Legends and Lore - Nod to Realism

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Legends and Lore
Nod to Realism
by Monte Cook

When people talk about “realism” in D&D, I always mentally put those quotation marks around the word, because ultimately, D&D isn’t very realistic.

Talk about this column here.

The acid shark ahd me laughing like crazy.
I feel like this thread will have many fewer posts and arguments than other recent L&L threads.


It's really hard to disagree with a post that basically says "Different editions of D&D have had different levels of simulationism.  Different people like different levels.  Please let me know how much you like!"

edit:  Though we might be able to argue about last week's poll results!  Because unless they got mislabeled or otherwise broken again, I'm not a fan.
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Someone get that shark some goggles!

This week's L&L is much much better than the previous ones, if simply because the polls aren't insulting.

Edit: I refrained from even touching last week's polls due to how absurd they were.
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 Too much time spent making everything seem realistic wastes game time. 









      is a statement that is impossible to disagree with [except for those of us who just like disagreeing.]  Too much anything waste game time, including too much game time.
DavidArgall:

There's a segment of the gaming community that holds absolute 'realism' (however ill-defined that may be) as the highest priority in gaming, and they'd probably disagree with that statement on principle.

(And you don't have to look very hard to find posts on these forums complaining about how fantasy character X doing Y isn't realistic and how terrible it is that the game system allows it. I suspect that there'll be a fair share of 'disagree' responses from those posters, too.)
I've always thought about realism in PnP RPGs like I think about realism in engineering. If point masses, newtonian laws, and freebody diagrams are enough to get the result I want 99.9% of the time, I don't think there's any reason at all for using distributed masses, high scale quantum mechanics, and einsteinian physics to get the same result except in that .1% corner case - and that .1% corner case can always just be houseruled with much less effort than those rules being published as the "default" for everyone to use all the time.

While I'm impressed by things like GURPS taking the time to establish that explosives in confined spaces are more dangerous than those in unconfined spaces, having to do the sorts of calculations they decided are required to model that realistically (rather than "explosives deal double damage if you're in a small room" or something more abstract) slows the game's pace to a total crawl. Congratulations you had a (pretty good) simulation of a bomb going off, too bad it took four hours! Tune in next session for doing the math required to replicate the physics behind starting your car Wink
Just the fact that this article is about the "nods to realism" pretty much ranks it up there in my short list of favorites.  I think the terms used here are more nuanced though, and could stand some clarification.

I view "simulationism" as developing significant amounts of detail and covering a large number of different possible courses of action.  The things developed need to be accurate within the "reality" provided by the context.  For instance, we could build a very detailed Fighter Jet simulator with non-Earth-realistic atmospherics and gravity.  We could also build a not-very detailed simulator within the same context.  That level of detail provides the level of simulationism (in that analogy -- it isn't necessarily detail alone).

I view "realism" as providing a set of base rules or assumptions about why things are different from a non-metagaming sense.  For instance, length is a concept, and because of it, a polearm might have a farther reach than a short sword.  The non-metagaming part is important, as it isn't "realistic" to say, these creatures all have a Level of 4, therefore they should all deal 2d6 damage.  Once you've determined how reality works within your context, you appropriately determine how much damage a creature would deal, then determine its level.  So, 1) determine reality, 2) determine mechanical effects of that reality, 3) determine metagaming cues from those mechanical effects.  The reality can be any context.

Then I have a term I would call "integrity" which would mean that the concepts and rules of the developed "reality" apply in all appropriate cases; they aren't sidestepped for convenience, balance, or any other reason.  (When a lot of people criticise a game/movie/book/etc by pulling the "realism card" I often think they more often than not mean this instead.  They're really saying that based on the concepts and rules determined or assumed to provide the in-context reality, the effect shown wasn't consistent with that -- most often true when the implied or assumed concept/rule is "Earth-realistic," like: 'no person would be able to jump that high; that's not realistic!' it really should be 'that's not consistent with the in-context reality that was previously implied!').


I've made it fairly clear I personally prefer the simulationist style in general.  My other major preference is integrity.  Generally speaking, I also typically prefer Earth-like "realism", which also has the tendency to manifest in low-magic or high-contrast (powerful, but exceptionally rare magic) games.


