someone could be said to have an innate CHA of 6 (using my interpretation, as I think you are for your reductio ad absurdum) yet somehow gets it to 11 in most circumstances? Perhaps a severe alcoholic who spends most of the time intoxicated or in withdrawal would have a CHA of 6 (or perhaps lower), and this could reasonably increase dramatically in a few weeks' time (or even just one week completely sober). But then I would not call the 6 CHA innate, as it was lowered by prolonged alcohol use. I do think it would be fair to call permanent neurological changes innate. And the rules do give a fixed value, but the circumstance matters. Have a high CHA character lying in the gutter while trying to get a noble to change some policy, and there would reasonably be a circumstance penalty. Dress said person convincingly as royalty, and now there's a bonus. Innate CHA, of course, still has an effect; a high CHA character can overcome the penalty. And if gutter vs. crown doesn't matter for the circumstance, then it all rests on the person's innate CHA.


Also, interpeting disability as "broken legs = AC malus" is a trick to get around what I wanted to say.

No, it isn't. I moved on from it because I realized that there are other examples, and I thought the "skinny runner" actually made the challenge stronger because it provides a person who should have high CON and yet seemingly should not be able to resist damage as well as an overweight, inactive person (who should presumably have low CON). Beyond that, we are talking past each other again. Part of your point seems to be that, by creating a single, numerical summary, hit points obscure so much important detail that they are meaningless. I generally agree, and I believe I have been discussing a different point. I have been discussing CON as something that can both serve the function of endurance and a representation of an individual's ability to live through injury or harm (which is how I interpret hp). A dagger to the lung would be lethal to many (also clearly a critical in my book), but it's my impression that individual differences would still matter. The points I mentioned earlier --blood clotting, blood volume, oxygen efficiency, shunting blood away from skin--are all important for surviving slashing or piercing injuries.

But certainly, HP is just not realistic in most ways. I was more interested in seeing how well one could make it work as an index of general ability to survive attack (another issue: is it surviving attacks or surviving damage? One is constant across recipients when coming from the same source, the other differs among recipients when coming from the same source. Shoot me in the stomach with a cannonball at point blank, and I'm screwed. Shoot that one guy, supposedly, and he's not. Same assault).

Heksefatter
2012-02-04, 04:39 PM
As a wild guess, I would venture that levels do not represent anything in an exact way, in real life. However, the closest thing would be competence in your professional field. However, as a highly-educated physicist and - accordingly - presumably at least mid-level, I have no more hit points than even the lowest level commoner. Regrettably.

Keinnicht
2012-02-04, 05:46 PM
No. This (http://www.thealexandrian.net/creations/misc/d&d-calibrating.html) analyzes real life in D&D terms. It's pretty interesting.

If you don't have the time to read it, it concludes that real life's levels go something like this:
1st Level: Most of the planet.
2nd and 3rd Level: People who are exceptionally good at whatever they do.
4th Level: Professional athletes, rocket scientists, and other people who are the best of the best.
5th Level: Legendary people. Einstein, Galileo, Picasso, olympic gold medalists, etc.
6th Level and Above: Does not occur in real life.

This is pretty much how I've always thought of it. Maybe a bit higher if you count extreme examples (Mushashi, some of the historical figures Romance of the Three Kingdoms is based on, etc.)

But, yeah. No matter how hardcore you are, you're not very high level. The world's most efficient and deadly spec ops agent is not a 20th level fighter. He's probably a 4th level fighter. Tops.

Jay R
2012-02-04, 08:22 PM
The average 2nd level fighter can survive any single blow from a dagger delivered by somebody with average strength and no plusses. There are no such people in the real world.

The average 1st level priest can cause light to shine in the darkness. There are no such priests in the real world.

Therefore the D&D system does not accurately simulate the real world. You can take any one activity (archery, say) and determine what a level means for that skill alone, but whatever you come up with will not be consistent with other skills or attributes. For instance, that archer who wins the Olympics would die to the same arrow shot that a 1st level untrained archer would. Therefore he must also be 1st level.

Therefore any statement that "X level means Y in the real world" can be shown to be false.

Chronos
2012-02-04, 08:32 PM
The average 2nd level fighter can survive any single blow from a dagger delivered by somebody with average strength and no plusses. There are no such people in the real world.

The average 1st level priest can cause light to shine in the darkness. There are no such priests in the real world.There are plenty of people who can and have survived getting knifed. Heck, there are people (like I mentioned above) who can survive getting shot by a rifle right in the face. And anyone at all in our world can cause light to shine in the darkness, with the proper wondrous item.

