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    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Let's talk about what we enjoy in crunchy, simulationist RPGs

    Hey All,
    So for a few years now, I've realized something. As narrativist, abstract, story-focused RPG systems have risen in and out of prominence (FATE and PbtA being the two big ones that come to mind, but there's others I'm forgetting), I've come to discover that none of them ever really tickle my fancy. I don't see that as a knock on them. But they've all felt like they've lacked something that I was looking for in a role-playing game.

    There's something I want out of RPGs that I don't get from them.

    So, which RPGs do I like? I like GURPS, and I like DnD (D20 as a whole, really). I have a soft spot for some of the WoD games too. I even like 2nd ed. Exalted, for all the bustedness it brings with it. Shadowrun has some neat stuff as well (chunky salsa rule never fails to delight), and who can really fault Call of Cthulhu for its rules even if you can't stat your way out of cosmic horror? What I tend not to like is time wasted-- time wasted checking arcane rules, time wasted on too many rolls, time spent bookkeeping to an insane degree. GURPS, then, as much as I love it, also bothers me significantly. In combat heavy games of DnD, the initiative system starts becoming a drag. To that end, I also have an appreciation for rules-light systems that try to be crunchy too. I was particularly fond of Microlite 20, but didn't find something like GURPS Ultralite to be a satisfying condensation of rules that I strongly appreciated. What irks me is... I can't say what I like about them in an elegant way, or what is lacking from those experiences I dislike. I realized, in short, I couldn't figure out the essentials of the rules-heavy experience that I think is so neat.

    Over the years, I've tried to make my own rules-lite-but-simulationist RPG, to try and pare down that core experience that clicks with me. It's never really gone anywhere, and part of the conclusion that I've reached is that it never goes anywhere because I don't have a decently refined understanding of what it is I actually like about crunchy RPG systems, or what other people enjoy. I can't boil down my positive experiences into a set of coherent design principles-- and my discussions with others have led to dissatisfaction. My DM for GURPS was a true fan, but when it came time to explain why he chose this as his favored system over others, especially since he liked medieval settings, he couldn't explain more than a general love for the detail that the rules gave. Maybe that's all you need, but it seems like a lot of extra baggage there, then, since GURPS is such a blue ocean of possibilities with point buy. I remain kind of stumped. And what detail is worth keeping, anyways?

    I was hoping that, by having some discussion with a big enthusiast crowd like we have here, maybe I could finally figure out what that special thing is that I like about crunchy simulationist systems.

    I figure that since I need to improve my general understanding, I'll start with general elements from crunchy games that I like that I don't feel I can find in more abstract games. I think of these as disparate bits, rather than any one coherent design philosophy or paradigm. If you'd like to follow after this example, feel free. Or if you know you DO have a design philosophy you're drawn to, let it rip. But these are my little things:

    I like when items in crunchy games seem to be more real or substantial. One of my favorite moments in GURPS was statting out a gorget for a combat-focused modern character based on some supplementary rules in one of the magazines because the general rules have the throat as a hit location but no armor for it. The DM thought it was overkill, but it ended up saving one of my characters when a spear successfully tagged him, the DM rolled for location, and he discovered that it had nailed me in the throat. And I just love that about rules-heavy games. I love the way a ten-foot pole is an adventurer's lifeline in DnD even when you don't have a grid system. I've read PbPs and listened to adventures taking place in more abstract systems and items just lack the character and specificity they get in rules-heavy games-- but I see no specific reason why that has to be. Is my gorget any better because it came into play organically when called on a hit location table? Why do I like that more than if the DM described me getting attacked, I mention I have that special item, and between the two of us we come up with a description of how the fight plays out? That's effectively how items often tend to work in abstract systems, but the resolution never quite feels as satisfying to me. Also, even when there's no specific rules for the action you're trying to take with an item, sometimes the mechanical framework in which the action takes place produces some fascinating results-- when I decided to brew up some molotovs with lantern oil in a 3rd edition DnD one-off, we could use the thrown weapon rules to figure out a baseline for effectiveness, and use some of the fire spells as a broad template of what could happen. And I just like the certainty of rules-heavy systems were you make your inventory ahead of time instead of having some ability that describes you having a helpful item when you need it. I like the fact that my character had something useful listed in my character sheet's exhaustive, ridiculous list of materials.