Anyway, I liked this article.

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I think this one was a lot better than his usual stuff.

I'm not much of a fan of "realism" in my D&D games. After all it's a game about wizards, physically present gods, and non existant monsters. None of which are realistic.

"Realism" is usually just an excuse to bash on and limit marshal characters and at the same time let other sources get away with anything. 

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

There is a nice little self created divide here. Shame there can't be more acceptance instead. I feel that is where the future of the game should be.

All this vitriol, pushing away, retroactive retaliation, and preemptive striking needs to stop.

I keep trying but some won't let things go. Will you?

 

Because you like something, it does not mean it is good. Because you dislike something, it does not mean it is bad. Because it is your opinion, it does not make it everyone's opinion. Because it is your opinion, it does not make it truth. Because it is your opinion, it does not make it the general consensus. Whatever side you want to take, at least remember these things.

There Monte goes again, destroying D&D with his crazy ideas about... ::starts reading article::

Oh, nevermind. Carry on.

Personally, I wasn't a fan of realism in the game, but I was fan of simulationism. I liked that my character could use the same rules and forces that the villain was using. Now, I understand that such an approach can quickly break the game, so I'm not bitter about it having been tossed in 4e. That makes 4e a complete joy to DM for, although there are some things that I miss as a player.
For me, realism goes hand-in-hand with suspension of disbelief. Obviously in a fantasy setting, that's generally not a problem. The only time I lose suspension of disbelief is when something in the game itself causes the realism within the context of the setting go out the window, to the point that my only reply I can give to other players is "Just roll with it, you'll just give yourself a headache trying to figure it out".

An example I can give offhand is any level 1 ritual. Knock takes 10 minutes. Now you can be a level 30 wizard, able to manipulate the very fabric of the universe and tap into unfathomable sources of energy. But that same Wizard casting the knock ritual... whoa... knock's a complicated spell compared to manipulating the  fabric of the multiverse, give me 10 minutes. Obviously I know this is made this way for purely balance purposes to avoid ritual casters taking the spotlight, but that example always amuses me.
The article touches on but ignores one of the deeply-rooted problems the game has.  It's roots as an historical wargame with fantasy magic & monsters tacked on.  The problem, of course, is that any class, item, or other mechanic being modeled that was at all historical got pummeled with 'realistic' restrictions on what it could do, while those that were 'magic' got a free pass to do anything.

In fantasy, myth & legend, magic isn't thing only source of the fantastic.  Heros do fantastic things without it.  But because D&D was born with that historical/fantasy split-personality, it's prettymuch done the non-magic-user hero 'wrong' the whole time.  Even 4e doesn't go as far as it should in putting the noble knight, fierce barbarian, cunning rogue, lethal duelist, brave solider, charismatic leader, and just plain old Hero on equal terms with the wielders of 'magic.'

Personally, I wasn't a fan of realism in the game, but I was fan of simulationism. I liked that my character could use the same rules and forces that the villain was using. Now, I understand that such an approach can quickly break the game, so I'm not bitter about it having been tossed in 4e. That makes 4e a complete joy to DM for...

I don't usually do the '+1' thing, but, yes, those were my feelings, exactly. 

 

 

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DavidArgall: There's a segment of the gaming community that holds absolute 'realism' (however ill-defined that may be) as the highest priority in gaming, and they'd probably disagree with that statement on principle. (And you don't have to look very hard to find posts on these forums complaining about how fantasy character X doing Y isn't realistic and how terrible it is that the game system allows it. I suspect that there'll be a fair share of 'disagree' responses from those posters, too.)


     The problem here is that the question starts out by stipulating that there is such a thing as too much realism.  No matter what your opinion on how much realisim is desirable, you are agreeing that there is such a thing as too much realism.  And once you have agreed to that, it becomes routine to agree that this too much realism would waste game time. 
    The question does not say there was too much or too little realism in any given D&D game or system. 
Seems pretty reasonable to me.  Nothing radical, nothing stupid.

Carry on like this, Monte.
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> The problem here is that the question starts out by stipulating that there is
> such a thing as too much realism.

The question does not do that.

"Too much time spent making everything seem realistic wastes game time."