Jay R
2012-02-05, 12:05 AM
There are plenty of people who can and have survived getting knifed. Heck, there are people (like I mentioned above) who can survive getting shot by a rifle right in the face. And anyone at all in our world can cause light to shine in the darkness, with the proper wondrous item.

What I said was that a 2nd level fighter can survive *any* single blow from a dagger delivered by somebody with average strength and no plusses.

And a 2nd level priest can cause light to shine in the darkness without the proper wondrous item.

MaximKat
2012-02-05, 03:44 AM
And a 2nd level priest can cause light to shine in the darkness without the proper wondrous item.
Well, this is just stupid. D&D priests (as well as wizards, sorcerers, druids, psions etc) don't exist IRL, 2nd level or not.

Math_Mage
2012-02-05, 03:54 AM
What I said was that a 2nd level fighter can survive *any* single blow from a dagger delivered by somebody with average strength and no plusses.

And a 2nd level priest can cause light to shine in the darkness without the proper wondrous item.

Any 2nd level fighter can still die to a coup de grace. What the knife damage represents in combat is another story.

Magic fouls up the whole realism thing, but that's not surprising, because it wouldn't be magic if it didn't. So that's not a fair comparison.

Ancalagon
2012-02-05, 06:05 AM
@El_Dictator
I do not want to inflate this to magnificent proportions, so I keep this shorter and do not quote everything.

In general I do agree to your resoning but D&D does not have those massive "circumstance boni to stats". Those are only used for skillchecks and represent some short-term differences in regard to your base-bonus.
If the bonus is always there the permanent bonus should reflect that instead of being modified by a number of circumstance boni. But these are skills and I think we do not have to discuss this in depth.

The bigger problem are circumstance boni on stats. The rules do not really handle them so I think we should not start to use them to model something in the large scale. Changes to the boni for stats are usually not handled by circumstance, but are fixed and changes here are accompanied by changed stats. And the problem is D&D does not allow a lot of variation here (which makes sense from a game-standpoint). That D&D-stats do not translate well into RL was my initial point and I think the problem here does not reflect that.
This still leaves aside it's silly to say your stat is 10 and you have this and this and this and this bonus permanently due to your training instead of saying your stat is 12.
I also think you overestimate the impact of genetics. Genetics do have a very, very big impact on our ability to perform at a maximum level. So some of us will have a very hard time to train to olympic levels while it might be impossible for others and relatively easy for some. Yes, genetics determine the max and the easeness to train. But I really doubt it's limited to the RL representation of one or 2 points.
8 is weakish, 10 is average, 12 is above average, 14 is already very good. I think everyone can train his or her str after years of being a coach potatoe (8) to "very good" (13 or 14). If that person can hit 16 or 18 with "reasonable effort" (what you want to achieve depends on your definition of reasonable for that goal) is then a question of genetics.
Here's another problem with the limited training. Adventurers are exeptional people (based on their array of stats) but you applied "you can only train two points" to everyone. Why cannot there be some exceptional people who can train from 10 to 18? You excluded that and claimed it would be more fitting to apply a circumstance bonus (permanent, after four years of training) of +4 all the time instead of admitting/allowing the stat went from 10 to 18.

Now for damage: Constituation does not have an RL-impact on HPs (which are your abstract abilit to withstand damage*).
Constitution does have an impact if and how you survive the aftermath of that damage and how well you recover (within certain, if compared to D&D, very thin margins).
The problem now is that D&D does not know the latter use of Con at all (apart from some healing rate of HPs, which again do not translate into RL). So as a summary for this problem, I could write: What Con does in RL simply is not there in D&D and what it does in D&D is not there in RL.

* Let's de-abstract this in a sidenote for giggles: If a typical strike with a sword does 1d8 + str (let's say 2) damage, then ~6 HPs of damage mean a full strike with a longsword. This meas: Any decent adventurer can survive a couple of direct hits with a longsword.
I do not even want to ponder what this means for 10 or 20 points of damage.

Chronos
2012-02-05, 03:16 PM
Now for damage: Constituation does not have an RL-impact on HPs (which are your abstract abilit to withstand damage*).
Constitution does have an impact if and how you survive the aftermath of that damage and how well you recoverHow is that any different than saying that Constitution has an impact on HP? If higher Con makes you more likely to survive, that means that higher Con means more HP.