    I like the way characters can feel diverse in crunchy games. I like having a build with a set of moves. Gonna be real, I like things like spell slots or power points that differentiate characters from each other. Even in point buy games, I like making characters who have special things going on with them. My GURPS character from the previous example had combat reflexes and quick-draw skills for all of his weapons, making him difficult to deal with in a fight. He also had stuff going on with his very high Will stat and autohypnosis skills that let him ignore pain and fatigue, so he could take risks in a fight other characters wouldn't be able to make without compromising their effectiveness. I enjoy when a character has these synergies that come together and reinforce each other to make something stronger than the sum of their parts. I love playing and creating and reading about odd gimmick builds, or having weird specializations. This is where my love for Exalted comes in, too. Sure, it may not be balanced-- but the general presumption is, your character can do at least one ludicrous thing and may have charms that help him to do other weird and ludicrous things, all as a charm set-- and that ludicrous thing can be pretty specific. In short, there's a certain puzzle element to builds that gets lost very easily with simplicity, I think. Broadly speaking, I like tactical combat, but I think it's unfair to games like PbtA to imply that there's no tactical decision-making whatsoever. But it's just not enough for me, so I'm trying to define this maybe on the basis of specialization? Even then, I tend to play generalists-- but generalists with gimmicks, so that's why I feel like builds are maybe that special thing that I enjoy.

    I enjoy when crunchier systems have better rules for playing out extremes of power. I know DnD often doesn't do this as well with crit fails and successes on attack rolls, but there's something really satisfying about being able to roll a 24 after modifiers because your character's an OG at a skill check or being able to stack a ton of dice on an attack. A lot of abstract or narrative games just don't have the raw, nerdy joy of hurling a casino's worth of dice at a problem-- and with stuff like Roll20, this isn't even that much of a time-consuming process. There's something excellent about a monster with more than 18 strength, or realizing that the way math works out in GURPS your character will fail like one time in a hundred at a given skill check. Someone was waxing poetical about getting an 18/99 in older-school DnD-- I get the feeling like there's just something there.

    So, in the spirit of discovery-- what is it that you guys like about crunchy systems? It can be a specific element you feel you get in those systems that you don't get elsewhere. It can be a broader design tendency you recognize in those systems that doesn't exist in narrativist systems. Or it can just be something you adore from a specific crunchy rule system. I mean, there are people who unironically enjoy rifts. That has to be for a reason. If possible, let's try to focus on crunchy games, and keep narrativist/abstract system discussion more as references to refine what it is that we like about crunch. Ultimately, when you make a thread, barring a major derail, it really turns into what other people make of it, so I leave that ultimate determination to you. Let's enjoy and discuss, above all!
    Last edited by Deffers; 2019-05-11 at 08:41 AM.

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    Default Re: Let's talk about what we enjoy in crunchy, simulationist RPGs

    Fairness and accountability. In light games, sweet-talking or haranguing your GM or fellow players can yield benefits that the character didn't earn. Alternatively, in a low-crunch game your character might suffer in unfair ways too, because there aren't rules to prevent it. IRL I take pride in earning what I get and satisfaction from getting what I earn. Not all of my characters feel that way IC, but OOC I still feel that way about them -- I want fair results based on how I've built the character. I want to know I've earned it.

    That's also why I prefer games with less reliance on luck. I don't like to win just because the dice came up big for me, and I don't like to lose from getting bad card draws. Let me win or lose fair-and-square.
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    Default Re: Let's talk about what we enjoy in crunchy, simulationist RPGs

    For me: predictability and reliability.

    In real life you can broadly predict certain trends and results. Likewise a competent, skilled, or professional person can produce reliable sets results that make sense while an incompetent neophyte can't approach either the level of success or reliability.

    As such I tend to prefer systems that use bell curve probabilities and a more defined task resolution system. Games where a dex-whore acrobat professional soldier gun nut character is only 30% more likely to hit a target or dodge a thrown rock than an out of shape bookish professor character... Those annoy me. Or things like devoting significant character building resources towards something and moving from 13+ on a d20 to 8+, so that random no-bonus mooks still beat the "expert" about 1/6th the time.