The rest of the article certainly suggests that there's such a thing as too much (and I agree with him there) - but the "realism is job one" crowd would disagree with that viewpoint and also with the quoted statement.
Realism requires complexity, complexity takes time, and enough time erodes fun for the vast majority of humanity, but how much time varies greatly.
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i think people enjoy play with difrent levels of "realism"

I saw an article before about picking and chosing rules that you enjoyed.
So it would be nice to have rules that add "realism" and how they could be used described for the people who enjoy that kind of thing.
like weapon type versus armor modifyers

but these aditional rules should be purly optional.
but a book offering such optional rules might be intresting if you want to make a campain feal a bit difrent.
Dm: ok guys in thise campain we will ude the following aditional rules
Honestly, that is how it was, despite people shouting otherwise. Gary Gygax never advised for every table in 1e DMG to be consulted, and followed to the letter for better or for worse as if he were some rules-prose genius;  But merely if the DM felt an element to be needed, a handy chart for each provided. For the most part many went un-used. This monstrous misconception just spiraled out of control because of how many games tried to mimmick it thinking it was good or even wanted. There's a reason why you can barely find anyone who can note an RPG of worth outside of a few namely titles from the 80s or 90s, and none even come close to the exposure the World of Darkness and D&D have even with every other game combined.
 
"Realism" is usually just an excuse to bash on and limit marshal characters and at the same time let other sources get away with anything. 



ping ping ping, give the man a cigar
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

 
"Realism" is usually just an excuse to bash on and limit marshal characters and at the same time let other sources get away with anything. 



ping ping ping, give the man a cigar



Yeah. When I said no the a player playing a fighter who wanted to spin his quaterstaff over his head to fly like an helicopter, it was only to limit him

lol

I think i will find a quote of the day in this. I'll just keep it in mind at any time I need a chuckle today.  

Yeah. When I said no the a player playing a fighter who wanted to spin his quaterstaff over his head to fly like an helicopter, it was only to limit him



Well, if you're including a dragon in the premise I see no reason why your physics can't be different - in fact they basically have to be! Tongue Out
You describe your super jump your way I will describe it mine.
A realistic man can standing jump his height or half again more ie 1 square or 2 generally speaking anything beyond that is ahem fantasy. 
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

 
"Realism" is usually just an excuse to bash on and limit marshal characters and at the same time let other sources get away with anything. 



ping ping ping, give the man a cigar



Yeah. When I said no the a player playing a fighter who wanted to spin his quaterstaff over his head to fly like an helicopter, it was only to limit him

lol

I think i will find a quote of the day in this. I'll just keep it in mind at any time I need a chuckle today.  


No, you WERE limiting him, lol. The topic is more about why and is that a good thing?

Actually Monte spent a lot of words talking about abstraction and level-of-detail without really getting into the more interesting questions about narrative limitations and predictability, the dependency of plot structure on 'realistic' limitations, and all sorts of other things. He's pretty much taken it for granted that we all know that most of the time players are going to want to rely on their common sense understanding of cause and effect. This is why the helicopter staff doesn't work, because if it did then it would imply that there are really no physical laws to reason with in the game world. If the fighter can fly with his staff then orcs can run across a chasm as long as they don't look down, and well you can watch Looney Tunes as well as I can. We could all PLAY 'Toon' as well. It is all a matter of what you're looking for, and most players want plot and narrative that feel plausible and consistent. It just helps them put bounds on what they have to deal with and imagine. Toon is a fun game, but it can actually get kind of mentally exhausting and repetitive after a while in a way D&D usually doesn't.
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Sounds like a cool Epic level Athletics check. Considering at that level a perfectly mundane Rogue can steal the color in someone's eyes or his childhood memories, I don't find it unreasonable that someone could jump 10 squares up while rotating his staff above his head.
Epic Dungeon Master

Want to give your players a kingdom of their own? I made a 4e rule system to make it happen!

Your Kingdom awaits!
Update 5th Sep 2011: Added a sample kingdom, as well as sample of play.
Sounds like a cool Epic level Athletics check. Considering at that level a perfectly mundane Rogue can steal the color in someone's eyes or his childhood memories, I don't find it unreasonable that someone could jump 10 squares up while rotating his staff above his head.