King of Nowere
2012-02-05, 04:07 PM
there are some other systems of roleplaying rules where, instead of picking a level, you spend your xp on single skills or stats or somesuch. That is much more realistic, since you can pick another rank in jumping without needing to gain an hd and bab and all other stuff with it. If only I knew a way to apply it to D&D...

Idhan
2012-02-09, 05:22 PM
Yeah, I don't think it really makes sense to try to apply D&D rules to the real world. (Storyteller, etc, might come closer, although there are still plenty of irregularities)

I think it's a mistake to think of a level 6 character as being extraordinarily competent in some "real world" sense. He has lots of hit points, good modifiers, etc, but in the practical sense of bringing his abilities to bear on the world effectively, he could be an incompetent bungler. (Seriously: Elan is like level 14 or more. That doesn't mean he's some super-competent guy who is more insightful than Einstein. It means he has 70 HP or so, casts level 5 bard spells, etc.)

You'd also notice that, whenever a monarch or some similarly important character is stated out, they're generally pretty high level. In a hereditary monarchy, the monarch should be expected to be of fairly average level, and if you're dealing with a world where the average level is "1," then there's no reason for the monarch to typically be anything but an aristocrat 1 (maybe aristocrat 2 occasionally, aristocrat 3 rarely, etc) -- but that's almost never the case (the lowest level monarch I can think of is the titular Queen of Thrane in Eberron, and she's a level 4 aristocrat). Basically, for NPCs, level is dramatic importance, not some kind of real world competence. For PCs, level is where in the campaign they are.

JustinA
2012-03-30, 02:41 AM
Believe me, I certainly have actually read the whole thing, and it has large holes in it.

I suspect you're mostly missing the forest for the trees, but I was particularly interested in this:


Target shooting: Hitting a 5" bullseye (Fine size) at 100 yards with a longbow is a an AC of 24. Olympic archers typically hit the bullseye about half the time (I did some quick research, but I don't know a precise number). That would mean that the average Olympic-level archer has an attack bonus of about +14. Assuming +5 for base attack, +3 for dexterity,+1 for a masterwork bow and +1 for Weapon Focus, that still leaves 4 points short. And since he's classifying the average Olympic competitor as only level 3-4, the gap is a bit bigger.

Because I'm not following your math.

The AC of an inanimate object is 10 + size modifier + Dex modifier (-5) - 2. An object of Fine size has a +8 size modifier, so that's 10 + 8 - 5 - 2 = AC 11.

The range increment of a longbow is 100 feet. So at 100 yards (300 feet) you're looking at a -6 penalty to the attack roll. However, if you take a full round action to line up a shot on an inanimate object you get a +5 bonus on the attack roll.

If we apply these to the AC (instead of the attack roll), we end up with AC 12 (10 + 8 - 5 - 2 + 6 - 5). That's the absolute best AC I can give to the bullseye, so I'm not sure where you're getting "AC 24" from for a Fine-sized inanimate object.

The 5th-level Olympic archer you've built would actually hit the bullseye 90% of the time from 100 yards.


Getting into the range of modern weapons (which strict D&D does not support, so you have to look to the inherently flawed D20 rules) the longest confirmed kill is 8,120 feet with an L115A3 (an AWM, basically). The range increment for an AWM is given as 110 feet, so even assuming he had Far Shot and a scope the sniper was operating at a penalty of -40.

Here you've got the larger problem that D20 Modern claims that shot is entirely impossible because it's farther than 10 range increments.


Also, there's the question of XP: How can a hypothetical 5th level character remain 5th level after killing a sufficient number of opponents?

Here you're assuming that the essay is claiming that Tolkien was playing D&D while writing LOTR.

Also, here's a free hint: In the real world you don't learn languages by killing people. That, however, is completely irrelevant to the point being made by the original essay.

Fish
2012-03-30, 02:27 PM
Since D&D is a combat game, not a reality simulator, I see no reason to assume it has any bearing on the real world.

In D&D terms, when you fight something with a friend, you learn less than fighting it solo — you share XP. In the real world, when you defeat something with a friend, you learn more because you help each other learn what you each know. D&D just glosses over the important aspect of the real world called "learning" by shunting it into the background. Rich even highlights this when he says Elan was assumed to have studied under Vaarsuvius even though he hadn't.

In the real world, a level 1 peasant in a third-world nation in 1500 AD would have a much harder time learning physics than an equivalent person with a teacher. But D&D is terrible at modeling thi, because it's a form of power-leveling.