    This also means that I prefer systems that give more guidance and explicit, clearly explained, options to the GMs. Especially because so many people have little or no real understanding of how probabilities work and how what gets rolled versus what target number can affect how the game plays. I've played in games where the GM thought that three 33% chances to succeed equaled 99%, oh where the 'heros' were more like the Three Stooges because all the checks that had DCs weren't supposed to be rolled for (I still don't get that design philosophy).
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    Default Re: Let's talk about what we enjoy in crunchy, simulationist RPGs

    I find that crunchy rules make for a more consistent world, and this creates more immersion and role-playing.

    For instance, if you see an NPC in action, you can get a pretty good idea of what he's capable of, and your character can probably learn to do the same if you train for it. Or if you regularly meet a kind of monster or obstacle, your character will figure out what it does. Or if you build a character that is good at, say, sailing, then this will be mechanically true even if the GM doesn't know about sailing himself, and it won't be the case that every other PC is equally good at sailing (because they'll fast-talk the GM into using their best skill for sailing instead).
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    Default Re: Let's talk about what we enjoy in crunchy, simulationist RPGs

    For me, the answer is: Nothing. More rules are more book keeping, deeper, denser rules are more micro management.

    I don't even like it in strategy games.

    And that's not to derail the discussion. I just feel it's a valid point: Crunchy simulationism certainly isn't for everyone.

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    Default Re: Let's talk about what we enjoy in crunchy, simulationist RPGs

    A consistent Scale of things to measure everything in the game world.

    I share your sentiments in struggling with making up the perfect ruleset, as two of my favorite rules are also major heartbreakers for various reasons ( GURPS is legally not free, and D&D has its non-magic characters disappointingly weak for my Wuxia tuned scale).

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    Default Re: Let's talk about what we enjoy in crunchy, simulationist RPGs

    I enjoy consistency. The ability to not flounder and look up a player handbook for a class, not to metagame exactly, but to get a sense of what keeps the game running, probably keeps me interested. Like, you can build a wizard in a way that makes them a drag on the game, unable to do much more than magic missile.

    Or you could be a God. Carefully balancing your power over all with just enough humility to make others succeed on your behalf. To not just play the game, but engineer events with careful planning that everyone is having a fun time.

    And that is why characters I play seem to buy innoccuous little things as we go. Bandages. Marbles. Piles of dry sticks. Pig fat. Crockery. Glass vials. Waxed papers. Because I can see the uses for these ordinary, simple things in an adventure, and am there to be a fun-continuing person, to ensure the facilitation of maximum fun for me and fellow players, so we never end up looking at a locked door and be stuck without a thief, to never encounter a dragon egg that needs electricity to hatch and lack amber and cat fur, to never be unable to set up a rube goldberg device to gain the attention of the princess.

    A more loose system lets you do these things, but it's less of a surprise to your fellow players. You just have this stuff to hand.

    Having to meticulously build up your pile of hoarded junk in the hope of pulling a win through impossible odds... That, to me, makes for a strange and wonderful experience.
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    Default Re: Let's talk about what we enjoy in crunchy, simulationist RPGs

    For me, the crunchier the game, the more it encourages the DM and the players to go all out. Hackmaster was my crunchiest DnD crawler equivalent, and the character creation could take hours and result in ridiculously troubled characters, and absolute powerhouses that couldn't be hit by anything but +5 weapons at level 1. It was wild, extreme, and utterly indifferent to the idea of fairness. You were supposed to build the most lethal character you could, and the GM was supposed to try their best to kill them. It was adversarial, and glorious after you ran through the roguelike experience accrual process and finally got a survivor to start leveling up.

    The best Whitewolf style game I played was Streetfighter STg. No celerity 5 turn instakills, just hundreds of moves in a variety of styles where combat was like high impact chess against other streetfighters, and that video of the dad slapping EVERYONE at the party when you fought anyone else. The characters were totally customizable- you could have 3 sumos, one of the lightest maneuver styles, and all of them be distinct. So for me, customizability, and lethality.

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    Default Re: Let's talk about what we enjoy in crunchy, simulationist RPGs

    Adapting through tactics is big for me.

    I want to adapt. I don't want my strategy to require the same move every single session. I don't want to have to come up with another random funny quip to grant me a small boon to the generic things I do.

    I want to look at a situation, see that I have a limited number of options to do, and have to choose which of them is going to provide my team the most benefit. It should be something I choose, not something chosen for me.