There is a time when reality needs to be told sit down and shut up.
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

There is a huge difference between, "I spin my staff above my head as i leap through the air" and "I spin my staff over my head, kicking up dust and debris as I gain altitude.  I climb 10 squares, and hold position."  At least I'm reading "like a helicopter" as "like a helicopter".  Actually, I'm reading it as "like an apache Longbow" but I don't think he had any hands free to engage the missile systems or cannon.
Hmmm who needs a 10 square limit I grab a nearby connifer and pull its top down it springs back launching me over the castle wall and I spin my staff to slow my landing in the courtyard.
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

I like my realism and simulationism and, most importantly, I like my nods to realism. I like the game to come out and offer a justification for the crazy unrealistic feat. "Just because" or "because that's how the game works" makes me cringe, as does "it's for balance reasons." Those are fine for board games, but I hold RPGs up to a different standard.

But I also think it's important to make the nods to realism ignorable.
Like sleeping in armour. It was a perfectly fine rule in 3e, because you cannot sleep well in full plate, but it was reasonable for most groups to ignore. I dislike how 4e took those rules, said "few people use them, so rather than even trying to make them work or providing them as an optional rule we're just going to get rid of them." A fine rule of thumb would be "If you sleep in heavy armour you wake up weakened due to lack of sleep unless you can make a DC # Endurance check". But a static number, not a floating "Hard DC check".
No everyone plays the game the same way, and the game should accomodate me as much as people I completely disagree with.  

And realism is also level relative. It's much more important at low levels. Justifications can diminish as the levels get higher and grounding powers in reality can slack when you start hitting a level range in the double digits. 
Epic characters are supposed to be awesome. Paragon characters are meant to do fantastic and heroic things. (Hence the static DC in the example above, so after a certain level the character can just say "f the rules, I sleep in my heavy armour! I dare you to ask me to roll.")

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In fantasy, myth & legend, magic isn't thing only source of the fantastic.  Heros do fantastic things without it.  But because D&D was born with that historical/fantasy split-personality, it's prettymuch done the non-magic-user hero 'wrong' the whole time.  Even 4e doesn't go as far as it should in putting the noble knight, fierce barbarian, cunning rogue, lethal duelist, brave solider, charismatic leader, and just plain old Hero on equal terms with the wielders of 'magic.'


You might be suprised who we agree with on this point...  
 
One thing I like in the alternate rewards and the inherent bonuses mentioned in the DMG2 ... There is a real sense the source of "magic" in a heros weapon may be awesome leaking out of himself... its not something a wizard did at all.
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

Hmmm who needs a 10 square limit I grab a nearby connifer and pull its top down it springs back launching me over the castle wall and I spin my staff to slow my landing in the courtyard.

Yeah, it is a question of whether or not one is wanting to play Toon, Exalted, or low level AD&D. Personally I've always felt pretty comfortable with D&D play generally being somewhere south of Exalted, maybe starting out at 'low level D&D' where the PCs are at least roughly doing things that are fairly plausible plus some magic and maybe at the end of epic tier it is like Exalted.

There's still a question of TONE. This is where some people balk at the whole 'Looney Tune Fighter' thing. It isn't that there's a desire to limit anyone's character more than another or any silly notion of 'realism' intruding. It is just that the tone of a game where characters casually do ridiculous things becomes inevitably rather like playing toon. You enjoy the lack of any boundaries and structure that results, for a while. At some point I find that it is more interesting to have strictures.
That is not dead which may eternal lie
There is a huge difference between, "I spin my staff above my head as i leap through the air" and "I spin my staff over my head, kicking up dust and debris as I gain altitude.  I climb 10 squares, and hold position."  At least I'm reading "like a helicopter" as "like a helicopter".  Actually, I'm reading it as "like an apache Longbow" but I don't think he had any hands free to engage the missile systems or cannon.



That also sounds like a cool use for an Epic level Athletics check; again, not more unreasonable then stealing the color of someone's eyes Tongue Out

I am assuming that it fits the character though. If someone does it specifically because it makes no sense, then it won't fly. But if your character is the kind of person who would reasonable do something like that, sure, why not? You're Epic after all.
Epic Dungeon Master

Want to give your players a kingdom of their own? I made a 4e rule system to make it happen!

