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Author Topic: Speed vs. Realism ... where do you draw the line?  (Read 10661 times)
simon_hibbs
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Posts: 678


« Reply #30 on: April 06, 2004, 09:33:18 AM »

Quote from: Tomas HVM
Yes. The point is; you may as well experience that the kill is easier than to render a man unconscious, or to capture him. There is no fixed scale of difficulty pertaining to this. The variables are too many. How do you emulate the man holding back his most crippling blows, and the disadvantage this gives him, if your aim is to do this within the combat resolution system of a roleplaying game?

I'm no fan of building realism by mathematical combat resolution. It will not do. However; I'm very much dedicated to making games which are believable, and this is not. It will seriously reduce the validity of the game engine, to the point where players will start to ignore it. No rule will mend that fact.


I think we have a missunderstanding here. I very much agree with your following comments about the aftermath of the conflict. To me the contest is over when one side is unable to resist the other. There are a number of possible situations:

1. I state I want to defeat my opponent, and don't care whether I kill or incapacitate him.

2. I state I want to kill my opponent, even if the opponent is incapacitated.

3. I state I want to incapacitate my opponent, and don't want to kill him.

I think we fully agree that option 1 and option 2 aren't significantly harder or easier than each other, but that option 3 is the hardest to achieve. There's no disagreement there. The confusion seems to be because you are treating options 1 and 2 as being identical because their difficulty is the same.

I agree the difficulty is the same but, to me, what hapens in the aftermath of the conflict may include a coup-de-grace, but the coup-de-grace is not part of the conflict itself. Even if my aim is to kill my opponent, it may turn out that I knock him unconcious with one of my blows. If that happens, what I do next isn't resolved by a roll of the dice, or whatever resolution mechanic you use, it's something that the player chooses to impose after the conflict is won.

It's my contention that in most situations, a 'disable' result of some kind is very likely, even in combats where there is no intention to take prisoners. Historicaly this apears to be the case in ancient world combat, and even in the modern day.


Simon Hibbs
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Simon Hibbs
Tomas HVM
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Posts: 244


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« Reply #31 on: April 06, 2004, 11:24:31 AM »

Quote from: simon_hibbs
I think we have a missunderstanding here. ...

1. I state I want to defeat my opponent, and don't care whether I kill or incapacitate him.

2. I state I want to kill my opponent, even if the opponent is incapacitated.

... The confusion seems to be because you are treating options 1 and 2 as being identical because their difficulty is the same.
No sir, I do not treat these as being identical. I merely state that a set scale of difficulty, pertaining to what goal you state in a combat, will be unrealistic. In my view such an approach leaves much to wish, in regard to both dramatic possibilities and "realism".

I do agree with the principle behind this idea; to diversify the results of combat in roleplaying games. But I do not believe that a list of general combat-goals, with prearranged modifications, will be a positive part of any solution to this challenge.

I think it has to be given a more simple solution, with greater dynamics, based on player inventiveness and initiative (that is: give them methodic tools of a different kind than the combat resolution by dice only).
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Tomas HVM
writer, storyteller, games designer
www.fabula.no
M. J. Young
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Posts: 2198


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« Reply #32 on: April 06, 2004, 12:02:31 PM »

Quote from: Tomas HVM
Quote from: Shreyas Sampat
I think MJ is also encoding in this idea that once you choose an easier option, you cannot go back and do something tougher.
Yes, I understood as much, and that is an argument against this idea. In a game where players are free to make new decisions (more or less) the whole time, there is no stopping them to take advantage of such a system. A rule to this end ("no going back on former decisions") is not a great solution.

First, let's recognize that any combat system is an abstraction. A combat system that resolves the outcome based on a single roll of the die is a major abstraction--realism is going to be sacrificed somewhere to do this. And let me say that I've placed the relative difficulties rather haphazardly--I did not pour over which would be tougher, or have more serious consequences, and the order I suggested is not written in stone.

I think the solution to this coup de grace problem is rather simple.

If you have stated that you will fight until you've captured me, that most likely means that you expect me to surrender. I surrender in the full expectation that you will not kill me once you have taken me prisoner. Maybe that's not a good decision on my part--maybe you really do kill your prisoners. However, if you stated you would fight to the capture, and you have captured me, and then you try to kill me, you have to roll again--that's a new combat. At this point, I'm going to choose "escape" against your "kill", and the odds are now very much that you will lose your prisoner.

I don't think this system solves everything; but I don't think it's as problematic as Tomas suggests.

--M. J. Young
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Tomas HVM
Member

Posts: 244


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« Reply #33 on: April 06, 2004, 02:03:02 PM »

Quote from: M. J. Young
First, let's recognize that any combat system is an abstraction. A combat system that resolves the outcome based on a single roll of the die is a major abstraction--realism is going to be sacrificed somewhere to do this.
It is hard to work out the right mix of ingredients like abstraction and "realism" in a game. Most game designers struggle with this, as much as they struggle with their own ignorance on the conflicts they try to simulate in their games.

A combat system that resolves the outcome based on a single roll of the die, is a major abstraction, yes, but so is a combat system with two or more die rolls. There is not much difference in abstraction between such sytems. To argue that one is better suited to reflect realism than the other, is besides the mark. The use of die to simulate uncertainties of outcome, is but one of the tools necessary to simulate a conflict in a realistic or dramatic way.

In respect to how the players will interact with and experience the scenario, one game will stand out against other games, not by the number or type of dice used, but mainly by the handling of the result given by the system, in terms of:
- description
- opportunities for interaction
- dramatic impact
- dynamic qualities

Each and every of these points are in fact developed and used by game masters around the world. They has been in use for as long as roleplaying games has been around. Still; game designers have not been very affirmative in their writings on them. In design of, and theory on, roleplaying games, these methods hardly exist. We may do much better, and we must, if we are to develop this form further!

As it is, most game masters are left to develop their own methods of handling, as part of their style of leadership, and many of them are left with badly conceived methods. As a consequence they play substandard games, far below the potential of the true abilities possessed by them, and their players. The gamesmith is responsible for activating these abilities. He must get the players to understand the scope of the game, their own part in it, and how to release the combined potential of game and player. More often than not, the gamesmith is too feeble to cope with the challenge, or he too is ignorant of it.

The handling of combat systems and their game-product, has been sadly neglected. By developing a method that not only rest upon the combat resolution, but also on effective tools for handling the results produced by it, a game designer may create a framework for conflicts in his game, that transports his players to places unknown. That is: real drama, engagement beyond the toss of the die, interaction with meaning and morality, and as a consequence; a high degree of realism.

It's all there, to be organized and used by clever gamesmiths, to the elevation of their games and players :)
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Tomas HVM
writer, storyteller, games designer
www.fabula.no
Domhnall
Member

Posts: 97


« Reply #34 on: April 06, 2004, 02:21:30 PM »

I only use a simple one-roll decision in particular cases.  Usually, when one faction is fighting another in mass combat who are comparable in skill, I can decide a one-roll solution.  I would never use this for PCs or even special NPCs.
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--Daniel
Tomas HVM
Member

Posts: 244


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« Reply #35 on: April 06, 2004, 02:29:21 PM »

Oh!
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Tomas HVM
writer, storyteller, games designer
www.fabula.no
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