    A Barbarian's Rage, for example, doesn't work for me, because I always want to be Raging. It's a simple question of "Can I?", rather than "Should I?".

    Good crunch encourages adapting.
    Bad crunch is when character development is complex, but actual play is akin to a toddler's game of putting triangle-shaped blocks into triangle-shaped holes (AKA 3.5 Fighters).
    Last edited by Man_Over_Game; 2019-05-22 at 10:59 AM.
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    Default Re: Let's talk about what we enjoy in crunchy, simulationist RPGs

    Quote Originally Posted by Telok View Post
    I've played in games where the GM thought that three 33% chances to succeed equaled 99%...
    This is a really marginal question, but why wouldn't it equal 99%? By the probability calculus, the pr(.33) + pr(.33) + pr(.33) would equal the pr(.99), no?

    EDIT: Or do you mean that the DM thought that each chance to succeed was pr(.99)? Cuz that would definitely be an error.
    Last edited by TaiLiu; 2019-05-13 at 01:48 PM.

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    Default Re: Let's talk about what we enjoy in crunchy, simulationist RPGs

    Quote Originally Posted by Deffers View Post
    Call of Cthulhu

    I've never found any "rules-heavy" RPG as easy to "Keeper" (GM) as Call of Cthullu and the other "BRP" games that derived their rules from '78 RuneQuest (Pendragon, Ringworld, Stormbringer, et cetera) as they were very intuitive, I even used CoC to substitute for Top Secret! instead of bothering to learn new rules.
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    Default Re: Let's talk about what we enjoy in crunchy, simulationist RPGs

    Quote Originally Posted by TaiLiu View Post
    This is a really marginal question, but why wouldn't it equal 99%? By the probability calculus, the pr(.33) + pr(.33) + pr(.33) would equal the pr(.99), no?

    EDIT: Or do you mean that the DM thought that each chance to succeed was pr(.99)? Cuz that would definitely be an error.
    Reading Telok straight, I am gathering that the DM though that, if you had three tries to do something, and a 33% chance of succeeding each time, then your chance of getting (at least one) successful outcome was 99% (as opposed to 1-(67%^3) =70%).

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    Default Re: Let's talk about what we enjoy in crunchy, simulationist RPGs

    Quote Originally Posted by TaiLiu View Post
    This is a really marginal question, but why wouldn't it equal 99%? By the probability calculus, the pr(.33) + pr(.33) + pr(.33) would equal the pr(.99), no?
    Assuming independent events the probability that at least ONE of 3 33% outcomes is successful is 1-(1-.33)*(1-.33)*(1-.33) which is about 70%. Very different. Basic thing to remember with probability is it generally is multiplicative not additive.
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    Default Re: Let's talk about what we enjoy in crunchy, simulationist RPGs

    Quote Originally Posted by Willie the Duck View Post
    Reading Telok straight, I am gathering that the DM though that, if you had three tries to do something, and a 33% chance of succeeding each time, then your chance of getting (at least one) successful outcome was 99% (as opposed to 1-(67%^3) =70%).
    Quote Originally Posted by jindra34 View Post
    Assuming independent events the probability that at least ONE of 3 33% outcomes is successful is 1-(1-.33)*(1-.33)*(1-.33) which is about 70%. Very different. Basic thing to remember with probability is it generally is multiplicative not additive.
    Okay, either my understanding of statistics has been wrong the entire time, or I misunderstood what Telok said. Why wouldn't Kolmogorov's third axiom – σ-additivity – apply here? I'm honestly confused.
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    Default Re: Let's talk about what we enjoy in crunchy, simulationist RPGs

    Quote Originally Posted by TaiLiu View Post
    Okay, either my understanding of statistics has been wrong the entire time, or I misunderstood what Telok said. Why wouldn't Kolmogorov's third axiom – σ-additivity – apply here? I'm honestly confused.
    Same reason you aren't guaranteed to get heads after two coin flips...

    The third axiom is about mutually exclusive events in a given trial, not successive trials at constant probability.
    Last edited by Hytheter; 2019-05-22 at 12:43 AM.

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    Default Re: Let's talk about what we enjoy in crunchy, simulationist RPGs

    A lot of my reasons for preferring crunchy/rules-heavy have been given, but here's some I didn't see. For all of these, I'm not saying rules light can't do them, I'm saying rules heavy lets me express it more deeply.