Your Kingdom awaits!
Update 5th Sep 2011: Added a sample kingdom, as well as sample of play.
Hmmm who needs a 10 square limit I grab a nearby connifer and pull its top down it springs back launching me over the castle wall and I spin my staff to slow my landing in the courtyard.



That seems reasonable to me, especially if the staff is magic.  I'd count the distance of squares you were launched as falling speed, and you spinning your staff would require a trained acrobatics roll, or maybe untrained if I thought it was neat at the time and charge you  a healing surge for the effort.

Hmmm who needs a 10 square limit I grab a nearby connifer and pull its top down it springs back launching me over the castle wall and I spin my staff to slow my landing in the courtyard.

Yeah, it is a question of whether or not one is wanting to play Toon, Exalted, or low level AD&D.



Plenty of variations in there beyond what you mention ... and when you realize how limited "real" actual is.... curb checking that sounds progressively more interesting... Jesters point that this stuff evolves over the course of levelling and that the tiers actually represent fairly strong breaks.

 
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

There is a huge difference between, "I spin my staff above my head as i leap through the air" and "I spin my staff over my head, kicking up dust and debris as I gain altitude.  I climb 10 squares, and hold position."  At least I'm reading "like a helicopter" as "like a helicopter".  Actually, I'm reading it as "like an apache Longbow" but I don't think he had any hands free to engage the missile systems or cannon.



That also sounds like a cool use for an Epic level Athletics check; again, not more unreasonable then stealing the color of someone's eyes Tongue Out

I am assuming that it fits the character though. If someone does it specifically because it makes no sense, then it won't fly. But if your character is the kind of person who would reasonable do something like that, sure, why not? You're Epic after all.



I'd add "fits the game dynamic" as well as fits the character.  Something as mystical as stealing the color from someone's eyes might be viewed by the table as perfectly within the boundries of the game.  Those same people might look at ROFLMAO*coptering as too looney-toons/ too Kung-pow.

Having a diviners in the 13th warrior was okay for that story.  The Bearmen and fire snake were just bearmen and firesnakes. 

For some reason I was also assuming that his player was 5th level with this amazing scheme.

*Rotating Object frantically lifting my A off-ground.

I would put that kind of thing into Epic tier. That's where all the limits go into the garbage. You've had 20 levels to be regular (awesome) people, when you hit Epic it's time to transcend mortality and become something more awesome.

Hell, it's a pretty mild example of Epic Tier play as I'd like to see it.

At low level, it wouldn't go. Especially since 4e flight is extremely limited anyway.
Epic Dungeon Master

Want to give your players a kingdom of their own? I made a 4e rule system to make it happen!

Your Kingdom awaits!
Update 5th Sep 2011: Added a sample kingdom, as well as sample of play.
I honestly haven't dickered with Epic tier yet.

Now I did allow similar stuff in my paragon game, but that's because the players all had items similar to those possessed by the kids on the DnD cartoon.  They just needed to burn a surge, and they could attempt something fantastic with the item, like spinning the staff to blow away poison gas, or other such fun nonsense.
Speaking of Epic Tier, I was recently reading (yet more of) the "Ask Gary" threads on ENWorld (can you believe I hadn't gotten around to starting that until a few months ago? Just so many pages, though...) and the topic of "comic book superheroes vs mythical heroes" comes up a lot (although at that point it was regarding 3rd edition).

Epic tier play, in my mind, is absolutely defined as "fantasy superheroes" (which, although it doesn't appeal as much to me, isn't exactly on point). You should be using the same superheroic tropes (supervillains that will enslave/destroy a large portion of or the entirety of the world, superheroic power levels, etc. etc.), over the top and physics smashing as they are. It doesn't matter what city they're in, the heroes just don't need to be concerned about being "rounded up by the town guards for too much rough-housing" anymore if your campaign actually crawls its way to epic tier (if it starts there, of course, they never had to worry about that at all!)

