Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Good Grounding Point

Well, I said I wouldn't blog this week, but it turns out that's hard to do. Without too much analysis from me, I just wanted to highlight a most excellent comment from Robert Fisher over at Grognardia today (which other posters have also applauded):

Now, the world has both fantasy and common (i.e. mundane) elements. For me, a large portion of what makes the fantasy elements work is their juxtaposition against the common elements.

With the fantasy elements, sometimes we work to learn the rules that govern them in game, which can be a lot of fun. Sometimes they’re enigmas. It can be fun to have enigmas that we have to reason around, but too much of that gets frustrating. The common elements give us a good grounding point. Stuff we can reason about fairly reliably and that we don’t have to discover the rules governing first....

To me, though, one of the “side benefits” of this hobby has been the way it encourages me to learn more about various topics. Whether it is the history of coinage or the physics behind the weight, volume, and how efficiently objects pack into a container.

That's a great post, and it very nicely lays out some stuff that I've felt just the same but perhaps not expressed as eloquently in the past. It's synchronous with the AD&D mission statement (attempt the highest degree of realism, as long as it's compatible with flow of the game) and the fact that looking to real-life research solves game design problems. It explains why so much of this blog is spent lobbying for fix-ups to the major-oversight parts of original D&D -- like Money, Encumbrance, and Scale (see sidebar). It's a great reply to the occasional critics who say "the game has magic, so ignore all realism" (not to say that James M. is asserting that in his blog). And it's something that's pretty unique to RPG's, something that could never be completely codified or game-abstracted away.

Thanks, Robert! And Happy New Year everyone. :-)


  1. I never saw anything magical and fantastic about copper pieces the size of a York Peppermint Patty, or Molotov cocktails made with vegetable oil. Even with my preference for simplified game systems, wherever possible I try to get the bqallpark numbers correct.

  2. Suspension of disbelief is like a bank account, you can only withdraw so much before it's emptied out.

    Saying "it's all fantasy, so don't worry about realism" is like running up a lot of charges on your debit card without checking your balance.

  3. ^ Awesome, I love that comparison! :-)

  4. Thank you for providing today the kinds of articles we used to have to buy Dragon to get!

  5. Wow, Robert -- That's about the highest compliment I can conceive of. You've outdone yourself, sir!