    1) Being the rules-guru. I've always loved the feeling of having the right answer at my fingertips when people ask a question - I was very much the "Hermione" growing up, with my hand constantly shooting skyward during class. Crunchy RPGs scratch that same itch for me; when another player asks something like "can I try to grab him as he runs past me?" or "can I peek around the corner to throw my grenade without getting shot?" or "can I swim down to her, get the scroll out of her pouch, and use it to help us escape", the rest of the group - and sometimes even our DM - turn and look at me, and there are few feelings in my gaming life that can compare to that

    (Note however that being a rules guru is very different than being a rules lawyer; I strive for the former.)

    2) Builds, builds, builds. I find little challenge or metagame to building a character in a rules-light system - my abilities (and limits) there are more based on what I can convince the DM I get away with than my knowledge of the system. If I want to make Captain America in a rules-heavy system for example, I get the challenge of diving through several books and planning out what exactly I want him to be able to do, which innate abilities and external items best enable that, which parts of my build come online when etc. Rules light meanwhile gets me to the end result faster but it feels all the more hollow as a result.

    Playing something I can't think of. This one's loaded actually so I'll unpack, because it covers two distinct scenarios:

    a) I have no idea what I want to play. I'll flip through this sourcebook, look up cool abilities, and then build a character around them. (Most of the time though, I end up stuck on the first two steps.) In a rules-light game, I can be anything, but that is a double-edged sword because that much choice can be as paralyzing as it is freeing.

    b) I know what I want to play - someone smarter, wiser, and/or more charismatic than I am in real life. But I have no idea what this person would actually say, think of, or notice. In a rules-light game, if I the player can't be persuasive, then my character never will be either, no matter what my sheet or concept say. In rules-heavy though, I can say what I'm trying to do, roll the dice, and then depending on the result, folks who are better at that sort of thing can just fill in the gaps for me. (Amusingly, this works in reverse too - I can be pretty good at something and then a bad die roll can cause failure, which my fellow players will be all too happy to narrate for ensuing hilarity.)
    Last edited by Psyren; 2019-05-22 at 02:05 AM.

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    Default Re: Let's talk about what we enjoy in crunchy, simulationist RPGs

    Quote Originally Posted by TaiLiu View Post
    Okay, either my understanding of statistics has been wrong the entire time, or I misunderstood what Telok said. Why wouldn't Kolmogorov's third axiom – σ-additivity – apply here? I'm honestly confused.
    So if I have a 50% chance to succeed at something and I try twice, my chance of success = 50% + 50% = 100%?
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    Default Re: Let's talk about what we enjoy in crunchy, simulationist RPGs

    Quote Originally Posted by TaiLiu View Post
    Okay, either my understanding of statistics has been wrong the entire time, or I misunderstood what Telok said. Why wouldn't Kolmogorov's third axiom – σ-additivity – apply here? I'm honestly confused.
    If you try a thing 3 times with 1/3rd chance each time, you will have 1 success on average.

    But there is still a chance of no success which is offseet by the chance of having two or three successes.

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    Default Re: Let's talk about what we enjoy in crunchy, simulationist RPGs

    I have yet to discover a system that doesn't screw up one or another aspect of "reality" (as in versimillitude or believability) but I really enjoy normalized systems of chance. D&D's d20 might be simple enough but a critical success or failure is as likely as just being competent/mediocre at your thing. I much rather prefer dice pools.

    Another one are systems that actively discourage combat/fair fights - as well as systems that put enemies on the same level as the player. D&D is fun and all but it puts the monsters/enemies at a disadvantage. I am bored to all hell fighting things destined to loose. Of course that is true for almost any combat in RPGs ever so I am partially okay with it. But I feel combat should be impactful and not "we can win 3-4 fights until we have to rest". We had a campaign where we had about 10-15 fights in a 2 year span (I include blatant fleeing sequences and the occasional "a pack of mutated wolves is hunting you" in these too since they are necessary) and I can about remember all of them. Comparatively I feel we had about 45+ fights in my Pathfinder campaign and while I can remember the plot, I cannot remember for the life of me what we fought.