If I was in an environment where I was considered a demigod in training I would want to make like Hercules and threaten to shoot the sun unless it "turned itself down" - THAT is an action that defines Epic Tier. When a player wants to make like a helicopter with a bo staff I'll admit a part of me would go "well, do you have a fly speed and can just refluff?", but on another level (pun not intended), that's the sort of thing a level 30 character should just be able to do.
Honestly, I'm all about being a "gamist", rather than realist or simulationist.

If the fighter has some way of slowing his fall within the scope of the rules, say a Safewing Amulet or Purple Dragon Commander's Ring, then I have no objection to him fluffing it by spinning a staff over his head.

I wouldn't let him spin his staff over his head and make an Athletics check to slow his fall, because it's not something Atheletics is specifically allowed to do, nor is it something I could imagine being remotely effective in the best of cases, so it doesn't fall into the purview of "saying Yes to players." However, in that purview, I might allow him to make an Athletics check to grab beams of the wooden construction catwalk as he falls, and slow himself that way.

I suppose I would also allow staff spinning, without a check, if the player says "I've got about 175 hit points, and this explains why I survive the fall." Sure...spin away!
I found nothing wrong with what Monte wrote this week - like others have said it's hard too given the way it was phrased.

It seems to be a bit shorter compared to those in previous weeks - with less examples. 

Writing style wise - I would really appreciate if when a topic was brought up if examples were given from a few of the previous editions, and then 4e to show how they compare. 

Provide some pain points from those editions on doing it that way, and then offer a few solutions and open it up to the forum to post some others. 

Don't shoehorn in any one idea in an article - some of the older ones gave a few options. Granted we argued with each other on the forums about it, but at least the angst wasn't directed at Monte at that point.

Finally it would be nice to end the articles with a discussion of what the polls from the previous week showed, was there any surprises, maybe some theory crafting.

It would also be great if some suggestions from people on the board were showcased in the article and discussed - maybe have a poll on that - let us feel like we are being listened to on the forums. 
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Honestly, I'm all about being a "gamist", rather than realist or simulationist.

If the fighter has some way of slowing his fall within the scope of the rules, say a Safewing Amulet or Purple Dragon Commander's Ring, then I have no objection to him fluffing it by spinning a staff over his head.

I wouldn't let him spin his staff over his head and make an Athletics check to slow his fall, because it's not something Atheletics is specifically allowed to do, nor is it something I could imagine being remotely effective in the best of cases, so it doesn't fall into the purview of "saying Yes to players." However, in that purview, I might allow him to make an Athletics check to grab beams of the wooden construction catwalk as he falls, and slow himself that way.


Ah but it is explicitly something an Acrobatics check does.... there is some overlap between what the skills can accomplish and while this isnt normally one of them I might consider allowing it at a higher difficulty... and if we are bouncing around epic tier all bets are off I think at the point when you may be progressing in to becoming the god of thunder (in which case it isnt a staff but that magic hammer) it seems reasonable to give skills benefit of the doubt

  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

Honestly, I'm all about being a "gamist", rather than realist or simulationist.

If the fighter has some way of slowing his fall within the scope of the rules, say a Safewing Amulet or Purple Dragon Commander's Ring, then I have no objection to him fluffing it by spinning a staff over his head.

I wouldn't let him spin his staff over his head and make an Athletics check to slow his fall, because it's not something Atheletics is specifically allowed to do, nor is it something I could imagine being remotely effective in the best of cases, so it doesn't fall into the purview of "saying Yes to players." However, in that purview, I might allow him to make an Athletics check to grab beams of the wooden construction catwalk as he falls, and slow himself that way.


Ah but it is explicitly something an Acrobatics check does.... there is some overlap between what the skills can accomplish and while this isnt normally one of them I might consider allowing it at a higher difficulty... and if we are bouncing around epic tier all bets are off I think at the point when you may be progressing in to becoming the god of thunder (in which case it isnt a staff but that magic hammer) it seems reasonable to give skills benefit of the doubt


Again, though, there is still TONE. Helicopter staff is rather Looney Tune. I know, you can certainly cite all kinds of things from myth and legend that are equally off-the-wall. I think some people would just prefer more plausible fluff. That's the nice thing though, you can pretty much do it how you want. I don't think in the 'fluff follows function' world of 4e it is all that much a concern of the rules. Maybe presentation, but not mechanics.
That is not dead which may eternal lie