Rules and Reality: Aspects of D&D… Or not?

As I wrote my last blog entry, I noticed that my arguments were very… Sloppy. That’s why, after I started to tell you something about healing surges, I stopped writing. What are these healing surges that I was talking about? I didn’t really know. I kind of knew what they were supposed to do, but nothing more. All my info can from some minor rule information. Not much context to base any argument on. So, if I want to be a true critic, I have to wait for the full version of the PHB.

But what has me all riled up? Why am I angry in advance? As I read though some more information about the new rules, I could feel the disdain rising again. Maybe, if could ask myself the right question, then I could answer it without referring to any rules specifically. A philosopher’s tool is his mind. Rules are just there to intrude upon lower layers of logic. My logic. LOL.

ne line in my last post struck me as hesitant, yet important. It is just… unrealistic! Is what I wrote. Yet, whenever I defend some of the rules of D&D to real life sword-wielding, re-enacting fanatics, I say, that if we would follow real life in such a game, then their would be no point in playing D&D, for it would just take up to much time. Which is true. Rounds can last a long time, even if just 6 seconds pass in the game world. In a game that I am in, a round can last up to an hour. We are with seven players. The game mechanics are second edition, but even in third edition this time is sometimes stretched to the edge of what can still be called ‘fun’. Yet I am blabbering on about the terms realistic and unrealistic. Not just here, but everywhere.

et’s look at a basic fight in Dungeons and Dragons. You roll for initiative, to see who goes first. Then make an attack roll versus a certain armor class. You calculate your bonuses and penalties into this roll, as the battlefield is constantly shifting. If you hit, you roll for damage, again with adjustments for whatever, and finally you let the other player do the same thing. You might roll anew for your attack, if your opponent isn’t dead, but there will come a time when battle is over and one of you is possibly bleeding to death in front of you. Or it’s the other way around, of course.

ell, it is a way to deal with battles, I guess. But is it realistic? No. For the simple reason that battle isn’t played with dice. So, then, any system goes right? NO! Well… No… No? Yes ‘no’ indeed. For while it is impossible to invent a system that allows for real warfare with a simple d20, it is possible to not let them run out of bounds. Imagine a world where you can grow into your strength. Take, for example, a thief and a fighter. They both gain levels and specialize themselves in certain field, like when you train a skill. Now, imagine a thief that ghas trained his stealth skill all his life and a fighter who has no expertise in that field whatsoever. Imagine the thief slipping past the fighter with apparent ease, for he is a master. Now imagine that the difference between a trained and an untrained skill as a 5 point difference in a roughly d20 system… He has a basic 25% bonus on anyone with the same basic ability scores if that other character is o the same level. Why, I could ask you, would he even try sneaking past then? That is just basically illogical. And we are not talking about first level players here, of course, for it is expected that low level players haven’t grown in a specific direction yet, though the first signs of specialization are obviously their. No, think 30 levels. Having trained in a skill puts your base score at 20, while the damned fighter has a base score of 15 without putting even a bit of training in that field! it is passively determined!
That is where rules do not seem to involve the importance of realism anymore. For now, I let you ponder on this. Maybe you can come up with a comment that’ll spin me around and tells: Of course! I hadn’t thought about that! I would be o so glad, for 4th edition isn’t giving me such hope.

4 Responses to “Rules and Reality: Aspects of D&D… Or not?”

  1. giel says:

    To put myself in their defense: I think these illogical, unbalanced unrealistic decisions WOTC has made, will give new players a great starting point.
    The problem with 2nd was and still is that you have so many things to remember: you have to roll high on this and roll low on that and spend these for skills and WP’s according to this table. 3rd edition made things easier for letting players choose their own progression in their character. Problem was, either there is now too much choice with all the extended books and rules and tables you need to read and sometimes memorize before knowing how your character works the way it does, or the choice you want is still not availible.
    IMHO, I think 4th edition isn’t aiming for experienced table top players. General players of roleplaying games would want to focus on giving life to their character, not worrying about game mechanics or rules.

    Reason for me to believe this, is WOTC’s approach to the Magic: The Gathering TCG. Almost All the new rules and new tactics are almost series bound. That way you can easily step into the game without having to explain too much. It’s targeted towards progress and playability.

    I can understand your viewpoint, share your concern for this ‘game-pimping’, but will wait patiently and try it out regardless of critics.

  2. admin says:

    And what is this wonderful new starting point that you are talking about? A toned down expectation of a player’s own intelligence? Skipping over your 2nd edition remark, there never is to much choice. You can play D&D 3.5 with just three rule books. Everything else is of your own choosing. And the rules are but rough guidelines anyway. I think that even in 3.5 they state, that you can scrap and add whatever rules you wish to scrap or add. I think this whole ‘low threshold’ thing is belittleling and not only does it hurt the role playing industry, it hurts our expectation of human intellect.

    A low threshold results in a low gaming experience. Not that the game itself might not be cool to play, but it will lack anything that makes real role-playing the immerging experience its is supposed to be. And not because of the simpler rules perce, as I have tried to explain, but because of those rules that simply throw all logical structure into the winds.

    And, a M:tG approach is hardly what I would start of with anyway. Magic is just that, a cardgame with no personal role to fulfill. Please, let them not make to many mistakes when it comes to such a great game as D&D!

  3. I think I agree with your desire for inequality, giving certain conditions. Indeed, in a dark alley you’d want the fighter to be without any/much chance, while in the open field it will be the fighter who is victorious 9 out 10 times. That’s the way it is now, how it would be in real life, and what makes the context interesting.

    What’s the point of selecting a specific class if differences are so small? What’s the point of preparing a fight or in general: paying attention to your surroundings, when no advantage is to be gained from it?

    Indeed, is there another incentive to bring forth a new edition, other than making money? Is there really need for this new edition, are players frustrated with 3.5? Clearly, we all want something new for a change, but is a new edition really what we want now?

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