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    Default Re: Let's talk about what we enjoy in crunchy, simulationist RPGs

    Quote Originally Posted by Sporeegg View Post
    Another one are systems that actively discourage combat/fair fights - as well as systems that put enemies on the same level as the player. D&D is fun and all but it puts the monsters/enemies at a disadvantage. I am bored to all hell fighting things destined to loose.
    Hmm? TSR-era D&D, certainly oD&D pre-supp. 1 and most of the basic/classic line, were set up such that a 4th level fighter and a 4 HD monster were pretty similar. Clearing out most of the modules or a dungeon built with the dungeon-building tools in the books would create situations where marching into fair fights would be a really bad idea. The intent (along with most of the xp being from treasure, and the dearth of healing) was to discourage combat/fair fights. Of course, since fighting is what a lot of gamers want to do, a lot of DMs changed that around somehow, and later D&Ds have moved away from that. But I certainly wouldn't say that monsters/enemies being at a disadvantage was a universal D&D trait.

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    Default Re: Let's talk about what we enjoy in crunchy, simulationist RPGs

    Well, I certainly care about and enjoy the "fairness" aspect, but I think that what I enjoy of crunch had been missed by asking about Simulationist crunch. See, I enjoy that there is a game. So, I like Gamist crunch.

    Yes, said Gamist crunch should also be Simulationist - there should be versimilitude of the crunch matching the fluff - buy that is separate from what I like about the crunchiness of the system.

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    Default Re: Let's talk about what we enjoy in crunchy, simulationist RPGs

    When I say "simulationist", what I mean, is that the game mechanics and the fiction layer are in sync. They produce similar results, so that the known facts about what's going on in the fiction layer give the player a good chance of understanding the possible and likely outcomes from the system layer.

    The same exact system can be more or less "simulationist" depending on the setting and characters and "power level" you're using it for.


    Rules I like tend to be on the crunchy side, but I have very little use for "crunch for the sake of crunch", or book-spam, or splat-spam.

    If I had to pick a single system, it would be HERO 5th, because it's versatile, and the rules are very straightforward despite being detailed. It's a bid book, but really everything you need is in that one big book. For character creation... does the character fit the setting and scope and so forth put forward in the fiction layer? Does it within the points total and build guidelines set by the GM? Yes and yes? Then that character is fine.

    No digging through half-a-dozen books looking for just the right splat or subclass or whatever.
    No referencing special rules across a multitude of sources.
    No trying to wedge a concept into a misbegotten framework.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

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    Default Re: Let's talk about what we enjoy in crunchy, simulationist RPGs

    Rock Paper Scissors

    As with real life, certain things just counter other things. Different systems use different approaches. D&D uses a wide range of these for different elements and some things are either complete hard counters while others are just most effective available tactic.

    Hard Counter - Polearm beats Cavalry. Period. You get either a huge bonus to your roll or you flat out dominate the unit. It's simple and to the point with little variance. But it's realistic.

    Vulnerabilities - Polearms deal Piercing damage, some Cavalry are weak to Piercing. Playing out the scenario ultimately involves matching up types and with customization you can avoid your common weakness, such as by giving Cavalry armor that deflects stabs or carries with it longer lances or just uses a stronger mount (elephants).

    Mathhammer - Polearms have 30 ATK vs Horses, Cavalry have 20 DEF. The fight continues along similarly to any other just with more math involved. Maybe instead it's a matter of stacking Strength to overcome a high Armor Class but it's all about the numbers.

    Most Effective Available Tactic - Polearms have the Anti-Charge ability, Cavalry use Charge. The battle is more dependent on using what skills and talents are available to the unit that may offset some abilities other units use, either explicitly like the example or otherwise such as by disabling a beholder by blinding it.

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    Default Re: Let's talk about what we enjoy in crunchy, simulationist RPGs

    RoleMaster is one of my all time favorite games. I think it is crunchy, but perhaps not too simulationist.

    One of the reasons I like it is that it melds a level of detail (particularly in skills) with the idea of "character levels" well. It really presents a system in which 2 characters of the same race, profession ("class") and experience can be wildly different in execution/theme/style. It allows the player to really develop the character's mechanical idiom and have it represented in performance, unlike more generalist games (like Savage Worlds) where the differences are more like "skins" for video game characters. No offense to Savage Worlds or its fans. I think it was a really wonderful idea with great execution! For me and the long running group I played with it really allowed for rules- and mechanics-based customization beyond any other RPG and in a very balanced and structural fashion.

    I also loved the combat and experience systems. Yup, they were time-consuming but (for us) in a very good way. Once you get over the learning curve it was easy to understand, really seemed to take in account the multiple factors that could influence combat (including being an active defender).

    By today's standards I think it would be viewed as unwieldy, but I think its much like driving a manual transmission vs. an automatic. Once you know how to do it it will still take a little more attention, but your performance can be much improved.

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    Default Re: Let's talk about what we enjoy in crunchy, simulationist RPGs

    Another thing to keep in mind is that a system can be crunchy and huge and detailed and buried in dozens of books... and that doesn't make it "simulationist".

    3.x is a mountain, but it leans very heavily "gamist"... there's almost nothing "sim" about it.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

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    Default Re: Let's talk about what we enjoy in crunchy, simulationist RPGs

    I don't have many crunchy systems I like other than GURPS, but I like that system because the crunch can be scaled up or down. I usually play medium crunch, but the option to go more or less complex is there.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Let's talk about what we enjoy in crunchy, simulationist RPGs

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Another thing to keep in mind is that a system can be crunchy and huge and detailed and buried in dozens of books... and that doesn't make it "simulationist".

    3.x is a mountain, but it leans very heavily "gamist"... there's almost nothing "sim" about it.
    Though even within a gamist system you may find something simulationist you enjoy about it.

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    Default Re: Let's talk about what we enjoy in crunchy, simulationist RPGs

    Quote Originally Posted by Kyutaru View Post
    Though even within a gamist system you may find something simulationist you enjoy about it.
    The two aren't mutually exclusive, of course -- the idea that they must be or should be is one of the great fallacies that "RPG theory" has had to deal with.

    Which specific elements in 3.x would you consider significantly "simmy"?
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

    The Worldbuilding Forum -- where realities are born.

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    Default Re: Let's talk about what we enjoy in crunchy, simulationist RPGs

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    The two aren't mutually exclusive, of course -- the idea that they must be or should be is one of the great fallacies that "RPG theory" has had to deal with.

    Which specific elements in 3.x would you consider significantly "simmy"?
    They put a bunch of stuff into the martial game like picking up dropped weapons and getting up from prone drawing Attacks of Opportunity. One can read that as being done 'because it is realistic.' Same with moving (more than 5') meaning one can only get in less attacks. Overall, a lot of the 3.x-introduced or 3.x-worsened things we've been complaining about in the 'martial/caster' and 'guy at gym' threads are examples of 3e D&D moving in a 'simmy' direction (with martials getting penalties for actions 'because it would be realistic' while casters do not because who knows what restrictions are appropriate for magic, the guy at gym issue in a nutshell). Likewise, I think 3e is the first time when certain objects in the physical world got specified stats -- square feet of dungeon/castle walls/doors got specified hardness and hit points based on material used, as did weapons (wooden-hafted axes had different sundering profiles than a metal hafted mace or a sword blade). I would say that 3e, like all of D&D it's still solidly in the gamist camp (if you believe in the RPG theory categories to begin with), but 3e is definitely farther in the sim direction than what it came from.

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    Default Re: Let's talk about what we enjoy in crunchy, simulationist RPGs

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    When I say "simulationist", what I mean, is that the game mechanics and the fiction layer are in sync.....

    I've found that the "BRP" games that derived their rules from '78 [I]RuneQuest, such as Call of Cthullu, King Arthur Pendragon (which is my favorite), Ringworld, and Stormbringer, just hew closer to both the fiction, and what I'd expect "If this were real" than the other games I've played, except for maybe Champions, but that was comic book superheroes, so no "If this were real" (I also just don't like that genre as much).

    In terms of "Sword & Sorcery" magic Stormbringer was spot on, and for doing settings like Howard's Conan stories I think Call of Cthullu magic system is closer to genre conventions than any version of D&D, even though it's default setting is the 1920's with monsters rather than the "Hyborian Age", and I've never found a game that did Sir Gawain and the Green Knight "morality tests" as well as Pendragon (or at all really).

    As far as modelling combat the RuneQuest derived rules seem more "realistic" to me than maybe all but Arm's Law/MERP/Rolemaster.

    I like D&D (except for 3.x, as requiring me to choose a "Feat" to play a Fighter is a bridge too far!).but for more "gamist" reasons, and mostly as a player, as a GM and for "simulation" it's BRP.
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